Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Stand Firm to the End

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Verse 7-8 says, If you hear God's voice, do not harden your hearts in rebellion as the children of Israel did at Meribah in their day of testing in the wilderness. (Deborah's paraphrase)

In reading Numbers 20:1-5 and 10-13, we find that God allowed the Israelites to be tested in the wilderness. This testing was not because God needed to know how the Israelites would respond to adverse circumstances, but rather, so that the Israelites would know what was in their own hearts. 

Our sinful nature is always revealed at our point of crisis, and so, God uses these adverse situations to grow our faith. These times of testing will ultimately lead us to be progressively changed for the better, or lead us to turning our back on God - depending on our character and the truth about our faith in God's Word. 

The Lord already knows our commitment level, but He wants us to see for ourselves just how much we really trust Him. God's Word will always be tested in our hearts so that "we" will know and understand the validity and power of God love. God always proves Himself in times of testing if we will just trust Him and believe!

So, once again, the Israelites were complaining to Moses and Aaron. Yes, they needed water, but they were also bent on having an attitude of rebellion against God - always complaining and quarreling about the way their deliverance came. They didn't like the way that God was providing for them and they didn't respect the leadership of Moses (God's minister) in their moment of crisis.

So God told Moses to "speak" to a rock. God said He would make water flow from this rock in order to prove His power by providing for the Israelites in a miraculous way. Unfortunately, Moses, in his frustration, hit the rock instead of speaking to it. Amazingly, God's mercy still allowed the water to flow and quench their thirst, but He also told them that they would not enter the promised land because of their unbelief

In this story, God's mercy was accompanied by God's judgement! Even though God had proven Himself over and over for forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites continuously whined and complained, and now, even their leader, Moses, had become frustrated. So, because Moses did not honor God in their sight by fully obeying, God said none of them would enter into the promised land. These were the waters of Meribah where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where the Lord was proved Holy among them.

When testing comes, remember, God is testing us so that we will know what is in our own hearts. God already knows.

Even when a temptation comes from a seemingly Christian source, don't be fooled. Remember, it is a test! It is a test for us to see our own wrong thinking - our own sinful heart. - Deuteronomy 13:1-3

Hebrews 3:8-9 tells us, don't be like your ancestors who tested God in the wilderness for forty years. They saw God prove Himself over and over again, and yet, they hardened their hearts in rebellion because things were not as pleasant as they expected. They were mad because God didn't do things their way and in their timing.
God is Holy. He is God. It really doesn't matter how we seek to manipulate, justify or even approve of our sin, God's Word is the ultimate standard by which all sin is judged. If we are not Christians, God has given us a conscious to show us wrong from right. But, for those of us who are Christians, the voice of the Holy Spirit is our constant guide. So, ultimately, we are without excuse.

The fullness of God's blessings will never be manifest in the lives of those who insist on being in rebellion. 1 Samuel 15:23 says, "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." In fact, let's look at this verse in the Amplified version..."For rebellion is as [serious as] the sin of divination (fortune-telling), And disobedience is as [serious as] false religion and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LordHe also has rejected you as king." This is where God changed His mind about Saul being the King!

God's anger is released when His people continually go astray in their hearts - when they do not grow to know His ways. The Lord wants us to be progressively changed to become more like Christ. If we continually refuse to do so, there will come a time where God's mercy gives way to judgement. This is where the consequences for our sin becomes our fate. Read Hebrews 3:10-11 in the Amplified to see the example God has given to us through the Israelites journey from Egypt to the promised land. 

Mark 4:17 says, "... when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately they [are offended and displeased at being associated with Me and] stumble and fall away." - (AMP)

John 5:38 says, "You do not have His word (Scripture) abiding in you [actually living in your hearts and minds], because you do not believe in Him whom He has sent." - (AMP) 
The Lord wants us to believe Him! He wants us to trust Him! He wants us to take His Word at face value and never harden our hearts to Him. And... it's easy to believe God when things are going good, but it's hard to believe Him when our lives are a mess. So, God uses these times of testing to show us just how much we really believe Him. One of my favorite scripture verses is Hebrews 11:6 which says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he isand  that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." - KJV

So our conclusion for this lesson leads us to Jude 1. Here we see that while God is able to keep us from stumbling or falling into sin, He is also warning us to not be fooled into thinking that just because He has saved us from eternal hell, He will not also destroy us if we choose continual rebellion. 

