Category Archives: Food For Thought

Signet, Decree and Gavel

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Signet, Decree and Gavel

Names and positions carry power and authority. Jesus gave us the authority to use His name.

John 14:12-14 NKJV
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

John 14:12-14 NIV
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

The dictionary describes authority as:
* the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
* the right to act in a specified way, delegated from one person or organization to another.
* official permission; sanction.
* a person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere.
* the power to influence others, especially because of one’s commanding manner or one’s recognized knowledge about something.

When we end prayers, petitions, blessings and decrees in His name we are asking for it or proclaiming it done in the power and authority of Jesus’ name. Not in our name or ability but in Jesus’ name. Believers have been given official permission to use His name. What we pray, bless or decree (when it lines up with the will of God) it is just as if Jesus prayed, blessed or decreed it Himself.

Through our words (prayers, blessing, decrees) believers …
…have the power or right to enforce God’s plans and purposes.
…delegated to act on God’s behalf in the earth.
…have been given permission to use God’s name.
…have power through Jesus Christ.
…have power to influence others.

     A Signet Ring
In the book of Esther we are given an example of where a ruler can allow someone else to use his authority. By giving his signet ring to Haman the king gave Haman the authority and power to use his name.

Esther 3:10 NKJV
“So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.”

Later in the book of Esther we are given another example of using the kings name and authority. A royal decree could not be altered, but a second decree could invalidate the first one.

Esther 8:8 NKJV
“You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.”

During Biblical times kings used signet rings to designate authority, honor, or ownership. A signet ring contained an emblem unique to the king. Official documents were sealed with soft wax impressed with the king’s signet. A signet ring was as reliable as a signature, a seal of authenticity that branded a document. It was an emblem of authority.

A few examples of a signet ring from the Bible are:

Genesis 41:42 NKJV
“Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.”

Haggai 2: 23 NKJV
“In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

Jeremiah 22:24 NKJV
“As I live,” says the Lord, “though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off”

1 Kings 21:7-8 NKJV
“Then Jezebel his wife said to him, “You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” And she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth.”

Daniel 6:17 NKJV
“Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.”

Esther 3:10 NKJV
“So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews.”

Esther 8:8 NKJV
“You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.”

     Decree
According to the dictionary decree is defined as a rule of law issued by a head of state according to a certain procedures. It carries the force of the law. In biblical times, the King had the authority to make decrees. When a king spoke, his subjects obeyed him instantly. The decree was a written document and would be very specific and clear about that subject matter. It was a royal command. In short, a decree is an official order issued by a legal authority. Decrees are made for various reasons.

Job 22:28 NKJV
“Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.”

God desires for His will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven, that His kingdom would be established in our lives. When our desires line up with God’s will or plan we have the power to speak it into existence in Jesus’ name. We come into agreement with God through our words. This agreement with our words is sometimes referred to as decreeing something. Decree a thing (according to God’s will) and it shall be established.

Matthew 6:10 NKJV
“Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.”

When believers decree something, they are making a declaration that has the power and authority of God behind it. We are to bind up things that are not permitted, and to loose things that are permitted on earth as they have already been determined in heaven.

Matthew 18:18 NKJV
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Believers are joint heirs with Christ and through Him we have kingdom authority. We are the King’s children and with that comes responsibilities and rights. We come under the Kings authority and rule, and we are given the authority to use the name of Jesus.

Romans 8:16-17 NKJV
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

John 14:12-14 NKJV
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

Words and faith are both very important to God. In creation we see the importance words. When God spoke, “Let there be” is was.

Genesis 1:3-28 NKJV
“Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day.
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Mark 11:22-24 NKJV
“So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

As a child of God, and since we are His voice in this world, when we decree something it is like we are saying, “Let it be.”
When we decree something in faith, according to God’s will and purpose, we are commanding it to be by the authority that Jesus has given us.

