May 27, 2016
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The Blessing of Giving
The greatest blessing we can give and gift that we can receive is in giving something of substance and ourselves that is life changing and life giving to someone else. There are few things more rewarding than the joy we feel when we have made a difference for someone else. Some of us struggle with that. We have become so focused on how to sell ourselves, our goods and services trying to provide for our own that we have missed the joy of caring and blessing another. There is always a constant barrage of mail, phone calls, pleas over the television and radio all asking for our contributions. We often begin to build walls that automatically shut out any plea for help. Realistically we can’t give to everything. Few of us have the financial resources to do that, but at the same time we don’t want to harden our hearts to become insensitive to every need that passes before us. This is where we need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and where He would have us to extend ourselves in our time and our finances. We each have different gifts and abilities, but all of us have something we can give. It is wonderful that we give our tithes, but what can we offer of ourselves as a tithe. It isn’t really our money that God wants from us, He wants our hearts. Our tithe is an expression of obedience, worship, thanks and giving back in a small portion what He has provided abundantly toward us.
Our lives will be so much richer when they are filled with random acts of kindness and giving. We are the hands, the feet, the mouthpiece and the body of Christ to carry out His works. Acts 10:38 speaks of the works of Jesus, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” God has anointed us with the same Spirit that indwells Jesus. He has given us power and authority to act in His Name. Let us be sensitive in our every day lives to not pass by the opportunities to express the love of God in the lives of others. May we let our words and our deeds carry with them this anointing that was in Jesus, so that we are life givers and a blessing in the earth.
May 26, 2016
Take a Moment to Appreciate
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
We have one day a year we set aside to be thankful and acknowledge God’s goodness, but our thankfulness and appreciation of God should be a daily continual occurrence. When we fail to acknowledge Him in all of our ways, our ways begin to become perverted and distorted. In America we live with such abundance and blessing that we take so much for granted. Our level of expectation is very high and we often complain or are discontent when it is not met. We most likely don’t really want to view the conditions and lifestyle of third world countries. Maybe somehow we feel we are more deserving of the wealth and abundance that we enjoy because we are a “Christian” nation. It is evident that we richly enjoy God’s blessing and bountiful provisions, but it is becoming continually more evident that many have failed to see and acknowledge where those blessing have come from. More and more there is pressure and movement to rid godly influence from education, government and the public in general. Many are failing to acknowledge and appreciate that we are great for one reason only, because God’s blessing and goodness alone has made us great.
Our scripture today points to a passage that tells about humanity when they fail to recognize, appreciate and acknowledge the Lord in all of their ways. They follow after their vain imaginations and their foolish hearts become darkened. They embrace homosexuality, idolatry, fornication and all manner of perverse things. Is that what we are becoming today as a nation and as a people?
It is so important that we do acknowledge the Lord in all of our ways and that we maintain a continual attitude of humility and thankfulness toward the Lord. What the Lord has given He can take away. We have what we have because of the godly heritage that established this country and did acknowledge the Lord in its founding. The Lord must always be the foundation of all that we do and of all of our ways. Without Him all is lost.
Let us be mindful to not become so busy and full of ourselves that we forget the great and awesome God that has provided all that we enjoy and so often take for granted. If we acknowledge and appreciate the Lord in all of our ways He will direct our path and keep it from perversion and corruption. Take time and with great frequency, acknowledge and appreciate the Lord, for He is so worthy and deserving of all our praise and thanksgiving.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
May 25, 2016
The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
The Stumbling Block of Pride
Pride has been the foundation stone and building block of every rebellion against the Almighty. From the rebellion of satan forward it has been the seed that has exalted itself against God and boasted in its own self. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil and much of evil derives its strength, power and presence from the pride and arrogance of self. One of the dangers of being gifted and blessed with special attributes and abilities is how easy it is to get caught in this ugly snare of pride.
