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Believing God

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In a startling encounter with the Living God, I was asked a question,

Would you behave any differently if you were truly convinced that I AM?

In the moment I heard His words "I AM" I also heard, "...I AM all that I AM, I AM Who I say that I AM, I alone AM God..."

The question rocked me to my core! God was asking me if I would behave any differently if was truly convinced that He was in charge. Up until that moment I thought everything between us was fine. But when He spoke, there was such an obviousness to His rhetorical question that took my breath away: If I was truly, thoroughly, completely convinced that He was absolutely in control of everything, God wouldn't have asked me the question!

I knew as He spoke that He wasn't asking me if I believed in Him (whether I believed He existed or not), but rather if I actually believed Him...

  • Did I believe all that He said?
  • Did I believe He was all that He said He was?
  • Did I believe that He, alone, was God?
  • Did I believe He was actually running things - and that means EVERYTHING?

If I did believe, then how did I act and behave? How did I live?

  • Did I love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?
  • Did I truly trust Him?
  • Did I lean on Him with all my weight?
  • Did I come to Him as my Source for everything?

I wept. And I repented as I found myself echoing the words of the man whose son had a deaf and dumb spirit, when he cried, "I believe! Help my unbelief!"

NOTE: To believe in a god, or even to believe in God, is quite different from believing God.

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Unbelief or Idolatry?

As I reflect on the words men speak it is apparent that they do not believe God regarding much of anything. And, witnessing their actions and the lives they lead, they certainly don't believe that He is in control... of anything!

Each generation seemingly contains more and more people who refuse to even believe in God, let alone believe Him. They are not addressed in this brief article, which contains an appeal to those who claim to believe.

Many will acknowledge God to be behind all the good and pleasant things in life: butterflies, sunny days, bunny rabbits, the birth of healthy children, a new job promotion, winning the lottery, etc.

But most are at a loss to explain the rest of the real world around them. When plans go wrong, when stuff happens, when tragedy strikes, they are the first ones to turn to anything but God alone to resolve their problems.

Employing mental gymnastics, men determine that God cannot be directly in control of everything, as that would violate their religious belief in the theory of Free Will. Bad things are attributed to - um - bad things, like bad luck, bad fortune, bad timing, bad people, etc. Among the few remaining who actually believe he exists, the Devil is also considered bad and, not all that long ago, was often blamed for the mishaps whose cause could not otherwise be explained. But as people grew more sophisticated they were reluctant to directly attribute all the bad things to an invisible enemy. Unless, of course, the invisible enemy is claimed to be a virus, but that is a topic for another article.

Over time, men grew reluctant to attribute all the good things to God. In their minds, the God of all creation, the I Am That I Am, is not all that, at least not anymore, not to them. He may have been at one time, back in olden days, back when He interacted directly with men, back when men may have really needed Him. Apparently everything changed: Men grew wise in their own eyes and their inventions, and their imaginings of technology, science, wealth and political power replaced their need for God. Men stepped up and reverence for God took a back seat, growing quieter and quieter. God didn't smite them all dead, so they grew bolder in their replacement of Him.

Idolatry is the replacement of God with anything but God. Yesterday's idolatry is often associated with bowing down before stone, wood, plaster, plastic or paper faces and figurines, bearing bowls of fruit, chanting and/or offering up meaningful words. And virgins. Today's idolatry is more sophisticated, and much better suited to science-based and evidence-based minds. And don't let anyone fool you: virgins still get sacrificed. Just maybe not in volcanos.

Many prefer to believe in a god who exists primarily to enrich their less-than-inordinately-wealthy (mistakenly thought of as "impoverished") lives. For special, religious reasons, this god requires financial investment (it is necessary to give in order to get), and investors are promised spectacular returns on their investments. He (along with his Earthly representative team) is most eager and willing to accept your financial contributions while you plan for your future. You can expect high yields; a harvest plentiful enough to care for all your needs with plenty of surplus to satisfy all of your desires, as well. You deserve it, after all, being the King's kids!

Others may not be as concerned about the monetary aspects, as they may already have their houses and lands, offshore accounts, 401ks and IRAs, etc. They wish for emotional involvement and support from a god. Their god is more caring and involved in interpersonal affairs. He specializes in seeing things their way, from their perspective, and fully upholds their rights... and their feelings... and loves them just the way they are. Their god will never expect anything extraordinary from them. Not ever.

Still others need to see a god's involvement in the world around them, but in a more explainable manner. They envision a distant, impersonal god who may elect to entertain interest in certain aspects of the lives of some people from time to time. This god typically works behind the scenes, indirectly through other people, circumstances and technology; a god mystically expanding and contracting in influence to suit the needs of the moment.