Decrees can…
* align things up with the purpose of God.
* cause the impossible to happen.
* cause the spiritual realm to come into alignment with God’s will.
* change hearts and lives
* change the atmosphere
* lead to miracles
* lead to victory.
* overturn the enemy’s plans.
* position people to fulfill God’s purposes.
* remove the opposition against God’s purposes.
* unlock and provide the resources for kingdom purposes.
* usher in revival and a retentive atmosphere.
* unlock the resources of heaven

Amen – So Be It
The word amen means so let it be or it is true. In the Old Testament when the people responded by saying amen they attested to the sentences which they heard were true, just, and certain.

Saying amen is a way to finish our prayers. When Christians say amen at the end of our prayers, they are following the model of the apostles. They are asking God to let it be as they had prayed.

John 14:12-14 NKJV
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

1 John 5:14-15 NKJV
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

    Nailed To The Cross
The gavel is a symbol of authority, especially in courts and justices. They symbolizes power, authority and firmness.
In the past, gavels were struck to indicate that a meeting will begin, peace and order should be maintained and to end a meeting. Today, gavels are used to call for attention or to punctuate rulings and proclamations. In addition to that, gavels are used by judges to proclaim proceedings and decisions to be final, legal and irrevocable. Once the gavel is struck, it signifies that no other factors can renew the decision being made. In other words, it is finished, it’s done , it’s over.

John 19:30 NKJV
“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

Jesus‘ last words, “It is finished” come from the Greek word tetelestai. The Greek word tetelestai is an accounting term that means paid in full.

By saying, “It is finished” Jesus was declaring the debt we owed to God was wiped away completely and forever. He was also declaring that our future needs are already paid for.

Isaiah 53:4-12 NKJV
“Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was woundedfor our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripeswe are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.”

All our sins, sickness, fears, anxieties, and lack were nailed to the cross with Jesus and He said, “IT IS FINISHED“. Just as the Passover lamb provided everything that the Hebrews needed (deliverance, protection, salvation, direction, favor, strength, health…) so Jesus, our Passover Lamb, provided for us. The price has been paid in full. Jesus on the cross was a lot like a judge striking his gavel declaring a legal decision, one that is irrevocable.

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My House Shall be Called A House Of Prayer

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My House Shall be Called A House Of Prayer

 

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Isaiah 56:7 NKJV
“Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Luke 19:41-46 NKJV
“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ “

What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” ? The phrase “den of thieves” could also mean den of robbers, robber’s den, robbers’ cave, or cave of bandits. Had what should have been a sanctuary ( a place of refuge or safety) for the righteous, the hurting, the needy and the sick became a hideout (a hiding place, a place of concealment) for the sinful or the wicked?

When Jesus made that comment, the high priest knew what Jesus was referring to because it had been spoken to them before, in years past. Jesus was reprimanding the leaders for defiling (desecrating) the temple.

Jeremiah 7:1-11 NKJV
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!’ ” Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.’ For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. “Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the Lord. “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because you have done all these works,” says the Lord, “and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren–the whole posterity of Ephraim.”

God’s desire for the temple was that it be a house of prayer. However, instead of being a gathering place for worshipers from all nations, the temple leaders had perverted God’s true purpose. When Jesus entered the temple He did not find prayers rising like incense from the faithful. God’s true purpose, a gathering place for worshipers, had been replaced with a gathering place for extortion and oppression.

Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’“

In the above passage the word knew refers to an intimate relationship. In the end, only those who have an intimate relationship with God will be allowed to stay in His presence. It never was, and never will be, about works.

Revelation 2:4-5 NKJV
“ Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.”

Today, churches can, and some do, deviate from God’s true purpose. Much like the church at Ephesus they have left their first love. Church should be a place where leaders and people alike can join together to meet with God and worship Him. Church should not be a hide out, big business, status symbol, cliquish, or worldly. Nor should it become an idol. From the very beginning it has always been about a relationship with God, not religion.

1. CHURCH SHOULD NOT BE AN IDOL

Jeremiah 7:1-11 NKJV
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!’ ” Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.’ For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. “Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the Lord.”

