Digging Deep to Find the Nuggets

Patrick Hawthorne

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Priorities, priorities… It’s all about priorities.  Of late, my blog time, both in reading and writing, has been greatly reduced.  However, that is not a bad thing considering my study time has greatly improved. After all, one cannot become an effective teacher of the Word unless the same first becomes a hungry student in the Word.

For the past several months, I have delved deep into a study of the seven churches of Revelation.  What I have learned historically is very eye opening.  However, historical fact pales in comparison to what I have learned about Jesus and His love for His church – the body as a whole.  Yes, from a brief skimming of the verses in chapters 2 and 3,  it may appear as if Jesus is hyper-critical and has some harsh things to say concerning five of the churches.  Yet, upon digging deeper, it is obvious that His love for the Church is intense.

In Revelation Chapter 2, we see Jesus walking throughout the seven churches. His walking about lets us know that He is intimately involved in the Church.  Jesus knows the good, the  bad, and the ugly of all the individual churches, past and present, and future; He is in the midst of the congregation.  He is in the midst of your congregation.

10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” (Heb 2:10-12 NKJV)

What a wonderful blessing.  Jesus loves each of us so very much.  Even through our mistakes and failings, He is not ashamed to call us His brothers before the Father. WOW!  What an awesome word.

So, when thinking about Jesus in the midst of your congregation, do not look at His presence as frightful or inconvenient, but as a comfort. For He corrects those whom He loves and He loves those whom He corrects.  “For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of His faithful love. And when He draws you to Himself, it proves you are His delightful child.” (Heb 12: 6 The Passion.)  Be blessed.

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Posted in Christian, teaching

There is Hope for the Deceived – The Church of Thyatira

By Patrick Hawthorne

deceived

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;  19  I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20  Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.21  And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22  Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.  23  And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24  But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. (Revelation 2:18-24 KJV)

Have you ever skimmed through a passage in the Bible because -well let’s be totally honest – it seemed boring?  Don’t look at me so holy.  I’m sure we all have a time or two.  That used to be my attitude when faced with having to read about the seven churches in the book of Revelation.  My attitude has since changed now that I have made the commitment to conduct a serious study of these churches from chapters 2 and 3.  What I have discovered is truly astounding.

For this post I would like to focus on the Church of Thyatira. Well, let me rephrase.  I would like to focus on a couple of verses that are dealing with the church body’s deception by the false prophetess, Jezebel.

I will not go into all the wrong doings of Jezebel other than to write that she was a false teacher who was leading many in the congregation down a very dangerous path. As with the Jezebel of the Old Testament, I’m sure this Jezebel was equally manipulative, cunning, and full of evil.  After all, the Word tells us that she knew the depths, the deep things, of satan.

Yet, the acts of Jezebel are not my main focus.  My focus is on the response of Jesus toward those who were being deceived.  In verse 24 it is written, “But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.”

Who is Jesus speaking to in this verse?  It is well accepted that the angel of the church,  translated ‘messenger,’ is not an actual angel but is the pastor of the church.  Notice in verse 24, Jesus says, “But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira.” Here Jesus is speaking to the pastor, the deceived portion of the congregation, and those not deceived.  He is saying to all, “I will put upon you none other burden.”

“But, how can this be?” you may ask.  “I may be able to understand the deceived portion of the congregation, but not the pastor.  After all, wasn’t the pastor the very one who allowed Jezebel a platform from which to teach?”

This message to the church goes to show just how powerful the spirit of deception can be.  Both the pastor and many in his congregation were seduced.  They were deceived by a smooth talking woman, and a group of her followers, who were using subtle and delicate means to introduce a heretical teaching that was straight from the pit of hell.

But here is the point I would like you to receive.  Jesus says in verse 23, “I am He which searches the reins and hearts.”  Jesus knew the pastor and his congregation were being seduced and deceived.  He also knew that they were a ministry minded church full of love, patience, faith, service, and good works (verse 19).  In essence Jesus is telling them, “You strayed from the path but I am here to correct you and get you back on course.  If you heed My words, I will not hold you guilty for the sins of Jezebel.

This is great news!  When we falter in the course of our race, Jesus knows exactly how to get us back to where we need to be.  Take joy in His correction.  It is never to harm but to help.  God loves us so much that He provides grace and mercy, even if we find ourselves in a spiritual mess.  Why?  Because He searches the reins and the hearts.  Be blessed.