Regardless of which of these gods people acknowledge, these are the deities who are credited for the best things in life, those things that the unbelieving heathen attribute to coincidence and luck, and especially those things that they, themselves, can't take credit and be compensated for. Naturally, a god such as this could not possibly have anything to do with the bad stuff.

It is a rather brilliant belief system as it permits one to quasi-believe in any god of one's own imaginings while still loosely (or even directly) assigning causation and/or credit to one's institutions of choice. In other words: one doesn't have to believe God to believe in (a) god.

For example, if the loving god I believe in wouldn't harm a fly, when a fly is harmed and someone accosts me with questions as rude as, "How can your loving god harm a fly?" and "Why would a loving god let such bad things happen to flies?", I can sound confident and self-righteous in my ludicrous non-answer by saying, "My loving god didn't harm any flies! He wasn't involved!" When people then look at me, the one who claims to believe in (a) god, as if I have lost my mind, I can attempt to recover my credibility and appear to be more sophisticated by adding, "The god I believe in, the one not responsible for the fly harming event, has allowed the fly harming event to occur for reasons we don't understand. You'll see: these are things that he will later use for the good of the flies."

Naturally, I will have already called on emergency services along with law enforcement to minimize the harm done to the fly or flies, and prevent any other devastation from occurring. Because that is my responsibility; it is up to me, entirely. Except when more files are harmed. Then I fall back on that "permissive will" argument.

If I am feeling really courageous, superstitious, or "old school," I may come right out and ascribe the orchestrating of all fly harming events to the devil. Or, instead of the Devil, I may blame other objects worthy of fear and loathing such as the Left, the Right, the Government, the useless eaters, the 1%, the Russians, the Chinese, the Americans, the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, White people, Black people, the Global Elite, the Deep State, the un-Vaxxed, the Vaxxed, etc. (if I have failed to include your favorite object of fear and loathing, please contact me and I may be able to rectify the oversight).

Idolatry permits me to go on doing whatever I was going to do anyway and still feel good about my so-called faith (aka, my Idolatrous Belief System) because I have a trite explanation for events that might otherwise have demanded my serious consideration, or maybe prayer, or maybe even fasting.

When things go well, my pet god gets the praise, along with members of the academy, mom and dad, and whoever else I think I may benefit from by flattering!

For example, when someone recovers from an injury or illness, the expanded god team (those whom the god I currently believe in chose to work through) is sent the credit and praise. That team may include, but not be limited to, the medical facilities, prescribed medications, the General Practitioner, three Specialists, one Surgeon, hospital nursing staff, Auntie May's chicken soup, and Vitamin D.

By contrast, when an earthquake and its aftershocks devastate a city, razing most of the buildings to the ground, and a quarter of the inhabitants are killed, and most of those who remain alive are suffering harm in some form or another, I can launch into my fly harming event explanations, declaring how my personal, loving god may have allowed bad things to happen, but isn't directly involved. This way, if pressed, I can still claim it is reasonable to believe in my god.

Consider this:

  • Unbelief is the failure to acknowledge the One True Living God to be in charge of everything.
  • Idolatry is acknowledging anyone or anything to be in charge other than the One True Living God.

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My Belief versus Believing God

In order for anyone to have a chance to believe God they would have to first encounter God; God would have had to reveal Himself to them.

...a knowledge of God is revealed to them, for God has revealed it to them. For the secrets of God from the foundation of the world are appearing to his creatures through intelligence, even his power and his eternal Godhead, that they will be without a defense...

~ Romans 1:19-20

God is Who He is. Settle this issue once and for all by submitting yourself to God. You either believe God or you don't. If you say you do, beware the deceptiveness of idolatry. Don't replace what God has said with something you feel is more palatable, more believable, less offensive or will cause less controversy. And stop making excuses for Him.

God instructed Moses to tell all of Israel:

There shall not be another god for you apart from Me!

~ Deuteronomy 6:7

The Psalmist declared:

Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.

~ Psalm 113:5-9

Do you insist on believing in yet another god, one you can assign culpability to when things go wrong, and leaving you to still not believe God, but believe in a god you imagine?

Through Amos, the herdsman, God asks Israel five rhetorical questions, for which the truthful answer to each is, "No, of course not!":

Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment?

Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey?

Does a young lion growl from his den unless he has captured something?

Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no bait in it?

Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all?

If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble?

~ Amos 3:3-5

He then asks the following:

If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble?

