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Listening to God the First Time     10_19_08

Rev 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Rev 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

If we add to the prophetic words contained in the book of Revelation and I would say any prophetic book of the bible, we are in danger of  getting our names blotted out of the book of life. Perhaps this is why there is very little teaching on the book of Revelation. However, we must remember that there is also a blessing to those that read and keep the things written in the same book. We are not deliberately change the words. We must not water it down, change it or soften its meaning to make it more convenient for us to live how we desire to live without God's word interfering with our lifestyle.

The devil from the beginning has attempted to change God's word and use it to deceive. If we do the same, are we not doing the works of Satan? All he has to do is change the meaning in our minds. Sometimes we desire to make people feel better about themselves, we want to raise their self-esteem and we like to see people encouraged. Most of us would not deliberately deceive anyone but we can do that without really thinking by yielding to the temptation to soften Godís word so that we make people feel less condemned.

There is a verse in the writings of Paul that says there is therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. Some newer translations leave out the part that says ďwho walk not after the flesh but after the spirit,Ē leaving the passage to read, ďThere is therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.Ē That makes is sound easier to live with than to require one to walk in the spirit after one is saved from sin. However, even if the latter part of that verse was not in the bible, it doesnít really let us off the hook because first of all we canít be ďin ChristĒ completely and not walk in His ways. If we say we are ďin ChristĒ and we are still walking in sin (sin is transgression of the law of God), then we are not really ďIn Christ.Ē There are many other verses in the New Testament that urges us to walk in holiness without relying on that one verse. Comparing scripture with other scriptures is a good way to avoid taking one lone verse out of context and building a doctrine on that one verse.

There is one who desires to water down and change Godís word at least in our minds. He is Satan.

Lets go to Genesis chapter 3:Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Gen 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
Gen 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
Gen 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

God warned that disobedience would bring death but the devil succeeded in casting doubt in the mind of Eve and cause her to get her eyes onto the fruit and her mind off of Godís word and onto the desire to know as much as God. Perhaps Eve may have thought God sent them serpent to change His original commandment. Perhaps her mind just thought God was trying to keep her from knowledge and the serpent was letting her in on some deep dark secret. The devil convinced her somehow that she had heard God wrong or that God didnít really mean what He said. Before this they had no knowledge of any evil things. The devil changes God's word in the mind of Eve allowing her to think there will be no consequences if she went ahead and did what her heart was desiring to do.

Do we not try to do the same things today? We read a passage that sounds too strict and harsh and we desire to get around it and soften it to mean sometimes the very opposite of what God originally said. Sometimes we do this without realizing what we are doing. It sounds reasonable, it makes more sense but do we have a right to change what God really said? Do we want to take God at His word or get around it and eventually change its meaning.

Deuteronomy 4:1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.
Deu 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Israel was promised that they would possess the land given to them by God if they would only keep His word. If they would not add to the word or take away from it, no one could have ever taken their land away from them. As a result of disobedience, idolatry, and forsaking Godís word, they lost their homeland more than once. They are now back in that land after just under 2000 years of being scattered all over the world.

We can translate God's word into languages that can be understood, for example from Latin to English, from English to Spanish but we dare not attempt to change the meaning from what God originally meant to say.

Balaam attempted to soften or get around God's direct commandment and it got him in trouble. The king of Moab feared the children of Israel. The story is in numbers 22. They were a strong people and large in number. This struck fear into Balak the king of Moab. Fear is a big cause of persecution against some groups of people. He had heard of  a man called Balaam who was supposed to be some kind of a prophet.

He sent messengers to Balaam telling him about these people who came from Egypt that were covering the face of the earth and they are living too close to him. He asked Balaam to come and curse the people so he could then defeat them and drive them out of their land. He further stated that he knew whoever Balaam cursed would be cursed and whoever Balaam would bless, they would be blessed. I believe the king said that to play on his sense of pride and exalt Balaam into thinking it was true and that he did really have that kind of power. Who though has the power to bless or curse? It is God Himself. See how we as humans tend to exalt prophets of God, preachers who are gifted to speak well, those who have the gift of healing and can lay hands on the sick and they recover. We tend to puff people up and forget who gives the gifts if their gifts are legitimate. We must remember to seek the giver, not the ones who receive the gifts.

These men went to Balaam carrying their rewards with them and delivered the message to Balaam from the king. Balaam told the men to lodge overnight. He then went to seek the Lord.

