A Sanctuary for Saints and Sinners in Need of a Saviour. Luke 18:9-14
Illustrated Message Review with Marjorie
This is a weekly review that I do of Pastor Richard's Illustrated Messages from our Sunday services. If your in our area, please come and join us to participate, as we each play roles in the scripts.
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As with "Pilgrims Progress" and "The Life and Death of Mr. Badman", we have found a very easy to read book with simpler English. Please go to PreachersHelp.netand under their Books tab, scroll until you see the link called "Christiana's Progress". In each of the reviews that I'll be doing, read along with the page numbers at the introduction as the reviews will be more understandable.
September 17th, 2017 - Christiana's Progress
Stage 2 - Part 3 (pages 25-28)
Christiana's visit to the Interpreters house continues and it's wonderful to see her desire to know and understand the things of the Lord, being very inquisitive. It goes on to say; "So he led them into the slaughter-house, where there was a butcher killing a sheep; and behold, the sheep was quiet, and went to its death patiently.
INTERPRETER. “Then, you must learn from this sheep to suffer, and put up with wrongs without murmuring and complaint. Behold, how quietly she goes to her death, and, without objecting, she allows her skin to be pulled over her ears. Your King calls you his sheep."
Persecution is never a favorite topic, but it's the reality of the Christian walk as we'll study today. The prophet Jeremiah was threatened in the Old Testament and he says in Jeremiah 11:18-20, "Now the Lord gave me knowledge of it, and I know it; for You showed me their doings. But I was like a docile lamb brought to the slaughter; and I did not know that they had devised schemes against me, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be remembered no more.” But, O Lord of hosts, You who judge righteously, Testing the mind and the heart, Let me see Your vengeance on them, For to You I have revealed my cause."
One of the schemes of the adversary is to cut you off, that you are not remembered any longer. To wipe you out and destroy your testimony. The devil takes no captives, he comes to steal, to kill and to destroy.
Isaiah prophesied about Jesus' persecution being the ultimate and final sacrificial lamb in Isaiah 53:6-8 where it says; "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken."
When Jesus was being led as the lamb to his death, it's interesting to see that he only answered Pilate, not the powerful religious leaders of the Jewish people. He knew who he was, what his purpose was and didn't need to respond to their accusations. We read this in Matthew 27:11-24, "Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly..."
Nowadays we would be crying religious discrimination, exercising our rights be it at school, work, recreation etc. We've gotten so proud that we've failed to understand that persecution is part of the Christian walk and it may cost you your life. If you find yourself being persecuted by the religious community, the best thing to do is to stay silent. Let the Lord defend you.
Jesus gave us a clear heads up to this in John 15:19-21 where he says; "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me."
You can exercise your religious rights all you want, it doesn't alter these scriptures, you may be able to delay the persecutions by exercising religious rights but you won't be able to stop it, it's part of the Christian walk. As a matter of fact, Jesus also says we're blessed if we endure persecution for his name in Matthew 5:9-11; "Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake."
Our hero of faith, the Apostle Paul boasts in his suffering in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, "We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." After 300 years of persecution, Rome stopped the persecution of Christians because they couldn't kill them, as the church grew ever stronger. They instituted their own leadership, in essence legalizing it to control it and hence the Catholic church was born.
The Interpreter continues with his proverbs or parables when he says; “Behold, the flowers differ in height, in quality, in colour, in smell, and in beauty; and some are better than others; also, where the gardener has planted them, there they stand, and never quarrel with each another.”
Again, he brought them into his field, which he had sown with wheat and corn: but when they looked, the tops of them all were cut off, and only the straw remained.
INTERPRETER. “This ground was dunged, and ploughed, and sowed, but what shall we do with this crop?”
CHRISTIANA. “Burn some, and make muck of the rest.”
INTERPRETER. “Fruit, you see, is that thing you look for; and, for lack of it, you condemn it to the fire, to be trodden under foot by men. Beware that in this you are not condemning yourselves.”