~ Amos 3:6a

And He completes the series with this astonishing question:

If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it? (NASB)

Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it? (ESV)

Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (KJV)

Is there evil in the city that the LORD has not done? (FCAB)

~ Amos 3:6b

In God's own words, HE claims responsibility! HE does not blame the Devil. Why then, by what authority, would you? HE does not blame the bad guys. Why then, by what authority, would you?

Among those who refuse to acknowledge that God, alone, is fully in charge of everything, some are now teaching that evil men are somehow mystically duty bound to declare their misdeeds prior to carrying them out. We are told these evildoers must announce their plans, be it via Predictive Programming, or Revelation of the Method, or by whatever else you want to call it.

But is that how things really work? Contrast this with the TRUTH; that which is actually written, immediately following God's words to Amos:

Because the LORD of Lords does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

~ Amos 3:7

Who is announcing impending disaster? Just how many gods did you think were running things?

And He will say: 'Where are their gods, the mighty ones those upon which they were trusting?', for they were eating the fat of their sacrifices and they were drinking the wine of their drink offerings; let them arise now and let them help you and they shall be protectors over you. See, therefore, that I AM The Living God, and there is no God apart from me; I am putting to death and I am making alive; I am striking and I am healing, and there is none who escapes from my hands. Therefore I have lifted my hands over Heaven and I have said: 'I live to eternity.' I shall sharpen the point of my sword like lightning and my hand shall seize on judgment; I shall return a reward to those hating me and I shall finish my enemies.

~ Deuteronomy 32:37-41

There is only one of Him:

I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God.

~ Isaiah 45:5-6

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

~ Isaiah 45:7

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Believing God and Temptation

You may be wondering, "What does temptation have to do with believing God?" Permit me to show you:

A man should not say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God," for God is not tempted with evil and he does not tempt a man.

~ James 1:13

According to James we can conclude that God does not tempt a man. You may ask, "Where does temptation come from, then (and what does it have to do with believing God)?"

But each man is tempted from his own desire, and he lusts and he is seduced. And this desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin, but sin, when it has matured, gives birth to death.

~ James 1:14-15

James tells us two things about the source of temptation:

  1. A man is seduced
  2. A man's own lusts (desires) are used in that seduction

Let me ask the big question for you: Who is doing the seducing? James doesn't leave us to wonder:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

~ James 4:7

Resist the Devil. Temptation is his role. He is specifically called "the Tempter" in both Matthew 4:3 and 1Thessalonians 3:5.

In Genesis 3:1-5 we learn of the encounter between Eve and the Serpent. Of significance is the Serpent's question to the woman:

Did God actually say...?

~ Genesis 3:1

Who is this Serpent?

And he seized the Dragon, the Ancient Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan...

~ Revelation 20:2

Is the Serpent in the garden the one referred to as "the Ancient Serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan?"

Getting the woman to question what she believed God to have said was only part of the Serpent's agenda. This was step two in a two step operation. The woman could not have known what God had actually said because, according to the Scriptures, God hadn't spoken with the woman. Prior to her being created, God told the man, "Thou shalt not eat..." We assume that adam had told her what God had said, as she did manage to get part of it right when she engaged the Serpent.

Step one involved seducing the woman to engage with the Serpent apart from her husband, the one God spoke to, the one qualified to answer the Serpent's question. For more on this topic, see my article titled, The Origin of Man.

The point is that the Serpent challenged the woman's beliefs regarding what God had said. He then told her what she was longing to hear, that being: rather than continuing with this whole "just take God at His word" stuff, once she ate the fruit of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil she would be godlike, gaining the ability to make her own decisions, deciding for herself what is good and evil, right and wrong, up and down, left and right, etc.

James showed us that a man is tempted when his own desires are used against him, to seduce him, to draw him away from believing God. The Serpent appealed to the woman's own desires in order to seduce her:

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit...

~ Genesis 3:6

John warns us:

Do not love the world, neither the things that are in it, for whoever loves the world does not have the love of The Father in him. For everything that is in the world: the desire of the body and the lust of the eyes and the pride of temporal life, these are not from The Father but these are from the world.

~ 1John 2:15-16

The purpose of temptation is to simply swap out the love of God with love for the world. All that is in the world is summed up in the following three things:

  1. The desire of the body
  2. The desire of the eyes
  3. The boastful pride of this life

Let's map Eve's temptation with John's summation of all that is in the world:

  1. the tree was good for food - the desire of the body
  2. it was a delight to the eyes - the desire of the eyes
  3. it was desirous to make one wise - the boastful pride of life

Lest you conclude that I have only further reinforced the popular Christian teaching that God isn't responsible for the bad things, as that is the Devil's domain...

