Short, Sweet and Ignorant

The Consequences of Not Wanting To Hear From God

The Bible says, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1)

There is common phrase that is often heard from people who have attended weddings, baby dedications and other religious ceremonies, “That was short and sweet, just like I like it.”  Could this attitude be an reflection of a heart that is not hungry to know what God desire’s in regard to:

Marriage: Yes, it is true that all weddings belong to the couple being married, the sin is having wedding ceremonies asking for God’s blessings without being hungry to hear: 1.) What a marriage covenant really is from God’s prospective. 2.) Not having a Christ centered focus in regard to making marriage vows that express serving each other as you were serving Jesus. 3.) Reminding all who attend the ceremony, they are their brother’s keeper. Everyone who bears witness to wedding ceremony are to do their part in praying for, watching over and protecting the marriage covenant as God’s plan for man and woman. The liking of short and sweet has kept many ignorant about marriage being God’s plan from the very beginning, not the conjecture of mankind. Civil Unions are for those who have no desire to guard their steps in touching the holy institution of marriage, one man, one woman, until death do you part. Jesus makes it very clear, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”  (Matthew 19:4-6) Obedience to God’s plan for marriage and the desire to seek His moral precepts for men and women is the foundation to guarding your step in touching Holy Matrimony.

Baby Dedications:  The conjecture of man in regard to baby dedications are over shadowing God’s truths to dedicating a child unto the Lord’s intercession, protection and guidance. Many baby dedications have become a service to show off the parents babies in their sweetest outfits, rather than a service preparing parent’s and congregations to seek God’s perfect will. One pastor wrote, “Our baby dedication services have become an interruption to the theme of the service, rather than the whole service having the theme of dedicating children unto the Lord.” (Merrill, D., & Shelley, M. (Eds.). (1984). Fresh ideas for families, youth & children (p. 121). Carol Stream, IL;  Waco, TX: Christianity Today; Word Books.) There is a famine of wanting to hear God’s truths. Today, most parents want short and sweet, leaving them ignorant to God’s truths: 1.) Children are God’s gift, what that really involves. (Psalm 127:3) 2.) The challenge, “Will you, by God’s help, guidance, and intercession provide a God-fearing, Word filled knowledge home. (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6) 3.) Be Biblically equipped to pray for their children. A quality ministry has a complete prayer guide for intercession for children. (Peterson, E. H., & Miller, C. (1987). Weddings, funerals, & special events (Vol. 10, p. 135). Carol Stream, IL; Waco, TX: Christianity Today, Inc.; Word Books.; http://standatthecrossroads.com/prayer-guide-children/)

Regarding your step in approaching all religious ceremonies, weddings, baby dedications, baptisms, the Lord’s supper (communion), etc. involves having a listening spirit so you are not ignorant in the holy things of God, enabling you to have ceremonies that are pleasing to Him.

Prayer, Key to Revelation

Acts 10-11 record the results of one of the most mature ministries found in the New Testament. In this Holy Spirit inspired account we see two men who have hearts ready to receive divine revelation, obey the Lord’s instructions and enjoy the benefits of surrendered prayer. Cornelius was a man who “prayed to God regularly.” (Acts 10:2) Peter was a mere man who is known among born again Bible scholars as being very spiritually mature, a spiritual leader, but one who still needed to be a man of prayer. Acts 10 records the revelation of taking the Gospel to Cornelius’ household through the Apostle Peter.  It was through Cornelius’ and Peter’s surrendered hearts in prayer that God revealed His will in taking the Gospel to the Gentiles.  Peter and Cornelius had the heart of Daniel who knew the joy of prayer. (Daniel 6:10,13)  Christians who enjoy revelation from the Lord have the heart of the psalmist who wrote, “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice.” (Psalm 55:17) Holy Spirit illuminated Christians live a life that says, “I will listen to what the Lord will say.” (Psalm 85:8a)

The great prayer warrior George Muller said, “The most important part of prayer was the first fifteen minutes after I said ‘Amen.’” Walter B. Knight wrote, “Prayer is not a monologue, it is dialogue – our talking to God and God talking to us.”