It is obvious that he's referring here to the body of Christ - Christians. We're not to fight and bicker with one another about our positioning, gifts and calls as we're all made very unique in God's eyes. Paul again says in 1 Corinthians 12:20-26; "But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."
We're not to condemn our brothers and sisters in Christ, as it's a work of the Holy Spirit that conforms us into the image of Jesus.
The script continues saying the following; "Then, as they were coming in from their trip, they saw a little robin with a large spider in its mouth.
INTERPRETER. “Look here.”
So they looked, and Mercy wondered.
CHRISTIANA. “What a sorry state that such a pretty little bird like the robin-red-breast, and a bird above many that loves to maintain a kind of sociability with men! I thought they lived on crumbs of bread, or on some other harmless matter. I like him worse than I did.”
INTERPRETER. “This robin is an emblem, very like some who profess the faith; for, by sight, they are like this robin, pretty of note, colour, and carriage. They seem also to have a very great love for those who are sincere; and, above all others, they seek them out to associate with them, and be in their company, as if they could live on a good men’s crumbs. They pretend also to frequent the house of the godly, and the appointments of the Lord. But when they are by themselves, like the robin, they catch and gobble up spiders. They can change their diet, drink iniquity, and swallow down sin like water.”
So, when they come into the house again, because supper was not yet ready, Christiana again wanted the Interpreter to either show or tell some other things that are profitable."
The religious leaders of Jesus' day were a good example of the hypocrisy. This is what the Interpreter is talking about. Jesus rebukes the highest religious leaders in the Jewish nation when he says in Matthew 23:23-26; “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." These religious leaders were only concerned about the outward appearance and power they wielded.
Interpreter continues on saying; “The fatter the sow, the more she desires the muck; the fatter the ox, the more reluctantly he goes to the slaughter; and the more healthy the lustful man is, the more prone he is to do evil. There is a desire in women to go neat and tidy; and it is a good thing to be so adorned, which, in God’s sight, is very expensive. ‘Tis easier watching for a night or two, than to sit up a whole year. So ‘tis easier for one to begin to profess well, than to hold out, as he should, to the end."
The fashion industry is as enticing now as it has ever been. You're walking out the door fully dressed, makeup, hair, latest designer wear, smelling wonderful, but have you put on Jesus? Peter the Apostle talks about this in I Peter 3:3-4. You can start off well as a Christian but are you finishing well? Are you running the race to win the prize or have you only prayed the prayer of salvation and continue on in your worldly ways? Our Heavenly Father is looking for endurance, staying the course, not looking back, growing in maturity, staying faithful to the call and election in your life. We read about this in the following verses.
Proverbs 20:6; "Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, But who can find a faithful man?"
James 1:12; "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
Mark 13:13; "And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved."
1 Corinthians 9:24-27; "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
I don't want to be disqualified in my Christian walk and I pray you don't either.
The Interpreter continues on; "When the Interpreter had done, he took them out into his garden again, and led them to a tree whose inside was all rotten and gone, and yet it grew and had leaves.
MERCY. “What is the meaning of this?”
INTERPRETER, “This tree, whose outside is fair, and whose inside is rotten, is that with which many may be compared that are in the garden of God; who, with their mouths, speak highly of God, but, indeed, will do nothing for him. Their leaves are fair, but their heart is good for nothing but to be tinder in the devil’s tinder-box.”
In Matthew 7:15-19, Jesus says; “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Jesus always looked at and continues to look at the heart of a person.
We continue to read; "Now, supper was ready, the table spread, and all things made ready. So they sat down, and ate, after someone had given thanks. And the Interpreter usually entertained those that lodged with him with music at meals; so the minstrels played. There was also a singer who had a very fine voice. His song went like this: “The Lord is only my support, And he that doth me feed; How can I then want anything whereof I stand in need?”