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Posted in Christian, prophecy

Eat Your Own Cooking Before Dishing it out to Others!

By Patrick Hawthorne

tasty

The other morning, I was praying, reading the Word, and doing a study on the seven churches of Revelation chapters 2 and 3.  In the course of my study, I came across the following by Rick Renner in his book, “No Room for Compromise.”

“A minister who preaches a message that he hasn’t first internalized is like a chef who heartily recommends a dish he has never even tasted. Such a chef may know all about the cuisine he is recommending; he may possess all the right ingredients to produce that dish; and he may even know how to cook and prepare it for others. But if he has never actually tasted that dish himself, everything he knows about it is merely head knowledge. He cannot truly speak about that food with authority because he hasn’t had a tangible, firsthand experience with it.”

Let’s put this in simple terms with a little Southern charm… “If the cook (minister) is too busy to sample taste his own cooking (the message), it may taste good to those who eat it but will have them walking away from the table still hungry. Why? Because it is all fluff and no sustenance. Ministers must first get the Word in themselves before they can get it into others.

If you are a minister or a teacher of the Word of God, always remember to eat your own cooking before dishing it out to others.  Be blessed.

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Every Move You Make, I Will be Watching You!

By Patrick Hawthorne

 

Jealous

I am fascinated by James 4:5 which points out, “Do ye think that the scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?” Actually the King James Version says, “…The Spirit who lusts to envy.”  It is the, “lusts to envy,” part that leads me to stop and ponder for a bit.

“Why, Patrick?” you might ask.  “Why would that verse, among other verses, stand out as so monumental that you would stop and write about it?  After all, we are talking about lust and envy, ya know?  Those can’t be good things.”

If my made up and purely imaginary questions serve to peak your interest, please allow me to elaborate.  The Greek word for lust in this verse is, “epipotheo,” which can be defined as a longing desire or an eagerness to possess or enjoy. While the word, ‘lust’ in today’s vernacular usually stirs up connotations associated with strong sexual desire, this is not the type lust the Holy Spirit has for us.  His lust is an intense desire, a jealousy, to keep us from the draw of the world.

You see…So many have watered down the grace of God to such an extent that God is often presented as a push-over.  In my mind, some have likened Him to a weak knee boy who sits in the corner watching as the school jock – the world – makes a move on his girl.  If you don’t mind me going southern for a minute, I have to say, “God ain’t no weakling and He ain’t no push-over.  God is not going to turn a blind eye as we play patty cake with the world.”

While I am not a huge fan of The Passion Translation, I do like the simplicity in which these verses are written.  “You have become spiritual adulterers who are having an affair, an unholy relationship with the world. Don’t you know that flirting with the world’s values places you at odds with God? Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy!Does the Scripture mean nothing to you that says, “The Spirit that God breathed into our hearts is a jealous Lover who intensely desires to have more and more of us”?

If you are a born-again child of God and have pondered the thought of dipping your big toe into the worlds swimming pool just remember that the Holy Spirit will not let you go without a fight.  Every time you think you have sufficiently out run the Holy Spirit, He will tap you on the shoulder and say, “Every move you make, I will be watching you.”  Be blessed.

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Posted in Christian, teaching

Preparing for the Backside of the Storm!

By Patrick Hawthorne

 

hurricane

The hurricane is one of the most fierce of the storms that nature can throw at us.  Extreme winds, flooding rain, and dangerous storm surges are but a part of the chaos brought about by these massive storms. Like a spider casting its spindly web, hurricane feeder bands give life to the ever dangerous tornado that will reach out to grab at whatever the main storm misses.

Yet, the hurricane has a calm side…the eye of the storm.  Many have lost their lives from being lulled into a false peace brought about by the emergence of the eye.  Thinking the storm has passed, many let their guard down and wander from the safety of their protective area.  This fact serves as an analogy for the Church of today.

Around 2000 years ago, the early church was hit hard with the front side of a massive storm of persecution that lasted around 300 years. Afterwards, a period of relative calm, the eye, passed over the Church for around 1700 years.  Now, the back end, the end-of-days  portion of the storm has arrived and it is beginning to hit with a vengeance.  Unfortunately, many in the Body of Jesus Christ are not seeing this because they have wandered  from the safety of God’s Word and are flirting with the things of this world.

One minister said, “Riding the fence cannot be an option because eventually you will fall off.  The direction you fall is dependent on the persuasion of what is inside of you.”

