(We) the People Want a King!

There is an extremely relevant passage back in the 9th book of the Bible, in the Old Testament and it is found in 1 Samuel chapter 8. In it the prophet Samuel was also serving as a judge over the people of Israel at that time. It tells us that when he was old he “made his sons judges over Israel…yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.”

The elders of Israel, then, rightly rejected the sons’ behavior and leadership saying, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge over us like all the nations.” THIS WAS A BIG PROBLEM. Why? Samuel was quite displeased when they (the people of the land and their representatives) asked for a king and he prayed to the Lord. Almighty God responded by saying, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but THEY HAVE REJECTED ME from being King over them.”

We as a nation have done this not once, but twice and we seem on course to do it a third time! The first time was when the majority of us put our hope in a man who disappointed us terribly, albeit we did it in ignorance. Worse still, and incomprehensibly so, we did it again by reelecting the same man even after having witnessed the wanton and previously-unparalleled, never-before-seen lawlessness of our current and first only “king” (as the fruit of his actions bears itself out). Now, however, the pendulum is swinging the other direction towards a candidate on the conservative side, rather than the liberal side. Though I align myself politically with the conservatives, the right’s allegiance and hope in the long-held front-runner is misplaced.

The relevance I mentioned in the first sentence lies in the fact that America is on extremely shaky ground in the natural realm as well as the spiritual realm. In fact, our spiritually-diseased condition is being seen, heard and felt in the visible world. In our hearts, words and deeds we are sending the loud and clear message, “Give us a king!” We don’t want THE King, the Creator, the Lord God Almighty. We want someone else. Almost anyone else, as a matter of fact. It is extremely reminiscent – the Lord just spoke to me- of a New Testament passage found n John 18: 39b-40 when the people were asked by Pilate, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’ But they cried out, ‘Not this man [Jesus], but Barabbas!’” Again they did not want THE King.

While we must never put our hope and trust in simply a man, it is quite clear that we as a nation, and virtually the entire world along with us, have not changed in our hearts since man first chose to disobey and thus show who or what we want to rule over us- our sinful nature, what the Bible calls “the flesh.” This is no secret to the Lord Jesus Christ and that’s why He declared in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find [choose] it are few.” As when the people of Israel rejected God and He gave them Saul, God gave us Barack Obama (in response to our wishes). Look where that brought us because a then-majority’s voice was heard. Now it seems we still have not learned to want a true king, and a new majority’s voice will be heard. And God will give us__________? He or she may not be any better, but different. When will we want God? Ever? God speak to your hearts. Ruminate on this a while.

Advertisements

Illegal Salvation

Good evening friends, brothers and sisters. I hope you’ve been well since we last connected through these words and pages. At the risk of stirring up ire concerning a controversial subject (which is not my intention), I would like to make a comparison between a common illegality today and one that is ever-relevant and has been going on for a long, long, long time.

I choose it because the Lord shared it with me, and because it’s practical and easy to comprehend. Let’s use these words as an opening statement: “You can’t enter the kingdom of God illegally just like you can’t enter the USA or become a citizen of this country by a relative being a citizen (born here), or without consequences catching up with you sooner or later. There is one way only, the legally provided Way.”

No matter our reasons or justifications, we cannot ignore the rules and prerequisites of another country concerning how to go about entering that country, living and working in that country, and remaining indefinitely in that country. To do so is not only illegal, but will not grant us favor by the authorities because of the obvious disregard for their laws. It will either catch up with us when we least expect it just as we are getting comfortable, or we will never really enjoy true and lasting security and comfort knowing how we sidestepped the statutes put in place to ensure our proper and enduring citizenship. (Further, there are all sorts of ramifications for other people who may and will be affected by our actions.)

In like manner, Almighty God who in unparalleled wisdom created not only the physical world, but the laws and ordinances which govern and protect the world in which we live. And these extend to the sea beneath us to the skies above to the heavenly bodies beyond them, yet below the dominion of His throne.

