Saturday, May 31, 2008

Two Commandments and Relationships

Hey Pastor John,

I sure have been thinking about relationships lately and how much they mean to God. I was going through some old emails yesterday and found this one. It is an excerpt from one of our meetings about relationships.


Pastor John:

Here are some notes I took from what you said last night:

Every one of God's commandments concerns relationships. Every one of them. Everything in the Bible is there to direct us to a right relationship with somebody, either with God or our fellow man.

The commandments of the Law, such as "Thou shalt not steal," teach us how to have a right relationship with others. Stealing from another is not how to have a right relationship.

All of God's commandments are love, written out. They teach us to love as God loves. That's why Paul wrote, "Therefore love is fulfillment of the Law." Everyone of God's commandments leads us to a godly relationship, either with him or with another. Everyone of his commandments teaches us how to have a relationship that is healthy and holy and eternal.

There is no commandment just for you, apart from anybody else. There are no loners that are going to be saved in the end. You're going to have a relationship with the people who are going to be saved, or you are going to be left out. And that relationship is going to be good, pure.

One man asked Jesus, "What is the greatest commandment?" And he said, "Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength." And then Jesus said, "Let me volunteer the second biggest one: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " Then Jesus added, "On those two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets."

The whole of our lives, as they should be lived, is summarized in those two commandments which direct us to love God completely and to love others.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


"Those who are led by the Spirit, these are the sons of God."
Paul, in Romans 8

One of the most dangerous things a man can do in this life is to pray, when the Spirit is not leading him to pray. Another most dangerous thing for a man to do in this life is not to pray when the Spirit is calling him to it.

Anything can be dangerous if God is not in it, and nothing is to be feared when He is.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reading The Bible Backwards

"Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right;
and I hate every false way
Psalm 119:128

Not everyone possesses the knowledge of God and the love of the truth, so that he is able to recognize every false way, much less to hate every false way. Only the most dedicated and blessed saints hate every false way because only they know what those ways are. False ways can be made to appear right, but the wisest among the saints see through the appearance of good that often conceals the evil within. The author of this Psalm was an extraordinary man. He considered everything God said to be right, no matter what God was talking about, and he despised everything else. He was a man who knew God, and who loved what he had come to know about Him.

While I pondered over this verse, asking myself how this righteous man managed to attain to such knowledge and holy love of God, I noticed the verse before this one: "Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold."

But how did he come to love God’s commandments so passionately? I noticed the verse before that one: "It is time for thee, O Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law." So, it was jealousy for the Lord, when he saw God’s people ignore His word, that provoked such a strong passion for the commandments of God. But how did he come to possess such a knowledge of what God’s words were, and the importance of them? He humbled himself before God and pleaded with Him to know His words! This I discovered when I read the verses before this one: "I am thy servant! Give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies!"

But how did he come to feel that he was a servant of God, so that he might approach God with such a request? He found such faith and boldness when God touched him and gave him a great hunger for truth and a great desire to be free from the oppression of men, as shown in the verses which come before that one: "Be surety for thy servant for good. Let not the proud oppress me. Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness. Deal with thy servant according to thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes."

And finally, the reason this humble man’s prayer was heard, when so many other similar prayers go unanswered, may be found in the verse before that one: "I have done judgment and justice; leave me not to my oppressors." The blind man healed by Jesus, in John 9, told the elders who were questioning him, "We know that God does not hear sinners, but if any man be a [true] worshiper of God, and does His will, him God hears." So, the prayer of the wise author of Psalm 119 was heard by God because he humbled himself to God and did His will before he prayed.

No matter which way we read the Bible, whether backwards or forwards, there is hidden wisdom to be found.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Who Are Jesus' Enemies?

"My zeal has consumed me because my enemies have forgotten thy words."
Ps. 119:139

Fallen man does not know anything rightly. He does not know how to think rightly, how to behave rightly, or even how to love or hate rightly. Paul confessed this when he said, "In me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing" (Rom. 7). Only God’s word, coming to fallen man, makes it possible for man to know anything rightly or do anything rightly.

