Friday, September 16, 2016, 6:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 18:1-10 (ESV). Luxurious Living (vv. 1-3) After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.” There is much speculation in the church, and in the world, as to who these words specifically apply. Babylon the great is described for us in Rev. 17 as the great prostitute, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. Although she is given a female persona, she represents an entity of some kind. She is also described as “the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” That subject, too, is given to much debate. I believe that, over all, she represents the world’s system, including within the worldly institutional church, for we are all commanded to come out of her. And, we can find this world’s system in many places of influence over our lives – via the media, TV, movies, music, games, the internet, and social media, etc. We can find it, too, in our schools, our universities, and in places of business; among our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. The sad reality, though, is that it has found its way into the church so that it is barely distinguishable between the church and the world now days. Much of the church, which is not a building, a corporation, a business or an organization, but is the body of Christ, which is a spiritual organism, with Christ as her head, has been caught up in a web of deception and has bought into the lies that she is to be like the world in order to win the world, but to what? When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23). The old has gone. The new has come. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived how we want, for we were bought back for God (redeemed) by the blood of the Lamb, i.e. by Jesus’ blood which was shed on a cross for our sins. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And, he died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die (without Christ), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity. Also, when we trust in our Lord Jesus to be Savior of our lives we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God, and thus we become the temple of God, his church. The Holy of Holies now lives within us. God’s sanctuary dwells within us individually and collectively. We are his bride, and he is our husband. Our faith in him is a vow of fidelity to God the Father and to the Son, Jesus Christ. We are to honor God in all that we do, and our worship of him is to be through our lives given over to him in full surrender (Ro. 12:1-2). And, yet, this is not what is being taught and practiced in much of today’s church, in particular here in America. Instead, they have turned the church into a business, an organization of men, and a corporation under the headship of the federal government of the USA, which is an evil entity. So, much of the church is living in spiritual adultery against her Lord, because she has joined herself with another lover, and she is following the ways of man instead of the ways of God. So, the institutional church, particularly here in the USA, fits the bill for the Great Prostitute, because she is living in adultery against God and is prostituting herself to other lovers so that she can be acceptable to man and sought after by other human beings. So much of the world’s uncleanliness has been brought into the church in order to win the world over to the businesses of men called “church.” She, for the most part, is following man instead of God, and even rejects the Lord’s messengers in favor of those who tickle itching ears, and who proclaim pleasing messages which make people feel good about themselves while they are still steeped in sin. Not only has the leadership of much of the church in America turned the church into a marketplace, when it is to be a house of prayer, but the church joined herself with another lover here in America, i.e. the US government, and she even encourages government worship via the pledge of allegiance (vow of fidelity) to the government, which often supersedes her vow of fidelity to Jesus Christ. Come Out! (vv. 4-8) Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’ For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.” God has commanded that his people be holy like he is holy, which means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed into Christ’s likeness. We are told in several places in scripture that we are not to be partakers with the world in their delicacies, i.e. in their sinful pleasures. We are not to be like the world in thought, attitude, values, word and deed. We are to be different – strangers in the world. We are not to love the world or the things in the world, for if we do, the love of the Father is not in us. When we give our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, we are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in mind and heart, so that we can show forth what is God’s perfect will for our lives. So, if we are to come out from the world’s system, including that which prevails in today’s institutional man-driven church, how do we do that? For one, I believe we need to be honest and forthright with God in examining our own lives, activities, attitudes, and behaviors. And, we need to be willing to listen to what his word teaches us, and we need to obey it, even if it goes against our traditions and the common practices of our day, even within the institutional church. And, that may be hard for some people who have always done things a certain way, thinking they were the right way. Then, we need to look at the influences on our lives, and what they are teaching us, or what messages we are receiving from them. TV is a big one! My husband and I used to be big TV watchers. In particularly, we loved movies. But, the closer I drew to the Lord, the more I realized how bad some of these influences were in my life. One day I read Philippians 4:8, which says: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” I then prayerfully examined the movies I liked to watch against this verse, and I threw out all that went against this scripture. Not many were left. Even the ones I thought were pure were not pure at all, for they glorified sin in one way or another, and made as heroes those who rebelled against authority and who lied and who cheated the system. So many Christians, or those who call themselves Christians, don’t blink an eye at much of the garbage that is on TV, which passes itself off as entertainment. They take in a regular diet of that which is an abomination to the Lord and which feeds our evil desires, and then they wonder why they struggle in areas of morality and purity and anger. But, this isn’t just on TV. It is in the gatherings of the church, too. Ministers of the gospel are showing movie clips from movies containing sexual promiscuity or which glorify lying, cheating, stealing, hatred and mockery of those who are not like us. Some music and musicians sound as though they are in a bar, not in a church, for they are very sensual in nature. Dramatizations are put on which include the world’s values and morality. And, many “worship services” are put on by “game show hosts” disguising themselves as God’s ministers. So, we have to ask God what is this “Babylon” which we are to come out of, and then we must be willing to come out, even if it means people reject us, make fun of us, and otherwise think we are crazy or religious fanatics. Weep and Wail (vv. 9-10) And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.” The Lord gave me a picture of this after America experienced 9/11/01. If I were to pick a physical place for Babylon, which would be this city which rules over the kings of the world, I would have to choose New York, New York, USA. I believe the Lord has shown me America as Babylon many times, which includes New York and Washington, DC, and which includes the institutional church here, which has had wide influence world-wide. The church in the West is largely living in adultery against God, and its influences stretch far and wide. Yet, not all of us must come out of New York, so to come out of her must mean that we are to come out from under her influence, i.e. from the influence of the world and its values, morals, thinking and behaviors. So, today we need to honestly ask God where we are being influenced by the world in our homes, in our work places, in our institutions of higher learning and in the church, and we need to come out from under those influences so that we do not share in her sins and in her punishment. Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012 I come before You, Lord, my Savior, With humble heart and crushed in spirit. I bow before You, I implore You, Heal my broken heart, I pray. Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master, You are the King of my heart. Lord, purify my heart within me; Sanctify me, whole within. Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit. I pray You give me grace and mercy, Strength and wisdom to obey. Father God, my heart’s desire, Won’t You set my heart on fire? Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders My walk with You, now I pray. Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy, My heart cries out for understanding. I want to follow You in all ways, Never straying from Your truth. Holy Spirit, come in power, Fill me with Your love today. Lord, mold and make me; Your hands formed me; Live Your life through me, I pray.