Above All Things

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” Proverb 4: 23

The writer of Proverbs warns us about the importance of what goes into our heart or inner person, the true ‘you’. “…with all diligence…” is also translated “above all things…”. Above all things we should watch over our heart for from it flow the springs of life!

He then goes on to tell us how to guard and examine our hearts. He uses such terms as “put away”, “put…far from you”, “watch”, “do not turn”, and then in another verse he tells us to “turn”. In other words, it is our responsibility to be pro-active in watching over our heart. A passive mind and will is the enemy of our heart and the welcome mat to our sinful nature and demonic intrigue.

First he warns us about our “mouth” and “lips”. “Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious lips far from you.” (verse 24) If we wish to know what is in our heart, all we need to do is listen to the words coming out of our mouth. The words of our mouth reveal the content of our heart. If we find evil (i.e. bitterness, deceitfulness, lying, boasting, etc.) pouring out of us, we need to find the root in our heart and remove it by repentance based on the word of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, he warns us about what we are paying attention to. Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.” (verse 25) Paul told Timothy to play close attention to himself and we need to do the same. Does good and noble things have our attention or are we fixated on worldly and sinful things? Do we like to tip toe into satan’s territory, exposing ourselves to his snare. If our attention is drawn to worldliness and sin, we need to determine where this is coming from in our heart and deal with it.

Thirdly, he warns us about where our thoughts and corresponding actions are taking us, are we walking in fellowship with Lord Jesus or are we on the path of the wicked? Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil. (verse 26-27) If we look honestly at the fruit of our lives, what path does it show we are own? Are we becoming more like Christ or more like the world? Or are we just wallowing around in complacently, worldliness and lukewarmness?

Paul, a brother who once found himself on the wrong path, tells us in 2 Corinthians 7 that we need to be perfecting holiness in the fear of God. The healthy, profound, adoring, awed respect (reverential fear) of the Lord teaches us to hate evil and to keep His commandments. Obedience is how we show our love for Him. (John 14: 21). By removing evil from our heart we become more “holy” or “set apart” unto the worship and service of God. I Corinthian 1: 2 tells us this is what God the Father through Jesus Christ has called us to. We are “saints by calling”.

So above all things watch over your heart, that hidden person who you truly are. That is the person the Holy Spirit sees and we need to see ourselves as He sees us. Thank your heavenly Father that His goal is to cause us to walk in agape love that flows from a pure heart, a clear conscience and sincere faith (I Timothy 1:5). If we obey His word in the power of the Holy Spirit this will be accomplished and our heart will be purified (I John 3:3 & 1 Peter 1:22). Thank you, Father God.

Carl

Dream Catchers

I recently shared a sermon titled The End Times and The Unsuspecting. The sermon is based on Romans 16: 18 which reads:

[18] For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

The “men” are people trying to deceive Christians into error.  The “unsuspecting” are those Christians who go through life unaware of the demonic snares.  

As I was reviewing the PowerPoint, when I reached the section stating that “unsuspecting Christians participate in or have an unhealthy interest in occult practices”, the Holy Spirit impressed me that I needed to add Native American spirituality to the occult practices list.  I had created the list from Deuteronomy 18: 10-14 which contains most of the occult practices God considers an abomination. So I added it to my notes and made a few comments during the sermon.

I found out later some church members were convicted by the Lord to dispose of their Native American “dream catchers’ hanging over their beds.  Goes to show that only the Lord knows the hearts of His lambs. 

As a follow up, I would like to share a short article on “dream catchers”.   The author is Nanci Des Gerlaise, a Native American Christian woman of Cree First Nation. Nanci’s father and grandfather were both medicine men or shamans; therefore, she has first hand knowledge concerning the occult powers behind Native American spirituality. May your spiritual eyes be opened if you are involved in this snare. God bless you! Carl

Dream Catchers—Those Popular Spidery “Sacred Hoops”

November 21, 2019 by Lighthouse Trails author

By Nanci Des Gerlaise
(author of Muddy Waters: an insider’s view of North American Native Spirituality)

Dream catchers—those spidery “sacred hoops” with feathers. They originated with the Ojibwa tribe during the ’60s and ’70s, supposedly to protect a sleeper by “catching” bad dreams or evil spirits. Then they caught on with other tribes and spread through the New Age movement into popular culture. Today, it is not uncommon to see dream catchers in gift and variety stores.  Dream catchers are even used in some public school settings, as the following describes:

Every classroom displayed at least one dreamcatcher—a magical spider web inside a sacred circle. The students explained that dreamcatchers protect them from evil spirits and nightmares by catching the bad dreams but permitting good dreams to pass though the center. According to fourth grade teacher Ms. Preston, the amber crystal in the center of her dreamcatcher meant proper spiritual alignment with the energy of the universe.1

But you can be sure, most of the general public has no idea of the meaning and purpose of dream catchers.

