July 29, 2014
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
Clothed and Walking
If we truly want to know God’s provision in every circumstance in our lives then we must experience what it is not to have. We have to experience the night before we truly appreciate what it is to have the light of day. Often we don’t always understand the things we must go through, the losses that we must endure and why sometimes God doesn’t seem to be there for us. We all have our own wilderness journey in one form or another. Through it all we have been tested to see what was in our hearts. Would we continue to trust God, even when He didn’t seem to show up, meet our need or answer our prayer? When things didn’t go our way, did we blame Him? Many of life’s heartaches and hardships have really tested us to see if when we couldn’t understand His hand we would trust His heart. Yet in those times as we look back, we see the subtle grace of God at work helping us, comforting us and giving us strength when we had no more of our own.
Some of us are at this place in our walk right now. We are struggling with finances, with health, with relationships or job issues. Sometimes we reach that point where we want to just rebel, get mad or give up. Your heart is being tested. It is not out of meanness or lack of caring, but when a muscle is stretched and pushed beyond limits, it must continue to grow in order to meet the demands placed upon it. It is not easy. It is painful. What we forget is that we are not just an ordinary people, we are an extraordinary people. We are becoming that because God is taking us the extra mile and stretching us beyond our human limitations. He is preparing us for extraordinary times. Yet as we will respond to Him in faith and obedience, we see His grace at work in supernatural ways in other areas of our life.
God is separating us from our reliance upon our flesh and our dependence upon this world. He is stretching us to know supernatural provision and strength. We don’t find that when we are in pursuit of worldly goods or earthly fame and significance. We find it in the humility of walking in His discipline and discipleship. We will never fully appreciate the bread that is our provision until we first pursue and find the bread that feeds our spirit and our soul. We could say, “seek ye first the bread of life, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Jesus tells the following that pursued Him after He fed the multitude in John 6:26-27, “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Jesus is the fulfillment of that manna which came out of heaven. It is not in the attainment of physical needs and wants that we are filled and completed, it is in our partaking of Him in personal relationship, faith and obedience that we find the true bread of life. When you have truly found Him, then all of your superficial needs are met as well. That need that we have is not always seen and met in the present tense, but it is met in faith as we embrace Him.
God is our loving heavenly Father who disciplines us as His sons. He is often willing that our flesh would suffer so that our spirits may grow. Most of us are here and now kind of people. We are most concerned with what we are facing right here and right now. Be not concerned with the cares of the moment, God is seeing you in a much greater role, one in which you must be tested, tried and proven. That is just as He was doing in Joseph when through years of suffering and hardship, God was all the time preparing Him for leadership and government. Could Joseph have faithfully and adequately done what he did for Egypt, if God had not prepared and raised Him in His purpose through strong discipline and adversity? Like he told his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” You may think the devil is out to destroy you, but he what he would mean for evil, God will use for good. Romans 12:12 exhorts us, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” If you are enduring the discipline of the Lord, then rejoice, because God has marked you for better things. What He has called you too, He will prepare you for.
We are no longer walking in this worldly economy as natural people are; we are walking in a kingdom economy and for a kingdom purpose as a kingdom people. In this journey God will clothe you with His righteousness that will not wear thin and He will put the strength in your feet to walk the walk of the cross as He shods them with the preparation of the gospel. We are people that are rich beyond measure, but our riches are not measured by earthly standards. God is our standard and in Him there is no lack or weakness. Let us pursue Him who is our bread of life, provision and godliness. In Him we will know no lack. Even in our correction He will sustain us.
July 28, 2014
A Cry in Zion
Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: [Is] not the LORD in Zion? [is] not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, [and] with strange vanities?
