Devotional Thought for Today – 03/23/2021

How we view the world, that is objectively look at and consider all that is happening around us shapes all our actions. – Mike

WORLDVIEWS

Colossians 2:8, Romans 12:2

The world to end in 30 years ?- The New Indian Express

The above picture is from an article in the New Indian Express dated 26th April 2020, with the title The world to end in 30 years? Within the opening paragraph is the only substantial evidence if one can call it that to support the headline; An Australian think-tank has predicted that human civilization as we know it will come to an end in 2050. The end is indeed nigh. The picture more than the doom and gloom of the article got me thinking about how two people can look at the same thing and see something completely different all because their worldviews are not based on the same ideals. 

Literally, of course, worldview is how a person views the world. A person’s worldview consists of the values, ideas, or the fundamental belief system that determines his attitudes, beliefs, and ultimately, actions. Typically, this includes his view of issues such as the nature of God, man, the meaning of life, nature, death, and right and wrong. – Focus on the Family 

In the “world”  we have six main Worldviews (see Ligonier Article below) predominant today apart from a Biblical or Christian Worldview. The bible however only teaches us two worldviews; God’s and man

With so much stuff out there, (much of it junk) it is SO IMPORTANT for anyone claiming to be a “Christian” and for those learning about Christianity to understand what a True Biblical Worldview is. 

I have attached some articles to help: 

 First Test Your Knowledge:

Value of a Biblical Worldview – Worldview Quiz

Then Review: 

Biblical WorldviewFrom a bible study I conducted back in 2010

“Why do so many Christians not have a consistently biblical worldview?” – GotQuestions.org 

What Is a Worldview? – Ligonier Ministries

Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians – Barna Research

Is a Biblical Worldview Optional? – Answers in Genesis

How a Biblical Worldview Shapes the Way We Teach Our Children – Dr. Timothy Jones

Worldviews & World Religions (MP3 Lecture Series) – James White

How Your Theology Shapes Your Worldview – Michael Horton

The Importance Of A Biblical Worldview  – Allen Turner

Recommended Download ebook

Inerrancy and Worldview – Vern S. Poythress

 

Daily Devotional – Ezra’s Prayer

5. Confession and Repentance (Ezra 7-10). Rebuild & Renew: The Post-Exilic  Books, by Ralph F. Wilson. JesusWalk Bible Study Series.
Gustav Dore, detail from ‘Ezra in Prayer’ (1866), engraving, from La Grande Bible de Tours.

EZRA 9 


CONTEXT 

There are two books in the Bible dedicated to Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Ezra is the first with Nehemiah by the decree of Artaxerxes, quickly following. 

Ezra covers a period of approximately 100 years beginning around 538 B.C. The book’s primary purpose is to record the rebuilding of the Temple but it also includes many birth records apparently to establishing the priesthood lineage of Arron.  Ezra can be divided as follows:

Chapters 1-6—Return and Building of the Second Temple.

Chapters 7-10—The Ministry of Ezra. 

Today’s devotional is from Chapter 9 and has this as it’s the theme: 

Believers today can be encouraged to be as zealous for the upbuilding of the church as Ezra and Nehemiah were for the rebuilding of the temple and wall. – KATHLEEN NIELSON

 


DEVOTION

 

READ THE BIBLE From the Gospel Coalition 

It may be difficult for some Christians, immersed in the heritage of individualism and influenced by postmodern relativism, to find much sympathy for Ezra and his prayer (Ezra 9). A hundred or so of the returned Israelites, out of a population that by this time would have been at least fifty or sixty thousand, have married pagan women from the surrounding tribes. Ezra treats this as an unmitigated disaster and weeps before the Lord as if really grievous harm has been done. Has religion descended to the level where it tells its adherents whom they may marry? Moreover, the aftermath of this prayer (on which we shall reflect tomorrow) is pretty heartless, isn’t it?

In reality, Ezra’s prayer discloses a man who has thought long and hard about Israel’s history.

First, he understands what brought about the exile, the formal destruction of the nation, the scattering of the people. It was nothing other than the sins of the people—and terribly often these sins had been fostered by links, not least marital links, between the people of the covenant and the surrounding tribes. “Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today” (Ezra 9:7).

