And whose deeds are done in a dark place,
And they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?”
You turn things around!
Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay,
That what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”;
Or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
This word applies to leaders as well as to the new believer. God’s word stands firm and is just, no dividing of standards. The standard is His word and it never waivers. It is very clear in what is right and what is wrong, there is never a gray area. If we perceive it to be a “gray” area, then we should always err on the side of pleasing the Lord. A standard I personally use for my life is whether or not it would be pleasing to God because I fear to hurt the One I love. In other words, will it glorify God? As believers, we are to keep in mind that we are either standing in agreement with the word of the Lord or we are in rebellion!
“Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the LORD, “who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin” (Isaiah 30:1)
“For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the LORD;” (Isaiah 30:9)
“Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”; and to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right, speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions.” (Isaiah 30:10)
“Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Since you have rejected this word and have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them, therefore this iniquity will be to you
like a breach about to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant,
whose collapse is like the smashing of a potter’s jar, so ruthlessly shattered that a sherd will not be found among its pieces to take fire from a hearth or to scoop water from a cistern.” (Isaiah 30:12-14)
“For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” but you were not willing,” (Isaiah 30:15)
Paul’s warning to believers:
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
“Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 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.” (Romans 16:17-18)
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
“and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
Do you see it? Do you hear the Lord’s words from Isaiah being spoken through the Apostle Paul? The only difference was the audience. Paul was given ministry to the Gentiles, so these were all new believers who were hearing God’s word for the first time. Since they had not been caught up in the repetitive cycle, as the Jewish believers, of obedience, disobedience, captivity, etc., this was a warning to them to teach them the foundation of sound doctrine. They were hearing the same warnings that the Lord had spoken to the prophets all through the years and still apply today to those who are truly believers.
The true believers of the Lord Jesus Christ are those who are obedient and trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I know there is a chance that some may be offended by this statement or think that they know all of this already. Unfortunately, we “KNOW” a lot but do not “WALK” in the truth as Scripture teaches because the knowledge has not yet been moved from our heads to our hearts.
Let me share an example with you on “hearing” things we think we already know or understand. Several years ago I was preparing a lesson for a Bible study and was needing a particular verse. The Holy Spirit lead me to a certain verse and as soon as I began to read it I quickly turned the page thinking “I already know this, this is not the verse I was looking for”. As soon as I turned the page I was quickly convicted and heard the Holy Spirit admonish me to NEVER THINK I ALREADY KNOW WHAT THE LORD WANTS TO TEACH ME! I was deeply sorrowful as I realized how I had hurt the Lord in my actions and attitude, and repented of this prideful attitude. (I would never have considered it pride, but the fact that I thought I already had the understanding of that scripture was pride.) As I turned back to the passage with a heart receptive to hear from God, I wept as He opened the scriptures up to a greater understanding than I’d ever had concerning those verses.
I share this with you because sometimes we become so familiar with the Word that we completely miss what God wants to impart to us. I also share it because we need to be of “one mind” with the Lord so that we can discern that what we are hearing is being taught correctly. He is our protective covering. Just as when God gave the children of Israel the statutes and laws while they were wandering around the desert, those statutes and ordinances were for their protection. Whenever they chose to ignore them, tragedy struck. It is the same today. The Word of God is our shield and strength! Without it we are vulnerable and will fall. (Please stop and read I Corinthians 10:5-12 before continuing.)
There is a scripture in II Thessalonians 2:10 that I don’t think I have ever heard preached. I underlined it in my Bible because I believe it really holds the key to true salvation, “... they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10) The first thing that came to my mind when I read those words are, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) “...If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23)
So how do we “LOVE” Jesus? “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 15:10)
When I think of “abiding” I think of a house. If I own a house but sleep outside in a tent, I am not “abiding” or “living” in my house. But if I live in my house I begin to enjoy using the appliances and conveniences that are in the house. I learn a new way of living than I was used to living in a tent and cooking over a campfire. I also learn that I am protected from many elements when I move into the house. I may even find that the house is equipped with an alarm system which will alert me if someone tries to break in. There is also a smoke detector which sounds the alarm when I make a mistake in the kitchen and a danger is present or a fire breaks out anywhere else in the home.
In my analogy, the house is Jesus Christ whom I am seated in (Ephesians 2:6), who is now my covering. The appliances come with instructions which teach me how to use them to make my life more productive and fulfilling, just as the scriptures are the directions for our lives. The various alarms are like the Holy Spirit which sounds the alarm whenever I am in danger and veer off course. As I continue to live and use these “appliances” in the house I learn new ways of living, just as when I continue to live in Jesus Christ I learn to walk in the new life which I received at salvation. (II Corinthians 4:16, Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24, II Corinthians 5:15,17)
Verse 11 of II Thessalonians 2 gives us the full understanding of this lack of love for God, for the Lord Jesus Christ, and lack of obedience to His Word and the consequences for a true believer. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Timothy 4:1) You are probably saying to yourself “I know the word and that could not happen to me!” Really? Then read carefully read these verses from II Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” To look like an apostle of Christ and a servant of righteousness Satan and his deceiving spirits must use the word of God to bring in what seems to be right but is ultimately evil. It will eventually divide and take away any power or anointing.
Let me give you an example of how subtle the enemy can be. I have heard a teaching recently that the pastor stated that the wrath of God had been completed in the Old Testament and that God is love, His wrath doesn’t apply to us today. If that is the case, how could the Lord speak these words through the Apostle John? “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36) Some additional New Testament verses to read are: Romans 12:19; Colossians 3:6; Ephesians 5:6; I Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 1:18; Romans 2:5; Romans 12:19. These are but a few of the references. Depending upon the translation you use your research will show anywhere between 37 and 47.
