Posts Tagged ‘Bible’


Hebrews 13:8-10 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, tomorrow… the way He works in the heart of man today is the same way He worked 2000 years ago. I want to talk about your heart this morning…

  • Hebrews 13:8 says “it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace…”

The KJV translates bebaióō as ‘established’, but a better way might be ‘strengthened’ like the NASB and ESV do. For the Greek word actually means:

To make firm or reliable so as to warrant security and inspire confidence, to strengthen, make true[1]

1.    How is Your Heart today?

Not the organ but your heart of hearts, your vitality, that which gives you passion for living.

Sometimes we can get beat down. We feel like we’ve been run over by a bus. Sometimes family does a number on us, or maybe a close friend. We start to lose heart, we start to feel overwhelmed. It can even affect our health. The Bible (Luke 21:26) says that in the last days, things will get so bad, that many men will have heart attacks because of the fear of what will happen. Ever heard someone say “You scared me to death”?

Things can get bad. They can get so bad that you do stupid things, like give up, take your own life. I’ve known people who have taken their own life. They lost hope, they lost heart.

God never wants us to lose heart. In fact, He has something much better:

Ephesians 3:16-17 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Now, just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean you won’t ever lose heart and give up. What happens is that you think your problems are greater than God. But God wants us to realize that it is a good thing that our heart can be strengthened by Grace.

2. Strengthened by Grace, not Food.

For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

This world tries to tell you that your heart health is influenced by what you eat. Healthy food is a healthy heart. I won’t deny that. What I will say is that if you think food is the answer to your depression, your discouragement, your loss of love for life, you are badly mistaken. What strengthens your heart is not food, but Grace!

Some of you are thinking, man, what have I gotten into. They are going to bring out an empty plate and tell me they are serving Grace, and that it is better for me. Cheap people!

No, we will serve you some great food! A full stomach may help you to feel better, but it will not help with problems of depression and discouragement, broken families, lack of employment, bills…No, you need something supernatural, something available only from God, and that is Grace!

3. How do you eat Grace?

We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

We need to see that there is a special altar. This is not the altar in the Temple of the Old Testament. That altar the Priests and the needy could eat from. The fat and select portions of meat were given to the priests for food. Other was set aside for the hungry and poor. But that is not the altar we have in view. There is another altar we must see, an altar where Grace flowed down, an altar where we can feast on Grace, an altar where our hearts can be strengthened.

  • Hebrews 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
  • Hebrews 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God;

This is the altar where Jesus the Son of God gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice. There, outside the gates, He offered Himself once and for all.

There on the altar He prepared a forever breakfast for us to feast on every day, a forever breakfast of Grace. Don’t they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Well so is the breakfast of Grace if you want a strong heart to face the trials of this life.

4. Breakfast of Grace

Once a year the High Priest would offer a sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. This was a very solemn day. The people were forbidden to work. The High Priest did not where his normal robe, but appeared as a common man, with dull linen garments. There were special sacrifices, offered in a specific order. The sacrifices were to be totally consumed by the fire. There was to be nothing left over to eat. The Day of Atonement was all for God. Man was not to work or assume any office of importance. Everything was in God’s hands.

The result of the waiting people was that their sins of the past year were forgiven, and now they began the New Year with the Hope of God’s blessing and favor.

“For it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you shall be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (Lev. 16:30).

5. We Feast at the Altar of Grace

We have great news from our Creator God. It is written in this Bible, it was put on display for the entire world to see when His only begotten son died on the upraised cross of cursing. Jesus became the cursed goat, the cursed man, the curse for us, when He took our sins upon Himself. There He satisfied the righteous demands of God, and split the veil in two, so that you and I can experience the love and Grace of our Righteous and Holy God. With the Blood of Jesus, mercy and grace came flowing down the Cross and saturated this whole earth.

At the altar of the Cross we have something greater than food to feast on. It is Grace, grace that means that no matter how badly we have messed up our lives, no matter how bad a day you had yesterday, every morning you can wake up to a breakfast of grace and tender mercies. Every day you can know that your sins, your ugly mistakes are wiped clean and forgiven, and instead of despair, depression and discouragement, you can feast on the Hope of Jesus Christ.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

What good is grace and peace when I’ve lost everything? When I’m so deep in debt that I can’t see bottom? I can’t answer that for you. I can only testify that I have been that deep in debt. I can testify that things looked so bad that my thoughts were constantly on running away, and even taking my life. But God kept reminding me that I had given my life to Him, that I was His. He challenged me to trust Him with my needs. He challenged me to give Him my desires. He challenged me with Hebrews 13:5

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I listed everything that I needed, and something’s I desired. I drew a circle, a circle of trust & hope, and gave the entire list to Him. Then I hoped and waited upon Him.

Psalm 147:11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

It takes a lot of faith to come to the altar and feed on grace. No matter how badly you have failed, the altar is for you. There forgiveness flows from Calvary. There is the hope that we have in our risen Savior. That hope says that no matter how bad this life is, if your trust in Christ as your Savior, He will make all things good, even if it isn’t until heaven.

My prayer for you echoes Paul’s prayer in 2 Thess 3:5

2 Thessalonians 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

We yearn so much for physical comforts that we miss out on that which really strengthens us, really gives us a strong heart. We miss out on the Grace that Jesus can give us.

May you listen as the Lord directs your heart unto the Love of God, the Love that Calvary revealed. May He then direct you into the patient waiting for Christ.


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “bebaióō”.


Our media seems to be fascinated with “Fallen Angels”. There have been movies about them. They have even been in commercials.

Here is a neat commercial featuring “falling angels”

I was curious what our culture thinks about Fallen Angels. If you want to know what Americans think of something, go to Answers dot com, which is “Wiki Answers.” Here are some interesting thoughts:

From Answers.com (Wiki answers)

  • Do fallen angels lose their wings?

Yes and no. The wings may shrivel and fall off. Or the wings may turn demonic and resemble bat wings. Do not hate bats because of this similarity.

  • Do fallen angels get their wings stripped?

Yes, for their sins fallen angels get their wings stripped. They get them back when they save someone’s life.

  • Can a fallen angel get back their wings?

No. Actually, it is said that if a fallen angle saves a human life they can become a guardian angel[1]

I wonder where this book is that says this. It is not the Bible. I am not going to talk about “fallen angels” the ones who rebelled with Lucifer and now serve Satan as demonic beings. They may still have wings, if they had wings, and the Bible says that cherubim and seraphim have wings. They may even look like bat wings (please do not let that prejudice you against those lovable creatures). I want to talk about David, and relate to you how this (I believe fallen) Angel (as he is described) learns to soar in a moment when other Disciples would have fallen on their sword.

1 Samuel 29:2-11 As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish, the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul, king of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years, and since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.” But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him. And the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place to which you have assigned him. He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? Is not this David, of whom they sing to one another in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” Then Achish called David and said to him, As the LORD lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign. For I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, the lords do not approve of you. So go back now; and go peaceably, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” And David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” And Achish answered David and said, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God. Nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ Now then rise early in the morning with the servants of your lord who came with you, and start early in the morning, and depart as soon as you have light.” So David set out with his men early in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

David was living a comfortable, compromised life, in bed with the world, loving the enemies of God. His men were happy, growing fat and having children. They were raiding the ancient enemies of God and living off their spoils, while enjoying the protection of the Philistines who were convinced that David had become a stench to his own people. Why? Because David and his men had been lying to Achish for over a year about whom they were warring against. Achish believed David and thought his men were killing fellow Jews in the Negev. But David was killing the warriors and the innocents from the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites.

