A POSSIBLE YOU

A Possible you - 2

A POSSIBLE YOU

DISCOVERING GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE

CHAPTER 1

LET US KEEP ASCENDING TOGETHER

Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

This is part one of a brand new series about the most personal aspect of our being – our spiritual evolution. Some may think immediately that it is arrogant to believe that humans can discover God’s will and would be impossible to accomplish, however, what most people never stop to consider is how could the creator ask His creation to accomplish something without knowing who He is or what He expects from them. The divine reality of absolute truth includes the revelation that God desires to share His mysteries and to work alongside His children to help them perform HIS will. Will this be easy? Of course not! Many begin the race with the hopes of success but only a few can endure the grueling yet rewarding finish to victory. The front-line lifestyle of the overcomer is not a religious demonstration but rather an isolated spiritual intimacy with God Himself known only to a few. I want to clarify right from the beginning that unless we become “sold-out” to press toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus, our labor with reading these pages will be counted as nothing more than digesting another self-improvement plan and our motives will be revealed as simply wanting more respect.

Those who call themselves Christians are NOT Deist. Deism is a theological view concerning the relationship between “the Creator” and the natural world that believes God does NOT intervene in the affairs of men. It is no secret that deists find it a waste of time to pray and ask God to help with anything or anyone. It can be noted that deists look to themselves as the only power to accomplish anything and of course when they do succeed, we know who steps forward to accept all the glory. For Deists, human beings can only know God via reason and the observation of nature, but not by revelation or supernatural manifestations, (such as miracles or a personal relationship) a phenomenon which Deists regard with caution if not skepticism. Deistic viewpoints emerged during the scientific revolution of 17th-century Europe and came to exert a powerful social influence during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Deism stood between the narrow dogmatism of the period and skepticism. Though deists rejected atheism, they often were grouped together with atheists by more traditional theists. What a waste and a pity that masses of people have allowed their heart to be deceived with the vain philosophies of humanism. It truly would be a lonely and miserable existence to be convinced that humans were unable to fellowship in personal intimacy with the God who created them and loves them more than anything. All praise to our heavenly Father that we do not have to rely on our own “power” to change ourselves, or that everything is based on how hard we can work or how much we can do. We must realize that good works and deeds that have been manifested unto the glory of God were spiritually “empowered” by the one who inspired them to be done!

So, how can we begin this personal change process the right way? We must have our priorities correct, our vision in line with His will and the realization that we must follow His ideas and timing. Do you want to be ALL that He has called you to be? Of course, we can be energetic in our own strength and have a sense of vision and accomplishment, but this is not the same as following the blueprints of HIS PERFECT destiny. You see, I believe that God has a “general will” and a “perfect will” for each of His children. His general will is our obedience to the absolute truth of His Word. His perfect will is the unique, specific, “individual” path that He has chosen for all of us to travel in the journey of life. Each calling, each destiny has been drawn and authored by the one who knew us before we were born. Only when we fall at His feet and completely surrender our will to Him – can we begin to actually become His holy “lantern” which not only lights our own path but can illuminate the world for His glory. What is waiting for us at the end of this wonderful journey? We pray and look forward to hearing Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make you a ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your Lord” (Mathew 25:21). What happens to the unprofitable servant? Unfortunately, I cannot find anything good or positive about it and I do not want to find out about it firsthand.

I realize the high percentage of those reading this are experienced Christians seeking more encouragement as they continue trying to improve and grow in the Lord. Yes, we all have made many mistakes and please do not feel depressed if you think that somehow you have failed. Humans are weak and very vulnerable to temptation. We can start out on Monday morning declaring that we are going to start fresh toward becoming a “brand new” person spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, and end up before the day is finished watching an erotic movie while finishing off a bag of jelly donuts. Why? Because our level of determination has not risen to the conscious state of “total” dedication. “We will only succeed when our desire to change becomes greater than our desire to remain the same”. Allow me to continue repeating these words of wisdom until they become written upon our conscience. Until we develop an attitude that cannot be defeated or discouraged, we are a “sitting duck” to defeat. Change does not happen with a “whim” or a passing thought or suggestion. Of course, it is a wonderful and noble thought but so is visiting Jupiter. It will take more than money, happy thoughts, or confident conversation – it will take a complete transformation of our mind. “Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail” (Charles Kettering).

Have you ever watched people at a bookstore picking up books and reading small amounts before they put it down and select another? Most people before they begin a reading journey want to know what the travel is going to be like and where they are going. Well, I am going to give you an insight into what is ahead by asking you some questions and I am sure you will decide if this is a direction you dare to go in. My first question is; do you love yourself? I would say that most people would answer yes and that is good. You would need to believe that you are worthy to learn and grow before you could have enough confidence to consider changing. This leads us to the next question; are you satisfied with who you are mentally, emotionally and spiritually? Now, this is a little more complicated because it would seem that anyone who is completely honest would admit they could improve on who they already are. You may have guessed what the next question is going to be; are you ready to abandon your old life and commit to becoming the possible you? This is the point where you, (like the people in the bookstore) decide to either take the book home to finish it or lay it down. Most of us humans do not like drastic change because it is too “expensive” (to the flesh) but in reality, we can’t afford to ignore it! “Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.” (Louis D. Brandeis)

In the satisfied state of mind, the cost is just more than we are ever going to pay. I am not trying to be rude, but please allow me to be honest; if you are satisfied with staying the same, then it is time we said goodbye and I hope that someday the desire to change within the seat of your soul will burn with more passion than it is today. I am sure you will be more comfortable reading about how God wants to continue to bless you – “just like you are.” Praise God! You have finally reached your highest potential and will not need the Potter’s wheel anymore. No more purging or refining fire for you, just more prosperity, luxury and indulging in the pleasures of life. “Now that’s what I’m talking about,” said the flesh!

There have been many examples where adventurers boarded ships and sailed away in search of a new world while leaving the fearful and the satisfied standing on the shore waving goodbye. It is time to board this vessel of possibilities or continue in the same way we have always been. For the rest of us that are weak and concerned but still willing to continue, I have another question. Just how determined are you willing to become in order for this miracle to happen? These types of questions separate the spectators from the participators. We know there is so much more to become, so much more to accomplish for God and that He is waiting for us to “ignite” us with His faith and enthusiasm to come aboard. It is not too late, nor impossible to demonstrate our faith BY our works and allow Him to change us from glory to glory! “We all are faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations” (Charles Swindoll).

These writings are not just about dreaming but rather turning HIS visions into REALITY. We must go beyond our fantasies and imaginations! Remember when we first discovered that “change” was an important part of the Christian life? As we stood at the base of the mountain and looked up, it seemed impossible but we started climbing one step at a time and eventually saw progress. The problem is that we have learned about the many base camps along the way and how easy it is to stop climbing and become satisfied with living “halfway” or in the middle of our journey. This is NOT finishing the call! Let us pack our gear and continue to ascend – together. I thought that Jesus was our Lord and that HE gave the orders about where to stop and for how long. If you truly believe that you have been called to fulfill His will; just when do you plan to get serious? Maybe the reason Jesus is being delayed in His coming is that the Father is extending His invitation of salvation to the lost and WAITING for His people to progress in their spiritual development. God’s children are waiting for Him to rescue them from the “elements” while He is waiting for them to “overcome”! Will you agree to start today to work hand in hand with God to manifest THE POSSIBLE YOU?

CHAPTER 2

DO WE REALLY WANT TO CHANGE?

Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ know all about Christian terminology. We can communicate using the most appropriate words and catchy phrases to the point to where it seems we lose their meaning. One popular word we throw around without much personal thought is transformation. We talk, preach, read, write and sing about how people need to change and in itself, this is true. Nevertheless, we seem to be very lenient and compromising with our own heart when it comes to altering who we are. All our lives we have heard sermons about being renovated into the image of Christ when one devotes their heart to God. And we have been taught how the Bible is a mirror that exposes our conscience and reveals how needy we are for an Almighty God that can re-design our character and renew our attitudes. But allow me to ask a simple question; has it happened to you? If you did not profess to be a Christian how would you live your life in contrast to the way you live now? Wow! Stop and think about that for a moment. Imagine that you were not a Christian; would you still neatly mow your yard, take out the trash and wash your car? Would you still dress the same, go to the same places, listen to the same things, and watch the same television shows? Would you still laugh at the jokes at work, be as critical of others and have those secret thoughts? Would your world views and politics be the same? Would you believe in equality and justice and still be sensitive to morality issues? So, how are you different from what you were? If all these things are the same as they would be if you were not a Christian, then what in particular identifies you as a genuine representative of God’s Kingdom and causes you to be “special” from everyone else that thinks and lives like you?

The absolute truth of God declares that all who have Christ within them are changed into a noticeable and recognizable person that is distinct in their thoughts and actions. We may look and act (to a certain extent) like the lost but we are supposed to be peculiar in our words and deeds. Our identification is on the inside and must be the cause of our external demonstration. In other words, if our spirit has been changed on the inside it will be impossible to not manifest our new self. Being born-again means that God performed a wonderful miracle within our spirit as we received Him by faith into our heart. This experience produces disciples that follow Christ and obey His commands because they now have an intimate spiritual “relationship” with the one who not only created them but loved them so much that He died for them. God’s Word then becomes the key to unlocking the mysteries of heaven for them and will never compromise with carnality. This in itself is enough to make us the oddball and “strange one” in the crowd. Those who declare to be transformed but do not demonstrate this obedience to God’s Word (and voice) are either, undeveloped, deceived or rebellious. You would think that a person who is truly saved would be saturated in the idea of “change” as a continual evolution of the conscience and an opportunity to become closer to God – but that is not always the case. Can the mind stop this process? That is a very good question and in many cases I believe it can. Exactly to what extent the details of this resistance, only God knows but He has given many examples of how rebellion can result in agony and even death. There are as many excuses for individuals who “fail” to change as there are stars in the sky, however, we can find one that stands far above all the rest. Are you ready for this revelation? The reason why individuals do not change for God is because they do not want to. Ahhh…bold face disobedience at its finest! We didn’t think we had it in us! Imagine that – us leading our own mutiny!

If we ever thought that we were always generally a good person – we were wrong! All of us have a DNA that is filled with rebellion and we got it “naturally”. Now there’s no need to be sad or discouraged as it is not a negative confession but rather a very important fact to remember in our spiritual development. You see, if we become convinced that we are good on our own, we will not realize how important it is to change. We talk about passion, zeal and being on fire for God but I am NOT sure we understand what we are saying. It is true, we may want to “do” things for Him but just how enthused are we to allow Him to change us? It is worthy to consider that if we are not “on fire” and just as excited about being transformed into His image, then maybe we are putting the cart before the horse. How easily we forget that our will hates to submit to God’s will because it is completely opposite to the way Jesus died for us to live. In our quest to become the perfect mediator, we have subconsciously come up with a “genius” idea to blend God’s will with our will and establish a peace treaty between us so that we can enjoy the best of both worlds. What a perfect plan where we can receive all of God’s covenant promises and the riches of His blessings while also living and doing whatever we want! Do we really think that God is impressed with our intelligence and ability to problem solve? Well, I realize this is what our flesh wants and sadly this is how most Christians live, but it is NOT God’s idea of being a representative of His Name. This is what is called a religious “illusion” and those who choose to live in this fairy tale have found that it is more comfortable to live a lie than to be a living sacrifice for the truth! We may be able to go through the motions of playing games with God and believing that He does not know the difference between what is real and phony, but I can assure you that He knows the intentions of every heart. It is an example of absolute truth that no one will ever deceive Him or get away with thinking, doing or saying anything! He knows His children who are the remnant of the faith but He is also clearly aware who are the goats, tares and hypocrites. “Nevertheless the foundation OF God is steady and sure, having this seal; The Lord KNOWS them that are His. And, let everyone that proclaims the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (II Timothy 2:19).

Our previous master (the carnal will) enjoyed (past tense) being completely independent and had every intention to control us indefinitely without interruption. But when we responded to the invitation of Jesus and allowed Christ to “take over” our life, our new Lord established a new set of commandments that included NOT surrendering to the temptation to make our own decisions. Of course, it is perfectly normal to have an ungovernable nature when we are lost, but it is unacceptable to follow that old nature AFTER we have been redeemed. Yes, we do struggle for a while, and we may stumble every now and then but as in every refining process, we learn, grow, adapt and overcome! After we become mature and accountable in the faith and seasoned in strength and knowledge, we should not continue to make excuses for our weaknesses. If we find ourselves living just like we did before Jesus rescued us, we must face the truth that we are still allowing our carnal mind to be in control. It is a sad testimony when our failures can be traced to laziness, selfishness, pride or any of the carnal attributes that result in disobedience. In second Timothy the third chapter and verse five we read, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” And in verse seven, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God’s Word pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and is the only power that can expose the hidden sins that attempt to hide in the darkness of denial.

It is not a secret; the enemy desires for you to throw in the towel with God and just live for yourself. Satan is very subtle and downright sneaky when it comes to getting into our head. The little foxes that spoil the vines can be the subtle whispers from the devil that can distract and lure us away from God’s focus. Allow me to share with you what I recently experienced at work and how something seemingly innocent became a weapon of deception against me. I work in small department of 5 people including a manager. Our manager was replaced with another one and when he moved into our office, he brought a small radio in and set it on our filing cabinet as he enjoys listening to seventies and eighties rock while sitting at his computer. (Back before I discovered how “dangerous” it was to drink in the music of the world, these songs had a strong grip on my mind and attitude toward sin.) As I am in and out of the office throughout the day with checking on shipments and doing paperwork, I slowly began to notice how the songs would get into my head and would stay sometimes for days. I would find myself humming these familiar melodies even when I was at home. Unfortunately, the songs were connected to other thoughts and events in my past that were subconsciously producing a “heaviness” in my spirit. As I was praying one day the Lord “opened my eyes” about what was happening and I began to seek about how to confront and deal with this in His wisdom. Amazingly, within a couple of weeks the manager was transferred out of our department (thank you Jesus) and took the radio with him.

Some may say, now Billy, you’re being a fanatic; well, maybe that is exactly what we need to be! May I say with all seriousness – we cannot spiritually afford to absorb the world with our ears and eyes! We who are God’s frontline warriors cannot play around with sin any more than we can play in the fire without smelling like smoke! God does not want us to compromise AT ALL because it will decrease our sensitivity, anointing and effectiveness in our Christian walk. But many will say, “Just how strict do we need to be?” My reply is, “Just how much victory do you want?” Allow me to go further, “just how much of Jesus do you want?” You see, the amount of “change” we would like to see in our life is directly related to how much Jesus we will have! The less of me there is – the more of Christ that can fill me. The more of me that is in control of what I do, the less room there is for Jesus to be my Lord. He is asking today; do you love Me enough to change?

CHAPTER 3

EXERCISING OUR KNOWLEDGE

Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said unto them, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the FIRST and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).

Some people will read this passage and say that it is a nice scripture and most would agree that it is true and very important, but how many have actually received it into their heart as a personal revelation? We know about the masses of people around the world who “practice” religion and seem very sincere about church attendance and will even give money toward a good cause, but they have a difficult time with the concept of total abandonment of their will. I should know because I am one of those people. How do you think I can write so much about the struggle between the flesh and spirit if I was not experiencing it for myself? I have come to the point in my spiritual development that I am not concerned with the devil near as much as I am with my carnality. I also realize that I have not been called to fight against the system of the beast except through prayer because God has already seen the future and made His plans accordingly. What I and all of His children have been called to do is to fill our mind with His Word and fill our conscience with His presence! If we can do that – we can walk in His Spirit and follow His voice. Loving Him with all of our existence and Being obedient to his specific instructions (or perfect will) for our destiny, is what life is really all about. Everything else we do outside of His perfect will are things that we cherish and we have chosen to satisfy our natural desires. I am not saying that all that we own is bad, but only provoking us to think about just how much these things mean to us.

It does seem that we could find a happy medium but with God, He does not see anything or do anything half-way. The lukewarm analogy is a perfect example of how He thinks and what He expects from those who represent His Kingdom. The sixth chapter of Mathew is a very important message to those who proclaim to be Christians. Let us read starting in verse 24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You CANNOT serve God and mammon.” We have heard a lot about the prosperity movement and how God wants us all to be rich, but our faith would be better used if we could pray with our spiritual eyes instead of our carnal desires. The rest of chapter 24 goes on to describe how a true disciple of Christ should not worry about having houses and storage buildings filled with goods because they ruin and are susceptible to being stolen. He is explaining that a true Christian would actually give his possessions away and not even worry about what to eat or wear. I realize this sounds ridiculous especially in our culture and modern society because the “normal” way of living that we all have been accustomed to is to work and make money, and use our finances to provide security for ourselves and our family.

Our idea of success is the more we make the higher lifestyle we can provide. It seems that we have subconsciously designed a correct and logical way to live without really paying much attention to these old verses of scripture. Why is that? Because we think this pertained to the world when people walked around in robes and sandals and really had nothing much to do. We think it was a lot easier to just wander around and tell people about God because they did not have the responsibilities or opportunities to “get a life”. Personally, I believe the religious world has missed the point and sadly may be missing Jesus altogether. “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which said, by hearing you shall hear and shall not understand and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive. For this people’s heart is waxed gross, (calloused) and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be CONVERTED, and I should heal them” (Mathew 13: 14-15).

I want to be more honest than I have ever been about my personal life as I realize that Jesus must become more than just words. For many years I have been blessed with talents and gifts to play an instrument, write songs, record them and minister them. I am a licensed minister that has officiated weddings and funerals, I have taught classes, counseled, and given sermons, led worship, ministered in revivals and prisons, and all these opportunities are a privilege and honor to do. I have also had the blessing of graduating from Seminary along with being the chaplain for our local fire department and a counselor for the State crisis response team. However, these works and good deeds do not really tell the whole story or reveal the big picture of reality. Some of you may be able to relate to what I am about to say and that is, the attitude of the heart is the deciding factor as to how effective we are and how we will be rewarded. I confess that many times I have not really wanted to do what is commonly called a “labor of love” because I was being selfish and wanted to do something else. At other times I have volunteered to do things with the hidden motive that maybe I would meet someone or a door might be opened for me to receive a job opportunity or a financial blessing.

It’s embarrassing to admit but within my nature, I have discovered that I like to be respected and I expect many times to be compensated for my labor. For those of you who love to go and do everything they can without ever thinking that people are taking advantage of you or just using you, I am impressed and want to be more like you. In order for me to “overcome” these feelings of paranoia and self-centered pride, I realize that I must “incorporate” what God is giving to me to write – into my heart! I have learned what I need to do already – now I must exercise my knowledge! This is the great mysterious revelation that I am seeking! I am trying to understand how we go from understanding the problem – to allowing God to heal us and empower us to change. This is where I believe we must take our will “by the horns” so to speak, and become determined to pray, think and confess our way to victory! I realize He is not going to snap His fingers and instantly “fix” us, but He is willing to walk with us and “help” teach us in this refining process of transformation. The question remains the same – do we really want to do it and why can’t we live and think as Paul did? “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

I want to tell you a true story about a man I admire and have looked up to as a mentor in the faith. Years ago, I was asked by a minister acquaintance of mine to accompany him in his prison ministry, to sing songs and share whatever was on my heart and I agreed to go. I would begin the service and he would teach a sermon and give an invitation for anyone who wanted to receive Christ as their Lord. He was truly a humble man that was not what you would call a powerful, charismatic personality. In fact, when you listened to him talk and especially when he would teach, you could not help but wonder how or why this man thought he was called to speak publicly. I am not being critical but rather trying to make a point about how God sees and does things much differently than we do in our flesh. Our ideas of an anointed and professional minister would be someone that has graduated seminary, a sharp thinker and who has a powerful, clear speaking voice. This is not the case with brother Edwards. He is soft spoken with a gentle persona and had much trouble trying to connect his words and often could not even remember his thoughts. I have seen him become so frustrated with becoming tongue-tied that he would just stop and breathe for a second and try to start again. As I watched and listened, I finally began to see how God could use someone like this and many times I had tears welling up in my eyes because I could feel God’s presence so heavy in the room. It became apparent that God was using the weakness of a human and the meekness of a dedicated heart to reveal His glory. God uses this man as he offers himself and He can use anyone else that is willing to share the gospel with a broken and contrite heart.

You see, brother Edwards loves souls. He is passionate about evangelism and would walk across a burning desert to tell somebody about Jesus. He does not care when, where or how much it cost, he is ready to go and share his heart, believing that the power of salvation is in the gospel. He lives a very simple life. He loves God with all of his heart and he loves people as himself – just like the scripture in Mathew 22 say’s. This is a perfect example of a modern day disciple that has abandoned his will for God’s agenda. He called me the other day and wanted to know if I would like to start going with him again just like we did years ago. I said it would be an honor – he is now 82 years old. “And He said unto them, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him” (Mathew 4:19-20). It’s very difficult for us to remember that when Jesus purchased us with His blood, our life is not ours anymore. To abandon and surrender our will means that we are now an instrument for HIS use. It does not matter how much our labor cost us or how much time it takes out of our life, the only objective is to keep our eyes on Him and obey His voice. The strife that we feel within our soul is when we begin to “argue” about how we do not have the money or time to give for His work. However, we must settle this issue once and for all by realizing that serving Him freely and sincerely is the true reason and purpose we live. Loving and obeying Him is the meaning of life, while our carnal selfishness, rebellion, and arrogance continues to sing that famous old song – I did it my way.

CHAPTER 4

GOD SEES, GOD HEARS, GOD KNOWS

Hard, sculptured physical bodies do not just fall out of the sky…they are developed! Six-pack abs and the healthy glow from good nutrition and exercise takes much more than just browsing through a fitness magazine. The human body is unique yet generally the same when it comes to muscle, blood, digestion etc. and most people have all the same components (with certain exceptions), putting us on common ground when it comes to potential. That is a key word! All of us can “develop” whatever we focus on and even things we are not naturally gifted in we can definitely learn and improve. In the subject of physical condition, people that have no desire to take care of their bodies have made the choice to not put forth any effort! They may complain, but are not interested enough to do something about it and certainly have no vision to change. Without exercise and eating healthy, the body will naturally grow flabby; lose muscle tone, most likely become overweight and this enhances the deterioration of organ function, imbalanced hormones, sluggish blood flow, weak heart and so on until sickness and disease develops. Being lazy and lethargic is a result of our flesh being in control. Being filled with God’s Spirit is being controlled by HIS will. Many have been active throughout the centuries because everyday survival was associated with “manual labor” but as technology has progressed, our “automated” lifestyle has also in some ways been a set-back to our overall health. No matter how many reasons we can list about why we are out of shape, plump and ill, many times have no one to blame but our ourselves and the lazy choices we have willingly made. If we “sugar-coat” our excuses, we will never be inspired to transform our life.

Our new born-again spirit operates with very similar principals like that of the flesh except in a different realm. The flesh functions in a natural world of corruption and death where things break and everything has an expiration date. The spirit functions in the light of holiness, faith, love, humility and is eternally based and devoted to God and His Word. Our individual spirit does not care about the difficulty of labor, the cost of sacrifice or the limitations of time when it comes to serving God. The remnant has a new transformed spirit within them and is likewise designed to “exercise” and grow stronger every day in this higher dimension. Just as the body begins with five-pound weights and gradually increases endurance, our spirit also learns with knowledge and experience to grow more wise and sensitive each day. Unfortunately, the most devastating parallel between these two subjects is that most Christians do NOT have a passion to “work-out” and advance their own salvation either – just like the “couch potato” people. As some start out with a small amount of exercise and then refuse to go no further, the same is true with many Christians that choose NOT to read, study, witness or pray because it is uncomfortable, difficult and sacrificial. Many just want the security of knowing they have a seat in heaven because they need to make sure they have all their bases covered. The evidence of carnality is revealed when they do not want it to cost them anything! They do the same thing with house and auto insurance, pensions and retirement accounts, as again they just want the assurance of being protected.

Have you ever thought that maybe some people have a misconception about the divine plan of spiritual development that God offers? For His people to assume that just because you walk the aisle of a church you are approved for heaven, could possibly lead many to think the work is finished. When Jesus spoke from the cross and said, “It is finished”, He meant that His sacrifice was now sufficient to restore the spiritual relationship between God and humans to “whosoever” would choose to follow Him. He was not implying that becoming an heir to His Kingdom was ONLY based on a one time confession and “nothing” else. It is false teaching that has given the wrong impression about salvation because in order to convince people to join the churches and become tithe paying members, many times the concept of salvation is made to sound like a walk in the park. If you notice, the salvation message usually is focused on what Christ went through on the cross, but not much about what the Father requires from us! People love anything “free” and to imply that all we need to do is “believe” sounds very appealing for those who desire to secure their seat in the next life. When Jesus communicated His gospel, He was very direct and challenged people to sell their possessions and follow Him. This does not sound like a free-ride. This honest approach caused individuals to weigh the cost and make difficult choices that some accepted and others rejected. When Jesus spoke of abandoning our will and turning away from the love of this world, it was NOT a religious game, but rather a strong dose of divine reality. This is why many teachers do not reveal the big picture of salvation now – they do NOT want to scare people away before they even get started! However, isn’t it better to explain what God expects from us, rather than deceive someone into thinking they are saved with just an emotional experience?

Words without action are like buckets with holes in them. Most people only desire a very small portion of God and most already have all they want! It is not difficult to see why many so-called Christians embrace the new, popular religious lifestyle because it has the external “appearance” of holiness (without the internal transformation process.) People want GAIN with no PAIN! – but it will NOT happen!” Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like unto whited (painted) sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Mathew 23:27) People may escape the sacrifice and suffering of true discipleship but the time will come when their “talk and no walk” will evaporate and be exposed. God is not impressed with this deceptive mockery and will judge this “all show and no substance circus parade” with swift and pure discipline. It is probable for those who seem to be first in this world of outward display – to be last in the eyes of God’s perfect justice. His will for our spiritual growth is seen in the type and shadow of the natural development of a baby, toddler, and preschool and so on, all the way to becoming an adult. As the human mind and body grows mature in knowledge and experience, our spirit also has the heavenly blueprint to become seasoned in faith and the possibility to demonstrate all the spiritual fruits and attributes of Jesus Christ. The concept is for our lives to become a reflection of the one who made us in the image of Himself. We cannot “out smart” God or manipulate His Word to give us His blessings. Acting religious is not enough to persuade God to “squeeze” us into heaven! Yes, there is a holy covenant between God and those who are saved and this blood relationship is the strongest bond in the universe. However, it is not susceptible to fraud, bribery, deception, or foolish mockery! He gives everything He has to His children and in return they give Him all of their heart. The hidden secrets and questions are already answered…God sees, God hears, God knows.

