Saturday, April 20, 2013
Posted by David Stokely at 10:45 AM
Friday, April 19, 2013
Often times in the Bible, for godly men and women, names are significant and meaningful, many times even prophetic. In the case of Herod, it is a cynical, sarcastic, scornful, and laughable naming. . . for the name Herod means:
Compound of ἥρως hērōs (a “hero”) and eidos (a view), that is, form (literally or figuratively): - appearance, fashion, shape, sight. So combined, the view or appearance or form or shape of a hero. . . heroic.
(Adapted from Strong’s Greek Dictionary)
Yes. . . how heroic Herod was. . .
If this were a contemporary happening, books would undoubtedly have been written of this event. A three hour long television documentary or maybe even a mini-series would have been produced. . . a museum built with pictures and artifacts. . . containing recordings of interviews with witnesses. . . tear stained pictures of grieving mothers and fathers. . .testimonies of siblings. . . a memorial would be erected in the town square to help remember that day. . . with teddy bears, and candles, and flowers, but the dust of centuries has covered this day, and all that remains of of this first century holocaust, is one sparse sentence in the Bible. . .
Herod’s anger arose when his pride was hurt. He realized that he had been deceived by the wise men The way it is stated, it almost seems that his reaction was spurred on by this initial anger at the wise men escaping his trap.
No brave hero this king Herod, but fearful of babies, in these two verses he proves himself a liar. Rather than wishing to worship the baby Jesus, Herod wished to sacrifice Him on the altar of Herod’s unholy pride.
Nothing bothers the deceitful, quite as much as being deceived themselves. I’m sure it hurt Herod’s pride greatly. . . the scammer being scammed. . .The manipulator being manipulated and played for a fool. A deep and public wound of the pride for any man will often cause great anguish and a desire for revenge.
The logic of Herod’s reaction, seems to come almost as an afterthought: “when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, [he] was exceeding wroth” The wise men escaped his ploy and Herod was furious. . . and additionally he felt threatened by the birth of a baby in Bethlehem. . .
No cost was too high, he somehow justified in his mind the killing of an entire town's 2 year old sons, and indeed the surrounding area’s male children to protect his rule from a threat that was decades away. His love of power was so strong, that it completely corrupted Herod’s soul.
He feared that which was of no threat. Every man judges others by his own heart. Jesus was no threat to Herod. . . Jesus kingdom was not of this world, but Herod saw a mere baby as a threat to his power. . .
And it availed nothing for him. . . It preserved him not. . .
Mothers and sons. . . paying the price for the corrupt heart of a power mad king. All men have prideful hearts, but a king with pride, combined with power, and blackness of heart. . .the resulting evil knows no bounds.
When our pride is hurt, our natural response is to want to hurt in return, but firstly being restrained by the fear of the consequences of our actions, and secondly not being powerful, we would have to exact the retribution ourselves. Whereas a king has no such limits.
What repercussions would a king face? A king does not have to do the dirty work himself. He has underlings, whom he may command to bloody their hands. . . Oh the seductions of power. The self-justification. . . only hearing affirmation, never hearing criticism. . .the distorted view of self. . .
A king can act upon his hurt pride, and we are surely not able to act in the same manner, and to the same degree as a king, but are not the desires and inclinations of our hurt pride the same as Herod’s by the measure of Jesus? Herod’s actions were magnified by his power, but in its origins, and in its flavor, how does my hurt pride differ from his?
Do you think yourself different from Herod? I encourage you to read of the Stanford Prison experiment. In 1971, members of the psychology department of Stanford University conducted an experiment, where they selected 18 student, who appeared to not have any great psychological disturbances. . . who appeared to be normal college students. These students were divided into (2) groups of (9) guards, and (9) prisoners. The setting was constructed to be very similar to a prison setting. The experiment was intended to last for two weeks, but had to be terminated after only six days, when the guards began behaving very sadistically, and the prisoners became greatly depressed, and stressed by the conditions.
Here is the web site documenting the study:
These were ordinary college students put into positions of authority, with opportunity to exert their will over their fellow man. They were not evil beasts, deranged by some sinister spirit. . . such as we might, for example, look upon the guards in Nazi concentration camps. These were college students given uniforms, and authority, who very quickly began to act in evil ways. . .
Do you think that you are different than Herod, or these students, or concentration camp prison guards? It is the evil intent present in every heart, fertilized by power, and watered by opportunity to express itself that brings these things forth, that allows the dark seeds of evil to sprout out of the common heart. . . not out of some deranged beast in human form. . . but out of the evil dark thoughts and desires of our own hearts, are these things born.
Jesus was clear. . .
