415:  The Curse of God’s Abandonment

415: The Curse of God’s Abandonment

There’s a time when the Lord gives us what we want: freedom, autonomy, independence, and to have no authority over our lives but ourselves.  That’s right.  God gives us over to our selfish, carnal attitudes and allows us to experience the consequences of our sins.  It’s like He says, “Ok, you want to go your own way?  Have at it.  I’ll be here when you come to your senses.”  It’s the story of the prodigal son played out in our lives in real time.

This is called the curse of God’s abandonment.  It’s when He removes His protecting grace from our lives and our nation and let’s us see how we like life without Him.  And the results are catastrophic.

Samson, after having his hair cut by Delilah, woke up to confront his enemies still believing he had the same strength as before because his God was with him.  But that was not the case.  He said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!”  But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him (Judges 16:20).  Samson was experiencing the abandonment of God.


God Gave Them Up

In Romans 1 we see three examples of this very act of God’s abandonment:

Therefore God also gave them up – Romans 1:24.
For this reason God gave them up – Romans 1:26.
God gave them over – Romans 1:28.

But who are the “them” in these verses?  The lost?  The unregenerate?  Those nations that reject truth and justice?  Yes.  But if you will study these verses closely you will find the object of God’s curse of abandonment is also the church.  It includes His wayward believers.  It includes you and me.

Does this seem strange to you?  Maybe hard to believe?  Then I suggest you keep listening and find out the truth for yourself.  And remember, “judgment begins at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).  Are you ready?

The following is a study on the Curse of the Abandonment of God.

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The Promises from Proverbs Four, Part One

The Promises from Proverbs Four, Part One

In Proverbs 4 the Lord reveals to us some promises that come with wisdom.  They are simple, direct, pointed promises, and each has a condition that must be met.  Fulfill the condition, receive the promise.  Refuse the condition, and you walk away empty handed and promise free.  It’s that simple.

The Proverb begins with the father once again giving sage advice to his young children. Watch how this unfolds.

Proverbs 4:1-2 – Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; (why) for I give you good doctrine: (therefore) do not forsake my law.

The father then reminds his children about his own upbringing and the words his father told him that he is now passing on to his own children.  He says:

Proverbs 4:3-5 – When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me:  “Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live.  Get wisdom!  Get understanding!  Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.”


Get Wisdom!  Get Understanding!

The point the father is trying to impress on his beloved children is the importance of getting wisdom and understanding.  In fact, you can almost feel the urgency in the father’s words: “Get wisdom!  Get understanding!” (Prov. 4:5)  Later, he adds, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom.  And in all your getting, get understanding” (Prov. 4:7).

Wisdom (ḥoḵmāh) is defined as “skill, experience and shrewdness; with the beginning of wisdom and the supreme wisdom being to properly fear and reverence God.”1  Understanding (biynāh) means “comprehension and discernment, which is accompanied by righteous actions and it carries a strong moral and religious connotation.”2  So when the father says “in all your getting, get understanding” (Prov. 4:7), he is imploring his children to add righteous actions to their reverence and fear of God.  It’s not a theological point to be debated.  It’s not a mere mental exercise.  It’s living in real time a life that corresponds to a reverence of God.  Like Jesus later said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).  Great question.  How would you answer Him?


The First Promise

Then comes the most exciting part of these few verses.  Wisdom is now personified as a woman and each of these promises about wisdom (her) is connected with a condition that must first be met.  There are three do’s and one don’t.  Let’s look at the don’t first.

Proverbs 4:6a – (condition) Do not forsake her (wisdom), and (promise) she will preserve you.

To forsake (ʿāzaḇ) someone is to “leave, neglect, or abandon” them, usually for someone or something else.3  And the idea associated with the word translated preserve (šāmar) means “to keep watch, to guard, to watch over carefully like a mother over her young child.”4

So the first promise from wisdom is that if we do not abandon wisdom or neglect the wisdom found in God’s Word, then wisdom will guard our life and watch carefully over us like a loving mother to her cherished young child.  Wisdom will become our protector, our safety, and our security in troubling times of trials and temptations and persecution.  She will preserve our life during the attacks of the enemy and reveal to us what is true and trustworthy.  And in doing so, we will be strengthened against the schemes of our enemy who speaks to us lies disguised as truth (John 8:44).

Wisdom will also protect us from falling prey to our own ideas about things.  She will help us bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) so we won’t confuse our selfish, carnal thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others and vainly think they come from the Lord.  If we hold on to wisdom and do not abandon her to our own self-centered sense of right and wrong, then she will guard us against the temptation of trying to create God in our own image by believing He thinks and feels like we do.

