FIRST-TRUMP#top..........Sound the alarm in Zion..... ...........................

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. A Priest sounds the alarm on a shofar

 

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I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH

Introduction


Why is the Church in the condition it's in? Why is the morality and faithfulness of the Church and the Christian fading? Is God no longer interested in what He started 2,000 years ago? Is God in fact dead as some claim?


1Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. 2Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. (Psalm 26:)


How many of us can call upon God and ask for His judgement, His close examination? How many of us can even stand before our fellow man and ask for close scrutiny? I hope you can, for myself, I know I'd fail miserably.


EVIDENCE:

3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2Tim 4:)

Paul is advising this young minister, and at the same time advising us since we are all to be ministers to one another and to the Lord (Rev 5:10; 1Peter 2:9) that he is to place himself under the microscope of self-examination. There will be a day, Paul warns, that people will not be seeking the truth anymore, but will be wanting to hear what is pleasing to their ears.

19Quench not the Spirit. 20Despise not prophesyings. 21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1Thes 5:)

How do we quench the Spirit? More to the point, how do you (and of course I'm speaking to myself as well) quench the Spirit? What does quenching the Spirit mean? Is it important to know what Paul is talking about do you think?

Prove all things. When you joined your church, when you became a Christian, did you "prove" (test) what you were told to believe by comparing it with the Word of God? If you did, you're about the only one who has done so that I've ever heard of other than the Bareans (Acts 17:10-11). Everyone else it seems closes their eyes and accepts what they're told without question. This may be understandable for those first interring the church, but should it be so with those who have continued in the service of the Lord for any length of time?

Avoid all appearances of evil ("Degeneracy from the original virtue"). If the original virtue is that of Jesus, then it seems to me anything short of what might be attributed to Jesus is providing an "appearance of evil." We read in Romans 14 that we're not to even let our good be evil spoken of. Even those things that are good and approved, if they offend others, or place a stumbling block before our brother or sister, is to be avoided. How much more so are the "approved" things of the world to be avoided if they give others an appearance of compromise with the world on our part?

28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (1Cor 11:)

5Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. (2Cor 13:)

In times past it was common to hear what was then called "fire and brimstone" messages preached from the pulpit. This is rarely heard any more, the messages having fallen upon itching ears.

Should we have fire and brimstone brought back to the pulpits? Should we once again require strict dress codes and codes of conduct as a means of avoiding Satan's domain? For myself, I don't think so (even though I seem to advocate such in my writings). If a person does what they're supposed to do, what God requires of them, because of fear of reprimand, then it's not an act of the heart, and serves no purpose. However, at the same time, I do believe that we should follow the strictest of codes as given to us in the Bible, not for safety or appearances sake, but because it's what God wants of us. We're living in an age of liberty, of grace. But Paul warns us not to let our liberty get in the way of our salvation or our walk with the Lord (Gal 5:13-14; 1Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).

25And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: (Mat 12:)

13Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (1Cor 1:)

1And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? (1Cor 3:)

Is Christ divided? We see from what Paul is saying here that the Church was dividing even while the Apostles were still with us. Why is the Church divided? We now have a church system with so many walls of doctrinal variations that my head spins trying to even count them all.

A house divided must fall, and fall it has. The churches today seem to have a policy of leaving those of the world alone while casting stones at those who carry the same banner.

Paul asked the question, are not those who divide themselves off from the body of Christ, those who adhere to their slice of the divided church, not carnal? Today we say those who are carnal will be sent to hell for eternity. Yet if that carnal person, that backslider who has supposedly dedicated him or herself to Christ becomes carnal, worldly, they will retain their place in Paradise. But the Bible tells us the carnally minded are still in the flesh, and those in the flesh will suffer with the world (Rom 8:6,7; 1Cor 9:11; Luke 12:46; James 4:4; 1Peter 4:16-19). What are we to believe? I suspect it all depends on just how much your ears are itching.

51Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: (Luke 12:)

6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1Peter 2:)

To those who are obedient, Jesus is precious, but to the disobedience He's a stone of stumbling. What does it mean to be obedient? Obedient to what? To the church and its doctrines? Which church? Which doctrine? Isn't this a question worth looking into, especially if we actually believe in Jesus, and an eternal reward and punishment? By what I've seen, very few people actually believe, even though the words to that effect are plentiful. But where is the fruit of that "belief"?