According to Jesus, intent has as much weight as action. If our hearts are prideful, and wanting to strike back to hurt when hurt. . . we should take no pride that we have not murdered children. . . we should be worried in that the same pride and darkness found in Herod’s heart, is found in our hearts as well. . .
Paul then goes on in the following verses, to attack the pride found in the church. . .It is this pride within our hearts which leads to every kind of evil thought and action.
Be vigilant against pride rising up in your own heart. . .
Be vigilant in being justified in your own eyes. . .
Be vigilant against fearing the rise and favor of another. . .
Be vigilant against thinking yourself special or privileged. . .
I love you my God. . .
Help me Lord. . .
Let your Spirit rule in my heart. . .
Let your Spirit rule in my life. . .
Posted by David Stokely at 8:35 AM
Saturday, April 13, 2013
The following are all the verses in the Bible (KJV) containing the word ‘meek’. It is apparent that God greatly values meekness in a person. . . not weakness, but humbleness. . . not prideful. . . not boastful. . . not aggressive, and self-assertive, but considerate. . . giving. . . sharing. . . compassionate. . . kind. . . mild. . .quiet. . .not an attention seeker. . . not desiring glory for himself, but a steadfast member of the body. . . contributing as they are called, persevering contentedly with harmony, and unity in their given role. . . nourishing and supporting the Body, working to expand His Kingdom.
Christ as our ultimate example of meekness. Possessing within Him apocalyptic power to hurt and destroy, and without question able to exact justified retribution upon His persecutors, but showing absolute restraint in the face of unimaginable provocation. . .Not fearful. . . not intimidated by confrontation, not seeking glory for Himself. . not self-wilful. . . but neither did He hide in a closet. . .always doing His Father’s bidding. . . Not My will but Thy will. . .self-sacrificing. . .about His Father’s business. . . returning love for hate. . .perishing in agony upon the cross, that all men might through His death. . . by His shed blood, be saved from death, and raised themselves in eternal glory. . .
Abandon pride, fervently seek meekness. . . and at the heart of meekness find the heart of God. . .
Posted by David Stokely at 8:11 AM
What is your goal for your life? What would your perfect life be like? What would a perfect day be like? What path from where you are currently, would take to to such a day and such a life?
Would it be:
A life without pain?
A life surrounded by loved ones?
A life without fear?
A life without want?
A life filled with joy and happiness and satisfaction?
A life with purpose?
This life is possible. . .
Why listen any longer to the voice which whispers doubt, and sows discouragement and confusion?
Why hold on to your doubt, and despair?
Give faith a chance. . .
Give hope a chance. . .
Choose life. . .
Choose light. . .
Choose love. . .
Come to God. . .
Seek Him. . .
Open your heart to Him. . .
God loves you. . .
He is calling for you. . .
Give love a chance. . .
Posted by David Stokely at 5:37 AM
Friday, April 12, 2013
11 Times in the Word of God, the Lord hardened various men’s hearts. 1 time in the Word of God, the Lord hardened a man’s spirit, and made his heart obstinate and 1 time in the Word of God, the Lord softened a man’s heart.
From this evidence, It is clear that God has dominion over men’s hearts. . . Again from this evidence it is surely within His power and within His will in times past, to influence the hearts of men.
This then is an avenue of God’s working that we may ask, and believe in faith, Him able to repeat this work. . .Let us then call out specifically to God to influence and to soften the hearts of men and women around us. . .that the Word of God might find fertile soil. . .
Thank you my Lord. . .
I love you my God. . .
Open their eyes. . .
Soften their hearts. . .
I love you my Lord. . .
1. Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
2. Exodus 7:3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
3. Exodus 7:13 And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
4. Exodus 9:12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.
5. Exodus 10:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:
6. Exodus 10:20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.
7. Exodus 10:27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.
8. Exodus 11:10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.
9. Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.
10. Exodus 14:8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.
11. Exodus 14:17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
12. Deuteronomy 2:30 But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
13 Job 23:16 For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:
Posted by David Stokely at 6:54 PM
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Many people state that their reason for not attending church, is the issue of holiness standards. Years before coming to God, I can remember feeling a need for God, but I could not see myself ever living a holy lifestyle. I thought of the things which I knew that I must give up. . . drinking, drug use, gambling, immodest, immoral behavior, and they seemed to be too high of a price to pay for a relationship with God. My drinking. . . my smoking. . . Really my pride was too important to me. I was unwilling to submit to God. I thought myself too capable. . . too independent. . . too much of a free spirit to ever bend my knee to God. My life progressively grew more tumultuous, more filled with strife and pain. . . with the crisis of my heart surgery, I was faced with my mortality, the costs of my pride became apparent even through my stubbornness, and I did submit to Jesus.