Second, he understands that if this community has been permitted to return to Judah, it is because “for a brief moment, the LORD our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage” (Ezra 9:8).

Third, he understands that in the light of the first two points, and in the light of Scripture’s explicit prohibition against intermarriage, what has taken place is not only singular ingratitude but concrete defiance of the God who has come to Israel’s relief not only in the Exodus but also in the exile.

Fourth, he understands the complex, corrosive, corporate nature of sin. Like Isaiah before him (Isa. 6:5), Ezra aligns himself with the people in their sin (Ezra 9:6). He grasps the stubborn fact that these are not individual failures and nothing more; these are means by which raw paganism, and finally the relativizing of Almighty God, are smuggled into the entire community through the back door. How could such marriages, even among some priests, have been arranged unless many, many others had given their approval, or at least winked at the exercise? Above all, Ezra understands that the sins of the people of God are far worse than the punishment they have received (Ezra 9:13–15).

How should these lines of thought shape our thinking about the sins of the people of God today?


APPLICATION / PRAYER

In reading today’s devotional I realized I have not been an Ezra or Nehemiah (one of my favorite OT characters) as of late when it comes to me and my local church. Oh, I have lots of excuses, illness, and such but really how much weight do those excuses hold. 

Join me today in praying for the local church, that it may be strong, uninfluenced by worldly affairs, and edifying to all the saints it ministers to. 

 

Lord, let your Spirit be poured out upon your churches from on high, and then the wilderness shall become a fruitful field; Isaiah 32:15(ESV) then justice shall return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. Psalm 94:15(ESV)

Let what remains be put into order, Titus 1:5(ESV), and let every plant that is not of my heavenly Father’s planting be rooted up. Matthew 15:13(ESV)

Let the Lord whom I seek come to his temple like a refiner’s fire and fullers’ soap, and let him purify the sons of Levi and all the seed of Israel, and refine them like gold and silver, that they may bring offerings of righteousness to the LORD, pleasing offerings to the LORD as in the days of old, as in former years. Malachi 3:2-4(ESV)

Let religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, flourish and prevail everywhere: James 1:27(ESV) that kingdom of God among men, which is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17(ESV) O revive this work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; Habakkuk 3:2(ESV) and let these times be times of reformation. Hebrews 9:10(ESV)

Examining the “10 needs we must understand and live after choosing to serve the Lord” Part 5

Joshua 24:15 - ESV - Bible verse of the day - DailyVerses.net

One of my posts on 28 April, was entitled COVID-19 Is a Slow-Motion 9/11 in it Pastor Sam Rohrer of the American Pastors Network set forth 10 definitive needs every “Christian” must understand and live by after choosing to serve the Lord. I thought I would look at each one individually over the next two weeks.

{Note because of my deployments and the urge to write a typical devotional this is taking an extending time to complete 🙂 }

Be bold to identify and call out the false prophets in the wolves among us. 

(Christ warned of the false prophets and wolves—Matthew 7:15, Matthew 10:16, Matthew 24:24; Jesus warned of mass deception in the last days—Matthew 24:4-5)
Matthew 7:15,Matthew 10:16,John 10:12,Acts 20:29 (AMP and RVR 1960) 

CONTEXT: 

Definitions: 

Teacher:

Prophet:

False Prophet:

For this devotional I will interchange Prophet and Teacher purposefully as I do not believe there is anyone endowed with the specific gift of “prophecy” (Rev 22:18-19) today.  

A false prophets/teachers are anyone who claim to be speaking for God, but whose message is contrary to God. False prophets will not convict people of sin, for they themselves do not feel convicted. While true prophets/teachers speak according to God’s law and testimony, false prophets speak soft, easy things to make them more popular. These deceivers of God’s Word tell people what they want to hear. (modified from Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 7:15, False prophets and teachers will come as calm seemingly harmless persons. Likable, knowledgeable and saying the “right” things without causing a stir. 

Matthew 10:16, But Jesus said the world is full of Wolves who are ready to eat alive naive immature believers who will listen to their smooth talking fluff. (See Sermon here

John 10:12, Many churches have pulpits filled with those who only see it as a job and not as a calling from God. The difference; one does enough to get by and get a check, the other does all and more to Glorify God, protect and edify the flock. 

