The Neglected Sign

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

©2013 Stan Hallett

waxcoldOne of signs of the Lord’s second coming, may be a neglected one that is vital to the point of being a spiritual life-and-death matter. “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many [literally, the many, the majority] shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).

Spiritual coldness is one of the signs enumerated by Jesus. It is not a new thing, but this verse indicates it will be intensified and grow to such proportions near the end of the age that it will engulf all the professing Church except a faithful minority.

The cause of this fading love is “iniquity”, better translated lawlessness. It will not he confined to a few, but will abound until it literally floods the human race. This multiplied lawlessness will do two things to many Christians:

1. It will weigh them down with discouragement. They will reason, “The world is in such a mess that there’s no use even trying to do right.”

2. It will exert a strong spiritual pull away from God.

You may throw a ball high into the air, but eventually it will yield to the downward pull of gravity. The lawless atmosphere of the end time will have this kind of influence on many who have formerly served Christ.

This spiritual decline is described by Jesus by the expression to “wax cold“. The Greek implies a gradual cooling off. To resist this relentless evil tide will take faithful, and sustained countermeasures. It will be necessary to really work at our Christian walk. A passive spiritual attitude is not enough.

What are these countermeasures the overcomer must employ? They are very simple. It is only a matter of returning to old, tried-and-true fundamentals:

UNFAILING COMMUNION WlTH GOD

If you place a piece of iron in a fire, it will heat until it glows. But if you take it out of the fire, the glow will disappear; eventually the metal will cool to the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere. It must be left in the fire if it is to stay hot! So the Christian’s spiritual glow is maintained only by staying in very close contact with God.

When the Lord visited Joshua just before the battle of Jericho, He commanded him, “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy” (Joshua 5:15). Joshua’s shoes were the part of him closest to the earth. They had been soiled with the dust and dirt of the road. The removing of the shoes was symbolic of casting off worldly defilement in order to come into God’s presence.

The real defilement comes to us, not from our shoes, but through our hearts and our minds. As long as we are in this world the mind is almost certain to become soiled by wrong kinds of thoughts and suggestions. If we would stand on holy ground, these must be diligently removed and cast away from us.

There is no better cleansing agent than the Word of God and prayer. How vital the Word of God is to our communion with Him. Getting into His Word, praying in the Spirit, and with understanding is vital.

UNFAILING ASSEMBLING WlTH THE BODY

When the Ammonites and Syrians marched against David (2 Samuel 10:9-11), Joab divided his forces so that part of them were fighting the Syrians and the others the Ammonites. As he took command of the Syrian front, he reasoned this way to the officers on the other front. “If either of us is defeated, it will also be a defeat for the other. Therefore, if you’re having a hard time, I’ll come to your rescue; and if I run into trouble, you can send aid to me.”

This is a picture of the Church. Some are fighting different battles than others; but if one goes down, it is a loss to the rest. One of the beautiful advantages of Christian fellowship is the support we can give each other when the going is hard.

In Acts 14:22 Paul and Barnabas returned to several of the cities where they had preached for the purpose of “confirming the souls of the disciples.” These people had been saved, but the apostles came back to confirm them, “to give further support.” This is one of the benefits of the Church; to give further support, and to nurture those who have been born again.

Nothing can drain a Christian spiritually as quickly as the deliberate practice of absenting himself from the Church. But many are doing it, with the inevitable result of cooling off in their souls.

This is one of those unfortunate by-products of our affluent society. There are so many other places to go now, and we have the money to go, so the Church has immense competition. Those who surrender to this pull of the world are rapidly being numbered among “the many” whose love is waxing cold.

UNFAILING FAITH

Jesus assured Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” When faith breaks down and the heart becomes cynical and questioning, it is a dark day indeed. When the angel appeared to Gideon with the salutation, “The Lord is with thee,” Gideon’s disheartened reply was, “If the Lord is with us, why then is all this befallen?” (Judges 6:12,13).

How many times have God’s people asked the same question: “If the Lord is with us, why are things so bad?” What was God’s answer to Gideon? Actually there was none. He simply said; in so many words. “Your place is to go! Start marching in faith, and see what God will do for you.” In other words, Gideon was to stop questioning and commit to God the discouraging conditions around him. His place was not to ask, “Why?” but to fulfill his own God-ordained destiny.

The same is true of Christians in any age and under all circumstances. Outward appearances are not to regulate our faith. Our confidence and trust must be secured by the immutable promises of God and not by the turn of events. A shaken faith will soon produce a heart from which all of the spiritual fire has departed.