I wonder how many men have approached God, but have heard nothing and received nothing because of the unrepented pride that was in their hearts. If we think that we can approach God on our terms and expect Him to respond to us then we are not only prideful, but foolish as well. How many of us have had children or seen children who approached their parents in this manner? Instead of humbling themselves in obedience and respect to their parents they came with the attitude of usurping their authority and leadership in the home. A wise parent wouldn’t give place to this kind of arrogance and manipulation on the part of child and certainly God won’t meet with us on those terms. We are to come to God on His terms, not our own. His terms are humility, a broken, contrite and repentant heart. This is the attitude of heart that God will respond too. When we are willing to take off this garment of selfishness and lay it down at the altar, then we are in a place where He can meet with us and clothe us with Himself and His vesture of righteousness. Pride is a major stumbling block to those who would desire to know God. Pride focuses our attention away from the Lord and onto us. Thus it robs us of His resources while making us dependent upon the weakness of our own strength and ability. Many feel they are sufficient within themselves and indeed, in this world, may do well for themselves, but their faith and hope are built upon sand. Sand is a shifting and unstable foundation that will eventually give way to failure. We see Jesus as the rock of our foundation, steadfast and unmovable. He is what anchors us to the Almighty and brings us through every adversity and trial.
Sometimes we are tempted to envy the wicked, because it may seem they are enjoying the entire blessing of this life while we have inherited all of the struggles. Psalms 73 addresses these very feelings and perceptions. “1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure.2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone .3 For I envied the proud
when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.4 They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. 5 They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. 6 They wear pride like a jeweled necklaceand clothe themselves with cruelty. 7 These fat cats have everythingtheir hearts could ever wish for! 8 They scoff and speak only evil;in their pride they seek to crush others. 9 They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. 10 And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. 11 “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?” 12 Look at these wicked people—enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. 13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;every morning brings me pain. 15 If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. 16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! 17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. 18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. 19 In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. 20 When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning. 21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.22 I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. 23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. 27 Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.”
Even when God blesses us and gives good success, we must be very mindful of this crafty evil called pride. It can as easily wear a spiritual face, as it can a natural one. Pride builds us up in a false sense of security. It makes us believe we are something rather than giving the glory and the honor to the Lord who has blessed us. God is the author of every good and perfect gift, be sure that the honor and praise always returns to Him. Pride is the balloon that lifts you to ruin. Humility is branch that hangs low, laden with the fruit of God’s Spirit and life. The mountains will be brought low, but the valleys will be lifted up and the meek shall inherit the earth. If you want to find Him, lose yourself and lay down your pride.
May 24, 2016
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
The seventh day God set as a precedent of His rest and finished work. The foundations had been laid, creation and life had been set in motion. What God created He also finished, but like a wound up clock creation was released and set in motion to fulfill God’s purpose. The seventh day is not just any day, but it is a holy day and it is a blessed day. God taught us in this day that there is a time for work and creation, but just as importantly there is a time for rest. It is in the rest that regeneration takes place. Renewal and refreshing are the order of the day. It is in this day and this principle that we cease from our works to truly appreciate His.
This is such an important principle that God has Moses put it in the Ten Commandments to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. It played an important part in the ceremonial law and was established and an age abiding covenant. Through the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt God also taught us what it was to not enter into His rest. This warning is brought forth to the New Testament in Hebrews 3:7-16 on through Hebrews 4:1-11. The context of this scripture and study is more than can be covered in this brief dissertation, but I encourage you to read and study its context.
The meat of this warning is this, ““So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice,
8do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,
9where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. 10That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’
11So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” There are things in our life that can cause us to miss the rest of God the foremost of which is not resting in Him. Man’s works will always strive with God’s finished plan. Trials and tribulations are a part of life and in the Rest of God we learn to know Him as our sufficiency, provision and salvation. Outside of God’s rest we are much like these rebellious Israelites. We always think that we know better, could do better and so we murmur and complain against God and His anointed. Our hearts become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin which leads to unbelief, disobedience and rebellion towards God. When did Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of Good and Evil? Wasn’t it when she started listening to the voice of the deceitfulness of sin. This resulted in unbelief, unbelief resulted in sin and rebellion and that resulted in Adam and Eve losing that place of rest in God.
What God is promising to us who have ears to hear is that their still remains a rest for the people of God. Hebrews 3:19 establishes, “So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 4:1 comes back to assure us, “ Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. 3Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.””
If we are to enter into the rest of God then we must know that it is by faith and not by works. It is an entering into the finished work of God in Christ Jesus. It is seeing our completeness and fulfillment in Him and not in ourselves. It is in knowing our identity in Christ and living out of that identity as Jesus did in the fullness of faith, obedience and conformity to the will and purpose of the Father. If we are to set creation free, we must not only enter into the God rest, but become that place of rest for others in Him. Simply put, the rest of God is living in the YES of the Father! 2 Corinthians 1:20 declares, “ For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” Let us come into alignment with God’s Yes, so that we might enter into the rest of God.