Acts 20:29, Was this prophecy, maybe more reality, a simple declaration that false teachers will find a way to mingle among the flock. Try as we may to protect our congregations from them; they arrive and cause their damage. 


APPLICATION:

Why is it so important to be Be bold to identify and call out the false prophets in the wolves among us? I offer I John 2:18-19 (AMP) as a chilling reminder:

Children, it is the last hour [the end of this age]; and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming [the one who will oppose Christ and attempt to replace Him], even now many antichrists (false teachers) have appeared, which confirms our belief that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us [seeming at first to be Christians], but they were not really of us [because they were not truly born again and spiritually transformed]; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out [teaching false doctrine], so that it would be clearly shown that none of them are of us

Where are the greatest of Antichrist (false teachers) those who will not only cause nominal believers to fall away but non-believers to further mock and reject Christ; from among the church!

That is why we MUST as John says here in 1 John 4:1-6 test EVERY spirit (teacher/prophet/pastor/evangelist, etc. etc.). For their twist and false doctrines will case havoc in the church. 

Here is my list of ways to ID a false teacher. It is not all inclusive but is helps guide me.

Is their teaching doctrinal sound? Does what they preach line up with the Words of Christ not man’s interpretation but solid biblical hermeneutics and exegesis.

Do they use the whole counsel of God? It is real easy to take one verse, or part of one and build a doctrine from it. Many use Ps 37:4 ‘the Lord will give you the desires of your heart’; to say we can all prosper, except that is not what it says. The whole verse is (KJV) Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. There is a stipulation there they never mention, just as they never mention God’s wrath, condemnation and the like. 

They are Prideful.  It may be most easily identified by a outward display of false humility. They appear to be humble in words but their outward appearance and acts give away their true intent. It is easy to see elders/pastors, etc. with overly expensive tailored suits, mansions for homes and they like. Are these trappings of excess really what God calls his servant to achieve? These folks are reading a different book. But they easily distract folks from this by seducing them with flattery. 

They are set in their ways and either avoid controversial issues or start them.  This statement may seem confusing, but maybe an example will help. Take for example Joel Osteen The Houston based mega-church preacher of the so called Name-it-Claim-it Prosperity Gospel, who refuses to preach or teach on Abortion, Same Sex-Union, and a host of other controversial Biblical truths. 

Their motive is always profit. Profit of in some form or another. Whether it is Jesse DePlantus asking for a 56 MILLION Dollar jet or Kenneth Copland trying to explain why he need 3 private jets personal gain is almost always easy to spot if you just look. Even if you do not do due diligence, those that claim you too can be RICH, forget to remind you to be a Berean (Acts 17:11) 

At the Core they reject Christ (Apostasy) At the heart of every TRUE CHRISTIAN should be the reformation slogan Sola Chritus or Christ Alone. Their false preaching and teaching is one for itchy ears, that preys upon the emotions and feelings of mankind. All along we are called to expound the Genuine Gospel one in which Christ is All!!!!

Here is some additional material on the subject for your edification: 

How do you define a false teacher?

How can I recognize a false teacher / false prophet?

7 Traits of False Teachers

False Teachers and Deadly Doctrines


 

