Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spiritual obesity

Never go shopping on an empty stomach. That is what they say when you go to the Supermarket. It makes you buy what isn't really required. However that principle doesn't apply when you come into the presence of the Lord. There should be an unquenchable hunger within. Why? Jesus said it was the source of being happy (Matt.5:6.Ps.42:1.)Notice however what would produce such happiness, righteousness! If you accept the statement of Jesus would you say that many of the Disciples of Jesus are happy and satisfied?

Most people imagine that happiness requires lots and lots of things before and more than righteousness. When you read the warnings the Lord gave to Israel through Moses it is evident He saw materialism as a great danger. Read Deuteronomy 8:11-14,17. To conquer the promised land had its dangers and battles. The greatest and most long lasting threat was not combat but Mammon. The trappings of wealth would make them self satisfied, spiritually lazy and obese. Such attitudes makes a person, family, community or nation forget God and what He has done and promised.

Spiritual Obesity is a western world curse, especially within a Church scene. Forty years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ Jesus certain facets of the Church were 'fat, self satisfied and content in their materialism. It is highlighted by the church of Laodicea. (Revelation 3:14-18) Result...pride, forgetfulness, arrogance etc. Today the Church is obese in materialism; prosperity doctrine, emotionalism, self achievement (all for God’s benefit mind you --- ha!) Affluence has robbed the church of its health and stamina in righteousness, justice, stewardship and mission. It is unrighteous I the Lord's eyes.
No hunger for God. Filled with ‘junk food.’ How would you define 'junk food?' Doing good, holding interesting activities and building impressive buildings or projects to their own ego rather than doing the Lord's will or worship. Jesus has a 'Cafe' where He offers spiritually and morally healthy and nourishing food. There is a high admittance cost for Jesus said 'If anyone comes after me they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow.' Matthew 16:24.

There’s a spiritual ‘dietary’ battle going on. The World wants to stuff us with things that dull our hunger senses. God endeavours to change our ‘eating’ habits. We should pray that God would make us hungry. When that happens we are on the verge of some new taste sensations. As the Bible puts it, Taste and see that the Lord is gracious. 1 Peter 2:3 Ps.34:8.119:103
Some hesitate to taste new foods. Others have few inhibitions. What then are the gourmet dishes of Heaven?
Bread...John 6:35.(Jesus)
Water...John 4:14 (Holy Spirit).
Milk...1 Peter 2:2.
Meat...Heb.5:12-14. Honey...Ps.19:9-11 . 119:103.(Word)

How and where do we find the Jesus ‘CafĂ©!'
His invitation comes wrapped in the good news of the cross. Unattractive on the outside it may seem but when you embrace the invitation it takes you into communion with God and an ever increasing hunger for Him. Paul in Phil. 3:8. says it all, I want to know Him!. How can I hunger for God? I personally doubt the long term success of well presented, well prepared programs aimed at motivating an obese church. Only when we feel the prodigal’s hunger pangs that humble us and drive us back to the Father will we become a trim, slim, health and attractive disciple and church.

Don’t confuse hunger for activity for God. Nor is it religious observances.
Hunger is when you desire, in whatever circumstance surrounds you, is... “Father, be glorified in and through me.”
When you fail your prayer is “Father forgive me and make me a testimony of your grace.”
When faced with all the latest philosophies about life your prayer is... “Father teach me Your Word.”

I find it interesting that many church growth proponents look to the American scene for inspiration. Why beats me. It is obese in materials, resources, concessions and ego. I believe the place to look is the suffering Church in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Their situation is grim under persecution and lack yet they remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is hungry and poor but its heart is satisfied with the grace and power of the Lord Jesus. Such a fellowship of Faith is well pleasing to the Lord and an offence to the World. May its influence increase!

Ray (the hungry) Hawkins

Sunday, October 20, 2013

God the Messiah

Series…David. Psalm 110. Great David’s Greater Son.

Most know I’m not a fan of ‘Jig-saws’. However I do like word games. Within the Bible you can combine the two. To get a proper completed ‘picture’ of events – people – promises you need to research and fit things together without force.

This is especially true when researching Jesus.
In Luke 20 we witness an intense day of questioning. It begins in Matt. 21:9, 15-16. when the children celebrated the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem on the foal of an ass. “Hosanna to the son of David, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The Chief priests and Teachers of the Law objected. Why? Knew it was a Messianic title. Later in temple precincts and after series of questions Jesus asks one. Luke 20:41-44. (Ps.110) How was it that David said ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “sit on my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool.” This most quoted Psalm pushes us into a corner. It is a ‘jig-saw piece’ expressing Deity. In Hebrew the opening line reads “Yahweh said unto my Adonai…! Both these terms refer to God. Yahweh…Gen.2: 4. Adonai…Gen. 15:2. (in v.1 Yahweh is used) Ps. 35:23.