The people had placed their trust in the temple instead of God.

Trust can be described as:
* a sense of security
* an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
* one in which confidence is placed
* dependence on something future or hope

During the time of Jeremiah the temple had became the people’s security instead of God – it was a false hope (lie). They thought that God would not allow anything to happen to the temple therefore they felt safe and secure from attacks there. The reliance / trust on the temple instead of God could be described as a form of idol worship.

Some people today do the same thing – they worship church (and going to church) instead of God. For these people church is an idol. They think that just because they are attending church that they are right with God.

Isaiah 29:13 NIV
“The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”

Isaiah 29:13 NKJV
“Therefore the Lord said:
“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men”

Matthew 15:8-9 NIV
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”

Matthew 15:8-9 NKJV
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

2. CHURCH SHOULD NOT BE A HIDEOUT

Matthew 21:12-13 NKJV
“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”

A robber’s den is a hiding place ( refuge), a place of concealment for the sinful, lawbreaker, or the wicked to hide out. It is also a storage place of their wealth which they acquired by stealing and deceiving. A robber’s den could be described as the place of sanctuary for those who rob elsewhere.

Over time the temple had become a hide out (refuge) for temple authorities, and a place of storage for their wealth, which they gained from the Jewish people by stealing and deceiving. Often times the temple leaders would violate the commandments, and commit crimes, then seek refuge (safety) in the temple. To them the temple was much like a robber’s den (cave). What should have been a sanctuary and a place of prayer and encouragement for the righteous had become a refuge for the wicked and sinful temple leaders.

Not only did the priest view the temple as a hideout, so did many of the people. After committing all types of sin and abominations, they would go to the temple and plead for deliverance from the consequence of those sins. They weren’t sorry they had committed the sin, they just didn’t want to face the consequences of their actions. Just because they went to the temple they thought they would be okay.

Just as the temple had became a hiding place for the wicked, churches today can become a hideout. There are many people that think just because they attend church that things are right between them and God. When we ask for forgiveness of our sins we must have a repentive heart – one that is truly sorry that we have sinned against a holy God. Being sorry that you sinned and being sorry that you were caught in your sin (or had your sin exposed) are two different things. The only way to be restored into a right relationship with God is through true repentance.

John 3:16 NKJV
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

3. CHURCH SHOULD NOT BE A BIG BUSINESS.
Church can become a big business at the expense of people.

Mark 11:15-17 NKJV
“So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ “

Jesus knew the leaders were corrupt, and that justice no longer prevailed. The fatherless, the poor, and the widowed were abused by the leaders, instead of being helped as the Law required. People were convicted of crimes on false chargers and were killed, many times just for profit. The temple leaders legitimized oppression by their man made rules and regulations. They used these rules and regulations ( which amounted to robbery) to take everything from the poor that they could. Many times leaving the poor with nothing.

One example of how the leaders gained financially at the expense of the people was by placing moneychangers in the temple. The moneychangers (who worked for the high priest) were taking advantage of the people who came to sacrifice at the temple. The people were being charged an inflated exchange rate. Sometimes the people were falsely told that their animals were unworthy, just so they would have to buy one from them. The temple had become a big business instead of the house of God. The priests and temple leaders were more concerned with making money for themselves than they were in the spiritual well being of the people. Their focus had shifted from God to themselves. It was no longer on God (or a relationship with Him), but on how much money they could extract from the people by their man made rules and regulations. The poor got poorer (and many times starved to death) and the leaders got richer.

All across America, the church has become less a community and more of a corporation. Today the news is filled with stories of churches that are more like a business corporation than they are the house of God. Many of these churches, and their leaders, main concern is maintaining itself and its employees. Their lavish lifestyles are seen as essential to having a relationship with God. Just like the leaders during Jeremiah’s day, the leaders are focused on themselves, not on God or the people. Church has become a big money maker for them. The people’s spiritual and physical needs go unmet while the leaders makes millions.