Why is there division in the churches? Why is there so much warfare between and amongst the soldiers in the Army of God? Jesus says He came to bring a sword, not peace. Yet we hear that Jesus came to bring peace on earth. Are we experiencing peace, even in the Church? What's going on here?


THE CREEPING CRUD:

2When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; (Lev 13:)

6Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, (1Cor 5:)

33Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Mat 13:)

There are some things that come into our lives (and into our society) that presents itself so slowly and so innocently that it appears to be normal and acceptable. We see this all around us today, and some of it we recognize without much examination. The immorality in our government, our media, and our schools is apparent to all, but nothing is done about it. In our homes, where we do have control we fail to take charge as well For instance sounds from our music boxes, and the television. In the beginning TV was developed for instructional uses, which was the intent of its inventors. It was something to sit in the corner of the room, other than the maybe two hours there was something being broadcast. When I was young the television could only be watched when all my home work and my other duties were completed. And when bed time came, it was off to bed. Today the Television (and other "tube" media) is going in the background of just about every room of every house, and the programs being broadcast serve for constant entertainment and propaganda of one sort or another (even the "Christian" stations") rather than that of self improvement.

Cancer is another modern occurrence created by our lust for the unhealthy and the worldly. Our diet and "labor-saving" devices have brought about something akin to the leprosy of long ago. However, with leprosy the infection could be easily spotted and dealt with (separation from society). The leprosy (which is symbolically representative of sin, as is leaven) is concealed from us until it has reached a point where it has taken over the body. The only way to know we have cancer is through examination. And we've found that even the most careful of testing can easily miss the cancer since there are so many forms of cancer, and the cancer can be anywhere in our body (and spread rapidly to the rest of the body). This is a characteristic of sin as well. If left alone it takes over the body, whether the body be that of a person, or an organization such as a church.

Jesus said there is cancer "hidden" in the Kingdom of Heaven. Sin in Heaven? How can that be? And how can that cancer of sin, that leaven, take over the entire Kingdom of Heaven? You think this is not what Jesus is talking about in this parable? Maybe you're right. And since you know what Jesus means, maybe you can explain it to me, after you read the other parables of the Kingdom.

Ridding ourselves if cancer begins with close self-examination. If we wait until our yearly exam it may well be too late to do anything about the cancer, if we even survive until our next exam. That little spot on your skin that looks like nothing at all may well be the beginning of the end, and so it is with the cancer of sin. It all has to go, even the appearances of sin.

26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:)

13For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9:)

1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:)

God wants perfection from those who choose to serve Him. We see by His punishment of Adam and Eve, the nation of Israel and its priesthood, and of the church during Jesus' time that "Almost" is not close enough. He demands perfection.

When I was young there was a drive to cause those in the congregation to strive for that perfection. At church I felt as if I was being reprimanded by a coach for not performing up to standards. This caused me to strive to better myself. I no longer feel this drive, not even in the very same church I attended as a youth. Has God changed His mind as I hear in sermons? Is God now become blind because of the crucifixion of Jesus? And if God did become blind, when did that blindness occur? God obviously had good vision during the time of the Apostles, because they continued to stress the importance of pressing for the mark, which they demonstrated in their own lives.

7Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. 8And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? {Mal 1:)

The sacrifice we offer now is not that of sheep and goats, but ourselves. Are we a suitable sacrifice to present to God? If God was to appear this very moment at your door, would you be able to let Him in immediately? Or would your mind be racing to think of all the things you need to get rid of, the things you've done the past week that you know He's aware of?

When a policeman comes knocking at my door, my first reaction is "what have I done now?" How much more so would this fear envelope me if it were the Lord at my door?

17Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 19Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 20Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, AND I LAY A STUMBLINGBLOCK BEFORE HIM, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 21Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. (Ezek 3:)

Did I read this correctly? Did God say He lays stumbling stones in front of people? That's what my Bible reads, what about yours?

