Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cheated by deceitful stones

Micah 6:11
Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?

Hosea 12:7
He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.

Cheated by deceitful stones

There once were two merchants that traded back and forth. There was a grocery and a baker. The grocery bought all of his bread from the baker and the baker bought all of his butter from the grocer. One day the grocer came to the baker and made a claim. “I think you have been cheating me on the bread. For years, I have bought pound loaves of bread from you and I think you are giving me less than a pound of bread. I have been weighing it and my bread does not weigh a pound anymore.” The baker replied, “I cannot believe that. For years I have been buying butter from you. Every pound of butter I purchase from you, I put on one side of the scale and I put your bread on the other side of the scale. It is always even.”

In biblical days, merchants didn’t have the weighing systems we have readily available today. In those days they used a scale or a balance, as it was often called. They would use stones for weighing. They had pound stones and other weighted stones that they would use as a counterbalance to determine the weight of the goods they were buying or selling. It was not an uncommon practice for a dishonest merchant to hollow out the inside of a stone. So that, when you thought you were buying a pound of product, you were actually purchasing less than a pound. You were paying for one pound but receiving less.

We operate a lot on faith when we go to the grocery. We look at the pound package of hamburger, or a pound of steak, depending on your particular tastes or budget and we trust that the grocery is actually giving us a pound.

Micah talked about being cheated with a bag of deceitful stones.

How many have ever been cheated?

The job of a salesman, whether honestly or dishonestly, is to convince you that the merchandise they have is worth the coin in your purse. Every car dealer is trying to convince you that the car they have is the best for your needs and worth the price they are asking. Every ad or commercial on TV is seeking one thing; to sell you on their product. They are trying to convince you of several things. They must first persuade you that this product as actually something you need. Then they must prove to you that they are your best choice for purchasing this product. Finally, they must convince you that the price they are asking is comparable to the value of the product being sold. If they fail to convince you in any of these, they will not make a sale.

Today, somewhere, Satan is cheating some soul.

He is working his hardest to convince a soul somewhere that they will be cheated out of something valuable by choosing to serve God. I would not have you be ignorant of certain facts. The Christian walk is a walk of sacrifice. Paul, in his letter to the church at Rome, tells them that they must present their bodies as living sacrifices. He tells them that there will be things that they must let go. There will be things that they must let pass.

There are churches that will tell you, as a child of God that you can live any way you want to live and you will still be saved. There are churches which will tell you everything is permissible and the Kingdom of God is still available. The devil has laid this hollowed out deceitful stone on the scale and has cheated many into believing everything is alright.

He will tell you that God is not interested in your personal life. He will try to convince you that God does not care how you conduct yourself in small matters. He is a liar. If you look deeply into the Word of God you will find that God has something to say about everything you do. He has words about how you eat, what you eat, how you dress, and how you present yourself to others. He has something to say about how you treat your family, your friends, your neighbors, strangers, and even your enemies. He has a word about how you treat your employees and your employers. He has words about how you treat your parents, your siblings, and your children. If you really want to know, and that is the key, God has a word about anything you do, see, hear, and say.

And yet, here we find Satan, standing at a wicked balance with his bag of deceitful weights, telling the world that God is far off and it doesn’t matter what you do.

I want to look at the authority and find out who is being cheated. I want to see if we are being cheated, and if we are, what we can do about it.

When I talk about the authority, I am talking about the word of God. To have a religious debate, one has to establish a couple of issues.

First, we must agree that the Word of god is the authority. If we cannot agree on this issue, the debate is meaningless. There must be a clear authority.

Second, we must understand that the Word if God is not a tug-o-war. It is not, “I have three scriptures that say this and you have two that say that, so I win.” These words agree. Genesis 1.1 agrees with Revelation 22.21. If there is any struggle, one of us has looked at something in the wrong light.

There are many books out there with great ideas. There are ‘how to’ books on everything under the sun. Whatever project you imagine to do, there is a how-to book somewhere. I remember in days when cars were much simpler to work on that I would use my Chilton’s Manual or my Hayes book to work on my old 1967 mustang. If you want to add a room addition, there are books to give you detailed, step-by-step directions to accomplish your task.