4. CHURCH IS NOT A STATUS SYMBOL
During Biblical times people went to the temple for many things and reasons. For some it was to receive atonement / forgiveness of sins. And for some, it was to hear God’s Word taught, to present an offering to God, or to pray to God. However, there were many that viewed going to the temple as a status symbol. They went to be seen or heard.

Matthew 15:8 NKJV
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.”

These people wanted others to think that they were worshipping God, and they wanted everyone to see the amount of money they gave and they wanted everyone to hear their prayers.

Luke 18:10-14 NKJV
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

There are those today that see the church as a status symbol, just like in Biblical times. They view it as a place for political gain, a place to voice their opinions, a place to show off their wealth or knowledge, and a place to make the right contacts for personal gain (political or social).

Sometimes church membership, attendance, and church positions (pastor, staff, leaders…) are also seen as a status symbol.

5. CHURCH CLIQUES – GOOD OR BAD
It doesn’t matter where you go there will always be cliques – even in church. The dictionary describes a clique as a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. So what is the difference between a friendship group and a clique?

Friendship groups form around the things that people have in common. They are naturally drawn together because they share similar interests and experiences. Friendship groups are a part of normal life and they are healthy. In friendship groups everyone is made to feel that they fit in and are valued. In friendship groups you can receive support, share ideas and dreams, feel accepted, have fun and develop relationship skills and grow socially. The length of time that a friendship group lasts varies greatly – some friendship groups last a lifetime and some are short lived. People come and people go as the members develop new interests, make different friends, or loose commonality. Within a group, people often have a few friends they feel closest to and enjoy the most. The disciples could be considered a friendship group.

True friendship groups welcome people to join in. When a group is restricted and does not want others to join it is a clique.
Some cliques (but not all) develop along generational lines, some by race, some by economics, and some are made up of family members.

Sadly, within the church some cliques develop out of conflict. And some out of the length they have been members (new members and old members). Cliques are likely to happen when churches turn inward or inwardly focused.

Romans 2:11 NKJV
“For there is no partiality with God.”

God shows no partiality. Many of the Jews thought that God loved them more than the gentiles, but Peter knew that God did not show favoritism. He loves everyone. And He has included everyone in the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 NKJV
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”

Cliques in a church are not pleasing to God. A few of the things that cliques cause or lead to are: Cliques…
…are self serving.
…cause individuals to work against other.
…drive people away.
…lead to division and disunity.
…lead to jealousy.
…limit members from interacting with the entire body.
…limit where you receive support from.
…retard the growth of a church.
…will divide generations.
…will limit your church.
…will stunt your growth as an individual.

Some ways to guard against cliques in a church are:
Build small groups that include more than one generation.
Connect young families with grandparent age people in the church.
Encourage members to sit in different places each Sunday.
Encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and meet new people.
Include some faithful longer-term members in a new members class.
Join the young people and the older people together in doing projects, activities or ministry activities.
Match up young people with older people, and have them to pray regularly for each other.

Some ways to guard against cliques in your personal life are:
Be open to new friendships.
Be sensitive to the needs of others.
Distance yourself from people who have a negative influence on you.
Don’t allow others to pressure you into spending time and money on things that aren’t important to you.
Don’t be intimated into going along with what you don’t believe is right
Don’t spend time with people that talk in a negative manner about others – Don’t hang out with gossipers.
Interact with people of all ages.
Know who you are in Christ.
Know yourself (what you believe and why) and be true to yourself.
Sit in different places at church so you can meet new people.

6. CHURCHES SHOULD NOT BE WORLDLY
When the authority of God’s Word is lost, then man-made doctrines and worldly views creep in.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Church can become secular instead of sacred. Throughout the world we see more and more churches that are driven more by man than by the Holy Spirit. Instead of turning to the Word of God for council they are guided by worldly motives or philosophies. They allow the world’s views, practices, and beliefs to override God’s Word. The truth has been watered down and diluted so much that it doesn’t even resemble the truth of God anymore. The Bible tells us that there are moral absolutes. It also tells us that in the last days some people, and churches, will turn away from the truth and absolutes of God.

