Advice From George Mueller

We should always read and meditate over the Word of God with reference to ourselves and our own heart. This is deeply important, and I cannot press it too earnestly upon you. We are apt often to read the Word with reference to others. Parents read it in reference to their children, children for their parents; evangelists read it for their congregations, Sunday school teachers for their classes. Oh! This is a poor way of reading the Word; if read in this way, it will not profit. I say it deliberately and advisedly: the sooner it is given up, the better for your own souls. Read the Word of God always with reference to your own heart, and when you have received the blessing in your own heart, you will be able to communicate it to others.
Whether you labor as evangelists, as pastors, or as visitors, superintendents of Sunday schools, teachers, tract distributors, or in whatever other capacity you may seek to labor for the Lord, be careful to let the reading of the Word be with distinct reference to your own heart. Ask yourselves, “How does this suit me, either for instruction, for correction, for exhortation, or for rebuke (2Ti 3:16)? How does this affect me?” If you thus read and get the blessing in your own soul, how soon it will flow out to others!
–George Müller

George Mueller (1805-1898) founded Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England where 10,024 orphans were cared for during his lifetime. He also founded 117 schools where more than 120,000 children received a Christian education. He did all of this without letting the financial needs be known to anyone except God. He met all his needs.

Regarding his quote, remember that pride always sees the faults of others. Therefore, when Carl is walking in pride, the truth seen in the reading of the Word or the preaching of the Word can easily be applied to someone else. And I miss out on what God wants to do in my own life. Not good!

Carl will be better off if he humbles himself and submits himself to God and His Word. Then I am open to receive what truth the Lord is trying to show me in His Word.

Let us receive Brother Muller’s instructions.

May His sanctifying grace and tranquilizing peace be upon you.

Carl

“Throw A Little Sugar On It.”

I once hired the grandson of a local evangelist to work in the department I managed. I was a new Christian and enjoyed the tales about his grandfather’s ministry.  Later I had an opportunity to visit with the retired evangelist and hear more stories. One was about a revival where he was preaching hard about sin and the need for people to get right with God. Suddenly, one of the evangelist’s friends begins to shout out, “Throw a little sugar on it. Throw a little sugar on it.” In other words, lighten up and give the saints some encouragement.

I share this because we have been studying the Book of Jude and false teachers, for some time. Not necessarily the lightest or most positive subject matter. One of my friends who reads the blog once told me, “It is not light reading.” Therefore, I thought we would “throw a little sugar on it” and post some lighter, interesting fare for awhile, before returning to Jude. Following is the first of such blogs. I pray you find it interesting and edifying.

SUMERIAN KING’S LIST AND NOAH’S FLOOD

The Sumerians are thought to be the earliest civilization along with Egypt and Indus Valley. Their kingdom, Sumer, was located in southern Iraq in the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys. They invented cuneiform writing. Cuneiform writing used clay tablets as the medium with wedged shaped “letters” pressed into the clay.

Around 1900, archeologists found the ancient library in the temple ruins of Nippur, an ancient Sumerian city. On a clay tablet, they found what has come to be known as The Sumerian King’s List. The interpretation of the tablet was first published in 1906.

Of interest to Christians, is the fact the clay tablet lists kings, duration of reign and where the official location of the kingship was BEFORE NOAH’S FLOOD and AFTER NOAH’S FLOOD. It uses the term “The Flood swept thereover.”

Thus, we have proof  from what is thought to be the most ancient of Mesopotamian civilizations, bearing witness to Noah’s Flood.  If you would like to read more about this archeological find, please click here.  You may want to scroll past the abstract to the introduction.

Do you believe in Noah’s Flood as recorded in Genesis?  The Lord Jesus did.

You can trust God’s word. May He richly bless you as you live for Him.