American Christians Relish Respectability

The world loves a sweet Jesus. We do not want to offend anyone, so often we preach a ‘respectable’ Jesus. The church in America relishes our ‘respectability’. We want the world to see us as good Samaritans, food bearers, and love givers. The world does not want to hear about their sin, their rebellion from God, their pride and neglect of God. The world says you cannot judge, who are you to say whom God loves. Who are you to say who gets into heaven?

So most of us do not really press the point with our good Catholic friends, our good Lutheran friends, our good friends who do not think church is necessary. No, we do not want to disrespect them. We do not want them to dislike us. We would rather be ‘an Angel’, good in their sight. Maybe our Christianity will rub off on them. Maybe it transfers like a cold or a virus.

God is not pleased with David.

God is not pleased with Compromising Christians.

God is not pleased with compromising David. But look how much Achish loves him! Surely, Achish has become a Christian because of David’s influence.

I will repeat, God is not pleased with David. If the World loves you, God is probably not pleased.

David is living a settled, compromised life, and God is about to move him off that fence. You know the fence. It is the same fence many “Joe Christians” straddle. One eye on the entire world has to offer, the other eye on God and all he has to offer. However, what does God say about Joe Christian, the fence straddler? God says “I will vomit you out!”

Look at the Compromises of David:

1. Verse 6: you have been honest (Compromised God’s Unfailing Love)
                The word is “straight” (upright in KJ)

  • Had David been honest? No, he had lied directly to his face. He had fooled Achish into believing he had shot straight with him.
  • When you lie to win the favor of the world, you deny God’s unfailing jealous Love. (Hesed)

2. Verse 6: “I have found nothing wrong in you” (Compromised God’s Righteousness)

  • Had David done anything wrong? Yes, for he had murderedurdering innocent women and children To the world, anything you do is right as long as it is not offensive to whatever standards the world has. The standard for wrong is not God’s Moral Law, it is man’s.
  • When the world is saying you are upright and you murder and compromise to win their approval, you are not depending on the Righteousness of God. (Tsedaqah)

3. Verse 9: You have been as an “angel of God” (Compromised God’s Justice)

  • Being an “angel” to the world requires living outside God’s design and justice.
  • They may view you as an angel, but you are fallen to God
  • An angel of God obeys God’s will and works to establish His will on earth. Angels are messengers of God and alert the world to the Justice of God.
  • David was following anything but God by allying himself with the enemy of Israel. The Justice of God was not guiding his life.

The world is often kind to compromised Christians. They respect them; they regard them as people of ‘character’. Often a compromised Christian is seen as better than the heathens around him. He can even be seen as an “angel,” especially if he is generous. Achish saw David as an upright man, even an Angel of Jehovah!

Had David been an Angel of God? It does appear that Achish may have embraced Jehovah as God.

As an angel of God—There is some reason to think that Achish had actually embraced or was favorably disposed towards the Jewish religion. He speaks here of the angels of God, as a Jew might be expected to speak; and in 1 Samuel 29:6 he appeals to, and swears by Jehovah; which, perhaps, no Philistine ever did. It is possible that he might have learned many important truths from David, during the time he sojourned with him.[2]

Achish probably worshipped his other gods

Three Philistine gods are mentioned in the Old Testament—Dagon, Ashtoreth, and Baalzebub. Two of them were adopted from the people around them, and reflect an attitude of syncretism (combining different – often contadictory beliefs).

  • Dagon appears to be the chief god of the Philistines. He was the fish God, father of Baal.
  • They also adopted Ashtoreth, the fertility goddess of the Canaanites, as one of their gods. The Philistines had Ashtoreth temples at Beth-Shan (1 Samuel 31:10 NIV) and, according to Herodotus, at Ashkelon (Herodotus I. 105).
  • Baalzebub, the Philistine god whose name means “lord of the flies,” was the god of Ekron (2 Kings 1:1-16). Most likely, the Philistines worshiped Baalzebub as a god who averted pestilence or plagues.[3]
COMPROMISE = ANYTHING GOES JESUS

The danger of compromised, world loving Christians hanging with and sharing with the lost, is the adoption of an ‘anything goes’ Jesus. He is more of a good buddy, a Jesus Claus, who loves me in MY world. A compromised Christian will father other compromised Christians, people who are more comfortable in the world than they are in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. These will be those who believe there are many ways to God. Jesus is merely a way to God, not the only way.

David needed to learn that God wanted him to be King over a separate Kingdom, a Kingdom with distinct laws and distinct worship. This Throne would establish the Kingdom for God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who would one day reign as King over the entire world.

Christians are to realize that Jesus is Lord of a Kingdom that is entirely different from this world, and is actually opposed to this world. It is a Kingdom of the Cross-a Kingdom of self-denial, and a Kingdom that is foreign to the ways of this world.

Jesus needs His disciples to work to establish this Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus must be Lord over all, not just part. We are to be subject to His commands and His direction all of the time, not just part of the time. We cannot worship Jesus on Sunday and then worship the Dollar on Monday, my Possessions on Wednesday…Jesus is Lord of all or He is Lord of None. Jesus does not crouch in the corner of your life hoping you throw him a bone now and then. He is Lord, and He tolerates no others in our life.

 The Power of a Transformed Life

Our witness is made powerful from a transformed life. If your life has not been changed, you have no power to touch someone else for Christ. If Christ has not been allowed to break habits in your life, you will have no power to touch someone with the sin overcoming power of Jesus Christ.

Do you want to know why many Christians have never led someone to life changing faith in Jesus Christ? It is not fear, it is not apathy, and it is not a lack of knowledge. It is because they do not know the life transforming power of Jesus Christ. If your life is truly transformed, if you truly know the power of Christ over sin, you will not be sitting around stewing at things you do not like; you will be out touching others with the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is first about reconciling people to God. If we are unwilling to follow God and be reconciled to our brothers and sisters, check your heart and make sure Jesus is Lord of all your life.

Being a Disciple of Christ means we have “Powerful Touch”

John 17:18-19 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. Wuest translates literally: “And on behalf of them I am setting myself apart, in order that they themselves also, having been set apart for God in the sphere of the truth, may continually be in that state of consecration.”

Jesus set Himself apart to God, in effect touching God, so that we might be set apart and able to touch God, and continually touch God. Furthermore, our touch of God brings His Glory into our lives, and gives us “Powerful Touch!”

John 17:22-23 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

We have a glory about us that comes from Jesus Christ. That glory is the basis of our unity, and the reason the world knows the love of Jesus Christ. Does this sound as if Jesus was sending us out into the world to act like the world and be like the world? No! That would be no witness to the power and Divine Love of Jesus Christ.

I have heard many, many times that people are sick of the Republican primary process. There is too much fighting and personal attacks. The ads are 97% negative. The fear is that this will not stop soon, but continue for five or six more months. However, I know the most amazing thing will happen, no matter how bloody the battle. Come the primary, every Republican will be holding hands and singing “Kum Ba Yah my Lord, Kum ba Yah!” They will be the most lovey-dovey group on the earth. Why? Because they have to work out their disagreements to defeat their enemy Obama.