2 Timothy 3:1-9 NKJV
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.”

True believers, and churches, are encouraged to stand firm on God’s Word

2 Timothy 3:10-17 NKJV
“But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

CONCLUSION
There is danger in perverting God’s true purpose for the church. When the church stops being what God has called it to be it is no longer useful or profitable.

Matthew 5:13 NKJV
“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

As believers, and as the church, we are to be the salt of the earth. Like salt, purity (not being mixed with anything) helps us to maintain our flavor and our usefulness. When mixed with the things of the world we loose our flavor and are no longer good for what we were intended for. According to Matthew 5:13, when we loose our flavor we are good for nothing. God is serious about our purity and commitment. We never want to get to the place where we are unfit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:62 NKJV
“But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

During the Bible times, God allowed the temple to be destroyed because of the unfaithfulness of the people.

Mark 13:1-2
Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Matthew 24:1-2
Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Luke 21:5-6
Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”

The people had defiled the temple with manmade religion and practices. They had made the temple what they wanted it to be and not what God intended. God wanted a house of prayer – a place of an intimate relationship and woship with Him, not manmade religious practices. They deviate from God’s true purpose.

It would do all of us good to spend some time in true examination and soul searching. Is our church truly a house of prayer? Or have we made it what we want it to be. Have we left our first love? Have we been so busy with ministry or the things of the world that we have forgot about our relationship with God?

To the church at Ephesus the Lord said, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”

To the church at Smyrna the Lord said, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

To the church at Pergamos the Lord said, “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”

To the church at Thyatira the Lord said, “ … hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.”

To the church at Sardis the Lord said, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.”

To the church at Philadelphia the Lord said, “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

To the church of the Laodiceans the Lord said, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth…..Therefore be zealous and repent.”

Basically, as a whole, the Lord told the seven churches to repent and be faithful. Faithfulness is being worthy of trust, doing one’s duty, keeping one’s promise and being true. Faithfulness emphasizes being true to a person or thing. When you are true, you will be loyal and constant. When you are loyal to a person or thing, you will stand by and fight for the person or thing, and you will have steadfast devotion. Faithfulness is very important to God. God desires for us to be faithful both to Him and to what He has called us to do. A crown of righteousness will be given to those who have remained faithful to the Lord. God desires for us to be faithful in every aspect of our life and in our church. Things will turn out well for a faithful person and church. Faithfulness to God brings true success.

Luke 19:45-46 NKJV
“Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”

What would the Lord say to your church? When Jesus returns will He find your church faithful to Him and to what He has called His church to be? Is your church a house of prayer? If Jesus was to physically walk into your church would He say, “Well done” or would He drive out the unfaithful with a whip or with the Word of God?

SPIRITUAL DETERIORATION

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SPIRITUAL DETERIORATION

Deterioration is described as the action or process of becoming impaired or inferior in quality, functioning, or condition.

Revelation 3:1 NKJV
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.”

Spiritual deterioration does not happen all at once – it is usually little by little. Often spiritual deterioration comes without our awareness.

Judges 16:18-21 NKJV
“When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.” So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand. Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison”

Samson had the power of God upon him, but he played around with sin and was found helpless in the face of the enemy because he was unaware that God’s power had left him. Like Samson many believers and churches are playing around with sin. Things that God calls sin are no longer considered sin in the eyes of many. The sins have been renamed in an attempt to make them sound more acceptable. And just like Samson, one day they will realize that they have allowed spiritual deterioration to creep in, and that God‘s anointing is no longer upon them. Hopefully they will wake up from their slumber and repent before it is too late.