May 23, 2016
4Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9″Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
15″So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time.
Rooted and Grounded in Faith
If I was an enemy who had captured you and you were a loyal and dedicated citizen to your country, how would I turn you against your country? Initially, I know that you will have walls of dedication and faith in what your country stands for. What I will do is to begin to undermine those defensive walls of your loyal city. I will create in you doubt about what you believe in and what you stand for. I will try and convince you little by little and day by day that what you believe is a lie and what I have is the truth. I may torture you and persecute you, belittle you, threaten you or your family. I will rob you of self-worth, esteem and dignity. I will torment you, badger you and pour into you information counter to what you have always believed and embraced. I will convince you that your country doesn’t care about you any more. They have forgotten and forsaken you. You owe them nothing. They are a lie and a sham. Over time, even the strongest can be worn down.
We must understand that we are in a spiritual warfare. When we are at peace and all is going well it easy for us to live our faith and praise our God, but what about when all of hell is brought to bear against us? What about when we go through agonizing trials for extended periods of time with no deliverance or release? What about when it seems the heavens are as brass and our cries are not heard? What about when our faith costs us everything, our possessions, our jobs, our position, our finances, our family and even our life? We in the United States have experienced little of this in our life times, but if and when it comes do you have the relationship with your God to stand in the faith that you say that you possess? When others are performing miracles, speaking great words of peace and wisdom will you be so sure that your beliefs are right? Perhaps you have put your faith in the wrong person and the wrong religion, after all, can all of those other religions be wrong and yours is right? Do you honestly think that God is so narrow He could only have “one way”?
I bring our faith into question today, because we are naïve if we think that it will not be sorely tried and tested. This is why even Jesus says that the love of many will wax cold and many will turn away. You will be betrayed by those that you love and trusted. Mark 13: 22 Jesus says, “For false Christ’s and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect.”
We would like to believe that things would always continue as they have been, but I believe that a great many changes are on the horizon. This is why I believe God is so urgently exhorting us to come to know Him in an intimate relationship, as we never have before. His life in us is the only thing that can sustain us as this hour comes upon us. We must know that we know that we know that He is the Christ and that He now is and always will be our only life. Sunday school teaching and church going isn’t going to be what enables us to stand. We must be radical in our faith and how we embrace our God. Many of us have gone through many trials and testings already with health, relationships, finances and other things that have tested the fabric of our faith. These have been to help prepare us. As we read through the Old Testament you will see story after story of saints, patriarchs, prophets and men of God that went through some very trying times. We have the advantage of reading the ending, but when these men and women were walking out their faith they didn’t have that advantage. All they had was their faith and trust that they had to hold tenaciously onto. When we read Revelation we read the end of the story and we know that we win, but don’t think that the enemy will not come in like a flood to try and make you lose sight of your hope and your faith. He will be like that interrogator that will use every means to undermine and destroy your faith and rob you of your hope. We must be strong in the power of His might, putting on the whole armor of God. Ephesians 6:10-18 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For 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. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” We are about to engage the enemy as never before, so ready yourself for the battle.
Let us come into agreement and receive the Spirit anointed prayer that Paul prays in Ephesians 3:14-20, “14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
May 20, 2016
Called to Obedience
2 Corinthians 10:5
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;
This morning as I was standing on the patio by the side of our house and I had the privilege of watching an amusing and rare event. I had heard some noise and had gone out to see what it was. As I stood there still and watching I began to see what I came to realize was a doe and three fawns. The little fawns were romping around, playing and having a great time. As the doe came by within twenty or thirty feet of me I could hear her calling, somewhat like a cow would do, but not as loud. One of the little fawns came and staid close to her while she continued trying to watch out for and call in the other two. They seemed pretty much oblivious to her as they continued their chasing one another. Eventually they moved away from the area and I suppose she continued tying to get their attention and obedience. She knew far better than they the dangers and pitfalls of not being alert and discerning of your surroundings. What did they care they were just having a good time.
As I was meditating on this I began to think how much this often resembles our attitudes toward obedience to God. The Holy Sprit is like that doe trying to watch over us, warn us, and call us to the protection of a close relationship with Him. There are some that listen and stay close, going and doing as the Holy Spirit directs, but a good many of us are like those other two fawns, running, playing and pretty much doing as we please with only slight regard for the doe that is trying to watch out for us and help us to come to full growth. We simply choose to ignore the potential dangers and pitfalls that we can easily fall into. And there are always the predators, who like satan, are seeking whom they may devour. Disobedience and willfulness, exposes us to this danger. Sometimes those who are Christians can find their lives turned upside down by sin that crept in stealthily and with little detection because we had strayed from the Shepherd and were off playing in the fields of our own pleasure or desires.