Why Can’t Christians Get Along?

I also hear why do Christians have so much discord. Why do they have to talk against one another? Why can’t we just get along?  The reason is three-fold:

  1. They have lost sight of Jesus Christ.
  2. They put their own interests before lifting the name of the Lord
  3. They don’t care if the enemy wins and people die and go to hell.

It takes only one person to erect a barricade based on a fleshly judgment or fleshly power struggle. Self is always the focus when barricades are erected. However, Jesus wants us to be “Bridge-Builders.” As an individual Jesus built the greatest bridge between Holy God and sinful man. Now he wants “His Team” to be “Bridge-Builders” with Him. With the Lost and within His Body. There are times to erect barriers, but only when the purpose of the Body is threatened.
When Christians focus on defeating the enemy, claiming the lost, helping people find Salvation, helping people discover the transforming power of Jesus Christ (BUILDING BRIDGES), they don’t have time to get upset when something doesn’t go their way. In fact, they would start seeking the transforming power of the Lord in every difficult thing they face, even their own bitterness.

FOCUS ON KINGDOM BATTLES

Even the princes advising King Achish knew that Christians must focus on defeating the adversary and not each other:

Verse 4: But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him. And the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place to which you have assigned him. He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here?

They told King Achish that David could not go fight with them. They probably told Achish, if you want our support in this battle, do not take David. Otherwise, you will fight alone. They could not figure out why David was being so friendly to them, after all, he had been a mighty warrior. Therefore, they did not want to take the chance that he would turn on them and rally the Jewish army against them.

He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us.

God was using these heathen leaders to get David off the fence and focus on the real battle. I thought you were a Christian. You are not supposed to fight with us. You are supposed to be our enemy. So David was forced to leave for his home at Ziklag. Meanwhile the Philistine armies went to Jezreel.

Jezreel: The name of a fertile valley in northern Israel (Hos. 2:22[24]). Its name means, “God sows.” Hosea mentioned it as a place where God will judge Israel.[4]

  • King Saul was about to face God’s Judgment.
  • However, David was spared that, because God had one more lesson for David.
David is pushed to the breaking point.

God is about to call David out and expose the dangers of his compromise and trusting in himself rather than God. David is going to face the ultimate Test for a Disciple, the Pressure of God’s Reproof.

Let’s see if David “spits the dummy”

1 Samuel 30:1-6 Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag, burned it with fire, and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

You try to hide things, and somehow they come out. David had been lying to Achish about his raids on the Jewish settlements in the Negev. Instead, he had been raiding the Amalekites. (Oh, by the way, King Saul was supposed to destroy all the Amalekites, but he disobeyed). Well, the Amalekites decided to take revenge. They raided the Negeb and got to the city of Ziklag. For some reason (God), they did not kill anyone. They took everyone captive and burnt the city to the ground. Ziklag was totally wiped out.

David STRENGTHENED HIMSELF IN the LORD his God!

1 Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

What Did David Do?

Everything they had worked for over the last 10 years was gone. His wives, his children, his possessions. Here he thought he had found a place of comfort and relative safety, and now it was all gone, reduced to ashes. For all he knew the families could have been taken somewhere and abused or worse. The lies and compromises of the last 16 months came weighing down upon him, the accuser was screaming at him through his men and through his own conscience. This is all your fault. You deserved this. God is judging you because you left Him and sought refuge in the arms of the enemy.

Try to imagine what was going on in his heart and mind. Everything that he had hoped for and worked for was suddenly stripped away, and now the men, his loyal men were circling him and holding large stones.

Wow, I have pictured that scene over and over in my mind for over 40 years, and I am still in awe of what happened next. David was facing the ultimate test for any disciple. So what did he do?

David “way·yiṯ·ḥaz·zêq Yahweh Elohim”

Hāzaq: A verb meaning to be strong, to strengthen, to be courageous, to overpower. It speaks of tremendous Moral/Physical strength in the face of impossible situations. This verb is widely used to express the strength of various phenomena, such as the severity of famine (2 Ki. 25:3; Jer. 52:6); the strength of humans to overpower each other: the condition of Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 7:13); David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50); Amnon and Tamar (2 Sam. 13:14); a battle situation (2 Chr. 8:3); Samson’s strength for his last superhuman performance (Judg. 16:28). This word occurs in the commonly known charge, “Be strong and of good courage!” (Josh. 1:9). Moses urges Joshua (Deut. 31:6, 7) to be strong.[5]

Hazaq – When Moses & God spoke to Joshua

 Deuteronomy 31:6-7 Be strong (hāzaq) and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.

 Joshua 1:6-7 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.

Hazaq – God toward those whose heart is upright

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong (hāzaq) in the behalf of them [nasb, “to strongly support them”] whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9).

Hazaq – God to His Son (I WILL HOLD YOUR HAND!)

To His Servant, the Messiah, God said: “I … will hold (hāzaq) thine hand …” (Isa. 42:6);

Let’s peek into David’s heart now and see how he strengthened himself in Jehovah Elohim.

He Turned Back to Yahweh Elohim by Delighting in God’s Hesed, Mishpat & Tsedeqah

All we need do is look at the Psalms David wrote during this 10 year period of Discipleship Development. We know these came back to him at this precise moment.

Psalm written when David was Hiding in the Cave

Psalm 142:1-7 With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me. (HESED/RIGHTEOUSNESS)

Psalm David wrote when he changed his behavior before Achish (the first time)

Psalm 34:17-22 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. (HESED)

Psalm he wrote when Doeg told Saul that David had been helped at the Tabernacle

Psalm 52:7-9 “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!” But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly. (HESED& RIGHTEOUSNESS)

Psalm he wrote when the Ziphites told Saul where he was hiding

Psalm 54:4-7 Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them. With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies. (JUSTICE)

Psalm he wrote when the Philistines first seized him and were going to kill him until he pretended to be crazy

Psalm 56:9-13 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. (HESED/RIGHTEOUSNESS)

Psalm when Saul sent men to watch David’s house to kill him

Psalm 59:16-17 But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love. (HESED JUSTICE RIGHTEOUSNESS)

Psalm written while David hid in the wilderness

Psalm 63:8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (RIGHTEOUSNESS)

I believe this is what he said in his closing prayer. He literally could feel the “Hand of God” grabbing his hand, lifting him up and ‘hazaq’ his heart. David’s Divine wings came out and he started to soar! David was soaring over the rubble of Ziklag, he could see clearly what must be done. What happens over the next few days show what God can do when we rely totally upon Him!

Disciples can soar in Ziklag moments

We must focus on allowing what God Delights in to develop and grow in our lives -“hesed, mishpat and tsedeqah”:

  1. Fix your heart upon the Covenant Keeping God – His Steadfast Love
  2. Appeal to God to establish His justice in your heart and over your enemies.
  3. Rely totally upon God for His Strength and Righteousness He is your only hope

Wrong Response to Bad Situations (Difficulties)

  1. Deny His Hesed-God doesn’t love me, he has brought this on me to punish me.
  2. Rebel against His Mishpat-this is unjust, God made a mistake, I do not deserve this, only I can make this right, seek vengeance.
  3. Resist His Tsedaqah-I can go my own way, do what I want, I don’t need God. I will rely on _______ to get me through this. My hope is in ___________.