Basically, using a dream catcher in its intended purpose is nothing more than a form of practicing occultism. How can an inanimate object “catch” evil spirits, much less bad dreams? And why attempt to “catch” evil spirits or nightmares when you cannot fight them physically?

Although Native people can sometimes see into the spiritual world of darkness, dream catchers, or anything having to do with the occult, merely attract evil spirits and demonic activity and provide no means of protection from them. Using dream catchers is an open invitation for more spiritual works of darkness.

If you are a born-again Christian, you have a Protector—God Almighty—who stands between us and the evil realm. We need nothing more than Jesus Christ Himself who overcame all works and powers of darkness by His death and resurrection. If we pay attention to God’s Word and not to seducing spirits, we can walk in His freedom from fear.

Ephesians 6:12 says that our battle is not against “flesh and blood,” but is against “principalities,” “powers,” “the rulers of the darkness” and “spiritual wickedness in high places.” And in Hebrews, we read:

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14–15)

(To understand more about Native Spirituality, read Muddy Waters, by Nanci Des Gerlaise).

Notes:
1. Berit Kjos, Brave New Schools (Kjos Ministries, http://www.crossroad.to/Books/BraveNewSchools/1-globalvillage.html), ch. 1.

The Importance of Kindness

To him who is about to faint and despair, kindness is due from his friend, lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty.

Job 6:14 Amplified Bible

Though I have read the Book of Job several times, I did not remember this verse until I heard a sermon on kindness.

Job is addressing one of his friends who came to “comfort” him. Job was faint and in despair from the trial he was undergoing and he needed “kindness” from his friends instead of judgementalism. Satan’s goal in Job’s trials was to have him curse God to his face which would amount to forsaking the “fear” or “reverence” of the Almighty. He would cease to conduct himself in the healthy, wholesome, overwhelming, profound, adoring, awed respect (reverential fear) which manifested itself in obedience.

After hearing this sermon, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times I had walked right by another Christian who was “faint and despair” and did not stop to offer a word of encouragement or to tell them that God had not forsaken them, but would see them through the deep waters they were going through. I wondered if a brother or sister in Christ had turned their back on the Lord due to my lack of sensitivity and just common kindness.

God put several Christian hospital workers in my wife’s path when she was receiving treatment for breast cancer. They were an unbelievable encouragement to her and me during this time of spiritual fainting and despair. Just to know that the Lord had not forgotten us, was such a blessing.

Do you know anyone that is fainting and in despair due to some trial they are undergoing? If you do, show them kindness. Encourage them to not let their trial deter them from continuing to offer the Father the profound, adoring awed respect that He alone is worthy of. Remind them that He chose them in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, to spend eternity with Him as His adopted child. And how He has lavished His grace upon them by sending the Lord Jesus to die on the Cross for their sins while they were yet sinners.

In closing, remember our brothers and sisters in foreign lands that are being persecuted and murdered for their faith in Christ. One way to express our kindness is to ask the Father to strengthen their faith, give them an abundance of grace and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Let us heed the Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews:

[Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God.

But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him]. Hebrew 3:12-13 Amplified

Carl

Reflections on Psalm 51 – A Repentant Heart

“This is the greatest of all penitential prayers, biblical and extra-biblical. Through the centuries men with a burden of guilt have been led to the very throne of grace by its words. The author is not only conscious of being a sinner in general, he is also conscious of being a heinous sinner in some specific way. Yet, he is not one of the habitually wicked who refuse to repent. The saint is the sinner who repents; the wicked man is the sinner who refuses to throw himself upon the mercy of God. It is no wonder that in tradition the Psalm was associated with David in his deep sin and soul-searching repentance (II Sam. 11-12).

“Even in the laws of sacrifice in the Old Testament there is no sacrifice for sins committed with a high hand. This means that for the one who was guilty of such willful disobedience there was no sacrifice. He must throw himself directly on the grace of God. Since this was true, it also stands to reason that no one of the legal sacrifices was adequate to express the psalmist’s heartfelt thanksgiving and praise for so great a salvation. The only sacrifice known to him under such circumstances was his broken and contrite heart.”

Layman’s Bible Commentary – The Book of Psalms- Arnold B. Rhodes (1960) p. 85, 88

Since we New Testament believers still commit sin, I encourage you to read Psalm 51 in the light of these comments and remembering that David was saved by grace just like we are. He was looking forward to the Cross and we are looking back to the Cross. No one has been saved by their good works or keeping the Jewish law. It is only by God having mercy upon us.

Therefore, we need to continue to confess our sins so we keep ourselves clean of defilement from sin, which makes it impossible to fellowship with the Father and Lord Jesus (I John 1: 4-10). The Lord Jesus said the following:

“But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments and they will walk with me in white for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4

Some Sardis believers were serious about purifying their ways and were keeping their sins confessed and forsaken; therefore, He said these would walk (fellowship) with Him in white. He would not walk with the other believers because they were defiled with their “deeds” that were characteristic of “dead” or lost people, not saved individuals.

