Mystic Moments: In Humbleness, Give Thanks

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Let our whole body, then, be preserved in, Christ Jesus; and let everyone be subject to his neighbor, according to the special gift bestowed upon him.  Let the strong not despise the weak, and let the weak show respect unto the strong.  Let the rich man provide for the wants of the poor; and let the poor man bless God, because He hath given him one by whom his need may be supplied.  Let the wise man display his wisdom, not by [mere] words, but through good deeds. Let the humble not bear testimony to himself, but leave witness to be borne to him by another.  Let him that is pure in the flesh not grow proud of it, and boast, knowing that it was another who bestowed on him the gift of continence.  Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were made, — who and what manner of beings we came into the world, as it were out of a sepulcher, and from utter darkness.  He who made us and fashioned us, having prepared His bountiful gifts for us before we were born, introduced us into His world.  Since, therefore, we receive all these things from Him, we ought for everything to give Him thanks; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  – St. Clement

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Poor in Spirit: Satan Part 5

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Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is a match for you.  By your wisdom and understanding you have acquired riches for yourself and have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries.  By your great wisdom, by your trade you have increased your riches and your heart is lifted up because of your riches.  (Ezekiel 28:3-5, NASB) 

When man trusts in himself he has created fool’s wisdom to be his guide.  In our passage Satan uses his wisdom to become rich.  These riches in turn made his heart to be lifted up in pride; it was pride because becoming rich was done by no other source than through his own wisdom.  True wisdom comes from God and leads to true riches.  The man who is poor in spirit has godly wisdom from the source of all knowledge – the living God

Because Satan, or the man or woman who is not poor in spirit, has the world’s riches his heart is lifted up – why?  Because when a person has riches not from the Lord he or she is tempted to find his or her security, their sense of worth, and/or his or her master in riches.  There is nothing wrong with riches if you are a good steward of what God has given you.  But when your riches control you then you are controlled by something other than God.  With the Lord no longer in control you cease to be poor in spirit and pride develops in your heart.

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.  Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  (Luke 12:42-44, NASB) 

Ezekiel 28:6-10 describes the judgment placed upon Satan for his sin of pride.  We need to examine ourselves and avoid the same fate.

Meditate upon the following Scriptures and pray how to apply them to your life: 

Of what use is money in the hand of a [self-confident] fool to buy skillful and godly Wisdom – when he has no understanding or heart for it?  (Proverbs 17:16, Amplified)

Wisdom is the focus of the perceptive, but a fool’s eyes roam to the ends of the earth.  (Proverbs 17:24, HCSB) 

Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool.  (Ecclesiastes 10:3, NASB) 

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.  (Matthew 6:24, NKJV)

As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasures and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit.  (Matthew 13:22, Amplified) 

As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God…  (1 Timothy 6:17, Amplified)

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:19-21, NASB)

Teleios: Perfected in Love

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Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God.   And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.  In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world.  There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.  So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.  We love because He first loved us.  (1 John 4:15-19, emphasis added)

In this passage we find that the love has been perfected and is perfect.  In other words, love is completed as to its mission amongst the redeemed; nothing needs to be added to love – the will of God has been accomplished. What has perfect love accomplished?  What does this look like in the life of the believer?

Love is perfected with us (or among us in other translations).  Because love is perfected through our Savior we are His.  This is a love shared amongst community.  We are saved from wrath individually, but we experience this love within community.  This is love perfected with us.  Love is only experienced in relationship and God’s will is that we experience love with Him and with one another in community.

Perfect love drives out fear.  The believer stands redeemed, his or her ransom being paid.  As such there is no fear of punishment for his or her sin.  Love accomplished that.  Love keeps us there.  From our standpoint this is perfect love – a redeeming love.  From God’s perspective this is also perfect love – a restoration of His perfect will, an intimate relationship with His creation.  When the believer realizes this love from all views, the perfect love of God is more fully understood and experienced.

Why?  How?  There is perfection in love because He first loved us.  Everything good comes from the love of the Father.  Only He can love perfectly.  Only He can perfect/complete love in us.

Waiting: Do Not Lie Against the Truth

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

Do not lie against the truth while waiting on God with great hope.

But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  (James 3:14-16, NKJV)

To boast against and lie against the truth is an evil occurrence and is contrary to Christian character and is a warning sign of a big problem.  When something is wrong it needs a fix.  In this passage drawn from James, he is comparing heavenly wisdom to earthly wisdom.  These verses show the fruits of earthly wisdom.

If you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts.  Bitter envy and self-seeking are the twin sinful acts which indicate a flaw in your character and signal our growth in developing character has stalled.  Envy and self-seeking are the result of putting our own sinful desires ahead of the self-sacrificial example we have in Jesus Christ.  When our eyes turn towards self we are not walking after the truth revealed to us.  As slaves of the Lord we are to serve His wishes and fulfill His pleasures.  To rebel against our Master is to seek the will of ourselves.  We have a good Master who wants the best for us.  As we wait upon God we surrender our will to the hands of the Master who leads us into all truth, to live by it, for our benefit and for His glory.