Godís first word to Balaam was to not go with the men and not to curse Israel. Balaam sent the men away and told them the words of the Lord. That should have been the end of it then and there. The king sent more important men back to Balaam. Balaam should have rejected these men also but he decided to speak to God again hoping God would change his mind so that he could collect a nice reward. When Balaam went to God this second time, he was in reality trying to change Godís mind or tempt God.

Godís divine will was what He said the first time. Godís permissive will let Balaam go with the men but speak only what he said. When Balaam went with the men, God was actually angry with him.
In other accounts of the story of Balaam we find out that since God wouldnít let him curse Israel, Balaam and the king planned to send beautiful women to the men of Israel tempting them into fornication and idolatry. This would cause God Himself to curse Israel. This showed the wickedness in Balaam who cared more for rewards and gain than the souls of the men of Israel or the will of God. Letís hope we do not have men or women like that in the ministry today.

Balaam is an example of one who tried to change the word of God or get around Godís original word to him. God's first word to Balaam was not to go and not to curse Israel. They then sent more honorable people to persuade Balaam to change his mind and Balaam went to God again and thought he could change God's mind and God allowed him to go with the men this time but that was not God's original plan. Sometimes God will allow us to do what our hearts desire but it may not be His divine will for us. I donít think want Godís permission any more. I want Godís divine will. Balaam should have not attempted to get around God's word and compromise it in order to get a reward from the king of Moab. He should have taken the first word of God and refused have any further meetings with the agents of the king of Moab. Yet today we do the same thing when we try to change the word.

Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
Deu 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
Deu 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deu 13:4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

God will allow false prophets and teachers for a season sometimes to test our faithfulness to His word. When we allow ourselves to hear someone water down or change His word and we begin to follow after that one or copy after him, we open ourselves up to deception that could destroy our souls. God's word does not change. God is still the same as He was in the days of Moses.

Another example is with another prophet. This story is in 1 Kings chapter 13. There was a man of God from Judah that God sent to warn King Jeroboam because of the continual idolatry that Jeroboam was involved in. When the kings in Israel did evil the people usually followed them. This prophet came to Jeroboam and cried against the altar and said, ďA child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee (meaning upon that same altar) shall he (Josiah) offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and menís bones shall be burnt upon thee.Ē

In other words upon the same altar that Jeroboam and the priests were burning incense to idols, the bones of those that did those things were to be burnt upon the same altar. High places are where most idol worship took place. This was fulfilled literally under the reign of King Josiah years later. The story is in 2 Kings 22 and 23.

When this prophet spoke these words, Jeroboam attempted to lay hold on him but when he put forth his hand against the prophet, Jeroboamís hand dried up immediately. The altar was torn in half and the ashes spilled out. Jeroboam asked for the prophet to ask God to heal his hand. The prophet asked the Lord to heal Jeroboam and his hand was healed. Jeroboam then asked the prophet to come home with him and be refreshed and get a reward. Here is the main thing I want to bring out:

The prophet could not go with the king because the Lord previously told him:

1Kings 13:8 And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
1Ki 13:9 For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.

That was Godís word to the prophet before he went down to bring the word to Jeroboam. At this time the prophet obeyed Godís word and left that place.

Another old prophet in Bethel heard about this event. His sons came and told him all that the man of God had done. This old prophet of Bethel went to find the man of God and he found him resting under an oak tree. I imagine he was hungry, thirsty and tired. The Bethel prophet told did what any normal person with compassion would do and offered him to come home with him to eat. The prophet then told him the same thing that he told Jeroboam. He could not because the Lord told him not to stay in that place neither eating nor drinking.

The Bethel prophet then lied:

1Kings 13:18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spoke unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.
1Ki 13:19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.
1Ki 13:20 And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back:
1Ki 13:21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee,
1Ki 13:22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the LORD did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulcher of thy fathers.

So after the man of God left the house of the prophet of Bethel, a lion met him and killed him. When the old prophet found him, it grieved him. He had to live the rest of his life with the fact that his lies caused the death of a fellow prophet. Some assume this prophet was a false one but I donít believe he was a false prophet but only one that compromised and did not wholly follow the Lord by changing the word. This shows that even good people who serve the Lord can get into error and mislead us by using a mixture of truth and error.

We see also from this sad story that the word of God is not to be changed or watered down. It is usually His first word to us that is "the word." Notice that God was harsher with the one who disobeyed His words than with the one who lied and said that God said something He didn't say.