When the song and music came to an end, the Interpreter asked Christiana what it was that, at first, moved her thus to take her into a pilgrim’s life." The song is from Psalm 23.
Do you know that you have a testimony? You have a story to tell of how you were drawn into the love of Jesus and hoq you became born again. That's what the Interpreter was wanting to hear from them. Don't think lightly about the power of your testimony because in it, you overcome as we read in Revelation 12:11; "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."
It's important to note that they did not love their lives to the death, just like Jesus gave his life as a lamb going to the slaughter. It would be easy to quote this scripture and leave the part out "and they loved not their lives to the death". You can really see how by giving her testimony to the interpreter, she overcomes all of her present fears and doubts because the script continues to says; "Now, when Mercy was in bed, she could not sleep for joy, for now her doubts of missing at last were removed farther from her than ever they were before. So she lay blessing and praising God, who had shown such favour to her."
The following day, they are to continue on in their journey. It says;
"INTERPRETER. “For, you must go from here in an orderly fashion.”
Then he said to the damsel that first opened the door to them,
INTERPRETER. “Take them and have them go into the garden for a bath, and there wash them and make them clean from the dirt they have gathered by travelling.”
When they returned from the bath-house in the garden, the Interpreter took them and looked at them, and declared to them, “Fair as the moon!” Then he called for the seal with which they used to be sealed who were washed in his bath. So the seal was brought, and he set his mark on them, that they might be known in the places where they were yet to visit. Now the seal was the contents and sum of the Passover which the children of Israel ate (Ex. 13: 8-10), when they came out of the land of Egypt; and the mark was hung between their eyes. This seal greatly added to their beauty, for it was an ornament to their faces. It also added to their gravity, and made their faces more like those of angels."
The deeper we walk with Jesus Christ, the cleaner we feel. He references the scripture in Exodus 13:8-10, "And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year."
I believe too that this washing refers also to being baptized in water upon your confession - your testimony - of faith in Jesus. Acts 2:38-41 talks about it, Mark 16:16 says; "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved...", as well as other scriptures including Galatians 3:27 where it says; "for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
The story continues saying; "Bright white New Garments were given them, causing them to see each other for who they really are in Christ . Then said the Interpreter again to the damsel that waited upon these women, “Go into the vestry, and fetch out garments for these people.” So she went and fetched out white clothing, and set it down before him; so he commanded them to put it on; for it was fine linen, white and clean. When the women were thus clothed, they seemed to be a terror to each other, for they could not see that glory each one had in herself, which they could see in each other. Now then, they began to esteem each other better than themselves. For, “You are fairer than I am”, said the one; and, “You are more beautiful than I am”, said the other. The children also stood amazed to see what a great change had been brought about."
After making this firm commitment to Jesus and being washed, they see each other differently, it's like the veil has been lifted off of their eyes and they're able to see each other as Christ sees them.
Paul the Apostle also talks about putting on Jesus Christ in Romans 13:11-14; "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."
Revelation 3:5 says; "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."
When you truly put Christ on, it will lead to esteeming other Christians. You will seek to serve others and not yourself. Philippians 2:2-4 says; "fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."
The crucified walk seems to be the theme throughout these illustrations, which goes contrary to the secular, humanistic mind sets that are in the majority of churches today. Jesus wants you to put on Christ in exchange for a secular image, to be clothed with a new white garment that reflects his image in all that you do as a Christian. Stealth Christianity (OO7) is simply nothing more than being lukewarm a Christian, it's an exchange of white garments for worldly garments. It's almost an oxymoron - how can you be a Christian and not have fruit and boldness to share what Jesus has done for you? I'm not talking about physical clothing garments, it's not about modest long dresses and hair in a bun. It's about unashamedly putting on Christ daily in the secular settings, and not conforming yourself to the image of this world.