If you plan to go to Heaven, there is a definitive step-by-step guide to help you to do just that. That guide is the Bible. There may be hundreds and thousands of ‘helper’ books, but this one book is the ultimate guide and authority. There were a couple of young men that came to my house one day with exciting news and a new book for me to consider. I told them that the book I relied on was my Bible. When their book agreed with the Bible it was unnecessary as I already had that word, and where their book disagreed with the Bible, I didn’t want it. I thanked them for their kind offer, but politely declined.

There are many things in this world that can offer you some measure of temporary pleasure. I would be remiss if I tried to convince you that there was no pleasure in the world. Hebrews tells us that Moses chose to suffer the afflictions of the people of God rather than the pleasures of sin for a season.

There are pleasures out there. They are for the season. I am telling you, even if this season lasted your lifetime, and you were able to enjoy these pleasures for all of your life, and you did not choose Christ, you have cheated yourself.

2nd John 7
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

When we say that Jesus does not understand what I am going through, that Jesus does not know where I am, that Jesus does not know what I am feeling, we are denying that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. We deny that He came in the fullness of the flesh.

What is the danger in this?

If Jesus did not come fully in the flesh, then He could not fully redeem mankind. If He was not in all points tempted, like as sinful flesh, then He could not pay the full price for flesh. When we speak these words (launch this weapon) we remove his saving power. We destroy His keeping power. When we begin to think thought of Jesus not understanding where we stand, that is the work of the deceiver. He is standing beside you with his balance in his hand. His bag of deceitful weights is tied on his belt. He is ready to make a bargain with you. He is ready to cheat you with deceitful stones. If you are saying this in your heart, you are listening to the cheater. You are entertaining the deceiver. You are talking to the greatest con artist that ever existed.

Jesus came in the fullness of the flesh. Where you are, he has been. He is uniquely qualified to answer your prayers.

Before Satan can rise in power in your life, he must first reduce the power of Christ in your life. He does this by dealing deceitfully with stones.

He will try to convince you that you do not need everything that the Bible says. He will try to convince you there are things of God and Godliness that you can do without.

Amos 8:5
Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

The ephah was a measure of corn. The shekel was a measure of currency. Amos said there were those using a deceitful balance that will make the value of the corn seem small and the value of the money seem great.

Satan will do his best to make the things of the world seem greater than the things of God. He will magnify the temporal and reduce the eternal to the price of bread and a pottage of lentil. Esau came from the field one day and he was hungry. His brother Jacob, whose name meant ‘deceiver’, was cooking a stew of vegetables and red meat. Esau asked Jacob for some of his porridge. Jacob said to him, “Sell me your birthright.” Esau looked at the birthright and the pottage and in a weakened moment, saw the temporal to be greater than the eternal, and sold his inheritance for a bowl of soup.

Satan still works the same way. He will try to convince you that the eternal rewards of God are no more important than your everyday bread.

There are no temporal pleasures that will ever outweigh the sacrifices we make for God.

We are to set our affections on things that are above. We are to get our eyes of the temporary things of this life and lay up treasures in heaven for ourselves. Some Christians seem to constantly struggle with the glitter and the lights of the world. We need to get our eyes off the things of the world and on the things of God. You will never come out of the world until you can set your eyes on the things of god and set your affections to follow your eyes.

He is a merchant.

Merchants are dealers in goods. Let us take a moment and look at the product this merchant is peddling.

He offers pleasures for a season, depression, oppression, discouragement, despair, confusion, death, and hell. There was a grocery chain that used to encourage customers to compare the bottom line. Their argument was that while their competitors might offer you a great price on hamburger, they were raising the price of buns and ketchup. They argued that if you were to compare the full price of the groceries, they would be cheaper. Compare the bottom line. What is the bottom line? The bottom line is the final tally, the final bill, the total price.

How many are willing to trade healing for pain?

How many will trade blessings for want?

Who will trade salvation for oppression?

Who will trade heaven for hell?

I do not know what your temporal stones are. I do not know what you wrestle with. I do not know what the devil is tempting you with. You need to know this, the devil is a merchant, and his product, however fancily labeled, has been the same from the beginning. The same product he offered Adam and Eve in the garden is being offered today. He offers us separation for a holy and loving God. He offers shame and reproach. He offers guilt and confusion. He offers us oppression, depression, and despair.

Satan will take sin and paint it so pretty. It will glitter like gold. He will offer you fame and popularity. He will offer you wealth and great riches. He will offer you anything it takes to get you to walk away from God.

He is a cheater and a conman.