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass (mirror): For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:21-25).

One of the most popular political signs that people have held over the centuries is, “WE NEED CHANGE”. Those who put their hope in the governments of men actually believe that new programs and laws can create a better system without ever considering the condition of the world is measured according to how much Jesus dwells in the human soul. How can the masses be so blind to believe that government structure, global unity and human intelligence can bring peace on earth and fulfill their hearts desires? I am saying with all humility and reverence for God’s truth that the only thing that can change the world is to change our condition! It is very true, we do need change but it is the great need to change from the “inside out” that is the highest order of transformation. This type of spiritual, permanent change comes when an individual allows God to melt them and completely RE-CREATE them. A human being cannot change anyone else – and to be honest, a person has all they can possibly handle with surrendering their own will. God’s plan is based on the idea of allowing Him to do a deep work in us first – and then we will be so filled with His presence that others will reach out to the love of God that is in us! It seems those who cry the loudest about how everything needs to be changed, have never embraced the revelation of a personal evolution. Before we spend our energy and passion to change everyone and everything else, may we allow God to change us first! Actually, we may discover that signs are not effective or necessary because walking in HIS light speaks louder than words and can super-naturally open the spiritual eyes of those who cannot see.

There is a huge difference between “WE NEED CHANGE” and “I NEED TO CHANGE”! Instead of being discouraged, disappointed, sad and depressed because things are not changing, there is exciting great news! I am going to release the greatest secret of all time about how to see and experience change; PRAYER! Now brother, I thought you had some exciting mystery that had the power to alter circumstances and situations. Praise His Holy Name – I do! God “promised” in II Chronicles 7:14, that if anyone is really serious about change, they can fall on their knees in faith and see as much transformation as they are willing to pray for! Ask Him now to help you change…these are the words He has been waiting to hear.

CHAPTER 5

IS IT WELL WITH OUR SOUL?

A possible you” is all about changing from who you are now to the person God longs for you to be. It is definitely “possible” but it will not come without a price. You have already been purchased with the blood of Christ which is the most valuable ransom eternity has ever known. This was done that we might have the possibility to develop into the image of the one who created us. The question remains with whether or not we will “allow” God to break us, melt us, mold us and use us within the specifications of the journey He has selected for us. Yes, it is true that if we refuse to invite God into our private life, He will never be our Lord. You see the idea behind praying for God to help us is not just asking for things. To many, prayer is making a “grocery list” of items that we want and then hoping that God would fill our request out of His desire to make us happy – this is not a realistic view of intercession. We pray because we love Him and know that to be pleasing to Him, we must become transparent. Our highest honor is bow before Him and our most worthy motive should be to know Him deeper in the power of His resurrection. Some of His children have already been in this spiritual evolution for many years and have made wonderful progress while others are just starting to see the personal “map” that God has drawn for their destiny – (and by the way have discovered they have a long way to go). And then there are those that have been a Christian for a long time and have absorbed volumes of religious knowledge but have never really come into the revelation of what transformation means. As we have said before, it is EASY to accept what Christ has done for us without ever yielding our will to Him, but to become one with Him calls for the emptying of one’s self so that we can be filled with His nature – and this is the “possibility” we are talking about.

I know that God is speaking to me about personal change and I am convinced by the witness of His Spirit that as Jesus is preparing to return, He is trying to relay this message to all of His children. I was sitting around tonight watching some show about Alaska state troopers and I could hardly concentrate on what was happening because I am meditating in my spirit about what God wants to do within His disciples. Once again I have come into my office to write and empty my heart with what I feel He is trying to communicate to those who love Him and who desire to follow His Word. I believe He is attempting to reveal to ALL of us His will – not only about “things” that are going on around us but about who He is, because if we can know Him more intimately, we will know what He wants us to do. And if we can know what He wants, we will at least find ourselves in the crossroad of decision to obey or walk away. Maybe this is the very reason why people do not want to go deeper in their relationship with Him is because they are afraid of what He will ask them to do. I have said many times that it is much easier to visit God at church than to be constantly aware of our responsibility to accomplish His commands. Sadly there are many who are convinced they have already done everything necessary to fulfill their commitment for eternal life and that has given them a false sense of security. Could it be that eternal life will still be given to the religious spectators who praised the Father for His mighty deeds but refused Christ to be their personal Lord?

Since change is what we are focused on, allow me to say again that God is ready and willing to help any of us with whatever is preventing our spiritual success. This success is the fulfilling of what He has called us to do and to become. He will not be satisfied with a half-hearted, lukewarm attitude that allows the flesh to control our life and no matter how much we cry on the shoulder of His grace, we must grow up and become accountable. I realize that God is filled with mercy and compassion but He will not betray His own integrity just because we memorize confessions or use our weakness as an excuse. We must support what we really believe with action which is the demonstration of faith. This means that whatever weakness or dysfunction is causing us to stumble, we must be willing to lay it on the alter and watch it burn to a crisp. Until we are ready to sacrifice these “idols” that bring us great fleshly satisfaction we will live our life at the gates and in the outer courts of His presence. It has never been acceptable to bring idols into God’s camp and this idolatry is seen by God to be an abomination and a direct enemy to His holiness. We love to hear about God’s understanding and forgiveness but we back away from hearing about how strict and uncompromising He is! The only place for anything that competes for God’s attention is the smoldering pile of burning rubbish.

Let us go to the book of Joshua and be reminded of the seriousness that God is trying to relay to us about purity and how there is no room for any other “thing” in our heart that tries to share His glory. Being a disciple is abandoning and setting our heart free to follow Him with the “single vision” of love. In Joshua chapter seven, we find that Joshua and his army have just defeated Jericho with the super-natural intervention of God’s power. They were given instructions to gather ALL the spoils and bring them into the treasury of the Lord. (This is an example of how God wants us to view our treasures of highest value as being dedicated to His service and not our own control). The people obeyed the orders from God except a man named Achan who stole some of the spoil and buried it in his tent. God became very angry at this act of rebellion, deception and theft. In fact, His anger burned against the entire nation of Israel. While this was going on, Joshua sent a few of his scouts to spy on a land called Ai. The spy’s returned and told Joshua that he would not need to send but a couple thousand of warriors because there were only a few who dwelled in Ai. To the surprise of everyone, the small group of soldiers from Ai chased the three thousand warriors and killed thirty six men before they could escape. The people cried in fear and Joshua fell on his face to beg God to show him what happened to their favor with the Lord. God spoke and said that someone had taken some of the spoil from Jericho and that now the entire nation was cursed.

They went through a process and discovered that Achan was guilty of “loving” a material possession more than he respected God’s command. Achan admitted that he coveted the gold and silver and told them he buried it under his tent. Joshua sent his messengers to dig up the treasures and lay it before all the people. Listen to what happened in verses 24 and 25, “And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, and the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had; and they brought them to the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will trouble you this day. And all Israel stoned him and those with him with stones, and afterward burned their bodies with fire.” Do you actually believe that you can have secret idols, habits, desires and indulgences that are wrong in God’s sight, and not be experiencing closed doors, failures, depression, anger, hatred, disappointments, frustrations, and the misery that goes along with having a distance in your soul with Him? Do we want our carnal comfort zones caressed or do we want the truth? If we love ourselves more than we love God – we are idolaters and are cursed!

I know we all want to be in control but we are the temple of the Holy Ghost – we do not “own it”. Our life has been given to us for a purpose and that calling was NOT to do whatever we want! It is time that we raised our expectations to His standards because He is not going to “skip over” holiness and sanctification. You see God is not telling us to “try” harder, He is telling us to “die” harder! We only need a one step program and that is to embrace the revelation that we have been called OUT of darkness into His marvelous light! This message of His divine reality will only be manifested when we decide to sell out completely for Him. This means holding nothing back because the amount of return depends on the investment! Would you like to be totally possessed with God? Do you see yourself as being seated in heavenly places? The heart that is completely yielded to His Word will spend time at each level within God’s tabernacle that portrays the level of their love and devotion to Him and eventually will come to perfect rest and peace in the holy of holies. This surrendering and abandoning of our nature is exactly what Jesus is saying in this hour to His beautiful bride so that we can become adorned for the grandest wedding of all eternity. Can you hear His voice today? Can you hear Him calling you away, to let go of the world and embrace His instructions and to seek Him with all of your strength and mind? “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thundering’s, saying, Alleluia for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His WIFE HAS MADE HERSELF READY. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints” (Revelation 19:6-8).

Did you see that? His wife has MADE herself ready! That my friend – is the Word of the Lord to His people in this hour! Changing our life is more than just cleaning the spots and ironing the wrinkles, it is embracing His commands to reach out to the hungry and homeless with God’s love. It is using our resources to help finance God’s work and not worrying about 30 years from now. It is stopping OUR plans to hoard up everything we can get our hands on and start allowing God to pull our fingers away from our idols that we love and hold onto so strongly. It is time to ask God to renew our mind and give us love and mercy for those we have a hard time with. Let us ask Him each morning to cleanse our heart and to see situations the way He sees them. Let us forgive and pray for those who need Christ. It is the hour to walk in His peace and His anointing to think, say and do what is right! Amen!

CHAPTER 6

OUR ONGOING “RELATIONSHIP” WITH TEMPTATION

It has been said that everyone must choose one of two pains: The pain of discipline or the pain of regret. As we live our day by day routines and develop our habits whether good or bad, every so often we find ourselves at special places called “crossroads.” These are “life-points” or places of decision where we stand in the middle of an intersection and meditate on the choice of direction we will take for the course of our life. We can freely choose through our God given free-will to remain the same or make a change. There are many reactions to these milestone places as some try to avoid them; some are overwhelmed and others do not even recognize them. Nevertheless, a few are aware of the stirring within the soul and understand that a successful life requires a constant evaluation that includes development, progression, and transformation. God never created a vessel to drift on the sea without a specific direction because He personally has drawn a map for each individual that includes a purpose. Only when we embrace the revelation of this divine truth, will we be able to see God’s wonderful plan for our life. If we remain stubborn and determined to live independently with our carnal rebellion in control of our mind – we will die a miserable failure. The ONLY eternal life of reward and joy will be for those who followed and obeyed the voice of the Father.

You know, speaking of God making a detailed plan of our life, I just want to say that I believe He is actually “excited” about you and I. He obviously has put a lot of time and faith into our destiny and that explains why He keeps such a close eye on us. Do you not watch over your children and are you not proud when they accomplish certain things and are we not sad and disappointed when they make bad choices and suffer failure? There is no doubt that just like you and I are willing to help our children in any way we can, God is even more ready to reach out with whatever we need to complete our mission. He is very aware that we live in a body of flesh that demands total control of our mind and emotions. He also realizes that Satan and his demons are focusing on those who are dedicated to living for God. In this light, He is compassionate and sympathetic to our struggles and trials that we face each day and this is exactly why He is trying to relay the message to us that He will help us if we are serious about change! If we really want to be transformed from being carnal to being spiritual, He is ready to intervene. He can do miracles that we have never dreamed of like taking away desires and reminding us of our promises. For example if we ask Him to please speak to our heart and remind us when we come face to face with temptation that He will empower us with wisdom and discipline to conquer our flesh – He will do it! He also realizes that we are only “blowing smoke” if we come to the point of sin and ignore His attempt to get our attention. He is longing for His children to set their face as flint and become totally committed to “overcoming” their weaknesses for the love for God and His glory. It is with these holy vessels of honor that He can fill and overflow with the power of His anointing to touch others as a witness and testimony of His love.

Allow me to be practical with you for a moment. Let’s say that you have a problem with overeating and this indulgence has caused you to health issues. You are sad about what this has done to your appearance and you realize it is a problem but it has not worried you enough to do something about it. This is simply because you love to eat and you are not ready to change the way you are. But let’s suppose that one day you become so frustrated and depressed that you fall across your bed and pour out your heart to God in a flood of emotions and you cry out to Him in desperation to please help you. As you lie there in the quiet, you hear His still small voice say, if you really mean it – I will take away your dysfunctional desire for food. You arise from your bed and go sit on the couch trying to figure out what just happened. You go through your day and realize that you have not been hungry. It is close to bedtime and you still are not really hungry but instead of being happy, you begin to worry that something is wrong. Instead of just drinking a glass of water and going to sleep, you force yourself to eat a sandwich, chips and coke. The next day, you rationalize your thoughts and proceed to eat again at the times when normal people eat. (We must remember that our old nature will be super-sensitive to food and the enemy will realize this). Your mind will notice all the commercials and pictures of the foods you love. Friends at work will offer you food or your company will bring out free donuts as you automatically eat it – then regret it. You will begin to feel the tug of war within your mind as you try to stand strong against the temptation to compromise, then you decide that you deserve a “reward” for not eating the whole bag of cookies. After a few days your appetite is stimulated again and you are right back to the same old addictive habits. Allow me to ask, did this person really want Jesus to help them or was their “experience” with Him just an emotional pity-party of frustration? Can you see how fierce and aggressive our body “demands” pleasure and how powerful and controlling it has become through the years? I want to encourage you today by saying that God will move heaven and earth to help you because He loves you so much – but you must listen closely and follow His instructions perfectly or it WILL NOT WORK! Trust Him – trust Him! Even when you are struggling and suffering – He promises that He will be there for you to comfort you and fill you with HIS strength and peace. Test Him and try Him! He never fails! If you are faithful to Him – He will be faithful to you!

Let us pray a simple and practical prayer right now. If you are not ready to commit – do not turn away but at least read with me through this prayer. You can continue to ask God for more courage and urgency so that when you do come to your crossroad, you will have the faith to make your request known. “Father, I come to you right now knowing that You are ALL powerful and that I am very weak in my flesh. You know my heart, my thoughts, desires, cravings and all of my past struggles and failures, yet you are still excited about my “possibility” to change. I have thought about it, waged war over it and finally have come to this life-point where I am serious about having a new attitude about food. Open the eyes of my mind to see food differently. Allow me to perceive food as something I need to live – not something that I live for. Please remove my extreme cravings and when I do eat, remind me that I only need what is sufficient. Take away my lust for the rich delicacies and the indulgences that are harmful to my body. Take away the desire to over-eat into gluttony and all the sins that are associated with it. As I resist this desire may my discernment become more sensitive and may I grow stronger until I have defeated this weakness and solidified this change as a permanent transformation victory. Come be my Lord, In Jesus Name, amen.”

Now, for those of you that were serious about this prayer, you can expect to experience some strange things happening to you. Do not become upset or worried if you go for a while without being hungry. We are so used to eating on a regular basis and we love to snack all through the day and night, that we hardly give our stomach the chance to be empty. Just relax and enjoy this journey because the process is just beginning and it will take a while before you see results. Do not become discouraged and do not allow the devil or your old nature to argue with your new agreement with God. Hold tightly to your faith and rest in His promises to help you with whatever you need. The only one that can disrupt the change process is you! It will not be God’s fault if you give up and quit. 

I had not originally intended to continue with this particular subject of over-eating and the consequences of being over-weight and out of shape but I sense this is a problem that affects many in the body of Christ and is an important issue when dealing with the transformation of our BODY, MIND and SPIRIT. How can we expect to be filled and led of the Holy Spirit if we have our flesh dominating us? Would you agree that until we allow Christ to be our Lord “completely” we will not enjoy the success of walking under His control? There is only room for one King upon the throne of our conscience and the old nature is fighting as hard as he can to sit there. Casting down our flesh is the only way we can keep our old nature in the graveyard where he belongs. This is not going to happen automatically which is the reason for us to learn these practical truths together. In this light, I will continue with the leading of the Holy Spirit as I rely on His wisdom and anointing.

I admit that in my life I have never really thought about holding back with what I desired to eat. I was very thin and a picky eater as a youth but when I became an adult for some reason I thought more was better. I developed a strong habit of eating until there was nothing left and if I wanted 4 pieces of cake I would not hesitate to satisfy my craving. Now that I am older and my metabolism is changing I realize that with many years of “abuse” I am now seriously addicted to food. When I was young I had no guilt and when I took my shirt off I still had a youthful body and more importantly I felt good. Now as I think more about food than I ever have, I see flabby muscles and a pot belly along with less energy and of course all of this contributes to low self-esteem and confidence. Have you ever experienced a vicious cycle of strong passion, consumption, satisfaction and then condemnation after you are satisfied? There is something wrong when we are not only dreaming about what to eat but when we have nightmares of guilt after we eat. Maybe we are bored and eat because it is something to do – or maybe our temptation to eat is increased because food is so accessible. If this is contributing to the problem, we must embrace what we are trying to avoid; self – discipline. I want to pause for a moment and let us meditate on a very beautiful and powerful scripture that will edify and uplift our heart and spirit. More than just discussing the areas that God desires to change us, it is just as important that we PRAY for one another as we work through our struggles.

One of the most powerful ministries of the body of Christ is prayer and our love and concern for each other should be the result of our love for God. It is my prayer that God will strengthen you and inspire you to continue growing in your intimacy with the Father. Likewise, many of you are praying for me that God will minister this Word into my heart so that I will continue in the journey that He has called me to do. In Colossians, 1: 9-11 we find a prayer of encouragement for those who have set their focus on becoming all they can be in Christ. As Paul, under the anointing of God’s Spirit inspires this group of people, we can use this edification as a “confession” for ourselves and for each other in the same spirit of love and faith. Put your name in the places where “you” is mentioned and be inspired as this Word refreshes and stimulates your heart. “For this reason we also, from the day we heard it (your passion for God), have not ceased to pray and make special request for YOU, (asking) that YOU be filled with the (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in ALL spiritual wisdom (in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God) and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things. That YOU may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God (with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition.) We pray that YOU may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, (to exercise) every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy.” Why does Paul mention joy? Because joy enables us to enjoy our journey and have strength that keeps us going even when our trials becomes difficult. We will never experience the joy that Jesus intended for us to have if we wait until every circumstance is perfect. Joy is not just a “feeling” it is KNOWING in our heart that God is with us in the calm and in the storm. Selah.

The reason why we have such a difficult time resisting temptation is because we refuse to let go of its hand. We want to take a pill and wake up 40 pounds lighter, or depend on some theory that will change us into a holier person but in the end it will come down to our determination. I know a sister that has recently asked the Lord to awaken her at 5:30 each morning so she can pray and confess scriptures. Without an alarm clock, her eyes pop open miraculously at 5:30 each morning. No doubt He will always do His part – but we must accept the reality of self-discipline.\

 

 

CHAPTER 7

(BREAK ME) – EVERYONE IS WAITING ON YOU

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is truly ready, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).

I have personally experienced the stress and disappointment of unwanted weight gain. When I was a child, I was very skinny and really could have cared less about food. I could go all day on a tuna fish sandwich and some Kool-Aid. My parents were always worried that I would experience malnutrition so they tried everything they could think of to get food inside of me like putting raw eggs into milkshakes. (By the way, I have heard the experts agree that parents should not worry about children that do not have strong appetites, because it is believed they will eat when they get hungry). Nevertheless, I was “forced” to clean my plate and I sometimes wonder if this may have contributed to my adult dysfunction of cleaning my plate whether I am hungry or not. Whatever the case, unfortunately since I have grown up, the hunger switch has been flipped into overdrive and now I am trying to turn it off. (And for the record, I also am not the skinny kid I was.) As a matter of fact, I became “alarmed” looking at our Florida vacation pictures when we visited my Uncle Carl a few years ago. I looked more like a barrel with arms. I have tried pills, and dabbled with diets but they do not last because it is trying to fight a spiritual problem in the flesh. I just love food – any kind of food, especially the buttered, smothered, greasy kind topped off with dessert. But it is time to face the hard facts; this lifestyle of eating rich foods, along with a slowing metabolism from growing older, unfortunately puts everything in the “visual” perspective.

I have never thought that much about what I put in my mouth because I’ve never really “needed” to worry about it. A few years ago had a small heart blockage problem and they installed a stint in my artery, and of course they pleaded with me to start eating healthy. However, making a life-changing decision comes from the free-will part of our being and the problem is that most of the time we do not really want to do it. After we eat we might remind ourselves that we need to do better but after the meal wears off and we become hungry again we seem to forget all about the sacrifice and return to allow our cravings to lead us. I have also noticed that our nature usually does not worry about changing our bad habits until something bad happens. We do not seem to get “serious” until the doctor sits us down and delivers a diagnosis that scares us into a state of panic. THEN, we are all “gung ho” about buying a treadmill and watching the food labels. I realize the human body does deteriorate over time and I am not trying to say that we can live to be 150 and look like we are 20, but I am saying there is wisdom concerning how we look and feel – IF we will follow God’s voice. It only makes common sense; the reason we gain is because we eat rich delicacies and we eat too much! If our craving levels were to be turned down, our clothing sizes would also go down. If we could “break-up” this love affair with unhealthy food and realize we are being used and “abused” we could become emotionally and physically stronger or “whole”. Many will say, “Asking God to help me is just too easy” but what are we disputing, God’s power or God’s love for us? Are we thinking that He does not care about things like this? If wrong eating practices are going to cause us health issues (and they do), then it is very important to our quality of living! I would rather PREVENT diseases rather than ask people to pray for me AFTER I am disabled! How can we be strong for Him and work in His harvest fields if I am bedridden with diabetes? No one ever said the Christian life was easy but like everything else that is God’s will – it will be worth it! “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:” (Isaiah 59:1 KJV) “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: Is there anything too hard for me?”(Jeremiah 32:27).

Being led by God is probably the most thought about and talked about theme in the Christian life, but what exactly do we think this means? Could it not include what we eat and how much we consume? The weakness of our flesh and areas where we are suffering defeat are issues that He wants to help us with but He can only act when we stop fighting against Him. Many times our problems are the consequence of our “pet sins” and it is impossible to remove the problem while embracing the cause. We must realize these so-called dysfunctions can be used as agents of control and manipulation against us that hold us in captivity. In many cases of addictions and health issues that actually can be helped and healed, many people will never find relief from the consequence as the cause helps them manipulate others. In even more severe situations some might “embrace” their problems because it gives them a monthly check and to be healed would shut off the false security of their financial support. So it is easy to see the dangers of becoming attached to destructive behaviors and in the light of asking others to pray, we must admit that if individuals do not desire to change their thinking and way of living, (whatever the problem may be) then what is the next step?

Let it be established that if we do not see the battle between our flesh and God’s Spirit as an all-out WAR, we will not have the enthusiasm or courage it is going to take to win. Much of our problems and disorders come from the habit of not really considering what we are doing. Try this if you dare: buy a package of whatever you would consider to be your strongest temptation such as a certain candy, cake or super-fattening delicacy. Take it home and in a place of privacy as you close the door behind you, stare at it and seriously think about how you have allowed it to influence, persuade and tempt you over the years. Take it out of the package and tear it apart. Talk to it and declare IN FAITH that you are now taking the steering wheel of your body and that it does no longer dictate your direction! Within the principals of Theophostic counseling is the practice of pulling up an empty chair and inviting Jesus to sit down and be a part of the session. Since He is already watching, it is a way to acknowledge His presence and establish an awareness within our faith that He loves to be “actively” included in our therapy. This is a powerful addition to your private session with an example of food that symbolizes your battle of temptation. Can you see how you can bring “whatever” you are in a battle with to the table, and go through this declaration with Jesus sitting beside you? (It is only silly to the ones who live in a low level of love and concern for others.) Our declaration would be something like this as we speak directly to the object: I confess this day, with Jesus as my witness, that I am asking Him to help me to resist you. I believe in my heart, that He will give me the strength to not allow you to tempt me anymore. I will no longer lust after you because my craving for you is now BROKEN in the Name of Jesus! I love Him more than I love anything else, and choose to allow Him to make me into what He died for me to be. My Father is filling me with self-control and aligning my life into His perfect will and I will walk in HIS Spirit – NOT after the desires of my flesh from this day forward. Amen! After declaring your victory speech, make sure you throw it away as an act of authority, control, your will-power and closure. Do not regret your decision but rather begin to praise God for the awesome work He is doing in you. Feel the liberty to use your imagination to custom design your own private, face to face confessions between you, Jesus and ANY other idol that is trying to keep you in bondage as a slave. How can we proclaim to the world with confidence how God delivers, renews and transforms if we have not experienced it ourselves?

It would be a good thing if we were not driven by hunger but rather was focused on things like enjoying the time we are spending with the ones we are with. I have been guilty of fantasizing about the food while sadly not paying much attention to those who were with me. It is terrible to only be concentrated on the food and not appreciate the relationships we have with those around us. When we are in a food “trance” we may be missing the beauty of the surroundings and atmosphere along with not having a spiritual sensitivity to the needs of others. Eating is not to be a Neanderthal, lust filled affair but rather a blessing that has been given by God for our nourishment and strength.A great idea is to only put food on your plate that you really enjoy. (You do not need to load a spoonful of everything just because it is sitting in front of you.) Try an experiment; when you have dipped out your food, sit down and look at it very carefully. Many people are guilty of “mindless” eating. They do not think about what they are putting in their mouth but are just ready to devour it until they are stuffed. Take small bites and chew it like you are enjoying it – not like you are a wild animal. This will allow you to focus on your favorites and the brain will have plenty of time to blow the internal alarm to stop before you have crossed the point of no return. Also, do not convince yourself that you need to eat everything on your plate or on the table just so it will not go to waste. If you are in a restaurant and you must save it, take a leftover box home with you and eat it later. I have been guilty of going to a buffet and thinking that I must eat my “money’s worth” in order to feel that I have done something smart and frugal. Do not fall into the habit of seeing how much you can eat as a game of trying to take advantage of the situation or get something for nothing. Also, if you are weighing yourself everyday remember that we all fluctuate throughout the day with fluid retention etc…and this can become discouraging. It is much more rewarding to peek at the scales once per week to reduce anxiety and depression.

Eating beyond the point of satisfaction into the stage of needing oxygen can be a habit that is sometimes linked to a psychological need and desire to be fulfilled in other areas of life. Selah. Many people that are “unsatisfied”in other areas of life can easily turn to eating as a comforting fix and a temporary relief from the torment of personal disappointment. This is only one example of how humans try to emotionally heal themselves by wearing a mask to cover and deny their weaknesses and failures instead of dealing with reality. It seems the mind and body has a “self-preservation” gear that can be engaged to help ease the pain, and a life filled with denial does not help correct the root cause. Everyone is not the same and does not have issues in the same areas but most of us do struggle with something. People that are overweight and have problems with overeating might be strong in other areas while thin people who do not even think about food might be tormented with something else. But be encouraged! You have the power of heaven and earth on your side because God is watching you and trying to get your attention so that He can show you the way! “There hath no temptation taken you but such is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13). He is saying that even while we are struggling, He will figure out a game plan and come up with a solution that will make sure that we overcome. Let us pray for an EXTRA measure of faith as we remember that it is not God’s will that we stand alone and face the challenges of life all by ourselves…we definitely NEED His help.