Yes, the sacrifice of Jesus paid for all of our sins; past, present and future. But He that paid for our sins on the Cross taught His disciples to ask daily that God the Father would “forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12). He also told the New Testament believers in Sardis (Rev 3: 3), Laodicea (Rev 3:19), Thyatira (Rev 2: 21-22), Pergamum (Rev 2:16), and Ephesus (Rev 2: 5) to repent of their sinful ways. And that is just in the New Testament.

After reading Psalm 51, read Psalm 32 where David describes what he experienced when he did not acknowledge his sin. See if you can relate to it. I can. Then read on and see what he says after he confesses his sin. I can relate and I believe you can to.

Oh, saint how God loves us and wants us to walk with Him in white; to fellowship with Him and serve Him in practical holiness being separated from the defilement of the world and sin. The hope of his calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in us and the awesomeness of His power toward us are so astounding and stunning and undeserved, shall we not prepare ourselves for the day we will see Him face to face? While we are on the earth, shall we not return His love that He has lavished upon us with eager service to Him and His cause?

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice you righteous ones. And shout for joy all you who are upright in heart.” Psalm 32: 10-11

Merry Lord Jesus’s Birthday to you and your family.

Carl

God’s Jewels.

Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord and who thought on His name.

And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure). And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.

Malachi 3: 16-17 Amplified Bible

“This was not a fear based on feelings but was the result of hearing, learning and responding to who God is from His word. Those who feared God would keep his commandments, walk in righteousness, and put aside anything that would hinder worship and service to Him.

Those who feared the Lord received wisdom from God, which brought blessing and favor.”

Messenger of Rebuke and Renewal – David M. Levy, p. 93

Should Christians Read The Old Testament?

“Nothing in Scripture is written in vain. God had wise and gracious purposes towards us in leaving the Jewish history upon record; and it is our wisdom and duty to receive instruction from it.”

Matthew Henry

Some Christian pastors believe that Christians should “unhitch” their faith from the Old Testament. I strongly, strongly disagree with them. The following is one reason why.

In I Corinthians 9:27 Paul said “…but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified”. Paul did not want to be disqualified from serving God in the gospel cause but he knew it was a possibility, if he did not control his body. He had received instructions from the Old Testament examples of people not controlling their body and being disqualified from serving God. In the original letter to the Corinthians there were no chapter divisions, therefore chapter 9:27, is followed immediately by chapter 10: 1-11, where he warns us about being disqualified:


[1] … For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;

[2] and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

[3] and all ate the same spiritual food;

[4] and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

[5] Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

[6] Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.

[7] Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO play.”

[8] Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.

[9] Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.

[10] Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

[11] Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

[12] Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (Emphasis added)

As you can plainly see in verses six and eleven, Paul tells these New Testament Christians that Old Testament events “happened as examples for us” and “they were written for our instruction…”.

Why?

“…so that we” (New Testament believers) “would not crave evil things as they“ (Old Testament Israel) “also craved.” (V6) And suffer punishment from God (v 5).

The Amplified Bible puts it this way:

Now these things are examples (warnings and admonitions) for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did. [Num. 11:4, 34.] (Verse 6)

And

Now these things befell them by way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction…” (verse 11)

You do not need a theological degree to understand that. Paul cites four Old Testament events to warn these New Testament Christians that craving or lusting after evil things will bring the chastisement of the Lord:

1. The idolatry with the golden calf in Exodus 32: 4-6 (verse 7);

2. immorality with Moabite women in Numbers 25:1-9 (verse 8);

3. testing the Lord when the serpents attached in Numbers 21:4-9 (verse 9); and

4. grumbling in response to God’s severe treatment of Koran in Numbers 16:1-50 (verse 10).

God’s character did not change from the Old Testament period to the New Testament period and He is the SAME today as He was back then, therefore, He can warn His New Testament children not to be involved in idolatry, immorality, testing the Lord or grumbling using Old Testament Israel as an example. Because HE remains the same. What was an abomination to Him in the Old is still an abomination now in the New. What He highly esteemed then, He highly esteems now. God has not changed.

In closing, first read the Old and New Testaments and receive wisdom and instruction from both. Secondly, Paul summed up this discourse with a warning (verse 12) which Matthew Henry addresses:

“…let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” Note: The harms sustained by others should be cautions to us. He that thinks he stands should not be confident and secure, but upon his guard. Others have fallen, and so may we. And then we are most likely to fall when we are most confident of our own strength, and thereupon most apt to be secure, and off our guard. Distrust of himself, putting him at once upon vigilance and dependence on God, is the Christian’s best security against all sin.”

Thank you for your time. God bless you. Carl