Do not boast and lie against the truth.  The fruit of our envy and self-seeking is we are boasting against and lying against the truth.  If we are walking according to the Spirit of truth our fruit will be love for the Savior and love for man.  To boast and lie against the truth is to have perverted love for the self, which is not love at all.  As you wait upon God allow the Spirit of truth to test your character to see if it is contrary to the truth.

This wisdom does not descend from above.  However we may justify envy and self-seeking we can be sure this is not godly behavior.  God is self-sacrificing and is love.  The Father’s wisdom, His truth, leads His children to a life of benevolence to other men and woman and not a self-serving life driven by his or her own selfish desires.  As you wait upon the Lord ask Him to work in your heart to place His desire and will into you and the empowerment to live the life of self-sacrifice and service towards others.  Wait upon God and ask Him to fill your life with the wisdom that comes from above, that comes from the Father.

But is earthly, sensual, demonic.  The source of this wisdom not from above is earthly, sensual, and demonic.  Earthly is belonging to the earth or attached to it.  As citizens of heaven our attachment should not be to the earth but to the Redeemer who redeemed us.  Sensual is natural, as in human nature.  The old man is the natural man and the new man is the spiritual man.  The disciple lives after the Spirit and not after the flesh.  Demonic is belonging to the devil.  We belong to the Father and should behave as His child would.  Wait upon the Lord and check your heart for earthly, sensual, and demonic influences affecting your choices and then surrender them to the Holy Spirit.

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  The result of envy and self-seeking is confusion and every evil thing that is in your heart.  We can agree this is not a place we want to go.  We are waiting on God to be led by the truth.  If we are confused there is something wrong.  If there is a problem the time to act is before it arises.  Sanctification and discipleship are needed to develop the character which never comes to this point of confusion and evil.

If you recognize a problem in your character deal with it now by acknowledging it as sin and turning it over to God.  Then wait with hope for the Holy Spirit to lead you on to all truth.

Mystic Moments: Exhortation to Repentance

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Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling.  Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us.  Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world.  Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him.  Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved. Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God.  – St. Clement

Poor in Spirit: Satan Part 4

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Because your heart is lifted up, and you say, “I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas,” yet you are a man, and not a god, though you set your heart as the heart of a god.  (Ezekiel 28:2, NKJV) 

We have previously discussed the heart as being some aspect of the immaterial inner self or being, because the heart is considered to be the seat of one’s inner nature.  This is where pride is developed – in the heart.  When pride is developed and is allowed to take control it takes the place of God in our lives.  We then become like Satan believing we are above the Lord.  We may not express it verbally as Satan did, but we become like him nonetheless.  If we develop the character of being poor in spirit, we will not develop pride in our heart because we then desire earnestly to have the Loving Father direct every step in our lives and show us the way.

Meditate on the following Scriptures and pray how to apply them to your life: 

If I have walked with falsehood, and my foot has hastened after deceit, let Him weigh me with accurate scales, and let God know my integrity.  If my step has turned from the way, or my heart followed my eyes, or if any spot has stuck to my hands, then let me sow and another eat, and let my crops be uprooted.  (Job 31:5-8, NASB)  

Make my steps through Your promise; don’t let any sin dominate me.  (Psalm 119:133, HCSB) 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB) 

O LORD [pleads Jeremiah in the name of the people], I know that [the determination of] the way of a man is not in himself; it is not in man [even in a strong man or in a man at best] to direct his [own] steps.  (Jeremiah 10:23, Amplified)

May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.  (2 Thessalonians 3:5, NASB) 

A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.  (Proverbs 16:9, HCSB)

For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.  (Psalm 31:3, NKJV)

I[the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.  (Psalm 32:8, Amplified) 

For such is God, our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.  (Psalm 48:14, NASB) 

You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me up in glory.  (Psalm 73:24. HCSB)

The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the willful contrariness and crookedness of the treacherous shall destroy them.  (Proverbs 11:3, Amplified)

They will not hunger or thirst, the scorching heat or sun will not strike them; for their compassionate One will guide them and lead them to springs of water.  (Isaiah 49:10, HCSB) 

And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and strong your bones.  And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.  (Isaiah 58:11, Amplified)

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  (John 16:13, NASB)

Teleios: Maturity and Stumbling

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For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature (teleios) man who is also able to control his whole body.  (James 3:2)

Stumbling is easy for the Christian and is a common experience for all of us.  The teleios is a measurement of the moment of where we are at in our journey.  The use of our speech, or what we post on social media is an opportunity to stumble with our expression.

A sign of spiritual maturity is how a Christian speaks; does he or she speak in love with the goal of edification?

If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  (1 Cor 13:1)

No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.  (Ephesians 4:29)

The whole man or woman is in mind with the statement of control over the whole body.  Self-control is a mark of spiritual maturity as seen in the following growth passages:

His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.   For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (2 Peter 1:3-8)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

Do not get discouraged that you have not reached the goal of teleios.  Do measure yourself from time to time with the desire to grow in your faith and build godly character.  Submit to the work of the Holy Spirit and let God grow you His way.  Perfecting the saint is the business of the Lord; allow Him to work in you.