UNFAILING DETERMINATION

When all is said and done, the quality most needed in the Christian life is just a good stiff backbone. We all can do just about what we want to do. Many have grown cold simply because they have not been determined enough. They have been too weak in their resolution to serve the Lord. This is a problem in which God will help us, but the determination to serve Him must be our own.

Too many Christians have the character of Jacob’s oldest son, Reuben, whom his father described as “unstable as water” (Genesis 49:4). There is nothing more easily disturbed than water; the slightest breeze starts the ripples moving. Water always takes the path of least resistance. It travels downhill, not up–unless it is pumped. And it doesn’t take a very large obstacle to make some streams change their course. You have seen the water in a creek even detour around small sticks and stones. What a picture of weak-willed Christians!

When Gideon’s call went out for soldiers to fight the Midianites, it was answered by 32,000: but by the time the enemy was encountered there were only 300. It is easy to answer the call and join the ranks when the trumpet blows and there is a flurry of excitement. But it is quite another thing to be faithfully at the post of duty when the fight gets hot.

This is where determination comes in. There are times when we must simply stand fast, pray hard, and wait out the storm. Even the strongest grow weary. Paul had to warn the early Christians not to be weary in well-doing. We have to keep going in spite of our weariness. The spine must remain strong even when the legs are shaky!

Many are being overwhelmed by the relentless flood of godlessness, and are throwing down their weapons.
There is no doubt about God’s power to keep us in this hour, but the question is. “How willing are we to be kept?” It is distressing to see the evidence that some once-glowing hearts are now cold as stones.

This “cold love” is the often-neglected sign of the soon return of our Lord, but it does not have to spell spiritual ruin. Jesus had a word of hope for those who would recognize the danger in spiritual coldness: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19).

We need to be in the Word daily, we need to talk with the Lord daily, and we need to stay in fellowship with the Church, His body, to nurture and be nurtured to minister and to be ministered to.

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matthew 24:13)

Do you have questions?  Feel free to write to me via my contact form.

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Addicted To His Presence

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

©2012 Stan Hallett

addictedI liken the presence of God to sitting outside on a warm, calm Summer day, and feeling the warmth of the morning sun against your skin. . . except on the inside. I love the presence  and the love of God, and have become addicted to it.

Did you ever have feelings as a young man or woman for someone to the extent that you felt that you wanted to spend every single moment with them? It was particularly troublesome if you did not know whether or not they felt the same way. It was even worse if you found out that they didn’t. But if they did feel that same way, at the moment that they told you that they loved you too, your heart felt like it was going to burst with joy.  Have you ever known a love like that? I think that is like the love that God loves us with. It is a perfect love, and love that is without measure or comprehension.

As with all relationships, our relationship with God takes time to grow. As with any relationship it takes effort.  Can you imagine a young man or woman who have entered into a courtship not talking to each other, not spending time together? God already knows you inside and out, and He still desires to spend time with you. . . imagine that!

His Word says that we cannot even know our own heart, but He searches our heart and knows it (Jeremiah 17:10). His Word also says that He cares so much for us that even the hairs of our head are numbered (Luke 12:7). He loves and desires a relationship with you that involves time and conversation. It is more than just us doing all the talking, we need to listen as well.

Sometimes we have ignorant mindsets and habits. Some of us don’t spend much time with God until it’s time to go to a Church service.  Some have habits of a prayer before a meal, or before bed.  We all tend to pray and seek the Lord when a calamity befalls us, or a loved one. From my observations over the years, this all seems to be fairly typical of most Christians.

Some may think that because the Bible says; “for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20), that there needs to be a group in order for God be present. Wrong! If you are saved, born-again, that is you have obeyed the Gospel (Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) , then you have direct access to God every single moment of your life! God’s Spirit is with us at all times, and not only with us but He is in us (John 14:17)! God has taken up residence in us!

I think sometimes either true Christians don’t realize who they are, or they forget. He is with us always! They problem is our flesh, and we are carnal minded.  We get caught up in our senses, in what we see, in what we hear, and what we touch. Our senses are bombarded in this modern world in which we find ourselves.  The world’s music is everywhere.  It’s in our workplace, in our homes, in our cars, on our iPods, and even on our phones.  We can literally go through a day and never have a quiet moment, and some of us virtually don’t, and some by choice!

Video is everywhere as well. Some of us are addicted to movies, television, and YouTube. It is like we have to be constantly entertained. Add to that video games, sports, hobbies, food, fashion, cars, and on, and on, and on. It has been said that you are what you eat, but I say; You are what you think about all day long. What you think about all day long is a form of worship, and thus can become your God.