There is rising up a cry in the bride for those who dwell in a far country. The far countries are Babylon and Egypt. It is in those places that I have delivered you out of with a mighty hand, yet you have chosen to return there and dwell there rather than in Zion and in my holy city, which you are in Spirit and in Truth. It is the vanity, the idols, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the vainglory of life that has led you captive. You have become fat and content in those foreign places and you have forgotten where I dwell. Do not I, the Lord, dwell in Zion? Am not I the King in Jerusalem, My holy city?
My beloved, I dwell in you. Have you so soon forgotten who you are? I have become a distant place and foreign land to you. My dwelling place has become to you distant and beyond the living. I have called you this day to live in Zion and in My holy hill. I have called you to be Kings and Priests to minister in My holy temple, which you are. Why do you respond to the call of foreign lovers? The travail that Paul had for the Galatians is the travail I have till Christ be formed in you. You are My temple and you are My inheritance. I am jealous over you. Am I so little to you that you run to serve and love others?
My call to my people is to return this hour unto Me with your whole hearts, your whole souls and all of your being. Do not forget who you are, for I have given you a new name and new nature. You are not the world, but you have been called out of the world and I have exhorted you not touch the unclean thing for it defiles those who do. Separate yourselves from idolatry and vainglory. Come apart with Me and let me cleanse you and restore you unto righteousness.
The road that leads back to Zion, My holy hill is open and I am calling you to return from your foreign countries. Leave your foreign wives and lovers and return unto Me while there is time. Today the heavens are open. Lift your head and look up for your redemption draws nigh.
July 25, 2014
The Compromise of Our Hearts
1 John 1:6-10
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Are we totally real and transparent inside and out? How many times have we had dealings with another brother or sister in Christ who outwardly professed Christ and had the entire pretense of being a good Christian? Later we found that they ended up cheating us, or lying to us, or deceived us into believing they were something that they didn’t prove to be by their actions or their words? I dare say a lot of that is in all of us to one degree or another. We are quick to pick it out in others, but are we as quick to discern it in ourselves? How much compromise is in our lives? 1 John 1 says to have fellowship with Him we must walk in the truth. It seems to me that God isn’t as interested in beating you up over your sin as He is in you acknowledging it, taking ownership of it and then repenting of it. Perhaps one of biggest sins is our self-deception wherein we are in denial of our sin and get very defensive and even hostile if someone even suggest that we might be harboring sin in an area of our lives. ” Don’t you even question my ethics, morals or integrity or your head is coming off,” is often our attitude. He says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Some of us compartmentalize our sin and justify different types of behavior for the different part of our business and social life. We have different standards according to the setting we are in. That is deceiving ourselves and walking in a lie. We have one standard and Christ is it, all of the time. It is a marvel that so many Christians live behind smoke and mirrors. We can talk the talk, but we aren’t walking the walk. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit are there to help us with that if we are willing to face ourselves and our sin honestly for what it is and repent of it. Even as brothers and sister in Christ, we are our brother’s keepers in the sense that we should hold one another accountable concerning our faith and walk in Christ Jesus. That should be done with the greatest humility and first examining our own selves. 1 John 5:16 says, “If any man see his brother sin a sin [which is] not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” The first thing we need to do is not to be judging them with condemnation, but bathing them with prayer. Then Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” The truth is that none of us are above sin and temptation. We all should want to be each other’s support system so that we can help and encourage each other in righteousness and be the mirrors of mercy, not judgement, that can help us see those things in ourselves that we fail to see. I made the comment to my wife recently that if we saw the playback of our lives and how we actually act, talk and behave, we would probably shutter and be totally embarrassed and often ashamed at what we would see.