We're to daily be a living sacrifice as it says in Romans 12:1-2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Many churches today have tried to make the gospel 'appeal' to the lost and as a result have conformed themselves to the world and not to Jesus. Some examples as questions would be;
This is not what the church is to be. As a man or a woman, you can just simply go out and not conform to the worlds image and put on Christ, give your testimony, and overcome by the blood of the Lamb, (Jesus' death and resurrection) and love not your life even unto death. Mercy's testimony involved Christiana's witness in her life. There are a lot of men and women in your sphere of influence that need to hear your testimony, and by it, they too will become a Christian.
September 10, 2017 - Christiana's Progress
Stage 2 - Part 2 (pages 23-25)
The house of the Interpreter in the script we're reading, I would venture to guess, would be a "house of entertainment". It's presented both visually and dramatically. Innocence even says that Christiana has come to be 'entertained'. At this house, prophetic gifts are in operation using various creative illustrations which require the gift of interpretation to understand their biblical meaning.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 says; "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
There are numerous scriptures in the Bible where interpreters are used to interpret dreams. Joseph interpreting dreams of Pharoah, the baker, the cup bearer while in prison in Genesis 40:8 says; "And they said to him, “We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.” So Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.”"
Daniel thoroughly interprets the dream in Nebuchadnezzar’s courts in Daniel 2:16 where it says; "So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation." As a result, Daniel was promoted, just like Joseph was. You're gifts will make way for you in life and as the Bible says in Psalm 75:6 that promotion or exaltation doesn't come from the east or the west, but from the Lord. Rather than using selfish ambition to get you through life, let the gifts of the Holy Spirit promote you.
Those gifts of the Spirit are talked about in 1 Corinthians 12:9-11 where the Apostle Paul says; "to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills."
The gifts of the Spirit are distributed as the Lord and the Holy Spirit wills. 2 Peter 1:16-21 says; "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
The gifts of the Spirit have to line up with the Bible, otherwise your operating in witchcraft involving familiar spirits in exchange for the work of the Holy Spirit. An example would be of a woman going to a church believing the Lord has told her to marry so-and-so man of God. But that 'so-and-so' is already married! It goes against the Bible because that would be adultery. It sounds funny but it goes on all the time with 'so called' confirmations from God, angelic visitations, dreams, prophetic words, etc. There are numerous examples and subjects, but it HAS TO line up with the Word of God. It doesn't matter how spiritual you believe it is or angelic visitations you think you've had....if it doesn't line up with the Bible...you're in error.
Even if a 'prophet' speaks a word over your life, if it doesn't line up with the Bible, the more sure word of prophecy, reject that word because it's a false prophet wanting to tickle your ears with fleshly doctrines.
Let's continue on with Innocent where she says the following; “Can you imagine who is at the door? There is Christiana and her children, and her companion, all waiting for entertainment here.”
Christiana is compared by the Interpreter to the son in the parable found in Matthew 21:28-32 where it says; “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him."
God often used creative illustrations thru his prophets and preachers to deliver the word of the Lord for the saints. Ezekiel, Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah of the Old Testament of which some had the gifts of interpreting dreams and visions some used creative illustrations to deliver the Word of the Lord. Some of the most creative ways the Lord used a prophet are found in the book of Ezekiel where illustrated messages are done thru this Prophet to speak to the people of Israel.
Ezekiel 4 :1-17 is a clear example of this where God calls Ezekiel to prophesy about a siege that was going to happen to Jerusalem. The first verses say the following; “You also, son of man, take a clay tablet and lay it before you, and portray on it a city, Jerusalem. Lay siege against it, build a siege wall against it, and heap up a mound against it; set camps against it also, and place battering rams against it all around. Moreover take for yourself an iron plate, and set it as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face against it, and it shall be besieged, and you shall lay siege against it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel. “Lie also on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their iniquity. For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year. “Therefore you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem; your arm shall be uncovered, and you shall prophesy against it. And surely I will restrain you so that you cannot turn from one side to another till you have ended the days of your siege."