Some signs of spiritual deterioration are:
Avoiding fellow believers
Careless concerning the things of God
Cease to desire to worship God in spirit and in truth
Declining faith
Delusions
Greater emphasis on number of attendees or members than on the presence of God
Hardness of heart
Heresies
Indifference to the Word of God
Lack of personal discipline
No desire to pray
No desire to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit
Oblivious to the reality of the occult and spiritual realm
People want to be entertained
Persistent doubts concerning God’s Word
Religious errors
Seeing praise and worship as just a song service
Substituting fellowship with God with fellowship with people
Talk begins to change
Unteachable spirit

AGENDAS

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AGENDAS

Agenda can be described as a list or outline of things to be considered or done. It can also be described as an underlying plan or program. God had a plan and agenda for the church long before it was ever formed.

* Man has his own agendas, and they usually conflict with God’s agenda. Often today we see churches where the leaders and the people are concerned more about their own agendas than God’s. There are even churches that have a scheduled order of service that is so strict it schedules a move of the Holy Spirit right out of it.

* Are churches more interested in being a social club or a house of prayer? God’s agenda is not for churches to try to be the biggest and best church around. Many look more like a social club or civic organization than they do a house of God.

* There are some leaders in the church that use the church for personal advancement – both monetarily advancement and position / power. Their plans are implemented according to their own desires and in such a way that it is a positive addition to their resume or their portfolio.

* Within the church man’s agenda is often dictated by worldly viewpoints, secular influences and unsanctified lifestyles, not by prayer.

* Often times churches are more interested in making attendees rather than disciples.

Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”

* During services many churches spend more time on announcements and greeting each other than they do greeting God, welcoming the Holy Spirit, praying or worshipping God. God calls His people together to worship Him, not to worship church.

A house of prayer
According to Jesus the church was to be a house of prayer. Jesus was very interested in the sanctification (set apart for God) and purity of the temple. Twice in His ministry Jesus was enraged at what He saw going on in the temple.

At the beginning of His ministry.

 

John 2:13-16 NKJV
“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”

At the end of His ministry.

Matthew 21:11-13 NKJV
“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.”

Mark 11:15-19 NKJV
“So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.
Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.”

Jesus said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.” A thief can be described as someone that takes something that doesn’t belong to them. While we don’t have people sitting around in our foyers today selling things in a fraudulent manner, we could be described as a den of thieves in a way. Some churches have stolen God’s agenda and replaced it with their own. Instead of God being honored, worshipped and glorified, man is.

When the church is a house of prayer, one that is pure and set apart for God, it will be the voice that boldly proclaims the good news with power that totally changes people. Just maybe it is time to go through the church, and its agendas, with the Word of God. When the church seeks God’s agenda and lines up their services, ministries and outreaches accordingly great things will happen, the kingdom of God will increase, and disciples will be made.

HURTS

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HURTS

Hurts within the church happen everyday. People hurt pastors…pastors hurt people…people hurt people…pastors hurt pastors….that’s just a fact of life. Hurts can lead to unforgiveness and unforgiveness effects everyone in a church – either directly or indirectly. Because of that we must guard against an unforgiving spirit. Unforgiveness HURTS you more than the other person – forgiveness HELPS you more than the other person.

Forgive means to:
* to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong)
* to stop blaming (someone)
* to stop feeling anger about (something)
* to forgive someone for (something wrong)
* to stop requiring payment of
* to give up resentment (a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury) of
* to give up claim to requital (something given in return, compensation, or retaliation)
* to cease to feel resentment against

Forgiveness is described as the act of forgiving someone or something and the attitude of someone who is willing to forgive other people. It can be defined as letting go of anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge. It is not a feeling, but a decision to let go of anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge. It is purposely deciding (a mental decision) not to hold others sins/wrongs against them. Forgiveness is extending loving mercy to those who have hurt us. God has instructed us to forgive throughout the Bible. A few examples are:

Ephesians 4:29-32 NKJV
“ Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13 NKJV
“bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Some hindrances to forgiving are thinking that you have to forget in order to forgive, thinking that trust and forgiveness are the same thing, and thinking that forgiveness eliminates the consequences of what has been done.