The List
  1. Develop a healthy fear of God. (Have no other god before Me—Exodus 20:1-6; Obey God, serve Him and fear Him—Deuteronomy 13:4; Rehearse history and teach of God’s power so your children learn to fear God—Deuteronomy 31:13; It is whole duty of mankind—Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
  2. Re-embrace the biblical authority of Scripture. (All Scripture is profitable for life and living—2 Timothy 3:16: Living it establishes a person’s path—Psalm 119:11)
  3. Know that the ‘Church’ is disobedient, lethargic and asleep. (Christ’s warnings to the seven churches and to Laodicea—Revelation 2-3; Revelation 3:14-22)
  4. Be aware that 70% of the pulpits in America are occupied by ‘hirelings.’ (Hirelings refuse to warn of spiritual danger and the wolvesJohn 10:12-13)
  5. Be bold to identify and call out the false prophets in the wolves among us. (Christ warned of the false prophets and wolves—Matthew 7:15, Matthew 10:16, Matthew 24:24; Jesus warned of mass deception in the last days—Matthew 24:4-5)
  6. Understand that national blessing or national judgment hinges on the actions of the remnant. (“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”—2 Chronicles 7:14)
  7. Accept the reality that persecution is coming and is normal for the believer and those still standing for truth. (All who live according to God commands will suffer persecution—2 Timothy 3:12; the enemies of truth will persecute you—Luke 21:12; John 15:20)
  8. Discover that the preparation for prayer and meeting God’s requirements for prayer is far more important than the act of praying. (God demands a broken spirit and obedience before sacrifice—Psalm 51:16-17; God demands we pray His way: No unconfessed sin—Psalm 66:18)
  9. Realize that the continuance of freedom is a result of God’s blessing, which hinges on obedience and conformity to God’s commands. (Don’t forget that all blessings came from God and if you forget and become ungrateful, God will replace blessings with bondage—Deuteronomy 8:1-20, 1:19-20; 30:1-20)
  10. Understand that the choice for president or other elected leaders, while critically important, is secondary to repentance toward God and the choice for God. (Obey, and I’ll make even your enemies to be at peace with you—Proverbs 16:7)

Examining the “10 needs we must understand and live after choosing to serve the Lord” Part 4

Joshua 24:15 - ESV - Bible verse of the day - DailyVerses.net

One of my posts on 28 April, was entitled COVID-19 Is a Slow-Motion 9/11 in it Pastor Sam Rohrer of the American Pastors Network set forth 10 definitive needs every “Christian” must understand and live by after choosing to serve the Lord. I thought I would look at each one individually over the next two weeks.


Before I went to Chattanooga; we looked at the ‘Church’ is disobedient, lethargic and asleep. Today in Part 4 we will examine: 

Be aware that 70% of the pulpits in America are occupied by ‘hirelings.’ (Hirelings refuse to warn of spiritual danger and the wolves John 10:12-13)

John 10:12-13 (AMP)

Juan 10:12-13 (RVR1960)


CONTEXT: 

According to W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, a hireling, as used in John 10: 12-13, “expresses, not only one who has no real interest in his duty, but one who is unfaithful in the discharge of it; that sense attaches always to the word rendered ‘hireling’.”

Where is the troubling information coming from – First I am not sure where the 70% figure comes from. I can make a reasonable assumption that with many so called mainstream churches moving pastors on a regular (2-3 year) schedule and between Barna and Lifeway estimates of 250-1700 pastors leave, transfer or switch ministries monthly; the percentage does not seem outrages.

What are the consequences for “believers?”

First we must establish what is the Elders/Pastors role as it pertains to our text:

PPT - Preach the Word PowerPoint Presentation, free download - ID ...

Note that v.14-15 Jesus goes on to say that He is that Good Shepherd that knows His sheep and they know Him (have an intimate relationship) and He is willing to sacrifice His life for them.

Elders/Pastors that fail in preaching the unfeigned Gospel reap dire consequences. Brother Guy N. Woods has this comment in his Commentary on the Gospel of John, page 211:

Individual and organizations abound which prey on people in the name of religion whose sole purpose is the personal profit they derive.  And, the church today is not without those who feel no obligation to defend the truth against false teachers and godless philosophies and who flee at the first approach of such in their congregations  because they love the “peace’ and tranquility they enjoy, being in perfect harmony with denominational bodies round about.  All who thus do, whether elders, preachers, prominent members or obscure ones, are hirelings in the sense our Lord used the word in this allegory.

We have all seen them, folks I call floaters, because they float from one church to another usually they are selling something, or want to be something and are looking for the right church to prey upon.

Today that lack of shepherding oversight is most evident (and most troubling) by the Biblical Worldview so called “Christians” have. The following is from an APN article:

With over 70% of all Americans claiming they are Christians..The most incredible changes relate to how Americans view the Bible. These insights come from the first annual nationwide worldview survey conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, titled the “American Worldview Inventory 2020.”

“A biblical worldview, by definition, is based upon belief in and application of the truths, principles and exhortations contained within the Bible,” Barna said. “However, the results of the American Worldview Inventory point out that the changes in perceptions and acceptance of the Bible have facilitated the continuing decrease in the incidence of a biblical worldview in America.”