Today almost 13 years later, I greatly value living a holy lifestyle. It is no burden. It is what keeps me from going back into the swamp that was my life before Jesus. I value righteousness, not because I am holier than anyone else, not because I am more righteous than others, but because I remember the pain of where I came from, and I never want to go back.
But with our current strong societal aversion to holiness, many contemporary churches are greatly lowering or abandoning entirely former standards of holiness in an effort to be more appealing to world. . . We hear of churches where the pastor conducts Bible studies in a bar, while swilling beer. . .Churches where very provocatively immodest dress is allowed for those in leadership, and conducting service the on the platform, and in the choir. . .Churches not preaching against sexual immorality, but accepting of it as an inescapable fact of modern life. . .We are not to remain the same way we were when we came to God. Our relationship with Him is to transform us into ‘new creatures in Christ.’
Wouldn’t this acceptance of the unholy in the church, be like Weight Watchers eliminating fresh vegetables and adding cream filled donuts and stuffed crust double cheese meat lovers pizzas to their menu plans in order to become more appealing to people? Is not this then catering to the same appetite which caused the people to seek help with their weight? How then is one delivered from being too heavy by eating the same way and not changing. . .not transforming your desires to healthier choices. Staying with this example, there is a direct relationship between the strict reduced fat/carbohydrate diet, and the desired results. . .
Lowered standards is possibly a path to full pews, but this clearly is not the path to God, Lowered standards were not the message of Christ. Jesus told the adulterous woman John 8:11. . .”Go and sin no more. . . “ Jesus standards were higher than those of the Mosaic Law. . . In the Law you had to commit the act for it to be a sin. . .Jesus said that the thought, was the same as the act of sin. . .
The Word of God is clear:
Be ye holy. . . for I am holy. To be Holy is to be different than the rest of the world. To be holy is not to fit in. To be holy is to overcome your flesh, and subdue your pride. . . to submit yourself to what God wants for you.
Holiness is foundational to a close relationship with God. Today, almost 13 years after my conversion from atheism, I do not find it a burden to live a holy lifestyle, but rather it is the keystone of my walk with the Lord. Before I fell in love with Jesus, all I could see of Christianity were the do’s and don’ts. Can’t do this. . . can’t do that. . . can’t do the other thing. . . have to do this. . .
Viewed from the outside, Christianity seemed to be an oppressive, and horribly restrictive lifestyle, but it is clear that God desires us to be holy. . . and now. . .today I love God with all my heart. . . all my soul. . . and all my strength. . . and as such I want Him to be happy with me. I do not want to disappoint Him. I want no barriers between us, and as such: dressing modestly. . . not drinking. . . avoiding immorality of all flavors. . . rejecting the world . .subduing the flesh. . . I do not gain heaven by these things, but by my holiness. . . I avoid temptation. . . I avoid sin. . . and thereby draw closer to Him.
If I compare myself to other men. . .If I measure myself to those around me, if my motivation is to be ‘better’ than someone else. . . then I am self-righteous and prideful, but by keeping my eye solely upon the Lord, and His spotless example. . . and keeping as my motivation, to become separated from the world and devoted to Him. . . pleasing to Him. . .with no barrier between us, then the path of holiness is a path which leads into deeper and closer relationship with God.
From the outside looking in, it appears to be all about the do’s and don’ts. . . but now being converted. . .the view from the inside is that I am head over heels in love with Jesus, and wish to do those things pleasing to Him. I greatly desire to live a lifestyle as pleasing to Him as possible. . .
Be ye holy for I am holy. . .I strive for holiness. I revel in the comfort and peace found in the arms of God. . .
The devil would have us believe that holiness is a burden and a weakness. . . a stumbling block. . . a hindrance to growth for the church, when in truth it is a great strength. . . and foundational to our faith. . .
We are to be anointed, and sanctified to the Lord. . holy vessels of God’s Spirit. . . those items of the temple so dedicated to God were never to be put to common or profane uses. . . So must we be separated and holy, in the world, but not of the world.
To be reborn, is to be born again into a new life. . . We are new creatures. . . old things are passed away. . .
If the old things do not pass away. . . if there is no new life, no new creature resulting from this rebirth. . . if there is no transformation, then rather than a new birth, it is a false labor. . . Be ye holy for I am holy. . . be ye transformed. . . be ye renewed. . . be ye remade. . .
We name ourselves Christians. . .the ‘ian’ suffix in Christ-IAN means to be: “One from, belonging to, relating to, or like.”. . . We are to be Christ-like. . . Be ye holy for I am holy. . .
To say that we are Christ-like, and yet not holy is a terrible blasphemy of God Himself. . .
I love you my God. . .
I long to be close to You. . .
I strive for holiness. . .
I thank you my God. . .
I love you my God. . .
Posted by David Stokely at 10:01 AM