How Do Disciples Fail this Ultimate Test?

1. Hasaq can turn into Strength Against God

The strong form of the verb is used in Exod. 4:21: “…I will harden his [Pharaoh’s] heart….” This statement is found 8 times. Four times we read: “Pharaoh’s heart was hard” (Exod. 7:13, 22; Exod. 8:19; Exod. 9:35, niv; kjv, rsv, nasb, “was hardened”). In Exod. 9:34 Pharaoh’s responsibility is made clear by the statement “he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart….”

A Disciple Must Chose:

Jeremiah 17:5-9 Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

  • Do not allow your heart to rely on its own strength and become hard.
2. Bitterness turns Hardness into Stubbornness

Do not allow bitterness to find a foothold. It will eat at your heart until it is hardened and resistant to God and His Word.

  • God can give great strength to men when they turn to Him.
  • Men may turn their strength into stubbornness against God.[6]

David had gone full circle in his Discipleship Journey.

He started by conquering Goliath through the ‘Hāzaq‘ of God.

1 Samuel 17:50 So David prevailed (hazaq) over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.

He now conquered the fleshly fears that had prompted him to compromise and doubt God’s Name over his life through the ‘hazaq’ of Yahweh Elohim!

Does God Hāzaq your Hand?

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today…. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

  • When David went through this final test of this phase of his Journey, things started to move very fast.
  • David was not a fallen angel. However, whatever happened at that dark moment of his life, all of a sudden, David sprouted Wings and Soared!
Pressures provide Opportunities for God’s Kingdom to Grow and God’s Power to Provide
Pressures Provide Opportunities for You to Soar on the Wings of God!

[2] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 Samuel 29”.

[4] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” yizre‘e’l”.

[5] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” ḥāzaq”.

[6] William E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1940), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Strong (To Be)”.


When I owned an Asphalt Paving company we decided to get into concrete, and so we did in a big way. We even did footings, slabs and walls for new construction. I learned a great deal about foundations for commercial buildings. You don’t just dig a trench and pour concrete. You must consider where the main support beams are placed, what the weight load of the walls will be, what type of soil the foundation is on, and many other factors. The foundation is a really big deal that I had taken for granted. Good concrete alone is not enough for a solid foundation. You must use steel re-bar, and the amount and configuration of the re-bar depends upon the load at that point. Even concrete slabs have to consider the weight of the objects they will support. As part of our foundation work we did some banks which had bank vaults. Most vaults nowadays are actually pre-fab concrete units that are shipped in and moved in place. The vault door is added later. But the slab of the vault is poured 12″ to 24″ thick, with 2 to 3 layers of 3/4″ re-bar tied on 12″ centers. (We did one with 6″ centers). They do not want the vault going anywhere! It also indicates the weight (and importance) of the bank vault. Before concrete, I never thought about foundations. Now I consider them wherever I go. I even took this picture of some awesome re-bar for a building going up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Judging by the re-bar pile, they still had a lot of tying to do!

The church of today is so often about programs. We need programs to keep drawing crowds and making people ‘feel’ like they are Christians. So often ministry programs for children, seniors, life groups, special events, and whatever must pass the “feel good” test. Will it “minister to a felt need” and make everyone “feel good”. Modern ministry must have an emotional draw or it usually dies.

The church that Jesus began and the Apostles modeled was centered around discipleship, making disciples. Emotional feelings quickly fade in the face of persecution. There must be something more about being a church than “feel good” programs. That more is true discipleship. We tried to get a “discipleship program” going within a year after coming to my present church, Pleasant Prairie. But we were only 3 years removed from a tragic ‘split’ that nearly destroyed a church that had been there for 36 years at the time. The people were not ready for a discipleship program that did not meet the need to rebuild their emotional being. There were emotional scars of bitterness and unforgiveness that needed attention before discipleship could begin. Inward hurts hinder the ability to look upward and outward!

God has recently burdened me that it is time to more clearly define the mission of our church. God has been sending some great men and families our way, but we need to have a clearly defined discipleship path. Our church is ready to stand and embrace discipleship as our core value, but I do not want it to be a “program”. Discipleship does not automatically have a “feel good” component that builds excitement. Most Christians seem to view discipleship as something for Paul’s and Timothy’s, people who serve in a major capacity. Even leaders in the church seem to shy away from intentional discipleship. Too often Christians are ‘comfortable’ where they are at. Convenience and comfort are often core values of most American Christians.

The Holy Spirit was leading me to preach on the Life of King David. He is a great example of a man of God. There is no more transparent life in the Bible than King David. But the Holy Spirit was also burdening me with the need for a clearly defined discipleship path in our church. For some reason He led me to the ‘last saying’ of King David in 2 Samuel 23:5. I won’t get it to it in this writing, but through this, the Holy Spirit is revealing some awesome revelations about discipleship and how the church can embrace it, accomplish it and even have a “feel good”  component at the same time. 

So the next few posts will be the “Laying of the Foundation” of what I am calling “David Discipleship”. We don’t often associate King David with discipleship, but I believe his life is the very definition of discipleship, beginning with the revelation of His last words.

Now to bend and tie the “re-bar” of David Discipleship:

If the church is not to be about “programs” but about making disciples, what is a disciple? 

Disciple: One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another. In the New Testament, the word is Mathētés. Here it means more than a mere pupil or learner. It is an adherent who accepts the instruction given to him and makes it his rule of conduct[1]. The general designation of mathētés was given to those who believed on Christ. Jesus clearly defines disciple in John 8:31: (ESV) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples”.

What is Discipleship?

If a disciple is an adherent of another person’s teachings, what is discipleship?

A consensus of definitions produces this: Discipleship is the process of learning about the teachings of another, internalizing them and then acting upon them. Most discipleship programs focus on the learning process, with the emphasis on knowledge.

Peters Perspective on the Discipleship Process

Peter turned out to be the most dynamic of the early disciples of Christ. He had learned a great deal after spending three years at the feet of the Master Teacher. Yet when it was time for the rubber to meet the road, Mighty Peter failed, and denied his Master in a dramatic fire. Where was that knowledge then? What good did his earlier confession do at the moment when it mattered most? Peter sheds a glaring light upon what a discipleship program should be about.

2 Peter 1:1 (ESV) Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…

2 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV) 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge (epignosis)[2] of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge(gnosis) …

Peter’s Insights into Discipleship:

1. Equal Faith <–> Righteousness of Christ

  • Discipleship grows from Faith that is provided by the righteousness of our Savior Jesus Christ. That faith makes each believer equal in the sight of God. That equality is not based upon knowledge, but upon the righteousness provided us by our God and Savior Jesus Christ!

2. Growth <–> Relational Knowledge

  • Our growth in life and godliness is by His divine power and only through knowing Him in His glory and excellence.

3. Growth <–> Precious Promises

  • Our growth is only by His divine nature becoming our nature through the power of the Word and His precious promises.

4. Growth <–> Focus on His Virtue becoming our Virtue

  • Discipleship must focus on His Virtue becoming our Virtue. We first add virtue to our faith, and knowledge to virtue.

VIRTUE is the Greek “areté” which denotes in a moral sense what gives man his worth[3]

Why is Virtue Important to Discipleship?