We are held accountable if we know the word and someone comes along and changes that word, to hold true to the original word of God. You can find out something from Godís word that really speaks to our heart and then someone come along and say, ďI am a Christian too, in fact I preach the gospel and have a big church with lots of people. Those words do not actually mean what you are understanding them to mean. In the Greek it says something different. Unless you get a Greek dictionary there is no way you can know what the Greek really says so we end up taking their word for it that what they say is true even after God the Holy Spirit showed us the very opposite. We need to be careful. I have found out lately more than ever that the bible is its own interpreter. Usually if a passage is hard to understand, there will be other verses that can explain it.

Revelation 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

An open door was given to the Philadelphia church because they have kept His word. Jesus also promised that the Philadelphia church would escape the hour of temptation that shall come upon all the dwell on the earth. Jesus gave a promise to those that follow Him in John 7.

Joh 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
Joh 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

Brothers and sisters, have a heart that desires to do the will of God and you will know the right doctrine. If we desire to skirt around Godís word and find another meaning, we just may find it but it may not be the Lord that gives us the meaning.

Joh 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Continue in the word, do not attempt to change it and we will know the truth. God does not lie. He said that if we continue in His word we will know the truth. If your heart desires to find a way around the word because you donít like what it says, you just might find it but it will not be the truth. Have a heart that is ready to accept what Godís word really means. Let our attitude be, ďWell if God says it, then so be it.Ē
If a passage teaches one thing and all other passages support that teaching, then we must not change it. We compare scripture with scripture to get the correct meaning. We must not take the words of men that explain the scriptures away.

There is a scripture that says that a woman should keep silence in the church but there are other scriptures that say that your sons and daughters shall prophesy so we know that the silence Paul was speaking of was not forbidding the woman not to pray, prophesy, sing and such because it would be in opposition to other scriptures. We cannot change what Paul said but we must try to take it in context and attempt to understand what he meant.

I believe that he was not making a doctrine of women keeping absolutely quiet and not participating in worship but he was trying to keep the church services orderly and not have a lot of confusion so the word can be preached without hindrance. This should apply to men and women alike. When someone is preaching or teaching, we should not interrupt and should show disrespect.

Tradition tells us that Jewish men were allowed to interrupt the speaker when they disagreed but this same allowance was not given to the women. If there were no other scriptures allowing women to speak, preach or prophesy then we would have to accept Paul's writing without question. We would never have a right to change it but since other scriptures confirm God gives His spirit to women as well as men, we then can look for an explanation but with caution and with the attitude that we are willing to follow the truth and not try to change it. To deliberately see something we just do not like and then attempt to get around it like Balaam did, is dangerous to our eternal souls.

We see clearly from scriptures that when the Holy Ghost fell on the day of Pentecost and in other places in Acts that people spoke in tongues or in another language other than the one they had knowledge of like most of us speak English but when the Holy Spirit falls upon us, we may speak in a language we do not recognize. Peter explained this experience as the promise of the Father which is to all who believe and to all that are afar off yet we have many today trying to change that word and say that the gifts of the spirit were only for the apostle or for those in the days of the apostles. Why do we have any right to change what is written. To all that are afar off means you and me. How do they explain all that are speaking in tongues today? Sure some may be fake but surely every single last one of them that are cropping up in all denominations and all over the world couldnít be faking it. Not all occurrences are in church. Some of us received the Holy Spirit when we were alone, at home or in cars. Some of us are too stubborn to accept something that we try to do ourselves and call it the gift of God. Some of us would fear to do such things.

I've mentioned before the explanation given when Jesus warned that itís harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. All our lives we heard the explanation that the needle's eye was a gate in Jerusalem that did not have room for a camel to go through until he removed all the baggage and bent down to enter the city.

Research tells us that there is no proof of any such gate in Jerusalem. This apparently is a story to make us feel better about being rich. Why change what Jesus says. It is obvious that the rich man Jesus was speaking to cared more for his riches than giving to the poor around him.

Today we have people getting rich through selling drugs and pornography. They are rich in material goods but at the cost of destroying millions of lives. I would say that is a good example of the camel and needle. In order to be saved they would have repent and believe the gospel but genuine repentance would cause them to stop selling the drugs and pornography. They then would no longer be rich. So if our riches are causing us to sin: if we have to cheat, lie; use high pressure and questionable tactics to make money, then I would say that we need to give it up and sell all we have.