Understanding what you just now read you see how extremely important having a surrendered obedient love relationship is to your Lord and Bridegroom. We only “know” someone intimately when we are in constant communion with them. We begin to anticipate their actions and words. We know immediately when something is not as it should be. Our discernment to know His voice will become dull when we are not in intimate relationship.
The Apostle Paul tells Timothy in his letter, “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)
Let me make a statement that I firmly believe should not even need to be stated, but unfortunately, is needed today. There is no “New Testament” Church without teaching of the Old Testament. Jesus’ teachings were the exact same teachings that are found in the Old Testament. If what you are hearing is a “new teaching” it is a false teaching! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Are you aware that there are 1,050 declarations/laws in the New Testament and the great majority come from the Old Testament? (See Romans 7:12) *If you would like to have a copy of the laws we will happy to send you the file.
“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,” (Romans 15:5) “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10)
There is only one true measure of a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. The above scripture really gives us that standard. If we are in Christ, and Christ is in us (Holy Spirit), our thoughts, words and actions reflect Him. The testimony of our love for the Lord will be seen by the fruit which is produced because the Holy Spirit is leading us and we are obedient. That is exactly what Jesus stated in John 14:10.
God didn’t develop one standard of living for Jesus while He was on this earth, then change them for you and me because He knew we couldn’t handle them. No, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as a newborn baby, flesh and blood, to the earth, to walk every step that you and I walk. To experience everything you and I experience. To be tempted in the same way we are tempted. Jesus walked in our shoes and was the living example by which we are to follow. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
I stand amazed at this truth, don’t you? For God, creator of the universe to actually design me, love me so much to call me to Himself, to not only watch over me but lead me in His plan, leaves me in awe. Who am I that He should love me? Nobody. It has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with Him. He truly is love (I John 4:8).
I love the way the Apostle Paul describes the salvation of the believers in Thessalonica. He states in I Thessalonians 1: 5, “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction;...”
Brothers and sisters, there are no excuses for wrong living if you are a child of God. Yes, we will make wrong choices but we are to quickly be convicted and repent and turn away from those things which bring destruction. Our thoughts, words and actions reflect the condition of our hearts and the relationship we have with Jesus. I love this scripture which reminds me of where my stability lies, “...not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4) Jesus warned the church of Laodicea that they were lukewarm and He would spit (the translated word actually means “to vomit”) them out of His mouth at the judgment seat if they continued in that condition! That is a powerful picture! In other words, He would reject them! (Revelation 3:14-22)
Years ago I had a dream. There were many people from my church in this dream and we were having breakfast and enjoying one another’s company. When we finished eating we got into our cars to go where we needed to go next. As I was driving the familiar road, I came to an intersection and could go no further. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said “You can no longer go this way.” As I think on that dream this morning, I realize that it was the familiar way to everyone. Many cars met at that intersection because it was the “known path”. But the Lord was telling me that I could no longer get to where I needed to go by taking the “broad/familiar road”.
Let me clarify that I was not walking in sin, there were no major issues going on in my life, I was in the place of ministry where the Lord had placed me. But there comes certain moments in our walk with the Lord that we need to make more changes. In order for the Lord to continue to guide us on our journey, certain things need to be removed from our lives, maybe even certain people, maybe even a physical move to another location. We should never be stagnant if we are actively walking with the Lord.
The next part of the dream was so sweet and shows the love that God has for us and wants to share with us. After I asked for help in finding the “narrow road”, I found myself sitting on the top of the mountain overlooking the valley where the battle of Armageddon will be fought. I was sitting with Jesus and He had His arm around me and my head was on His shoulder and we were looking down at the battle. There were no words to be said, it was so sad to see so much blood being shed, but yet there was a peace in my heart because I was with Him and knew my eternity was secure in Christ.
Many of you are traveling down a road that is very familiar to you, but if you asked the Lord if this was your chosen path, the answer would be “No”. Maybe He is already telling you that but you are too busy to hear Him or you have just rejected it because you think you know what’s right. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25)
Do you find yourself thinking the thoughts in our opening scripture? Maybe thoughts such as “God doesn’t understand”, “He has no idea what I’m going through”, “He can’t fix this”, “He’ll understand if I do it my way”, “He doesn’t care”, “He won’t know what I’m doing”, “What’s the big deal? Everybody’s doing it!”, “As long as no one knows, it’s ok”, etc.
The Scripture is the ONLY authority and is explicit in the teachings that are of God. Every word that Jesus spoke was given to Him by the Father, every healing and miracle were in agreement with the Father. (John 8:26,28-29,42; 10:18,32; 12:49-50;14:10;15:10,15) Why is this important to understand? The following are a few scriptures to meditate on for understanding.
“so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)
“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Almighty God, creator of all, I stand amazed, again, for Your overwhelming love and protection. To be heir of Jesus Christ is a high honor! That love is so foreign to us, but I desire to know that kind of love! You have taught us that we are to be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17) and through the abiding of the Holy Spirit living in us, You will strengthen us with Your power in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16)! Each day as I walk with You I understand a little more of the depth and height and breadth and length of Your love (Ephesians 3:18) but Your love is like the ocean, the depth is beyond measure and all I want to do is sink in Your love and have You glorified in my life. I bow my knee today and ask You to reveal anything which is displeasing to You. All this I pray in the blessed name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
I want to thank my brother Esher for partnering with me on this devotion. It is such a joy to share scripture and see the Holy Spirit leading us into further truth as we read it together!