Saturday, November 30, 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 The Timeless Beauty of Holiness

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.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Timeless Beauty of Holiness

The Scriptures teach us about the beauty of holiness, which is critical for us to understand, especially in a world where the latest fashions determine what society considers beautiful.

As the psalmist prayed: "Your statutes, LORD, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days." (Ps 93:5, NIV).

In this verse, the Hebrew word for "adorn" is nâ'âh (pronounced naw-aw'), which means "to be pleasant (or suitable), that is, beautiful: - be beautiful, become, be comely." (Strongs). In other words, we could say "holiness is what makes your house beautiful for endless days." Holiness is pleasant, beautiful, becoming, and comely. In fact, some English versions word it that way.

"O LORD, holiness is what makes your house beautiful for days without end." (GW).

"Holiness befits Your house, O LORD, forevermore."  (NASB)

"Holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever." (KJV)

Since the Scripture says that holiness makes the Lord's house beautiful forevermore, and since we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, then holiness is what makes us beautiful forevermore. It is holiness, not fashion, that makes us comely. Holiness is becoming of us as God's holy people, and pleasant -- not only to the soul of the one who possesses it, but pleasant to behold such a saint. Fashions may come and go with the passing of time, but the timeless beauty of holiness lasts throughout all ages.

Matthew Henry wrote:

"All his people ought to be conscientiously pure: Holiness becomes thy house, O Lord! for ever. God's church is his house; it is a holy house, cleansed from sin, consecrated by God, and employed in his service. The holiness of it is its beauty (nothing better becomes the saints than conformity to God's image and an entire devotedness to his honour), and it is its strength and safety; it is the holiness of God's house that secures it against the many waters and their noise. Where there is purity there shall be peace. Fashions change, and that which is becoming at one time is not so at another; but holiness always becomes God's house and family, and those who belong to it; it is perpetually decent; and nothing so ill becomes the worshipers of the holy God as unholiness."

I agree with Matthew Henry, yet today the Church has compromised with the world and accepted worldly fashions, so that believers adorn themselves immodestly, artificially, and impurely. Whatever is vogue for the world has become vogue for Christians, too. That includes makeup, jewelry, unnatural hairdo's, piercing, tattoos, and immodest or revealing clothing that can cause others to stumble.  Such things should have no place in the life of a true saint whose life is devoted to Jesus.

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." (1Co 6:19-20).

Since our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, then whatever applied to the physical temple of Israel on earth, and whatever applies to God's holy temple in heaven, should also apply to our bodies. The Scriptures say that God's temple is in heaven (Heb 8:2, 5; 9:11, 24; Ps 11:4; 18:6; Hab 2:20; 2 Sam 22:7; Mic 1:2; Jonah 2:7; Rev 7:15; 11:19; 14:15,17; 15:5-6; 16:1, 17), and that nothing unclean or impure is allowed there (Rev 21:27; 22:15). Likewise, there should be nothing unclean or impure allowed in our lives, including not just our hearts and minds, but also on our bodies.

"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' Therefore, 'Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.' And, 'I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.'" (2Co 6:16-18).

We live in a day when the worship of humans is common place and it is normal for people to make women, as well as men, into idols. This ought not be so in the Church, which is the house of God. When men and women adorn themselves artificially to beautify themselves, it leads to idolatry. And the Scripture says there is no agreement between God's temple and idols.

This is true at all times, wherever we may be, but especially in the place of worship. Yet take a look at the way people dress and adorn themselves in the house of God, wherever the Church assembles around the world, and you will typically find worldliness and immodesty.

Albert Barnes wrote:
"The psalm seems to have been intended to be used in the sanctuary, as a part of public worship, and the word 'holiness' here would seem to mean a proper respect for God; confidence in him; a state of mind free from all doubt, and from all that is impure. Perhaps there may be here, also, the idea that in all the convulsions of the world; in all that threatens to overthrow truth and righteousness; in all the attacks which are made on the divine government; in all the efforts of the defenders of error, and in the midst of abounding iniquity, the church should maintain a firm adherence to the principles of 'holiness,' to that which is right and true. There should be one place - the church - where there would be no wavering in regard to truth and holiness; one place, where the truth would be defended whatever commotions might be abroad. The main idea, therefore, in the psalm is, that, in view of the fact that God reigns, and that nothing can frustrate his plans, or disturb his throne, we should approach him with reverence, with humble trust, with sincere and pure hearts."

"In a larger sense, also, in the largest sense conceivable - it is true that 'holiness,' purity, freedom from evil thoughts, from a wanton eye and a wanton imagination, from unholy plans and purposes, should prevail in the house of God, and should be regarded as indispensable to proper worship. As heaven is pure, and as there shall enter there nothing 'that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie' (Rev 21:27), so in the place where we seek to prepare for that holy world - the sanctuary of God - nothing should be allowed to enter that is impure and polluting; nothing that tends to corrupt or defile the soul. It may be added, that attendance in a place of public worship is calculated to make the heart pure, and to banish unholy thoughts and purposes from the soul. A man who feels that he is in the presence of a holy God, will not be likely to welcome into his soul polluted images and unholy desires."

John Wesley wrote:

"It becometh thy people to be holy in all their approach to thee."

The reason it is becoming of His saints to be holy in all things as we approach God is that He Himself is holy and He requires holiness in our lives. The Lord says, "Be holy, even as I am holy." Scripture also says, "From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth." (Ps 50:2, NIV). Not only is Zion perfect in beauty, but God Himself is perfect in beauty. The Brenton English Septuagint translates this verse to say, "Out of Zion comes the excellence of His beauty." (Psa 50:2). He is beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words. He is more beautiful than diamonds. David's one desire was to dwell in God's house forever, gazing upon His beauty and seeking Him in His temple (Ps 27:4). Therefore, God is both holy and beautiful, but He is never artificial. In fact, His holiness and beauty are perfect, and He makes all things beautiful in His time (Ecc 3:11). That includes man, who is made in His image.

Closing Words
As we have learned from Scripture, holiness adorns God's house forevermore, so that will never change. It's true of His temple in heaven and His temple on earth. That means  holiness is what makes us, His temple, beautiful. Since holiness is what makes us beautiful, then we must keep ourselves free from being polluted by the world with its ungodly fashions (Jam 1:27).

The Lord is not only concerned with our hearts, as is mostly emphasized in the Church today, but He is also concerned with our bodies as well.  He calls us to purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God (2 Cor 7:1). This ensures that we remain beautiful in His sight. But it also has the added benefit of making us beautiful in the natural, wholesome way that God originally intended, when He made us in His image. This is the timeless beauty of holiness.

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. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, please also see the following: Garments of Godliness, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine RevelationsKeeping Your Body Pure and HolyCarrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Separation from the World, The Forgotten Sin of WorldlinessTattoos and Body Piercing, Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?Holy Living in a Perverted World, Aim for PerfectionFollowing in His StepsCalled to be Blameless, Ask for the Ancient Paths, 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.

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.