We are at a point in human history where we are so woefully disconnected from Him and His sovereignty, that we are no longer fearful of Him and His power nor willing, it seems obvious, to seek Him out. Our very makeup is sinful; both our spiritual and natural DNA are infected and diseased. We have called our sins by other names which serves to take the sting and conviction out of the word “sin” itself. We continue to ignore the pricks of conscience designed to get us back on course by turning us back to the Father. Society reinforces this by its same, “accepted” behavior deceiving us into thinking that what has always been wrong is somehow suddenly okay. Eventually, our consciences are so sin-stained, dulled and desensitized that they become what the Bible refers to as “seared.” The Greek word is where we get our English word, cauterize, which means to deaden as to feelings and morals.

Yet the Word of God tells us truthfully that “He has also set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), conveying that at our core, we are aware of our spiritual, eternal existence. We were designed and created to live that way (forever) with God, until our human disobedience all but ruined that plan. There is an odd curiosity that seems to draw us toward perpetuating that sin despite its fleeting “pleasure” and the often longer consequences and repercussions.

So, even more curiously, we purposefully deny ourselves the opportunity to change our godless and hellish path. If we do, however, still sense something of the Almighty Authority, Judge and Pardoner, we attempt vainly to enter the kingdom, the “nation of Israel”, illegally. How? you ask. Just as each earthly and sovereign nation has set up its own duly drafted means by which to enter it, and be allowed to remain and become naturalized, so much more perfectly and appropriately Almighty God has generously provided a way- one Way- to enter His heavenly kingdom. While a small portion of sinners might care enough or be fearful enough to actually seek that higher destination, they do not and will not do it legally. They either choose to devise their own path towards the Creator (which is not possible) by attempting to do some “good” work(s) or they convince and deceive themselves into thinking there are many other ways to enter the kingdom of Heaven (which is also not possible).

Those who elect the illegal path will feel comfortable for a while, enjoying the temporal and temporary pleasures this world and their criminal and forbidden actions afford. Then the reality and avoidable consequence of defying the appropriate, legal and proper entrance will catch up with them. In heavenly terms, this is referred to as the Day of Judgment. This is a time of reckoning, of settling accounts based on a person’s life, words and deeds. For those who have wisely accepted the “legal” provision given freely and afforded by the voluntary, substitutionary and loving death of Jesus Christ, their citizenship is gladly accepted! For those who have not, their end is permanent exile and bondage in the lake of fire.

Don’t be fooled and lured by the deception and enticement of sin. Choose instead the joy and peace of obedience, and the eternal freedom it rewards you; not based on anything you’ve done, for it cannot be earned or deserved. But be humble and grateful that a way has been provided at all! After all, the Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood to pay for our guilt and to provide the legal means for our eternal life in Heaven with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Hallelujah!!! God bless you.

A Revelation about Judging

Friends, brothers and sisters…Happy New Year! But, more than that, I pray for you to have a Blessed New Year! I am very excited to share something with you that I have just learned in the past few days, and this is something I could never have gleaned from just reading the Word alone. God Himself began by sharing His truth through one of my favorite preachers, Tony Evans. After I listened to his twenty-minute message on this subject on my lunch break, the Spirit of God began to open my spiritual eyes to yet more truth concerning “judging.”

As you have probably heard many unbelievers misquote or relate before, the following words of “We shouldn’t judge others” aren’t exactly true. This is akin to when people say that money is the root of all evil. What the Bible actually says is that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” There is a small difference in the wording, but a big, important difference in the principle and life application. And the cool thing is that the Lord led me to Matthew 7:1-5 hours before I knew about or heard of or listened to Dr. Evans’ message. Another reason I am excited about this is because, in my flesh, I have a frequent judging problem. It’s quite interesting, also, that this is the first area the Holy Spirit drew my attention to when I earnestly decided to respond to God’s call for me to want me to “know Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection” as Paul did in the first part of Philippians 3:10. (You can listen to Dr. Evans’ message for yourself by going to https://youtu.be/MtY_N2b4ASM. It is called “Caring Enough to Judge.”) I won’t reiterate much, if any, of what the Lord revealed to him. I will only share what He opened my eyes to, but I do encourage you to listen to his message first.