The Lord wants to help us come out of the areas of compromise in our lives where darkness has found its inroads. The greatest thing we can do is have a heart that really wants to see ourselves as God see us and desires desperately to repent and change all that is displeasing to Him. With that heart we are much more open to receive correction rather than being offended or in denial, and use it for our growth. We have to love the Truth in order to truly walk in it. True friends and fellow believers, who are willing to share with us honestly and in love, are tremendous assets to us and should be valued. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
July 24, 2014
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Our walk in the faith of Jesus Christ is not always an easy one. If we really are walking in a full commitment to Christ we, like John, may well come to know that beside the blessings that are ours in Christ, there is often a price to be paid to walk this way. The Kingdom of God is not about God raising up spoiled children, pampered with every desire of their flesh. He is raising an army of sons trained up in Kingdom principles and equipped for spiritual warfare. When the Lord trains us up in His ways we may not feel very blessed because He leads us through hard places. Places of trial and tribulation. Often, just as in military training, there is a process of tearing down of the old ways in order to build us back up in the new ways. 1 Peter 1:7 says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” Our faith is only a head and knowledge thing until the fire of tribulations and trials come to us. It is there we either press into and lay hold of what we say we believe or we forsake what we may have confessed with our mouth, but has never been worked in our hearts. Our faith is much like a marriage; it is a covenant commitment of our hearts and lives to our God. Not unlike many marriages today, when the honeymoon is over and the rubber meets the road with trials and conflicts, our resolve and commitment of love quickly wanes. We find ourselves in a place of tribulation and rather than overcoming through trust, obedience, patience and steadfastness, we want an easier, less painful way. Jesus could have chosen an easier way, but He endured the beatings and the shame and the pain of the cross for us. Father God could have chosen an easier way than giving His only begotten son to die for us, but He didn’t. He gave the most precious gift He could give us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. When we accepted and were baptized into Christ we accepted and became identified with His cross. Our flesh, with its sin and selfish desires were nailed there with Him. We accepted a death sentence to our past life and in exchange we were given a new life in the Spirit. While we are new creatures in Christ, born of the Spirit, there is a process and working out of our salvation wherein we are possessing our spiritual inheritance through faith and daily overcoming of those former passions and desires that still want to work in our earthly members. As we yield to the Spirit there is being worked in us a greater and greater death to the old man as we come up from glory to glory in our spiritual man. That process is most often worked through testings, trials and tribulations.
Paul says in Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” For God to bring us into sonship He must work the nature of the Son in us. Concerning Jesus it is said in Hebrews 5:8-10, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” When it says “and being made perfect” it is saying that perfection lies in running the race and staying the course. The only way for Jesus to do this was to suffer on our behalf. Just as were saved when we accepted Christ into our hearts, our salvation is being worked out day by day as we are being made perfect by our identification with Christ, which includes His sufferings. When the children of Israel were told to eat the Passover lamb before Moses led them out of Egypt, they were told to eat the whole lamb, bitter and sweet, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (Exodus 12:7-10). We know that the Passover lamb, in type, represented Christ. We must partake of Him today in the same way. There is bitter with the sweet.
Jesus said in John 16:33, “in the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Again, in Acts 14:33 it speaks, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
So what is this tribulation working in us? “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:1-5).” As our faith is tested and exercised through tribulations, we learn not to look at our circumstances and adversities not as negative things, but as stepping stones upon which our faith and trust in Christ is built up and spiritually we are being built up unto that perfect man. Though outwardly not pleasant God is using these negative experiences to work the positive treasures of His grace and glory in us as we run the race and the stay the course in our walk of faith.
“Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him (James 1:12).”
July 23, 2014
The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.
The Good Shepherd
The Lord is sufficient for every need that we have. One of the hardest things for us to do at times is to lie down in green pastures when in our perception all there is dead grass. One of the most important things that the Lord wants to teach all of us is to rest in Him. That is hard to process when the natural world around is falling apart, bills need to be paid, physical afflictions are besetting us. It is hard for us to rest when our children are in rebellion, our spouse is leaving us or that special someone is in critical condition.