When awareness becomes the core of our lifestyle it will include our thoughts, our emotions, what we say, how we act, our attitude, our love and forgiveness, and how we treat our temples which includes our diet. If we are not living for God, we are living for the enemy and to live completely dependent upon our own strength might be a noble idea in the eyes of the world, but in the light of spiritual reality – it is a sad illusion. We are designed to be a light holder, not the light – because we are only as “bright” as the measure of God within us. Father God is the creator and master of all things and we are to serve Him – not ourselves. Those who have been spiritually redeemed have been “bought” with a price, and we are no longer our own. We do not guide ourselves but rather we follow HIS plan and purpose for our lives. Our responsibility is to be aware of what is going on all around us including what is going into our mouth (and for what comes out of it for that matter). The revelation of our Christian life is “listening” to His voice, confessing His will, and doing what He says. You see, we never rise above our confessions. A negative confession will lower us to the level of that confession. It is what we confess with our lips that really leads us and controls us. Our confession has the power to “imprison us” if it is negative, or set us free if it is positive. Until we receive our manifestation or destination we must say to all who inquire that we are STANDING on the promises of the Word of God! Every time we confess our doubts and fears we are confirming our trust in the impossible and denying the authority and power of God to create the substance of things hoped for! “Thou art SNARED with the words of thy mouth; thou art taken CAPTIVE with the words of thy lips.” (Proverbs 6:2) Being His disciple is not just walking around with a knowledge of Biblical history, but rather it is ABIDING in His Spirit with an ear to hear His voice while seeking every opportunity by faith to do His will. The fruits and attributes of His character are not performed from a sense of duty or memorization, but rather define a spontaneous, sincere demonstration from a heart that is actively ENGAGED in the awakened state of His divine reality.

What a great idea; praying over our food! When we pray over our food we usually thank Him for providing, for those who prepared it and we ask Him to bless it which can include making it pure and unspoiled, free of disease and bacteria and to help with digestion, absorption and to receive its strength. Have you ever thought about including the petition of helping you not to overeat? Those who have had their stomach stapled or had gastric by-pass surgery, lose weight because they can only eat very little. What if we skipped the surgery and just ate small portions at every meal? What if we used a certain sized container or maybe a smaller sized plate and stopped when we only ate that portion? Do you believe that drinking a full glass of water before meals could help us not be as hungry? What if we could get into the habit of eating slower so that our stomach would have time to tell the brain that we do not want any more food? The world wants to sell us all kinds of expensive exercise equipment and diet foods that are low in calories but they cannot sell motivation or discipline! What if I told you that you can pray for a special anointing of inspiration to change your eating lifestyle? Would you agree that even though we already know that we can be whatever God has called us to be, we are usually rebellious and do exactly what WE want based on the way our will decides? “For as he “thinks” in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Where the mind goes – the man follows, which is the reason why we need renewal. If we are curious as to what level we have advanced in our spiritual life, we can examine the amount that God controls our mind and this will measure how spiritual we are.

CHAPTER 8

(MELT ME) – DISCIPLINE: THE BITTER MEDICINE

Victory begins with the name of Jesus on our lips; but it will not be consummated until the nature of Jesus is in our heart” (Francis Frangipane).

It seems that in today’s world, food has become a serious issue and many have gone into denial about how important it is to them. We live in a blessed nation where we can just go to the refrigerator or cabinet and choose between many different types of delicious foods anytime we want and as much as we want. Sixty years ago, the Western world was blindsided by a dark presence with the message of “freedom” to do whatever feels good. The “free love” worldview was not about the love of God, but rather promoted the love of self. This was a very powerful influence that was released at a strategic time in this nation in particular, as the older generation was still reeling from the depression and WWII. In the sixties the country was emotionally vulnerable with Vietnam, racial equality and several devastating political assassinations and these traumas created a perfect opportunity to unleash a social rebellion that poured gas on the fires of humanism. The drug and sexual revolution gave many young people a fresh “vision” that took carnality to new heights. They felt the older generation had failed and now planned to create a new world while discarding moral and spiritual restraints in order to express whatever felt good. This is an example of the carnal nature we talk about today and is a poster child of an un-renewed mind. It is the “default” nature and character of the beast and has the potential to deceive and control every one of us if we are not filled with the Spirit of God. This is the same nature that tells us we can think and do whatever feels good and gorge ourselves with every pleasure we can get our hands on – because we are free and everything is going to be alright!

This evil, generic liberty is the destructive independence that is opposite from God’s freedom and is actually the freedom FROM serving Almighty God and that is why the world embraces this message of anti-christ with such enthusiasm. As we eat to our constant fulfillment, it hardly crosses our mind but there are millions of starving people around the world. With us being bombarded with food advertisements and being surrounded by restaurants and food stores, you would think that we would pray more for those who are hungry. Most of us do not have a clue what it would be like to miss a meal because we never have – and in this light, we could say with all honesty that we are very spoiled and take much of our blessings for granted. For some, I believe food has become like a drug and being satisfied constantly keeps them in a state of euphoria. It is a fact that when our stomachs are empty we can think more clearly and have more energy, while on the other hand, being “filled” makes us sluggish and sleepy. Imagine that, the enemy knows all about the weaknesses of humans and he provides a daily, endless buffet to keep everyone walking around in a self-indulged stupor. Combine that with the recommended daily allowances of television where the family is mesmerized to the voices and images that are designed to tempt the flesh and you have a realm that is occupied by hypnotized zombies. This is the type of spiritual warfare that Satan is NOT afraid of! It is the individual who recognizes the devils devices and allows their mind to be renewed in Christ that causes Satan to tremble. These are the prayers, confessions, acts of love and holiness that breaks down the gates of hell!

Controlling our diet is not rocket science even though it may seem very complex and uncomfortable to our mind and body. I was recently reminded from someone who made a comment about the war between the spirit and flesh, that they were not able to fight the flesh in their own power – and I definitely agree. This is a perfect example of why so many diets and exercise programs fail. We may think that our “controlling” nature calls the shots for our physical body but in reality it is a “spiritual” problem. This is why it is crucial to ask God to please come and help because without His super-natural intervention we are embarrassingly weak against this powerful adversary. “Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). There are two choices with food that will decide whether or not we are serious about physical change. Number one, the first choice is to not worry about how much you eat, what you eat or how large and out of shape you become. This attitude can be dangerous and potentially life threatening and the destruction of our self-esteem alone can alter our happiness, opportunities and general lifestyle. This decision to do nothing is actually our default nature making the choice to remain a hostage to the merry-go-round of our psychological agony. Being held as a P.O.W. to food reveals not only our lack of mental and physical control but actually exposes a deeper weakness that is found in our spiritual character. Sadly, it is common to find people who will buy a book about how to draw nearer to God without ever considering a renewal of their mind and this is a perfect example of putting the cart before the horse. Many churches are teaching the Bible stories but are not tying in the parallels of practical “everyday life” truth that relates to the war between our flesh and spirit. It is no secret that people get excited about being blessed or going to heaven but will not even show up at prayer meetings. Number two, is coming to the point where the bondage is broken and we are set free. However, before we can celebrate victory, several factors must change within our mind and heart. We must have a serious, true desire about changing (not a whim), we must see the “need” to change, and in our determination we must be willing to sacrifice beyond the pain in order to gain the victory for God and our ourselves. If you avoid the word “sacrifice” like the plague, you will never be an overcomer for God! Tape this to your bathroom mirror – “Losing weight and getting in shape is not a sprint – it is a marathon.”

I was recently thinking about the daily grind of being led around by the nose of my appetite and a vision came to me. To many, it may sound silly but sometimes we need anything we can find that might help give us an edge. Pretend there was a king that was the ruler of a castle and he had a problem with food consumption. He was very overweight and in his frustration and depression from being obese he ordered guards to be placed at the entrances of the kitchen and pantry to help restrict his access to food. What he failed to realize is that when he came to the doorways each guard would stand aside and without saying a word they would allow the king to walk in and take whatever he desired. The king realized that no matter how much he talked about losing weight and all the healthy programs he could become involved with, no one could tell him NO which left him in complete control of his choices. He finally realized the war was in his own mind and only his own will was ultimately responsible for his decisions. You guessed it – we are the king! If we want food, who in the world is going to stop us? The same is true with any of our carnal cravings. Our resolution games are only blowing smoke of false promises and disappointments because until we spiritually dress for battle and go to the front lines of combat; we are already defeated. Our mind/will IS the king of our temple and our mental decisions guide the body like the reins and bridles guide a horse which is why we must tear down the images we have built and replace them with a brand new vision. We must decide if our flesh is going to control us or is Jesus going to be our Master. God knows there will never be a CHANGE in our person until we change the way we think. God, the devil and our imagination can influence us but generally speaking in the end – we choose exactly who we want to be. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”(Galatians 5:1).

You and I as Christians are supposed to be dead to sin and alive to God – that’s what Jesus did! That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day because the more you play “footsie” with it, the more chances it has to whisper in your ear. We want to keep our little black book that has all of our idols phone numbers in it so we can call them when we feel the “urge” to indulge. This could include a hidden stash of booze, pot or drugs, the devil’s music, pornographic books, erotic websites or DVD’s, prostitutes, massage parlors or any fornication including the occasional adulterous affair, stealing, cheating or any type of deceptive secret sin that you refuse to let go of. God is saying today that He knows what you love because He can perfectly see your heart and He wants all of us to develop a “repulsion” to anything that is an abomination to His holiness. The only way to step into this level of sanctification is to LIVE in His holy of holies. Not just visit every now and then – but to DWELL there every minute of every day. It is time to demonstrate our knowledge of this very clear principal of divine truth that declares whoever you choose to serve – you automatically become their servant. In this light, the so-called freedom to do whatever we want is disguised as being our own independent person but after the mask is removed we discover that we are a SLAVE to our flesh which is actually not a freedom after all. It may be a good time to have a meeting between yourself to decide once and for all who is going to be your God. “Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness” (Romans 6:16).

So brother, I understand what you are saying but how can we put all of this together into a workable, understandable, plan of action? I am so glad you asked! We must come back to basics of our salvation and one of the “pillars” is faith. Faith is not as easy to comprehend as many people may presume and we will never become so “smart” that we stop going down the path to Hebrews 11:1. One of the key words in this passage is “HOPE” because it is the desire of the imagination that something better is waiting for us. The assurance that hope gives us, motivates us to action which is why we practice our convictions. You see, if we did not believe that something good was coming, we would not waste our time trying to prepare! We would come to the conclusion there is no chance that circumstances will change for the better. Listen carefully, belief without action is just knowledge. Faith must become “activated” (made alive) to the point in our heart that we KNOW without a doubt, that we will receive EVEN when we cannot see anything with our eyes. We can comprehend the present situation and realize that things need to change in our flesh, but faith stands up and says my spiritual eyes have been opened and now I can SEE IT – and I KNOW I will receive it!

If we do not care about change even though we realize in our flesh that we need to, we could care less about faith because we have made up our mind that we will not sacrifice or pay the price that it will take to succeed. Our refusal to have faith is the result of us not caring about ourselves, those around us or God Himself. So to paraphrase Hebrews 11”1, we could say it something like this, “Now faith is being so sure that what we hoped for is coming, that we are now completely convinced that what we cannot see with our fleshly eyes – does exist in the spirit realm! You see, we seek the face of God about who He wants us to be and that leaves us with an idea of what we need to deal with and work on. Then we begin to pray constantly with an awareness that He is trying to use every opportunity He can to include in our transformation process. When we are filled with the strength of His peace, we can begin to yield our will to God and take control of our flesh. This in turn allows us to “focus” on His Word and His voice as He begins to lead us. Only in the life of those who have abandoned their old nature can Christ become the Lord of the temple. Everyone is laying the foundation and building a house of some kind in some way, and each person who lives has no choice whether or not to build – only what they build. “Heavenly Father, May we be awakened to the seriousness of allowing our flesh to control us. We repent for our arrogance in thinking that we are more spiritual than we really are. We fall on our face and cry out for your mercy and forgiveness. Thank you for your endless love, amen.”

CHAPTER 9

(MOLD ME) – REFLECTING THE IMAGE OF WHOM?

Hardly any other sin is more hateful to God than idolatry for it is at the bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is, (in itself a monstrous sin) and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness” (A.W. Tozer).

Just like with drugs, alcohol, cursing, stealing, gossip or sex addiction we realize there is a VICIOUS CYCLE and where there is a negative habit or repetition we are routinely faced with the choice to continue going in the same old direction or to change course. With food addiction, the place of decision is when we are hungry as we begin to focus on what we would like to eat next. This is when the body raises its awareness and becomes the aggressive predator that desires to be satisfied. Because we are weak and very vulnerable to temptation, this crossroad moment is where we secretly decide (on an hourly basis) if we are going to obey the red light of discipline or the green light of not caring. It begins with temptation that comes from a passionate craving and ends with us accepting or rejecting its offer. When we give in to the desire and indulge until we are content, our senses are submerged in a temporary feeling of ecstasy, satisfaction and euphoria. This emotional “dream state” sometimes will drift into emotions of sadness, regret, depression and guilt only minutes after we have become mesmerized with pleasure – “IF” we allow our conscience to haunt us. This prison of condemnation can become so powerful that some may fall into the pattern of regurgitating the food or another symptom of the many different types of eating disorders that are connected with this tragic pattern of dysfunction. This agony of regret usually remains until the satisfaction wears off and the hunger returns – then the process starts all over again. To others the feeling of guilt have not been recognized or acknowledged because they have never cared. As a Christian, the concept behind caring comes from the responsibility of not only being aware of how we are reacting to God, but also being aware of our temple and protecting it from all forms of sin. We are to watch carefully what comes INTO our body and mind along with what comes OUT of it (like what we do and say). Is it wrong to eat? Of course not. We are not talking about eating to enjoy what God has provided but rather the danger of turning food into a an idol. Do you agree that God wants to have an input into every area of our life so that He can lead us and guide us into what is best for us? Then, all of our decisions (food included) should be brought before Him as a submission of our will to follow Him and gratefulness for what He has provided. There is no such thing as an insignificant sin.

The other night I came home late from a meeting and was hungry. My wife had fixed a delicious meal and I sat down to have dinner. Since I have been praying for awareness in my food intake, it crossed my mind that I should be careful not to go over-board and allow my flesh to go out of control. The meal tasted so good and I fell into the old habit of eating fast. I finally decided to stop as I was sensing that I had already gone too far. I knew within five minutes that I had blown it and was feeling very full. I had not eaten that much all day and now I felt as if my stomach was being painfully stretched. I fell into guilt because I knew better and was upset at myself because I failed to do what I know. I just flat out betrayed my own convictions and had no excuse for my weak display of discipline. I did not get away with this misstep because I did not sleep well, and got up 2 times in the middle of the night with acid reflux. For those of you that have experienced this problem, you know how uncomfortable that can be. I was reminded that night of how serious this is and how determined I need to be with my prayers. I need to not only pray – but obey! We notice in James chapter two that it is vain to talk all day about doing something and then end up actually not doing it at all. “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” Our flesh knows what it likes and our hunger (or any desire) can easily over-power our convictions if we do not allow our thinking to be transformed, like when God whispers for us to help someone and instead we just walk past them and say “be blessed my friend.”

We do not need a psychiatrist to tell us that our problems may have started when we were a child or maybe after we experienced a traumatic event as an adult. Why we do things is not as important as inviting God to come into our life to heal us. We all deal with our difficulties in different ways because our minds have a built-in feature called “survival mode”. Yes, it is the same nature that cried and had a fit when we did not get that toy and the same arrogance that took for granted what we did receive. We build walls and fortresses to keep others out of our business and use the security of these barriers as a safe place to throw pity parties. Will we ever stop blaming our past as an excuse for who we are? Jesus is ready to help us learn how to arrange our life into the beautiful state of joy, peace and freedom where He sits on the throne of our heart and rules our mind but He is waiting for us to ask Him. When Christ controls our “house” our flesh will become a servant to HIS truth and wisdom. Even if we write a book about our dysfunctional past it would not necessarily in itself cause us to break the agonizing cycle of addiction or conquer the bondage of being a slave to sin. We must take the initiative to ALLOW Him to be our Lord! Selah. Most people are aware of their situation but they just do not care and have agreed with the forces of darkness that this is the way it’s going to be. ABSORBING this revelation of spiritual truth will unveil that it is not the past that holds us hostage, but rather our inability to realize that in our blindness and deception we have always held the key to our own prison cell.

Can God’s power really help me overcome my problems? Well, of course and we all need His power to “help” us every day. But as we have said before, we cannot sit on the couch with a huge bag of potato chips and expect Him to “zap” us with a new sculpted, beach body! In this particular situation, it is more like He offers us the “WILLPOWER” to make our own decision to be transformed. He can ENCOURAGE us and INSPIRE us to be the best we can be but we must have the vision and desire to put on our track shoes and begin to run. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us (attacking, surrounding, harassing) and let us RUN with patience the race that is before us. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:1,12,13).

Until the passion to be free from our eating issues (or whatever) becomes greater than living “incarcerated” to sin – there is no hope for victory. Do we want to be a stronger and more committed Christian? Oh yes brother! Well, allow me to say that until we gain control over our flesh, we cannot be the spiritual person He has called us to be! The place of standing our ground against the desires of our flesh is not AFTER we have just consumed everything on the table because when we are full, we do not even want to think about food for a while let alone resisting it. It is when we are hungry, BEFORE we put a bite into our mouth and of course this is when we must not lose focus. We do not enjoy waiting for our food when we are hungry, HOWEVER this is the perfect time to call a timeout and listen to the “coach’s” game plan. This “pause” is the opportunity to think about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Most of the time we are blinded by the power of our desires and are focused on consuming. What if we made the decision to drink a full glass of water before we started and then only declared to eat one portion of the meal? We need to start somewhere and I believe this would be a positive act to establish. I know it sounds crazy, but there is nothing wrong with leaving the table still hungry. We are definitely not used to it, but it is a fact that our mind does not automatically receive the message from the stomach that it is full. Many times especially if we are a fast eater, we are still swallowing down food before the stomach can contact the brain with the warnings to stop eating. This is how we become “overly” filled and unfortunately this stretching to capacity is what causes our stomach (and the rest of us) to grow larger and larger. This bad habit is the culprit that is responsible for expanding the stomach a little more each time and in turn it takes a little more to satisfy the next time we eat. Generally speaking, if this process is not changed we will discover a very unpleasant result of becoming not necessarily bolder but definitely bigger! Another idea would be to select a certain size bowl, and only eat what you can fit into that bowl. This limitation or “ration” would allow you to simply and visibly limit the quantity of your consumption. If this is done with diligence, there will come a time when our self-control can allow us to do away with the bowl and enjoy the sensible amount like a normal person.

So, how long will I need to pray about my problems? Ah, there it is. The flesh is always thinking ahead. Our old nature associates every “punishment” or restriction with a specific sentence of discipline – and is always looking for the day of release. I am glad you asked this question because it is a very important part of our spiritual strategy to defeat our carnal nature. We have spoken many times about how religion is not the same as Christianity and this is true in many ways. The Lord is not impressed or pleased with anything done in the name of religion because it is usually associated with the works of the flesh. True Christianity is a spiritual life that is dedicated to abiding in the personal relationship, obedience and loving intimacy of God’s presence. This lifestyle is commonly called “walking in The Spirit” and means that we obey as we are led and controlled by the Holy Spirit which is in perfect unity with God’s plan. This relationship involves the sincere, “constant” communication between our mind and spirit with God and when we are living in His perfect will, this Holy Communion is the highest form of joy in all eternity. This concept comes from the great design of our maker that rescued us from an eternal separation because of sin and restored our fellowship through the blood of Jesus Christ. Our New Covenant includes the truth of our identification with Him and the responsibility for us to live holy as representatives of His Kingdom. Now, allow me to say, that in order to fulfill this vision we must be aware of His presence at all times. When we step away from His presence for just a moment, the shadows of darkness begin to fall upon us. When we allow ourselves to be distracted for just an hour, we have already started to backslide into error.

Yes, it is true that we cannot be perfect but the question wanted to know how long we will need to pray in order to keep our carnality under control and my answer is every second! One of the most important deeds that we can demonstrate is found in one of the shortest passages in God’s Word. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). What does this mean? How can we pray out loud everywhere we go and how can we concentrate on our work while we are trying to talk to God? This message from God is so compact that if we are not careful we will skip right over it, yet it has the unlimited power and potential to change the world a hundred times over. We will always return to awareness whenever we talk about His presence. Praying without ceasing is living in the quiet awareness that God is listening and God is speaking. Selah. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is STAYED on Thee; because he trusts in Thee. Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting STRENGTH” (Isaiah 26: 3-4).

Let us be reminded of the dangers of creating our own concept of the way God is, what He expects, and how we are to live. If our imaginations and interpretations of God’s divine reality are not TRUE, then we are worshiping, obeying and living for someone else! God is THE creator and He has designed the way things are! It is our honor and privilege to know Him and follow His instructions, and we can do things the hard way through our own strength, or the best way through His Spirit! Prayer is the best way to succeed in ANY situation whether we are interceding for others, facing adversity, or asking for help in trying to deal with our flesh! “Lord, crush my lust for fattening foods that are filled with grease, salt, and sugars. Cause me to be nauseated about my attitude toward ALL sin that offends, hurts, and disappoints You. Come do Your work in me, in Jesus Name, Amen.”

CHAPTER 10

(USE ME) – NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE

Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show you great and mighty things which you have never known” (Jeremiah 33:3).

How many times will it need to be repeated until we catch hold of the revelation that we can have as much of God as we want? And how many tears will we shed from the sadness of knowing that we obviously do not want very much of Him? How often we find ourselves being so overwhelmed with problems, worries, and stress that we are just too exhausted to invest time with God, and much of the time we are guilty of basing our feelings for Him on how our life is going for that day? Could this be why people do not consistently pray or worship God because they are generally not happy about the way their life has been – or is headed? Maybe some are angry, hurt and damaged on the inside and in their frustration, they turn to things that please them, and that gives them temporary comfort. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been sad on the inside but did not know how to deal with these powerful emotions or had anyone you could trust and share them with? Maybe the bitterness and wounds from life’s disappointments are so heavy in your soul that it is difficult for you to envision ever having hope and joy again. Allow me to say, these attacks on our heart are real and not a figment of your imagination or mine. Aside from the relentless accusations of the devil and him laughing at us, or the painful consequences of our bad decisions, we have been designed to FEEL our discouragement and suffer our grief for a reason. And that is to learn from our experiences and grow more wise and stronger as we gain spiritual maturity. “Success is not measured by what a person accomplishes, but the courage with which they have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds” (Charles Lindbergh). It is our choice to overcome or keep going in circles.

You see, in this fallen world, we are vulnerable to physical and emotional affliction and there is nothing wrong or sinful with going through these experiences. We are not robots that cannot feel the rejection of this world and we are not immune to knowing the loneliness of isolation or the agony of being betrayed. Many of us have been through severe trials and tribulations, yet let us not forget that Christ in His infinite wisdom and His own sufferings can “relate” to anything we have gone through. Plus, since He has lived in a flesh body, He knows all about the capacity to experience physical, and mental trauma. We are a “work in progress” and our life is a continual classroom dedicated to learning who God is and who we are in Him. Within this education from the Master of the universe, should be a quest for absolute truth and as we seek His will, we discover that He loves us with an eternal covenant that includes knowing our heart and having compassion for us as we walk through our trials. Some may ask; how can the God of all things have the time to care about the circumstances that have hurt us? Does He know the way I feel and have a highly detailed plan for helping me overcome these afflictions that are holding me? Absolutely my dear one, this is why He said, “I Am that I Am.” He is all things to all people as His merciful and compassionate love is the greatest power in the universe that has no beginning or end.

Would you DIE for someone that you did not care about? The most beautiful story ever told is that Jesus died for you which proves He must have loved you more than anything in the world. Selah. He listens to your every thought, every word and sees every tear. He has never taken His eyes from you nor has He ever been distracted or too busy to listen to your concerns. More than anything He wants us to abandon our will and come to Him with all that we are so that He can perform a work in us that will revitalize and renew our life. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE with Him and the most wonderful revelation that can be realized is that He desires to live in us! Is there any greater love, miracle or gift that can be dreamed or known? “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58:11).

When we collect negative impressions and attitudes, our life becomes like a spiritual fortress that is built exclusively to torture us and disengage us from Christ. If this “free-falling continues, it is common to follow isolation and depression into even lower levels of sadness and frustration. Have you ever been there? If you have experienced times in the dry hot desert and have crawled out of it, you KNOW the power of God’s grace and His compassion to leave the ninety-nine, and rescue the one. Have you ever cried out to Him in desperation? Have you ever fallen across your bed and wept as your brokenness and repentance released the floodgates in your spirit? There are times when we are devastated by things that happen to us and then there are other times when we have failed and are haunted by the conviction of God’s Spirit that we were wrong. In these times we may face spiritual warfare and resistance from our carnal mind because the old nature is stubborn and hates to yield control. While in this place of decision, it is the best choice to fall on our face before God and follow our spirit to the altar of God’s mercy. We will never have His peace until we deal with our issues and the longer we carry them the heavier they become. Being like clay is all about being pliable. The potter cannot mold a vessel that is hardened and dry. The only choice is to break the vessel (add water) and make it soft so that it can be re-shaped and transformed into the image of the potter’s vision. Within this process of suffering is the opportunity to walk away insulted or embrace humility. Meekness is not pity or gloom but rather realizing that a power much higher than our own is at work deep within us. Yielding our will sounds so simple, yet it is the most difficult journey we will ever follow.

In the times of difficulty, we must recognize some very important facts and then cling to them with all of our might. You must know that God has never forsaken you and never will! Just because you are walking through what seems to be the valley of the shadow of death, does not mean He is not there. In fact, His Word promises that He is with us every step, comforting us with His presence. If we have allowed Him to purify our heart, we will be able to spiritually see and can rest assured that we are in His hands of love. He is faithful! He is with you whether you feel Him or not and He is protecting and watching over you. Just because you cannot sense anything happening, it does not mean He is busy working on something on the other side of the world. Even if He is upset with you, that does not mean He does not still love you and it does not mean that He has forsaken you. He is still there with you but maybe He is just patiently waiting to see what your next move will be. He is always waiting for us to sincerely reach out to Him.

