Ezekiel 9:6 Slaughter Begins In The Church

“Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple. Ezekiel 9:6

God was calling for judgment upon Jerusalem because of the sins of the people. A group of men were set to fulfill the judgment upon the people. Before they began, they went through and marked people who were grieving over the sins that the people were committing. Those people were not to be touched. The beginning point for the judgment was in the sanctuary and then they were to go out from there into all the city killing everyone without the mark.

People are very quick to place judgment upon those who do not follow God in any way. Those in the church like to quickly point out to non-believers that they are heading to hell because of their sins.

Although people like to cast this type of judgment, God looks at things differently. His harshest judgment is focused on those who claim to be believers. Jesus saved His harshest words for the leaders of the temple. Those who did not claim to know God, He showed love and compassion, because they knew who they were.

Just as with Ezekiel, there are many who go to church and claim to be a believer in Jesus, but do not live the life. Those who do not go to church are just living life the only way they know how to live. Those who go to church, have heard how to live their lives for God. There is no reason not to be living for God, yet many do not.

Although God is being patient right now and is holding off judgment of the people, there will come a day when judgment will come. It will start in the church, with those who claim to know Him.

You have to take a look at your own life and see how you are living for God. Are you striving to follow the commands God has given?

Are you living up to what you know God’s Word says?

Or are you living your life in your own way, going against God’s Word?

God is watching and there will come a day of judgment. Live for God and be ready for that day.

I pray today that you will know how God wants you to live; that God will strengthen you to live for Him; that God will see no reason to judge you harshly; and that you will be His witness on this earth.

Advertisements

Ezekiel 8:10-11 Idols In The Church

So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and unclean animals and all the idols of Israel. In front of them stood seventy elders of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising. Ezekiel 8:10-11

God was giving Ezekiel a vision of inside the temple. He was seeing idol worship being done. It was showing the condition of the hearts of the people and the leaders of Israel. They were worshipping false gods inside the temple.

Looking at many churches around the nation, they can look very beautiful on the outside. Large beautiful churches with great looking landscapes, beautiful platforms, and great looking foyers are seen everywhere. As one looks at the surface of these churches it often looks as though everything is done for the worship of God.

One has to look at things with the eyes of God, who sees into the heart of what is shown, to see what is really happening. Churches, in the name of outreach, have often chosen to do things without God at the center. It is often the thought of do whatever it takes to get someone to come into church, but do not preach Christ and Christ crucified.

The message of the cross is one that is detestable to the world and to every person, until he sees what it has done for him. It cannot be left behind or forgotten.

Churches are made up of people and it is the people who have chosen to do things without God as though they are doing God’s will. Sins are being done in secret, as though God does not see them. These very sins are brought into the church. Sins of jealousy, pride, anger, idol worship, and selfishness are being allowed into the church with no thought of giving them up. These are the things that brought judgment against Israel and will bring judgment against everyone today.

Do not allow yourself to let idols into your life. When you step into a church to worship, get rid of all sin and follow God. Make God the center of His temple, your body, so that the church building will also be a temple of God to worship Him in.

I pray today that God will strengthen you to get rid of idols in your life; that you will put God first in every area of your life; that every church will be followers of God; and that God will be honored in every church. 

A Great Journey Still Fresh As New

photo.JPG

A word of warning, this post is much longer than my normal posts. Even longer than my extra posts that I do every so often. May you be blessed as you read it.

I have been on a great journey in this life that started twenty-five years ago today. It was May 16, 1992 that my wife and I said “I do” to each other and were married. It has been an amazing journey that many stated would never survive.

I was a young man who went to Trinity Bible college, a small bible college in a very small town in North Dakota. The college made up nearly half of the town’s population. The town only had one stoplight in town.

At the end of the Fall Semester of 1989, I felt God lead me to drop out of college for a time. I was a member of the ND National Guard at the time. The very next year, the war in Kuwait came up. I had volunteered to go over in the battle. I returned home in July 1991 and returned back to my job as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home.

In August, my boss asked me to help train in a new worker on a shift I normally did not work. I met this new worker and noticed that I liked something about her, but was not sure. As I trained her in and worked with her, I started to get to know her.

The more I knew her, the more I liked her. Without telling anyone that I liked her, I proceeded to get to know who she was by talking with her and others who knew her.

On October 10, which just happened to be my birthday, she went with me to a Christian comedian concert. There were supposed to be three other friends going that night, but the night before the concert each one had to back out for various reasons. She was still willing to go.

We spent a good portion of the day together. Everywhere we went people thought we were a couple already. This even included some of my own friends who knew me. Yet, at this point we were not going together.

At the end of the day, I knew that I really liked, no loved her. I prayed very hard all that night. I did not want to just date another girl. If I went into a relationship, I wanted it to be for marriage and for life. I needed to know if she was the lady God wanted me to marry. I felt in my spirit that she was the one, but I needed God to confirm it.

