"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.” (Luke 11:21)
When I read verse 17 above, I thought of our country. But I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit reminding me that this applies to our personal relationship with the Lord. Without that personal relationship we cannot have unity with our spouses, our children, our churches, our schools, our government, our country, with other countries...I think you get the point.
If we say we are the Lord’s but our thoughts, our words and our actions are directly opposed to Scripture, we are not in unity and our souls will not be at peace. We will not hear the leading of the Holy Spirit, nor will we be walking in a way pleasing to our Lord and Savior.
Now, read verse 21 again. “a strong man” is one who is standing on a firm foundation of Scripture. "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall." (Matthew 7:24-27 emphasis mine) “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.’” (Isaiah 28:16 emphasis mine)
Are you a “strong man”? The Word is not talking about physical ability. It is talking about a strong, intimate relationship with the Lord. James talks about a double minded man. That man is the opposite of a strong man. Why? A double minded man is too busy chasing after every new doctrine or lie being fed to the masses through pastors today who are not “strong men” in the Lord. And a double minded man believes the lie of a social gospel. Instead of pursuing an intimate personal relationship with the Lord, they try to mold political situations and social problems into a doctrine. That double minded man is one who is easily swayed by the things of the world, doesn’t have time to spend with the Lord. He’s busy, busy busy! Or, he is spiritually lazy and not eager to pursue the teachings of God. Too lazy to read the Word of God for himself and be taught by the Holy Spirit. And when the storm comes...he is crushed. He may even get mad at God for letting a circumstance come into his life. He will never see that God is there, waiting and wanting to use the situation for His glory and to draw him closer to Him. Now look at our opening Scripture again, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.’ James was simply stating the words of Jesus in another manner. And what is the outcome? He is destroyed. Without the leading of the Holy Spirit our mind and our spirit will always be divided and unable to discern God’s direction.
Now we can better understand the second leading Scripture, "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.” What else does Jesus tell us about possessions? "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;” (Matthew 6:19-20 emphasis mine) Jesus wasn’t talking about our physical residences, He was talking about you and me, our hearts. Is your heart stayed on Christ? Jesus is our peace. He is our strong tower, our shelter in time of need. He is Jehovah Jireh our provider. God supplies all of our needs according to His riches in glory through Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4:19) My dear brothers and sisters, hear the Lord’s plea to you today. All things are possible with God, but do you even give Him a chance? “Looking at them, Jesus *said, ‘With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’” (Mark 10:27 emphasis mine) I love the Scripture in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” What an encouraging Scripture! “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you”. (Matthew 7:7)
Are you securely standing on THE firm foundation? “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’" (2 Timothy 2:19 emphasis mine) Wickedness is wrongdoing, a deed violating law and justice, an act of unrighteousness, committing sin; sin as defined by God, not man, not you or me.
‘The Lord knows those who are His,’. You and I do not set the standard of who is the Lord’s nor can we change it. The Lord has already done that by His Word. His Word is not a suggestion, it is Jesus, the spoken Word. And He is very clear about being obedient to His Word. And, of course, the key is His Word, not our thoughts on what He would do or won’t do, not what we want to do to get recognition, not what is in agreement with the world’s ways. His Word is solid, Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone, He cannot be shaken. "The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) "There is no one holy like the LORD, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2) “He said, ‘The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;’” (2 Samuel 22:2)
As I was reading the Scriptures this morning I was reading in Exodus of God’s instruction on building of the tabernacle. The building of such a structure is in itself a true miracle! Only God could have brought it into being. But at the beginning of the passage it makes a very powerful statement that you and I cannot ignore. "Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.” (Exodus 25:2 emphasis mine) ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’. Considering these verses, let’s read, "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:33-37 emphasis mine) Jesus was speaking to the Jews who thought they belonged to God because they were of the physical seed of Abraham. But if we truly pray over these Scriptures those who are truly the Lord’s will be convicted by sin of what we speak. The believer will face judgment from the Lord after we die for all those words. But it also reveals that those who like to “talk” the talk but never “walk” the walk aren’t fooling anyone, only themselves.