God is not in our fears, He is in our faith and faith causes us to rest when everyone else is franticly trying to do something to solve the problem. Some problems are out of our control. They are bigger than we are and there is nothing else we can do except believe and trust in the Lord. We can never put God in a box and say if I just do this, then He will do that. Sometimes He doesn’t rescue us out of our disasters, but He will always be there with us as we go through them. Sometimes God works through miracles and sometimes it is through our hard life experiences. The important place for us to be is in the Shepherds arms. The Psalmist David rested in the profound truth that the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He knew from the experience of being a shepherd that a good shepherd would always act in the best interest of His sheep. Sometimes that meant rescuing them out of trouble and sometimes it might mean breaking their leg, so that they would learn not to stray. Whatever was necessary the shepherd would act out of his love for the sheep. They were an extension of him and his purpose, just as we are an extension of Christ and His purpose.
Today, the good Shepherd is watching over you. If you truly believe and rest in Him, then you shall not want. ‘He is able to meet all of your needs according to His riches in glory.’ “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)
July 22, 2014
The Subtlety of Compromise
2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
The minds that God has given us are marvelous in their ability to help us function, remember, reason and navigate life. They can also be extremely susceptible to deception and wrong reasoning and thinking. How many times have we heard people say, “My God wouldn’t do that or isn’t that way, or is this or that.” Who is their God? Who is our God? We know God through the revelation and knowledge of His Word. We know Him through the life of Christ we see recorded in that Word. We know Him by His Holy Spirit that He has placed within our hearts and we come to know Him personally and experientially as we walk with Him in obedience and relationship. Like Eve, our minds are not only open to hear the voice of God, but other voices, reasonings and spirits as well. How blessed we are to have the foundational truth of the Word of God; to have absolutes and firm values of what is God’s will and righteousness. Satan’s purpose is always to pervert, twist, misconstrue and ultimately to lead us away from the Truth and to destroy our faith. He is probably not going to have much success if he is too obvious. If he came up to you today and said, “God isn’t real. You need to just relax, enjoy life and forget about this God stuff.” We would obviously refuse that and rebuke the devil. The devil is known for his subtlety. If he can influence our flesh to make small compromises, he will chip away at our moral fiber until it crumbles and falls. “What can it hurt if I just do this little thing?” It is the little foxes that spoil the vine. It is the little compromises that add up to major falls. It is fleshly and false reasoning that undermines our foundation of truth. One day something comes along and because we have compromised the integrity of our values that we knew to be right we set ourselves up to make a major blunder that devastates our lives and the lives of those around us. We all have areas of weakness in our lives where we are prone to be given to the flesh and to sin. The enemy will find the open doors and windows to creep in unawares and devastate our spiritual lives.
God is continually warning us throughout the Word to guard our hearts from the deceitfulness of sin. Deuteronomy 11:16 says, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them.” Psalms 98:5 warns us against the hardening of our heart that can come through life’s trials and testings,” Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, [and] as [in] the day of temptation in the wilderness:” Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Ephesians 6:10-12 exhorts us, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Knowing that our minds and hearts are prone to evil, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us about how to combat these compromising temptations. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Our compromises are the imaginations that we don’t pull down and we allow to have place. Many of us are dealing with these compromises in our lives today in one area or another. The last thing we want to do is become stiff necked, hard-hearted, having eyes, but we cannot see and ears, but we cannot hear. Let us repent of our compromises and be restored in those areas we have let imaginations and strongholds come in. Let us be faithful in love and all humility to restore one another in the areas we see our brother or sister falling into compromise; taking heed that we also do not stumble in disobedience. We are not judges, but we are watchmen, watching out for one another in love, knowing that all of us are subject to compromise. Let us deal quickly with our sins while they are small, before we reap the consequences of what they will produce in us.