We have an eternal stone. There is nothing Satan has to offer that can outweigh this eternal stone. It is the stone of salvation. It may heal our bodies while we are here. It may bless us while we are here. It may cause of to dance and shout while we worship. However, the real weight of this eternal stone is the bottom line. This stone will go beyond tomorrow. This stone will go beyond this life. This stone will go into eternity.

This eternal stone is a costly stone.

It is not uncommon for people to see something in this life they want, whether it is a newer car and a bigger house, and they begin to make sacrifices to reach that goal. They will cut corners. They will give up things. They will work overtime or second jobs. However, let that shoe be on the spiritual foot, and see if that same spirit of sacrifice prevails. When we begin to talk about gains in the spirit, we hear Christian ask, how much is this going to cost, what will I have to give up, and there are questions of whether it is really worth it. You are standing at the balances of deceit. You are wearing the glasses of the cheater.

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant that finds a precious stone and sells all the he has to obtain it. These eternal stones will cost you all that you have. If you are not willing to give up all, you will never buy an eternal stone. If you are not willing to pay the price, someone will come with the balances of deceit in their hands and they will sell you a seem-right stone.

A young man met and fell in love with a beautiful young lady. He courted and wooed her. After a period of time, he decided to ask her to marry him. He went to a jeweler and pick out an engagement ring. He carefully chose the ring which he felt adequately expressed his love for her. The jeweler took this token of his love and placed it in a small velvet covered cardboard box.

The young man took his love out to a fine restaurant. At just the right time, he took this small box out of his pocket and presented it to his love. She went crazy for the box. She completely ignored the ring and the expression of his love and became enamored by this small velvet covered cardboard box.

You look at this story and think there must have been something wrong with this young lady’s sense of value. Here is a costly gold and jeweled ring, a token of love, and all she can see is the cheap box it came in.

We have a priceless soul wrapped in a worthless ball of mud. What do we value more?

Are we weighing with deceitful balances?

Are we using deceitful stones?

Long after excuses have faded, long after reasons have crumbled, long after that one deceitful stones has turned to dust; someone will still be worshipping God around the throne.

Do not be cheated by deceitful stones.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Binding the strongman

Matthew 12:29
Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

Binding the strongman
Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Mark 3:27
No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

Matthew 12:29
Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

Luke 11:21-22
21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:
22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

In Luke, Jesus is rebutting his accusers. He has just cast a demon out of a man that was unable to speak. Some of those surrounding began to question how this happened. Some supposed that Jesus was in league with Satan. They held the opinion that His power came from the devil. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, answered them thusly:

How can a house divided against itself stand? Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. Every house divided against itself will fall. You suppose that I have done this by the power of Beelzebub. If I have, by the power of Beelzebub have cast out demons, by what power do your sons cast out demons? If I, by the finger of God have done this, then the Kingdom of God is come to you today. (Luke 11.17-20 paraphrased)

He then talks about the strongman of the house.

Satan is the strongman. Never underestimate the power of the devil. It is very dangerous and very foolish to set at naught the power of an enemy. To do so would cause one to enter a battle under-armed, under-equipped, and under-prepared.

Ephesians 2.2 tells us that he is the “..prince of the power of the air..”
Revelation tells us he is a destroying angel and the accuser of the brethren.
John tells us that he is a liar and the father of lies. He is a murderer from the beginning.

God is the creator. Satan is the un-creator. Where God is peace, he is chaos. Where God is harmony, he is discord. Where God is a builder, he is a destroyer.

He is THE rebel. He is the seed of every rebellious thought and deed. He is the root of every lie. He is the instigator of every ‘juicy piece of gossip.’

His goal is the destruction of the created image of God, wherever he may find it (in our lives,) and to bring about the fall of Christdom.

His influence reached every trace of humanity. Right now, billions are held captive to his will.

He is the most powerful foe you will ever encounter. Every earthly tyrant, every terrorist, and every dictator pales in comparison to him. He is evil in its purest form.

From his entrance into the Garden of Eden until today, he has sought the same goal. He does not waiver from his task. He does not hesitate. He welcomes a challenge and he loves to see the righteous fall.

To keep his subjects in line, or to lure freed men and women back into his fold, he uses every evil tool or weapon at his disposal without hesitation, care, or concern. He uses bullying, coercing, and seducing.

Some speak lightly of temptation and their ability to resist it. They may be its earliest victims.