And nothing could be further from the truth.  Why?  Because He doesn’t.  God doesn’t live in our box.

As the Lord says in Isaiah:

Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

I think that should settle it, don’t you?

There are three more promises granted to those who embrace the conditions associated with wisdom.  We’ve only looked at the first one, the don’t.

Tomorrow we’ll continue with the three do’s.

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Endnotes

  1.  Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 337). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
  2.  Ibid., 130.
  3.  Ibid., 819.
  4.  Ibid., 1171.

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411:  We Will Not Be Equal in the Kingdom of God

411: We Will Not Be Equal in the Kingdom of God

We will not all be equal in heaven.  Now we’re not talking about salvation, but of rewards.  All of us are equal in regards to salvation because it is a gift given freely to those who believe.  In this, there is no question.  But what we do with our salvation is another matter.  And we will be rewarded for our faithfulness to Him in this life.  Consider the following:

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with (1) gold, silver, precious stones, (2) wood, hay, straw, each one’s (personal) work will become clear; (how) for the Day will declare it, (how) because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s (personal) work, of what sort it is.  If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures (gold, silver, precious stones), he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned (wood, hay, straw), he will suffer loss (of reward); but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Charles Stanley also spoke of this in his book, Eternal Security.  He said, “Some believers will be entrusted with certain privileges; others will not.  Some will reign with Christ; others will not (2 Timothy 2:12).  Some will be rich in the kingdom of God; others will be poor (Luke 12:21, 33).  Some will be given true riches; others will not.  Some will be given heavenly treasures of their own; others will not.  Some will rule and reign with Christ; others will not.  Privilege in the kingdom of God is determined by one’s faithfulness in this life.  It is true that there will be equality in terms of our inclusion in the kingdom of God, but not in our rank and privilege.”

Does this sound troubling to you?  Maybe confusing?  If so, keep listening to learn more.

The following is a study on the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Marriage Ceremony of the Lamb.

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382:  How the Holy Spirit Expresses Himself

382: How the Holy Spirit Expresses Himself

When we have the desire to know more about the gifts given each of us by the Holy Spirit, and our responsibility in exercising those gifts, we are faced with a couple of questions.  Especially when we see that the purpose of those gifts is to give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to manifest or express Himself to others.  Consider the following:

1 Corinthians 12:7 – But the manifestation (expression) of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

How does the Holy Spirit manifest or express Himself in the world today?
Does the Holy Spirit give His gifts to everyone that belongs to Christ?
Does that include you?
What gift or gifts has He given you?
And why did He give you His gifts?
So He could express Himself to others through each of us.

Do you realize the reason the Holy Spirit gives us His gifts is to manifest Himself to others through us?  Let that sink in for a moment.

According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, all the gifts that follow (word of wisdom and knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, and tongues) are all given so He can use these gifts to express Himself through us to others.

Do you know what that means?  Can you see the implications of that verse and what it means for you and me and the church today?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:9.

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381: The Year of Sanctification

381: The Year of Sanctification

Many of us make resolutions this time of year.  It just seems natural.  Maybe we want to lose weight, get out of debt, or finish a long neglected project around the house.  But as a Christian, we want to somehow make our resolutions more spiritual.  That also seems natural.  So we often resolve something like this:

“I want to read my Bible more.”
“I want to pray more.”
“I want to share my faith more.”
“I want to love more, forgive more, worship more.”
“I want to live more like a Christian.”
“I want to know more of God and have myself conformed to the image of His Son.”

But the key to discovering the “abundant life” (John 10:10) Jesus spoke about is not in keeping resolutions, no matter how good they may be.  It’s living a life of holiness.  It’s practicing sanctification.  It’s being set apart or consecrated unto God.  After all, we belong to Him.

But sanctification never takes place unless we first understand the way God’s if / then promises work.  The promise comes after the condition.  The then follows the if.  Consider the following:

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

(condition one) Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
(condition two) and lean not on your own understanding;
(condition three) in all your ways acknowledge Him,
(promise) and He shall direct your paths.

Want to know more.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Proverbs 3:5-6.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

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The If / Then Promises of God

The If / Then Promises of God

If your resolution this year is to “understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:5), then you must begin this vision quest by understanding how the if / then passages in Scripture work.  Simply put, you do the ifs, and God provides the thens.  One is contingent upon another.  One comes first, and the other follows after.  One is a condition that must be met, the other is the result of meeting that condition.  One is your responsibility, and the other is His.