July 21, 2014
Make of Me an Instrument of Praise
And he hath put a new song in my mouth, [even] praise unto our God: many shall see [it], and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
Do you know what is the sweetest and the most precious instrument of praise in all of the earth? It is the song of the redeemed. It is the song of the Lord’s beloved bride lifting her voice in heartfelt adoration and worship. It is that new song that arises out of true spirit and truth worship from the innermost being of each believer. It’s not about how high or low the notes, the range or tonality of the voice. It doesn’t matter if you can carry a tune in a tin bucket; it is about your heart’s expression towards the Almighty. That song isn’t one we just wait until we get to church to sing. It is a song that resonates throughout our day, throughout our lives. It is the expression of our spirit to the most-high God. It is not always made up of carefully crafted and arranged tunes and words. It may be us simply giving expression to the Spirit praying through us. Whatever its form of expression, its intent and purpose is to glorify the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Revelations 5:9-14 says, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, [be] unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four [and] twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” At the heart of each spiritual being is the need and the desire to worship. As people, we have the ability to worship many things other than God and those of the world often do. Even we, as His children, often misplace our worship, adoration and desires for things other than Him. There are many pitfalls of idolatry in which our worship becomes misplaced and we rob the One who alone is worthy. There is no greater defeat to a Christian than robbing believers of true praise and worship. Many of us go to church and go through the motions of singing our songs, but we never enter into a place beyond the mental exercise of singing. We may court the Lord, but never enter into intimacy with Him. In order to be intimate you have to get naked. You have to take off those garments of pretense, of religion, of self-righteousness. You must be willing to expose with honesty all that you are. Nakedness often brings shame, because all that we are is exposed. We can’t hide anything. This is the way true worship is. It is letting down all the walls we have built so that others wouldn’t see who we truly are. God has already seen us for who we are. As we come before Him in naked honesty, expressing our truest form of worship and love, in spite of our faults and shortcomings, He covers us with the robes of His righteousness and garments of praise. There is such a freedom and joy in giving yourself, without reservation, to the one you love above all others and all else.
Worship has many expressions. There is not one formula you can package and take home in a box. Worship is a union, a dance, a fellowship and communion with the Lover of your soul. That new song within you rises out of that intimacy and union with the Spirit. When this type of worship is expressed corporately through many individuals with the same mind and heart for true spirit and truth worship a song is born that truly blesses the heart of God. Psalms 22:3 says, “But thou [art] holy, [O thou] that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” It is often in those times when spiritual Israel comes in the heart of true worship that the presence of the Lord is so rich and wonderful. There are many in the body of Christ who are looking, desiring and longing for this intimacy and closeness in their worship experience. When we partake of the real heart of worship, when we truly learn and sing the new song of the Spirit, then all else becomes shallow and superficial.
The true body of the believers are the instrument that brings God the highest praise. In this atmosphere our spirit is truly united and in concert with His and we are one. We become lost in the rhapsody of our love for Him as our heart searches for the words of expression that fully communicates how much He means to us.
May it be our prayer and heart’s desire that He will make us an instrument of His highest praise that in every expression of life our song is, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, [be] unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Amen.
July 18, 2014
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
When Life Isn’t Fair
There are times in life, when life doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem just and our natural minded inclination is to hold God responsible and blame Him. After all, He is God. If He is in control then why couldn’t He have changed it or prevented it?
Why??? is often our question and our cry. We may not get some of those answers and closure until we get to the other side. What we do know is that God gave man a dominion and authority that he turned over to Satan by Adam when he and Eve sinned. That authority then made Satan the prince and power of the air. That sin and darkness has affected every one of us from the beginning of time. Those consequences have impact on the just and unjust alike.
We can blame mankind, global warming, overpopulation and even God for a lot of our problems, but at the root of it all, it is a sin issue that can only be resolved by the blood Jesus shed for each one of us. Jesus came as the Son of God into a sin-sick earth; leaving His position and humbling Himself, He took on the form of a servant in the likeness of man to show mankind what the love and salvation of God looked like. He lived and walked among all the darkness and depravity of man. He felt the full weight and furry of man’s injustice when He was unmercifully beaten and nailed to a cross. Was that fair? Was that just? Why didn’t God stop that? It was His only begotten Son?