You may be beating yourself up and thinking this may be one of the worst times of your life but be encouraged there is actually some very good news. Have you ever really considered Romans 8:28 as a word directly to you and your problems? Listen to this again, “And we know that ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” I realize this is one of the most used scriptures in the Bible but it never loses its power. Many times we do not receive the nourishment from God’s banquet table because we allow familiarity to steal our blessings. Since God is working behind the scenes to make things work out for us, it seems the only problem is that we are not demonstrating enough patience with Him. Maybe He is trying to show you something very special that you would not have seen any other way. It has been said the majority of great things which have been done on the earth, have been accomplished by those going through difficult times. Mature Christians are to be like steel when it is “tempered” with heat to make them strong in experience and wisdom, yet covered with velvet as they present God’s image with compassion, humility, and sensitivity. However, we can spend all of our time trying to figure out why things happen instead of praying that we might know Him more intimately and thus learn how to trust Him. Learning this truth about how to have confidence in Him and the endless commitment of God’s love is a revelation of His unfailing covenant to be with us – even to the end of the world.

Knowing that Jesus suffered on the cross because He loved us, allows us to “see” the lies of our adversary and with spiritual sensitivity, we can finally make the right decisions and get on the right path to do God’s will. By faith we believe His “wrecking ball’ will tear down our old nature and that He is REBUILDING a new heart and mind that is determined to follow Him in life and in death! “Man’s mighty burden is his obligation to God. It includes an instant and lifelong duty to love God with every power of mind and soul, to obey Him perfectly, and to worship Him acceptably” (A.W. Tozer). Included in this quest to be saturated with His glorious presence is the fact that He will help us in “whatever area” we need to be an overcomer in. Recently, we have been discussing about the power of our food cravings as an illustration of how our mind leads and controls our body. If we can change our mind (which is God’s specialty) we can change the way we live! For another example, if we have a problem with cursing, (which by the way is not the best witness we can present), we can ask God to remind us BEFORE we curse and to put an alarm on our mind and tongue to stop us before it too late. It is a much better approach to be aware of our weaknesses compared to “confessing” AFTER we sin. What many fail to realize is that once our witness is compromised we may never have an opportunity to share Christ with that person again because the enemy will never allow them to forget that day when we “went off”. I realize things happen that aggravate us and there are times when we flat out fail – but this does not excuse or lessen the damage when we demonstrate a lack of self-control.

CHAPTER 11

BETRAYING OUR CONSCIENCE

Abstain from evil (shrink from it and keep aloof from it) in whatever form or whatever kind it may be. And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through (separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God); and may your spirit, soul, and body be preserved sound and complete (and found) blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (The Messiah). Faithful is He who is CALLING you (to Himself) and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it (fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you) (I Thessalonians 5:22-24 AMP).

A possible you, is someone that has a vision of living a holy life and who desires to become what they believe. It is the transforming “you” that runs swiftly and jumps higher in God’s Spirit because you are not weighted down with carnality. A possible you is about the child of God that has cleaned, ironed and prepared their wedding gown by purifying their heart and has let go of everything that can distract them from their groom, King Jesus. “There is something in the universe which is the very opposite of God; it is the self. The activity of the self is the source of all the evil nature as well as all the evil deeds of man. The loss of the selfhood in the soul increases the purity of the soul! In fact, the soul’s purity is increased in proportion to the loss of self.” (Jeanne Guyon – Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ) This writer is saying that we must decrease our carnality in order to gain more of God’s Spirit. When we try to push Him away in order to make room for our idols, He can take a hint that He is not our highest priority. When we entertain sin, we intentionally choose the temporal over the eternal and “willfully” offend Him. This possible you (hopefully) is beginning to see a glimpse of what it means to abandon our old nature so that God can do the “impossible” within our spirit!

It is exciting to walk with God! When we finally decide that we will follow Him “all the way” there is a peace and joy that floods our soul that cannot be compared. The concept that Jesus used in Mathew 18: 3-4, when He referred to being like a little child was living with an “innocent conscience”. A small child has not yet been infected with the filth and dark influences of the imagination. They walk in love and trust and the happiness that comes from a pure heart and mind. “And He said, Verily I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 18:3-4) To receive Christ as our Lord and have a personal, intimate relationship with Him is all about keeping our heart clean and holy before Him. Staying “prayed up” with confessing and repenting of our sin produces a spiritual freedom and a joyful state of mind that reminds me of like when we were kids riding our bicycle down the road on a sunny day without a care in the world. Before I go any further with these mental images of cozy, “feel good” emotional stories, allow me to include that unfortunately when we grow up (as you well know), life is not always filled that aura of bliss. I am not trying to be a party crasher but only being honest about the harsh reality in which we live. It is wonderful to live the abundant life, holding hands with Jesus while singing Amazing Grace, however, we must also remember the enemy has his spies that continually observe us and through their binoculars they report how we are living, our spiritual development, and how close we are becoming with God. It would be foolish for us to disregard the validity of the devil’s devices and not believe that he sets traps and launches ambush attacks against God’s front-line warriors. It is vital that we realize how much of our internal torment comes from being offended and to be one step ahead in trying to prevent it from happening. If our “soft spot” is being susceptible to having hurt feelings, we can be sure our “feelings” are going to be a main target for the devil. Remember when we research the word offense, we find the idea of a snare trap that has been set to CAPTURE the one who is unaware. Satan has many different tactics and strategies he can use against us but he has learned over the millenniums that he has a higher rate of success when capitalizing on our weaknesses and this includes harassing, accusing and instigating.

There are several things going on in my life right now and I feel that I am trying to juggle my emotions while desiring to make good decisions. I have been stressed and concerned about my future, ministry direction; my dad’s failing health, finances, retirement, job interviews, and just an overall sense of pressure. I have been asking God to implement these new teachings about my lack of sensitivity (like taking care of my body) into MY life and I can honestly say I do feel a deep change within me physically, mentally and spiritually with much more change needed. However, this has also put me on the “radar” with the enemy as a person of interest and may I say that if you have taken a step toward God lately you are in the same boat with me. We hear about those who have a target on them, and I believe there is truth to this. I was alone at home the other day and spent the afternoon typing new music, chording songs and practicing with the guitar. It had been a great day with the Lord and I even enjoyed going outside to shovel snow. I started a wonderful meal so that I could have it ready when Cheryl came home from work and was just putting it on the table when she stepped in. Without going into the details of our “conversation” all I will say is that it did not take 2 minutes until I became so upset with something she said that I completely lost focus of what was happening. She made a comment that hit me wrong and instead of recognizing how my carnal mind was reacting – I allowed my “feelings” to take over. The pleasant atmosphere was disappearing fast but I would not stop, in fact, I increased my intensity until I ruined the entire situation. So, there I sat with a beautiful meal wasted and the rest of the evening filled with hurt feelings, sadness, and regret. Oh, sure I recognized what happened but it was AFTER the damage was done. I am NOT blaming this on the devil but only trying to say that he despises us and if he can “bait us” us into following our carnality – he will!

Satan hates to see God’s people live a life of enjoyment and to be saturated with God’s goodness. He abhors seeing God’s children especially husbands and wives that love each other in Christ to have a happy and blessed marriage. He hates to see a sincere church follow God’s vision, unite together and focus their passion on fulfilling the Lord’s great commission. The devil does not want us to develop an agape love or to freely give to anyone or anything connected with obeying God’s voice. He does not want us to have a ministry that is focused, empowered and anointed by God to do The Lord’s work that will bring glory to the Name of Jesus Christ. Of course, Satan is trying to stop all of this just as hard as he can because he wants to destroy, steal, kill, deceive, discourage and ruin anyone that has anything to do with The Father. It is crucial when we are walking with God and trying to follow His ways, to be aware of our weaknesses and the times when we are vulnerable to manifesting and embracing the attributes of our old nature. Just because we are saved and filled with God’s Spirit does not mean we are untouchable or not susceptible to being tempted. Our free-will always presents the choice to demonstrate the character of Christ or to unleash the beast that roams just outside the fence of our heart. We just need to face the reality that within the fence that is trying to keep our carnal nature “out” of our decision-making process, if we look carefully we will see a gate and that means we can allow our old nature to come in whenever we choose to open it.

I have always appreciated the late David Wilkerson and his teachings. I received this other day and want to close with his comments about secret willful sin. “Most Christians are relieved to know they are not included in Paul’s list of damning offenses: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Many sincere believers make every effort not to turn His grace into a “license” and yet they realize their walk doesn’t measure up to His holy standard. As they read verse 11, they feel the piercing arrow of truth: “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God”. Suddenly, they remember a besetting lust they have never been able to shake. They think, “Wait a minute—I’ve been delivered and sanctified. So why can’t I quit this habit? I’m not truly free!” Maybe you have returned to an old lust recently. Perhaps you have visited a pornography site on the Internet or become involved in adultery or homosexual sin. Or perhaps you have stolen goods from your employer, or you are sneaking a drink on the way home from work. Whatever your weakness or habit is, you know you are not free in that one area. Do not be surprised if you start to feel the way David did. “I remembered God, and was troubled . . . my spirit was overwhelmed” (Psalm 77:3).

Whenever the Lord sees one of His children wrestling with some lust or bondage, He moves in quickly to bring us back to a path of obedience, peace and rest. How does He do this? He brings about conditions in our lives that FORCE us to face our sin! Often this means taking us down into the depths, as God did with Jonah. He allows us to feel His rebuke and to be swallowed up by our circumstances. Yet it was while in the darkest depths that Jonah cried out to God. And the Lord responded to His servant’s cries quickly, restoring to him His blessings and will!” Do not feel condemned dear one, but if you are convicted, praise God for His longsuffering! Conviction is an act of divine mercy which awakens the sinful heart to realize they have offended the holiness of God.

CHAPTER 12

THE AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY

When we hear the phrase, “The age of accountability” we immediately think of a child that is growing into an understanding of right and wrong. This is true in one sense of meaning but in another context, we can use the same idea to refer to a time in our life when we look in the mirror and realize that we can no longer live in denial. It is a fantasy to believe that we can just float down the river while ignoring the voice of God and yet presume that God is pleased and all is well. Wherever we heard that idea and embraced its validity, we need to examine it thoroughly and make sure that we are building our foundation on eternal truth. It is worth the time spent in study to find exactly what God is saying because our eternity depends on it. Now wait for a minute brother, when you are saved you are guaranteed eternal security and it does not matter what you do or do not do because our salvation is based on faith and not on works! This is a very good argument to use if you are trying to justify living the way you want, but maybe there is a lack of spiritual understanding about what this really means. How in the world can we NOT believe that when God said to do something – He meant it! Our lack of reverence for His Word has caused the modern church world to go sound asleep and along with its slumber the power and “demonstrations” of His Spirit have dried up! It is true, there are miracles happening around the world because of faith and God is honoring His Word just like He always has, but He is offended at His people who refuse to live holy and have ignored His pleas to pray and be holy. He is angry at the attitude of those who call themselves Christians yet who live like the lost. Those who continue to ignore His call to draw near to Him are running the risk of having their conscience seared and their hearts hardened by His judgment. We can see in His Word (though we do not like study these passages) that He has a temper and when His anger reaches a certain point there are devastating consequences.

Allow us to be reminded of just a few examples of what happened when individuals intentionally disobeyed God’s warnings. We can begin with Adam and Eve and how they did NOT believe that God meant what He said. Remember Lot’s wife that was told specifically “to not look back” and the servant Uriah that tried to catch the Ark of the Covenant when the oxen stumbled while it was on the wagon being transported. God had made it clear – do not touch it! The book of Leviticus is a clear instruction manual concerning the punishments for disobeying God’s laws and for example we find a story in chapter 24 about a young man who got into a fight with another man and cursed and blasphemed the Name of the Lord. They arrested him and incarcerated him until they heard from The Lord about what to do about it. The Lord spoke unto Moses to have all the people stone him – and they did. We could keep going with familiar names like King David, Samson, Ananias and Sapphira, Korah, Nadab, Abihu, and Miriam just to name a few. The point is there are consequences to disobedience and the lack of fear and respect for God’s Word will result in His perfect judgment. This reverential fear of believing that Father is very serious about how we live seems to be sliding into a more relaxed view of no respect for Him at all. The image of God’s character has been deliberately softened in order to make people feel good. This distorted thinking has brought so much leniency and comfort into the concept of the Christian life and has created a rotten stinking attitude that believes the lie that God will “tolerate” our sins of disrespect, arrogance, rebellion, apathy, and willful disobedience.

It is true that God has done all the work and has given us an opportunity to be saved. He created us, gave us a sound mind, sent Jesus to die for us and used His blood as a ransom for our sin because of His great love for us. All of this is true and had nothing to do with how wonderful we think we are. However, within the fabric of this grace-filled invitation, the blood covenant established a “contract” between God and those who would embrace Him by faith and accept His offer to become a part of His family. This is an agreement between a holy perfect God that cannot fail and will always be true to His Word. His promises, (like His character) is filled with His Omnipotence, His Omniscience and His divine authority to be Omnipresent. What could we possibly bring to the negotiating table in our weakness, frailty and sinful nature? All we could ever offer (and all that He has ever wanted) is our obedience. And may I say with sadness that our heart (will) is the most difficult possession to surrender. It is one thing to NOT understand this revelation but what about when we live KNOWING our responsibility and still refuse to fulfill our covenant obligation? Grace is the unmerited favor that forgives us when we stumble but what about our continual willful rebellion? If we live our life with our eyes wide open and realize spiritually what we need to do and knowingly reject His instructions – where does this leave us in our covenant agreement? Is God obligated to save us whether we abide and take His covenant seriously or not? What good would a covenant be if it did not matter what was done or if the promises were kept? In fact, if God was going to save us no matter how we acted in this life, why did Jesus pay such a price and why was God’s Word filled with His commands, demands, and requirements given to us? Has the salvation message been watered down to the point where we have lost our reverential fear for what He really meant? Salvation is free in the context that He provided it for us but that did not mean it is cheap because it will cost us EVERYTHING we have, all that we are and all we can do. When God has our heart – He has ALL of us!

Have we come to the place where we really do not believe Him anymore? When He says not to do something why do we think He is kidding? Do we actually think He sweeps all of our sins under the rug and pretends not to care or notice? If you were to ask the average Christian a series of questions about their behavior and it was promised to be completely confidential, you would discover not only some revolting, shocking lifestyles but more importantly they would admit that they are totally aware of how wrong they are. Many people in today’s more modern trend of religious interpretation believe they can dabble in sin and still be alright in the eyes of a compassionate God. Yes, it’s probably not going to be preached on Sunday morning but we can smoke, drink beer, be a glutton, have lustful thoughts and watch dirty movies and by His grace die and go to heaven. If you disagree we can go back and see what Jesus said to the crowd that was ready to stone the woman caught in adultery. The point is; there are spiritual levels in God and as Christians, we are to be progressing and growing stronger in our desire to know Him more and to obey His will. If we are content with only His promise of heaven, then we may not be saved at all or we are walking on a dangerous course that will include Him intervening with His own way of dealing with our attitude. Whatever the situation you can be assured that we will never live in the holy of holies with a life filled with carnality – and the lower levels of being with God may only be tolerated by Him for a season. Someone needs to spread the word – there are no cabins in the corner of glory! My question is that if being in the presence of God Almighty is the greatest experience in the universe why would anyone not want to be there now? Are you ready for this? Because they have never been there!

Have you noticed that when you indulge in your favorite sin that you feel a mixture of relief and regret? It is not that we really love to sin, but we love the feelings that sin gives us and we must admit that our favorites are very powerful and controlling. Some may say, well, just stop doing it and that sounds wonderful, but for those who have been or are now prisoners to addictive idols, it must be recognized that it will take more than a whim to cast them out. Do not misunderstand me; if you are ready to discard the things that are taking you away from God, He is ready to deliver you. But like we said before, if He takes away the desire to partake in our favorite sin – do not go searching for it! Let it go and praise The Lord that He gave you a beautiful miracle and it was all for the purpose of drawing you closer to Him so that He could saturate you with His presence.

Here is another scenario that is “huge” and many people have a problem with. Let’s say that you have an issue with lust. It is a secret sin that you are confident that no one knows about. You notice certain individuals and you fantasize about them as your mind is constantly on alert for a new fantasy. Your mind loves to think about lustful scenarios and you are drawn to watching videos, movies or television shows that stirs your flesh or you enjoy reading books and magazines that are laced with erotica. You seldom feel that maybe you are addicted to sexual stimulation like others are addicted to drugs and that possibly your appetite to satisfy your sexual cravings is similar to the powerful attractions to food, gossip, jealousy, pride or the love of money but of course, you would never admit it. You have built your own little imaginary world and have learned how to control it. Most of the time you live content and satisfied as your old nature encourages you and approves of how you manage your affairs. This allows you to only feel conviction when The Holy Spirit gets too close to your heavily guarded secrets. It is alarming to think of the number of God’s people who struggle with a world of habits and enticements and yet most things go unnoticed. It is true that we can live with one foot in sin and the other foot in God as it is commonly called backsliding. Can backsliders be saved? I would have to say yes, but only God knows the details. If we die in a backslidden state, I would need to accept the truth of God’s mercy and believe His judgments are just. The key would be that in order to be delivered and restored from a life of willful sin we would have needed to be born-again. If we have been truly saved by His blood and fall away from His presence, He will respond to us in order to restore our union with Him. As to whether we can fall completely from His grace or how long He will extend His longsuffering until the situation becomes critical – only He will decide.

I believe what The Lord is trying to convey in our discussion is that no matter how well we hide our failures and secrets, we are not getting away with anything. Just because we can function in a lukewarm existence does not mean that we are sliding under the radar of God’s perfect awareness. These favorite sins that we feel is more important than living in God’s glory are literally “draining” us of our spiritual anointing to do God’s will. Our “Idol” is preventing us from hearing His voice and all of the blessings that He would love to give us. Do you REALLY believe this? Are you totally convinced in your heart this is true? Many times we are so deceived that the only one that cannot recognize that something is wrong with us – is us. When sin rules in our heart, we cannot be filled with His Spirit which includes living in His peace, love, faith, and wisdom. We want every blessing we can get our hands on but we are not willing to believe that our sin is preventing us from having them. And worse than that, we have proven over and over that we are not willing to surrender our lifestyle in order to live in the “secret place” with God. Our spirit is literally suffering in misery as our fellowship is broken with the Father all because of our love for a carnal pleasure. Many times this could be the reason that all of the doors we try to open are locked. How can we see what is happening if we are blindfolded? We must take the first step to allow God to break our destructive cycle of bondage.

Satan tries to convince us that our destiny is to remain in this cycle of bondage and condemnation, while Jesus desires that we sincerely REPENT, receive His joy and keep moving forward. The revolving door of sin can be stopped today but only you can decide to take up your cross and follow Him. Our attitude about sin must come to the place where we become literally “sick” about it. We must become nauseated at how wicked we can be at times or we will NEVER stop! Our favorite sin must become revolting to us, it must become offensive to us when it comes to tempt and entice us. Today is the day to become bold and aggressive toward our flesh in order to let Christ take control and establish our new way of thinking. If we are serious about deliverance, we will cry out to God with our broken and contrite heart and plead with Him to come and help us overcome our flesh. This is not just an adjustment or painting over the rust. This is a 180-degree turn that means turning around and beginning again in the complete opposite direction.

CHAPTER 13

FISH ARE CAUGHT – THEN CLEANED

This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh does lust against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and they are CONTRARY the one to the other so that you cannot do the things that you would” (Galatians 5:16-17).

Did you notice in this scripture that Paul was not led to say, “become holy and you will be able to walk with God?” He said to make the decision to walk with God (first) and then your desire to sin will fade! Why did the Lord make it like that? Because when we surrender our will and choose to walk with Him, then He can help us with the problems of our flesh. If we tried to clean ourselves up “before” we abandoned our will – we would not be able to do it. Our flesh is so strong that it is going to take “an act of God” to change the way we think and live. This order is crucial for the disciple who is determined to follow and abide with Christ in the holy of holies. Do we understand what it means to walk in His Spirit? Since understanding the meaning of words does not necessarily prove that we are “living” what we know, allow me to ask this another way; have you made the decision to walk in His Spirit? Is it your highest goal to constantly know Him more intimately? After all of this time are you finally ready to stop going half-way, and prepared to go all the way? Let us go on as we keep this thought close to our heart.

I want to let you in on a little secret. Most people are not worried about the subject we are talking about. In fact, this has always been a very unpopular topic and always will be until Jesus comes. Why? Because we want to do whatever we want without God interrupting us! I’m not talking about our willpower to not rob a bank, because to be honest we do not have the courage for that anyway. We can brag all day long about how we have advanced in our holiness and how our self-discipline keeps us from being a criminal. Give me a break! The bad things you are not doing now are things you probably would not do if you were lost! I’m talking about the sin of not having control over your flesh to do things like gossip, lust, pride, hate, and selfishness. I’m talking about surrendering your will so that you will not be envious, or a backstabbing hypocrite. Many Christians have become so spoiled, calloused and hard-hearted from the pleasures of sin, they avoid anything that would have a chance to convict them. They do NOT want to be broken by God or anyone else. They do NOT want to hear the truth about how they need to control their flesh and they do NOT want to spend time in prayer so that God can begin to do miracles and change the things they are concerned about. They flip through the TV and radio channels and if they hear something about the coming apocalypse or a fascinating prophecy about angels and UFO’s or how some world leader is the anti-christ, they will listen to every word. But if they tune in to someone talking about how the flesh must die in order to walk holy with God – they turn it off. The same is true with many churches that teach how God’s main idea and purpose for your life is to keep you fat and happy. They have three services on Sunday and are continually building bigger sanctuaries. The small assemblies that do not have the unlimited resources or the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, but instead teach people the basic fundamentals about how to draw near to God and follow His voice, only have a handful that shows up for evangelism and prayer meetings. Why? It is obvious the masses have developed an appetite for sensational entertainment and presenting “just” the Word of God does not generate enough excitement anymore.

So where is all this leading? Well, to begin with, someone forgot when they were making church invitations, that the flesh was not welcome. Since most Christians are led by their un-renewed mind in all of the other daily activities, they do not blink an eye at trying to organize and control the church with their intelligence, talents, and degrees in business administration. I am not saying we are not to do the best we can, but rather I am declaring that God’s true church will be led by GOD! If you are a person that knows the presence of God and you cannot feel Him in your church – there is something horribly wrong! I personally believe that God absolutely recognizes the motives and spiritual “condition” of those who are ministry leaders. If these leaders do not seek God’s direction and are not walking holy and the congregation is also not praying for God to bring the fire of His conviction and power of His Gospel, the church has become no more than a moose lodge. We sing, “Light the fire again” and how we need to pray this until we sense His passion rising within us so that our flame does not turn into ashes.

Sin has always been very strong on the earth as it is not anything new to declare the world is wicked. Those who are walking in God’s Spirit are few and far between because many have fallen into a conceited arrogance that thinks, I have my ticket and that’s all I’m concerned about. Many Christians will not say it but in their heart, they are thinking; if you do not have your ticket to heaven that is your problem for being so hard-headed (and maybe God never sent you an invitation anyway). For those who are not concerned about the lost enough to actually witness and testify, I wonder why they go to church at all. Maybe they think that if they give some money – someone else will do it! Maybe they want to be seen going to church so that everyone will think they are respectable people of integrity. Allow me to take my liberty for a few moments and ask you today, why do you think God has reserved a place for you around His throne after you die? Because I live a good life and I am a good person. I hate to break this to you but there are lost sinners that live a whole lot “better” than you and I. Morals and religious good deeds are good but not good enough to help out-weigh our lack of spiritual intimacy with God. He only cares about how much we love Him because most of what we do is connected with us trying to earn His favor. If we are only living a dry, cold religious life that has no passion, no love for others, no interest in His Word and no desire to spend time in the “secret place” with God – we have either backslidden to the North Pole or we need to be born-again.

What about you dear one, why do you feel secure in your salvation? Because I believe God is who He says He is. Well, this may come as a shock but Satan and every demon feel the same way. When Satan was Lucifer, He played a significant leadership role right in front of God’s throne and witnessed the majesty and wonders of heaven with his own eyes. All of the Bible stories you have read about, he not only knows but has a first-hand account of each one. He knows God is the Almighty because he has known God and seen everything God has done! He was standing there when God created the world! He was standing there when Jesus was dying on the cross! It is not enough to know about what God has done or to know that He is the one and only true God. The question is whether or not He is YOUR LORD! If you are saved this hour it is because you have surrendered your will and allowed Christ to renew your mind and transform your spirit. You are saved today because you received His blood sacrifice as the payment for your sins and by faith are allowing Him to change you into His image. Until mental knowledge becomes quickened into spiritual revelation – you are just being religious. Salvation is not fire-insurance! Receiving Christ is being convicted by God’s Word and this guilt breaks our heart and causes us to “hate” how we have hurt the Lord and who we have been. This brokenness leads us to open the door of our heart and inviting Jesus to come in, sit on our throne, and take over our lives. The Christian life is Him becoming our Master and us serving Him and loving Him more than anything in this life.

I realize that we now find ourselves at the end of the age where the world is so evil, dark and harsh. It reminds me of being out in the country, in the summer when night-time comes and the lightning bugs come out. You can barely see them as their lights are like little specks among the vast density of darkness. Is your light being seen by all those around you? Could I ask anyone who knows you about your zeal to witness the gospel whenever you have the chance? Would all who know you declare that you are passionate about your love for God? Do people come to you in private and talk with you about their soul? Why not? 

A deception cannot be seen or recognized in the mortal world because truth can only be seen with spiritual eyes that are empowered by the Holy Spirit. (God is absolute truth and all truth has come from Him.) The natural eyes allow the mind to perceive and the “view” of thought will depend on whether it has been renewed by God or not. When the natural mind is dictated by the carnal nature, the end result is a distorted mentality that is influenced by wickedness. Sadly, this dark spirit of selfish rebellion also runs rampant in the church of Jesus Christ because Christians have turned away from living holy. To cast down the strong will of the un-renewed mind is not an easy task, and most humans avoid it at all cost. This delusion has many names but the most popular is called “lukewarmness” and it is slowly draining the life out of God’s people. It is subtle and its tactics include lying, misleading, trickery, fraud and witchcraft with the intention to steal and destroy the relationship between God and His children. We must remember that Satan has a huge advantage in spiritual warfare because our flesh is always a willing candidate to cooperate with his schemes. Our carnality never needs to meditate or consider the dangers of obeying the devil, in fact, we were born into this default nature and it just seems like “old times” when we allow our original nature to control our thoughts. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24).