The Word teaches here in this 2 Corinthians 10 passage, that safety and prevention begin within our own minds. The seed of sin is most often in a thought. The thought given place will grow until eventually it will become a word or an action. It is just as James 1:13-15 says it, “13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Just as ignoring the doe could kill those disobedient fawns, so our disobedience can kill us. For us to grow up into the fullness of what Christ has purposed us requires that we come under the reigns of obedience. The Lord simply states that this is the act of love toward Him, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Our growth and maturity in Christ demands our attention to obedience. That is where we learn His voice and learn to be like Him. That is where we learn to discern the thought and intents of our own hearts and cast down the desires, imaginations and temptations that will lead into that place of vulnerability and failure. It all starts with our minds and the attitude of our hearts. Do we have a heart for obedience or are we bent on self-will?
May 19, 2016
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Life is like a dance, an expression, if you will, of our emotions, our being, our dreaming, and our every day living. Our dance can takes on many expressions, moods and demeanors throughout our life. In many ways it is choreographed as life and circumstances unfold. We don’t always know the setting that we will be placed in or the stage upon which we will dance, but our dance, our life becomes the expression of our soul and what is contained therein. How it expresses and moves itself is all contained within the individual. Some will dance to a mournful tune, expressing regret, sorrow, despondency and discouragement. Yet another may take the same stage and same melody, and dance with hope, faith and love. How can they both be cast in the same drama and yet dance and express it so differently. It is all contained in the song that lives within your heart. It is contained in how you view and see your stage. Do you only see darkness, moodiness and depression or do you see yourself as that light in a dark place having come in to illuminate your stage, to lift its spirit with hope, joy and a light in you that dances to a higher song.
Dances can be soulish, sensual and even devilish, but it depends upon the song you are dancing too. Your dance can also be spiritual, joyous and the expression of your highest praise. Psalms 149:3 says, “Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.” 2 Samuel 6:14 tells us, “And David danced before the LORD with all [his] might; and David [was] girded with a linen ephod.” What was David wearing in the dance? It says he was wearing a linen ephod. Linen speaks of righteousness, a material not causing sweat or that that is not created in self-efforts. The ephod was a garment worn by priest. There is a reason the Word has told us what David was wearing. It is not much of a stretch to see the priestly act of worship and joy that was being expressed through David, who technically was not a priest under the law, but certainly he was one in spirit and in truth.
What is the spirit under which we dance and express our lives? Dance is a communication through action. What are we communicating through our actions? What is the music playing in our ears and how is our soul moving to it? Are we listening and singing the song of the Lamb and His redeemed or are we still dancing to the darkness of the earthly soulish beat? We have One that has gone before us, masterfully and perfectly choreographing the dance, but only each dancer can give it his or her interpretation and personal expression. The more we possess the Spirit and mind of the Master Choreographer the more perfectly we can express His dance.
How are you dancing today? Are your feet light and your jumps high? Are you reaching up, stretching and extending with each movement? Are your toes on point or are you flat-footed plodding a mournful dance through life. Life is not in the stage or the setting or the props, it is in the dancer and how they choose to interpret their dance. Be like David; dress yourself with your linen ephod and dance your life to the Lord with all of your might!
May 18, 2016
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Let us ask ourselves the question this day, “How closely do I follow Jesus.” If we were in a great multitude of people and Jesus was leading the crowd on a journey down the road, where would I be among that multitude? Would it only be important to us that we were in the right crowd and headed in the right direction with Jesus in the forefront? We might be laughing, playing visiting with our friends and enjoying their fellowship as we travel, but what does that One that is leading us mean to us in our journey? Is our passion for Him compelling us to press through the crowd, with our desire being to come as close to Him as possible?
