Saturday, November 2, 2019

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In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on seeking the Lord with all your heart, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and living a life of holiness, righteousness, and truth.

As the Scripture says:

'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

And "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14)

Some of the topics covered include seeking the Lord, prayer, worship, tithing, inquiring of the Lord, hearing His voice, obedience, grace, godly attire and adornment, sanctification, consecration, backsliding, repentance, brokenness, suffering, humility, the fear of the Lord, the role of the commandments for the disciple of Christ, and the conditions of the New Covenant.  I hope this will be an edifying and encouraging experience for you that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord.

Seeking the Lord Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God Holy Fire Baptism
Lifting Your Face in Prayer Lifting Hands in Prayer Crying Out to God Loudly
Pressing on Toward the Goal Taking Heaven by Force God Exalts the Humble and Brings Down the Proud
Whom Are You Seeking? Should you fear the Lord? Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?
Aim for Perfection Obedience by the Spirit Is Obedience Optional?
Salvation with Fear and Trembling Holy Living in a Perverted World Drifting Away
The Cost of Discipleship Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Is Tithing Required?
Where Should You Give Your Tithe? Walking in the Perfect Will of God Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian
The Obedience of Faith Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross? Law of Love in the New Testament
The New Covenant Law of Love in the New Testament The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith Costly Grace The Law of Christ
The Eyes of the Lord Garments of Godliness The Three Elijahs
The Burning Ones The End Has Come Now, But Not Yet
The Happy Hunters on Fire You're Better Off Following Jesus God Chooses the Weak Things 
The Beauty of Brokenness Seeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and Glory Hearing the Lord's Voice
Hearing the Lord's Voice Inquiring of the Lord Praise the Lord!
The Loving God Who Bids Us to Come One thing Righteousness, Peace, and Joy
Is the the Self-Help and Actualization Movement a Sham? From Self-confidence to Confidence in the Lord The Self-Help Gospel
Checklist for Revival God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He? The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer
The Flaming Sword Clean Hands and a Pure Heart The Spirit of the Law
Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy An Open Mind that Loves the Truth Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? The Apostasy Parables

The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught
The Disciples’ Prayer Is Tolerance a Virtue? Righteousness by Faith not Law
Life is Short. Eternity is Not. Noah's Ark a Type of Christ Grace, Mercy, and Peace
Ultimate Accountability Separation from the World The Knowledge of the Holy
The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness Ask for the Ancient Paths Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven
The Straight and Narrow Path Unhealthy Competition A Peculiar People
Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets Hope for You

Beware of Philosophy and Empty Deception
The Love of Jesus The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer Having a Servant's Heart
Avoiding Worldly Worship Purge the Evil from Among You Who is God?
Living a Life Worthy of the Lord Praying for the Lord Jesus Who is God? - Part II
The Way, Will, and Word of God Overcomers in This Life The Afflictions of the Righteous
Saints Alive in Jesus Bowing Low in Worship Repentance That Leads to Life
Keeping a Good Conscience Remember Lot’s Wife Called to be Blameless
If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words The Lord Will Rejoice Over You The Nature of Persecution
The Wardrobe of the Saints Filled Up to All the Fullness of God Loving Deeply
Seeking Glory from God Amazing Grace God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes
Abominations in the Sight of God Identification with Christ Alabaster Jar
Running from God Forgetting the Past Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?
God's View of Public Bathing Is Secular Music for Christians? Ignorance is Not Bliss
In the Yolk of Christianity Songs of the Holy Fire Known by God
Modern Day Idols Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Walking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness
Escaping from Dead Religion Living Sacrifices in Consuming Fire God's Amazing Plan for Your Life
Your Identity in Christ Having the Love of God in Your Heart Knowing the Lord
Following in His Steps Our God is an Awesome God! Hide and Seek with God
Belonging to the Lord No Turning Back David, A Man After God's Own Heart
Living on Earth as They Do in Heaven Chosen for Obedience The Ironies Between Jesus and Barabbas
Dedication to God Keep Your Lamp Burning The Holy Fire Series
The Active Nature of Faith Why God Hides His Face Only What's Done for Christ Will Last
Praying Heart-Prayers Trembling at His Word Seeking Him in the Wee Hours of the Night
If My People Who Are Called by My Name The Flesh vs the Spirit The Sin of Sodom
Christian Perfection


Our gift of these articles by Len Lacroix is made possible in part by your gracious support of the ministry. Partner with us online.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Seek My Face" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Christian Perfection

John Wesley
One of my favorite preachers from modern Church history is John Wesley, an English minister who served the Lord during the eighteenth century. He is so well-known that there is no need for much of an introduction. I've been enjoying a book that contains excerpts from his personal journals, which I highly recommend. It is called The Heart of John Wesley's Journal by Percy Livingstone Parker and John Wesley.