There are four synonyms to Areté in the Greek according to Zodhiates…

  • dóxa – glory;
  • dúnamis – power;
  • chárisma – gift;
  • ōphéleia – usefulness[4]

Virtue is a quality that is difficult to define, but definite in its impact. From the synonyms we glimpse the power of this little word. Here is my humble attempt at a definition.

Virtue is the strength of the character of Christ internalized into my life as I follow Him. Virtue brings worth and value to my life. Without His virtue I am weak and ineffective.

Virtue grows from an obedient relationship!

Discipleship programs are not effective if their focus is primarily upon knowledge (ginosis). It must be knowledge that grows from a personal on-going relationship with Jesus Christ Himself! (epiginosko). I know far too many graduates of Christian Schools and Colleges that display little if any of the life of Jesus Christ. A surprising number no longer go to church. Knowledge is not enough to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Look at Judas. He had three years of instruction from Jesus Christ, and yet there was no changed life!

Discipleship is Life-Changing only if it is Life-Giving!

Discipleship must lead believers into a life that is above the natural, a life that is empowered by the Righteous Life of Jesus Christ. His virtue of LIFE becomes our virtue by our dying.

We Have No Virtue worth Propping up

Discipleship is not a self-improvement course. It is not a way of “improving” your Christian walk! We are ugly before we are saved, we are ugly after we are saved. The only beauty we can ever have is the beauty of Jesus Christ.

COULD YOUR HEART PASS THE HOLE IN THE WALL TEST?

God told Ezekiel to dig a hole in the King’s wall. He was startled by the abominations being committed by the ‘supposed’ righteous leaders of Israel.

Ezekiel 8:8-13 (ESV) 8 Then he said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. 9 And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” 10 So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. 11 And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. 12 Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ” 13 He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.”

No matter how ‘spiritual’ we pretend to be, or how much ‘Bible knowledge’ we possess, no one can pass the “Hole in the Wall” test. Our hearts are full of abominations through sin. The harder we try to be a good disciple, the further we alienate ourselves from the heart of God! The heart of God is centered around the virtue of His Son, Jesus Christ! The only virtue worth having is not man-centered but Christ-centered!

Discipleship finds all that we need in Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NIV) 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Discipleship which focuses on knowledge will always lead to pride and self-effort. Discipleship which focuses on virtue will always lead to humility and dependence.

Therefore I define Discipleship as:

Discipleship – “the intentional process of making the virtue of Christ my own, through submitting to His Lordship and Direction, and the daily Hope of Gaining Christ”

Discipleship is simply gaining by trading (diapragmateúomai)[5];

The King will demand an accounting of what you have GAINED by trading

Luke 19:15 (ESV) When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.

I believe we will be judged at the ‘bema seat’ and our judgment will simply be an accounting of what we traded to gain for the sake of becoming like Jesus Christ! We will be judged for how we ‘gained’ Jesus Christ! Christians are to be about the business of trading their lives to gain Jesus Christ!

Paul said it best in Philippians 3:8: Philippians 3:8 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

So the ‘re-bar’ of discipleship is the Virtue of Jesus Christ! Any substitution or absence of His virtue will result in a foundation that is weak and doomed to fail.

Our Hope of Glory is Christ IN me

Colossians 1:27 (ESV) To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 936.

[2] Epígnōsis: In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life, a knowledge laying claim to personal involvement. When used as an obj. (Eph. 1:17; 4:13; Col. 1:9, 10; 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1; Heb. 10:26; 2 Pet. 1:2, 3), it shows the relationship of the learner to the object of his knowledge (2 Pet. 1:8). Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 624.

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 252-251.

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 252.

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “megauploaddiapragmateúomai”.


Most people are afraid to study the Bible. “Difficult to understand”,”where do I start?”, “hard to read”, and on and on. God has been showing me something in response to my plea with Him to see more of Jesus in my everyday living. Since Jesus is the “Word” as John 1 proclaims, then my desire to see more of Jesus must begin with the Word itself! Now when I read the Bible it is never with a conscious attempt to study it or understand it. I read the Bible to see Jesus.

Since I have started this approach to reading and studying the Word of God, it has opened my eyes to seeing Jesus where I never saw Him before. I even see Jesus throughout the Old Testament! Much of what goes on can be put in terms of our relationship with Jesus. The altar becomes more than a place of sacrifice. It becomes the Cross, the place of judgment. When I see the Lord standing beside the altar in Amos 9:1, I know that judgment is coming, for Jesus experienced judgment upon the altar of the Cross. That is why Zechariah was afraid when he saw the angel of the Lord standing beside the altar (Luke 1:11-12). Besides the obvious of seeing an angel, he knew his presence by the altar signaled judgment. In this case, the world would be judged through the man Jesus that John the Baptist would make the people ready for(john 3:19-20). By seeing Jesus and understanding the application to Him, we can understand the Bible.

Consider the woman taken in adultery. If you try to figure out the teaching or the doctrine apart from seeing Jesus, you will be frustrated or misguided. However, if we see how this event reveals Jesus, we understand this is a revelation of Jesus fulfilling the Law and removing us from its bondage and condemnation. In Jesus Christ we can truly be freed from the condemnation of sin. We can be free at last!

Many call themselves Christians because they embrace certain teachings or ‘doctrines’. Those ‘doctrines’ serve to divide Christianity, for people insist on belief in certain ‘doctrines’ to prove one is a proper Christian. What if ‘doctrine’ is not the basis of Christianity? What if it is the simply the person Jesus Christ living in me?

“We are not to be governed by a system of doctrine, however high and good. What is essential is that everything shall be related to the Person, for it is the Person Who makes the doctrine live, and Who governs it” (T. Austin-Sparks in “God Hath Spoken”)

Read the Bible with Jesus in view, even in the Old Testament. He is the Word! Nehemiah is not a book about building a wall. It is a book about building the testimony of Jesus Christ in our lives. Deuteronomy is not a list of do’s and don’ts. It is the picture of one who depends upon Jesus Christ and allows Him to live and love and relate through him. When we live (abide) in Jesus, blessings will tackle us, because Jesus is the “Blessed One”. We do not fear curses, because Jesus became cursed for us.

Jesus Christ is the Driving Force in Christianity. While Paul certainly knew ‘doctrine’, his doctrinal belief’s flowed from His personal, living knowledge of the risen Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:7-8 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…

Even after years of following Christ across the known world, Paul still considered knowing Jesus the most important and excellent thing in the world! Being a Christian is entirely about knowing Jesus!

Do you know Him?


New York Times Columnist Bob Herbert wrote an editorial June 21 titled “When Greatness Slips Away”. It has been reprinted in every major newspaper and has been talked about around the world.

After describing our blown opportunities in dealing with the 9/11 attack, Hurricane Katrina, the great economic crisis and now the BP oil catastrophe, he writes:

“As a nation, we are becoming more and more accustomed to a sense of helplessness. We no longer rise to the great challenges before us. It’s not just that we can’t plug the oil leak. We can’t seem to do much of anything.”

“The city of Detroit is using federal money to destroy thousands upon thousands of empty homes, giving in to a sense of desperation that says there is no way to rebuild the city, so let’s destroy even more of it. Lots more of it…”

“…The June 28 cover story of Time magazine is headlined “The Broken States of America.” The states are facing a catastrophic fiscal situation that is short-circuiting essential services, pushing even more people out of work and undermining the feeble national economic recovery.”