There is no way, esp. in the Hebrew culture would a father refer to a son in this way. The Jewish leaders knew it. By accepting the accolades from the crowd and throwing down this challenge Jesus was offering a vital piece for their mind and faith in understanding who He is.

The authorities had access to the births etc. They knew Jesus birth details and that He was of David’s line. They reacted to the Title ‘Son of David.’ And its Messianic implications, If no resurrection then they are correct. However it is the resurrection which verifies the claims of Jesus as Paul the convinced Rabbi stresses in Romans 1:2, 3.

50 days after crucifixion Peter gives the 1st sermon in Acts 2 about the crucified Jesus called the Christ. It is in essence a ‘year of Jubilee’ message. All debts cancelled. Freedom from debt to God has been achieved. What scripture used? Ps. 16:6-11. then Ps. 110. The resurrection of Jesus the Messiah is again the guarantee. Notice the promise ‘sit' at my right hand until…’ Christ Jesus’ work is finished. He now occupies the place of Honor in Glory. What is Jesus doing now on the throne? According to Hebrews 8:1. (7:25) He is our Advocate and our Warrior Lord waiting for the time to be fulfilled to return to earth. He will return and fulfill the promises made to David and rule from Zion and make Jerusalem the praise in all the earth! Isaiah 2. 9. 62:7. 65:17, 18.

This is only possible if Jesus is the fulfillment of Ps. 110. Jesus is the Emmanuel, God with us! He is the fulfillment of Psalm 110 and all others relating to the Messiah. Consider the beautiful Aaronic blessing i the light of the commission given by Jesus to His disciples. They, we, are to penetrate this world and make disciples in THE Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Only an acceptance of the Godhead – The Name – (Matt. 28:19, 20) helps us appreciate Deuteronomy 6:4.’Hear O Israel the Lord (Yahweh) our God (Elohim -- plural) is one Lord (Yahweh). The threefold use of ‘the Lord’ in the blessing of Numbers 4:24-26 takes on deeper and more awesome dimensions.

‘The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious to thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.’
Here is the Godhead, the mystery of mysteries and the wonder of wonders, making Himself known in the most beautiful of blessings to Israel.
Ray (the convinced) Hawkins.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Health matter.

Heed the Warnings or Pay the Consequences
Reading Deuteronomy 28.

Don’t drink alcohol and drive is the police warning. There are consequences.
This is a similar warning Moses gave in Deuteronomy/Leviticus.

Deuteronomy is 2nd reading of the Law first given 40years previous.
Why necessary? Numbers 14:20-24 The nation had the opportunity to possess the land. However a negative report by ten of the 12 spies swayed the people to refuse to trust God’s promise. It resulted in 38 years of wasted time as a generation missed out on entering the land.
In Leviticus 26 Moses spelt out consequences of unbelief and disobedience. Approximately 40 years later he repeats the message to the second generation in Deuteronomy 28. This has some more detail. Within both are particular issues of health.

The Warnings.
God sees the future. He warned the Nation what would happen if they persisted in unbelief and treason.
Is the Lord God to blame if the people ignore His warnings and judgement falls?

Dt.28:21-22; 27-28;35;59-61 list the health issue which would afflict the nation.
The Lord isn’t passive or indifferent when His people sin.

Solomon’s prayer based upon Deuteronomy 28-30.
The occasion was his dedication of the Temple. 1 Kings 8. 2 Chronicles 6-7.
Christians like to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 (or at least a part of it) and apply it to the Lord hearing our prayers for rain or other nationals matters. However this isn’t the Church’s prayer or the Gentile nations. It is Israel’s. Sure there are principles for us but we do not pray towards Jerusalem (Daniel did) There isn’t any temple on which to focus our attention. Our Mediator is in Heaven. He is Jesus our Great High Priest. The land of Israel alone has been promised such blessing or cursing as reward or judgement. (Do a study on ‘This land is my land says the Lord).

Solomon was reminding the Nation of their privileges and responsibilities as at the same time holding Yahweh to His promises. We are also able to do this but in the light of the New Testament teaching on repentance, faith and obedience.

The Prophets make their judgements from the standpoint of the Law and the warnings and rewards given under Moses and endorsed by God again at the dedication of the Temple.
Isaiah’s estimation of Israel’s spiritual condition is in ch.1:5-7. 5:24b-25. As you read these verses and similar ones from other prophets a strong impression begins to form. In matters of health and healing it isn’t a matter of individual sickness or sinfulness. References to sickness in various expressions reveal this fact. It is an estimation of the national rejection of God. As such they are spiritually and morally sick, deformed, corrupt and as such are offensive to God and powerless. The result…Isaiah 6:9-10. (Matt.13:13-15)
The people could see the visible affects of their unbelief and lawlessness but didn’t care. How could the Lord God deal with this breach of Covenant and preserve the nation and ensure the coming of the Messiah? That great, indeed, awesome passage of Isaiah 53 about the smitten, suffering and rising again Servant of Yahweh. This is why the prophets were able to foretell a future time when the Nation would realise their sin, sickness, corruption and offensive odour has been dealt with by Messiah Jesus on the cross.