Wesley was highly criticized by many people for his message on Christian perfection, and he met with much opposition over it. In fact, he was often verbally and physically assaulted by various mobs and individuals, when he attempted to preach anywhere. In one of his journal entries, he explained what he actually taught about perfection and wondered how anyone, Christian or not, could have any problem with his doctrine if they understood what he meant by it.

Here is how Wesley explained it:

"By Christian perfection, I mean (1) loving God with all our heart. Do you object to this? I mean (2) a heart and life all devoted to God. Do you desire less? I mean (3) regaining the whole image of God. What objection to this? I mean (4) having all the mind that was in Christ. Is this going too far? I mean (5) walking uniformly as Christ walked. And this surely no Christian will object to. If anyone means anything more or anything else by perfection, I have no Concern with it. But if this is wrong, yet what need of this heat about it, this violence, I had almost said, fury of opposition, carried so far as even not to lay out anything with this man, or that woman, who professes it?"

To summarize his five points, they were as follows:

Loving God with All Our Heart
Perfection means loving God with all our heart. Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment."(Mat 22:37-38). As Wesley asked, "Do you object to this?"

A Heart And Life All Devoted To God
Perfection means having a heart and life fully devoted to God. Hanani the seer said in Scripture, "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." (2 Chr 16:9a)

Jesus said, "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." (Luk 14:33, NASB)

And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it." (Luk 9:23-24, NASB)

The apostle Paul said, "I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord." (1Co 7:35)

As Wesley asked, "Do you desire less?"

Regaining The Whole Image Of God
Perfection means having the whole image of God in you restored. God originally created man in His own image. Scripture says, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:27). But sin marred the image of God. Yet when any man comes to Christ, the Lord begins to restore the image of God in him. It's true that old things have passed away and all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17). However, there is an ongoing process of transformation that each follower of Christ goes through. Paul said, "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2Co 3:18).

As Wesley asked, "What objection [do you have] to this?"

Having All The Mind That Was In Christ
Perfection means having all the mind that was in Christ. The apostle Paul wrote, "For, 'Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." (1Co 2:16).  

He also wrote: 

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Php 2:5-11).

Pray that God will give you the mind, the emotions, the attitude, and the humility of Christ. As Wesley asked, "Is this going too far?"

Walking Uniformly As Christ Walked
Perfection is walking consistently as Jesus walked. The apostle John wrote: "Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did." (1Jn 2:6)

The apostle Peter was in agreement with this when he wrote: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' " (1Pe 2:21-22).

Who can find anything wrong with teaching that we should walk as Jesus walked and follow in His steps? As Wesley said, "Surely no Christian will object to this."

See my article Following in His Steps.

Closing Words
Our Lord has taught us to "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mat 5:48). Obviously he would not command us to do something that was impossible for us. We know that apart from Christ we can do nothing (Jn 15:5), but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13). For with God all things are possible (Mt 19:26).

Having learned from Wesley himself what he meant by Christian perfection, and then having discovered the solid Scriptural basis for it, I (like him) really don't see how anyone could disagree with this teaching. It's straight out of the Bible. If anyone means anything more or anything else by perfection than what has been explained in this post, I have no concern with it.

Wesley was honest to admit with the apostle Paul that he had not yet attained to perfection (Phil 3:12). But he used to say that we should not simply expect to attain to perfection only once we have died and gone to heaven, but we should live our lives expecting to be made perfect by the Lord at any hour. Indeed, this is a wonderful thought for all those who -- like Wesley -- are aiming for perfection and desire to attain to it in this lifetime. I hope you will take such a view as well.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Other Scriptures where noted are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB), copyright The Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Quote from Wesley's journal taken from The Heart of John Wesley's Journal by Percy Livingstone Parker, (Peabody, MA.: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008), 379-380.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also see the following: Aim for PerfectionFollowing in His StepsWalking in the Perfect Will of GodCalled to be BlamelessThe Four Tallest Homes in HeavenThe Cost of DiscipleshipThe Obedience of FaithAsk for the Ancient Paths, Holy Living in a Perverted World, and Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and you may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Sin of Sodom

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin, 1852




















Do you know what the sin of Sodom was? There was more to it than what you think. I'm going to show you from Scripture what the Lord said their sin was. The context of this was the Lord's words through the prophet Ezekiel to unfaithful Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16. He said:

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it." (Eze 16:49-50)

Based on this passage of Scripture, here are the sins of Sodom:

Pride and Arrogance 
The first sin that the Lord mentioned was arrogance, which is also translated as "pride" in the King James Version (KJV). It means "making or having the disposition to make exorbitant claims of rank or estimation; giving one's self an undue degree of importance; haughty; conceited." Not only was Sodom guilty of this sin, but also Jerusalem at the time of her exile in the days of Ezekiel. Later on, even the Church of Laodicea was guilty of this sin. The Lord told them: "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.'" (Rev 3:17, NIV). I believe as many others do that we live in the Laodicean age of the Church, when the Church is lukewarm like that first-century church in Asia was. The Lord's message is still the same.

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Rev 3:15-22, NIV)

The key words are "be earnest and repent."

Gluttony
The second sin of Sodom, according to the Lord was abundant food ("fullness of bread", KJV). This word means "gluttony, which is excess in eating; extravagant indulgence of the appetite for food." Jesus warned us sternly about this sin, when He said, "Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry." (Lk 6:25a, NIV).

The key words are "woe to you." The majority of Americans and other people living in the West are well fed, so let's take heed to the Lord's words.

Idleness
The third sin of Sodom, according to the Lord was careless ease ("idleness", KJV). The English expression "careless ease" comes from two Hebrew words, shâqaṭ and shalvâh. Here are the Strong's definitions of these words:

shâqaṭ - shaw-kat' - to repose (usually figuratively): - appease, idleness, (at, be at, be in, give) quiet (-ness), (be at, be in, give, have, take) rest, settle, be still.

shalvâh - shal-vaw' - security (genuine or false): - abundance, peace (-ably), prosperity, quietness.

When these two words are used together, they refer to idleness, in other words they mean taking it easy in a place of plenty. It refers to relaxing and reposing, because of the sense of peace we feel, whether genuine or false, on account of our prosperity. The test of poverty is difficult, but the test of prosperity is much worse, because we can be lulled into a false sense of security. We can become complacent and feel we have no need of God. We can also become ensnared by the material things of this world, too. The proverb says:

"...give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." (Pr 30:9, NIV).

Let's beware of careless ease, because idleness is the devil's workshop. Also see House of Idleness.

Ignoring the Poor and Needy
The fourth sin of Sodom, according to the Lord was that she did not help the poor and needy. Jesus warned about this sin, too, when He spoke about how He will judge the goats when He sits on His glorious throne:

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Mat 25:41-46).

Jesus will tell these people to depart from him into eternal fire. He said they are cursed and will go away to eternal punishment, because of what they didn't do for the least of these. Among the things they didn't do for Him was their failure to satisfy His hunger and thirst, their failure to clothe His nakedness, and their failure to help Him when He was sick or in prison. The key words are whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Jesus.

As the proverb says, "Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered." (Pr 21:13, NIV). Ignoring those in need is essentially a lack of love for one's neighbor, just as the priest and Levite in the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37), who passed by the wounded man on the street and did not help him. They did not love their neighbor as themselves, but the Samaritan who stopped and helped the hurt man did have mercy on his neighbor, and that is what pleases the Lord.

Haughtiness
The fifth sin of Sodom, according to the Lord was that they were haughty. That word comes from the Hebrew word gâbahh (gaw-bah').  It means to soar, that is, be lofty; figuratively to be haughty: exalt, be haughty, be high or higher, lift up, mount up, be proud, raise up great height. Haughty means proud and disdainful; having a high opinion of one's self, with some contempt for others; lofty and arrogant. Haughty comes from haught (Fr., haut), which means high, elevated. As the proverb says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Pr 16:18, NIV). Beware of a proud and haughty spirit. God opposes or resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

Detestable things
The sixth sin of Sodom, according to the Lord was that they did detestable or abominable things before Him. Most of us are aware of the story of how the Lord sent two angels to see if what they had done was as bad as the outcry against them. We know how the two angels stayed at Lot's house, and what the wicked men of Sodom said to Lot when they came looking for the angels. They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them." (Gen 19:5). The Lord calls this an abomination or a detestable thing.

"'Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable." (Lev 18:22)

"'Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants." (Lev 18:24-25)

"And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. 'Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people." (Lev 18:28-29)

"'If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable..." (Lev 20:13a)

The apostle Paul wrote about these things in his epistle to the Romans:

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them...Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another...God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done....Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (Rom 1:18-19, 24, 26b-28, 32, NIV).

This is not a phobia toward any one particular type of person, nor is it a bias against any one group of people. The apostle said the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness. That applies to any and all people who do so, not just certain people.