You can only imagine how crazy it must have looked like to see Ezekiel doing this. As you read about him, you'll see how God used him many times in dreams, visions and creative illustrations to communicate His word to the people of Israel.
Jesus often used parables to deliver his messages and often required an interpretation. What were the purposes of his parables? We read about it in Matthew 13:10-16; "And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;"
You are privileged as a child of God to be able to see and hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. Jesus knew that many would hear him, but wouldn't hear to be obedient to him. When Jesus spoke in parables, it was to give understanding to those who were his disciples only.
Matthew 13:34-35 says; "All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
2 Corinthians 4:1-6 also says this; "Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
When you get a chance, read this week about Jesus speaking in parables to his disciples, with whom he also needed to give interpretation at times. Matthew 13:1-52
John 12:37-41 says; "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him."
I believe as long as we are serving the Lord there will always be a need for interpretation of dreams and visions, but the Lord has all ready given us a more sure word of prophecy in the Holy Bible that our dreams and visions must line up with. There are no new Revelations. They ceased with the Book of Revelation which was the last book in the Biblical Canon with John writing it on the Isle of Patmos. However, there are ongoing illuminations from reading the Bible, that will inspire us to illustrate the Bible in a visual or audible way that may help interpret what the Bible has already said, these are called illustrated messages.
The story continues saying; "The Interpreter took them aside again, and took them first into a room where there was a man that could look no way but downwards, with a muck-rake in his hand. There stood also one over his head with a celestial crown in his hand, and offered him that crown for his muck-rake; but the man neither looked up nor regarded, but raked up for himself the straws, the small sticks, and the dust on the floor."
CHRISTIANA. “I am persuaded that I know something of the meaning of this; for here is a figure of a man of the world, is it not, good sir?”
INTERPRETER. “You said right; and his muck-rake shows his carnal mind. And whereas you see him rather give heed to raking up straws and sticks, and the dust on the floor, than to do what He says who is calling to him from above with the celestial crown in his hand; it is to show, that heaven is just a fable to some, and that things here are counted the only things substantial. Now, whereas it was also shown you that the man could look no way but down, it is to let you know that earthly things, when they gain power in men’s minds, quite take their hearts away from God.”
Examine your life today and see if you're the person with that rake and you can't even look up to see all that God has for you. The Man with the muck rake has his mind set on the things of the flesh, in so much that he cannot hear from God who wants to give him eternal life. Are settling only for what you can get in your own strength? Are you settling for the scraps off of the table? Are you settling for what the world can give you instead of what God has to offer you - eternal life?
Romans 8:5-8 says; "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
Colossians 3:1-3 also says; "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Where do you set your affections on throughout the course of a day?
The Interpreter encourages Christiana and Mercy to look harder at the beautiful spacious room that they're in. Why? Because they're missing an important illustrated message. We read;
"CHRISTIANA. “Here is nothing but an ugly spider, hanging by its hands on the wall.”
INTERPRETER. “Is there only one spider in all this spacious room?”
Then the water stood in Christiana’s eyes, for she was a woman quick of understanding.
CHRISTIANA. “Yes, Lord, there is more than one here; yes, spiders whose venom is far more destructive than that which is in her.”
The Interpreter then looked pleasantly at her, and said,
INTERPRETER. “You have told the truth.”
This made Mercy blush, and the boys covered their faces; for they all began now to understand the riddle.
INTERPRETER. “The spider takes hold with her hands, as you see, and is in kings’ palaces. (Prov. 30:28) Wherefore, this is recorded to show you that, however full of the venom of sin you may be, yet you may, by the hand of faith, lay hold of, and dwell in, the best room that belongs to the King’s house above?”