Forgiving and Forgetting
When you forgive someone it doesn’t mean that you will forget. You don’t have to forget the hurt in order to forgive the person. There is a difference between a scar and a scab. When a wound is completely healed a scar is sometimes left behind. A scab on the other hand is a wound that is still in the healing process. When you have a scar many times you don’t even notice it, but from time to time you eye may catch a glimpse of it and remember the wound that was there. So it is with forgiving. You may never truly forget what happened, and from time to time those memories will try to creep in, but you can choose to forgive and move on with your life. FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE NOT A FEELING.

Trust and Forgiveness
Trust and forgiveness are not the same thing. When a person is hurt many times it will cause them to loose their trust in the person who hurt them. Trust is a fragile thing. Once trust has been broken, it takes time to be restored. Sometimes it takes many years to rebuild the trust between people and sometimes it never will be. For some people they will have to forgive and move on without attempting to restore trust. Just because you do not trust someone doesn’t mean that you can’t wish them blessings. Sometimes you must do this from a distance. You don’t have to trust everyone. NOT TRUSTING A PERSON IS NOT A SIN.

Forgiveness and Consequences
Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate the consequences of what has been done. There will still be consequences even when forgiveness is given. However, we must leave the consequences up to God and not take matters into our own hands.

Luke 17:1 NKJV
“Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!”

Jesus Himself said that it was impossible for there to be no offenses. He did not say for us to get even with the offenders ourselves. He said woe to him through whom they (offenses) do come. The word woe in the Greek is ouai and is more than just an expression of a feeling – it is a judgment. It is not our place to try to get back at someone because of an offense. God will take care of it, that’s not our job. GOD IS THE JUDGE, NOT US.

Luke 6:37 NKJV
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

 

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Dear Father,
I choose this day to forgive everyone who has, or who I think has, wronged me or my family. I choose not to hold on to anger, hurt, resentment, or bitterness. I choose to walk in love and forgiveness. I pray blessings on each of these people. Help me by the power of the Holy Spirit to have a godly mindset.
In Jesus’ name, Amen

Less Talk – More ACTION

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Less Talk – More ACTION

When praying for problems or situations between people or groups of people there should be less talk and more ACTION.
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A – Acknowledge your own sin.

C – Confess your sin to God. Pray for clean hands and a pure heart.

T – Take God’s side.

I – Intercede for all involved

O – Opinion – Keep yours to yourself. Everyone has an opinion, but it’s only God’s opinion that matters.

N – No negative talk. Don’t interfere with what God is doing by speaking negative words.

Children and the Rapture – One Christian’s Perspective

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Children and the Rapture – One Christian’s Perspective

When Herod realized that the wisemen were not coming back to tell him where the King was born, he became very fearful and angry. He sent his soldiers to Bethlehem and all the surrounding towns to kill all the baby boys two years and younger. The Bible tells us that a great weeping and mourning was heard over the deaths of the babies.

Matthew 2:16-18 NKJV
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”

My thought is, however great the lamentation, weeping and mourning was it will pale in comparison to the weeping and mourning that will take place immediately following the rapture.

When that trumpet sounds and Jesus steps out on the clouds to call His bride home, all the children under the age of accountability will go too. Because of God’s mercy and grace, a child that dies under the age of accountability goes to heaven and I believe that the same principle will apply to children concerning the rapture.

Can you imagine the cry that will be heard when millions of babies and little children suddenly disappear? Can you imagine the horror parents will feel as they franticly search for their children? Babies will disappear from their cribs, daycares, or even from the arms of their mothers. Little children from all over the world will suddenly vanish from their homes, yards, and schools.

My plea to parents is for you to turn to God and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Live in such a way that you know that you will go to be with God and your little children when the rapture occurs (whenever that is).

If you don’t make it in the rapture and your little one does, please remember that there is still hope for you to be reunited with your loved ones – you can still turn to God. As long as there is breath in your body there is still hope for you, you can still repent and you can still be forgiven. It won’t be easy, and it may cost you your life but it will be worth it.