Secrets

Ezekiel 8:8-9
“Then He said to me,’Son of man, dig into the wall’; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door. And He said to me, ‘Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there.’”

Some of the imagery of the Bible is designed to get the attention of the reader. This passage certainly does that. Ezekiel explains, while he was sitting in his living room surrounded by the elders of Israel, he was suddenly lifted out of his chair by his hair, and transported hundreds of miles away to the city of Jerusalem. There he was shown a series of scenes that exposed the wickedness of the people, and in particular the leaders. One of those scenes took him to the the Temple where he dug a hole in the wall, found a hidden door, opened it up, and exposed the hidden sins of those who were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the nation.

This passage has been preserved for us for two primary reasons. First, it gives insight into the real cause of the fall of Judah. The nation was defeated by their enemies, not because of military weakness, but because they had departed from the ways of God. This is true on every level. A person, church, or nation who turns its back on God, will find they no longer have the ability to stand, and will soon be defeated.

The second is much more personal. This passage illustrates the fact that God sees into the hidden chambers of the heart of every man. No sin is really committed in secret. Everything we do is done in the open before the eyes of God. Think about any secret sin you might be practicing, and think about doing it on a stage in a room filled with people. In reality, our sins are performed in the very sight of God. It is as if we have ushered everyone else out of the room, set up a private stage, and performed our secret sins for an audience of God. The writer of Hebrews put it this way,

Hebrews 4:12-13

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Notice the final line in that statement, “all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Every action we perform, no matter how careful we might be, is done openly in the sight of God. As frightening as that may be, the verse before it gives us the solution. We are told of the ability of the word of God to act like a sword that cuts into our lives and makes the appropriate changes.

Instead of hiding sin in a secret chamber of your heart, take the time to confess your sins to God, receive the forgiveness He offers, and look into His word for help and strength to put those things behind you.

Proverbs 28:13

“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Pastor Jim

 

Shhhh! It’s A Secret

Jeremiah 38:16
“So Zedekiah the king swore secretly to Jeremiah…”

As the book of Jeremiah moves forward, we find the prophet having repeated discourse with King Zedekiah. The king seems somewhat erratic in his behavior. One moment, he is treating Jeremiah favorably, while the next, he is having the prophet committed to the dungeon. By his own admission, he mistreats the prophet out of fear of how the people will react. He seems to conclude, the best approach is to become a secret believer. In public, he denies any relationship to the prophet, but in private, he seeks his counsel.

Zedekiah is not alone in his attempt to be a secret follower. In New Testament times, we read of Nicodemus and Joseph, who both believed Jesus was the Christ, but due to their social status, refused to be open about following Him. Today, many claim to follow Christ in private, but have yet to make their commitment to Him known to others. Sometimes, this is caused by fear of how we will be treated. Other times, it is motivated out of desire to continue participating in certain sinful activities. We realize, as long as we are quiet about our faith in Christ, we will not be questioned regarding how we act, talk or behave.

Zedekiah soon found he must make a decision to either follow the Lord or not. Life brought him to a crossroad where he could no longer live in two worlds. Either he would trust the Word of God and submit to Him, or he would follow the ways of the world in which he lived. Zedekiah made his choice and lived with the consequences. Now, it is time for us to make ours. Will you choose today to follow Christ, not as a secret disciple, but as one who will boldly and publicly confess Him as Savior and Lord?

Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.”

Pastor Jim

 

Double Agent

Titus 1:16
“They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.”

  • The church in Crete was like most churches. It had a pastor, who was seeking to minister to the spiritual needs of the people, while facing many struggles from within and without. It had members who were growing in the Lord and seeking to serve Him, and members whose growth was stunted, due to a variety of lingering and tolerated personal sins. Then there were others, who only pretended to be Christians. Paul describes this group as ones who claim to be followers of Christ, yet they fail to really follow Him.

“They profess to know God…”

The word “profess” is a very important word. It is used in Romans 10 to describe personal responsibility in salvation. We are told, in order to be saved, we must “confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus” (Romans 10:9). The word “confess” is the same word translated profess in our text. It is used again in 1 John 1:9 where we are told “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us”, and is also used in Hebrews 11 to describe those who lived lives committed to the Lord. Those individuals are also described as men of whom the world was not worthy. Paul is suggesting there are people in the church who look like they are believers. When we see them on Sunday mornings we assume they are living lives committed to Christ. They say all the right things, speak the language, know the songs, maybe even lift their hands in worship, or hand out bulletins at the door. The problem is, their lives from Monday through Saturday don’t back up the profession of their lips. They are only pretending, play acting, putting on a show in order to hide the fact that they have never surrendered all to Christ.

“in works they deny Him…”

The word “deny” is also a very important Biblical word. Jesus used it in Luke 12:9 when He said, “But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” Paul also used the word when writing to Timothy stating “If we deny Him, He will also deny us.” (2 Timothy 2:12) The word “deny” means to reject, and was used to describe those, who on Palm Sunday raised their voices in praise, but on Friday cried out “crucify Him.” Paul explains in this verse, the word means more than a simple statement. While it is necessary to confess Christ with our lips, it is also necessary that our lives back up our profession. Coming forward at the altar call is an important step in your Christian life, but it does not stop there. We must move on to walking after Jesus in our daily lives. If you are putting on your best Christianity to show up at church each week, only to live a double life throughout the week, you are not only in sin, but in grave danger. Deception is always dangerous, but self-deception is deadly.