The above paragraph seems very sad and not uplifting, however, there is a spiritual accountability to know the truth and act on it. Most Christians would agree that carnality has spread like a plague and that many Christians have become infected with it, but just to “know it” is not enough. Usually, when there is a widespread problem, we find two different camps on the subject – those who are a part of the problem and the ones that have been delivered from it or at least are trying to escape. If we can agree that an abandonment of sanctification has blanketed the Christian world, it is the time for us to take an inventory of OUR heart and decide which camp we are in. If we are living in our flesh during the week and trying to run the church with our old nature, we have created and developed a “secular” assembly! Holiness starts at home and spreads outward! We pray, study, develop and worship when we are alone, and then we demonstrate our relationship with God to others. The church is the locker room – the game is our life! May we be extremely careful to NOT become so arrogant that we think we have done all we need to do! Denial is deception. Mmmm…

The enemy is trying to influence the masses with a false sense of security so it is wise to take a personal inventory of where we are and what we are doing. As it is a crucial part of the change process to be transparent with our own conscience, repentance is not only seeing where we need to change – but it is asking God to forgive us with the determination to not do it again! Allow me to ask, if we are not spiritually growing, learning, progressing and developing in His presence – then just exactly what are we doing? Are you awake? Are you listening? Some simple facts worth considering; if we are not growing stronger with more maturity, wisdom, and love, we have become stagnant and have become “sick” with heart disease. It is a hereditary illness called willful “sin”. If we are not learning how to live in victory over our flesh so that we can be an overcomer for His glory, we are playing a religious game that has no spiritual significance or value; in fact, we have become an ENEMY to His cause! If we are not progressing forward we are sliding backward. A tree that has life will grow and mature so it can eventually bear fruit. Trees that do not bear fruit are cut down and thrown into the fire. If we are not developing a bond of love with God, a deep personal relationship of knowing His mind and will where we discern His heart and OBEY His voice, we are being deceived as to what our calling and purpose of life are all about. 

CHAPTER 14

THE GOD GAME

Receive my instruction instead of silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it” (Proverbs 8:10-11).

The secret is out – “People want God to fix their problems without disturbing their lifestyle!” Have you ever wondered why we exhaust ourselves trying to take care of our issues and situations instead of asking God to help us? It is because if we ask Him to intervene, we are afraid He will want to rearrange the way we are living. So, in order to keep everything in place (like we want it), we will work around the clock trying to manage it ourselves. Our mind and old nature is actually quite subtle and sneaky concerning our denials and deceptions. We have learned how to whine and pout in order to satisfy our desires and con our way into getting what we want. Of course, we hardly ever look in the mirror and see our selfish motives and attitudes but nonetheless, they are there. The sad reality is that God is watching and most of the time He is disappointed. I am not trying to be intentionally negative but rather painfully honest by admitting that we have learned how to play the God game. I know it sounds sickening but that is good because, in order to turn away from addictive sin, there will need to be a deep sorrow about it. This addictive sin of omission is not necessarily one particular weakness but a “general rebellion” that prevents our mind from yielding our will to God. Now wait a minute – did you hear that? Instead of reading through this quickly, I believe it would be beneficial to slowly read that last sentence again, don’t you agree?

Maybe the question we need to ask when inquiring about the price of the spiritual life is not how much it cost – but how much is it worth? When we serve our carnal nature, we are not filled with God’s Spirit nor can we walk in His holy sensitivity. Our devotion to serving our flesh automatically leads to us drifting away from our intimate fellowship with Jesus. When we discard His holiness and come to an emotional agreement that this is acceptable behavior, we are officially backslidden and in a dangerous state of spiritual dysfunction. We can understand the compassion of God not wanting to lose someone on the open seas of disobedience, but what can He do when people choose to live their entire life behind a religious mask and appear to be content? The question is not whether a person “can” live in carnality while claiming to be sold out to God – but rather is this what they are trying to do? We have discussed several issues this year already and I do not know about you but I have been “pinned to the wall” by God’s truth. This theme of dealing with our flesh is very exposing and uncomfortable in many ways and to be honest I do not really like it. Changing the way we are is not a walk in the park, in fact, it will require dragging our flesh, kicking and screaming all the way to the graveyard! There is nothing enjoyable about this which is exactly why there is very little preaching about it or concern. It is about REPENTANCE! But in order for anyone to have a desire to repent – they must see themselves through the eyes of God. We will never change if we use our own contaminated “court” of justification. When we examine our heart with our natural perception, we not only think we are not too bad – we actually convince ourselves that we are ok in God’s sight. This is why we cannot trust the corrupted logic of “feel good theology” but must yield to the balance and convicting truth of God’s divine reality.

The reason why we avoid repentance like the plague is because it means to TURN AWAY. This is exactly what we do not want to do. We do not mind going to church or others thinking we are a Christian, but many have made up their minds to do whatever they want. I have wondered for many years why people at church have not really been enthused with intimate worship or prayer meetings and it is because they do not like it and do not want to participate! These are the spectators that pretend to be participators. These are the individuals that can talk about God but have never really trusted Him to do anything. They play games of “hide and seek” with God and people while trying to balance on the tightrope of hypocrisy. They have heard about the refiner’s fire but have no intention of signing up. They have heard about renewing the mind but it was just a passing thought. Sadly, many have adopted the battle cry that everyone must accept them just the way they are. This false sense of control is actually masking our FEAR to surrender. “If you trust God in the fiery furnace the only things you will lose are the ropes that bind you.”

Let us look at gossip as another ugly sin that judges and condemns others on the basis of what they have done or what we THINK they are guilty of. It is slander to drag someone’s reputation through the mud especially if we are just repeating rumors. People make mistakes (including us) and if someone we know is involved with a current willful sin, we should pray for them, have patience and faith that He is working on their behalf and wait for God’s instructions instead of making the situation worse. The same is true with all of our bad habits and fruits of carnality, it is wonderful that we have forgiveness when we sin but it would be better to use “preventative awareness” before we sin because we represent a “holy” Kingdom? It’s like our need to exercise? We would be more likely to succeed if we asked the Lord to help us get “excited” about doing it than trying to “force” our flesh to do something we hate. It is all about attitude and if we have a sour approach to something we dread, our chances of success are small. We could continue thinking about it and talking about it and living with the daily failure of NOT succeeding – OR we could simply ask God in our prayer time to give us the desire and motivation to do it and enjoy it. We could use smoking or drinking (yes, Christians smoke and drink) as other areas that God is standing by, waiting to intervene, but unfortunately, He is not called upon very often. I know a person that has been trying to quit smoking for years. They have tried everything but openly admit they are defeated and cannot break the power of desire. The doctors have said they have blocked arteries in their legs from smoking which has caused weakness, pain and many other health-related problems. So, what can God do when a person knows the consequence of their problem is a direct result of their rebellion? The same is true with someone that is obese and having many health issues simply because they refuse to stop gorging themselves. Can we just believe that God will take care of all the bad and damaging things no matter what we do in this life? Do we not believe there are consequences to our actions and judgments for our deeds? Are we so naïve as to think that life will not require a dedication to self-discipline?

Again, I can see where the lost do not understand spiritual principals but what about Christians that want to do great things for God and to be put in high positions of spiritual authority but have no thoughts about incorporating self-control over their flesh. I understand that independent, self-reliant people would rather go through programs, patches and hypnotism rather than to sincerely ask God to empower them but Christians are supposed to be DEPENDENT on God. The reasons are always the same and it is usually found that most people have NOT come to the point where they are really concerned enough to trust God to change their lifestyle. We are surrounded with the talk of having a “personal” relationship with God, yet have never considered that it is actually the key to us being the overcomer that He wants us to be. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs: 3:5, 6). In EVERY weakness or circumstance, we can ask Him to give us a clear view of the situation and with His help, we can conquer whatever problem that is trying to hinder us. If we know this is true and yet still refuse to incorporate these principals into our spiritual life, we have openly declared that we do NOT want to sacrifice the energy it will take to work with God for the victory. Our actions will speak louder than our words that clearly we intend to continue being comfortable in the direction we are going MORE than becoming serious about changing into His image. And we may avoid the issue but – we are saying that we are willing to receive His chastisement and punishment for our disobedience! How do you think God responds to this attitude?

Finances are another area that most everyone thinks about because it directly involves what we have and what we can do. It is common to talk about being debt free and it is a worthy thought but thinking that money is going to fall out of heaven is stretching the faith concept into a distorted view. Do not misunderstand me, God does give financial gifts and super-natural miracles according to His purposes but in general, He gives us the faith and wisdom to “manage” what He has already given. In this stewardship responsibility, we learn how to spend and invest so that He can BLESS our finances and prosper us. Here again, we see Him walking with us every step of the way trying to help us make good decisions and speaking to our heart about giving to others so that He can multiply our wealth. However, we cannot expect Him to make us rich and financially independent instantaneously. It is through OBEDIENCE that we learn, grow and develop maturity and wisdom. People play the lottery and dream about being rich, and promise to God that if they had the resources they would endlessly help those in need but allow me to say that if you are not giving to others NOW and have not “developed” a generous attitude about wealth NOW – you would not automatically be sensitive to the Holy Spirit about giving – even if you did find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If we would spend as much time praying about GIVING instead of complaining, day-dreaming, being sad, jealous and bitter about our needs, we would have a much clearer perspective to stand back and see the big picture of how God wants us to serve within HIS thoughts and plans.

CHAPTER 15

LAYING OUR SECRETS ON THE TABLE

(Inasmuch as we) refute arguments, theories, reasoning’s and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the (true) knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) (II Corinthians 10:5).

As much as we try to deny our problems and weaknesses, the best way to grow and progress is, to be honest with our own heart. One reason why we do not deal with our secret idols is that we do not want to let go of them (surprise!). Of course, it is difficult, these forbidden desires that we are passionate about have a strong grip on us and it’s not easy to walk away from them. We have built these “pleasure palaces” one stone at a time and the images of our secret desires have possessed our heart. Instead of asking for help to CHANGE our life, we choose to manage our fears, stress, confusion, plans, ideas, disappointments, and failures with our own intuition. Through careful strategy and cunning deceit, Satan attempts to twist our thoughts and situations into a hopeless world of cruelty and darkness. His ugly lies are painted with serene images of justification that he uses in order to INFLUENCE our perceptions as he establishes “strongholds” that defend against the power of God to CHANGE the way things are. On the other side of the war, we find the light of God’s love is filled with the message that He can transform anything that is bad, wrong, or impossible into something beautiful and meaningful. Of course, the devil hopes that he can keep much of the world blind to God’s “life-changing truth” and unfortunately so far, He has succeeded.

Most everyone has a type of stronghold which is simply an area in which we are held in “bondage” as a result of an un-renewed mind. The word bondage is used to define something that is weighing us down and hindering us from being free to live and serve God in perfect peace. The more we take purity seriously – the more peace we will experience because holiness is God’s character and His perfect will for our life. When we are devoted to an “intentional” stronghold of carnality within our mind, we are “haunted” by the realization that we are not right in the eyes of God. This conviction is a feeling of guilt before a holy God and a miserable reality where we AVOID His presence. We might dream of being like a little child and dancing around in the bliss of innocence and happy to sing His praises, but the pride and temptation to govern our destiny keeps us a hypocritical prisoner. This is the main reason why Christians are so cold and lifeless. I personally believe that many church members live every day with one foot in the world and one foot in God’s Kingdom and the consequence of this empty existence is NOT living in the joy, love, and zeal of an intimate relationship with God. Those who claim to be disciples of Jesus listen to worship and just stand there as if they are bored, and then listen to the message with NO intention of absorbing truth for their own personal spiritual development. Why? Because the Word has the power to change them! Until Christians become serious about tearing down the strongholds of pseudo-faith and slot machine mentality, their representation of God’s Kingdom will continue being an anemic and lethargic example of spiritual lukewarmness. If Jesus is NOT allowed to reign in our heart as Lord – then what is being a Christian all about? How can Jesus be anyone’s Savior of promise if He is not their Lord of truth? The more we become determined to be filled with Him, the brighter His glory will shine within us! It is the darkness of our “willful” sin and pre-determined ideas that are preventing us from becoming what He died for us to be! 

Do you believe that if someone was willing to go through the refining fire process of becoming more pure and holy in the sight of God, that they could have a greater impact on those around them? Are we saying the closer we are to God the more divine appointments we will be given? If this is true – then WE are the reason that more people are not being delivered! “And he laid it (a hot coal) upon my mouth and said, listen, this has touched your lips and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged. Also, I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6: 7-8).

The reason why our thoughts are so important is that they are the “origin” of every word and deed. Since these strongholds within the mind are structures or fortresses made of ideas, we see why Paul was regarding this type of warfare to include taking every thought CAPTIVE to the obedience of Christ. Those who live in the vanity of their own carnal thinking have built protective walls and barriers around these control centers which by the way continues to keep us in bondage, agony, and defeat. But, who do we think is going to cast down sinful thoughts and pull down these barricades of evil imaginations? Good question, I am so glad you asked. As the verse at the beginning of this article is saying, WE have the responsibility to “capture” our thoughts and place them under the submission of God’s perfect will, however, it is definitely getting the horse before the cart if we start talking about tearing down mental strongholds without first consulting our will. For such a complex issue it is actually quite simple; first, our heart must want these structures cast down and then we can ask God in faith to come and help us do it! We must take the first step in declaring that we hate our sin and desire to turn away from it and ONLY THEN will God’s power and authority begin to renew our conscience and rebuild a new transformed nature. Conviction and knowing that we are guilty of trespassing and offending God’s will is a step and desiring to change is another, but the next step is much deeper and a world of difference than just acknowledging that we are wrong. The place I am referring to is repentance and this is the ultimate crossroad of decision where we have either come to the end of our sin or we will continue going like we have been.

Many people say they are sorry for doing things that are wrong, but that is NOT necessarily repentance. True repentance is directly connected to Godly sorrow and this means that we have realized how much we have “offended” God and hurt Him with our filthy, carnal arrogance. Repentance is also associated with a broken and contrite heart which is just another way of confirming that we have literally become “sick” with our rebellion to the point of nausea. When our spiritual eyes have been opened to the big picture of what our sin has done, it is like when God opened the eyes of Adam and Eve and they “knew” they were wrong. The entire world is presently saturated in the darkness of sin and yet within the core of our being we know that God’s light exposes and judges us. The more we know the more we are accountable for which is why it is crucial to sow God’s seed everywhere so that He can continue His plan of salvation! “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife HID THEMSELVES from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I WAS AFRAID because I was NAKED; and I HID MYSELF” (Genesis 3:8-10).

There is no greater calling – no higher priority – nothing more worthy or important than reaching out to the lost! The love that is woven throughout the Bible is the love from God to us – the love for God from us – and the love for souls! It is SIN that is killing love and causing it to wax cold. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is being filled with LOVE! Love is an action word and the amount of our obedience is measured by our level of love. Many Christians are not excited about serving God because deep down they are afraid of Him! They walk around with fake smiles because “they know” they are filled with sin and do not want to repent and this explains WHY there is a distance between them and God. When a person lives with an idol, and they have every intention of keeping it – they are not interested in any type of spiritual activity because it is a reminder of who they are and how they need to change. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

Now, brother Billy, I am too old now to think about changing these things you are talking about, besides what difference would it make to an older person? Well my friend, if you have been thinking in these articles that it was all about food and taking care of our temple, you have once again missed the point. Not being able to control our appetite is just an example of a deeper problem of not having self-control over anything. If you are too old to incorporate change into your life does that also mean that you are too old to evangelize or be generous? Are you so set in your ways that you are refusing to be a witness with fire and zeal for the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you not able to ask God to fill you with His love? You see, it is a pathetic existence to walk through life believing the deception that you can do anything you want and that it’s ok with God. Then at the end of your life, your excuse for not allowing your mind to be renewed is that now you are too old to make a difference.

Allow me to relay God’s opinion of such a life; He is sad, aggravated, and disappointed with an attitude such as this! Yes but brother, I went to church all my life, participated and voted on issues concerning the direction of the church and even gave a portion of my hard earned money! Truth does not beat around the bush or disguise itself in order to be accepted or gain popularity. Going to church alone is not what the Christian life is all about, even though many people are convinced it is. We do not go to church to be a Christian – we go to church to LEARN HOW to live the Christian life! No one ever won a race with just learning how to run, just like no one ever made money just learning how to count. The same is true with the church, as no one ever walked with God in obedience just because they listened to sermons and read the Bible. Until we realize that just knowing all about God and His Kingdom does not give us bonus points – we will continue being spiritually deaf and dumb. We must become determined to incorporate our faith and His Word into the demonstration of His glory! The true disciple of Christ has learned the significance of abandoning their will which activates the reality of being filled with God. Unless the will is yielded to God and Christ is allowed to become Lord of the heart and soul, there may not have been a valid manifestation of redemption. To believe that God Almighty will honor a life that has been dedicated to the desires of the human will is to misunderstand His character. If all we have to do in order to go to heaven is to know “about” God – then why in the world did the Father make a new COVENANT with the blood of His only Son? This would make salvation a game that awards prizes for those who win the most Bible quizzes or earn doctorate degrees in Bible history. The sad reality is that many who have learned about God have never known Him personally and will not be saved. The merciful and loving plan to redeem the lost is an opportunity for “whosoever will” to allow the Holy Spirit to transform them into God’s image. We must have God “IN US” before He can reach out “THROUGH US.”

It is tragic but true, that many will accept to remain in the cycle of sin because they have never come to the place where they war against it! They may occasionally feel shame and be depressed about what they do, but they are still willing to live with it. But Billy, I really don’t do anything that bad. Yes, I probably live according to my flesh but God will have mercy on my inability to be perfect. The problem with this statement is that it’s the result of a stinking attitude and the absence of the reverential fear of God! Would you actually have the courage to stand before God Almighty and say that you know you are weak but you just thought He would let it go because He liked you? For one thing, it is amazing how the flesh can become its own defense lawyer and believe that God would compromise His Word just because our rebellious nature hopes He grades on the curve. Our sneaky and corrupt mind puts more faith into excuses and twisted philosophies than God’s holy, perfect promises! To begin with, one of the most dangerous misconceptions is not remembering the sins of omission. We can brag all day about how we have NOT committed certain sins while ignoring His voice and disobeying His instructions concerning things He WANTED us to do because we allowed ourselves to be distracted with foolishness. We can sit on the couch all day and night watching television and before we go to bed, we can say, “Thank you Lord for protecting me from sin.” How do you think He will react when all day long He was trying to tell us where to go, what to do and what to say so that He could use us in His work? This is the part of spiritual sensitivity that is often overlooked in the Christian life and is just as devastating as the “obvious” outward trespasses of the flesh.

Many people even Christians do not want freedom within their spirit because that would allow them the liberty to live work and serve God with all their mind, strength and soul. Sadly, many hold on to their familiar lifestyle because it has become a twisted feeling of false security that allows them to play games. They are more familiar and comfortable with the “bondage cycle” than with the idea of liberty and that is how they choose to remain. When describing the life of a remnant disciple, we always go back to the idea of “dying to live.” Well, no one wants to die whether physically or internally with the will and of course the flesh brings out every method of defense it can think of to “preserve” its ability to live however it wants. Our carnal nature is equipped with this built-in “survival mode” and fighting and scratching to “live” is the resistance we feel when we tinker with the idea to surrender to God. The cost of the flesh is CONTROL and that is the most difficult aspect of the Christian life to give up!

There are only two kingdoms – and everyone chooses which one they will CONFORM to! Conform means to; be in harmony – to be in agreement – to be in one ACCORD. So everyone is a conformist to either the DEFAULT system or the DIVINE reality. When our mind agrees with our carnality – our body will follow! Likewise, when our head and spirit line up with God – our body will follow as it is our body that is the puppet that always does exactly as it is told. Selah. If you remember, God spoke to Israel out of the clouds and lightning in Deuteronomy chapter 5, and they were terrified. What should have been the greatest praise and worship service in the history of the world, ended up with them complaining to Moses how they wanted God to speak to them from now on through a man. Come to find out, Stephen in Acts 7:43, mentions the reason as they were convicted and afraid of God because they had secretly kept their idols and were worshipping them. Humans have always wanted to play religious games and live in both worlds but God is saying today to lay ALL of our secrets on the table. Cast out the golden “figures” and images YOU have made. Today is the day to deal with the sins that are keeping you from BOLDLY serving as God’s fearless warrior! 

CHAPTER 16

FOLLOWING CHRIST – LEADING OTHERS

I have been spending many hours with my Seminary coursework and have learned some interesting information about being a spiritual leader. This past winter I had been plowing through subjects such as advanced leadership and church administration and though these can get boring they are an important part of learning how to establish a structure and facilitate within an organization. Some may say that all we need to have is a Bible and a guitar and in a sense this may be true, however when an assembly begins to grow and many different types of skills and personalities come together, it is good to have a leader that is at least somewhat qualified to make good spiritual and practical decisions. Others will comment that all we need to do is listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His direction. Again, this is absolutely true but we must also be flexible enough in our thinking to at least consider that God can “lead” within an organized ministry. Christ is not against organization – He is against organization without obeying His voice. Obviously, He has called pastors to help with His sheep along with deacons, teachers, apostles, evangelists, missionaries, counselors, and musicians just to name a few. Even Jesus Himself experienced large crowds and needed His core group of leaders to help Him manage and coordinate with order and authority. His ministry was the perfect example and left us a wonderful legacy that we should follow.

As a spiritual leader in today’s world, it is crucial to have self-discipline in many different areas. Of course, leaders are not perfect, but they need to free from the bondage of intentional sin and have a desire and determination to be holy. We have spoken of love being the center point of all things and it takes a lot of prayers to grow in love. It is difficult to know what comes first, the prayer for love or the love for prayer, but either way, they are impossible to separate. We can say this with all confidence that no one can be successful in God’s work without having a heart filled with love and the self-discipline to stay in an attitude of prayer. Selah. These are the foundations for leadership which brings us back to resisting the temptation to NOT “micro-manage” everything just because we are in authority. True leaders realize they cannot do it all and must select other strong leaders to make a “team” and to have confidence in those who support the vision. Senior Pastors must have a working understanding of how to “delegate” responsibilities to strong leaders even if they have different ideas because everyone can add perspective as long as they are unified in the purpose and goals.

When there are many different opinions of vision and an absence of loyalty and respect for the senior pastor, the church becomes a stagnant pool of chaos and resentment. This is where many churches decline from a thriving environment of genuine excitement to a corporate atmosphere of strife and discouragement. Along with order and structure within the church, there must be confidence and trust for the leader, but this will require humility and you guessed it – love and prayer! It is PRIDE that causes a team member to think they can do it better or the direction is not correct. This stinking attitude becomes much worse when shared with other members and eventually, the thoughts and “justifications” reach the congregation. People are like sheep and become very worried and nervous when they are afraid. Discovering leadership problems within the church causes the members to doubt that certain individuals are listening to the Lord and this causes the brain to go on “high alert.” I have witnessed this in church and the panic spreads like an ugly disease with each person calling the other and discussing the possibilities of the unknown. This evil spirit of strife will cause God to become angry and His Spirit of peace will pull away which leaves the anxiety and the negativity that comes from carnality. How many churches have suffered from this pride why by the way was the original sin of Lucifer?

Many times we say that we want the “freedom” to do whatever we want, but in all reality even Jesus did not teach this style to His disciples. It was His desire (and ours) that we only do what the Father tells us to do, and in that sense, there is a built-in order that not only “leads” us into truth, but also “protects” us from deception. I say all of this as a reminder for all of you that belong to an assembly of believers – please say an “extra” prayer for your leader because they have a difficult path to walk. As members, we usually only see a small fraction of what they do – and we use that knowledge to conclude that leading is easy. What we do not realize is the other 99 percent of stress and labor they minister in that we never hear about. Also, do not think that Satan does not realize how important it is to attack those in spiritual authority because it has such a devastating effect on the church. The leaders need to have all of the protective prayer “armor” they can receive because of the large bulls-eye that is on their back. I just feel like I need to say a little more before we move on. The reason why we do not always hear about what the pastor does in their ministry is that when people come to them with personal problems, the individuals do not want anyone to know what they were discussing. Likewise, the pastor does not go around telling everyone who they counseled and what it was about. Even visiting the sick and incarcerated are most of the time never mentioned because it is only meaningful to those who received comfort. The call to the ministry is from heaven and a burden that God puts within the heart of those who have been chosen. Those who work in God’s harvest fields are DRIVEN by the burden, passion, and conviction of the Holy Spirit like a fire that is shut up within their being. And of course, no one really knows how many hours per week that is invested in Bible study, sermon preparation and prayer. People will say; they need to spend that much time studying because that is what we are paying them for! Well, I agree that pastors need to spend their time wisely but the office of a pastor is a “called” spiritual endeavor and is selected by God to accomplish a certain mission at a specific place. Giving the pastor money may help their family financially but it is not the same as hiring someone to roof your house.

A truly anointed and called man of God is a servant of the Most-High whether you pay them or not. The representation of God’s Kingdom through the work of the ministry does not depend on dollars which means that no human can take the glory for what is done. (In fact, God probably uses the unknown person that is not associated with any type of religious organization MORE than those who draw a salary! Rewards will be given in the next life to those that are not seen on TV or heard on the radio but who stayed on their knees in prayer and loved and helped everyone that God sent to them). Many times the pastor is taken for granted (the same as God) and is not given respect until they are needed to do something for us. The world of church is an odd thing because members think they understand all that goes on and are convinced they know everything about it, yet these same individuals that have been in the church all their life are way more concerned with the color of the carpet, how much is spent on children’s supplies or which bakery the donuts coming from than their responsibility to be a FERVENT prayer warrior! The very ones that have grown lazy and lethargic are the reason why we need revivals, yet these are the same committee members who proclaim that we need to invite a fired up evangelist to preach to the lost (?). One of the hindrances in the church is having so many opinions but actually getting nothing accomplished or making the wrong decisions because those on the board are NOT being led by the Holy Spirit! In fact, it would be sobering to learn how many church members have never been born-again. It is easy to see if churches are not more discerning in their planning strategies, they can become as stagnant and ineffective as the red tape of government! We cannot replace prayer with organization! In a “normal” church, EVERYONE is willing to do something. The ninety percent are perfectly willing to allow the ten percent to do all the work! (Sad) The interesting point to note is that it’s also usually the ninety percent that does all the complaining.