The Jews took Hitler lightly in the beginning. Most refused to believe or accept the motivation of his appeal. They refused to see the foundation of hatred and the evil upon which he was building his house. Much too late they realized the tyranny of Nazism.

One of the greatest mistakes a Christian can make is to take Satan lightly.

He is the strongman of the house.

He is armed. He is the keeper of the palace. (Luke 11.21)

Man’s heart was a palace once. It is a palace still, but for many, that palace is now broken and in ruins, and over these ruins, Satan rules and reigns.

Ezekiel 8.8-12
8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.

What a powerful picture of the captive heart.

In the chambers of imagery, there is lust, adultery, theft, murder, hatred, deceit, pride and haughtiness, rebellion and self will, and every other evil work. The chambers of imagery, where we think we hide our evil deeds, are dark and foreboding. It is a black room, with black windows, shrouded by black curtains. Here, the wicked think they hide their deeds from God himself. The LORD seeth us not;

In a natural house, we build in windows to allow the natural light to cleanse the room. There is little more appealing in a house than a room bathed in natural sunlight. Everything seems brighter. Everything seems cleaner. It is a room of hope. It is a room of joy. It is a room of peace. It is a room of comfort.

But these chambers of imagery are far from this. The Word tells us that men love darkness because their deeds are evil. In this cheder maskiyth, they thought they were hidden from God. They thought the darkened windows and walls tainted of the evil within, shielded them from the eyes of Jehovah. In this inner most parlor (cheder) of their dark imaginings (maskiyth) they felt at ease.

What a picture of the broken and ruined palace of God’s creation.

What a vivid and stark portrayal of the heart broken by sin and ruled by Satan.

He keeps his palace.

Whereas, we as Children of God, are the presenting our bodies as living sacrifices, inhabited by God’s Spirit, there are those walking with us, working with us, living with us, shopping with us, eating with us, talking with us, that use the façade of flesh to cover the darkened cheder maskiyth that is ruled over by Satan. Matthew tells us that we are sent out as sheep among the wolves.

In Genesis, “GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually .” He saw into those darkened chambers of imagery. He saw beyond the façade. He saw beyond the darkened windows. He saw beyond the veil of respectability. He saw the darkened rooms filled with the incense of evil.

I think of the child’s game of ‘peep-eye’. Here, you would cover the eyes of a very young child, and then ask them where they went, as if by obscuring their ability to see; we have rendered them unable to be seen as well. It is a game we have played with all of my grandchildren. They believe, for a time, that if they can’t see me, then I must not be able to see them. We perpetuate this belief for the sake of the game. However, there is no time, and no place, that God cannot see you and your deeds.

Men and women today think they hide the evil in their hearts. They have pushed it down so far out of sight that they thing others cannot see it. Others cannot perceive it. I may not know the seed that rules one’s life. I may never see the seed that pushes one’s actions. I may never comprehend the driving force behind the deeds of some people. Rest assured; God sees that seed. No matter how deeply it is buried. No matter how much they try to cover it, it is revealed to God. All the black paint Sherwin-Williams has will not hide the contents of a heart from the eyes of God.

He keeps his palace.

2 Corinthians 4:4
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Blinded – tuphloo – to obscure

There is an old spiritual hymn that say, “Men were walking darkness, just couldn’t see the light.” This is how Satan keeps those that are his. He keeps them in the darkness. Is it any wonder they grasp at every near-doctrine and almost-theology that presents itself?

There were the clouds of incense from the censers. There were the blackened windows. There were the images of evil portrayed on the chamber walls. Looking from inside his heart, this is the scene the sinner views. These are the images which shape his/her thinking. These are the influences in their lives. Satan has blackened the windows so no light of hope can enter. No exit can be seen. All around them are the images of evil. They are constantly before their eyes.

The incense is a sacrifice. It was costly in that day. It was part of the offering of sacrifice to God. In Ezekiel, the seventy elders (leaders of families or tribe) were burning their incense within the temple of their heart. They offered sacrifice to the god that lives in the flesh. (In the flesh is no good thing.)

In the days of Noah, the Word tells us that men’s minds were on evil continually. The Devil parades the portraits of the abominations on the walls of their hearts. A cloud of evil obscures the goodness of God. He tells mankind that God does not see and that God has forsaken the earth. How insidious he is. For those that would do evil, he tells them God does not see, therefore there is no recompense for their evil. For those that would seek hope, he tells them God is not looking. He tells them that God has forsaken this earthly house of the strongman. Is there any wonder suicide is rampant and increasing today? Satan has tried to extinguish the hope of the multitudes. “There is no hope,” he says, “God is not watching.”

