Monday, July 4, 2016

Living Blessed

Living Blessed

Perhaps the greatest abuse of faith is the failure to use the resources available to us through our relationship with God.  God’s Word is filled with His promises to those faithful to Him.  Being faithful means living in loving obedience to His commands.  Yet, the vast majority of those professing to believe in God do not read His Word or study His Word to know His will.  The saddest of all testimonies are the testimonies of those that profess faith in Christ, but never seem to get around to making His will for their lives the highest of their priorities.  There always seems to be something on their agendas that come before what Christ wants them to do.  The ultimate testimony of a faith relationship with Christ is that His agenda for your life should be your agenda for your life.  If His agenda for your life is not your agenda for your life, He is not your Lord in any practical sense of the meaning of the word. 

“9 Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. 10 The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high” (Habakkuk 3:9-10).

Habakkuk 3:9-10 address the surety of the promises of God to the children of Israel in the Mosaic Covenant.  The Mosaic Covenant was also known as “the blessing and a curse” Covenant as defined by Deuteronomy 11:26. The sad testimony of the thousands of years of the majority of Israel’s history was that they seldom experienced the blessings of the Mosaic Covenant because they were unfaithful to God’s commandments.  This is certainly true of most Christians as well.  How readily and easily are most believers “drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14).

“26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

In Habakkuk 3:9, God states “ Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.”  The point here is that God has unsheathed His bow and is prepared to protect and defend Israel against her adversaries if she will repent and be faithful to the Mosaic Covenant as she agreed.  God wants His children to know Him.  He wants them to know Him personally, intimately and accurately.  God wants His children to obey and be blessed. 

God wants His children to live in the midst of His blessings.  This is His central purpose of the inspiration and giving of the Scriptures.  God wants believers to know His will and live according to His will in loving obedience.  Living in loving obedience is the supreme expression of faith and trust in God.  The child of God who truly loves the Lord wants to know God’s will because he wants to worship and praise His Redeemer with every action of his life.  It is a sad testimony when a person wants to be blessed more than wanting to be a blessing.  Have you ever considered that your purpose for existence is to be a blessing to God and to others? 

God is consistent in everything He does because He is consistent in both character and nature.  The very nature and character of our loving God is to be a blessing to those who believe and trust Him.  God is not evolving as the Emergent Church leaders are trying to tell us.  God loves righteousness and hates unrighteousness.  God is not becoming more tolerant of the practices He calls sin.  Those practices that were an abomination to Him from the beginning are still an abomination to Him today.  What ought to amaze us is that God tolerates any of us!

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).

Although the believer is to live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4), faith is not intended to be totally blind.  Faith is intended to be intelligent and knowledgeable about the way God works in His dealings with mankind, especially in His dealings with His redeemed.  Much of the Old Testament is intent on revealing God’s pattern of dealing with both His redeemed and the lost in various circumstances of life.  Peter says essentially the same thing as Habakkuk 3:9-10.  In the midst of the warning there is also the blessing of God’s protection of His redeemed. 

“3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government” (II Peter 2:3-10).

The life of faith lived in loving obedience to the commands of our loving, longsuffering God is intended to be a place of secure rest.  Although we live in the midst of the curse and all of the discomforts and threats that come from the adversary of righteousness, we can rest in the assurance of God’s protective custody of our eternal soul.  Although we have this eternal “rest” available to us, we tend to regularly drift out into the open tumultuous waters of worldliness never even considering the fact they we have left God’s protective custody.  This is the substance of the warning of Hebrews 4:1-13. 

Doctrinal definitiveness and doctrinal purity keep us anchored within the harbor of God’s blessings.  Theological compromise and doctrinal inconsistencies will cause us to drift with the tides that draw us back into worldliness.  The point of Hebrews 4:1-13 is that we can always repent and return to the enabling grace of God’s protective custody (“rest”) within the center of His will. 

“1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus {Iesous; ee-ay-sooce’: of Hebrew origin referring to Joshua of the Old Testament} had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest {God’s protective custody in the center of His will trough loving obedience to God’s commands}, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do {there are no secrets or hidden sins from God, your life will be measured according to obedience to God’s Word without any prejudices}” (Hebrews 4:1-13).

According to Habakkuk 3:9, true biblical faith should know and understand that God is oath bound in His dealings with His redeemed.  God never breaks a promise and will always do what He says He will do.  The “blessing and a curse” Covenant as defined by Deuteronomy 11:26 is a twofold promise.  The children of Israel did not stand without warning.  In every case, when God made covenant with them, He also gave a warning should they choose to disobey. 

The phrase “Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word,” is a statement of faith.  It means God had faithfully warned the tribes what would happen if they began to break His commandments.  Israel had promised they would follow the leadership of Joshua as he commanded them according to the commandments of God.  In Habakkuk 3:9, God is telling Israel that they are now experiencing the curse aspect of “the blessing and a curse” Covenant.  Even in this God is seeking to turn their hearts through repentance and return them to obedience to Him.  Chastisement has not accomplished its purpose if those chastised to not repent of their sins and return to loving service in loving obedience to the Lord.

“16 And they {all the children of Israel} answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. 17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. 18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage” (Joshua 1:16-18).

The children of Israel living under Joshua’s leadership faithfully did according to their promise recorded in Joshua 1:16-18 all the days that Joshua was their leader.  Every generation must be equally committed to know the Word of God, love the Word of God, and live the Word of God with all their heart, soul, and might.  Without a continual reminder of the necessary commitment to full surrender to God’s will, every generation will begin to drift away from God’s will through both theological ignorance and theological compromise. 

“And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel” (Joshua 24:31).

It is important for Christians to know that God’s warnings extend to all generations and are consistently administrated by God.  Theological drift will always result in compromises that will take believers into various degrees of worldliness and varying degrees of God’s chastisement. 
Deuteronomy chapter thirty-two is known as the Song of Moses.  In this chapter, Moses records the history of humanity and its unrelenting, consistent failures to produce continuing generations of faithful believers.  Deuteronomy 32:4-5 state the two great contradictions that have existed since the fall of Satan and the fall of humanity into sin and the curse.  God is perfectly righteous and humanity continually corrupts themselves through increasing levels of unrighteousness. 

“4 He {Jehovah our God} is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. 5 They have corrupted themselves {the point is that if they are truly God’s progeny, they will seek to live uncorrupted by the world}, their spot {their existence is like a stain upon righteousness} is not the spot of his children {not God’s redeemed}: they are a perverse and crooked generation” (Deuteronomy 32:4-5).

In Deuteronomy 32:34, God says His chastisement and judgments are part of His “treasures.”  In other words, the righteousness of God demands that He purify the world of all unrighteousness.  This fact ought to be viewed as a treasure to believers whose hearts are in alignment with God Word.  Believers should view God’s chastisement as purifying their lives to His glory.  Every wrong will be righted.  Every righteous act sown to the glory of God and His purposes will reproduce itself with the righteousness of another generation.  However, the opposite is also true. 

“34 Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? 35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. 36 For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. 37 And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, 38 Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection. 39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. 40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. 41 If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. 42 I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. 43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people” (Deuteronomy 32:34-43)

After Joshua’s death, the book of Judges records the progressively incomplete obedience and compromising disobedience of Israel as they began to compromise the commands of God.  This fact is a historical constant repeated in all generations.  The constant creates an ever decreasing remnant of faithful believers from generation to generation. 

“8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres {tim-nath kheh’-res}, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. 10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. 11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed” (Judges 2:8-15).

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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