Is it alright if I keep going? As the old preachers would say when it would get real quiet, “don’t shout me down because I’m preaching so good!” You see, the leader is definitely important to any church, but the church is not built on the talents and abilities of one person. The same way an army or a sports team cannot succeed on the accomplishments of one individual – no matter how awesome they are. As we said earlier, the view of the church, in general, has become distorted because of how the members perceive them “HIRING” a minister to work for THEM. For example, when we hire someone to mow our yard, do we go out there and help them unload their machines? When we hire a mechanic to work on our car do we crawl underneath with our wrenches to give them a hand? No. This has caused a subconscious attitude within the church where the members believe their contribution to the assembly is to come on Sunday and listen to the sermon, the music and relax in the comfortable pews and air conditioning they have “paid for”. They are not really worried about doing anything else because they believe that falls under the category of the pastor’s responsibility. It is this “spectator mentality” that has been crippling not only the church but the Kingdom of God and ALL OF US! Now – back to what I intended to write about from the beginning.

After I finished with the long and intense course on business administration, I plunged into the fascinating study of the book of Mathew. I have been trying to finish a large portion of school work since I have retired as I have more time during the day to devote to this. I want to complete my degree this spring and continue tweaking on my book, “Wonders of Worship” and publish it this fall. Nonetheless, in my research of many commentaries on the Mount Olivet discourse, I began to examine my heart and search from within my own life just how committed I am to the “Gospel” of Christ. Mathew chapter 24 and 25 are so packed with spiritual revelation that it would be good to read them slowly and consistently with much prayer and meditation. In one of my college courses this week, I wrote a 45-page summary as part of a course just on the first 14 verses of Mather chapter 24 and honestly, I did not scratch the surface. As I dissected these scriptures and read parts of several different books and many articles, I felt the familiar presence of Christ convicting me of my lukewarmness. What I felt the Lord was asking me; do you really believe these are the last days? I said yes – then I wondered why am I acting like it’s no big deal? Am I that ASLEEP? Have I become so numb and calloused to the concept of the Second Coming of Christ that I have become a religious zombie? Why am I acting like everything is fine, and like I have nothing to do but sit on top of a mountain and wait for the sky to split open? Do you mean to tell me that if an angel appeared to us today and told us that Jesus was coming next Thursday that we would NOT do anything different than we would normally? Just ponder that thought for a moment. What exactly would you do if you knew without a doubt He was coming in four days? Take a piece of paper and write down what you would do, and there is an excellent probability that what you have written is a word directly from the Lord about what you SHOULD be doing NOW! This should answer any doubts or questions about receiving a word directly from God connected to the urgency and responsibility of our personal mission.

I know that much of the first half of Chapter 24 seems so familiar because we have heard it so often. Sadly, I believe that many of the wonderful passages of God’s Word have become dull to us and our heart has grown calloused to the beauty and power of His voice. When Jesus mentions earthquakes, wars and false prophets we begin to yawn because these have been in the news since we were born. And of course, the church has taught that the bride is ready to fly out of here at any moment and so when Jesus continues into the chapter about the tribulation, we just turn the page and start reading somewhere else because we have been taught that we will not face these trials, hardships or persecutions. One point that I am trying to make is these scriptures are some of the most life-changing words that have ever been spoken and it is time within our Christian journey to pay very close attention to them. It is the HOUR to open our Bibles in reverential fear and read through these passages slowly and carefully because they were written to you and me for such a time as this! The Christian life is all about spiritual AWARENESS and when Christ abides in our conscience – we will reflect His image.

CHAPTER 17

EVERY FATHERS BUSINESS

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

When we are more interested in what is on TV than what Jesus is trying to teach us about living in these last hours, we have proven that our flesh rules our spirit – and this is not the condition He was hoping to find His church when He returns. If we really believe He is ready to come tonight – is the way you are living right now the way you want Him to find you? Are you and I doing what we are supposed to be doing? I am not – and I need to change NOW! This brings me to my point and the reason why I sat down here to write this afternoon. I am not being a light in the darkness – much of the time I am more like a candle under a basket.

People will say, Billy you’re a minister and chaplain, you write articles, books, and songs and you can teach, sing and counsel those in need, but I would say these are labors that are “seen” in ministry. There are many of you that like me are also involved with helping lots of people and ministry projects that make genuine differences in people’s lives, but I am not really referring to these noticeable good works and deeds. I am talking about being sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit when we come in contact with an individual that needs a touch from Jesus. I’m talking about small things, spontaneous personal acts of love that maybe only one person will know and deeds when no one is watching. I want to become so discerning that I can not only HEAR someone’s heart but what God is saying to DO or SAY that can plant “life” into their soul. I desire to have more divine appointments but He is NOT going to arrange these meetings until I become more interested in being His witness! If we are presuming that evangelists and missionaries are the only ones that have been called to sow the seed of the gospel, then we are exposing our conscience as someone who actually cares very little about speaking into someone’s life. Only when we fall on our face and cry out to God in repentance for these sins of omission will we ever begin to grow in our burden and determination to fulfill the great commission in our network. When we are NOT sensitive to what is happening around us – we become less concerned and less interested in working in HIS harvest fields. It is dangerous to become so absorbed in our affairs and what others can do for us, that we FORGET who we are, who God is and what we have been called to do! It would be (and is) a terrible feeling to realize that we could have made a difference – but chose not to.

As spiritual leaders and team members that provide ministry on the front lines, I know that some of you have been warriors on the battlefield for many years and have seen wonderful miracles and I am sure you have also witnessed the fleshly side of religion. However, we must learn from the bad things and the mistakes we have made so that we can become BETTER and STRONGER leaders for God’s Kingdom. Do not be discouraged by presuming that all churches and leaders are the same! Each person can be as close to God as they want to be – including us! What will it take for us to develop the (so overly used) phrase called “walking in His Spirit?” For all of the talk we have done about abiding in Him, you would think by now we would at least be demonstrating it every once and awhile.

I want to say how unfortunate it was that as a young man, I did NOT have the spiritual training that I needed. This is not to say that I had bad parents because I had wonderful parents. They worked hard and provided for my every need; in fact, I lived a very blessed life. As a child, we usually do not think about the future or things like spiritual development because we just don’t worry about it. We do what we are told, try to have fun and learn that when we disobey we are punished. We adapt to the rules and the routines and figure out how to adjust to life all the while developing our own unique personality. We listen and watch our parents and form many opinions about life from what we see and hear. If we become satisfied with these views and observations we will accept them into our own philosophies and can even become quite rigid about them. (It is a shame that many times we do not even know why). You see, this passing of the “baton” to our children can be good or bad depending on what we plant – but within these generational cycles unless these negative attitudes and errors are corrected (or at least improved) the new generations will continue to suffer in a negative way. Is it the father’s fault? In many ways, I must say yes. I realize that everyone has their own free-will and children make their own decisions, however, I am convinced that much of the problems that we see today can be traced back to the type of environment and teaching that was in place in the home when the child was in the developmental learning stages. In my particular life, when it came time to raise my own children, I can see clearly now that I only gave from what I knew – and that is the problem! I knew to take them to church and pray for them but I did not impart to them the “nuts and bolts” of what a Christian is and how to live for God in ALL things. If spiritual AND practical wisdom is explained and LIVED in front of our families, truth becomes embedded into the heart and soul of the child and in turn, the character of Christ becomes manifest. God has promised that if we raise our children in His Word and nurture that Word with love, prayer, and demonstration, the conviction of that Word will remain alive within their being. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Yes, my children never gave us any trouble and turned out fine, but if I had been taught more, I could have “planted” so much more.

Do I believe parents need a degree in child psychology to develop and maintain a successful family? No, but being ignorant or ashamed to instruct children in the ways of modesty, humility, love, manners, respect, integrity, prayer, diligence, faith and purity is not God’s idea of child rearing. Is it not the mother’s duty to teach all these things? No, absolutely not! This has been the cause of much of the problems. It is true, the mother does “invest” much nurturing and instruction but children WATCH more than they listen. If the father has the attitude that his part is only to feed and clothe them – he is out in left field! Amen! As children look up to their parents and absorb what they see and hear, these “building materials” are the foundation that is being constructed and will definitely form and affect the way they think and live. The family prayer time has unfortunately gone the way of the dinosaur because Christian fathers do not care, are lazy or too distracted to invest spiritual development within their family. Many will laugh and roll their eyes because of how corny and outdated this sounds but it is actually one of the most important personal times of reflection and meditation that a family can have together. This discipline of communication reaps such a glorious bounty that it is easy to comprehend why Satan hates it so much. Television has been one of the family’s fiercest enemies because it interrupts and steals this precious time of bonding with God’s Holy Spirit and each other. (And no – quality family time is not gathered around the TV allowing Satan to inject his doses of poison into our minds). Again, who is the guilty party for allowing this to happen? The father who has a lust to be entertained is the one to blame because he chooses his flesh rather than preparing his family how to live the daily Christian life. Am I saying that fathers have failed when children have problems with things like being hooked on drugs, teenage pregnancy, dropping out of school, arrested for crimes, premarital sex, poverty, and welfare, uneducated, unemployed, divorced, laziness, not being born-again or the many other situations that bring disappointment and shame? Well, I have already said that everyone has a free-will to choose their own direction but it is LESS LIKELY to have these dark circumstances if the father has made the investment! I am sure there have been good families that had a rebellious child and a spiritually ignorant family that had a child to break these curses, but generally speaking, across the board, I believe these Biblical principles apply.

A Christian wife, along with being the mother of the children should not only be a “help-mate” in the day to day business affairs within the home but most importantly her husband’s spiritual confidant that shares his intimate visions and bond of love and trust. This is why it is very important for a Christian to marry a Christian as the yoke or covenant must be united as an intertwining of two like-minded hearts. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14). The meaning of “yoked” here has long been associated with the union, vow or bond of marriage. This direct warning from God’s Word has been ignored because people will usually follow their carnality and do whatever they want to do. I see young people all around that are children of Christian parents that do not even consider this holy instruction. I have personally witnessed Christians that married a lost person where the non-Christian not only failed to convert to Christ but actually had such a strong influence that the Christian drifted “away” from God. This is why it is so dangerous; there is no spiritual unity or vision in common and the divine three corded “braid” of the couple and the Holy Spirit cannot be formed. This connection to God is the highest source of life and makes marriage the most powerful institution on earth. It has nothing to do with how good people get along, how good looking they are or how much people think they are in love – it has everything to do with following the whisper of God’s voice. Without being condemning we realize that not following God in our decisions is one of the consequences of such a high divorce rate.

My heart is broken as I observe the world and see so many broken people. People are perishing from the lack of the knowledge of God’s Word. It is clear to see the difference between children that have been trained and disciplined from strong, loving parents who feared the Lord, and those who were just given life and allowed to grow up on their own. I know that Cheryl and I done the best we knew how at the time but I realize that I should have taken a higher interest in their future and most definitely planted much more of God’s principals into their heart. As the man is the head of the house and should shoulder the responsibility to pray and LEAD his family into God’s Word, into the church, a ministry, education and anything that is connected with helping the child reach their full potential. In today’s world of peer pressure and the stress and worries that teenager’s experience, it is important for the father and the mother to be a constant source of encouragement along with tough love. It is true that Cheryl and I did raise our children in church but as I look back on my life now, I can see that many times I was my own worst enemy. I would spend so much time chasing ministry opportunities that I had nothing left to give to my own family. I did not have a balance of work, ministry, and family because there was only so much time and I did not have my priorities correct. We should have time with God as our highest love and next, we should minister to our wife and children. If our outside interest becomes our “first love” (even ministry) then everything becomes jumbled and out of sync with what God wants to do in everyone’s life. These are decisions that men make and will be held accountable to. Sadly, it is true that many wives and children have actually developed resentment against the ministry because it absorbed and stole away their husband and father, and now those important “life” moments are lost and cannot be replaced. It is good that we want to work for God and “save the world” but we need to know when to go and when to stay. There is no substitute for God’s perfect wisdom and timing.

Do you want to hear from your children someday that you were the “real deal” and LIVED what you taught? More than that, would you not desire to hear one day from the Lord that you were a successful missionary – in your own home?

CHAPTER 18

EATING OF THE TREE OF LIFE – (Proverbs 3:18)

As we continue to try and find “God’s destiny for our life”, we must admit this is definitely a worthy pursuit as it seems that especially young people do not always know which direction to go. For the unsaved, identifying the “right” occupation would be nearly impossible even when following dreams or particular talents that feel right. For the saved, even though it should seem easier to connect with the Lord’s will, many times it is still a struggle. Why is that? Because our emotions are very convincing and temptations can distort our spiritual perception. As we have talked about how crucial it is to listen to the Holy Spirit concerning raising children and choosing a mate, another decision on the list would involve our employment and our calling. Proverbs is considered a book of wisdom and is filled with advice on how to accomplish our destiny such as “Trust in the LORD with ALL thine heart and lean NOT unto thine own understanding. In ALL thy ways acknowledge Him, and HE shall direct thy paths” (3:5-6). Most people usually run to anything that seems right without praying or listening to where, what or who they are becoming involved with, but how many lives have been detoured by NOT allowing God to reveal and explain His blueprint of our intended path?

Young people need all the knowledge and understanding they can find (and all the prayer they can receive). I look back on my life and see that I should have had a clear vision of the calling to ministry when I was young but I became satisfied with mediocrity. Going to seminary would have been nice and could have qualified me for several different professions and opportunities to serve The Lord. This is just an example of not knowing God’s direction and drifting on the sea of hoping things turn out OK. All of God’s children can know their direction with prayer and counseling and this investment is crucial to discover the destiny that God has chosen. Are there ministers that did not go to seminary and are still anointed and called by God? Yes, I believe that God can spiritually anoint and empower His vessels and super-naturally use them for His glory. Likewise, (unfortunately) there are many that have graduated seminary that has NOT been called to be pastors! Amen.

When our children were born, we left a denomination and set out to blaze a trail with the “independent” groups and a pioneering way of following Christ. These are the small churches that set up in shopping centers or gymnasiums and have services. This is not bad in itself but it can be devastating to young adventurers like me who had a vision for ministry but was not trained properly (my leaders were not either). In this, I mean there must be sound teaching on the “development” of gifts and talents from strong, dedicated and experienced pastors and elders that can demonstrate authority by example. I have mentioned that all ministers and church leaders do not need a Seminary degree but on the other hand, what would it hurt? It shows the seriousness and discipline of the individual while learning valuable Biblical knowledge. Serving in an intern residency program would also teach accountability and provide “hands-on” training that brings experience and maturity.

For example, if a person wants to be a doctor, they realize it will take an enormous amount of school and sacrifice, but would you trust a doctor that never went to medical school? Does seminary make a more qualified minister? It depends – the important thing is that maybe the structure and wisdom that is gained could somehow bring a more keen discernment into what being a “servant” truly means. Don’t we all want our children to have an advanced education? Why? Because we are convinced this will make them more successful. We believe that knowledge is leadership POWER and the understanding of truth evolves into divine wisdom and revelation. Both parents should take an active role and be concerned and interested in the children’s learning and career. Father’s especially should be very encouraging and passionate about listening to their children in what they feel called to do and how they are going to do it. One reason parents are not pro-active toward higher education is that they have no formal education themselves and were not RAISED with college being a top priority. Here we see the generational cycle once again with those who repeatedly emphasized that education was a “natural” part of life – versus those who were raised with this NOT being an important issue. The point is that we should invest the time with our kids and show we are very interested in THEIR future. Most importantly we should demonstrate following the Lord so they can SEE what living for Christ is all about.

Do I believe that things would have turned out much better for me and my family if I had followed the Holy Spirit more closely? Of course. I realize that my children are now adults and can have as much of God as anyone, but I am saying that raising up children with daily Bible studies and devoting personal “one on one” time to talk about life and how to walk with God will make a huge positive impact on their entire life. I’m talking about things like the importance of doing a good job, being wise in finances, being humble and sensitive, working hard, respecting authority, developing a life of prayer, following God’s Word, asking God to help them choose a mate, living with integrity, having a reverence for God and a hatred for sin by being a person that believes in sanctification and holiness.

You see, when I was a young minister I did not have it all together. Yes, I had general Bible knowledge and I knew how to play and sing Christian music but I was NOT a leader. I thought I was – that was the problem. I started ministering in areas that I knew nothing about which caused me to automatically lean on my own thinking and my own ways of doing things. I was a novice that needed the spiritual maturity that comes from having a revelation of knowledge. I knew “about” things but I did not understand them and I am still just scratching the surface! Let us see the definition of a novice in the Oxford dictionary; “a new convert, a beginner, amateur, an inexperienced person, someone who is learning, a newcomer, apprentice, and trainee.” We realize that when young people start out in an area, they are many times operating by the seat of their pants, however; it is the intervention of the mentor and solid training from other experienced leaders that can make the difference. Whenever there is an environment where the ones who are in authority are not qualified to lead the young ones, you have a “blind leading the blind” situation. Carnal leaders in the church world are a HUGE problem! There are so many pastors and ministers that have NO business working in public ministry because they are not trained, filled with sin, and operate in their emotions. There are some that may be qualified educationally but God has NOT told them to launch out yet. They may have a calling on their life but might have moved ahead of God’s timing and are making a mess and turning many away from the church.

It is God who ordains His servants and officers and all others need to patiently learn how to wait until they know their calling. We can always blame others and come up with tons of excuses for our failures, but in the end, we can agree that our actions have consequences. The lack of knowledge or “ignorance” of an area brings hurt, offenses and many damaging wounds while wisdom which is the revelation of knowledge can bring healing and restoration. Selah. Knowing the “reasons” why things turned out the way they did, can open our eyes to the world of discipline, prayer and wisdom and usually there are no shortcuts. Instruction and demonstration begin in the home with the parents investing their life first into God – then into their children and there is NO substitute for building these solid foundations of spiritual and practical truth. I admit it is difficult when young parents have not had the guidance and nurturing from their family because breaking the cycle is like climbing a cliff. I personally believe this tragedy of not training children in the Christian home has devastated the last several generations and sadly has given the world the opportunity to inject their worldviews and mold young minds. For the Christian parents who thought that taking their children to Sunday school was fulfilling their responsibility of child rearing – it might have helped but it was not enough! It is NOT the responsibility of the public school teacher or the Sunday school teacher to RAISE the child. If a child grows up in a decent home but is “ignorant” about HOW to live a life of integrity and spiritual sensitivity, I’m sorry but the parents have failed! Are there exceptions when parents have done all they know to do and their child still turns our wrong? We have never done ALL we can do but if there comes a season of rebellion, we know the Word of God never fails and the love, faith, and prayers of a righteous parent are mighty tools in the hands of God who changes hearts and fulfills His promises.

It does not take a genius to look at the world and come to the conclusion that there is a huge difference between those who are wise and those who are foolish. Those who are trained in the principals of God and choose to “LIVE” upright and holy before the Lord will be rewarded with God’s blessings and favor. For example, if children were raised by parents that did not look to God for His intervention and they struggled financially and lived a difficult life, the repetitive hardships of living in mediocrity will probably be considered as normal. Thoughts are like seeds that planted within the mind and usually are developed as an attitude; in this case, the familiarity of “survival” becomes dominant instead of a mindset of being successful and happy. Without the faith and encouragement found in God’s Word, we can see clearly how the “environment” can influence the mind with either a positive or a negative outlook. If these thoughts are allowed to take root within the conscience, there will grow a thinking process that these children will most likely carry over into their own family.

Let’s say that if a boy from a depressed atmosphere and pessimist type of family begins dating a girl from a similar background – who is there to help teach them that God has an abundant life of peace, happiness, and victory? I know someone who lives in a low-income government housing project and I visit them on a regular basis. When I walk through the complex, there are always many children running around and at the front doors of the apartments, there are many young women sitting on the steps. The person I visit tells me that many of these women live there because they have several children, are not married and do not work. They draw assistance from the social service programs and their rent is based on what they make from their checks. I sat in my car the other day and thought about these problems and how it is multiplied thousands of times and places all around the country. I am not talking about being judgmental or condemning about this circumstance, but most of these difficult situations could have been avoided if there had been planted seeds of God’s wisdom within the heart. Now, brother, you can’t go around and say that the revelation of God’s Word can cause everyone to live in God’s perfect destiny! Why not? Are we afraid that maybe God’s Word does not mean what it says or maybe there are situations where it might not work in certain people’s situations? Faith is standing on the perfection and infallibility of God’s Word! Would it have made a difference in these women (and the men who they were involved with) if their parents (especially their father) had taught them, prayed with them, invested time with them and demonstrated God’s Word? Absolutely! If there is ever a circumstance where it seemed God’s Word did not work – it was not God’s failure.

God’s Word becomes activated according to the faith and obedience of the hearer! When God’s Word is planted and saturated into the conscience, it will produce the conviction to follow His guidance. Jesus does not lead us into ERROR or bad decisions. His Holy Spirit desires to LEAD us into God’s truth and walking in obedience to His Word produces the “Covenant life” he died for us to have.

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today in humility. We repent of our sins and ask you to reveal to us the attitudes of our heart that offend you. Forgive us of our lukewarmness and our apathy toward sin. Stir our hearts and rekindle the flames of our love and the burden for lost souls. Revive us O God and breathe on us the power of your Holy Spirit. We reverence your Holy Name and bow down before you worshipping and adoring you for who you are. We ask you to increase our compassion so that we might be more concerned with the needs of others. Teach us Your Word Father, that we might, in turn, lead others into your truth and help them find their purpose and divine destiny. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

CHAPTER 19

JUST ENOUGH OF GOD TO GET BY

Do you take God serious? What a simple question that has a tendency to prick the heart with either being offended or convicted. I have asked myself that question and to be honest with you, I am not sure that I do. Have you ever noticed that most of the time you do what you want to do? When I go to the doctor he tells me to lose weight and exercise and I say OK, but I really do not think about it again. Why? Because our will is directly connected to our brain and has far more control over us than we realize. When we do something we do NOT want to do, it is like swimming against the current. Our flesh is very easy to get along with – it only has a few demands and one of them is to stay satisfied and comfortable all the time. This includes going where we want, eating what we want, and speaking, spending, watching, listening, thinking and doing whatever we want – anytime we want! This might sound like a great life of independence and in fact this may even be included in the proverbial “American Dream”, but there is a huge problem with this picture. This is not to be confused with God’s idea of the “abundant life.” He is always considering the spiritual while our carnality is always thinking about the flesh. This is why we will never walk in His Spirit until we abandon our will and allow our mind to be renewed into His way of thinking. Jesus did not die on the cross so that we could do whatever we want – we could have done that without Him! He died so that we could lay down our independence and become totally dependent on Him (no wonder this way of living is not popular). His instruction manual has been carefully written and bound together in a beautiful book of promises, warnings, requirements and demands and He is very serious about us taking Him – “seriously.” We may be able to get away with many things in this life but our obedience to His Word will be weighed and considered on the scales of His holy sovereignty. “Blessed are they that do His commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). If we say that we are following His Word yet actually living however we want, we are being double-minded. If we believe this is OK with God – we are deceived.“A double-minded (two-faced) man is unstable (unreliable) in all his ways” (James 1:8). This spiritual instability is directly connected to lukewarmness and the lack of desire to stand SERIOUS in our faith.

Going back to the idea of independence, it seems through the years that the original intent of America pulling away from England was for the enhancement of their intimate relationship with Jesus. There must have been many people who truly loved God and believed that “liberty” to worship Him included a land of laws that protected their religious freedom. If we look at this closely, we can see the similarities of what Christ has in mind when the holy city Jerusalem will come down and sit upon the earth during the 1000 year millennial reign. The concept is that all the people who are excited and filled with adoration for God will celebrate Him as the King of Kings without any contrary opinions or distractions. The liberty that will be experienced in this realm will be the fulfillment of what other dreamers have envisioned since time began – “heaven on earth”. A realm of peace and love, and a place of beauty and unity among those who fear God and submit to His authority. Sadly, throughout the years, America created its own legal system that allowed every idea and heresy of the world to be included within the fabric of our society. The “holiness dream” of sanctification and purity was replaced with a corruptible mirage that promoted a false happiness (without God) as a deceptive lifestyle filled with jealousy, lust and pride. Christians have compromised the very convictions that many of their brothers and sisters died for. Instead of a humble and holy people of truth, the floodgates were opened to a sewer of lies, perversion and blasphemy. What is the American Dream? It has long been associated with the blessings of wealth and health (and these are good things) but when God and His Word are excluded from the equation, it becomes ugly and arrogant! As we observe our countries current spiritual condition (and the world in general) it is obvious that something has gone horribly wrong.

Would you agree with me that most everyone desires to be respected? Do you like to think of yourself as someone that others turn to when needing advice and wisdom? Do you like to be respected at work as someone who can be trusted and who can always be counted on to do the job professionally? In the spiritual realm, do you consider yourself a person of integrity, morality and sincerity? Allow me to share with what most of you already know is happening in our society. For several years now, Christians have fallen away from the world’s view of what is true. God’s Word has slowly been discredited from the institutions of higher learning until now the Bible is generally considered irrelevant to the problems and lifestyles of intelligent adults. The discarding of God’s Word has directly influenced the last several generations and thus has indoctrinated the the minds of much of active population that God is no more than an ancient philosophy. I must tell the truth; those who stand up and it make it clearly known that they are sold-out to Christ and eagerly practice evangelical Christianity will suffer greatly. Now, may I ask you a question? As the days become more difficult to follow Jesus, how long will you continue to stand for what you know is truth? Are you willing to be ridiculed, laughed at, scorned and made fun of for holding on to God’s Word? There is coming a day when anyone who claims to be a Christian will be treated as a mentally retarded person or someone that cannot be considered intelligent. This means that families will turn against their own loved ones and will not give any respect or admiration to those who would normally be foundational leaders. The shame and disrespect that Christ experienced when He went to Calvary will be the same spirit of hatred that will be focused toward those who love Him.

Allow me to give a recent example where two brothers had just filmed a series of real estate shows on HGTV called, “Flip it forward.” David and Jason Benham reported they were disappointed that the network had pulled the plug and canceled the show which was to debut in October. After the network announced the show was up-coming, the lobbying group Right Wing Watch labeled David Benham an “anti-gay extremist” and reported on statements he made against homosexuality and gay marriage. Both brothers made a statement that if their spiritual convictions were the reason for the cancellation then – so be it! I was thinking that if any of us were asked to give an interview on national television about what we believe pertaining to a long list of social issues, would we have the courage to answer honestly? Would you allow your personal reputation to be “shredded” for the sake of Christ? Is there any chance in the future that you will compromise what you know to save your security, your respect, your standing among your peers or even your life?