When the children of Israel fled Egypt God gave had given them favor with the Egyptian people and they left rich! God had a purpose for those riches and now comes a very telling moment in the lives of the Israelites. "Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.” My friend, what they possessed was not theirs, they had not even earned it. It was a blessing from God. What you and I own is also a blessing from God, we do not own it. We are not even talking about tithing here. What God was asking for was a “heave offering”. The best way to understand what that is would be to say “it is an offering from the heart”. This also exposes a double minded man.
Another aspect of the Scripture that really caught my attention this morning was the details of the building of the Tabernacle. This isn’t a devotion about the actual building but the part that applies to this message from the Lord was very clear as I read. First of all, let’s understand that the Lord had literally shown Moses the Tabernacle when Moses was on the Mount with Him. Then the Lord gave Moses the “blueprint” that was very specific, nothing could be changed. That is God’s Word, it cannot be changed. It is forever the same. God is forever the same, He does not change.
Once the ornate curtains of the Tabernacle were assembled they were then covered with Goats’ Hair. I stopped and asked the Lord why and this is what He revealed. This tent of goats’ hair protected the Holy Tabernacle from the outside elements of the world just as the Holy Spirit protects God’s redeemed, “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5) There is much more to this revelation but we will not focus on that portion today. We need to allow this truth into our spirit before we can delve deeper. So, please stay awhile in this passage and allow the truth to wash over you and expose any areas of disobedience in your life that need to be dealt with.
The next portion of Scripture that profoundly stood out was the building of the floor. Even though this was a Tabernacle that would be taken down and moved with the Israelites, it was not a weak structure! You can read the details in Exodus 26:15-30. God laid a FIRM FOUNDATION that could not be shaken. Does that remind you of the words of Jesus regarding the firm foundation?
The last one I will mention today regarding the temple was the building of the Bronze Altar. Up to this point everything had been made of acacia wood and gold. Since the altar is so critical to our lives why was it bronze? Bronze is not as solid and strong as gold. Then I gently heard the Holy Spirit show me that this vulnerability of the structure has to do with us, not God. Our faith, our prayer life, our trust in the Lord is not as strong as it should be and we do not worship Him as we should. Wow! No matter how much we say we love the Lord, we will always have much more areas to grow stronger in and one of those is the altar of worship! So whether we think we are double minded, there are times we all “miss the mark”. That is convicting and so true!
Just with this little glimpse of the building of the Tabernacle we can begin to understand the transition from the physical temple to the spiritual temple that is within us and the “blueprint” for our lives. You may also want to meditate on the following verses. “If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17) “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Do you remember King Nebuchadnezzar? He was a pagan king who God used to take Israel into captivity because of their disobedience and pagan worship. (Daniel 1:1) He was very powerful. In the Book of Daniel we read, “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king's court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.” (Daniel 1:3-4) Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were among the “sons of Israel”. However, it is worth noting that in verse 6 they are referred to as “sons of Judah”. That little change in wording tells us much about these four young men. Judah means “giving praise to God”. So what does that tell us? These young men loved the Lord and were in a relationship with Him. Because of this, we learn that these young men were different and did not assimilate into the culture as the rest of the captives. God even gave them favor among the leaders of the king’s court because they desired to keep the dietary laws of their culture. But it wasn’t really about the dietary laws as much as it was about recognizing God’s Lordship over their lives and submitting themselves to His leadership. This is truly what “walking in the spirit” is all about.
This was why when the king had a dream that greatly disturbed him that there were none in his service that could tell him the dream and its interpretation. He was so angry that he was going to have them all killed! “The king replied to the Chaldeans, ‘The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap.’” (Daniel 2:5) The Chaldeans argued with him that this was impossible for anyone to do and we find in verse 12, “Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.” (Daniel 2:12 emphasis mine) Even though Daniel and his friends were not asked to reveal the dream and interpretation they were included with the “wise men of Babylon”. Daniel didn’t learn about any of this until the king’s commander came to take him into captivity to kill.
I strongly encourage you to read the account yourselves. I find it amazing that the commander granted Daniel’s request but even more amazed at what Daniel’s request was. Pay very close attention to the wording, “So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king.” (Daniel 2:16 emphasis mine) There was no question in Daniel’s mind that God would provide what was needed! Why? Because he worshipped the Lord of lords and the King of kings! His life was submitted to the Lord God! He understood that God’s plans for his life were right and he was not in control. He was a vessel for God’s work.
“Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” (Daniel 2:17-18) God revealed both the dream and the interpretation to Daniel but Daniel did not immediately go running to the king to give him the answer he sought. What did he do instead? He worshipped the Lord! (Daniel 2:19-23) Then he went to the king.
Notice very carefully that at no time does Daniel take any credit for God’s work. “Daniel answered before the king and said, ‘As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.” (Daniel 2:27-28 emphasis mine) “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. The king answered Daniel and said, ‘Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.’" (Daniel 2:46-47 emphasis mine)
Now we will see a great example of a “house divided against itself”. The king has acknowledged God as the One and ONLY God but turns around and, “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.” (Daniel 3:1) “Then the herald loudly proclaimed: 'To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.’" (Daniel 3:4-6)
My dear friends, this is an important message, please do not skip by it. We can clearly see here the difference between someone who acknowledges God (the king) and someone who is redeemed and submitted to the Lord (Daniel). The enemy still has full access and authority in the mind of the king. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Proverbs 16:18) “A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23) Make no mistake in thinking that all these circumstances were the divine plan of God! God chose the king to share the dream with, but the king’s decision to build a golden image was all the king’s idea. God gave man free will. We can choose to use that free will to glorify God or to glorify ourselves. When we choose the latter, as the king did, we are demonstrating our lack of relationship with the Lord. We have given Satan an open invitation to cause havoc in our lives and an open door to sin.
Every person had to bow down and worship this golden image, no exceptions. This wasn’t like our world today. There were not cameras everywhere keeping on eye on every person. What we need to fully understand is that even when we are the Lord’s, or maybe I should more accurately say, especially when we are the Lord’s, Satan will be watching for every opportunity available to kill us. How does Satan actually do that? He uses people. This reality should cause us to stop and ask the Lord if the place we are in is because of what we desire and our decisions, or were we placed there by God. Whenever we choose not to follow God’s plan, we have stepped out of His protection. This isn’t about salvation. It’s about obedience and consequences.
You might think because of Daniel’s gift of being able to allow the Lord to reveal the king’s dream and interpretation and the fact that Daniel even requested that NONE of the false seers, magicians, etc. in the king’s court be killed, that they might be grateful to Daniel and his friends. But we need to understand that while they were glad their lives were spared, they also were not happy nor pleased that Daniel and his friends were given great authority and honored by the king. They were jealous and hated them! So now they see an opportunity to destroy them.
My dear friends, just because we are in a position and in proper alignment with the Lord does not mean we will not face great trials and tribulation. It is in these situations that God’s grace literally clothes us with His presence and we are able to stand in the presence of evil and testify of the Lord’s goodness. These three men were going to be thrown into the blazing furnace. Humanly there was no possible way they would survive. But they knew the secret, this earth was not their home. If the Lord chose not to deliver them they would be in His presence for eternity, they would be home! Daniel and his friends are perfect examples for us of men who were not double minded but of one heart and mind with the Lord! I am reminded of this verse, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) “Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none." (Isaiah 44:8) “He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” (Psalms 62:6)
As we close today, here are a few other verses for meditation. "Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” (Isaiah 26:4)
"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug.” (Isaiah 51:1)
“just as it is written,’Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed .’" (Romans 9:33)
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalms 19:14)
Oh Lord God! What a good and challenging word for us! This world is not our home! Daily we are faced with situations and decisions, trials and tribulations and only if we are of one mind with Christ can we stand and not fall. What may seem like a “logical” solution to us may be far from what You desire. I pray Lord that You touch each of us reading this devotion, open the eyes of our hearts and reveal any shortcomings that we may have. We repent of any barriers we have erected between You and us. We desire to stand fully in agreement with You. You are our life. You are the only way. I thank You, Lord, that You desire to be intimate with each one who calls upon the Name of Jesus. May Your Son, Jesus Christ, become LORD of our lives so that we truly can stand on the firm foundation and not be double minded. We bow down and worship You only! This we pray in the Name of the Only One who provides redemption and sanctification! Amen.