Obedience and Sanctification
God the Refuge of His People
Scriptural Passage: Psalm 46, KJV. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the speak in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”
The Theme: God is always there to help, providing refuge, security, and peace. God’s power is complete and His ultimate victory is certain. He will not fail to rescue those who love Him.
The Structure: While this is a Psalm of praise, it is also a Blessed Assurance – a promise of God [if you will] that He was, in the ancient times the God of refuge and strength for His people, Israel. Now, in the NT times, this “Church Age,” the Scriptures tell us how the Gentile’s [non-Jews] were brought into the family of God through inviting Jesus Christ into one’s heart. Both the Jewish believer and the Gentile believer are disciples of Jesus Christ and are of one family under God – our Refuge and our Strength.
That said, this is also a Psalm of praise, trust, and celebration of deliverance from some great foe, whether of ancient times or in this Church Age.
“Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed.” The fear of mountains or cities crumbling into the sea, etc., may haunt many people today. What this Psalm assures us [believers] of is; we need not fear. In the face of utter destruction, there is a quiet confidence in God’s ability to save the believer. It seems impossible to consider the end of the world without fear, but God’s Word is clear – God is our refuge even in the event of total destruction.
Understand, God is NOT merely a temporary retreat! Psalm 46 is promising us, God is our ETERNAL refuge and can provide strength in ANY circumstance. As long as God lives among His people, the city was / is invincible. When God’s people abandon Him, He will not longer protect them, as with Jerusalem when they fell to the Babylonian army.
God has the final Victory! How proper, then, for us to be calm now (certainly not complacent), reverently honoring Him and His power and majesty. Take time each day to be still and to exalt our living God.
The Christian Walk
“Walk with Me awhile today,” This word: “Today” I’m sure, means the present time we’re living in. “Awhile” implies there is an end, and there is indeed. In the Kingdom of God there is: “Eternity,” thus there is no end. Yes, “Walk With Me Awhile Today.” Deuteronomy 10:12-13. “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?”
Proverbs 1:15. “My son, do not walk in the way with them, Keep your foot from their path;” Speaks words of caution. One step on the precipitous path is a step toward destruction.
Walking according to the Spirit. Galatians 5:16. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” We must be aware of confusing your feelings with the Holy Spirit’s leading. Being led by the Spirit involves the desire to hear, the readiness to obey God’s Word, and the sensitivity to discern between your feelings and His promptings.
1st John 1:7. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Real cleansing from sin came with Jesus, the “Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus did not die for His own sins; He had no sin. Instead, by transaction we may never fully understand, He died for the sins of the world.
When we identify ourselves with Jesus Christ, His death becomes ours. We discover that He has already paid the penalty for our sins; His blood has cleansed us. Just as He rose from the grave, we rise to a new life of fellowship with Him. (Romans 6:4). Take that “Christian Walk with Jesus,” invite Him into your heart TODAY!
Compromise and Consequence
There are some things in life that make no sense whatsoever, e.g., lighting a match to determine whether your gas tank is empty, or stroking a rhino to see if it’s tame. They’re called victims, and if they live – just plain stupid.
That said, there’s a strange species of Christian running loose today who flirts with risks far greater. While displaying a self-confidence or calm display in one’s face, no one would ever guess he / she is balancing on the edge of disaster. Who are they? They are those who rewrite the Bible to accommodate their life-style. From their outer flesh, they have all the appearance of Your Basic Believer, but underneath, it’s ‘operation rationalization’ which transpires daily. They’re experts at rephrasing or explaining away painful biblical truths of the Word of God.Whenever they run across Scripture that attacks their position, they alter Scripture to accommodate their life-style.
In that way, two things happen: (1) All desires are fulfilled (no matter how wrong); (2) All guilt is erased (no matter how justified). That way everybody can do their own – thing and no one has any reason to question another’s behaviors. They come up with self-accommodating theology. And, if that’s true . . . if that’s right, then what in the world does it mean to be holy?
Holy? 1st Peter 1:14-16. “As obedient children, do not fashion yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is Holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye Holy for I am Holy.” KJV
Or Pure? 1st Thessalonians 4:3-4. “For this is the Will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour.” KJV And 1st Thessalonians 5:22. “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” KJV.
Or Under Grace? Romans 6:15. “What then? Should we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace” God forbid.” KJV
Or undefiled? Hebrews 13:4. “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” KJV.
The simple fact is this: We reap precisely what we sow. If we sow a life-style that is more comfortable or easier or even happier – but is in direct disobedience to God’s revealed Word – we ultimately reap disaster. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7. When the bills come due, the wages of willful sin are paid in full. God doesn’t Compromise with Consequences.
A Problem of Prominence
Scriptural Passage: Haggai 1:2-6. NKJV. “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time the that the LORD’S house should be built.” ’ ” Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hots: “Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Supporting Scripture: Ezra 1:2-4; Proverbs 15:23.
“The Book of Haggai” the prophet is only two chapters in length, but it is powerful. Old Testament? Yes! Applicable to the New Testament, even today.
Let’s open with this “tease”: Because the remnant of Israel that returned from Babylon, following their return from captivity, held their own desires too close, their vision of God was obscured and they were suffering in every area: sowing seed with very low yield, celebrating without satisfaction, and laboring without profit. Their efforts were as futile as putting their earnings in a bag with holes. Understand, they were unable to see that they were missing blessings because they had made their own selfish interests so prominent.
Through God’s grace and leadership, Israel had been released from captivity of some 70 years in Babylon, had returned to Judah, and within two years they had cleared the old ruins at the temple mount and completed the foundation of the second temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:2-4). While Israel was in captivity, the Samaritans and others had moved into the land. These neighbors watched how rapidly the returning exiles were reestablishing their society and their temple. They launched an aggressive campaign to deter the construction. And it worked. Progress stopped for 16 years.
“A Problem of Prominence” - Rather than building a house for the LORD, the Israelites sought to please themselves. However, none of their efforts succeeded. Now enters Haggai, he’s got “a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Prov.15:23); just what Israel needed to hear. He spoke his word to their conscience: Do you see what’s happening to you? Do you see how you’ve wandered off track? Think about what you’re doing!
How does this apply to the church today? Indirectly, Haggai’s message is meant for all Christian’s who have lost their will to build. They say, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built.” His point is right-on! “Is it time for you, yourselves, to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”
Are you seeing where Haggai is leading us? The reason for the people’s extended delay in rebuilding the LORD’S temple wasn’t a lack of materials, money, or manpower. It was a lack of obedience – skewed priorities. Israel had been freed from captivity to reestablish the covenant kingdom of God, and at the center of that covenant was/is God Himself. Only then would the people [enter the Christians of the New Covenant] be ready to rebuild their own lives.
Understand, we are of the New Covenant, released from our captivity of sin through Jesus Christ. That is our Salvation and our resurrection into the kingdom of God. We are to build our temple, i.e., the place within each believer where Christ abides. The “obedience” is to the Word of God, to follow His commands, carrying the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. This was all looking ahead to the time the Lord’s house would be “filled with glory”, a time that the “glory of this house” would be “greater than the first.” This prophecy points to the coming of the Messiah, whose presence in this new temple would represent the glory or the presence of the Lord. Let’s ask ourselves, what am I going to build i.e., serve in our physical building, maintaining/growing, our church. Yes! Our physical church, and indeed our spiritual church within each member. History is working toward the goal of the messianic kingdom. Come, Lord Jesus, come.