What is needed first is a realization of the problem, then repentance.  We then need to seek God and ask Him to change us, to search out hearts, and as King David did, ask Him to create in us a clean heart (Psalms 51:10). Begin to draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you (James 4:8).  Begin to form a habit of communication with God, even if you need to place reminders in your life until it becomes second nature. Talk to Him when you awake in the morning, before your feet even hit the floor. Thank Him for the day, for your life, for your salvation.  Ask Him to guide your footsteps through the day. Praise Him in the shower singing songs of praise.  Pray at breakfast giving thanks for it.  Grab some time with your family before you all head off in different directions for the day.  Talk to Him on your drive to work, and talk to him throughout the day. You are not bothering Him! He wants to be involved with your life!

I desire to come to, and remain in a place where I am not addicted to all the entertainment and distractions that the world offers, but rather I am addicted to His presence. To come to a place where I am not trying to steal a few moments to enjoy the pleasures of this world, but rather I am trying to steal a few moments with my redeemer, my savior, my fortress, my refuge, and my strength, and the one that loved me enough to die for me.

Do you have questions?  Feel free to write to me via my contact form.

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Pray Without Ceasing

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

©2012 Stan Hallett

          Pray without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Our relationship with God varies from person to person. Many may only pray when they go to a Church service or when they sit down to a meal. Others more dedicated may have a brief time of prayer at some point through their day. For most, being able to pray without ceasing is an inconceivable notion.

Before we have obeyed the Gospel as laid out before us in John 3:3-5, Acts 2:38, and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, and are filled with His Spirit, we only have our flesh, our sin nature. After we are born again of the water and of the Spirit, we have a dual nature. We still have our flesh which we will have until we die. But now we also have a new nature which we have in the Holy Ghost.

Part of the problem is that some see this infilling of the Holy Ghost as just an experience that they went through. After a while the “glow” wears off, and depending on the mindset and the desires of the individual, they can fade away back into the world, some quite rapidly. Others seem to be on a typical roller coaster of highs and lows throughout their walk with the Lord. Still a few actually maintain a high level of Godliness, of Holiness, and a close walk with God.

What is the difference between these individuals? What causes one to fade right back into the world and the flesh, and another to maintain a close walk with God? One might recall the teaching of Jesus regarding the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23. But I say unto you that stony and hard ground can be cultivated through labor and God’s help. Our soil can be made fertile through cultivating with prayer, and being fertilized with desire. With prayer and the Word of God, weeds can be overcome and rooted out.

First we must have conviction, followed by desire and commitment. We need to implement the tools of change. They are those that work to build our relationship with God, which is the Word of God through study and teaching, and that of prayer. We need to understand and realize that the infilling of the Holy Ghost was not just an experience that we went through. Prior to that event we had God with us, but that now we have God within us (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19)!

We need to turn off the world. I mean turn off the TV and the computer, turn off the smart phone, the video game, put down the magazine, the newspaper, as well as the hobbies and activities that consume our time and our minds (James 4:4). We need to spend time with God in His Word, and in prayer daily.

When you pray, take time to just praise and worship Him. Bring your petitions, but also take time to listen. Spend some quiet time with the Lord, and let God begin to deal with the issues that need to be rooted out. Get into His Word and begin to build the relationship that God desires to have with you. If it is your desire, eventually it will become easier and more natural. God’s voice will become more clear and distinctive. Your relationship will grow and become your desire over the things of the world. Soon you may find yourself praying without ceasing.

Yes, we have to interact with the world in our work and everyday life. But God wants to be part of your life, and involved with you. It is often thought that God does not want to be bothered with everything in our life, or with matters that are seemingly trivial. That’s a lie! Don’t you believe it! God cares so much about every detail of your life that even the hairs of your head are numbered (Luke 12:7)!

I wake up in the morning, and sometimes He wakes me. The first words out of my mouth and in my heart is praise and thankfulness. I’m in the shower sometimes singing praises to Him, other times just praising His Name. Sometimes I gather my family together if they are up, and we have a time of prayer together. I get in my truck and as I drive to my job, wherever it may be, and I turn the cab of my truck into a prayer room. I am oftentimes driving down the road with tears in my eyes, and I am overwhelmed with His presence. Throughout the day He talks to me, sometimes giving me complete messages. We have ongoing communication all through the day in between my dealings with customers, or business owners, clerks and cashiers.

He orders my footsteps, and He directs my path. If I get a wrong thought, He corrects me with a whisper. If I set off in a wrong direction, He softly nudges me to go the right way. If I lose my focus, He draws me closer. What I know now, I so much wish I had known as a young man. However I am so glad that I did learn it before my time on earth was done. What a loving God! What a Savior! What a Companion and Friend!