Carl

Payday for Jezebel

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.”   Jesus  Rev. 3:19 NASB

“…but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.” Hebrews 12: 10 NASB

Welcome back as we continue our study of the Book of Jude in the New Testament. We are reviewing what the Lord is doing in the Thyatira church (Rev. 2:18-29) which has been deceived by a false prophetess named Jezebel.  Our opening scriptures give us two reasons why the Lord  disciplines His children, first because He loves us and, secondly, because it makes us share in His holiness.  As we will see, He is going to discipline His mislead bond-servants in Thyatira. They needed to quickly repent of their involvement in immorality and idolatry.

Now we come to the false prophetess, Jezebel’s, payday. She is going to receive from the hand of the Lord what she has sowed.  He is going to protect His Bride from this ambassador of satan.

Notice first, though, the mercy of our Lord. Even in His wrath, He is merciful to this person:

” ‘And I gave her time to repent…’ ”  Lord Jesus, Rev 2:21

Unfortunately,

” ‘…and she does not want to repent of her immorality.’ ”  Lord Jesus, Rev 2:21

I believe this person was not a born again person who had been deceived, but was a false brethren who had “crept in unnoticed” as Jude warned.  I like to believe that if she had been indwelled by the Holy Spirit, she would have repented.

Because she would not repent, wrath has come. Lord Jesus said:

” ‘ Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence…”    Rev 2:22-23

Her sin of immorality was carried out in a bed and there, she would experience judgement, “great tribulation”.  As far as “killing her children with pestilence”, all the commentaries I reviewed said these were her followers. Just as Timothy and Onesimus are described as Paul’s children in the faith, she had “children” in her idolatrous faith.  Some thought “death” referred to the “second death” at the great white throne judgment where people are cast in the lake of fire.  But if pestilence is the correct word, that speaks of death associated with earthly disease.  Since the believers that had been misled by her, were technically her “children” also, it must have applied to them also, IF THEY DID NOT REPENT.

The phrase, “…and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation…”, includes the Lord’s misled bond-servants. “Adultery” speaks of the spiritual adultery like the nation of Israel committed by going after other gods.  Of course, it may speak of physical adultery also.

Here are Christians who are participating in immorality and idolatry. And they are about to experience “great tribulation unless they repent of her deeds.”  They needed to quickly “change their mind” resulting in righteous behavior or suffer the wrath of God.

Paul has warned us in Ephesians 5:5-6

“For this know with certainty, that no immoral, or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers  with them. (Emphasis mine)

Paul says almost the exact same thing in Colossians 3:5-6.  Notice also the following statement that Moses made to the children of Israel concerning the dangers of going after other gods:

“And it shall come about that as the Lord delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you shall be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it.”  Deuteronomy 28: 63

Moses was warning Israel that this is what would happen to them if they went after other gods and forsook their Savior.  This is what we see happening in Thyatira to the misled New Testament believers, if they do not repent.  As Paul said in I Cor. 10:20 they were sharing in demons, by eating food sacrificed to demons (an idol) and participating in fornication, adultery, and other sexual vices. And the Lord hated it. And He still hates it today.

Dear Reader, as Paul exhorted us, do not let anyone deceive you with “empty words”.  There are many “empty words” being spoken today by people who claim to be believers.   Paul told Timothy to watch out for those who did not advocate “sound words”, which are “those of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the doctrine conforming to godliness” (I Timothy 6:3) So called “spiritual truths” that do not conform the saints to Christ likeness are “empty words”.

The Lord Jesus said all the churches would realize the following when they heard what He said and did in the Thyatira church situation.  You and I are to realize this.

” ‘ …and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” Lord Jesus, Rev.2:23

May the eyes of our heart be open and illuminated by His Holy Spirit concerning what is hidden in our hearts and minds!  Thank you for your time.

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.  Apostle John, I John 5:21

Carl

Provoking The Lord To Jealousy

“…But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” (Rev. 2:20 KJV)

In the last two posts we have looked at ancient society and idol worship. Now we want to discuss Jezebel, the false prophetess.

Like Balaam and the Nicolaitans, she was responsible for seducing the people of God to participate in the idolatrous feasts of pagans and to participate in immorality.