As Time reported: “Schools, health services, libraries — and the salaries that go with them — are all on the chopping block as states and cities face their worst cash squeeze since the Great Depression.”

We are submitting to this debacle with the same pathetic lack of creativity and helpless mindset that now seems to be the default position of Americans in the 21st century. We have become a nation that is good at destroying things — with wars overseas and mind-bogglingly self- destructive policies here at home — but that has lost sight of how to build and maintain a flourishing society.

How is it possible that we would let this happen? We’ve got all kinds of sorry explanations for why we can’t do any of the things we need to do…Meanwhile, the greatness of the United States, which so many have taken for granted for so long, is steadily slipping away.

I still believe in America! I still believe in the Spirit of America. But I believe that Spirit is slowly slipping away, and I believe I know why!

God has declared his standard of greatness for any nation.

Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34

Righteousness is the foundation for the Spirit of America, for the Greatness of America. Sadly, we are losing our foundation of righteousness.

William Bennett, in addressing the Midshipmen of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, November 24th, 1997, said:

“America is a place of heroes, honor, achievement, and respect. But it is as well a place where far too often, heroism is confused with celebrity, honor with fame, true achievement with popularity, individual respect with political correctness. From inside here you look out at a culture that celebrates self-gratification, the crossing of all moral boundaries, and now even the breaking of all social taboos. And on top of it all, too often the sound you hear is whining – the whining of America, what can be heard only as the enormous ingratitude of modern man toward our unprecedented prosperity and good fortune.

Despite our wonders and greatness, we are a society that has experienced so much social regression, so much decadence, in so short a period of time, that in many parts of America we have become the kind of place to which civilized nations used to send missionaries.” http://www.chaoticsynapticactivity.com/2006/08/03/does-honor-have-a-future-william-bennett/

Even in 1997, William Bennett was decrying the growing decadence in America, proclaiming that many parts of America are the kinds of places we used to send missionaries to!

John Adams foresaw long ago that:

“Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.” — John Adams

The “Spirit of America” is slipping away like a whale through a net because we have forgotten what Righteousness is! Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34

There has been much debate about the religious beliefs of our Founding Fathers. Regardless of what you believe about their religious beliefs, all the writings we have indicate that our founding Father’s knew what “Righteousness” was. They knew what morality and virtue was. They believed that the Bible was the Word of God and that Righteousness and morality and virtue are all defined within its pages.

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defined righteousness:

“Purity of heart and rectitude of life; conformity of heart and life to the divine law. Righteousness, as used in Scripture and theology, in which it is chiefly used, is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law. It includes all we call justice, honesty and virtue, with holy affections; in short, it is true religion.”

Webster concluded that righteousness is conformity to the divine law, and in short is true religion. Webster considered “education useless without the Bible.” And as a result he utilized God’s written word as a key to the meaning of words. There is a Scripture reference used in most of his definitions.

Noah Webster wrote in the “History of the United States, 1833”;“…the moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws… All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

Our founding fathers knew the Scriptures, knew the validity of them, and realized that Creator God was the defining image of Righteousness and Justice. Righteousness was based upon the truth of God and the truth of His Word. God set the definition of Righteousness.

  • George Washington (Farewell Address, 1796) “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
  • John Adams (letter, 1776) “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.”
  • Benjamin Rush (Essay, 1798) “The only foundation for…a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”

JOHN EIDSMOE wrote “Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers” (Baker Book House, 1987, 2008), and in it he demonstrates that at least 51 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention were members of Christian churches, and that leading American political figures in the founding era quoted the Bible far more than any other source.

John Adams summed it up:

John Adams (Address, 1798) “We have no government armed in power capable of contending in human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our government and our Constitution was based upon a people who are moral and religious. Our Constitution was founded upon the principles of Righteousness! Righteousness exalts a Nation! The Spirit of America, the Strength of America is based upon our Righteousness in upholding the Law of God!

Something is happening to America! The Spirit of America is slipping away! The greatness of America is slipping away!

We have Slipped Away From our foundation of Righteousness!

The 1913 Webster Dictionary had modified the main definition of righteousness:

“The quality or state of being righteous; holiness; purity; uprightness; rectitude.”

Gone was the basis or foundation of the righteousness-God and His Word.

By 2010, we see a complete watering down of the term:

“acting in a just, upright manner; doing what is right; virtuous:” “adhering to moral principles”

“characterized by or proceeding from accepted standards of morality or justice;”

Instead of a Nation “under God” we are becoming a nation “apart from God!”

We have taken God out of education, out of politics, and are in the process of taking him out of society.

Even the Pope Sees It

I never thought I would quote a Pope, but Pope Benedict is even concerned about this and on June 30th issued this:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI is creating a new Vatican office to fight secularization and “re-evangelize” the West …

“The process of secularization has produced a serious crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and role of the Church.” The new pontifical council, he said, would “promote a renewed evangelization” in countries where the Church has long existed “but which are living a progressive secularization of society and a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.'” http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-06-30

America is one of those countries experiencing an ‘eclipse of the sense of God!

God has come under attack in America, and is being pushed aside. Our society is becoming increasingly secularized, and everything from churches to politics is being affected. We are turning away from the moral foundation of Righteousness which made our nation great! As a result, the Great Spirit of America is slipping away!

America Needs a Strong Moral Foundation

When we forget God and ignore His Word, the moral fabric that forms the foundation of our Government is seriously weakened.

  • Samuel Adams (letter, 1778) “Religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness.”
  • Patrick Henry (letter, 1799) “The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor…and this alone, that renders us invincible.”

By Secularizing morals and ethics (secularizing means to make profane, to remove the spiritual basis) and by denying God as the source and standard of RIGHTEOUSNESS, we are pushing the American Ideals off the foundation of God’s Word! Those Ideals cannot stand without the foundation of God! The American Constitution cannot be secularized without being torn apart!

Remember the words of John Adams:

“Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.” — John Adams

IS THIS THE INTENT OF OUR GOVERNMENT?

America, from our political leaders to our sacred halls of education, are intent on acting out Psalms 2:

Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” Psalms 2:1-3

OUR GODLY FOUNDATION IS FAILING – WE HAVE A SUBGRADE PROBLEM

Soft Subgrade repaired with Fabric

The Righteousness that is based upon God’s Moral Law is being stripped away from our moral consciousness, and thereby the moral fabric of America is coming unraveled. The Stabilization fabric of America is failing.

Daniel Webster (4th of July oration, 1800) “To preserve the government we must also preserve morals. Morality rests on religion; if you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall. When the public mind becomes vitiated and corrupt, laws are a nullity and constitutions are waste paper.”

America is starting to yaw (move unsteadily, weave, deviate from a straight course). Our subgrade is failing, our Godly foundation is breaking up.

America was founded by laws drawn from God’s Holy Law. But we have profaned our laws by removing God’s Moral Standard. We have vitiated our Laws by removing that which made them RIGHTEOUS! We have become a SECULAR NATION!

God is being replaced slowly but surely, and we are not even noticing.