Consequences of Suppressing the Truth
I want to warn you that there are many serious and unpleasant consequences for those who suppress the truth (Rom 1:18) and do not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God (Rom 1:28), especially the fact that God gives them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. Paul wrote:

"Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy." (Rom 1:28-31)

It affects every area of their lives, just as the Lord said through the prophet Ezekiel about Sodom and Jerusalem. Paul said that they have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. The list Paul gave here is very similar to the one Ezekiel gave as outlined in this post. There is the same arrogance and boasting, the same absence of love and mercy, and the same detestable things. There is also the same greed, which is an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.

A Rich Man in Hell
The Lord told us about a certain rich man who lived in luxury every day. He was dressed in purple and fine linen. At his gate a beggar named Lazarus was laid to beg. But the rich man ignored the beggar and when he died, he ended up in hell, but the beggar was at peace and rest. Here is the true story that Jesus told:

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" (Luk 16:19-31).

Hell is real, people! Don't go to that place. Repent now while there is still a chance. Take heed to the warnings in the Scriptures. The rich man was in agony in that place of torment. There is no way out of hell. That rich man is still there in torment to this day and has never had a single drop of water since then. His wish was that someone like Lazarus would be sent from the dead to warn his brothers, who were still alive on earth. However, Abraham refused that request, saying that if his brothers would not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they would not listen even if someone rises from the dead.

In fact, a man named Lazarus was raised from the dead, although not the same Lazarus. This man was the brother of Mary and Martha, and Jesus raised him from the dead after he was in the grave for four days. But the enemies of Christ wanted to kill Lazarus after that, so it obviously didn't make any difference to them, since they would not listen to the Scriptures. Likewise, when Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day, after they crucified Him on the cross, that didn't get them to repent either. Instead they paid the Roman soldiers that guarded His tomb to lie and say that Jesus' disciples came during the night and stole His body from the tomb.

There are in fact many people who have died and experienced hell. I have written about many of them on my Eternal Destinations blog. One of those people I wrote about, who died and went to hell, is Michael Sambo. He has been to my home and eaten a Thanksgiving meal with me and my family. So a man who rose from the dead has in fact come to my home, which is an honor and a privilege. But if I don't listen to the Word of God and take heed to its warnings, then even if a man like that visits my home and warns me about what he saw in hell, it will make no difference.

God's Love for the Sinner
Dear friend, no matter what sins you have committed, I want you to know that Jesus Christ loves you and is seeking you. He came to seek and save the lost (Lk 19:10). God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). That goes for all of us, no matter who we are or what we've done. A moment ago in this post, I quoted the passage about the rich man in hell from Luke 16, but you have to read the full context of that passage, which is immediately preceded by Luke 15, where the Lord spoke about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. In each case, there was an intense searching or longing to find that which was lost and bring it home. That's the heart of God for the lost sinner. He hates your sin, but He loves you and wants you to come back to Him. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9).

Putting it All Together
The Lord warned Jerusalem through the prophet Ezekiel that they had become worse than their sister Sodom. If that is possible for Jerusalem, it is certainly possible today for anyone -- even a church --  to become like this. And we know that even this has already happened, so let this be a wake up call to all of us. Let's take heed to this warning and repent of these sins of Sodom, if we have participated in them: pride and arrogance, a haughty spirit, idleness, gluttony, ignoring the poor and needy, and doing detestable things before the Lord.

Attribution notice: Most Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB copyright Lockman Foundation, used by permission. The Destruction of Sodom painting is oil on canvas by John Martin 1852, and it is in the public domain.

Author's note: I recommend my article called The Law of Christ, which explains why the teachings of Jesus Christ must be our foundation, and that the teachings of the apostles and prophets must be understood on that basis alone. I also recommend the Sins That Will Keep You from HeavenThe Top Ten Things Jesus Taught, Abominations in the Sight of God, Pope Frances Supports Homosexuality, The Peace and Love I've Come to Know, What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, and Sin and Consequence.You may find the Main Directory for the Seeking the Lord blog here.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Michael Thomas Sambo's Revelation of Heaven and Hell Revelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths Angelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven
Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies Angelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Walking in the Perfect Will of God Ibrahim's Experience in Hell Holy Living in a Perverted World

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, March 29, 2019

If My People Who Are Called by My Name

Let's turn together to a famous passage and see what the Lord is saying to us through it. This one comes from 2 Chronicles 7 from the time that Solomon dedicated the temple to God. After he finished building the temple, the Lord appeared to him at night and said:

"If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chr 7:14, NIV).





