God doesn't tempt us, we know that from the Word. But as we've seen, God planted a tree of apparently beautiful fruit right in front of His newborn babes, and He promised the most drastic of punishments for eating of that tree. He tested Job, His perfect man (Job 2:3,6). He tested His people in the wilderness (Ex 20:20) and of all things He tested Jesus (Mat 4:1). God doesn't tempt us, but He created someone who loves to do it for Him (Mat 4:3; Isaiah 54:16; 1Cor 5:5).

Ezekiel was made a watchman. We of the Church are to be watchmen as well. We're to report to one another what we see in one another that might cause that one to falter and "miss the mark." If we see some leaven, sin, in their life that can fester and grow, we're to deal with that problem before it gets out of hand. Isn't that what you would do with your own family? If not, what can you expect of your family when they grow up and have to make decisions on their own? (Gal 6:1-10; 2Thes 3:13-15: Mat 18:15-17).

12So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 13Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. (Rom 14:)

There are some people, all too many I'm afraid, who see themselves as God's tool, His stone of stumbling. They think it's their job to be a busybody in other people's affairs in order to "correct" that persons failures as they see them. They point the finger at others in denominations not their own, judging them and condemning them to hell for not agreeing with their doctrine. They feel it their responsibility to keep the pastor in line and they tell the church how it must be run. For examples of this type of person read about Agnes in the Portia's View series, and those of Highborn Manor in the Parsonage series. These are a bane to any organization, and I highly suspect they'll be finding out that they have stumbled over the very stone they have laid for others when it comes time for the Judgement.

14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:)

I used to run track when I was in High School. And I was pretty good at track. My strategy was to take the lead and run with all my might to keep that lead. Every once in a while I came across a runner who used a different ploy. He would hang back at the end of the pack, and at the last minute he would burst through the pack and go zipping past me. This is the kind of person I see Paul to be. While Peter would continual press himself to the forefront of the disciples, being the first to speak up, to run to the tomb, to wield the sword, Paul, who was even going the wrong way, ended up taking the lead. This may be why the Lord was able to use him so effectively.

The disciples varied greatly in their personalities. But all the twelve had one quality that caused them to stand out; they had sticktoitiveness. When all the others left Jesus, the twelve remained, even Judas who eventually betrayed Him.

In school there are several types of people in attendance. There are those who are there because they have to be there; there are those who do what's required to get a passing grade; and there are those who are struggling to do all they are capable of. In any school, and in any endeavor, we find that those who are just wanting to get by try their best, using any means at their disposal, to hold back the go-getter in order to not look bad in the eyes of the one in authority.

In the one room schools of the past century we saw where the teacher had to teach those doing first grade work at the same time she was preparing the older students for college. This is difficult to do at best, and of course it leads to a compromising situation.

The way the teachers of old got around their problem was to have the faster, more advance students help with the teaching of the younger students. This not only helped her and the younger student, but it helped the advanced student as well.

In team sports it's not required to deal with the less capable or less aggressive participants. If a person doesn't live up to standards, they're asked to leave. It's as simple as that. The effort of any team activity is to strive for the best, not to further the cause of the uninterested or the incapable.

This is the way of the world.

In the realm of the Church there used to be a drive to press the congregation forward, to "Press for the Mark" as Paul expresses it. Somewhere along the line that mark has faded into the background and is no longer even mentioned, except in a very few churches. What happened to the mark of the high calling? Did God withdraw the target? Or have we of the Church gone astray somewhere and lost sight of the mark? This study is for the purpose of finding that mark, and see how it should be effecting our lives.

15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Rev 3:)

21And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. (1Kings 18:

24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon ["Wealth, avarice "] ((Mat 5:)

2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:)

A final question for you before you begin this study: If you were told you could have only one thing and would have to give up everything else, what would be the one thing you would cling to? Don't consider this an obscure question, many people have had to make that decision. And if my calculations are correct, it won't be too much longer and most of this world is going to have to make that very decision.

When you read this or any other study, consider it a mirror rather than a window. There is no benefit derived from finding a fault in other people, or their church and doctrine. If we want to rid ourself of dirt and infection, we have to check ourself out. What I find in you is not going to help me unless I recognize that what I find in you is also very likely in me as well.


 

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