Consider this passage from Proverbs 2:

Proverbs 2:1-5 – My son, if (condition) you receive my words, and (if you) treasure my commands within you, (to what extent) so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if (condition) you cry out for discernment, and (if you) lift up your voice for understanding, if (condition) you seek her as silver, and (if you) search for her as for hidden treasures; then (result of meeting the condition) you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

As you can see, the promise of understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God only comes after the if conditions are met.  One is contingent upon another.  Meeting the if condition is the key that unlocks the then promise,  If I want to understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God, then I must meet the condition set forth to receive that promise.  It is foolishness, according to this passage, to assume we will receive the promise without meeting the condition.

Some promises in Scripture are granted without a condition being met.1  Others, most in fact, have a condition attached to them.  For example, our salvation is based on meeting a condition:

Romans 10:9 – That if (condition) you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and (if you) believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, (then – result or promise) you will be saved.

Note that salvation comes after the condition is met.  Repentance and the acknowledgement of Christ as Lord is mandatory, not optional.  You cannot come to faith in Him any other way.  This is an if / then passage about salvation.


If / Then Passages

But there’s so much more.  Take a look at a few of these if / then passages.  See if you can begin to understand how important your part is in receiving the promises of the Father.

Matthew 6:14-15 –  “For if (condition – your action and responsibility) you forgive men their trespasses, (then – the result or promise from God) your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if (condition – your action and responsibility) you do not forgive men their trespasses, (then – the result or promise from God) neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

If we desire forgiveness from God, we must first forgive others.  First the condition, then the promise.  How important is it for me to forgive others who have wronged me?  It’s vital.  For without meeting the horizontal condition of forgiveness between me and another, God is not obligated to fulfill the vertical condition of forgiving me for my sins and transgressions.  This is not something to play around with.  This if / then condition has lasting, eternal consequences.

John 15:10 – “If (condition) you keep My commandments, (then – result) you will abide (rest, dwell, make your home) in My love, (example) just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

How do I rest and abide in the love (agape) of Christ?  And how can I experience the abiding presence of that love like Jesus had with His Father?  By meeting the if condition of the if / then promise.  By keeping His commandments.  By doing what He tells me to do.  By loving Him through my obedience and not living a life of rebellion, apathy or arrogance.  After all, Jesus also said in another if / then passage, “If you love Me, (then) keep My commandments” (John 14:15).  Which means, if I love Him, then I will show my love for Him by keeping His commandments.  And if I don’t love Him, then I won’t keep His commandments.  Or, more frightening still, if I’m not keeping His commandments, then I must not love Him at all.  Which means our love for Christ can be clearly seen by our obedience to Him.  Not in our words, but in our actions (Luke 6:46).

We’ll close today with just one more.  This if / then promise was spoken to Martha at the tomb of Lazarus right before Jesus raised him from the dead in the sight of all.

John 11:40 – Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if (condition) you would believe (then – result) you would see the glory of God?”

Jesus was about to raise a man back to life who had been dead and buried four full days.  It was to be a powerful testimony that Christ is God and can do all things.  For me, it’s one of the greatest miracles in the New Testament.  But Martha would fail to see God in any of this unless she believed.  She was in danger of becoming hard hearted and spiritually blind, much like the Pharisees and others who made up the religious establishment of that day, to what was about to take place.  Instead of experiencing the glory of God, she would go back to her home unchanged, unmoved, and further away from the One who raised her brother from the dead.  Why?  Because of her lack of belief.  Jesus’ words to her were simple, “If you believe (the condition that unlocks the revelation of the glory of God), then (the result of her faith and belief) you will see the glory of God.”  And the opposite is also true.  “If you do not believe (condition), then (result of lack of faith) you will not see the glory of God.”

The spiritual magnitude of this momentous event for Martha was contingent on her belief— on the if part of the if / then promise from Jesus.

Are you beginning to see the importance of these overlooked if / then promises in Scripture?  Good.  Because there are hundreds of them.

For the next few weeks we’ll be looking at the if / then passages found in Scripture to discover what part we must play in receiving the promises from God.  Why?  Because fulfilling the if part is something we can do.  It’s something we can get better at.  Something the Lord has left in our hands.  Obedience to His Word is our responsibility.  And the promises for obedience, the results of the if / then promises in Scripture are, honestly, overwhelmingly wonderful.

Tomorrow we’ll begin looking at the if / then promises found in the Proverbs.

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1 – For example, God’s promise to Abraham is not conditional on anything Abraham would, or would not do (Gen.12:7).  See also Gen. 12:1-3; 13:15-16; 15:18-21; 17:6-8; and 35:11-12.

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