Pastor O. C. Lunholm told of a lesson he learned from a scientist. They were on a loud, busy, crowded street corner when suddenly the scientist said, “Do you hear that?” “No” said the pastor. The scientist said, “I hear a cricket.” They walked over next to the building, and the scientist overturned a small rock.  Sure enough, there was a cricket. The pastor said, “How did you hear it, above all this noise?” The scientist said, “Let me show you something.” They both walked to the middle of the side walk and the scientist took a quarter and tossed up into the air. When the quarter hit the sidewalk, it made almost inaudible noise compared to the sound of the traffic. Nevertheless, people stopped and started looking for the quarter that landed on the sidewalk.  The scientist said, “People will train their ears to hear what they want to hear and they will use their eyes to see what they want to see.” (Knight’s Book of 2,000 Illustrations) Let prayer bring you revelation!

Matured Ministry Is Substantiated

Holy Spirit led ministries have accountability that can be substantiated.  Acts 11:4 says, Acts 11:12b says, “…these six brothers also went with me…”     

Acts 11:2 gives the heart attitude of those overcome with the cancer of legalism and traditionalism, “So when Peter went to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him.”  Just as Peter was called to break traditional ministry, ministries on the cutting edge face criticism from church attendees who have not taken the time to gain Biblical understanding.

I love the way the New American Standard Bible puts it, “But Peter… proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence…” Peter gave a full and fair accountability without argument or apology. Holy Spirit illuminated Christians have such a conviction and understanding of their revelation from God that they have no problem presenting and substantiating their ministry to those who may criticize their work. They are able to do so because they are devout, God-fearing people who have a respect for the ministry of Jesus Christ.  They are able to tell you how revelation came to them as they prayerfully sought the Lord and took time to listen to His instructions.  Their ministry is birthed from the whole counsel of God’s Word, thus their revelation can be explained and supported from the Word of God, because the Bible is the sword of the Holy Spirit.  They have such an illumination of their calling they are able to pray through to completion that which God calls them to do.  They are able to test their work by the Word of God, they are able to share how God used them and they are able to substantiate their ministry.  Acts 11:12 tells us that there were six men who could bear witness to the work God had done in Cornelius’s home.

When Christians are exposed to ministries of Biblical accountability, they are to die to their own opinions, throw off spiritual traditionalism, legalism, and denominationalism, and rejoice in what God is doing.  Acts 11:18 says, “When they heard [Peter’s full accounting], they had no further objections, and praised God…”  Connect with mature ministry!

Matured By The Holy Spirit

There are many well meaning Christians who will say that they are Holy Spirit led, yet what they think and say is only a product of human reasoning and opinion.  Jesus knew this was a problem, He even rebuked Peter. Matthew 16:23 says, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’”  Every anointed ministry has had to deal with the opinion of man.  Sadly, this occurs even in the church, especially when having to deal with leadership, spiritual or governmental.

This rebuke from the Lord was an act of true love which prepared Peter’s heart to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  Acts 10-11 record the maturity of Peter’s heart. The great news is Peter learned something from the Lord’s rebuke and enjoyed sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  Acts 10:19-20 says, While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him,..”  Peter was not spoken to by an angel nor was it in a vision, but the speaking of the Holy Spirit. Peter enjoyed what was taught by Jesus about the Holy Spirit.  In John 16, our Lord said, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.  He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” (John 16:13-14)  Peter received a “word of knowledge” (1 Corinthians 12:28) on what to do.  Please note that the Holy Spirit had this Word for Peter after he spent time in heart seeking, surrendered prayer.