There are four tasks in this verse that are our duty, if we are the Lord's people who are called by His name:

1. Humble ourselves 

The first condition within our responsibility is to humble ourselves. It's necessary to humble yourself beneath the mighty hand of God and in due time he will lift you up (1 Pe 5:6). There are various ways to humble yourself, including fasting, prostrating yourself before the Lord on the floor, and going without the usual comforts of life and luxuries you typically enjoy. Daniel said, "I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over." (Dan 10:3, NIV). Sometimes the people in the Bible would put on rough, abrasive, uncomfortable clothing called sackcloth and sprinkle ashes on their heads.

2. Pray

The second condition that we must meet is to pray. Prayer is essential in order to maintain communion with God. Nothing else can take its place. It's our two-way communication with Him. We talk to Him, and we listen to what He says to us in our hearts by His Spirit and through his Word. We should have regular times of prayer each day, and then there are special seasons of prayer, too. We need to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17).

3. Seek His face

Our third responsibility in order to meet the conditions is to seek the Lord's face. Nobody can do it for you. Seeking His face and seeking His presence are virtually synonymous. We get hungry for God and desire His presence more than the air we breath. We long to be with Him, because we love Him. Everything else is laid aside while we seek His face.

4. Turn from our wicked ways

The fourth condition that is our responsibility is to turn from our wicked ways. This requires repentance for our sins, confessing before Him, and turning our backs on the wicked things we've been doing. For more on this, see Repentance That Leads to Life. The apostle Paul wrote:

"Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and, 'Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.'” (2 Tim 2:19, NIV).

A great example of this is the way that Nehemiah prayed. He wrote, "...I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:

'Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.'" (Neh 1:4-7). For the rest of his prayer, read verses 8-11.

Daniel was another great example of how to pray. He wrote:

"So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

'Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.'" (Dan 9:3-6). For the rest of his prayer, read verses 7-19.

Those four conditions listed above must be met in order for us to receive the promise found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Once we meet them, then the Lord will fulfill His promise and do his part, which includes these three things:

5. I will hear from heaven

If we want the Lord to hear our prayers, which we all do, then it behooves us to meet the four conditions above. It's an amazing thing to know that God in heaven has heard you, and this brings great joy to your heart when it happens. It's God's job to hear from heaven. His ear is not too dull to hear, "but your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." (Is 59:2).

6. I will forgive their sin

Not only does the Lord hear from heaven, but He also forgives our sin, when we meet the conditions above. He is eager to forgive us, which only He can do, but He needs us to do our part first. There can be no forgiveness without sincere repentance and turning away from wickedness. Yet "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 Jn 1:9, NIV).

7. I will heal their land

The final thing God promises to do if we meet the above conditions is to heal our land. This is His job. We cannot do it, the government cannot do it, programs cannot do it, scientists cannot do it, doctors cannot do it, and no man on earth can do it. When we look at all the problems in our land -- the crime, the lawlessness, the murder of innocent children, the drug addiction, the sickness, the disease, the hopelessness, the suicide, the poverty, the economic problems, the injustice, the social issues, the deep divisions, the wars, the political problems, the corruption in our government, the environmental problems, and the problems affecting our wildlife -- our land is in desperate need of healing. Only the Lord can heal it, so it's essential that we do our part, in order for Him to do His part.



Closing Words
We must do our job and meet certain conditions, which are to humble ourselves, pray, seeking His face, and turn from our wicked ways. But once we meet those conditions, then the Lord will do His job. which is to hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission.The image may be subject to copyright, used per the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also see the following: Ask for the Ancient PathsSins That Will Keep You From HeavenBowing Low in WorshipRepentance That Leads to Life, The Land Mourns in the Last Days, Seeking Him in the Wee Hours of the NightCrying Out to God Loudly, Lifting Your Face in Prayer, and Lifting Hands in Prayer. You may also enjoy my daughter Charity's poem called America, Turn Back to God. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and you may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Seeking Him in the Wee Hours of the Night

Jesus Praying All Night
It's natural and normal for us to prioritize sleep, since our physical bodies and brains need time to rest, and when we don't get it properly, then we don't feel well. However, the passages of Scripture about people in the Bible being awake during the night seeking the Lord show us that this was a greater priority than sleep for them. Let's take a look and see.
Paul
Our first example is Paul the apostle. He described the hardships he had suffered for Christ, saying that he had served the Lord "in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger." (2 Cor 6:5, NIV).