“The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth …”

Satan is the master manipulator of mankind. Dig deeply into the roots of every foul or heinous deed and you will find him. He is there pushing. He is there prodding.

“His goods are at peace.”

What are Satan’s goods? They are the faculties, the affections, and the feelings of his prisoners.

We can claim all the independence we choose to claim, but every one of us is going to offer oblation to someone, be it to God or to the flesh. No man can serve two masters. It tells us emphatically, that we will serve one or the other. Those to whom we yield our member, we are the servants thereof. Every one of us yields to the influence of the flesh (sinful nature) or to God (holy nature). We will ultimately yield to the stronger in our lives. Romans 6.16 tells us, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Satan uses his goods for his work and service. The end of which is destruction and ruin. Even the seeming good fortune of those of his followers is designed to bring about their ruin. The Psalm of Asaph states that he was envious of the wicked when he saw how they lived. He was envious of their seeming freedom and unrestricted gain. Then he went to the sanctuary of the Lord and saw their end.

Isaiah 49.24-25
“Shall the prey be taken away from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?”

We were justly captured. We were legal captives in the house of the strongman. From Eden, mankind was the lawful captive of Satan. When Adam and Eve sinned, we all became captives to Sin. By one man, we all were captured.

“But thus saith the Lord, even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.”

The song says, “If I hold my peace and let the Lord fight my battles, victory, victory shall be mine.”

Strongman though he be, there is one stronger than he.

“.. to bruise his head ..”

There was one raised in the house of the strongman that will bruise his head. The battle for the house began in the Garden of Eden. In the judgment of Adam and Eve was a prophecy. The seed of a woman (Jesus) will crush the head of the rebellious one (Satan,) while he would lay in wait for the weakest part (heel) of God. The weakness of God is that the power of God suffers the most when it must pass through the confines of our human limitations of faith and belief. This is why a child can move God so easily. They do not yet have all the knowledge to doubt.

On the mountain, Satan attacked the weakest part of God, his humanity. While some will use our humanity as an occasion and excuse to sin, it is no excuse. We must cling to the power of God and not to the arms of flesh.

Jesus is come that we may have life, and having it, that we may have it more abundantly. He is come:
· To heal and deliver
· To save to the uttermost
· To bind the strongman
Jesus came, lived, walked, worked, healed and delivered.
· He preached good tidings to the meek.
· He bound up the brokenhearted
· He proclaimed liberty to the captive
· He opened the prison to them that were bound
· He opened blinded eyes
· He opened deaf ears
· He caused the lame to walk
· He raised the dead
Jesus broke the strongholds of the Devil.
· Satan was the bearer of bad news
· He was the breaker of hearts
· He was the captor of the weak
· He blinded men’s eyes
· He covered men’s ears
· He crippled humanity
· He brought death
The battle was on. The war was in full force. The Devil pulled every weapon he had. On every front, in every corner, in every place, the battle was fought.

Satan rebelled in Heaven and was cast out. In the Garden, he attacked God’s creation. All throughout the Bible he has attacked the children of God. On the mountain, he attacked Jesus with temptations. In Gethsemane, he raised up in Jesus’ humanity.

In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed; His humanity didn’t want to die, but divinity said, “We must be stronger, stronger than the strongman.” Then, on a lonely hill called Calvary, with a spear and three nails, the strongman of the house unwittingly released the greatest weapon ever against sin, the blood of Jesus Christ.
· It flows to every corner of the house
· It washes away sin, bondage, darkness, and captivity
· It pours into the chambers of the heart
This blood binds the strongman. The outflow reached to every man and woman.

Bring to him, the stronger, the broken ruins of your heart.

If you are in captivity, we may not be able to move out of the house, but I know a stronger one. The sword of His Spirit immediately breaks the chains of imprisonment. The shackles fall away. The windows fly open. Light fills the house. The chambers are filled with blood. It cast down every imagining.

He has spoiled the house of the strongman.

“.. No weapon formed against us will prosper ..”

The Devil has been unable to stem the flow from the portals of Calvary, but he has blinded the minds of men and women with the darkness of depression, oppression, and possession.

Tell me your greatest battle. Tell me your greatest foe.