In 1986, Dr. Paul Vitz, then professor of psychology at New York University, worked with a committee that examined sixty social studies and history textbooks used in public schools across the United States. The committee was amazed to find that almost every reference to the Christian influence of early America was systematically removed. Their conclusion: the writers of the commonly used textbooks exhibited paranoia of the Christian religion and intentionally censored Christianity’s positive role in American history. (Paul C. Vitz. Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children’s Textbooks.)

“The present educational establishment, to cite just one group, has been obscuring the past so that our children have no way of comparing the facts of history with the distorted version promoted by biased secular historians.” (Vitz. Ibid. p. 24)

“In grades 1 through 4 these books introduce the child to U.S. society – to family life, community activities, ordinary economic transactions, and some history. None of the books covering grades 1 through 4 contain one word referring to any religious activity in contemporary American life.” (Paul C. Vitz. Professor of psychology at New York University. Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children’s Textbooks . 1986.)

“Are public school textbooks biased? Are they censored? The answer to both is yes, and the nature of the bias is clear: Religion, traditional family values, and many conservative positions have been reliably excluded from children’s textbooks.” (Paul C. Vitz. Religion and Traditional Values in Public School Textbooks. p. 14)

As God is being replaced, so is the Great American Spirit.

Christians are Becoming at Risk in America

I never thought I would not live to see the day when the civil liberties of Christians are at risk in America. Examples of what is Happening:

In an article in the Lexinton, NC Dispatch dated February 24, 2010; Columnist Denny Whalen wrote an article entitled http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20100224/COLUMNISTS/2244021?p=all&tc=pgall

“Christians find themselves under fire throughout United States.”

Here are a few of his comments (plus some more I have found):

  • Arlene Elshinnawy, a 75-year-old grandmother of three, and Lynda Beckman, a 70-year-old grandmother of 10 (along with nine others), were arrested for sharing their faith on the public sidewalk in Philadelphia, Pa., USA. The event was the city funded Gay “OUTFEST”. They faced 47 years (the rest of their lives) in jail for spreading the Gospel because of a Pennsylvania “hate crimes” law.
  • A woman in Houston, Texas, was recently ordered by local police to stop handing out gospel tracts to children who knocked on her door during Halloween. Investigating officers told her that such activity is illegal and that she would be arrested if she continued the practice.
  • At the same time, the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis., is allowed to distribute anti-Christian pamphlets to public school children titled “We can be Good without God”
  • Police arrested seven Christians in Elmira, N.Y., who prayed on public property while holding their Bibles. The charges? Intent to cause a public disturbance, obstructing foot and vehicle traffic and taking part in any act that serves no legitimate purpose.
  • In San Diego, the school district granted a group of Muslim students prayer rights despite the rulings that verbal prayer in public schools has been declared unconstitutional, even if the prayer is both voluntary and denominationally neutral.
  • In a Michigan case, it was declared unconstitutional for a student to pray aloud over his lunch.
  • A student in Omaha, Neb., was prohibited from reading his Bible silently during study hall and was further enjoined from opening his Bible at all in school.
  • Sixty-seven year-old Cummings, Ga., resident Fredric Baumann was arrested for passing out gospel tracts on a public street. Convicted and jailed for two days, Baumann was denied his rights to contact a lawyer, and denied the use of his reading glasses.
  • Jim Pullion, a quiet, disabled Christian grandfather would peacefully hold pro-life signs around his community of Owosso, Michigan. But one morning while holding signs in front of his granddaughter’s High School, Jim was viciously shot and killed by Harlan Drake. Drake said he killed Jim because he was upset by his abortion signs. Even though Pouillon’s family extended their forgiveness, Drake remains unrepentant even as he was sentenced to life in prison.
  • April 27, 2010, Julea Ward had the hopes of becoming a certified counselor. With a 3.9 grade point average, she was only a few months away from graduating with a Master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. The University expelled Julea from her Master’s program because she refused to engage in activities contrary to her Christian faith. She would not counsel in favor of homosexual lifestyles. When approached by her teacher to counsel someone about their homosexual relationship Julea politely declined and referred the client to another counselor. She was expelled.
  • In Boynton Beach Florida, on February 4th of 2010, two young men (Tite Sufra, 24, and Stephen Ocean, 23)were witnessing to Jeriah Woody (18).

They witnessed to Woody for fifteen minutes when he got a phone call and told the preachers he ‘had to go.’ As they walked away, Woody suddenly started walking back toward them. Sufra walked up to greet him and was killed with a shot gun blast at point blank range. When Ocean ran, he was shot in the back. After he fell, Woody shot him in the head execution style. Woody was arrested Wednesday and is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. (Feb 5, Christian News Wire) Jeriah said he had to run a quick errand, left and returned with a pistol. He shot and killed Tite Sufra (24) and Stephen Ocean (23).

Less than two weeks ago:

  • June 19, 2010 DEARBORN, Mich. — Four Christians were arrested for disorderly conduct outside the Dearborn Arab International Festival while handing out copies of the Gospel of John in English and Arabic.

Arrested were Negeen Mayel, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, David Woods, and Paul Rezkalla. Dr. Quereshi is co-director of Acts 17 Apologetics Ministries. He holds an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School and an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University. Mayel, an eighteen-year-old female, whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan is a recent convert from Islam to Christianity.

“When Dr. Quereshi was arrested I heard people clapping and applauding, and some said ‘Allahu Akbar,’” Atkins said. There was a crowd of 15-20 people watching the exchange and subsequent arrest.

“These Christian missionaries were exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently the Constitution carries little weight in Dearborn, where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus,” said Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.

“I never thought I would see this in America,” says Steven Atkins, a resident of Toronto, Canada, who was visiting the festival and observed the incident.

“It was an intense discussion, but it was not unruly,” Atkins noted. “There was no threat of violence,” he said. “It’s becoming more restrictive here than in Canada.”

Just last week:

  • TAMPA, Florida (OneNewsNow) — Earlier this month, World Changers of Florida was denied the right to distribute the Bible in the Collier County (TAMPA) School District during off-school hours. Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, is handling the case.

“The school district said that the Bible cannot be distributed on Religious Freedom Day,” he explains. “It had been distributed on Religious Freedom Day for the past several years, but this time they changed their decision and said it would be unconstitutional to distribute the Bible in a public school to willing recipients who want to receive the Bible.”

Staver notes that other items are distributed at the schools for secular events. In a Liberty Counsel press release, he stated that “limiting access to the forum based on religious viewpoint violates the First Amendment.”

“This particular school says that everything goes but the Bible is banned,” he adds.

According to the Liberty Counsel, the Collier County School Board allowed World Changers to distribute free Bibles to students during off-school hours on Religious Freedom Day, but now the school officials claim that Bibles do not provide any educational benefit to the students and the distribution should stop.

The Collier County School District policy specifically allows the distribution of literature by nonprofit organizations, but only with the approval of the superintendent and the Community Request Committee, whose members are appointed by the superintendent. Approval was denied to World Changers, despite the fact that its distribution included a disclaimer of any school endorsement or sponsorship and that receiving a Bible was purely voluntary.

“How sad that on the eve of Independence Day, when we celebrate the religious and political freedom our forefathers won for us at the cost of much blood and great sacrifice, we are compelled to sue to protect the right simply to make free Bibles available to students in public schools,” said Mathew D. Staver, Liberty Counsel founder.