Sometimes the things that work and affect our lives have a greater purpose than just an immediate solution or deliverance from their evil and ill affects. Sometimes, we, like Jesus, are faced with persecutions, trials, losses, calamities of various kinds, so that we learn and exercise our faith in Him alone that is above all these things.
Are we always going to understand them? No.
Understanding isn’t always the most important thing, but faith and trust in our heavenly Father is. God wouldn’t have sent His only Son to die for us, if He didn’t have a higher purpose for those that believe upon Him. Jesus was the ambassador and representative of God in the earth. He lived, walked out and showed us what that looked like in word and deed. Through His death, burial, resurrection and asscention Jesus passes His example and His Spirit into us, as His body of believer, ‘for as He is, so are we in this world.’
What we must understand is that it is not always the immediate results that are important or that define the victory, it is the process of what we walk through and what we learn to faithful and obedient in. Hebrews 5:8 says, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” If we are to be like Him, should we think that for us there should be some kind of shortcut. The lives of the early disciple and apostle was filled with much persectution, trial and sufferings, but Peters says in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Paul tells us in Romans 8 that ‘if so be that we suffer with Christ, we shall also be glorified with Him.’
There are many forms of suffering in this world, but God knows that this suffering can do a deeper work in us than all of the greatest blessings and benefits. God loves to bless His children, but even more, He desires for us to grow up in His image, likeness and character.
Hold fast your faith and when you don’t understand His hand, then trust His heart.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30
July 17, 2014
The Groan Within
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
As much as we can love the Lord and desire to be filled with the fullness and glory of His divine life we find that as long as we are still of this earth we are still tethered to our body of flesh. It is this body of flesh that poses our limitations; it is the dust to which we are bound and upon which the serpent feeds. This flesh is ever demanding our attention and our care as it provides the earthly housing for our spirit man. Yet it is the spirit man within us, redeemed and conformed to the image of Christ, that so groans to be set free from the limitations, the hindrances, the weakness, the sin and the failures that the flesh prompts and facilitates. Every day must be a recommitment to crucify this flesh, hold fast our faith in Christ and walk in a manner that glorifies Him. Yet every day it seems the enemy is at work in our lives to undermine, to seek some avenue of darkness that he might exploit in us. Everyday it is necessary to set ourselves in array with our spiritual armor to combat our spiritual foe. The battle is waged not so much without as it is waged within. We battle our thoughts that are impure or out of alignment with the Word of God. We war with our passions and our impulses to act out of our flesh rather than our spirit. We war with the individual weaknesses that are characteristic and inherent within us. “Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of sin and death (Romans 7:24)?” Isn’t that our groan and cry to the Lord? We often hate what we are still manifesting in our flesh, but we seem so powerless to gain the victory and righteousness that we so desire to see. It is this reality that we continually face that causes us to know that we are the products of God’s grace and mercy alone and through no righteousness of our own. It is His righteousness and life with which we now relate and identify. The answer to our cry and groan for the deliverance from this body of death is still Jesus Christ.
We groan to see that full deliverance from the influence and power of our body of sin, but God in His infinite wisdom has chosen that even in salvation that we must walk in faith and trust for the in-working of righteousness and deliverance in us. God has structured it in such a way that it is only in a holy and sustained union with Him and identification with who we now are in Christ that we walk each day in faith, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Our day to day victories are only accomplished as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. It is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that has set me free from the law of sin and death. There are two laws operational in your life today. Whichever law you make the choice to serve that is whose servant you are. We know that, in ourselves, in this flesh, dwells no good thing. We know that the heart is deceitfully wicked and who can know it? This is why we need an ally to prevail over this body of sin.
Romans 8:12-13 tells us, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” The key to a victorious life in Christ is living and walking in the Spirit and by the power of the Spirit putting to death the passion and misdeeds of the flesh.