Another thing that fallen man does not know how to do rightly is to choose his friends. I have seen numerous times over the years that some people have the worst habit of choosing friends that do not edify them. I have seen children of God drawn to each other because they both had the same fault, and the fault just grew worse as a result. Jesus knows how to choose his friends. And he knows whom to consider an enemy. Psalm 119:139 reveals to us how Jesus thinks in this regard.

Jesus knows how dangerous a person can be who forgets God’s word. He is not fooled by appearances. He judges others by their attitude toward the word of God. If they hold God’s word dear, he befriends them, and if the word of God is to them just another idea, and they forget it, then he sees them as enemies. Jesus waits to see the word of God become flesh in a person, as it did in him, before he takes them into his bosom as his friend. He likes feeling safe.

If God’s word comes to you, and you love it so much that you remember it, then Jesus chooses you as his friend. If you forget it and then go your own way, Jesus loves his Father so much that he considers you his enemy. He said so, when he moved David to sing, "my enemies have forgotten thy words."

Let’s pray the way David prayed, that God would create in us the kind of heart that always remembers God’s word.

Friday, May 16, 2008

God's Thoughts

"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."
Ps. 119:130

When God communicates one of His thoughts to man, the hearts of all who are upright in heart rejoice and find rest. To hear from their heavenly Father, and thus to know Him more perfectly, is the desire of the upright; His word is the only answer to their deepest prayers. When God communicates one of His thoughts, those who truly love God refuse to have any thought of their own, at least for the moment. Their entire attention is fixed on taking in and digesting God’s holy, wonderful words. The wise are mesmerized by the wisdom of God; they hunger for the hidden truth that His thoughts can reveal, and when His thoughts come to them, those thoughts command all their attention; they become their entire world. To Jesus, the word of God was his necessary food (Jn. 4:32); he lived to commune with His heavenly Father, and he lived by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God (Jn. 6:57).

The godly are they who feel that there is nothing else to say after God has expressed one of His thoughts. His thoughts, to them, are perfect; they satisfy their souls completely because they thirst for the knowledge of the truth. To them, the coming of the word of God brings an end to their longing. God’s word is, as David said it was for him, "the rejoicing of their heart."

Any thought which any person dares to express on a subject after God has communicated what He thinks about it is repugnant to the righteous. Human opinion about anything is, to them, an affront to God after He has condescended to reveal His thoughts on the matter. If God has spoken, the righteous conclude, what can any man have to say that is worth hearing?
The righteous feast on every thought that comes from the heart of God. Be wise, and do not interrupt their meal with one of your thoughts. While they are consuming God’s thoughts, they may not be able to refrain from expressing contempt for yours.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

No Choice

"And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.
And the dragon fought, and his angels, but he did not prevail,
neither was there place found for them in heaven any longer.
The great dragon also was cast down, the ancient serpent,
who is called Slanderer and Satan, who deceives the entire world.
He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. . . .
For this, rejoice, O heavens and those who dwell in them!
Alas, earth and sea, because the Slanderer has come down among you,
having great anger, knowing that he has just a little time.
And then, the dragon raged against the woman,
and he went away to make war against her remaining seed,
those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus
Revelation 12:7-9, 12

"I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
Luke 10:18

Let me ask you an odd-sounding question: If Satan hates God, as many teach, and if he despises what God says and does, as most believe, then why was he cast out of heaven? Doesn’t that sound like a strange question? Think about it, and it may not seem so strange.

My real question is, if Satan despises God and hates what is good and holy, then what was he doing in heaven at all? Why, if he despises holiness and hates God, didn’t he just leave heaven on his own instead of hanging around until God had to throw him out? God gave him no choice. "Choice" is a blessing that sin causes one to lose. Satan had to leave, and being given no choice in that matter made him very, very angry.