Jude reminds us of how the Lord saved the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt, but later destroyed them because of their refusal to trust Him in the wilderness. We are also reminded that even the angels who rebelled against God were not able to keep their place of power in heaven but are now chained in darkness until the day of judgement.

We should build ourselves up (daily) by praying in the Holy Spirit if we expect to escape the snares of this world. Do not allow grumblers, complainers and those who are bent on being lustful and sensual to lure you into wavering in your obedience to the Holy Spirit and the Word of the Living God.

As Christians, we should hate sin so much that we are constantly telling the world about the wonder of God (by our actions even more so than by our mouth) and we need to understand that most people can be won to the Lord through love; but, there are some who will need to be "snatched" out of the grips of hell through the fear of God. 

God is Holy. He is God!

If we are truly His, we should be progressively changed for the better. We should grow to agree with all of His precepts and all of His judgements and all of His promises. We should grow to become more like Jesus.

If we are not being progressively changed for the better (as shown by our obedience), the question remains, are we really His? The Lord says "examine yourselves" to see if you are really one of His. - 2 Corinthians 13:5

The born-again experience is a beautiful moment in time where the seed of God comes to live inside of a person. It is a moment in time where a human is recreated into the likeness of God - as God intended from the book of Genesis. True born-again humans will inherit eternal salvation with God. True born-again humans will hunger and thirst for righteousness. Their attitude toward sin is progressively changed.

Life's trials and testings will give us opportunities to to be progressively changed for the better or will to expose us as being a tare (someone who wants to be in the Kingdom but who has no depth in their knowledge or their fear of God). From life's trials, God gives us the opportunity to see for ourselves the true condition of our heart, the true condition of our faith and the true condition of our character. 

God's testings will prove God's Spirit in us... prove God's love toward us... and, prove God's Word (promises) for us. 

The Holy Spirit of God will empower us to STAND FIRM TO THE END.

Even so, we should never grow cold to the Holiness of God. God's standard never changes. Sin hurts. Sin thwarts. Sin perverts. Sin kills.
God is Holy. He is God. It really doesn't matter how we seek to manipulate, justify or even approve of our sin, God's Word is the ultimate standard by which all sin is judged. 

  1. Partial obedience is not obedience at all.
  2. Trials and testings will expose our true beliefs about God.
  3. Our character is more important than our comfort.
  4. God wants us to believe Him in all things.
  5. We need to examine ourselves to make sure that we are truly a born-again believer and not just someone who wants to go to heaven, who likes to hear of the goodness of God or someone who believes "in" God but doesn't really believe God. 
  6. Don't be discouraged when testing comes from a seemingly Christian source. God will expose our wrong thinking and our sinful heart during these times. 
  7. Eternity is forever. We should not play around with how we handle God's Word.
  8. We should not put banners of salvation on people we love when God is allowing them to be tested. He wants us all to know who He is, and who we are in Him. Every human being must work out their own salvation with God as their life is progressively changed for the better  or as they are exposed when they turn their back from ever really knowing Him. Children cannot go to heaven on their parents faith. Husbands cannot enter heaven on their wife's faith. Wives will not see heaven just because their husband is a Christian. We must, each, stand naked and alone before God.
  9. True believers will repent and cry out to God when they see their own wickedness and unbelief in times of testing.
  10. True believers who are bent on rebellion against God risk falling into the judgement of God in this life.
  11. True believers will be desperate to STAY FIRM TO THE END. 
  12. God loves us so much that He wants to prove Himself. He will always prove Himself in times of testing if we will just believe and trust Him. 

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