The following morning as I was walking on campus of the college, God chose to confirm it. He did it through three different friends of mine, none of whom knew that I was even interested in her. They had no clue what they were saying or talking about when they told me what they felt God wanted them to tell me, but I knew what it was about.

At that point I went to the campus bookstore and purchased a card that basically asked her to go with me for life. Indirectly it was a proposal. Amazingly, she said yes!

Over the next two months we started dating each other. By the middle of November, we knew that we would get married, but I did not want to officially propose to her until I talked with her father. Right before Christmas break I proposed and made it known to everyone. We set a wedding date for May 16, 1992, six months later.

During the time of engagement, my wife-to-be got very sick. Doctors could not determine what was wrong. We went to many doctors building up a very large medical debt. My small paying job was not enough to really cover the expenses of two houses. I had chosen to provide for all of her needs, besides I was going to be marrying her.

Many people were trying to tell us that the marriage would not work out. This included people in and out of the church. It was a difficult time because we both knew that God had called us together.

Right before the wedding, her health had returned, unexplained. God had blessed us with a very beautiful wedding and a two week honeymoon.

After a year of extreme financial hardship, in a town with no economy or jobs at all, I decided to join the army to get a better paying job. This moved us to Colorado. While there our first daughter was born. Shortly after the Army moved us to Germany. We stayed there for four and half years, and two of our boys were born there.

While in Germany God had blessed my wife with many Godly women to help and guide her in her life. She made several friends there that she is still friends with to this day.

The Army then chose to move us to Texas. We did not want to go there at all, and fought it hard, but God had His reasons. We finally gave in to God’s will and went. Before getting out of the Army, one more son was born.

During the time in Texas I had to be gone for several weeks to a month at a time, many times for trainings. It was a difficult time being separated. God held us together and kept us going forward despite all the challenges. God opened the door for me to get my ministerial certification shortly after getting to Texas.

In 2001, right before the 9-1-1 incident, God allowed me to get out of the army. God had blessed us with getting out, since a month later our country was under war again.

In our church I had become the children’s pastor shortly after getting out of the Army. It was a fun time, though there were some difficulties. The hardest part was financial stress. I could not seem to get a job that paid very well. Somehow God helped us survive and blessed us with two more children.

Later I felt God lead me to become a full pastor of a small church in Central Texas. It was a very difficult move for my wife because she had made a lot of friends where we were and did not want to leave them again. Leaving friends was something that seemed to keep happening in our life.

The move became even more difficult when half the church left right after I took it over. I found out that the church was not doing as well as they had appeared on the outside. After struggling to help it grow and keep the doors open for two years we closed the doors and left the ministry. I could not find another position at all. I felt like God closed the doors on us. I believe that maybe someday God will re-open those doors.

My wife struggled with that because she wanted to be a pastor’s wife. She was also struggling hard to raise our six children, at that time.

After working at it for twenty years, God allowed me to finally graduate college with a General Church Ministries degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas. It was a long, at times difficult road, but God had blessed it.

I started working several different jobs and kept getting laid off. Finances were extremely difficult to manage. Somehow God provided for our needs and kept us going. The one thing that was always very strong for us, was our love for each other. My wife supported me in whatever I felt God was leading me or us to do. I supported her in homeschooling our children.

Although my wife has never really worked a job for pay since we have been married (with exception to a couple of short time work jobs), she has worked very hard. The process of taking children to different events or trainings on a regular basis. The work of determining meals for a large family, that half will choose not to eat. The work of ensuring chores are done. And many other things keep her busy and working extremely hard.

Since then God has blessed us with two more wonderful children and a house with some land. We still have some struggles financially, but God has been amazing in providing for our needs. We have had vehicle breakdowns, sickness too numerous to count, injuries, loss of jobs, death in extended family members, false accusations, and many other challenges. The two things that gives sense to why we have survived is love and God, and both of those are one and the same. God is described as love. When we have God, we will have love. When we have love, we will have God.

We have kept a strong love and commitment to each other and to God. Both of us are constantly talking about each other and about God. Our relationship with God comes first, then our relationship together, and finally our relationship with our children.

God has blessed us with our children. Three of them are now adults but are active in the church and in ministry. The next three down are old enough now to be active in ministry in our church also.  The youngest two, I expect, will be active some day in ministry when they get old enough.

As I look back on this journey that started twenty-five years ago today, it often seems as if it just started yesterday or at least just a few days ago. My love for my wife has grown over the years. It has not diminished as many claimed it would. We have never entertained the thought that we should not be together or that someone else would be better. My wife, nor I have ever thought it was better when the other was gone away.

I want to encourage you, that if you are in a relationship or already in a marriage, keep that commitment to love each other and God as God loves you. Do not entertain thoughts of being with someone else. When you say, “I do,” say it for life, no matter what comes up or what happens.

God is with you and will never leave you. With God all things are possible. A marriage that lasts for a lifetime, though uncommon in this world, is not impossible with God at the center.