Many of us are in the Church crowd, among the “Christian people”, and we’re fine with that. That’s all we really need or desire. There are too many other demands in our life to get too much more involved in that. Beside maybe we are on a committee or teaching a Sunday school class; we’re active in the church in some way and so we feel satisfied that we are giving something back and fulfilling our Christian duty and responsibility. Those can be good things, but is it because we are following Christ with passion and commitment; seeking His perfect will and purpose for our lives, or is it because we want to sooth our conscience and give the appearance that we are spiritual? The heart-searching question we all need to ask is am I really taking up my cross and following Jesus or am I just running with and seeking to please the crowd? I find, in my self, such a tendency to be spiritual in one context in my life, but then in another to be self-serving and self-indulgent, where I am pursuing my interest, my desire and my needs. I think, “Lord, I am so much like that man that it talks about in James 1:22-25, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” I’m thinking why am I so much like King Saul, stubborn, rebellious and self-willed; professing godliness one hand, but then turning right around and doing things my way instead of His. Could it be because I haven’t really taken up my cross? That cross represents death to this old nature of sin and self. Am I like Lot’s wife, who when fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah and commanded by the angel not to look back, looked back and was turned to pillar of salt. I am reminded of the passage in Romans 6:5-14, “5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Aren’t we continually dealing with our tendency to slip back into the old mindset of the man of sin? If we keep glancing back at the former man, then are we exchanging life for death, but we died to that old man that we might lay hold of the resurrection life and the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
When we get complacent, when we get comfortable just hanging out with crowd, its not long before we get tired of walking this walk and we decide we’ll just rest for a while and then catch up. If you have been there you know what that can do to your relationship and you intimacy with Christ. You may not forsake your faith, but there is a leanness in your soul. The longer you sit out, the further Christ is moving away from you, because you are not following and pursuing Him. If you find that condition in your heart and find that your heart has grown callused and cold to spiritual life, then know that as the Lord seeks out the one sheep that is lost and gone astray, He is seeking you, to bring you back again into the fold. Repent of those former things and turn again with all of your heart and renewed commitment back to Him. Run to the front the crowd, lay hold of Him violently, with all of the passion of your soul. Be wholly and completely His. Take up your cross, that where He leads, you will follow Him.
May 17, 2016
2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Don’t allow the person you see outwardly discourage you or cloud you from the vision and the promise of the person you are becoming. It is a process and sometimes you go backwards to go forward. The important thing is that you never loose your hope, your faith or your love.
Remember that even on the cloudy and stormy days when the sun is obscured from your vision, it is still shinning. It is often the stormy days that prepare and water our ground so that when the sun does shine we are all the more fruitful and productive. Suffering is often the pathway that leads to glory. Endure it, never losing sight of the hope you have in Christ Jesus for He is the author and the finisher of your faith and He is able to complete that perfect work that He has began in you.
May 16, 2016
Prepare for the Storm
And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed [are] those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find [them] so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
When the weather forecaster tells you that there is a blizzard on the way and that it will be here the next day around a certain time, what is your response? Most of us would think, “what do I need to get done and how do I need to prepare before the storm comes. Do I need anything from the grocery store? Do I need to do things to the home to prepare for what is coming.” Our thoughts are normally on preparation so that we have taken care of the necessary duties before the storm arrives.
When someone, even a reliable someone, tells us about something that is coming, but we don’t see it for sometime, we often grow complacent. We might be apprehensive at first, but then after a time of nothing happening, we begin slipping back into our normal routine of life. I think that is where many of us are in our spiritual preparation and walk with the Lord. We have heard the prophetic warnings, but we have slipped back into our complacency with life. Today, the Lord is speaking another warning for us not to go to sleep on our watch. We are not only to be watching, but we are to be in an attitude of preparation for the spiritual battle and storm that lies ahead. It comes at a time we don’t know, but when it comes it will leave us no more time for preparation. If we haven’t prepared it will be too late to start.
Be thankful in the trying of your faith; for it is these smaller storms that will help prepare you for the big one. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but neither has He given us a spirit of apathy and complacency. He is calling us to ready ourselves in the Word, in prayer, in relationships and in practical living. We must know Him now in an intimate relationship, for the coming storm will test the depths of that relationship. If our knowledge and relationship with the Lord is only on the surface and we are shallow; the storm will sweep us away. We need roots that go deep in their confidence and commitment to the Lord. We must not be easily moved or shaken in our faith, for our faith may cost us our life. That won’t shake us if we are confident in who and what we are in Christ, but if we are not it will cause us to forsake and deny our faith.
What is your level of preparation today? Can you assume that all will always be well? Our faith in Christ is our most important calling. Prepare well for the coming storm. It will come in a day that we don’t expect it. Don’t be foolish to neglect it. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
(1 Thessalonians 5:3)”