The fact is that Satan loves the glory of God, but he loves it in the wrong way. He envies it, and that is a destructive kind of love. He loves the glory and power of God for his own benefit, not because he loves others, including God. Satan even loves truth, but not all of it. He loves only that part of the truth which serves for self-aggrandizement. He loves the name of Jesus, and according to Paul, Satan inspires men to declare the name of Jesus to others (2Cor. 11:13-15), but he loves it only in a way that also brings him glory. He loved certain Scriptures from Psalm 91 when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, but he didn’t love the Scripture Jesus quoted back to him, because it exposed his self-serving love of the Bible.

Satan doesn’t hate holy things. He loves them and wants them for himself! He covets the blessings of God. He longs to enjoy the glory of the Lord in the midst of God’s saints. He longs to be back in the light of God’s presence. And it makes him absolutely furious to know that he can never have those things again. That is why he became so angry when he was cast out of heaven. That is also why, when he was cast out of the kingdom of God and thrown down to earth, Satan struck out at God’s chosen people, first against the Jews, and then against those "who keep God’s commandments and who have the testimony of Jesus." People whom God rejects often react in the same cruel way.

Satan envies your blessings from God. He wants them, but he wants them for the wrong reasons. Therefore, God judged Satan to be unworthy to live in His presence. As for Satan, he judged himself to be more than worthy to be in God’s presence, and he no doubt feels misunderstood and mistreated because he is no longer welcome among the assembly of the sons of God. He became proud of his blessings from God. He lightly esteemed his glorious place in God’s kingdom and devised wicked plans to steal more glory than he had already been given – and lost it all.

Like Satan

Over the past few months, I have commented to a number of people that in the past, if people began to doubt the truth I or other servants of Jesus preach, or if they grew discontent with the way matters were handled among the saints, they just went away. But over the past few years, I, and I suppose other ministers as well, have had to face another breed of backsliders, people who love the freedom and blessings of God that are among the saints too much to go away, even though they feel discontentment in general and feel superior to their pastor in judgment. Here among us, it has been difficult for me to get some people to leave who ought not to be here!

It has been awkward, but I have actually had to sit a few people down over the past few years and tell them what is in their hearts. I have had to tell them, "You do not like it here. You are not happy. You need to go find your pastor. You need to go find the place where you really belong." Oddly enough, they often become angry when told they do not belong here, just as Satan grew angry when he was told (rather unceremoniously) that he did not belong in heaven. One would think that if you did not like the way things were in a congregation, you would leave. But not Satan, and not those who are like him. They want to stay and share in the glory and enjoy blessings they have not earned, and benefit from precious gifts that have not been given to them.

The question could be asked of such people, just as I asked in the beginning about Satan: If they hate me and despise what I and others here teach and do, then why were they asked to leave? The real question being, Why were they hanging around here in the first place? The truth is, they had a love for me and for the benefits of the truth I teach, but they only loved the parts that suited their private purposes. And in imitation of my Father, I will not tolerate that kind of love. Like Him, those around me are going to love me sincerely with all their heart, as I love them (for their welfare, not mine), or they will not be welcome in my presence. They will be given no choice in that matter.

Why would any one of us welcome or even tolerate people in our homes and lives who love us for their own benefit, and not love us the way God loves? That’s just simple common sense. It is also the way of our wise God conducts His holy life.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Praying for the Day of Destruction of All Bibles

"As many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God."
Romans 8:12

A brother phoned me this morning, full of the Spirit and glorifying God. He and his wife had been hiking in our beautiful Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, and they were overwhelmed at the beauty and majesty of God’s handiwork.

"That’s how I feel", I told him, "every time I meet a child of God. I feel as if I am looking at a magnificent work of God, and it can be overwhelming."