As sinful as we are, we have a right and a privilege to lay hold of eternal and live with King Jesus. But this is only through what Jesus did on the cross for us. Christiana new by the Holy Spirit that everyone in the room was as that spider, privileged to be a children of God, being the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, while yet still having the venom of the sin nature which is at war with the spirit man.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans 3:21-26 says; "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
He also says in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21;"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Psalm 103:11-13 says; "For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." You have the privilege as a son and daughter of God to come into his presence boldly. He hasn't left you as an orphan. You're his child! You can call him Abba - daddy.
When you've been entertained by the Interpreter - the Holy Spirit - through illustrations as Christiana and Mercy were, you'll be able to entertain those you come in contact with, whether it's family, friends, co-workers or those in the streets. Out of the abundance of your heart, your mouth will speak! Preach the gospel with boldness. Share what you've received at church, pray for those who are in need.
The author of Hebrews says this in Hebrews 4:15-16; "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
You've heard the word 'privy' right? It's only to a few do you divulge information to. You're privileged to know certain information or get certain things. That's how it is with God being his son or daughter! So come boldly to see what the Interpreter wants to reveal to you today.
The story continues with this illustration;
"INTERPRETER. “See what this little chick is doing, and learn from her to acknowledge where your mercies come from, and, receiving them, by looking up. Yet again, observe and look.”
So they looked carefully, and saw that the hen behaved in a fourfold way towards her chickens. 1. She had a common call, and that she made all day long. 2. She had a special call, and that she used only sometimes. 3. She had a brooding note. (Mat. 23:37) And, 4. She had an outcry.
INTERPRETER. “Now, compare this hen with your King, and these chickens with his obedient ones; for, answerable to her, he himself has his own methods which he employs towards his people. By his common call, he gives nothing; by his special call, he always has something to give; he also has a brooding voice for those that are under his wing; and he has an outcry, to sound the alarm when he sees the enemy approaching. I chose, my darlings, to lead you into the room where such things are, because you are women, and they are easy for you.”
This example too comes from Jesus when he says in Matthew 23:37; “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!"
The heart of the father today is wanting to gather you and millions around the world under his wings, to bring comfort and salvation. As you read Psalm 91 below, know that it carries your privileges as a child of God. Put your name in and apply it to your life.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”
So this is the privileged position of the Christian who obeys Gods word. As a Christian you hear the voice of the Lord and another you will not follow. You understand the Bible and if you're in need of interpretation, he has given you the spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit that lives in you to give you understanding. As a Christian you are privy to the understanding of the Bible, don't take it for granted, walk in the privileged authority that Christ has given to you. Your ungodly friends, co-workers or even family don't have this authority to walk in. You can bind up and cast out the devil who is wanting to harass yourself and those around you. That's your entitlement as God's child! Entitlement to have understanding knowing what the Bible says about you.
Bringing it back to the scripture we read at the beginning in II Timothy 4:2-4, you can either pursue false doctrines and whatever itches your ears, or can you listen to the Holy Spirit's interpretation of a more sure word of prophecy, found in the Bible.
August 27th, 2017 - Christiana's Progress
Stage 2 - Part 1 (pages 20-23)
Christiana, her four boys and Mercy have just been born again and they've set out on their spiritual pilgrimage. As we said last week, just because you're a Christian, does not mean that the devil stops his fight against you, but intensifies it. They've gone through the door - Jesus - and as you've just read, the adversary immediately has sent two Ill-Favoured ones across their path. Jesus says in John 10:9-11; "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."
The intent of these two thieves is to seduce and rape these women and they didn't care that they were Christians at all. What we want to highlight today is the authority that you have as a Christian and how to use the Word of God over the devil, which Christiana used to defend themselves with. They didn't give in or think they were too big to resist, but they used God's word to resist them.
The temptation is presented here by these thieves is that they want to 'make women of them for life'. That meaning, if you do what we say, you'll be set up and taken care of for life. You won't be in need any longer. But Christiana knew that it would be sin and declared they would have nothing to do with it and would not risk their salvation for anything, no matter how much money they offered them. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says this; "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."