It is not often an easy walk. Sometimes we grow weary or complacent. Sometime we allow the moldy corruption of our sinful desires to have place under a cloak of righteousness, but eventually the stink of our misdeeds will be revealed. Yes, we are often weak and we can all stumble. We need to pray for one another. We need the ability to be transparent with one another without judgement so that we can minister grace and encouragement to each other. We are the body and with the life of Christ within each of us we must minister and function to the good and health of the whole. As we hold fast our faith and hope, one-day that groan will be turned to the shout of victory, as we will triumph fully in Christ Jesus.
July 16, 2014
2 Timothy 3:14-17
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Strong-willed people are most often very opinionated and usually convinced that their way is the best way. This can be a great leadership quality if these people are moving by the Spirit and direction of God, but often they may be convinced they are even if they are not. Perhaps you are a strong-willed person or you live with one or know one in your life. Often one of the weaknesses of this characteristic is that it is very much set on getting its own way. The strong-willed person may try to convince, persuade, intimidate, manipulate, use guilt trips, lie, cheat or deceive in order to get things their way. Now I’m not saying all strong willed people are this way, but to the degree they are strong-willed and given to the flesh they can be this way. Strong-willed people often feel very passionately about not only what they think is right for them, but what they think is right for others as well. As a result those who have strong-willed people in their lives may often find that they are trying to dictate what is right for you as well as themselves and whoever else who will allow them to control the issues at hand. In order for the strong-willed person to have this attribute be a positive for them they must first learn to submit that strong will to the will of the Father. That often is a battle for them to do. Strong-willed people often have a real problem with authority, because they want to be in control and do things their way.
The danger with strong-willed people is that they will lead and influence people of a weaker persuasion who will allow them to do so. You may have someone who is strong-willed in your life that is strongly influencing you in a direction that may well be contrary to God’s will for your life. Now the strong-willed person may feel very strongly and impress upon you very strongly that their will and opinions are the will of God for you. A strong-willed person, if not submitted to the Holy Spirit can be a very self-willed person. Most all of us have some of that self-will at work in us, but the strong-willed person who is also self-willed, will not accomplish the will of God and what is more they will lead others from the will of God as well, into an error of disobedience and rebellion. If we look back at the beginning of chapter 3 in 2 Timothy we see a description of what selfish, strong-willed and self-willed people can look like. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men], as theirs also was.” These people can have a form of godliness, as they do things in the name of God to accomplish their own selfish end. In truth, they are in rebellion and are leading others in rebellion to God’s set authority. It reminds us of those that Moses had in his camp that thought they had a better way and that they could do better than the leadership that God had placed over them in Moses. We could go through the Bible and find many such examples of strong and self-willed men.
The exhortation the Lord has for us is that people of strong opinions and influence aren’t to replace the Holy Spirit in your life. From such as these turn away. Especially those of us who may be given to follow stronger personalities in our lives. While you may not be a strong decision maker or always feel like you hear the Lord’s voice, look to His Word, follow your peace and get these other voices out of your mind when making decisions concerning God’s will for you. Many people have followed such charismatic people to later find their lives and their faith shipwrecked and in ruin. Paul says to Timothy, ” And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Don’t forsake or allow men to lead you away from the foundations of your faith that has been established on the first principles of God’s Word. Stand strong upon the witness of God’s Word that you possess in your heart. We can’t afford to take at face value all that men present to us and call spiritual. Just because they put God’s name on it doesn’t make it right. God’s Word is the standard by which we establish and accept truth. While there are increasing depths and revelation of God’s Word, God will not lead us contrary to it. All truth should come into alignment with His Word.
Strong-willed people in the right spirit are a good thing because they usually get done what the rest of us would only procrastinate about and put off. Be discerning in how you are influenced and don’t allow manipulation and control to move you in ways that you don’t feel led to go. While we submit to one another in love, that is not an open invitation to control. The Spirit will lead you to be in control of the influences around you. Let the will of the Father be the strong will of your life.