Two blogs back we looked at the importance of the pagan sacrifices in ancient cultures. Not only were they important in a religious and civil sense but also socially. The early Christian’s daily life was spent in the midst of a society saturated in idol worship and immorality. This is why Paul said to the Corinthian Christians:

“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a SHARING in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a SHARING in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices SHARERS in the altar? What do we mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become SHARERS IN DEMONS. You CANNOT drink the cup of the Lord and the CUP OF DEMONS; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the TABLE OF DEMONS. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?”

(I Corinthians 10: 14 – 22 emphasis mine)

If the Old Testament children of Israel, who did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, provoked the Lord to jealousy with idols; HOW MUCH MORE the New Testament believers who have the indwelling Holy Spirit in them and are becoming sharers in demons by eating the sacrifices to these demons. This is why James 4: 5 says

“Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealousy desires the Spirit which He made to dwell in us?””

As we will see, Jezebel, and these New Testament Christians who followed her, DID provoke the Lord to jealousy. What was written in Deuteronomy, still applies to us and the bond servants in Thyratira:

“They made Him jealous with strange gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread.” (Deut. 32: 16-17)

And in another place it says:

“They have made Me jealous with what is not God. They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. (Deut. 32: 21a)

Paul warned us in I Corinthians 10: 11 that:

“Now these things” [what happened in the Old Testament] “happened to them” [the Old Testament children of God] “as an example” [to New Testament believers] “and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (Emphasis mine)

In other words, we, the New Testament Christians, like the children of Israel, can provoke the Lord to jealousy and anger by getting involved with idols, gods of other religions, or other abominations; such as witchcraft, divination, sorcery, spells, mediums, spiritist, necromancy (Deut. 18: 10-14), astrology and other evil practices. Paul instructed us to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. John told us to keep ourselves from idols and there are still plenty of idols around today. For example, do you know that a

“…covetous man, ….is an idolater…..’ (Ephesians 5:5)

Mammon or worldly riches is the idol of today’s covetous man and he is bowing down to and sacrificing his life to mammon. Jesus said you can not serve Him and mammon!

Also listen to what Samuel told Saul when Saul failed to obey the Lord’s command to exterminate the Amalekites:

“For rebellion is as the sin of divination” [or witchcraft] “and insubordination is as iniquity and IDOLATRY.” (I Samuel 15:23 addition and emphasis mine)

In the Lord’s eyes many things are idolatry, not just worshipping an idol in a pagan temple.

Jude said in verse 21:

“..keep yourselves in the love of God…”

The Lord Jesus said

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. (John 15: 9-10)

When we came to Christ we had to repent or change our mind and behavior toward sin. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, He spread the love of God in our hearts and gave us wonderful promises that, by renewing our mind, we can escape the corruption that is in the world through lust and order our daily behavior to imitate Christ. This is Truth but we throw a wrench in the gears of these Truths by not maintaining our initial repentance or turning away from sin.

Dear Reader, let us press on in imitating Christ by keeping His commandments, walking in agape love toward our fellow Christians and all men. Pay close attention to yourself. The deceitfulness of sin makes you believe that the sinful act will bring you true happiness. Our true joy, happiness and fulfillment lies only in our relationship with the Lord Jesus. Your life is hid in His.

Don’t let the deceitfulness of sin lull you to sleep and you awake to find yourself in darkness enslaved to practices that are an abomination to the Savior. Do not provoke Him to jealously. Repent if you need to and get up from defeat and go on in overcoming victory in the power of His Spirit. May God richly bless our obedience!

Carl

Christ verses Ancient Idol Worship

In light of what we shared on idol sacrifices in ancient societies, I thought we should show the influence Christianity had on the Gentile pagans that were offering these sacrifices.

Our source for this information is Pliny, The Younger. He was the Roman governor from 111-113 AD in Pontus and Bithynia. Both of these areas are north of the seven Revelation churches in what is modern day Turkey. We will quote from his correspondence with Emperor Trajan concerning Christian persecution.