Barna noted that research suggests that more than eight out of every 10 Americans own at least one Bible. As many as four in 10 adults claim to have read the entire Bible. Two out of every 10 adults say they read the Bible on a daily basis.

“Clearly, the Bible is a book with a broad presence and substantial influence in the U.S.,” Barna said. “As would be expected, the AWVI survey revealed that peoples’ beliefs about the Bible are directly correlated with whether they develop a biblical worldview.”

For instance:

* 41% believe the Bible is the word of God and contains no factual or historical errors; 14% of those have a biblical worldview. While that percentage is low, it is more than double the national average.

* Among the 13% of adults who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God but contains some factual or historical errors, only 2% possess a biblical worldview.

* 23% possess a positive view of the Bible but do not believe it is the literal or inspired word of God, or that it is completely accurate. (They see it as a “holy book” of religious teachings or as a valuable guidebook for societal development.) Less than 1% of these people develop a biblical worldview.

* 13% are indifferent to or dismissive of the Bible, citing it as merely a descriptive narrative of how its authors viewed the ways and principles of God, or as an unrealistic book of fables and myths. Not quite 1% of the people in this category hold a biblical worldview.

* The remaining 9% of the general public do not know how to describe the nature or value of the Bible. About 1% of that segment has a biblical worldview.

“Describing these data differently, only half of the nation’s adult population (54%) believes that the Bible is the word of God,” Barna said. “Even fewer—just four out of 10 (41%)—believe that the Bible is totally true in all of its empirical and historical statements. Stunningly, when comparing the current data with that from 2000, there has been a 21 percentage point decline in the proportion of adults who believe the Bible is the word of God (from 75% to 54%) and a 17-point drop in the number who believe the Bible is without error (from 58% to 41%).”

Those last sentences I highlighted are more than adequate proof, that there has been a dramatic decline in the pure Gospel message being preached and defended from pulpits by men dedicated to the ministry, called by God for said purpose.

I pray that we will all pray for a revitalization of Pulpits across America.


Hirelings In The Pulpits Of American Churches Are Teaching Sheep To Submit To Wolves


The List
  1. Develop a healthy fear of God. (Have no other god before Me—Exodus 20:1-6; Obey God, serve Him and fear Him—Deuteronomy 13:4; Rehearse history and teach of God’s power so your children learn to fear God—Deuteronomy 31:13; It is whole duty of mankind—Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
  2. Re-embrace the biblical authority of Scripture. (All Scripture is profitable for life and living—2 Timothy 3:16: Living it establishes a person’s path—Psalm 119:11)
  3. Know that the ‘Church’ is disobedient, lethargic and asleep. (Christ’s warnings to the seven churches and to Laodicea—Revelation 2-3; Revelation 3:14-22)
  4. Be aware that 70% of the pulpits in America are occupied by ‘hirelings.’ (Hirelings refuse to warn of spiritual danger and the wolvesJohn 10:12-13)
  5. Be bold to identify and call out the false prophets in the wolves among us. (Christ warned of the false prophets and wolves—Matthew 7:15, Matthew 10:16, Matthew 24:24; Jesus warned of mass deception in the last days—Matthew 24:4-5)
  6. Understand that national blessing or national judgment hinges on the actions of the remnant. (“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”—2 Chronicles 7:14)
  7. Accept the reality that persecution is coming and is normal for the believer and those still standing for truth. (All who live according to God commands will suffer persecution—2 Timothy 3:12; the enemies of truth will persecute you—Luke 21:12; John 15:20)
  8. Discover that the preparation for prayer and meeting God’s requirements for prayer is far more important than the act of praying. (God demands a broken spirit and obedience before sacrifice—Psalm 51:16-17; God demands we pray His way: No unconfessed sin—Psalm 66:18)
  9. Realize that the continuance of freedom is a result of God’s blessing, which hinges on obedience and conformity to God’s commands. (Don’t forget that all blessings came from God and if you forget and become ungrateful, God will replace blessings with bondage—Deuteronomy 8:1-20, 1:19-20; 30:1-20)
  10. Understand that the choice for president or other elected leaders, while critically important, is secondary to repentance toward God and the choice for God. (Obey, and I’ll make even your enemies to be at peace with you—Proverbs 16:7)