Some have told me over the years that I emphasize to much attention to the homo-sexual agenda. It is not my intent to focus on one particular sin however, I believe this specific perversion is “breaking down the wall” of conviction. In other words, this once vile and taboo sin is being pushed so aggressively and in a short amount of time is gaining not only a tremendous acceptance but is identifying and controlling the standard of social law. Within this compromise, the agenda of Satan is to “water down” the fear of God and respect for His holiness in the hearts of ALL people – Christians included. As this sin becomes perfectly normal and the idea of anyone who exposes this act as offending God and His intended way of living – Christians will be disregarded as having an intelligent voice. This one issue is being used as an identification of whom and what we are and as God’s people are labeled as hate filled extremist, Satan can proceed with his agenda without interference from God’s Word. The repetitive pounding of this particular sin in the papers, television, internet, magazines and even church is causing numbness and a calloused attitude toward sin in general. Sin is challenging our moral compass and is trying to relax our fear of being filthy. For many, the sensitivity of the heart is becoming hardened and the state of mind is slowly and subconsciously being damaged and distorted.

It’s a big world out there – and dangerous! We may think that with age we can see more clearly but even in that it still seems like peeping through a keyhole. As humans we are very limited in our learning because we associate truth with our interpretation of knowledge and many times this can go very good or very bad. In this light, the understanding of absolute truth can be beautiful and rewarding while misinterpreting knowledge can be devastating. When I was growing up I never thought about the power of knowledge or appreciated what it was in the eyes of men or God. I thought it was all about learning how to do things and then doing what I wanted to do. In no way do I want to shed a negative light on how I was brought up, my point is that I am convinced that having knowledge about God is not good enough – it is understanding knowledge that ripens into divine wisdom and this – is far beyond personal opinions. God is perfect truth and there is only one way to interpret Him. Truth is like a bull’s eye – either you hit it or you miss it. Is God dogmatic? Absolutely! Is God intolerant? Yes, again! I have recently heard people rebuke the saying that God loves the sinner but hates the sin because they evidently are persuaded that He accepts everyone exactly as they are. If this were true there would be no judgment and no eternal consequences. I believe we can say with all certainty that He loves everyone and is filled with compassion but His holiness will not allow Him to compromise with sin or error. There are foundations or “pillars” of truth that I call absolute truth and these cannot be argued no more than the reality of gravity. It is true there are some issues and mysteries that people can make strong cases for and against but these pillars can unite us together and allow us to see in one accord. We are unique individuals yet our mission is to absorb as much of His truth as we can so that we can become as much like Him as possible. This is the miracle of everyone having their own function “within” the body of Christ yet all being a part of the same body. We are always talking about “yielding our will” because the more we choose to surrender our identity the more easily we can be transformed into His image.

It is wonderful to know “about” God but the key has always been how to apply His divine reality into a daily (hourly) demonstration. This level of wisdom is the “revelation” of knowledge which separates those who are victorious overcomers in Christ from the ones who go round and round without accomplishing anything. This has nothing to do with personality or abilities; it has everything to do with how determined and SERIOUS we are to “change”. I have been expanding my garden area this spring and I cut a sycamore tree down that was at the edge of my plot of ground that I was working on. I had not thought much about the root system of the tree until I began to turn over the ground. I started hitting roots everywhere just under the dirt and before long, I had what looked like a huge octopus uncovered. I spent an entire day with a shovel, iron bar and axe clearing all those roots out, and as I was working the thought came to me that this might be an example of how desires, temptations, ideas, and the way we think are “imbedded” within our heart and mind. The Word of God is symbolized as a SEED that grows and develops within our conscience, so likewise outside influences and particular views that we have accepted through the years could also be deeply growing in our reasoning and perception. We not think much about removing them from our heart and if we did consider that they need to be extracted, we may not realize (or not want to think about) just how much “work” it will be. God’s plan for us to become transformed by changing the way we think was never advertised as being easy. He forgives us of our sins but that does not mean these fleshly desires are destroyed. Whose responsibility is it to dig up all of this deception and chop out all of those ugly weeds of carnality? You guessed it! It is up to US to examine the most inner parts of our being and take an inventory of the darkness, lies, pride and errors in our life that is hindering us from accomplishing our destiny. And believe me, much of what is in our mind could definitely use a chain saw and some weed killer.

CHAPTER 20

BEING READY WHEN JESUS CALLS

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord which exercises loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Our title this week causes one to think about preparing for the next life, but I am referring to being ready to serve and live NOW! The Lord has many things for all of us to do and there is no excuse to mope around and say you have done all you can do. We can start a prayer group or at least a prayer journal. We can ask the Holy Spirit where He wants us to give our money to bless someone. We can volunteer our time and energy to a local mission, food bank or shelter. We can start going to Wednesday night services to support those who are teaching and working in ministry. God is not being silent in this last hour! He is speaking to all who have (spiritual) ears to hear what He is saying. Knowing Jesus is THE MOST wonderful experience in this life and in the verse above we see that knowing Him is to realize that He desires to pour out His Spirit of truth and love to all people. He is waiting to empower and fill those NOW who are reaching out to Him in FAITH! 

I want to tell you a true story about what happened to me several weeks ago. I was scheduled for an interview at this church we have been attending lately, as I had applied to become their worship pastor. I had been practicing for a couple of weeks just trying to knock some dust off and was feeling good about the opportunity. I was feeling positive and looking forward to following whatever the Lord wants in my life until the day of the interview, when it seemed everything went sour. I had a frustrating day at work and ended up working much longer than I had planned. I became so sleepy on the way home that I collapsed in the bed for a power nap and ended up not having time to practice. On top of my anxiety, I had a headache along with sinus trouble and was growing hoarse. By the time I was ready to leave to my appointment I nearly called and cancelled because I just did not feel prepared or “in sync” with what I was getting ready to do. Yes, I was being ambushed! The enemy was breathing down my neck with his negative influences of insecurity and was doing everything he could think of to cause me to surrender. About half way there, I was asking Him to help me and in His presence I sensed that He was trying to get my attention. I know that prayers were going out for me and I believe with all of my heart that the Lord intervened in my situation. It came to me that I was like a designated hitter on a baseball team. They practice all the time and need to be ready even though they may not see action but just every now and then. They may sit for a week but when the game is tied in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the winning run is on third base, it is time to deliver. This is not the time to go crying to the coach about what a bad day you have had. When your name is called – that is not the time to allow your pity party to “derail” you and defeat your mission. I continued to listen intently to this scenario going on inside of my spirit; I felt the Lord say, “You can take one of two directions, you can go in there and whine about how you have been overwhelmed with anxiety and apologize for being in this weak condition – or you can lift up your head, put a smile on your face and walk in the faith and confidence that I AM going to do MY will THROUGH YOU!” He was trying to relay to me that it is really not up to my flesh anyway, so why do I believe that it is all up to how well I perform? Of course I wanted to do the best I could but it was more about TRUSTING Him beyond the way I “felt.” So, when I pulled up, His peace and love surrounded me and I could see things in a broader perspective than just focusing on poor pitiful me. I walked in like I was excited and greeted everyone with an air of charisma. We went into the sanctuary and they pulled their chairs in a half-circle, with me in the middle and began to ask questions and eventually wanted to know if I could play them a song. I played a song and they asked for another. I thought they might need to talk about the interview between themselves but they asked me if I could lead worship on a Sunday morning in the near future. I said of course and they put me on the schedule and I left knowing that God had strengthened me by His power. 

Let us remember that our enemy is going to try and stop us whenever we choose to follow God’s will by assaulting us with negative influences. This tactic works many times without him ever actually having to do anything else. In this light, we can see that in most situations it is our “reaction” to circumstances that makes the difference between failure or success. Selah. My wife reminded me the other day that she had heard a minister say recently that our first reaction to difficulties is to DO SOMETHING. We have an automatic security system or protective reflex in our subconscious that tells us we need to “deal” with the problem. How many have realized over the years that many things we cannot fix in our own power? What about times when we have done everything we can think of and we still have no progress or success? Instead of becoming so absorbed in trying to make something happen, we need to stop and see what God wants to do! I received a very encouraging letter this week from a fellow minister that said when we become exhausted of our own works and fall before the feet of God in frustration and humility – then God can begin to breathe life into us and truly start to use us!

We are always talking about how our spiritual eyes need to be opened and I agree completely, but what exactly are we trying to see? Our praise songs say that we want to “see” God and that is wonderful, but as awesome as it is going to be to someday see Him, it would seem even more breathtaking to get to KNOW Him NOW! If we continue in this way of thinking, to really know Him would be to know how He thinks, and to realize His thoughts and desires would allow us to have a revelation of what He expects from us. We have a tendency to not really spend a lot of time thinking about what we cannot see or feel because there are so many other things that are tangible and accessible in this natural realm that wants our attention. Humans are easily distracted and easily influenced. Selah. By the way, I did lead a Sunday morning worship service for the church and everything went great! They called me this week and said that I was one of the leading candidates but they had decided not to fill the position at this time. May the Lord use all of us in the right place and in the right time for His glory. I have spoken to several other people lately and there are some opportunities on the horizon. I just need to keep encouraging myself and being “ready” for when He calls.

For those of you that are a little discouraged and wondering what is going on with your spiritual mission – take the time to get alone with God and begin to write down all the things that He is blessing you with right now. If your joy is low, you can re-fill it anytime you want with quoting God’s Word that promises to love you and help you. Speak positive confessions OUT LOUD until your spirit overflows and convinces your mind and fills your heart! We must take the initiative to run into the name of the Lord where you will find peace, strength and safety.

CHAPTER 21

THE DELIVERER IS LISTENING

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and He delivers them. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The righteous cry and the Lord LISTENS, and delivers them out of all their troubles. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers them out of them all” (Psalm 34: 4, 6, 7, 15, 17, 19).

There are many things we can whine and complain about because we are surrounded by opposing forces! Of course we have difficulties and trials, but Jesus never said the Christian life would be without suffering and resistance. He did remind us that He would live within those who are His disciples and that His power was able to overcome anything that could come against us. Many times we forget that we are trying to live in a realm that is depraved and cursed while learning how to accomplish God’s will. Our flesh is perfectly at ease in this realm because it is a part of the default system. It is our newly transformed spirit that is an alien to this world and now has become our true identity. Our spirit is joined with God and our residence is in the heavenly dimension where God is sitting on His throne. It does not matter how dark it seems or how cold and harsh this environment can be – He is the central focal point of our life and we will trust Him completely no matter what happens! Our heavenly Father is filled with love and mercy and only wants the best for His children. Do you love Him today? Is He the center of your universe? Have you completely laid down your will at His feet in order to follow Him all the way? He is worthy of all glory and honor because of who He is! For what He has done for us – He deserves our devotion, commitment and obedience in all that we do and say! Amen. “Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you” (G. Mueller).

I have always known there is more to life than just stumbling around like a blind man that cannot think on his own. In the words of Tozer, “We might be wise to follow the insight of the enraptured heart rather than the more cautious reasoning’s of the theological mind.” In our search for contextual truth may we also remember the words of the great hymn, “turn your eyes upon Jesus – look full in His wonderful face – and the things of earth will grow strangely dim – in the light of His glory and grace.” If we want to become serious about loving and obeying God, we need to consider that life seems to come down to a simple list of priorities. This seems elementary doesn’t it, but we need to soberly think about it for a minute. If there is anything on the list that is above God – there is a serious problem and no doubt the reason for our internal chaos and confusion. Selah. Spiritual peace is found in the intimate relationship with Christ and the closer you are to the Lord – the more of His power and “victory” you will experience. There is nothing preventing you and I from becoming intimate with Him today. We can have as much of Him as we want and as often as we choose. “And now little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear , we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (I John 2:28).

I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room the other day and was reading an article by Barbara Taylor Brown called “finding God in the darkness.” I was curious as to where this was going because I immediately became defensive about how God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. However, I realized that our mission is taking place in a dark world and reaching out to Christ through this darkness is what brings us closer to Him. Of course He is the light of the world and He lives inside of us, but there is nothing necessarily wrong or bad with darkness. When we close the door to our closet, we find ourselves in the dark while seeking the light of His presence in our soul. Many times as we search for answers or solutions to our many problems, it is like we are swimming in the dark seas trying to find His hand that He might pull us up to safety. What we must remember is that we reach out to Him by faith even when we cannot see Him – it is all about TRUST. We must settle this issue in our heart and positively “know” that He is the highest authority and no one is more powerful than Him. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

We learned as a child to be afraid of the dark and the world has associated the darkness with the unknown evil and danger that will “get us” if we venture into it. When I was a young boy, my parents remodeled half of the attic (which became my bedroom and a playroom and the other half was left as storage). My dad built a wall and put in a door to the “dark unknown” but the fearful part was the rest of the family all slept downstairs on the other side of the house. I felt very isolated and often thought if the monsters did come after me – no one could hear my screams. Anyway, when I would lie down in my bed I could see that door and it made me very uncomfortable but on the other hand I would rather be able to see it than not be able to keep a check on it. I remember one night I was particularly a little jittery because I kept hearing things go “bump” in the night. I peeked from under the covers and saw that the door was wide open – I made a dash for the stairwell and nearly jumped completely down the stairs and ran into my mom and dad’s room so shook up I could hardly speak! I eventually learned to face the fear by exploring the attic and realized that it was just an old musty smelling place filled with junk. This is exactly what we need to do with all of our “grownup” places that we are afraid of and that make us anxious. I know people today that hate silence and do everything they can to avoid being alone with the quiet. Some individuals cannot sleep when it is still and I have even heard of people letting a hairdryer run on the nightstand just so they can have a background noise. Others cannot endure walking into a room without turning on the TV or driving without music because they feel very uncomfortable with silence. I personally love the silence because I am trying to hear the voice of God. Allow me to ask a question; if we struggle to hear God speak in the quiet times – how could we ever expect to hear Him in the chaos?

Yes, our journey can be dark at times and it has been mentioned as sometimes like a valley of the shadow of death, but His WORD is the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path. It does not matter where we are we can know that He is there! Allow me to say; there is no darkness too dark for God to see through! There is no problem or trial that is too complicated or hopeless that He cannot take care of it! He has always been known as El-Shaddai – the God who is MORE than enough! If you believe God cannot handle your situation – your god is too small! Amen! If you are not finding the answers you need today and feel that the Lord has forgotten you, I can promise that it is not because He is too busy or that heaven is having an economic crisis, budget cuts, or staff downsizing. When we find Christ in the secret place and become determined to stay there until we have heard His direction for us, we will no longer feel like a castaway on a deserted island. “I don’t know” is the most common response in the world, but life does not have to be this way. It is true that we have all the questions and He has all the answers, so what do you think is preventing you from knowing all that you need to know?

Maybe instead of running from the darkness we should embrace it because this is what keeps our perspective clear and honest. Do you think that a blind person could have a higher level of spiritual sensitivity? Why? Because they are not distracted or influenced by absorbing the sights of this world into their mind. If they are a Christian they have learned to turn INWARD and become more sensitive to His presence and more discerning to the highest dimension. Actually I believe it could be possible that a blind person could have excellent spiritual vision because they are learning the walk of trust from the inside out. God is pleased when He watches His children reach out to Him in their difficulties especially when they develop patience and confidence that He will use and guide all things into His perfect plan. There is a time to fight and a time to let go, a time to work and a time to rest, thus knowing when, where and how is the divine wisdom that comes from the depths of isolated prayer. Yes, the Lord responds to the cries of His people when they truly depend on Him with their life and fall before Him in obedience and humility. There may be times when it seems we are lost at sea, but it is not true because He knows exactly where you are and where He wants to take you. Our enemy wants to accuse us and say that God is tired of helping us and that He is finished with coming to our rescue, because he is terrified to think about what could happen in our life if we would become one with God! Satan knows that God has a plan for you and that it is filled with supernatural miracles and demonstrations of Holy Ghost power! The devil is working overtime to prevent you from going into your prayer closet and the secret places where you connect with God because that makes his job of rocking Christians to sleep much easier. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Do you believe that God is listening to your prayers? Revelation chapter eight talks about how He is not only hearing your prayers but they ascend before His throne and are offered with incense on the golden alter. Since God is listening, that means He is actively working on a perfect plan. Selah. He is ready to deliver and bring victory however, most of the time our long waiting period is caused by us refusing to spend quality time with Him. There is no fear – as long as you are holding His hand. Jesus knows where you are and is listening intently.

CHAPTER 22

WHOSE WILL IS BEING DONE?

I have some questions for you today. Do you have certain goals for your ministry that have not come to pass yet in your life? Do you often wonder when (and if) these visions will ever be manifested? Do you sometimes speculate that maybe you have done something to “prevent” your ministry from being much larger and more effective? To some Christians, these questions do not convict them at all because they have never really felt the call or any desire to become involved with a ministry. However, there are others that have sensed the drawing power and conviction of God to do some type of work for the kingdom and many times trying to find clear answers and obvious open doors are difficult and seldom found. This is why it is so important to pray for divine appointments and to develop spiritual discernment to learn how God is trying to intervene. If you are one of these that rides the roller coaster of desiring to be all that you believe He is calling you to be, but constantly run into obstacles and discouragement, there are solid points we can rest on and KNOW that God has not forgotten His plans for you or the abilities and anointing He has put within you! Actually, if you study the leaders of the faith (especially Christ) you will see their life was empowered yet filled with obstacles and rejection. Those who overcame realized the dynamics of determination and placed ALL of their trust in the revelation that God was their victory even in the trials! “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Number one: EVERYONE has a gift from God! The ones who say they have nothing to contribute are usually just trying to wiggle out of the commitment and responsibility to serve. Since this life is a training ground for the next life, it would be a good idea to recognize your gift and begin to find places where you can use it! Selah. You may be thinking that you do not want to get involved with other people or all the headaches that goes along with being a part of a team but allow me to remind you that you will be working in heaven and you will be involved with the entire assembly of heaven. The more we give of ourselves NOW the more God will bless us with later because we have earned His trust and followed His commands. In the parable of the talents, we must remember that Jesus Himself is teaching and was very serious about this issue. He was trying to focus and drive home the point about how what we do with what we have will be seen as a measuring tool of our thoughts and desires about our love for Him. If we respect His Word and the glory of His being, we will be intense about obeying His voice because we KNOW we will face Him one day and give an account of our attitude. Those who pray for wisdom and divine appointments and develop sensitivity of the Spirit will be watching and waiting for opportunities to do His will. Through the symbolism of this story, these overcomers (you and I) have been promised that in the next life we will be given authority to reign with Him. “His lord said unto him, well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mathew 25:23).

The reason I mentioned the fervency that Christ was emphasizing here is that we notice at the end of this story, He does not compromise or fail to deal with the consequences of laziness and rebellion. I am not sure the church has taught the importance of being actively involved with our calling and how much God is expecting from what He has given to us. Sadly, it seems the politics of church government does not want the people to become overly involved with demonstrating their calling because it would reveal the lack of need for paid ministry. “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” (Verses 28-29.) In other words, if someone becomes lazy or refuses to develop their spiritual gift, they will lose the ability to use that gift. However, for those who give their life into serving God and doing all they can to obey Him, they may end up doing more than they ever dreamed they could do. The organized church through the years has taken much of its style of government from the traditions of men and this representation of ministry causes many to rely on the compensated clergy to do the work of the Lord instead of Christians examining their own heart to discover their own destiny. God’s children will be held accountable for not listening to His voice as the sins of omission include refusing to embrace our responsibilities! The spiritual life is a gradual progression and development into an experienced warrior that serves faithfully on the frontline for the sake of all that is precious in God’s sight. The pastor has a specific office but every saint has the calling to be a minister of the gospel.

Number two: Everyone says they want to do God’s will – but many are just hoping that He will bless their own blueprints. These are the kind of statements that need repeating so they can be slowly absorbed into our conscience. Actually this must become a “revelation” of wisdom or it cannot be truly realized. You see, we can do many things in God’s name and lots of Christians are very bust with religious activity but the question remains are they doing what God said to do? Of course it is much easier to do the things we “like” to do or that we find familiar to us, but what about when we are asked to go out of our comfort zone? What do we do when we are faced with the decision to obey Him or try to think of everything we can to avoid Him? I believe that God is not as nearly impressed with “what” we do as much as He is with our willingness to obey. How many that were called to be missionaries have never stopped running away from what they know is true? How many that had the calling to be a minister yet have never yielded their heart to God’s service because they were afraid of what it might cost them? In fact, this is partly the reason why Christians in general live in denial because they fear what people might say and are not willing to abandon the things they hold dear. I keep going back to the rich young ruler but until this becomes a life changing reality within the very depths of our soul, we will only believe this was something just between Jesus and this man. Christ said that he had done well and was no doubt a respected man of the community but if he thought that he had attained the plateau of the Christian life – he was mistaken. Jesus was trying to explain how this man had designed the Christian life “around” all the things he loved so that everything fit perfectly into his imagination and plans for a comfortable life. Even though the young leader had done marvelous works – he had never really surrendered his will. And allow me to say that until we also come to terms with this wisdom and become enlightened to this same truth, our lives will never enlarge beyond how this man lived. God is not happy for His people to walk around “proud” of their religion or who they are in the eyes of the world, He is touched when He knows that someone has presented themselves completely to Him and is sincerely ready to do whatever He says! This is the highest level of spiritual living unto the Father. “And He (Jesus) was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:41-42).

Number three: Be ready to be rejected. If anyone thinks that spreading the gospel is like passing out twenty dollar bills – they have never tried it! I would say one of the most discouraging aspects of the ministry is the seemingly endless lethargic attitudes from those who know you are a Christian. And it is shocking, but many times you will find those who you thought were brothers and sisters in the faith are the ones rolling their eyes as an obvious way of NOT wanting to be associated with you. We remember that when Jesus was arrested and a young girl accused Peter of being one of His disciples. As the crowd became focused on this accusation, Peter fell apart and lost his courage to stand boldly with Christ. In his fear and anxiety of the moment, he angrily cursed and denied that He was a follower of Jesus in order to save his own skin. Of course he later regretted what he had done and cried because he knew he had failed, but the point is that we must be prepared for the rejection and lack of enthusiasm toward us – and Christ.

Allow me to say that in most cases across the board, the way people react to you and your calling is nothing “personal” – it is spiritual. Remember the old saying, “birds of a feather – flock together?” Everyone is an individual and has different desires, specific interest and hobbies that they usually try to make time for because people are captivated by what they love. Even Christians can easily have their priorities out of order and cherish several “idols” that take preference over being obedient to the Lord. For example, you would think those who follow Jesus would enjoy reading Christian books and articles about their faith or listening to Christian music that edifies and encourages their spirit – but that is not always the case. Many who call themselves Christians do not even read or study their Bible or worship God in any way. Sadly, many do not pray unless they have a personal crisis. So, if you write, sing, teach, give, or create any type of spiritual contribution to the body of Christ and expect those fellow Christians around you to be jumping up and down excited about your gifts and talents – you will probably be disappointed. It is NOT because they do not like you or believe that your ministry is not a quality and worthy cause, they are just not interested in it! There are so many distractions with technology that most people have chosen to NOT filter out the garbage and embrace the living Word. By the time they read the newspaper, magazines, surfing the net, texting, e-mailing, face-booking and watching TV in the evenings – there is no time left. People are allowing the enemy to steal their time and ultimately distort and diminish their spiritual life! We cannot change their heart or make them rearrange their desires; we can only pray they will return to their “first love.”

CHAPTER 23

TIME TO ARISE

I have mentioned lately about how important it is to know God’s direction. Can we know what He is telling us in these last days? I am confident that we can. Many are asking; how can we know what He is saying? I believe that sometimes it is more obvious than others, but overall from what I have experienced, it is usually more complex. We read in the Bible about the occasions when God would communicate as He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve, or He would speak out of the clouds with the children of Israel. Then we see Jesus coming to earth and talking with His people face to face, so I am convinced that God has always been willing to intervene with His creation but we must have an “ear to hear”. This makes me a theist and theism not only believes there is one true God as the intelligent designer of all things but that He is also personally involved in man’s everyday life. The Lord speaks into the soul and offers a wise path and everyone will either choose to listen – or live independently. In this light, if we are not detecting the heavenly signal we are seeking, we need to carefully consider that the problem is not with the message being transmitted but there may be something wrong with the receiver. Sometimes we need to find the instruction manual and discover why there is no connection.

Why is it important to know God’s direction? Well, I am persuaded to believe that everyone has a specific course to follow that has been chartered by our “Master navigator”. I call the plans that God has made for us our “spiritual blueprints” and they are very important to Him because He created each of us uniquely and custom designed our destiny into His overall vision. I realize that many people do not respond to His call and all of His plans do not work out like He desired but that does not mean He fails or does not find a way to accomplish His will. In my doctrinal belief system I do not consider myself either as a strict Calvinist or an Armenian but rather a student that is comfortable combining both of them together. As you know, a Calvinist leans very heavy on the idea of predestination which means that everything and everyone has been selected to turn out a certain way before the world was created. I can clearly see some things this pertains to but not everything (because of the reality of free-will). Armenians teach that God provided salvation through Jesus Christ and His covenant is offered to all humans and that His blood can redeem anyone who accepts His blood and His Word by faith. What does all this have to do with hearing God’s voice? Because if we believe everything is “locked in” and cannot change then we are more relaxed and do not worry about our spiritual responsibilities. If we believe that God has given us a toolbox and a mission to accomplish, we realize how He is waiting for us to “ARISE” and follow His voice. There is something wrong with thinking that our purpose is to float around in life like someone sight-seeing on vacation. If everything has been chosen (Calvinism) then whatever happens was God’s choice – even salvation. This seems to make the Christian life so easy and “automatic” that maybe it is part of the reason why many churches are asleep.