1 Corinthians 10:13 says; "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
These women took the word of God as their way of escape, and, with that, they both shrieked out, and cried, “Murder! Murder!” and so put themselves under those laws that are provided for the protection of women. That verse is in Deuteronomy 22:25-27 where it says; “But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her."
It's interesting to note that the sin of rape is equated with murder. A good example of this is found in 2 Samuel 13:7-22; "And David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Now go to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.” So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house; and he was lying down. Then she took flour and kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. And she took the pan and placed them out before him, but he refused to eat. Then Amnon said, “Have everyone go out from me.” And they all went out from him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them to Amnon her brother in the bedroom. Now when she had brought them to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” But she answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me, for no such thing should be done in Israel. Do not do this disgraceful thing! And I, where could I take my shame? And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.” However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone!”So she said to him, “No, indeed! This evil of sending me away is worse than the other that you did to me.”But he would not listen to her. Then he called his servant who attended him, and said, “Here! Put this woman out, away from me, and bolt the door behind her.” Now she had on a robe of many colors, for the king’s virgin daughters wore such apparel. And his servant put her out and bolted the door behind her. Then Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore her robe of many colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head and went away crying bitterly. And Absalom her brother said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this thing to heart.” So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house. But when King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. And Absalom spoke to his brother Amnon neither good nor bad. For Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar."
It's worthy to note that Amnon was feigning sickness to seduce his half-sister and what he called love, was actually lust. Love does not rape, hate or murder people. Tamar was innocent, thinking that she was just helping her brother. The Bible is clear that hate equals murder in 1 John 3:15 where it says; "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." If you or someone you know says that they hate a person, and really mean it in the heart, you or they are guilty of murder. There is no middle ground.
The end result of Amnon's transgression is that, he hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her, and his own life was taken by his brother Absalom who murdered him, who hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar. All of this started with rape.
The devil is the originator of murder, lies and hate as Jesus says in John 8:44; "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it."
I'd like to share with you some statistics according to R.A.D. (Rape Aggressive Defense System) which teaches women how to defend themselves.
|•1 in 6 women in America has been the victim of sexual assault|
|•There is an average of 237,550 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year|
|•44% of victims are under the age of 18 and 80% are under the age of 30|
|•Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted|
|•Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim|
|•Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes, with 58% still being left unreported|
This attempted rape on Christiana and Mercy could have been avoided though, had they not been so caught up in the present blessing to not see the dangers to come. How could it have been avoided you ask? Christiana's dream - remember that from the very beginning of the book. She was warned, but got so caught up in the moment that she either didn't remember it or chose not to remember it. But the warning was there. Whatever the call and election is on your life, be sure that the devil wants to short circuit it before you can even get to it. If Christiana had used wisdom, she would have asked for a Conductor (an angelic escort) at the Wicket Gate as the Reliever had reminded her.
Let's read again what the script says;
"RELIEVER. “I marveled much, when you were entertained at the gate above, seeing you knew that you were only weak women, and that you have not asked the Lord for a conductor; then you might have avoided these troubles and dangers; for he would have granted you one.”
CHRISTIANA. “Alas! We were so taken up with our present blessing that we forgot the dangers to come. Besides, who would have thought that so near the King’s palace there lurked such evil characters? Indeed, it had been well for us had we asked our Lord for a conductor; and since our Lord knew it would be for our profit, I wonder why he didn’t sent one along with us.”
Psalm 34:18-20 says; "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken." God watched over these two ladies and they were delivered.
How many times have you gone out on your own in life, you're feeling blessed, but you find yourself in dangerous situations? There is wisdom in Jesus that you need to have at all times so that even though there are blessings in your life, the devil is seeking every opportunity to trip you up, get you off track, hurt you etc, just as what happened with Christiana. Have you ever been in a situation that you didn't see coming, only to realize later that it could have been avoided had you been more wise in your decision making? It could be anything that comes to your mind, from your childhood to present day. If you had only listened to that still small voice of the Lord telling you to, no.