One instance for which we have a record of one of those sleepless nights he had was when he and Silas were singing praises to God at midnight in the Philippian jail. Scripture says, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." (Ac 16:25, NIV). They chose to stay awake singing hymns to God rather than sleeping, and the Lord used it mightily by sending an earthquake that opened the prison doors. But Paul chose instead to use that as an opportunity to share Jesus with the jailer rather than to escape.

Another instance is when he received the vision of the man from Macedonia, which happened during the night also. "During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Ac 16:9, NIV). This was not a dream but a vision while he was awake during the night. Perhaps he was seeking the Lord alone while the others were sleeping.

Psalmists
The next example is the psalmists, who had many sleepless nights.

The blessed man is the one who meditates on the Word of God day and night, so he spending time with the Lord at night. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night." (Psa 1:2)

"I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears." (Ps 6:6, NIV).

"When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches..." (Psa 63:6)

"In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness; My soul refused to be comforted...You have held my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, The years of long ago. I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, And my spirit ponders." (Psa 77:2-6)

"O LORD, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You." (Psa 88:1)

"Awake, harp and lyre; I will awaken the dawn!" (Psa 108:2). Normally the dawn awakens man, but in this case, the psalmist said he would be the one to awaken the dawn, as he got out of bed to sing and worship.

"O LORD, I remember Your name in the night, And keep Your law." (Psa 119:55)

Even after the psalmist was in bed, he would rise at midnight for a time of thanksgiving to God. "At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You Because of Your righteous ordinances." (Psa 119:62)

"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word."(Psa 119:147-148)

"Surely I will not enter my house, Nor lie on my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes Or slumber to my eyelids, Until I find a place for the LORD, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob."
(Psa 132:3-5)

Jesus Christ
The third example is Jesus Himself. "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." (Mar 1:35, NIV). Since he got up and went off to pray alone outdoors so early in the morning before dawn, it was probably sometime between 4:30 and 5:00 AM.

Then there was the time when He went up into the hills to pray all night while the disciples struggled at the oars, rowing against the wind all night on the lake. "After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea." (Mat 14:23-25). In this instance, He prayed from evening (anytime between 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM) until the fourth watch of the night (between 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM). So he may have prayed alone in the hills from 7:00 PM until 4:00 AM. He was not sleeping, but spending time with the Father.

That was certainly not an isolated incident. Another instance when He prayed all night was before He chose His twelve disciples. Luke wrote: "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God." (Lk 6:12, NIV).

We can't forget the late night prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed. Scripture records:

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. "Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!" (Mat 26:36-46).

First of all, He chose to spend that night in prayer rather than sleep, so the enemy would not catch Him off guard, because He knew He would be betrayed on that night. He won the victory in prayer in the garden, and that is why He was able to endure the cross the next day. He expected the three disciples Peter, James, and John to keep watch with Him while He prayed. He was probably just as tired as they were, and perhaps even more so, since He routinely arose earlier than they did for prayer in the morning. 

How did Jesus address His disciples who were supposed to be praying with Him late at night? When He saw them sleeping, He asked, "...you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." That proves that He prayed for a full hour that night, and He was expecting His disciples to do the same with Him. He was surprised that they could not do it, and He admonished them to keep watching and praying as He had told them to do, since their flesh was weak, even though their spirits were willing.

We know the attitude that Peter had expressed earlier that evening at the last supper, when he said he would go to prison with Jesus and even die for Him. His spirit was willing, but since his flesh was weak, and since he slept rather than prayed that night, he later ended up denying the Lord three times.

First Century Saints
The fourth example is the saints in the first century. Were the saints in the first century more concerned about getting enough sleep or hearing the Word of God and breaking bread together? Scripture says:

"On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight..." (Act 20:7-8).

During this all-night church meeting, a young man fell asleep and fell from a window he was sitting in, plunging to his death three stories below. After Paul went down and raised him from the dead, he went back up and rather than send everyone home because it was late, he continued the meeting until dawn. The Bible says, "When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left." (Act 20:11). Obviously Paul was undeterred by that incident and proceeded with the all-night meeting as planned. He didn't apologize and the church didn't complain to him that they needed their sleep or that the meeting was going too long. They were hungry for God. Being together in that place breaking bread and listening to the Word of God was more important than sleep. This is foreign to the twenty-first century church, which prefers short messages and meetings.

Apparently that occasion was another one of Paul's many sleepless nights that he wrote about in his epistle to the Corinthians, as I mentioned earlier (2 Cor 6:5).