If our money or material possessions keep us from obeying the word of God, then it will keep us out of heaven. It is simple as that.

Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Mat 10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
Mat 10:36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
Mat 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Mat 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Mat 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

When we study those scriptures its easy to understand the eye and needle story. We do not have to make up stories about camel gates. When we realize that God does not make a commandment, and then not give us the grace and strength to keep it, His commandments are not grievous. He will make a way for all those willing to follow His word and not attempt to get around it and climb up another way.

If Billy Graham says something questionable, we do not automatically accept it just because Billy Graham says it. This is not meant to reflect negative thoughts about Mr. Graham. Iím just using it as an example. The word of God is the final authority. The spirit of God will not go against the written word. If Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn says something contrary to what we read in Godís word, that does not make it truth. We must believe what the word says.

I remember someone trying to convince me something was okay. I donít remember the details but I do remember that they quoted something Benny Hinn said to support their argument. My thoughts were ďWho is Benny Hinn, that we would be willing to change something we believe because he said it?Ē We have someone who is willing to teach us that is much greater than anyone else.

Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Joh 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

As we see evil days approaching, we see also the great need of being filled with the spirit. The best teacher and the best preacher is still the Holy Spirit but the true Holy Spirit will never add too or take from the written word God has already provided us with.

We donít need to put out fleeces like Gideon, or use divination, seek for signs to find Godís will. First we have the word and then we have the Holy Spirit to guide us if we let Him.

I have a cousin who is a Jew. He is my cousin through a female relative of mine. She is not a Jew so he is half Jew. He is her son. I was listening to a sermon by him on the Internet. He was telling us that years ago he was given a dream of the woman he would marry. Many years past and he met other women but he didnít forget the dream. He was in Jerusalem with his mom once and was thinking of getting married. In fact he was almost engaged. Something he felt in his spirit just wasnít right so he prayed for a sign. He said Lord, if it is your will that I marry this lady, please let me see a shooting star. He looked at the sky from their hotel and he didnít see a shooting star. Well, he thought he would ask again. This time when he asked for a sign of a shooting star, he saw a shooting star. He still wasnít sure so He asked again and again he saw another shooting star. He went and told his mom and said that he still didnít feel right about the marriage. There was that still small voice of the Holy Spirit tugging at his heart. He didnít need a the sign of any shooting star. He didnít marry her and a few years later he met the women that he had once dreamed of. They both are in the ministry today.

If we learn to listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit instead of listening to everyone else, asking for signs or asking God to give us what we already want, we will get into less trouble. The Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit. He is the right teacher and He will never tell us to do anything contrary to Godís word. How many of us would have fallen for the shooting star sign? The first time he asked, there was no shooting star. He went back and asked again before he saw the star.

I for one desire to ask for Godís divine will in my life, not his permissive will. What does he want me to do? How does He want me to live? Or do I make plans and then pray and ask God to bless what I want to do and how I want to live?

God will give us things, give us permission and allow things in our lives that we ask Him for and desire but are those things His divine will or His permissive will? There is a difference. Sometimes in His mercy, He may say no or to wait. We fail to realize that it may be what is best if He says no. To really have Godís will fulfilled in us, we need to seek His divine will.

Young people, if we marry the wrong person, we may have to settle for Godís second best for us and not His best. I applaud my young cousin for at least seeking Godís will in this marriage. Thank God for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit that kept him from making a mistake that may have cost him is ministry. His father is a messianic rabbi and so is the son in that same kind of ministry.

There is New Age type of religion making the rounds that claim there are other ways to heaven other than Jesus. We do not have any right to change the word or what Jesus already said about the way of salvation. The devil has desired to change Godís word since the beginning. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes unto the Father but by me. We do not have any right to
change that word and tell anyone that there is another way. Neither the president of the United States, Ophra, the Pope, Billy Graham, Randy Howard or John Hagee has any authority to change what Jesus said. There is no other way to eternal life other than Jesus Christ.

I will close this message by quoting someone we all know and love:

Pastor Mullins received this inspiration from the Lord on January 30, 2007.

"1:45 AM. The word of the Lord came to me." "When men quit trying to change my word, and surrender unto me, I will repair the breach.
I will place whom I will place to lead, and will direct their path to bring my church into my righteousness evermore.
It is because of your disobedience that I have not given you my direction and have not shown unto you my favor.
Repent, come unto me with your hearts humbled and I will once again turn to you and you shall be my people.
You have been in my favor in the past and you shall be again. Only repent!"