Sometimes I am in communication with Him and no one around me knows. Other times His presence is so overwhelming that I have to lift my hands and praise Him, even if I’m in the middle of WalMart.

“Pray without ceasing” is not just an idealistic suggestion, it is a necessary and vital part of our walk with God. It is the solution to roller coaster Christianity. It is the spiritual Weed-B-Gon or Roundup that will keep the cares of this world from overtaking us. It will prevent the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things from entering in, choking the word, and becoming unfruitful.

We’ve all seen the little gardening set of which the primary tools contain a trowel and a cultivator. Prayer without ceasing is a spiritual cultivator that keeps the soil loose, weed free, and prepared to receive the seed of the Word of God. The trowel is what is used to plant the Word of God deep within our prepared soil, by listening to His Voice and reading His Word.

If you could grasp this truth for yourself my friend, oh the joy that is waiting for you! Through every trial, through every tribulation, my course is set. I don’t know all of the waypoints, but I know the destination. I am enjoying the road and I have a peace in knowing that God will see me through.

Prayer without Ceasing” is one of those gems of truth that has become a great treasure to me. I so desire it to become a treasure in your life as well. It’s up to you. What is your desire?

Do you have questions?  Feel free to write to me via my contact form.

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Breaking Up Your Fallow Ground

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

©2012 Stan Hallett

gardening_tools…”Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.” – Jeremiah 4:3

In many modern dictionaries “fallow ground” means plowed, but left unseeded during the growing season. This is actually a modern definition of the word that changed from the days of Jeremiah.  The original meaning of fallow ground meant un-cultivated, which means un-plowed (not broken up), un-prepared. It may be hard or stony soil, and it is often covered with weeds and thorns. Jeremiah was speaking to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, talking about their heart.

In the parable of the sower Jesus also referred to the heart as it were earth, ground, or soil. . .

Matthew 13:3-8
3* And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4* And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5* Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6* And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7* And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8* But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

It is clear that again some of the soil was either not prepared to receive the seed (no understanding), or it was not prepared or maintained well enough so that it could take root and survive (no root in themselves), or the thorns choked it (cares of this world). It is all speaking about the heart.

Many today have hearts that are not able to receive the Word of God.  Others receive it in the beginning, but because they have no root in themselves they can not endure, and they fall away. Yet others get caught up in the cares of the world and are caught away.

We have taken a huge step towards the solution of our dilemma if we can recognize any of these things in ourselves. If we recognize that our own ground is fallow, un-cultivated, stony, or covered in thorns, it does not need to be a permanent condition!

I recognized some of these things in my own life. Some seed sown in my life seemingly fell by the wayside.  My heart has been stony, and I have had insufficient root in myself.  Often the cares of the world choked the Word that was trying to bear fruit in me.

The good news is that if you can recognize the problem, now you have information whereby you can take action to change  it!  What can you do?  How do you change your heart?  A lot the solution does have to do with you.  You have to want to change. But you need help beyond your ability.

Recognizing my issues and my failures I began to pray continually for God to break up my fallow ground, to get the stones out of my soil, to fertilize, to do a soil transplant. I needed to get rid of my sandy soil and put in some dark rich soil whereby the seed could take root, grow and bear fruit in my life.

Keep in mind that God gives us free volition and free will.  He did not create us to be robots. You have to desire change. With prayer God can and will shape you, just as the potter forms the clay.  But that clay has to be malleable.

I was reminded of the following verses . . .

Luke 14:26-33
26* If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27* And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28* For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29* Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30* Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31* Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32* Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33* So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

1 John 2:15,16
15* Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16* For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

The truth of the matter is that once we have received, and continue to yield to the Holy Ghost, the farmer has shown up, and will begin to do the work by natural process, if we allow Him to.

The difference between our “soil” and natural soil is that God has given us free will and free volition.  We have to allow the Holy Ghost to remove the rocks, the weeds, and begin to cultivate and change us.

Over time as I began to yield to Him, I began to notice changes in myself.  I began to actually hate many of the things of the world that I used to enjoy.  I praise God that I am no longer the person that I was. God is so good!

My prayer is for God to continue to change me as He would have me to be, for Spiritual growth, and for wisdom. That will happen by simply conforming to His will in my life and walking in the Spirit rather that my flesh, the old man.

How’s your soil? Jesus changed water into wine, the dead into the living, the blind into the seeing, and caused the lame to walk.  He set the stars in the universe, spoke a world into existence, and made every living creature.  He formed man and breathed into his nostrils creating in him a living soul.  If he did all that, He is able to bring about change in you, if it is your desire to conform to His image (Romans 8:29, Romans 12:2).

Do you have questions?  Feel free to write to me via my contact form.

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