Jesus faced them all on the mountain, in the garden, in the courts, on the hill, and on the cross, in the face of the strongman.

He was and is stronger.

I do not know what habit holds you captive. I do not know what lie or what fear keeps you shackled. However, I do know one that can bind the strongman.

If you have a need, He is the answer.

We live in the house of the strongman, but the sinless, spotless blood of Jesus Christ constrains him.

We can live free in the house of the strongman.

Turn from your ways.

Open the chambers of your heart and allow the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world to flow in. Let Jesus in your cheder maskiyth and let Him bind the strongman.

Come the stronger one. Come to Jesus.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Measure

Romans 12:3
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

“The Measure”

The measure, the writer said. He didn’t say, “some measure” or “a measure.” He specified that it was ‘the’ measure. Why is this important?

Have you ever heard someone say that they wished they had as much faith as someone else?

Have you ever heard someone talk about the amount of faith another person has as if it were a great amount?

I want to look at the measure of faith.

The book of Romans tells us that God, who is no respecter of persons, gave to every man, the measure of faith.

How much faith did God give to Peter?

How much faith did God give to John?

How much faith did God give to Aunt Clarabell?

How much faith did God give to you?

Metron: an apparently primary word; a measure ("metre"), literally or figuratively; by implication a limited portion (degree):

Pistis: persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:

Let us step back a couple scriptures:
Rom 12:1-2
1. I 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.
2. And 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.

Here is Paul in his letter to the church at Rome, extolling them to present themselves as living sacrifices.

I remember reading a story about a little girl that was very sick. She was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance to recover appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. He hesitated only for a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save my sister.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in the bed next to his sister and smiled, as all did, seeing the color return to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked in a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood. Even thinking this, he did it anyway. He was willing to be the sacrifice.

How do we present ourselves as a living sacrifice? How do we resist conforming? How do we renew our minds? He said it in the next verse. How do you do all those things? I am going to give you a measure.

Peter, the Apostle, was a fisherman. In the book of John, there was a time after the death of Jesus, that Peter and some of the rest were fishing on the sea of Tiberias. They cast their nets all night and didn’t catch one fish. The morning arrives to find Jesus on the shore. The disciples didn’t know it was him. He asked them if they had any meat. When they replied that they did not, even after a night of toiling, He instructed them to cast their nets on the right side of the ship. They did, and could nearly not haul the nets into the boats for the catch was so great. The followers told Peter that it was the Lord on the shore. Peter, in all his brashness, wrapped his coat around himself, and jumped into the sea to swim to his Lord.

The rest of the disciples followed (in the boat) and came to shore, finding a fire with fish lying thereon and bread. Jesus told them to bring the fishes they had caught and invited them to come and dine. The fishes they had caught came to one hundred fifty-three fishes. Let me assure you, this was a great thing to them. They were fishermen by trade. How did they support their families? How did they provide the necessities? How did they feed themselves? They did all of this by the fish they caught. This was one giant payday.

Allow me to suppose what might have been going on with Peter when Jesus began His questions.

Peter was counting fish. It is like people today counting hours or weeks. “If I work forty hours this week, I will be able to pay the mortgage.” Each one of those fish was part of something else. “These ten fish will let me pay for the repairs on the fishing boat.” “These twenty fish will provide meat and vegetables for all next month.” I can almost see Peter grouping the fish in piles according to needs in his mind.

“Peter, do you love me more than all of these?”

“51 .. 52 .. 53 .. 54 ..Yes, Lord, you know I love you”

“Feed my lambs”

“Peter, do you love me more than all of these?”

“79 .. 80 .. 81 .. 82 .. Yes, Lord, you know I love you>”

“Feed my sheep”

“Peter, do you love me more than all of these?”

“117 .. 118 .. 119 .. (Man, why does he keep asking me that question) .. Yes, Lord, you know all things. You know I love you.”

“Feed my sheep.”

What was Jesus asking?

He was questioning Peter to get him to understand that, regardless of how many or how few fish he had, his faith and trust had to be in God. He had a work for Peter. That work was going to require faith. That faith had to be there when there were 153 fish and when there were none.

What faith did Peter have? Peter had the measure of faith. You have the measure of faith.

Every one of us has the same number of muscles. Yet, Shane Hamman set a US record lifting 435 pounds in a snatch and jerk weight lifting event, while other men with the same amount of muscles (like me) can only lift 195 pounds. What is the difference?