Click here to read the lawsuit: http://www.liberty.edu/media/9980/attachments/complaint_world_changers_070110.pdf

The Greatness of America is slipping away because we are slipping away from God. We are losing the “Spirit of America!”

God’s Word is very clear:

  • And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips. Jeremiah 7:28
  • The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. Psalms 9:17

TODAY IN AMERICA – ANYTHING GOES

We are becoming a society that is not built upon God’s Truth, but based upon the denial of absolute truth, to the end that we accept ANY truth. We are becoming a Nation of “ANYTHING GOES”. We appease everyone and end up pleasing no one, especially our Creator God!

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” ~Winston Churchill

Because we have become a Nation of “No Absolute Truth”, we have accepted a multitude of belief’s. We have become a nation of “Any Lie Goes!” Our acceptance of “any truth” and therefore “any lie” has led to something far worse than a “forgetting” or “neglect” of God. It is a dramatic CULTURE SHIFT!

Albert Mohler Jr

After reading the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey, Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (our largest Southern Baptist Seminary), which revealed that the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has nearly doubled since 1990, rising from 8 to 15 percent and revealed firther that the Pacific Northwest is no longer the leader in people who are religiously unidentified, but is now held by the Northeast Region of America.

A remarkable culture-shift has taken place around us,” Mohler wrote. “The most basic contours of American culture have been radically altered. The so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium has given way to a post-modern, post-Christian, post-Western cultural crisis which threatens the very heart of our culture.” “Clearly, there is a new narrative, a post-Christian narrative, that is animating large portions of this society,” http://www.newsweek.com/2009/04/03/the-end-of-christian-america.html

America is becoming a POST-CHRISTIAN NATION and the great “Spirit of America” is slipping away…

Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “It must be of the spirit, if we are to save the flesh.”

In 1863, Lincoln called the nation to fasting and prayer in order to be blessed. “We have grown in numbers, wealth and power…but have forgotten God.”

What a long way from our foundation we have fallen:

The Supreme Court in 1892

The US Supreme Court

Strong religious convictions therefore played a role in the development of the United States, which was established on Christian principles and open to all people of good will.

In 1892 (Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States) this was argued before the Supreme Court of the United States. After exhaustive deliberation, the Court said, “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise, and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.”

Imagine that. A nation whose laws and institutions are based on the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. Why, such a place would surely become the leader in education, invention, and the arts. Such a place would probably become a haven of religious liberty for more types and religions of people than has ever existed anywhere or at any time on earth. Instead of religious persecution and intolerance, such a place would offer hope and opportunity to the huddled masses of the earth.

This is what America became-a beacon of hope to the world, because the foundation of our government was God’s Law! But now, because we have rejected absolute truth, and in every way have rejected God’s leadership of our Nation, we have opened ourselves to accepting every kind of belief:

And Now This From President Obama:

President Barack Obama stated at a press conference in Turkey April 6th 2009 that we Americans “do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Muslim nation, but rather, a nation of citizens who are, uh, bound by a set of values.”

Besides denying that America is a Christian nation, President Obama told the Turkish Parliament on the same day: “We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country.”  http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/election/1003

This is a Far Cry from our Founding Fathers:

George Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Thomas Jefferson: “The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty. . . . Students’ perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”

Andrew Jackson: “That Book [the Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.”

Ulysses S. Grant: “Hold fast to the Bible. . . . To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look as our guide in the future.”

As Del Tackett said in Tour Ten of the Truth Project:

We can ignore history and the wisdom of the Founders. We can ignore the design for which this nation was intended to operate. We can even ignore God himself. But if we do so, we would do well to consider Solzhenitsyn’s words describing the reason for the Russian Revolution that swallowed up some 60 million Russians:”Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’

For we would do so not only at our own peril, but our own ruination.

I love America. I want to see us remain a Great Nation. What can we do to turn the tide? What can we do to stand in the Gap? What can we do to see the American Spirit thrive again?

1.  Stand Firm in Your Walk.

Constantly Check it out: Has your Christian walk become secularized? Have you secularized Christian Observances like Easter and Christmas? Do your children and grandchildren know what those holidays are really about? Examine your heart toward your church! Do you enter with the reverence of God on your heart? Examine your life through the week. Are you living as a child of God, are you reading and depending upon God’s Word? Are has your life become secularized, profane, and God rendered ineffective by your constant neglect of Him in your daily life.

2.  Be On Guard With Your Children And Grandchildren.

Become familiar with what they are learning. Examine their textbooks. Point out errors. Acquaint your children and grandchildren with the real foundation of this country. Work to counter the lies of the educational system. Become a proponent of Creator God. Let your children and grandchildren know who really made them, and how he created this world. Let them know how evolution could never explain the intricacies of how wonderfully we are made.

3.  As Christians, become Interdependent upon each other

Be Courageous and Strong! Together! We are not facing this struggle alone. We gain boldness when we join with other Christians. We unite in a common cause of making Jesus Christ known. We pursue the liberty and freedom that is in Him! And we do it united with likeminded Christians in a solid, Bible believing, Bible teaching church.

As Paul admonished the Corinthians, so God admonishes the church in the Last Days: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

We are to be the light of this Nation! We can only do so as we bind together and guide this blind nation to God’s Word once again. We do so through our lives of sincere love and compassion. We are to be the living reality of God’s Word!

Bob and Tina Andrews

Bob Andrews plays golf and has a 30 handicap. That may seem quite average to you, but Bob is totally blind. He lost his sight to a grenade in Vietnam. When he came back to the states, he was still in a coma, but his girlfriend Tina stayed by his side. She said her whole life was lying in that bed. When Bob finally came out of the coma, he was totally depressed about what blind life would be like. Tina assured him, “Look, we’re two people. We’re a team. We can do anything we want!”

They got married within two months, and embarked on an active life as a team! They are successful building contractors, they have three sons, they sail, fish, bodysurf, and even golf.

Last year Bob even became the 2009 United States Blind Golf Association’s (USBGA) national champion. What is the secret to this couple’s success?

INTERDEPENDENT TEAMWORK!

Tom Sullivan, a blind actor and recording artist revealed:

Every blind person is told at first that he’s going to be dependent on others his whole life, and so they react wildly. They walk into traffic, take up dangerous sports, stuff like that, stuff that will prove to the world that they don’t need them. But it only makes them unhappier. Eventually, through love, they recognize that the only way to be happy and at peace is to live interdependently, to live knowing they need others and others need them. That’s what blind golf is, a symbol of that lesson. The notion that we all need each other, blind or sighted.

Rick Reilly caddied for Bob (and others) to write “Who’s Your Caddy.” He observes:

“I saw then what a team they had become. They were so much greater than the sum of their parts.”

America is made up of many, many different people, with many different ideas. God is counting on the Christians, His people to work with each other in guiding this blind nation. We can’t isolate ourselves and hope the problem goes away. No, we must unite with other Bible Believers and together, through love and faithful witness, we can see the Sprit of America restored.

Righteousness Exalts a Nation!

When we fail to see our dependence upon each other, fail to work together for the cause of Jesus Christ, we are giving in to the secular powers that want to remove God from our Nation. We celebrate July 4th as our Independence Day. Yet our independence will lead to the loss of the Great American Spirit.

We need to declare July 4th our Interdependence Day and work as a team to restore the Righteousness of God in our Nation! It begins with our lives!