He Gives Sleep to Those He Loves
All of this talk about praying and meeting together in the middle of the night might cause you to wonder if God even cares about sleep at all. If it does, then let me assure you that God knows your need for sleep and He fulfills it. The psalmist said, "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for He grants sleep to those he loves." (Psa 127:2). This means that people who assume too much of the burden of toiling for life's basic necessities, and fail to trust the Lord to provide, are burning the candle at both ends for nothing. They need to remember that the Lord gives sleep to those He loves.

Sleep Deficit of Christ
Did you ever wonder when Jesus found time to sleep, since He often prayed during the middle of the night or in the very early hours of the morning before daylight? Not only that but during the day He stayed very busy serving others by preaching to them, teaching them, healing them, feeding them, and casting demons out of them. When did Jesus sleep? Perhaps He got a little bit of sleep at night, and on certain occasions He caught a brief nap during the day. Did He always get enough sleep? I suppose He probably did not. I'm sure there were plenty of times when he got less than eight hours of sleep, which is that amount that most people today associate with their basic, daily requirement. In fact, it is my opinion that He probably got around five hours or less of sleep per night on average. On some occasions He may have only gotten three hours of sleep or none at all, so it's likely that He lived with an ongoing sleep deficit, and since He was fully human as well as fully God, He probably felt the physical effects of it in much the same way we do when we don't get enough sleep. 

Sleeping Through a Storm
Children are known to be sound sleepers who can sometimes sleep right through a major thunderstorm. Perhaps it's because they don't have any worries and they enjoy deep, peaceful sleep.
How do you suppose Jesus was able to sleep in the boat during the storm? Probably because he had faith in His Father in heaven to protect Him from all harm, which would explain why He asked His panicking disciples when they awakened Him, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Here is the account from Mark's gospel:

"Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?' And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?'" (Mar 4:38-40).

Luke's gospel states: "As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger." (Lk 8:23, NIV). It was as they sailed that Jesus fell asleep, because he was probably tired and entrusted Himself to the Father. Even though the boat was being swamped and they were in great danger, Jesus remained asleep, because He had peace in His heart. As He slept, His heart was as placid as the sea was after he calmed it.

Matthew's gospel says, "Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping." (Matthew 8:24, NIV). This emphasizes the fact that it was not just a typical rain, but a furious storm that suddenly came upon them, and the waves were actually washing right over the top of the boat. However, throughout all of that noisy, intensely turbulent action, Jesus was sleeping. That's one of the benefits He enjoyed of spending those long nights in prayer. Whenever He did get some sleep, He slept like a rock.


He could say with David, "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me...In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps 3:5; 4:8, NIV)


The Lord experienced what the Holy Spirit spoke through the mouth of Isaiah the prophet, who said, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You. Trust in Jehovah forever; for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength." (Isa 26:3-4, MKJV). May the Lord help us to keep our minds stayed upon Jehovah. As we do so, He will keep us in perfect peace, even in the midst of life's storms, because we trust in Him. That was the secret to Jesus sleeping during the storm.

Primary Source of Rest
Does our rest primarily come from sleep or from God? Scripture says it comes from God.

As David said, "Truly my soul finds rest in God...Yes, my soul, find rest in God." (Ps 62:1,5, NIV).

The Lord replied [to Moses], “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Ex 33:14, NIV). This means that it is God who gives us rest through His abiding presence with us. When you have the presence of the Lord with you, then you will experience rest as He refreshes you. For times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord (Ac 3:19b, NASB).

In this way, the Lord sustains us -- both young and old -- even when we have not gotten adequate sleep. As Isaiah said:

"He gives power to the weary; and to him with no vigor; He increases strength. Even the young shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isa 40:29-31, MKJV)

There is rest for the weary, if they will come to Jesus and trust Him. He said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Mat 11:28-29; cf., Mk 6:30-37). May the Lord help us to understand that He alone can give us rest. The flesh, the world, and the devil will run us ragged and lead us to exhaustion. But in Christ we find true rest, which is not merely a physical rest resulting from sleep, but much more than that -- rest for our souls. Until you have found that rest in Him, you would not be able to understand how or why anyone would miss sleep to be with Him, because you might be incorrectly associating rest only with sleep. As someone said, "Sleep really is overrated."

Essentials of Getting Good Sleep
What are some essentials to getting good sleep?

The second wisest man in the world taught us how to enjoy sweet sleep when he said, "The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up And the skies drip with dew. My son, let them not vanish from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion, So they will be life to your soul And adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely And your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." (Pro 3:19-24). So the key to sweet sleep is keeping sound wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and discretion.

Loving Sleep
Although we all need to get some sleep for our health, should we love sleep? No, we shouldn't. There are actually numerous warnings against loving sleep in the Bible.