There is already a lot of pressure to back off of the message of the Gospel in order to pacify the critics.  Don’t do it.  Stand strong to your convictions.  We are seeing it firsthand.  Many churches have gone beyond accommodation to compromising.

Rick Renner… “Those who try to accommodate the spirit of the age may avoid the overt pressure of the persecution but they will also lose the power to walk in the Holy Spirit.  But those who make no room for compromise must be ready to face the backlash of a world that grows increasingly intolerant of those who believe in and stand for moral absolutes.”

The back side of the storm is upon the Church. If you have been straddling the fence of compromise, I strongly urge you to walk away from that fence.  Yes, you may face persecution but, in its stead, you will gain the power to walk in it through the Holy Spirit.  Be blessed.

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Some Things Must Thrive Before They Can Die!

By Patrick Hawthorne

spaghetti

“Dying ain’t much of a living,  boy.”  The words of Clint Eastwood, from the movie “Outlaw Joesy Wales,” echoed from within the  confines of my cranium as I unloaded spray upon spray of the weed killer upon my arch enemy, bahia grass.

“Yeah weed, today’s a good day for you to die.”

For those who do not know, bahiagrass is a single stalk weed that forms a “V” shaped seed pod at the very top.  Bahaia grass, also known as Johnson grass, grows about four times faster than the surrounding grass and can make a beautiful yard look instantly overgrown and ugly.

Here is the interesting thing about the weed killer for bahaia grass that you may not know.  In order for the killer to work, it must first make the weed thrive.  That’s right!  To kill bahaia grass without killing the surrounding nice grass, you must first accelerate its growth life and make it thrive.   This premature acceleration will actually cause the weed to grow so fast that it kills itself off.

Knowing how this killer works, I was not surprised when I went to my moms house to mow her yard.  It was loaded with bahaia grass, far more than it had normally been.

Sometimes we desire God to instantly remove a problem from our lives.  We want the weed killer that kills instantly.  And, to be honest, if it were up to us, we would probably choose the weed killer that not only kills the weed but neutralizes the surrounding area so that nothing will grow in the area created by our rash decision.

Fortunately, God, being much wiser than we, will often use a solution that may seem outwardly to accelerate our negative circumstances.  By this acceleration, He is creating the solution in which the surrounding  GOOD vegetation will not only survive but will now begin to thrive.  Why?  It is because the negative or our lives is no longer stealing the nutrients needed for the good  to thrive.

The word tells us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to not lean to our own understanding but in ALL of our ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths.  (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Although the solution to our problem may be painful, the Lord knows what is best.  He understands that sometimes the problem must thrive in order for it to die.  Be blessed.

 

 

 

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Is it Faith or Just a Blind Belief?

By Patrick Hawthorne

blindfold

I was reading an article the other morning.  In this article, the author made the argument that much of what is determined to be faith by some is not actually faith, but is more of a blind belief in something.  He went on to write that the Biblical Hebrew word for faith, “Emunah,” actually means, “Reliability, trustworthiness, dependability, steadiness.”

This really made me stop and think.  As I meditated on his words, I began to question my own idea of faith.  Did I believe blindly?  Is my faith a true faith or is it more wishful thinking –  a blind belief in something with no eternal value?  Or…Is my faith relying on, trusting in, depending on, and being steadfast in the Lord?

After much pondering, I then turned my thoughts towards the nature of his argument.  Shouldn’t all faith be blind?  After all, the Bible says to trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding (Proverbs 3:9.)  Don’t get me wrong, if someone’s so-called faith is based on nothing more than the outcome of their personal desires, then that would be wishful thinking.

Ah-haaa… wishful thinking equates to a blind belief in something that has no eternal value.

In the end I realized that this guy and I may not necessarily be on the same sheet of music even though we, for the most part, were playing the same song.  Faith is a reliance on, a trust in, a dependence on and steadfastness in the Lord and His promises.  Faith is not wishful thinking nor is it trying to make God move to our own individual drum beat.  Faith is never blind; faith is moving forward in the things of God with our eyes wide open.

Consider the following words from the Bible concerning faith.  “But our way is not that of those who shrink back to destruction, but [we are] of those who believe [relying on God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by this confident faith preserve the soul. Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” (Heb 10:39; 11:1 AMP).  By a true faith – Reliability, trustworthiness, dependability, steadiness – in God, we too will frame our world just as our elders framed their world.  Be blessed.

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