“I therefore postponed the investigation and hastened to consult you. For the matter seemed to me to warrant consulting you, especially because of the number involved. For many persons of every age, every rank, and also of both sexes are and will be endangered. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms. But it seems possible to check and cure it. It is certainly quite clear that THE TEMPLES, WHICH HAD BEEN ALMOST DESERTED, have begun to be frequented, that the established religious rites, LONG NEGLECTED, are being resumed, and that from everywhere sacrificial animals are coming, for which until now VERY FEW PURCHASERS could be found. Hence it is easy to imagine what a multitude of people can be reformed if an opportunity for repentance is afforded.” (Emphasis mine)

As you can read, so many people had accepted the Lord as their Savior, the pagan temples were almost deserted and revenue from the purchase of animals for pagan sacrifices was way off. Idol worship was no match for the power of the Gospel. It is only when the government starts killing the Christians that some deny Him. Let me share part of what preceeds the above quote. After telling Trajan how he had dealt with the Christians up to that time, he says the following:

Soon accusations spread, as usually happens, because of the proceedings going on, and several incidents occurred. An anonymous document was published containing the names of many persons. Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ–none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do–these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food–but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition.

God has blessed our brothers and sisters who did not deny Him in the face of death. They are with Him. Pliny on the other hand, if never came to Christ, has spent the last 1900 plus years in the place of torment. I wonder what he thinks of Christ now?

In closing, we heard Pliny’s testimony that so many people believed the gospel that hardly anyone was going to the temples. Such is the power of the Gospel!

Through Roman government eyes we can see how Christians were viewed and, in times of persecution, were murdered. The persecution usually stopped for a while when an emperor died and a new one assumed office or for some other reason. It was during these times after persecution that the church had to decide on what to do with all the people who denied Christ and now wanted to come back to the church. It was a big dilemma for the church leaders who, if they survived the persecution, normally bore the scars of persecution.

Paul shared this saying with Timothy and I think it deserves our reflection:

“It is a trustworthy statement:

For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

If we endure, we shall also reign with Him;

If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.” (II Tim 2:11-13 NASB)

May you and I be faithful unto death, whether due to old age or persecution for Christ’s sake.

Carl

Ancient Society and Idol Sacrifices

“…so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” (Rev. 2:20)

Jude warned about the grace of god being turned into licentiousness or wantonness (Wuest). The fruit of this is what the opening verse is talking about. To understand what this meant to a first century Gentile Christian, we need to understand sacrifices in ancient societies.

“The eating of idol meats, which was not a temptation to the Jewish Christian, was quite otherwise to the Gentile. The act of sacrifice, among all ancient nations, was a social no less than a religious act. Commonly only a part of the victim was consumed as an offering, and the rest became the portion of the priests, was given to the poor, or was sold again in the markets. Hence sacrifice and feasts were identified. Thucydides enumerates sacrifices among popular entertainments. “We have not forgotten,” he says, “to provide for our weary spirits many relaxations from toil. We have regular games and sacrifices throughout the year” (II., 38). So Aristotle: “And some fellowships seem to be for the sake of pleasure; those of the followers of Love, and those of club-diners; for these are for the sake of sacrifice and social intercourse” (“Ethics”, viii.,9,5).

AFTER CONVERSION, what did this mean for the Gentile believer? We see the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) forbidding the eating of meat offered to idols, not because of the Mosaic law, but due to the possibility of occasioning of sin to weak Christians. In Corinthians, Paul teaches the same thing and for the same reason:

“…he dissuades from it on the ground of its dangerous consequences to weak consciences, and as involving a formal recognition of the false worship which they had RENOUNCED AT THEIR BAPTISM.” (Vincent)

Vincent describes the effect of this on the believer:

“Thus, for the Gentile, “refusal to partake of the idol-meats involved absence from public and private festivity, a withdrawal, in great part, from the social life of his time.””

Now you can imagine the hard feelings that were created when new believers had to tell their still pagan friends that they could not party with them after the sacrifice. Plus, Thyratira and Ephesus both were cities with temples to Roman emperors and Goddess Roma, the personification of Rome. Not worshipping the emperors was perceived as not being loyal to the ruling government.