The script continues on saying; "MERCY. “What a sudden blank is here! I thought that we were past all danger, and that we should never see sorrow anymore.”
CHRISTIANA. “Your innocence, my sister, may excuse you much; but as for me, my fault is so much the greater, in that I saw this danger before I came out of the doors, and yet did not provide for it when provision might have been had. I am much to be blamed.”
CHRISTIANA. “Why, I will tell you. Before I set foot out of doors, one night as I lay in my bed, I had a dream about this; for I thought I saw two men, much like these as ever any in the world could see, stand at the foot of my bed, plotting how they might prevent my salvation. I will tell you their very words. They said (it was when I was in my troubles), ‘What shall we do with this woman? For she cries out, waking and sleeping, for forgiveness: if she is allowed to go on as she begins, we shall lose her, as we lost her husband.’ This, you know, might have put me on my guard, and have provided when provision might have been had.”
It's very important to pay attention to visions or dreams that God gives you to warn you of troubles ahead, the snares and traps of the devil. As Christians we have to pay attention to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit within us, he gives us a check in our heart.
Here is God's solution to the attacks of the devil and the promise of God's Word to not leave you defenseless or helpless! It's in Ephesians 6:10-18 where it says; "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."
Your Bible is your only offensive weapon you have to fight the devil with, the rest of your armour is defensive. Without quoting the Word of God as it would apply to the attacks of the devil you're just going to get hit and hit and hit again, because the devil is not taken any prisoners , his purpose is to rob, kill and destroy you and your Christian testimony before you die.
I think Christiana is a perfect type and shadow of the Body of Christ, being prepared for the Groom - Jesus. Every person can relate to her experiences that she's living out in one way or another.
Here's a really good illustration, and I'm highlighting a woman here, but it's applicable either way. If you were to come home and find a lady wearing your favorite robe, drinking from your favorite cup, eating your favorite snack, while sitting in your favorite chair, admiring and wearing all your valuables and reading your bank information. She has the fireplace on and you ask how she got into your house, and the response is that you left the door open. You probably would exercise your authority as a home owner and call 911, and you would protect yourself and family from this intrusion and would never ever leave the door open again.
Why should this be any different to the devil when he tries to take up residence in your lives and come through the door you've left open, into the temple of God which your body is that houses the Holy Spirit? Only you know the door, window, access point or chink in the armour that has been open for the devil to gain access into your life.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says; "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."
So let's look at ways to fight back at the devil with your sword, the Bible.
The devil lies to you about Gods provision, you say it is written;
The devil afflicts you with sickness, you say it is written;
The devil tempt you with sexual sins, you say it is written;
The devil says to you that you can't afford to tithe 10 percent of your income to church, you say it is written;
so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine."
The devil says God will never be able to forgive you of your sins, you say it is written;
The devil says your defeated and there is no power in Jesus' name, you say it is written;
I would encourage you to get a Bible promise app that has various topics with scriptures that will help you fight the devil with using the Word of God. This last one mentioned above is very powerful. The devil would parade in front of you saying that he is the stronger one and that if Jesus defeated him, why is this world so evil and he's in charge of it, etc., etc. He has a good point, but the Word of God shows us what his final destination is where he will be bound and cast into the lake of fire for eternity...just remind him of that! Realize that as a Christian, you have authority over the devil with the sword - the Word of God.
So whatever the subject matter the devil throws your way, always quote the word of God. Many know the Bible but don't use it as a sword to fight back at the devil. You can have all the degrees and titles in Christian theology, have the Bible memorized inside and out, know all of Bible history, but if you don't use it to fight the devil, you're not going to win the battles.
If Jesus had to quote the Word of God when the devil tempted him, you do too, you're not exempt.
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