Don’t wait another minute to lay down your sin and get things right with the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

It’s A Secret 

2 Kings 17:9
“Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city.”

Webster’s dictionary defines secret as, “kept from view or hidden.”mIt goes on to speak of something as “being covert or stealth,” implying that great pains are taken to avoid detection.

During the time that led to the fall of Israel, the people were involved in secret sins. They knew the things they were doing were wrong, hence they were hidden, but they continued in them none the less. Sadly, the more they practiced these sins, the harder their hearts became, until they eventually built places of worship, and brought their secret transgressions into public view. Soon, what had once been recognized as sinful behavior, and practiced only in secret, was now being done for all to see. The countryside was littered with high places, boasting of the sinful practices of the people.

As the story unfolds, we find the nation of Israel will soon fall. Weakened within by unwavering immorality, the nation could not survive the rising threat of Assyria. We are reminded of the words of Solomon, who wrote,

Proverbs 14:34
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

We should all be deeply concerned by the once secret sins that are now practiced openly and publicly, all around us. Things that were once done in the dark, and recognized by all as immoral and sinful, are now heralded as normal, acceptable, and even “Christian.” Our deep concern should lead us to combat these evils, but we must remember, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God (2 Corinthians 10:4). The best way to combat the rising tide of wickedness is to examine our own hearts, and see if we are allowing any secret sins to remain in our lives. When we will do business with the Lord, and allow Him to transform us, we will become that light in the world that draws others out of darkness and into Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Secret To Success 

Joshua 1:5
“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life…”

Have you ever wondered why some Christians seem to have great success in their personal lives? They seem to make better choices, commit less sin, and have more success in serving the Lord than others. I am not talking about one minister who has a larger church than another; but believers who walk more faithfully with the Lord, and live out their Christianity. I think the secret to successful Christianity is summed up in the instructions Joshua received after the death of Moses.

First, he was given a promise to cling to: “I will be with you and will not forsake you.” Essentially, Joshua must understand the secret to his success would not be his own strength or gifts. Understanding this, ensured he would never trust in himself, his ways or his deceptive emotions. Too many believers never quite come to the place where they stop trusting in themselves. When things become confusing, rather than clinging to the Lord and His Word, they run after whatever they think is best, only to pick up the pieces of the mess they have made. Step one to successful Christianity is learning we cannot trust ourselves.

Second, Joshua was instructed to keep the commandments found in the pages of God’s Word. The specific tasks Joshua was called upon to accomplish, was leading the people into the Promised Land. To accomplish this He must follow, explicitly, the directions from the Lord, no matter how difficult they may seem. To get into the land, they would follow God’s instruction, and part a river. Later, they would defeat Jericho with loud shouts and trumpets. Joshua must understand, to succeed in following the Lord, he must do things God’s way.

Third, Joshua had to learn, the only way to know the commandments of the Lord for daily living, was to be in the Word on a daily basis. He was commanded not to let the Word depart from his mouth, but to meditate upon it day and night (Joshua 1:8). Daily Bible reading ensures you have instruction for daily living. In addition to being fed spiritually, God has a way of speaking to our personal lives from the pages of His Word. The more you commit to getting to know your Bible, the more success you will find in living it out.

Pastor Jim

 

Mystery

Luke 8:10
“ To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God…”

IMG_1497I love a good mystery; as a child I had a book titled “2 Minute Mysteries.” It was a book of short stories, in which a crime would be described and the reader was left to guess who the guilty party was. The trick was, the answer was hidden. There was always something tucked away that was hard to find, almost like a secret, that revealed the answer. I would try so hard to guess correctly, but most often, when I flipped to the back of the book for the answer I found my guess was wrong. When Jesus speaks of the “Mysteries of the Kingdom,” He is not speaking of a secret truth that only a few can understand by reading their Bibles with a special code. Jesus is telling His disciples that everything we need to know about the Kingdom of God can be found by those who are part of it.

Paul tells us, the truths of God cannot be understood until we are converted (1 Corinthians 1:18). To the unbelieving mind, the things of God rarely make sense, but upon receiving Christ, His words come to life. We find them to be our daily manna, and our source of strength and encouragement. Jesus promised, when the Holy Spirit came, He would guide us in the truth. We are given an example of this at Jesus’ baptism. After the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, He heard the Father speak. One of the benefits of the Spirit coming upon us is, the Word of God comes to life. We begin to hear God speak to our lives as we read His Word. John tells us, because of the work of the Spirit, we have an anointing from the Father and do not need anyone to teach us. Now John is not undermining the need for pastors who teach the Bible, but is declaring, the same God who speaks to Him, will speak to you. We do not need great intellect in order to hear from God, but simply time with Him in the pages of His Word.

The privilege of knowing God has been given to each of us. We can hear Him speak, daily, in the pages of His Word. I wonder, are you taking advantage of that? If you have received Christ, and been filled with the Spirit, allow me to encourage you to go into the Word expecting God to speak to you. He promises to reveal to you the mysteries of His Kingdom.

Pastor Jim