To sum this up, Vincent compares the believers in Asia Minor with those in Corinth:

“Christians and heathen were no longer dwelling together [in Asia minor], as at Corinth, with comparatively slight interruption in their social intercourse, but were divided by a sharp line of demarcation. The eating of things sacrificed to idols was more and more a crucial test, involving a cowardly shrinking from the open confession of a Christian’s faith. Disciples who sat at meat in the idol’s temple were making merry with those whose hands were red with the blood of their fellow-worshippers, and whose lips had uttered blaspheming scoffs against the Holy Name (Plumptre).” (Emphasis mine)

“In times of persecution, tasting the wine of the libations or eating meat offered to idols, was understood to signify recantation of Christianity.”

One possible explanation for the “line of demarcation” Vincent refers to was the martyrdom of Antipas (Rev 2:13) who, tradition says, the apostle John appointed overseer of the Pergamum church. Before John wrote Revelation, Antipas was killed on a pagan altar in Pergamum. The seven churches are all in the same area in what we know as Turkey; therefore, the other six churches would of been aware of this murder and other martyrs. The letter to the Smyrna church also has reference to on-going persecution at this time.

In closing, this discussion has made me realize what our brother and sisters were up against in the early church. There was an immediate cost to saying “Jesus is Lord”.

With the resurgence of paganism in our day, a lot of these old demonic gods are being worshipped again.

Thank you for your time. I hope you are staying free from the flu. God bless!

Carl

The Lord’s Bond-Servants

“…she teaches and leads my bond-servants astray… (Rev.2:20)

We are continuing our study of the Book of Jude by looking at examples of false teachers in the Book of Revelation. In our last post we discussed the false prophetess Jezebel, whom the Lord identified in the Thyratira church. She was teaching and seducing the Lord’s bond-servants with the result that there was a fundamental departure from the truth.

Notice the Lord Jesus calls His followers “bond-servants” which is the Greek word doulos. It is translated servant, bond-servant or slave. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament explains the term as follows:

“Paul applies the term to himself…and frequently to express the relation of believers to Christ. The word involves the ideal of belonging to a master and of service as a slave. The former [Master] is emphasized in Paul’s use of the term, since Christian service, in his view, has no element of servility, but is the expression of love and of free choice. From this standpoint, the idea of service coheres with those of freedom and of sonship.”

“On the other hand, believers belong to Christ by purchase (I Peter 1:18) and own Him as absolute Master.”

Wuest’s Word Studies From The Greek New Testament draws out the following points from doulos:

“Thus the word in Romans refers to one who is bound to another, a slave. There are two words in Greek referring to a person in slavery. One speaks of a slave taken in war. The other refers to a person born into slavery. The latter is the one used in Romans. It presents the slave in various aspects.”

  • “He is one bound to his master.”
  • “… is in a permanent relationship to his master which only death can break.”
  • “…is one born into slavery.”
  • “…one whose will is swallowed up in the will of another.”
  • “…is devoted to the interests of his master to the extent that he disregards his own interests.”

“Bond-servant of Jesus Christ” was Paul’s favorite designation for himself . As American’s, we do not think of being slaves or having a Master. Home of the brave and land of the free. But we do have a Master and, as Christians, we are his bond-servants. Let us serve Him.

In closing, I am reminded of Luke 17: 1-10 where the Lord is teaching on forgiveness and, upon hearing the Lord’s instructions about forgiving multiple times, the disciples say to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”. The Lord replies with a story about a master and slave. At the conclusion of the story, the Lord Jesus tells them:

“So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, “We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.”

Forgiveness was not a matter of “more faith” but of just “obeying” what the Master had commanded.

The question for me in 2018 is: is Jesus really Lord of my life? Is He the Master? Am I His bond-servant? If we say yes, then we should have the fruit of obedience to prove it. Let us start where we are today spiritually and grow in obedience. Paul exhorts us to “Work out your own salvation” which means to bring our salvation to it’s ultimate conclusion. The ultimate conclusion is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Phil.2:12 & Romans 8:29).

What a blessing to be the bond-servant of the Most High God! Thank you for your time.

Carl