This is why th prophet Hosea is able to say as he sees the future ‘I (Yahweh) will heal their backsliding (and its consequences). I will love them freely, for my anger has turned away from him.’

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Babylon in Scripture

Isaiah 47:1-15. Babylon – Historical and Mystery.

The Bible is a tale of two cities. Each is hostile to the other. Each seeks to convert and prevail. One city is aligned to the powers of Darkness, the other to the Lord of Light. To understand the spiritual and moral forces in the world it is important to have an understanding of these two cities. People live in or are continually confronted by Babylon and Jerusalem.

Babylon – It’s Beginnings and founder. Genesis 10:8-12.
Nimrod = Rebel. A mighty warrior 1 Chronicles. 1:10. is credited with building Babel (Gen. 11:1-9) and founding Babylon (Micah 5:6.) His purpose – one world government and security from any future judgement from the Lord God of Heaven and earth. Nimrod set up a rival worship system which has influenced all the religions of the world. This man, brilliant and forceful in opposing the will and word of Yahweh is the first type of the Anti-Christ. Two features marked him and the future Lawless one(2 Thessalonians. 2:8.) who exalts self to the point of wanting worship. (Dan. 11:36-39.)

Babylon means confusion and mixture. From this city under the influence of Nimrod it became the centre of the occult. Its realm is darkness expressing itself in moral behaviour contrary to God’s character and teaching whilst possessing self-righteous and idolatrous practices.

Babylon – Its dominance and Delusion.
The political power of Babylon was destroyed by the Medes and Persians. However its spiritual and moral influence continued. It’s realm is of the Devil. What the city portrays the Devil promotes throughout this world. It is called ‘Mystery Babylon.’

When we look through the Bible it becomes clear why the Lord God is so opposed to Babylon as a city and its worldwide influence! You can gauge this from the following references
Jeremiah 50:24. It opposes the Lord.
Jeremiah 50:29. Defied the Lord.
Jeremiah 51:11. Destroyed the Jerusalem Temple.
Revelation 18:2,3 The centre of the occult.
Revelation 18:11-13, It is obsessed with greed and slavery.
Revelation 18:24. The blood of prophets and martyred believers in Jesus Christ flows in its streets and wherever it rules. On top of that this city of the kingdom of Darkness practices the magic arts and enslaves people through combining it with drugs. Revelation 9:21. 22:15. 18:23 Everything it does and promotes violates the very holiness of God and denies the grace and goodness of the Creator Redeemer.

As if that wasn’t enough for Judgement by God the most offensive and direct challenge to our Lord is the claim in Isaiah 47:8, 10. ‘I am. There is none besides me. c/- Zephaniah. 2:15. This is an usurping of the Name of God and His eternity. It is a direct challenge to a contest of might. It is a call to men and women to choose which city they are citizens of. God does not allow rival sovereigns. There can ever only be One God supreme over all. This is so important in understanding who Jesus is. He claimed to be “I Am.” He illustrated this title 7 times in the gospel of John as well as saying ‘before Abraham, I am’. If this wasn’t true the Lord God of Heaven would have destroyed him. The Jewish Sanhedrin authorized Jesus death by crucifixion on charges of blasphemy. If true Jesus would still be in the tomb. The wonder of the resurrection is testimony to the truth of who He is and what He achieved. It is also the assurance of His return.

Therefore pretenders to sovereignty must be judged and destroyed. In Scripture such an event is called the Day of the Lord. When the final and ultimate judgement falls upon Babylon it becomes like Sodom and Gomorrah. Never to be inhabited. (it is at this moment.) except by desert creatures. A swampland it will be. Consider the following references:
Jeremiah 51:59-64. The near and the final destructions foretold.
Jeremiah 50:12. A wilderness, dry land, desert. 50:13. Not inhabited. 13:39. Never again inhabited. 51:25,26. Nothing will be salvaged from its destruction.

It is the direct judgement of God and not the intervention of Humankind. It happens in 1 day. (Revelation 18:10,17 says ‘one hour’).

The call of the Lord is to come out of the spiritual/moral/self-righteous darkness of Mystery Babylon and link up with the City in which the Lord God has set His Name and Fame. The eternal city is Jerusalem and you become one of its citizens by a personal commitment of your life to its Sovereign. You know who He is: it is Jesus Christ the risen Lord, the great I Am. Your act of faith and obedience to Him becomes your passport to eternal life with Him.

Ray (a citizen) Hawkins.