In Matthew 7:1-5 the Lord says, “Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” We must look at this in context to get the correct meaning. That is the case with all communication, oral and written, including scripture.

What the Lord showed me and what caught my eye in this passage was the mention and use of the word “hypocrite,” as well as the fact that the short phrase “Judge not” can be translated as “Do not be critical.” Isn’t the nature of judging to be forming an opinion? And don’t we form opinions (especially before fully knowing a person or having all the information we need to render a correct judgment) in order to be critical? If we are honest with ourselves, we shy away from admitting, examining and correcting our own shortcomings. It’s painful. It involves work and change. It involves taking responsibility. It involves admission of guilt. It involves calling out sin. It’s far easier to just find fault in others, even if it’s true; we justify that. That’s why the Lord Jesus uses the word hypocrite. (This is where it really gets interesting!)

The Father got me to look at that word, hypocrite. What does its etymology (the study of the origin of words) reveal? The prefix “hypo” (pronounced “hippo”) means low, less, sub, under. And the root “crit” means to separate or to choose. I examined this new information briefly and before I began to make sense of it, the Lord showed me that “crit” can also mean “to judge.” “Ah! Now we’re getting somewhere,” I remember thinking. That gripped me because the Lord is dealing with me on this very issue and it’s what the passage in Matthew 7 is all about. But then as I began to use my own limited knowledge, intelligence and powers of reasoning I put the two word pieces together and came up with “to under-judge” or “to judge less.” That surely is not what Jesus is saying. If anything, the scripture accuses me of judging too much (over-judging)! Then the Spirit brought to my mind the verses that talk about the final judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), the separation of the sheep from the goats and how “crit” means to choose, to separate, to judge. This is starting to make more sense.

But I was still shaking my head about the hypo (less) + crit (judgment) part. The Father showed me in my research that the prefix hypo-as is often used in medical terminology- means “to be deficient” in something like blood, nutrients…or judging. Hmmm. So the Lord taught me the connection between the synonyms low, under, sub, less and deficient. Another light bulb now comes on! Jesus is not saying my judgment is too low (not enough). He is saying my judgment is deficient or lacking. Verses 1 through 5 of chapter seven are not telling us not to judge at all. They are telling us to judge correctly. Remember, those verses are primarily showing us how we should judge ourselves and, if we can rightly judge our own insufficiencies, then we can have a caring spirit (as opposed to a critical one) in order to help, and not to injure, the one with the speck. And isn’t that the heart we should have towards others, especially considering how God deals with us? It takes One with right and caring judgment- Jesus Christ- to judge those under His authority and those He came to save…all of us.

Do you know or recall the most humbling and excellent truth in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts”? John 5:22 says, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” So when Jesus calls those (including me) who notice, point out and blame others while not noticing, or overlooking or dismissing their own faults, they are making a wrong, low, deficient judgment about others and themselves. The standard by which I or they judge is wrong because the motivation or intent of the heart (which the Lord looks at according to 1 Samuel 16:7) is lacking or faulty, or even malicious. It is not to help or to correct, but to criticize. God’s ways are higher than our ways. Our ways are lower than His. When we judge wrongly- not like Him- we are doing so in a manner that is lower (HYPO) than His judgment (CRIT). We are hypocrites.

So now that this ugly truth has come face to face with us, what are we to do with it? How do we take this knowledge and divine revelation that is meant to caringly correct, and not simply criticize? What do I do now? I own up to my sin, confess it to Almighty God, be washed clean, thank Him for working His sanctification process in me, listen to the Spirit’s promptings when I am tempted to do it again, make a different and obedient choice, and enjoy an ever-increasing intimacy with my Savior (since I am a born-again believer). If you are not, you admit this one aspect along with your entire sinful nature, ask the Lord for forgiveness, commit to Him as a follower, give your life back to Him and receive the gift of eternal life and salvation, giving thanks to Him who judges rightly and extends mercy by having died in your place. God bless you.