...let's dispel that notion once and for all, shall we? This teaching concludes with a story that can be found in the following three passages:

  • Matthew 3:13-4:11
  • Mark 1:9-13
  • Luke 3:21-22,4:1-13

Maryah Yeshua Meshika (our LORD Jesus Christ) came from Galilee to the Jordan river to be baptized by John. As He came up out of the water, the Spirit of God descended upon Him. Mark records that immediately following His baptism the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. After He had been there forty days, He was tempted by Satan.

Both Matthew and Luke put it a little differently. They say the Spirit led Him into the wilderness. Drove. Led. Don't drown over this issue. Rather, pay attention to the very reason the Spirit DROVE or LED Jesus away from the Jordan and into the wilderness: both Matthew and Luke clearly state that the reason Jesus had to go into the wilderness was TO BE TEMPTED BY THE DEVIL.

Then Jesus was led of The Spirit to the wilderness to be tempted by The Devil.

~ Matthew 4:1

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.

~ Mark 1:12-13a

But Jesus, being full of The Spirit of Holiness, returned from the Jordan and The Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by The Devil for forty days...

~ Luke 4:1-2

Don't miss this:

  • Question: Who, exactly, led/drove Jesus into the wilderness?
  • Answer: The Holy Spirit.

Pay attention:

  • Question: Why, exactly, did the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness?
  • Answer: To be tempted by the Devil.

The Spirit of God, not some evil spirit, led/drove Jesus into the wilderness specifically to be tempted!

We know it is the Devil who is the Tempter, who does the actual work of tempting. And the way the Devil does it is to get you to question God and then use your own desires against you.

But it was the Spirit of God who LED/DROVE Jesus to be TEMPTED!

When the Spirit led Jesus to be tempted, the Devil, try as he might, could not find any lustful desires in Jesus that could be used against Him, let alone could he get Jesus to question God. But we are not Jesus, and no one knows that better than the Devil.

Luke tells us that Jesus's disciples came to him with a request:

Our LORD, teach us to pray...

~ Luke 11:1

Both Matthew and Luke record this astonishing statement in Jesus's educational prayer:

Our Father...do not lead us into temptation, but save/deliver us from evil/the Evil one...

~ Matthew 6:13, Luke 11:4

Jesus taught His disciples to tell the Father NOT to lead them into temptation!

He didn't tell them that God wasn't involved, and it's all the Devil's fault! He didn't teach them to blame Rome, or the leaders of the Judeans. Nor did He tell them to beg God to help them be stronger than last time! He didn't launch into some teaching regarding God's permissive will, and He most certainly did not start trying to explain fly-harming events. Instead, He said to tell the Father not to lead/drive us into the wilderness to be tempted but, rather, to DELIVER us from evil, from the EVIL ONE. Deliver us from the entire process of temptation!

Jesus was hungry, having fasted for forty days. The Devil challenged Him by saying, 'IF you are who you say you are, you can turn these stones into bread (to satisfy your hunger).' Astonishingly, with literal starvation now weakening his body, Jesus responded with:

It is written: 'A man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'

~ Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4

That would be "from the mouth of God," NOT from your mouth, Satan! Or anyone else's mouth, for that matter! In my hunger I don't need or want your advice, your oh-so-clever suggestion to come up with my own solution, my own way out of this situation. The words of my Father are my sustenance. He LED me here. He will deliver me!

Do you now see the connection between temptation and believing God?

  • Question: Who, exactly, is in charge? Of everything? At all times? Unto eternity?
  • Answer: The One, the Only, the Living God!
  • Question: Do you believe HIM?

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In Whom do you trust?

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put your trust in men... It is better to trust in the LORD than to put your trust in princes.

~ Psalm 118:8-9

...and again:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.

~ Jeremiah 17:7

...and again:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

~ Proverbs 3:5

Lest you get the wrong impression and think these are merely suggestions, look at this TRUST issue from God's point of view:

Thus says the LORD: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.'

~ Jeremiah 17:5

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We have touched on topics such as Unbelief or Idolatry?, My Belief versus Believing God, Believing God and Temptation, and In Whom do you Trust?

Our LORD Jesus had this to say:

...but there are men among you who do not believe', for Jesus himself knew from the first who they were who were not believing and who he was who would betray him. And he said to them, 'Because of this, I said to you that no man can come to me unless it has been given to him from my Father.'

~ John 6:64-65

Has it been given to you? Then...

Do not fear; only believe.

~ Mark 5:36

Finally, having read through this brief article, now consider the question that was asked of me...

Would you behave any differently if you were truly convinced that I AM?

Grace and Peace be with you,