Does Shane have a greater number of muscles?

The difference is that Shane has exercised his muscles. He has increased their mass by repetitive exercises that push them to the limit on a regular basis. He has, by his exercise regimen, extended the limits of his muscularity.

Hebrews 11 talks about what we call the heroes of faith. It states:

By faith, Enoch ..
By faith, Noah ..
By faith, Abraham ..
By faith, Sara ..
By faith, Isaac ..
By faith, Jacob ..
By faith, Joseph ..
By faith, Moses ..

And so forth and so on. In each of these expositions about the acts of one based on faith, the word is ‘pistis’. It is the same faith that we were given.

We know that the trying of our faith works patience. We know that we are to add to our faith virtue. We know that we are to hold fast to the profession of our faith.

In the book of Luke, the seventh chapter, there is a record of a centurion with a sick servant.
Luke 7:1-9
1. Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
2. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
3. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
4. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
5. For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
6. Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7. Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9. When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith , no, not in Israel.

The word for faith is our old friend ‘pistis’. The word for ‘so great’ is ‘tosoutos’ meaning “as large” He did not have more than the measure. He had the same faith muscle. He had exercised his faith. His faith was grown in strength.

In Luke 17, the apostles said to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” The word they used implied a desire to have more faith laid alongside the faith they had. They wanted more than the measure given to every man. Jesus’ response to them was that if they had faith as a grain of mustard seed, they could say to this sycamore tree to be plucked up and be planted in the sea, and it would be so. He told them there was nothing wrong with the amount of faith they had. In all of this passage and anywhere else I have read in His word, I have found nowhere where the measure of faith was added to, in the light of getting more than the original measure. In Matthew, he tells his followers that if they had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, they could say to the mountain, ‘be moved’ and it would be moved.

The measure of a mustard seed:
I have heard it said that: “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed. “

Jesus refers to a mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds. Yet, it grows into incredible sizes. Many are those that share the blessing of the measure of one mustard seed.

Do you understand it? You have all the faith you need. Already!

It is the measure of faith which allows us to believe in the grace of God.

How do we ‘beef up’ our faith? How do we ‘grow’ it?

We grow it by exercising it. We grow it by using it.

When David came to the place where he would face goliath, he told of how a lion and a bear tried to take his father’s sheep. He told of how he wrestled the lamb from the mouth of the lion and slew it. He told of how he saved the sheep. Each time, he took the experience and added it to his faith. He tucked it under his belt and went on to face the next challenge. It was not an untested, untried boy that stood on the battlefield that day. It was not an inexperienced challenger that rose up to meet goliath. Rather, it was a faith exerciser. It was a faith grower. It was a faith builder.

You must be a faith builder. You must be a faith grower.

The book of Romans tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. When we read or listen to the words of God, we exercise our faith. When we hear how God delivered Daniel form a den of lions, we grow our faith. When we read how God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites walked across on dry ground, we grow our faith. When we read about all the miracles and provisions provided by God, we grow our faith.

In my opinion, and you can discard this or listen, people today, know that God can do all these things. The doubt comes in the will. God can, but will He?

I think this is one of the greatest battles a Child of God faces. We read, and we know He can. We hear, and we know He can. We see, and we know He can.

Will He?

What does His Word say?

Luke 4:18-20
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Why did he come? He came to preach the gospel to the poor; to heal the brokenhearted; to preach deliverance to captives; to recover the sight of the blind, to liberate the bruised; and to preach the acceptable year.

What is His will toward us? He wants us to have life and have it more abundantly.

What is His will toward the sick? If there is any sick among you, let him call for the elders of the church. Let them pray over them anointing them with oil. The prayer of faith (what faith?) shall save the sick.

He can.

When no-one else can, He can.

When no-one else is able, He can.

He will.

When you ask in faith, He will

When you have a need, He will.

He gave you the measure.

In the desert, on the way to the Land of Promise, he gave the Children of Israel daily manna. Every day, He gave them enough for the day. On the day before the Sabbath, He gave them twice as much, as they were not to gather on the Sabbath. If they tried to gather too much manna and save it, it withered away. Every day, He gave them a measure. Every day, it was enough.

Interestingly, the word manna simply means “what”.

When the Children of Israel saw it for the first time, they asked “What?”

Manna was what.

God provides the what.

Through His measure, given to us, whatever we need, we can have enough.

How is your measure today?