He agreed completely, and then he proceeded to tell me of two people he had met earlier that morning while hiking on the mountain. They were an older couple, and after some conversation, this brother felt led to offer them some gospel tracts, which they gladly accepted. One of the tracts concerned the baptism of the holy Ghost, and when the older man saw that, he said, "I have had that experience! There is nothing like it on earth."

What followed was a glorious time of two couples, all four of them belonging to God, standing amid glorious scenes created for them by their heavenly Father and speaking to one another of their Father’s glory, sharing many experiences of His wonderful love and grace.

"It was so good," my brother told me, "until one of them started talking about ‘what is in the Bible’." In other words, talking of the things God had done for them all was glorious, but when one of them brought up a doctrine she had been programmed to defend with Scripture, it marred that rare and beautiful experience of peace and fellowship in Christ.

As he told me that part of the story, I could sense his deep grief and disappointment, and I found myself praying silently for the day when there were no Bibles for people to resort to when God’s glory was being manifested.

My sorrowful friend continued, "Pastor John, I kept praying, ‘God make it stop! Make this go away!’ " He was asking God to help those dear people to focus on Him and His work in their lives rather than to begin quoting the Bible and debating Scripture. But while I listened, my spirit was hearing his real prayer, the one God had put in his heart to pray at that moment, though he did not realize it.

"When you prayed that prayer," I asked him, "do you know what you were really praying for?"
I could tell that my question momentarily stunned him. He hesitated but finally replied, "No. What?"

"You were praying for the day when God will destroy heaven and earth and everything in them, including all Bibles. You were praying for the day when there will be nothing left but the Word of God for men to deal with, for the day when there will be no Bibles to quote and nothing for men to debate because there will be nothing left but what God says and what God does."

He answered, "That’s right!"

When Jesus sets up his kingdom, he will not rule the world for a thousand years by looking up Scriptures. He will rule it "by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." And we are supposed to be learning how to rule and be ruled that way right now, before he comes, so that we will be judged worthy to reign with him. We are supposed to be learning how to be led by the Spirit instead of the Bible.

Beyond that, when "heaven and earth are destroyed", and the "new heaven and the new earth" appear, there will be no Bibles there, nor any need for them. Salvation doesn’t just mean that we will see no more wicked people; it also means that we will read no more holy Bibles. Salvation is liberty from everything of this world, both the good and the bad.

All wise virgins pray for the day when there will be no more Bibles because that means they pray for the day when God Himself will dwell among us on a new earth "wherein dwelleth righteousness." And for those who have learned "to walk in the Spirit", the Bible is not really needed now (except to help others), any more than Abraham, Joseph, or Noah needed Moses’ Law in order to know what God wanted them to do.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Healing: An Expression of God

In 1959, at the age of 53, Uncle Joe was given 60 days to live, but an angel was sent to him from God, and Uncle Joe lived in good health for another 37 years. He wrote the following message shortly after he was touched by God and delivered from the cancer that had been ravaging his body:

An Expression of God
by Joseph H. Murray

The healing that comes from God is not our own expression or confession, but it is a manifestation of His love and care for us. And for us to attest to its occurrence before it really happens is a false confession. Isaiah did prophesy, "by His stripes we are healed," but you do not really have that confession until God expresses it through you by a touch of His Spirit and power. When you feel that surge through your mortal being from head to toe, it brings with it those precious words of Isaiah: "by His stripes we are healed." When it is felt, then it is real, whether we say so or not. Healing is God in spirit acting out the words written aforetime by the prophets; it is not a mental thing to be claimed and put on display to satisfy the vanity of men.
If our healing is real, it will show itself in evidence more than we can ever tell with our tongues. There is nothing wrong in confessing we are healed if God has really done it. But it is radically wrong for us to say we are healed when God has not said we are healed. It’s the same as in the beginning when God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." When God says you are healed, then you are healed, and not before – no matter what you say – because for God to say a thing means that it is so – Amen! He is God, and no man nor condition can stay His hand.