Waiting: The Local Church as the Pillar of Truth

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

The house of God is a pillar and ground of the truth and we are a part of this by waiting on Him with great hope.

But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.  (1 Timothy 3:15, NKJV)

Paul is writing Timothy to instruct him how the local church assembly is to be operating.  The local church, as part of the larger universal church, is referred to as the pillar and ground of truthThe Nelson Study Bible offers the following concerning this phrase:

“Misconduct and disorder in the local church weaken the support for God’s truth in the world.  Godly men and women gathering together in local assemblies to worship the Lord produce an orderly church, a church that testifies to others the truth of God.”

How you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God.  Timothy already knew how to conduct himself as a disciple of Paul and pastor of the local church in Ephesus.  Paul’s relationship with Timothy was that of father to a son (1 Timothy 1:2) and he had trained Timothy in ministry through on the job training in their travels together.  Paul is addressing those in the assembly, as to their conduct.  Church discipline and the discipleship of the believers are in view here.  Timothy’s job was to teach and lead by example, so his congregation would behave Christlike.  The church, in being a witness to the pagan world around it, needed to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of Christ.  Truth is Christ and believers are to bear His image in truth.

Which is the church of the living God.  In the Greek church is the called-out ones.  The church is a body of believers called out of the world into salvation through the grace of God.  This word was used of pagans for the meeting of citizens by the town officials.  The local church is then seen as an assembly of believers in the one true and living God.  As we wait upon the Lord we need to be empowered to be the church called out and separate from the world.

The pillar and ground of truth.  The Greek word for pillar is a stay, a support, a prop, a post.  Ground is firm, stable ground, base, support, or foundation.  The church is thus a pillar, a prop or support of the truth.  As members of the body of Christ our conduct matters.  People are watching us to see how we act.  Are we acting in love or with bitterness?  Are we patient or angry?

We are to support the truth within us by living with Christlike character and purpose.  Waiting is the process God uses to shape our character and understand our purpose.  Slow down.  Don’t rush.  Be still and know that He is Lord.

Poor in Spirit: Satan Part 3

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I will ascend above the heights of the clouds…  (Isaiah 14:14, NASB)           

We see that Satan wants to ascend above the clouds, into God’s domain.  The pride of Satan continues in this classic I will section of Scripture.  The arrogance is seen plainly: it is not I will try, but rather I will.  Satan is under the impression that he can defeat the Living God and take control of the heavens.  Pride is once again the opposite of being poor in spirit because pride sets itself up above, or as the anti-God in the place of God.  From Scripture we know that Satan has been defeated already and does not stand a chance to come out victoriously in his plans:

And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet…  (Romans 16:20, Amplified)  

Then He will also say to those on the left, “Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!  (Matthew 25:41, HCSB)  

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also: and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  (Revelation 20:10, NASB)

Clouds could be rendered cloud which can lead to another possibility in its interpretation.  Could this possibly be a reference to the Shekinah glory, God’s presence which manifests Itself as a cloud as in the Exodus or in other passages of Scripture?

The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.  (Exodus 13:21, NASB, emphasis added)

Then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shinning of a flaming fire by night.  For over all the glory there will be a covering(Isaiah 4:5, NKJV, emphasis added)

Satan is so puffed up with pride that he wants his glory to be above that of God.  Pride not only wants the self to replace the Lord God on the throne, but desires to go beyond that.  The self is exalted to a place far above God.  This happens when the self takes control and rebels against the Lord and believes, even boasts that it can do better than the Living God.  This is contrary to being poor in spirit.

I will make myself like the Most High.  (Isaiah 14:4, NASB)

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.  (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, NASB)

The master of deception will present himself as God during the Tribulation period and will even set himself up to be worshipped as God.  How often do we fall into the trap of presenting ourselves as god of our own lives?  How often do we make plans in opposition to the will of God?  How often do we go down a road that we are not called to go down?  How often do we keep and feed a sin in our life that we are commanded to give up?  Everybody needs to examine himself and see if he – like Satan, the Antichrist – is playing God.

Isaiah 14:15-21 describes the damage that Satan does, and his ultimate demise as seen in an earlier post.  What damage are we causing to ourselves when we play God?  What damage is being done to others?  Let us examine ourselves.

Examine yourself and see if you – like Satan – are playing God.  If there is an area in your life where you are still in control, surrender it to the Lord today.

Mystic Moments: New Birth

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No good Life can possibly be in us, but by the Word, Life, and Spirit, of God having a Birth in us.  And from this Birth alone it is, that the free, genuine Works of Goodness flow forth with the Freedom of the Divine Life, wherewith the Spirit of God has made us free; loving and doing all manner of Good, merely for Goodness-sake; virtuous in all kind of Virtue, purely for Virtue-sake: Then we are the natural true Children of our Heavenly Father and do the Works of Heaven with a cheerful and willing Mind.  Then it is, that we are good in the manner as God is good, because it is his Goodness that is born in us; we are perfect as he is perfect, we love as he loves, are patient as he is patient, we give as he gives, we forgive as he forgives, and resist Evil only with Good as he does. – William Law