Christians who have the same illumination as Peter have full revelation of Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”  To be led of the Holy Spirit, a child of God must be willing to set aside dependence on self and natural wisdom when led of God to do so.  It is important to note that the Holy Spirit can use our natural wisdom as long as we are willing to “Live by the Spirit and walk in step with the Holy Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the dessert. (Luke 4:1)  Simeon was led of the Holy Spirit to be in the temple to meet baby Jesus (Luke 2:27) The Bible says those who are “…led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) Being led of the Holy Spirit is a sign of Christian maturity.  Be led of the Holy Spirit!

Devout and God-Fearing

The counsel of God’s Word records the lives and work of devout, God fearing men.  These men received revelation from God, had a personal relationship with Christ and walked in step with the Holy Spirit. One such man was “Cornelius, a centurion… He and his family were devout and God-fearing…” (Acts 10:1-2)

“Devout” (eusebes), means to be respectful to God and things regarding worship unto Him. Devout people are dutiful in their efforts to seek God and know His will for them. “God-fearing” (phobeo) means to have a reverential obedience toward God. In the New Testament the term “God-fearing” had become what we would call a technical term for Gentiles who became frustrated with their gods and the result of the immorality of mankind. They attended some kind of meetings or had some kind of influence that enabled them to seek God.  In Cornelius’s case, he had enough revelation to become a man of prayer and have a heart for the needy. (Acts 10:2)

The Lord will give devout, God-fearing Christians that which they seek, and fill their spiritual hearts with divine revelation which satisfies the spiritual heart and soul. Today, devoted God-fearing people seek the Lord through the whole counsel of God’s Word. Just as the Lord called Peter to take a Word to Cornelius’ home, (Acts 10:22b) the Lord has given the Holy Spirit gift of “prophesying” (Romans 12:6) to the church, so that people may be informed of the will of God through the expounding of Scripture for making known the will of God.

The Pittsburg Christian Advocate covered the story of Dr. Alexander Maclaren, a devout, God-fearing man who was recognized as being one of the clearest expositors of the Word of God in his day. They wrote, “How Dr. Maclaren became such a Bible scholar is worthy of note. …[he] had one ministry habit that was never broken, ‘one hour alone with God every day.’  Dr. Maclaren would sit in his well-warn armchair with his Bible on his knees. He would not read to get a teaching text, nor read as a student, but as child would read a letter from [his] Father; [with] a loving heart drinking in every Word.”  Are you a devout and God-fearing Christian?

 

Defeats Criticism

Over the course of time the Apostle Peter oversaw his work with the Lord in a way that showed spiritual maturity. He, like every servant of the Lord who is sent to bring forth a new work, faced criticism. The Book of Acts records one of the times when the cancer of traditionalism kept Christians from recognizing a powerful move of God. The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’ Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened:” (Acts 11:1-4) When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.’”  (Acts 11:18) A ministry matured in the Holy Spirit defeats criticism.

The Holy Spirit reveals the importance of God’s work through Peter by moving Luke to refer to the events of the ministry in Cornelius’s household three different times in the Book of Acts. I would propose to you if the work of the Lord was important enough to have the Holy Spirit move Luke to write down the events of Peter’s ministry, it should be important enough for the Body of Christ to take note of the truths surrounding Peter’s ministry.

It is important to note that those who criticized Peter’s ministry to the Gentiles were Jewish Christians, “circumcised believers” who needed a fuller understanding of the whole counsel of the Word of God. Everyone in the church can easily fall into the same spiritual blindness as the religious people of Peter’s day. Thus Christians prayerfully seek Holy Spirit illumination of the whole of Scripture to cleanse them from the cancers of traditionalism, legalism, faddism, and denominationalism. They desire to mature in ministry and give Biblical accountability, like Peter did.

When Christians learn how to Biblically seek revelation from God and Biblically present His revelation to the Body of Christ, spiritual leaders will rejoice in the work of the Lord. Seek Biblical maturity and defeat human criticism.