I can say with Solomon: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22

God has given me what is good and I have found favor with Him in my wonderful marriage of twenty-five years and counting!

photo.JPG

I have been blessed with these twenty-five years and will be blessed for the next hundred and twenty-five on this great journey of marriage and family.

 

Psalm 122:1 Excited To Go To Church

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Psalm 122:1

Going to church is something that people have many different feelings about. Most of the world does not even believe in God at all, so they won’t even think about going to church. Some will go there for a wedding or funeral, but see no other purpose in going.

Among the believers there is also a variety of feelings. There are many believers who refuse to go to a church because of some bad incident that had occurred in some church years before that hurt them. Some feel that the church building is just a man-made thing that God does not want and so they choose not to go and support it.

Then there are many who do go to church, but do it out of obligation. They do not go because they really want to. Along side of these, there are those who go to get something from the church rather than to worship God and give to others.

The psalmist was rejoicing when asked to go to the house of the Lord. He saw it as a great thing to do, a place to meet God with others.

Church is a place where believers can get together to build each other up as they worship God. The house of the Lord is to be a place of worship and praise. It needs to be a place of excitement and life, people alive and excited to be serving a great and loving God.

Whether you go to church on Sunday, Wednesday or any other day of the week, there should be excitement in going. Do not just go out of obligation or to look good. Be excited that you can get together with others who believe in God and worship Him and build each other up.

You were created to serve and worship. Going to church gives you the opportunity to do both with others. You are not to serve and worship God alone.

Do you rejoice when it is time to go to church?

Or do you moan and groan, and go because you have to do it?

I pray today that you will find joy in going to church; that you will find joy in worshiping with other believers; that you will find ways to build others up in Jesus in a church; and that time at church will be alive in Christ for you.

2 Corinthians 11:3 Being Deceived

“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3

Paul had brought the gospel message to the Corinthian church. At some point along the way, the people of the church started to believe things that neither Jesus nor Paul ever taught. They were led astray into some false belief while still being a part of the church.

People in a church can be led astray very easily, but it does not usually happen quickly. It usually starts with a slight change of view. It is a small change in how a scripture verse is interpreted. Then it grows from there. On the surface the interpretation sounds good and looks good, but it is still wrong and in the end brings about death and false beliefs.

Nearly everywhere you look today you see deception in churches. Some are not so noticeable such as the unspoken requirement on how to dress for church or speaking gossip as though it is a prayer request. Others accept watching and doing things that are sinful as though they are acceptable to God and because they do not really hurt the individual.

Other churches have been extremely deceived in promoting that sinful lifestyles are acceptable by God. Many are living in adultery while being leaders in a church. There are churches that promote God’s love, while forgetting His holy and righteous requirements and His hatred for sin because they also promote acceptance of sin.

Satan and the world are trying to get believers to accept their way of living. Many in the church have bought into the world’s view. Many church groups have changed their policies to accommodate sinful living in the church. They are very sincere in their love for God, but it is down the wrong path and for the wrong god.

You must keep yourself from being deceived by the devil. Stay in God’s Word continually. Pray daily and seek His Holy Spirit to guide you. Do not allow yourself to be deceived.

I pray today that God will guide you by His Holy Spirit; that you will see when deception is shown you; that you will refuse to be led astray from Jesus; that you will stayed grounded in God’s Word; and that you will draw closer to Jesus every day.

1 Corinthians 6:7 Accept Being Cheated

“The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” 1 Corinthians 5:7

The church in Corinth had people who were doing wrong to others. Some of those people be wronged were taking the others to court to bring a lawsuit against them. Paul says that because of this they are already defeated, they have lost.

At least in America, if not the world, lawsuits have become a common practice everywhere. A person can sue someone for pretty much anything. It started in the 1990’s with the lady winning a lawsuit against McDonalds when she spilled hot coffee on her lap and burned herself. Somehow McDonalds was to blame.

Now people bring lawsuits when a person offends them in any way. Courts are filled with cases of people trying to get at the other person. Sometimes it is not against a person, but a business, or the government.

Paul says that the believers are defeated when they have lawsuits done. Think about Jesus. He was wronged in many ways. Yet He did not go to the courts, or to God-His Father, to sue the people or God. He accepted the wrong done to Him. He knew that the Father had something greater in the plan through those wrongs.

Every person has been wronged or cheated by someone. Even in the church this will happen. You must strive your best to never be the one who did the wrong or cheating. When someone does you wrong or cheats you, you must still love them and forgive them. Most won’t do the lawsuit, but will go to others to denounce the person and get them into trouble.

Do not go after the person with a revenge. Remember that vengeance is God’s choice. You are to love, serve, and build others up. Going after them with a lawsuit is getting revenge. Allow God to work in their hearts and your heart. Allow the wrong or cheating to occur and see what God can do in and through it for you and the other person.

I pray today that you will know the love God has for you and others; that you will allow God to change other people’s hearts; that God will give you strength to allow the wrongs of others in your life; and that God will build His kingdom through you.