Solomon warned, "Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food." (Pro 20:13)

And again, "How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. (Pr 6:9-11, NIV)

Be careful not to look only to sleep as your comfort, because then what will you do if it is disrupted? Job said, "If I say, 'My bed will comfort me, My couch will ease my complaint,' Then You frighten me with dreams And terrify me by visions." (Job 7:13-14)

That's why a hard working man can enjoy sweet sleep, regardless of how much he eats, while a rich man may not. Solomon said, "The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep." (Ecc 5:12, NIV)

We must be careful not to love sleep, because it should not become a top priority in our lives above the Lord. It is possible to de-prioritize the things of God like worship, prayer, the Word, preaching, breaking of bread, and doing His will, and thus fall asleep spiritually. What good is it if you get a full night's sleep every night but lose your soul?

"For this reason it says, 'Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.' Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." (Eph 5:14-16). This Scripture is just as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. Many are fast asleep spiritually in these last and evil days, and are in desperate need of an awakening. Let's wake up, people!

"And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Rom 13:11, NIV).

Listen to what Jesus said to the Church of Sardis:

"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.'" (Rev 3:1-3)

Jesus says, "Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame." (Rev 16:15)

Modern Examples
In addition to all the examples I have already given of people who prayed in the wee hours of the night and morning, I'd like to cite some examples of modern day people who have done so. One person who comes to mind is John Wesley, who rose daily at four or five o’clock in the morning for private prayer.

Another one I'd like to mention is brother Yong Doo Kim, a South Korean pastor, who led his church in all night prayer meetings for a month one year in January. During that time, he and the members of the Lord's Church that he pastors began to have supernatural encounters in the spirit realm. This brought about a mighty, spiritual awakening not only in that church, but in the lives of people like me around the world who have read his series of books called Baptized by Blazing Fire, which recounts many of those supernatural encounters that his church experienced. Many people like me have also attended his all-night meetings called holy fire revival meetings that go on for three or four days at a time in locations around the world where he travels. I am a life that was changed after reading his books and attending his all-night revival meetings that he held in Liege, Belgium in 2012. That in turn impacted my whole family and brought about a spiritual awakening among us all, as well as transformed my ministry and powerfully touched the lives of many people to whom I have ministered.

If you would like to learn more about that, then I recommend reading my articles Baptized by Blazing Fire -- a Korean church's testimony and Holy Fire Baptism.

Closing Words
While it may be natural to prioritize sleep, we see plenty of examples of people in the Bible being awake during the night seeking the Lord, which teaches us that this was a greater priority than sleep for them. These people included our Lord Jesus, in whose steps we should follow, as well as Paul, who said to follow him as he followed Christ. Other examples include the psalmists and the saints in the first century church, who sometimes pulled "all-nighters" in prayer, worship, and listening to the Word.

Based on what we know from Scripture, due to the prayer life that Jesus maintained, we could safely conclude that He probably operated with a sleep deficit during His days on earth. The same could also be said of Paul and many of his fellow first-century disciples. These students were not above their Teacher, but once they had been fully trained, they became like their Teacher. As Jesus Himself said, "The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher." (Lk 6:40, NIV).

According to Scripture, the Lord gives sleep to those He loves, so we don't need to fret and toil at our occupations from the time we get up until we go to bed. We can go to bed trusting Him to provide for us. Yet even though He does give sleep to us, we should not love sleep or make it a top priority above God and His will for our lives. We should always remember that God and His glorious presence with us is our primary source of rest, not sleep. When we come to Christ and He is our focus, then He'll keep us in perfect peace and give us rest for our souls. Then we will be able to sleep peacefully through the furious storms of life. As we maintain wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and discretion, we will enjoy sweet sleep.

Finally, the time has come for us to wake up, arise from the dead, and strengthen what remains, so that Christ may shine on us. We are nearer now to Christ's soon return than when we first believed, and each day we are another day closer to it, so let's stay awake and keep our clothes, so that we will not go about shamefully exposed.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures where indicated are from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission.Image of Jesus Praying All Night may be subject to copyright, used according to the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes. The first boat in the storm painting is Christ Asleep in His Boat, by Jules Joseph Meynier. The second boat in storm painting is Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee - 1695, by Ludolf Bakhuizen.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also see the following: Who Intercedes for UsCrying Out to God Loudly, Lifting Your Face in Prayer, Lifting Hands in Prayer, Praying Heart-Prayers, Standing in the Gap, and Baptized with the Holy Spirit. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and you may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.