It is not rocket science to know that humans are always looking for the easy way in everything they do. One of the most intriguing benefits of having wealth is to live in comfort and ease. The rich usually do not pull their own weeds or wax their own cars; they pay others to do it while they relax by the pool. I am just saying that wealth can be used for good as long we can control it and not allow it to control us. When we accept Christ as our Lord, it is common knowledge that we are still listening to our old will and when it comes to issues like praying and worshipping, we have not yet developed the strength to control our flesh. Some Christians never pursue the discipline needed to harness their flesh because they do not want to. They are just not interested in wading out into the spiritual waters of maturity and have become perfectly satisfied with continuing in the old nature while confessing Jesus Christ as their Savior. This is the perfect idea of how to live a life of pleasure and eternal security or as some might say, “The best of both worlds.” Can you still catch the bus for heaven while living in this state of mind? Only God will decide who is worthy to enter into eternal life with Him, but since He is the perfect judge it would seem like a mockery to allow someone that was never interested in being a disciple to be rewarded with the glory of heaven. If Jesus is the Lord of the heart, He is the Master of the life and the King of an individual’s salvation. What does this have to do with hearing God’s voice? Everything! If we are living in a carnal state of existence, we could care less about what He is saying. Besides, if we are only concerned with our own needs and desires, we are not focused or even concerned with trying to find out what He wants us to do. Only those who are serious about pleasing Him are determined to find out exactly what their mission is.

So, how do we become serious about knowing God’s direction? I believe it can be said that everyone that is truly born-again will have the desire to draw near to God. For the lost, this life is a miserable, empty void that can only be temporarily entertained. This is why the lost are constantly watching something, doing something, talking or going somewhere. They must fill their mind with busy energy so they will not feel the “haunting” that exposes their life as hollow and destitute of meaning. People are afraid and do not want to face the TRUTH that they cannot be fulfilled or happy without Christ as their Lord. They will search the world for anything that can make them happy but Jesus is the ONLY answer to their agonizing loneliness. It can be boiled down to a simple way of thinking. If someone says they are a Christian yet they are not living the Christian life – they must be under conviction. Our new spirit cries out to God because it loves this state of purity and adores spending time in God’s presence. A child of God can automatically sense the constant conviction of the Holy Spirit because they are directly connected to Him. This is like when we become thirsty, we go get a drink and it is in this same concept that compels a child of God to spend time with Him and get things right. All of God’s children have this convicting conscience that desires to hear His voice, loves His living Word, sees the need for prayer, is grateful in Praise and longs to live in the peace that brings the deepest joy and the highest freedom! If a Christian has no desire for these things – something is wrong. We can conclude that either they are backslidden far away from God and it is a matter of time before the Shepherd intervenes with bringing them back to the fold – or they have been living within an emotional religious experience and have never truly been born-again. So, in other words, if anyone is truly a saint of God – they will become serious about abandoning their will and surrendering their life completely to God’s will. This group of believers is called a remnant which identifies them as a small group within a larger assembly. There is a church within a church which means not everyone that goes to church is a member of the body of Christ. When the rapture happens some churches will still have those who were deceived. Love has nothing to do with an organization or an affiliation; it is all about Jesus sitting on the throne of the heart. When He is the LORD of a life – that life is under His control. These are the victorious overcomers that will be persecuted and martyred in the last hours. These are the ones that have suffered loss through the years and know what the word sacrifice means. They wanted to hear God’s voice and live for Him so much that they gave Him exactly what He wanted – their heart.

This brings us to our next step in desiring to hear what God is speaking to us. Just how desperate are you to know what God wants you to do? We can sit around and wait for invitations and opportunities to fall out of the ceiling but many times this only brings more discouragement. And there are times when a door does open but we quickly analyze it and decide that we are not really interested in doing that. After we have exhausted all the ideas, schemes and dreams of our imagination we are left with one simple yet challenging option (which by the way is a guaranteed answer that will give us what we are seeking). Prayer. It is strange but understandable that humans are willing to climb Mt. Everest for a sign or walk the scorching desert to search for the meaning of life but cannot face the reality that God simply wants to talk with them. In a conversation there is talking and listening (many have never realized this) nonetheless, most of us have no problem doing all the talking because we always have so many whims. It is true that praying is the perfect time to “unload” our troubles and all the problems that are causing us turmoil and heartache but the most important part of a conversation with God is what He wants to say (and I’m sure He would agree).

This is the part we have so much frustration with because it seems at times we go on and on but never hear any response. It is confusing and discouraging to keep seeking an answer without ever finding one (unless of course He keeps sending what He wants us to do but we keep thinking that surely this is not from Him). It is like going to the psychiatrist and telling them what is wrong but not really liking their solution and having no intention of taking their advice. So what do you suggest for us to do? To begin with, prayer in itself is difficult because our flesh is fighting us the entire way – but if we add fasting to our intercession this will take us into another level of spiritual communication. Much of the time, the devil does not need to worry about us praying because he knows our carnality will probably be strong enough to resist our spiritual determination. I am reminded of the disciples trying to stay awake and watch with Jesus as He was doing some “serious” praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was captured. “And He (Jesus) cometh to His disciples, and found them asleep, and said unto Peter, what, could you not watch with me one hour?” (Mathew 26:40). (How could we possibly think that God is not asking us this very same question?). Nonetheless, when we include fasting as a strategy to deny our flesh and increase our spiritual awareness, the enemy notices and will be compelled to attack our intentions. Satan is an expert in spiritual warfare and he recognizes the difference between whining to God and having a serious conversation with Him. When the devil sees that God is giving directions and the individual is taking notes, he becomes nervous and intimidated because he feels the gates of hell shaking.

We can moan and groan our entire life and cry big tears over how we have failed and missed the Lord. We can throw the biggest pity-parties around and feel sorry for ourselves because it seems our mission was not accomplished. Allow me to say sincerely that these are real emotions; they are legitimate hurts and pains that we experience within the depths of our heart. I know that it is agonizing to go through life with a sense of disappointment and sadness BUT – it is never too late to change our situation and turn our life around! How does God feel about His children who feel down and discouraged because they have no direction? God has never intended His people to drift on the Ocean in a rubber raft of despair with no hope of being rescued! Yes, there are wilderness experiences and times of loneliness and doubt, but conveying His plans to each of His children have always been important to Him. He did not send His Son Jesus to die so that we could walk around this earth blind and confused. Salvation includes opening the eyes of our spirit so that we can SEE who He is, who we are, and how we are to help others. Our direction will not be understood looking with our natural eyes – it will be discovered when we begin to listen from within our heart. The secret place is not a location but our intimate relationship with Him wherever that might be. Why did He mention about His “still small voice?” Because when we are snuggled close to Him – we are quiet and can hear clearly as He whispers softly.

The title, “TIME TO ARISE” does not mean for us to jump up and do something. This message is calling us to arise from our slumber with prayer and fasting in order to be in “position” to hear His voice. It’s time to stop “talking” about praying – it’s time to arise and pray.

Father of all things, we adore you and come before you with honor and reverence. I cry out today for your mercy to please help open my eyes to your truth. We know that you understand our problems and you hear every word we say. You realize what we need more than we do and you desire for us to listen to your instructions. Help us Lord, for we are very weak and needy of strength. Motivate and inspire us to yield our will. Teach me how to listen for your voice and the skill of learning how to constantly be aware of you. Help us to take baby steps with abandoning our carnal nature. It is the ONLY way we will ever walk with you and become aware of your presence. Lord, it is one thing to know your direction but it is another level of maturity to accept it and do it. I declare to you this day that I am serious about following your voice and knowing your mission for me. I will fast and pray until I hear from heaven. I am more determined than ever to not let go of this burning desire to know your will until I can see more clearly. I know that you are speaking – the problem is that I am not coming close enough to hear you. By faith I wait on your plans and the open doors of your divine appointments. I am focused, I am serious, and I am committed to you with ALL of my heart. In the Holy Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.”

CHAPTER 24

FANNING THE EMBERS OF LOVE

Say not ye, there are four months, and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white (ripe) already to harvest. And he that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit unto life eternal: that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together.” (John 4: 35-36) As Christians, the concept of evangelism includes “producing” or birthing new people into God’s Kingdom by spreading the gospel. We believe and teach that God’s Word has the power to transform those who reach out to Jesus by faith. We are supposed to know that it is our responsibility to sow His seed and be a witness unto the world so the lost might “see” Christ and be drawn to Him by the Holy Spirit. This is certainly the heart of the great commission to “multiply” and expand God’s flock however, I believe there has been one crucial component that has been left out of this divine process over the last 75 years and that is – actually doing it! It seems the same problem keeps coming up over and over, we realize how we should be a light and salt, we have read many salvation tracts and have listened to many missionaries tell their stories, but it seems our burden is NOT burning brightly because we have forgotten that WE are missionaries! Is it possible that many have never had the revelation of God’s truth about how we are being held accountable for interceding as a soul-winner? Could our level of love be so low that we are embarrassed and we have no burden for other people’s souls? Maybe Christians are NOT living holy in front of those they know and CANNOT be a witness because no one respects their spiritual walk! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

The church is a wonderful place to learn about being a witness and to even practice the skills of sharing the gospel, testifying and teaching, but where did we ever come up with the idea that this is the ONLY place we “demonstrate” our obedience? We learn and develop our skills to minister in the safe environment of the assembly – so that we can be “equipped” to minister the gospel in the harsh realities of this dark world. It seems that many would rather stay in boot-camp and hide behind the walls of the church instead of developing an awareness of God’s presence outside of their comfort zone so that our peers can “see” what a good soldier we are. In the real world it is difficult to discern God’s divine appointments if we are not “looking” for them. Awareness takes effect when we ask Him to open our eyes and then EXPECT to be used as a “light” of His love wherever we are. If we choose to stay focused and distracted with our own agenda, we will walk right past the ones that God wanted us to intervene with. He is always trying to get our attention but many times we are just too busy or uninterested to get involved.

We must also include in the world of evangelism that many consider the “lost” as heathens in third world countries that are deceived or criminals and bad people that are psychotic monsters. This might be partly true, but we also need to re-focus our attention from the “world” and become aware of the truth that the lost also includes those we work with and even individuals in our own family! It is much easier to see evangelism as something that missionaries do for a living instead of embracing the burden and looking into the mirror to understand that our mission is the same. It does not make any sense that we would go to church and put money into the offering plate for world missions while ignoring our responsibility to evangelize and teach our own children and be a testimony unto our own friends and family! We can talk about spiritual leadership all day long but if we do not include the ones we know and love – we have missed the point! If the head of the house guides the family into the Lord and obeys God’s voice, there will be a beautiful expression of God’s love and wisdom that will be produced. I am not saying there will not be challenges or trials, but we have been promised that if we do our part, God will provide the miracle power that is needed to touch a heart. There will be many arguments about this and many will be offended because they are frustrated and have experienced much failure in this area but this does not mean that God’s principals are not true. People are quick to point out that all truth has exceptions but I can say without being ashamed that we must hold on to our faith. If God and His Word are not perfect and if He has even the slightest possibility of failing, then we might as well throw it all in the garbage, live however we want and hope for the best. God is all about perfect order and us following His divine instructions to the letter – then and only then will He release the miracles and blessings that is a part of His will that was envisioned before we were born. God has a plan for each person – but just because someone rejects His salvation it does not mean that God has failed. He placed Godly mothers and fathers in the home to teach and live as an example to the family and this is our first and most important mission field.

Sadly, many believe that life is just a card game and whatever happens – happens. They may ask someone to please pray when someone is in the hospital or is facing a prison sentence but overall they just live day by day believing in their own intelligence and laboring in their own strength. This is NOT the way we are supposed to live and certainly NOT the Lord’s idea of the Christian life! God has given His instruction manual and when we yield our will and allow Him to be our Lord, it is our obedience that enables His Spirit to operate and activate the power of His revelation wisdom into our life. You see, God does not play the games of chance. He does not look at us in the morning and spin the roulette wheel to cause or prevent us from having a good day or a day filled with tragedy. Many of the things that happen in our day to day lives are consequences that are related the acts that were spoken or committed or not spoken and omitted. I said, “Many” not all, because there are other circumstances that involve His plans and no human has the answers for the many other unexplainable events that happen. I am a counselor for the Kentucky emergency crisis response organization and the most frequently used word in crisis is “why” (which very rarely anyone has an answer for). My point is that God works within such a system of principals and order of perfection that our sensitivity and obedience has a direct influence on not only things around us but also how they affect our life. It is the Lord Almighty that causes things to happen – who prevents things from happening and who can stop whatever IF HE WANTS TO! This is the kind of authority that makes the crooked places straight and makes a way where there seems to be no way! This is the miracle power that changes circumstances, opens doors and allows the world to see the GLORY of God!

Let us go another step in this subject. We seem to have the idea that everything that happens is God’s will. I was raised with the doctrinal view that believes God chooses everything to do or not to do which makes everything His decision. There is some truth in this concept but He never intended or led anyone into sin and sin is the root cause why many bad things happen. The sovereignty of God is a huge and controversial subject because it means that God can do (or choose not to do) whatever He desires and it is not my intention of going into this now, however to continue on the subject of evangelism, we must acknowledge the fact that understanding revelational truth and fervent faith can and does play a significant role in what happens to us and those around us! Let us be very simple for the sake of time and ask the question; does living close to God make any difference in eternity? Are there deeds that can be done that will literally have a life-changing effect on certain people and have an eternal impact on their soul? If we answered yes, then we must accept the fact that us choosing to obey Him within our free-will accomplishes His foreknowledge and has a direct impact on our destiny! Just because He wants someone to do something – that does not mean they will do it! Those who choose to listen and be used in the confidence and boldness of His anointing will be rewarded with joining God’s passion to save the lost. Even if we have not been used in the entire conviction process, He will recognize and bless our spiritual sensitivity within His divine appointment. “And herein is that saying true, one sows, and another reaps. I sent you to reap where you bestowed no labor: other men labored, and you entered into their labors” (John 4: 37-38).

It is not difficult to stop and look around and see the consequences of ignorance. I use this word in the sense of being “unlearned.” Let us look at a few more words that are directly related to this word as defined by the Oxford dictionary; “unknowing, unaware, unenlightened, in the dark, oblivious, uneducated, uninformed, ill-mannered, rude, discourteous, boorish, and impolite.” For those who do not know what their responsibilities are, The Lord allows time for learning and development but what about the elders in the faith that refuses to become involved with soul winning? This lack of concern reveals a serious problem. Once upon a time in this country, there was a common belief that God was absolutely true and every other spiritual idea was confused. You could go anywhere in the eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds, and find that most people believed in the reverence and respect for the God of the Bible. God’s Word was thought of as the highest power and anyone connected with His kingdom were considered humble servants of integrity. In today’s world system that embraces the philosophy that every religion is just another road to heaven, it is more difficult to proclaim the gospel of Christ as the “only” way with God. This is why it is so crucial that we as Christians listen carefully and follow His instructions. It is not how much we preach or hand out tracts – it is asking Him for a burning passion of LOVE, to abandon our will and have the courage to “LIVE” what we know.

CHAPTER 25

REVIVAL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RELIGION

Lord, I come to you now, knowing that you see me and are listening to my cries. “Your eyes are on the sparrow, and I know You are watching me.” realize that for me to be effective, I must be in position to be used. This only takes place when I become obedient to your voice and willing to do what you are saying. Please give me a burning desire to draw closer to you (not so that I can do more works) but only because I love you. I know you have a specific place for me to serve, but I must deal with my attitude. When I become usable – you will move me into my place. If I keep trying to do it myself, or take control of the situation it is only going to delay and hinder the situation. All I need to focus on is to make sure my heart is right and that I am sold-out to your will. I do not want to compromise with playing games in the religious system. I believe that others are suffering from not listening to your Holy Spirit. Many have brought much of their discouragement on themselves because they have observed false ministries that have prospered from compromising your truth. People are able to do many things but very few are ready to lay down their agenda. I would rather live isolated but in your presence – than to be world renown without you.

I pray that you will touch my body and make me whole. As I grow older, I have aches and pains and I reach out and touch the hem of your garment I ask today that you purify and cleanse me. You are the Great Physician that has all power and authority and I release my faith according to your Word. You are the Healer and desire to restore and perform miracles and I confess and receive them today in Jesus Name. Deliver me from that which is trying to hurt and kill me and empower me with Your anointing. Protect me from the attacks of the enemy and reveal to me any open doors that are allowing me to be ambushed. I repent from my sins and ask you to wash me clean. Purify my heart with the refining fire of your love. I confess victory and choose life this day and believe in faith that you are guiding and intervening on my behalf for your glory, in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Many may think it is strange to pray for one’s self but actually it is not. The reason why people overlook this is because they do not feel they need anything at the present time or are convinced that spiritually they are OK the way they are. If we think everything is fine just because we are not having any major problems, we are not seeing clearly. In reality, we are a very desperate people that are in constant need of God’s touch. It is possible for the pride of our independence to deceive us because our nature does not want to rely or commune with God about the direction of our life. Remember the old hymn, I need Thee?

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord, no tender voice like Thine can peace afford. I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby, temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh. I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain, come quickly and abide, or life is vain. I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will, and Thy rich promises in me fulfill. I need Thee every hour, most Holy One, oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son. I need Thee, Oh I need thee – every hour I need Thee – Oh, bless me now my Savior – I come to Thee.”

We were never created to live on our own but God’s idea was for us to walk “with” Him. Many have never realized this is God’s world and He created everything in it (including us) to worship Him and to obey Him. This can only be done in a humble, submissive attitude of love and wisdom. Big news alert – God will not resuscitate or bless anything that is acting or pretending to be religious! Why not? Because religion is an idol that tries to compete for God’s attention. It is the generic impostor that presents itself as the genuine for the purpose of leading souls away from the Almighty. I would also guess there are not many people praying for revival either. Why would you say that? Because they think everything is OK the way it is. Sadly, when people do pray for revival, many usually do not understand what they are asking for because it is not what they are convinced it is. Most people think revival is where God blesses what we have been trying to do. If we think that more people will bring more money into the church so that new can purchase or do more things, we have been derailed in our thinking. The real definition of revival means to be renewed and transformed back to GOD! To be revived is to be brought back from the dead – but not to be restored back to our old cold, religious state of being. God is not interested in pouring out the healing power of His Spirit so that He might enhance our man-made programs and advertise our political agendas. He desires for people to throw away their preconceived ideas so that He can do what He wants to do. He is all about saving souls and renewing the minds of those who are seeking His face. He desires to bring the revelation of His Word so that individuals can begin to see what life is all about – and begin the “change” process. He wants His children to be followers of His voice – not followers of a denomination. He despises the petty doctrines of man and the twisted arguments that corrupt the conscience with carnal arrogance. I actually believe God is calling many of His true saints OUT of the organized chaos of religion because the sin of unbelief has caused the Lord to take away the candlestick of the assembly and He has backed away from these masquerade parties that many are calling church. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such TURN AWAY. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the TRUTH” (II Timothy 3: 5, 7). If you are one of God’s children that has been called out of the religious system, do not be discouraged but rejoice in knowing that He is watching over you and guiding you into His will. “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom thou has 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” (II Timothy 3: 14-15).

The future of the religious church will continue down the broad path of absorbing the sins of the world and focusing on entertaining the carnal nature. This seeker sensitive approach to ministry is replacing God’s truth with a deceptive presentation that brings comfort, relaxation and a false security. Without the conviction of God’s balanced Word the Holy Spirit cannot convict the heart to repent or be enlightened with revelation wisdom. The future of the remnant bride will continue to include solitude, rejection, mockery and persecution. II Timothy, 3:12, reminds us,“Yea, and all that will live GODLY in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” The true church will become hated as Christ was hated by the religious masses. I am concerned to say that followers of Jesus will be outcast from their own families and targeted as heretics, hatemongers, blasphemers and a menace to society, but the Words of God will come to pass exactly as they were prophesied, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance (conflict) against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Mathew 10: 34-36). Being led of the “Spirit” is the most common Christian subject to talk about and yet hardly ever practiced. We all wonder why the church world has surrendered much of its power and influence yet it refuses to let go of control. In the past it was common to hear about revivals and tent meetings and we looked forward to seasons of spiritual awakening and refreshing, but much of the excitement has faded because the enthusiasm to live a sanctified life has become weak.

Revival is not a blanket that covers a multitude of people all at once as much as it is a “personal” conviction that God is trying to get our attention about changing US! The foundation for revival always originates from prayer and the realization that we are desperately in need of a touch from God. Repentance is the fuel that prepares and ignites revival for the purpose of establishing an awareness of our responsibility to live holy before God in order to draw nearer to the Lord and be a witness and testimony to the world. It is no secret that the flesh hates to be conformed to God’s Word and our old nature has no desire to allow Christ to sit on the throne of our heart. The undisciplined lifestyle of Christians comes from giving in to the temptation to be led by the un-renewed mind and this will hardened the heart and reinforce an evil rebellion in those who consider themselves decent and moral. However, deception means that a person is blind but does not realize it! The reason why revival has lost its popularity is because people would rather look the part of a religious person than actually walk with God. I know many people that are members of churches that lead heathen lifestyles. I know none of us are perfect but how could anyone that lives as a hypocrite, be relaxed and comfortable under the anointed preaching of God’s Word? Who has the courage to speak the truth? Abandoning our carnal will has been replaced with religious entertainment because people are more attracted and interested in a soft soothing message of comfort and prosperity than the piercing, (reviving) spiritual realities of God’s truth.

CHAPTER 26

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN?

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are “buried” with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so should we walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4).

What are the consequences of sin? Some might say this is a crazy question because we should know that God hates sin – and does not want anyone to sin. I am reminded of the insurance commercial that says, “Everybody knows that” but I believe (even in the Christian faith) there is much confusion about this topic. The above verse says that we should walk in “newness” of life which we all can agree this means to be holy like He is holy, but what about when Christians choose to hold on to the old sins? I am not talking about mistakes or stumbles but rather intentional pet sins that we love and have no plans to be delivered from. My question is; can we live in direct disobedience to His will and still lead a happy, peaceful life in His presence? “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). When trying to learn more about what God expects and what our responsibilities are concerning sanctification and personal holiness, it is important to know what is true so that we can become all that He has called us to be. I have been around long enough to finally realize that humans are very sneaky and conniving creatures that take advantage of their superior brains which in turn gives them the ability to act one way while secretly thinking and living the opposite.

When Jesus mentioned how that we as adults need to become more like “little children” I know He was referring to returning to the state of innocence but I can also see a common attribute in children where they can think of everything in the world to manipulate and justify their schemes in order to get what they want. This standard feature of being able to deceive unfortunately many times does not change but actually becomes more sophisticated as we grow older. The sad truth about this life of game playing is how humans are very convinced that they can outsmart and trick God with all of this. It is almost like when a child watches their parents out of the corner of their eye and attempts to take another piece of chocolate candy without them seeing. How many people live their daily lives believing that they can say, think and do whatever they want with every intention of getting away with it? Allow me to ask a question; do you think that since Jesus died on the cross and paid for our sins, that we can now sin all we want and not worry about it? Do you believe there are times when God shrugs His shoulders or just looks the other way when it comes to our sin? Let us continue and take a closer look at how God feels about our behavior.

I know about a situation that happened several years ago where a young woman committed a huge mistake and it ended up costing her job and her husband. When trying to reach out for counseling and possible reconciliation, a pastor said that her husband should divorce her because they were un-equally yoked together. The young woman wanted to know the meaning of this statement and the pastor replied that it was “impossible” for a Christian to commit such a sin and that obviously she was lost and did not know God. This story causes me to ponder about just how far a Christian can “cross the line” but then I remember King David was a man after God’s heart yet made a huge error in his life that brought much pain and damage. I believe we can say that the dark nature of humans can still be “activated” within the Christian if they allow their thoughts to take control. Yes, we are supposed to be focused on Christ but our free-will is always present and ready to cooperate with our flesh. We also know that if we do fall into a terrible sin and even if we end up in prison, God’s mercy and grace can forgive us if we have a broken and contrite heart and in repentance ask Him to forgive us. This still does not answer my original question about how or if a Christian can continue living in premeditated sin their entire life while still enjoying the blessings and fullness of the glory of God. We know the origin of sin came from Adam and Eve but where does sin originate in our personal life? You guessed it! Our mind.

Every sin that is committed comes from a thought and deeds that we have been called to do that we DO NOT do, comes from the absence of thinking. If you have ever grown weary of me or anyone else constantly talking about how our mind needs to be renewed, this is one of the big reasons for the emphasis. It only makes sense that the more we can harness our thoughts – the more holy we can become. Of course we need to DESIRE to live holy or all of this talk just becomes blah – blah – blah. It bothers me that myself and probably many more people like me would rather listen to messages that are filled with the promises of blessings. I realize the subject of sin is something most people are trying to avoid. The “seeker sensitive” idea for many churches today uses a strategy of avoiding the topic of sin because it is feared that it would make individuals uncomfortable. Their plan is to play rock music and talk about psychology instead of telling the truth and allowing the Holy Spirit to do God’s work. For those who do recognize the need for mental discipline as a foundation for sanctification, we can base our energy and vision on the solid rock of His Word. “Casting down IMAGINATIONS, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity EVERY THOUGHT to the obedience of Christ. And having in a readiness to revenge (avenge) all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Corinthians 10:5-6). Have we as Christians forgotten that it is our responsibility to govern and rule our mind so that God can rule our heart? Do we believe that since our sins have been forgiven that we do not need to worry about being holy? I hope not.

I had a lengthy conversation with a Christian the other day about a certain topic in which they were entangled (which was about a specific sin) and they finally admitted that they knew it was a sin against God. They went on to say that occasionally they felt dirty inside however, they were also quick to point out that according to their view of life the whole world sins every day and that sin was sin. In their justification of this lifestyle they had measured the good and bad and felt confident that not only God would understand but that He would lovingly welcome them into His heaven when they pass from this life. The concept behind this theology is that God loves sinners and has mercy on our weaknesses. I listened for a while and finally said this is true within the context of our knowledge and His sovereignty but followed with saying this particular sin that we were talking about is a willful, INTENTIONAL lifestyle choice that is offensive to His holiness. It was like an arrow had been shot into their heart and the conversation changed directions into something completely different. I realized the Holy Spirit had provided the conviction but the rebellion was standing its ground. The little child was stomping its feet and having a tantrum while screaming “I don’t care if it’s wrong – I want it! When they left it dawned on me – are we all not the same way? I wondered if this was a divine appointment of if I should have maybe went even further but I could definitely sense this was a tender area that did not want to be touched. Don’t we all justify what we love and are we all not guilty of protecting our sinful thoughts? I thought we were supposed to be casting them down. I believe in order to become a “more improved” follower of Christ; we need to not only examine the truth about sin but also do some intense cleaning within the hidden chambers, attics, basements and secret places within our heart. These are messages that need to be spoken but many times the speaker is too embarrassed to expose their own problems and weaknesses.

I realize that we usually sin everyday but I also not proclaiming that we “must” continually sin by always complaining how the devil made us do it because sadly, we are quite capable of committing our fair share of trespasses completely on our own. I also am not trying to be negative by implying that we will probably not attain to a level where we do not sin, but if we could ever develop an awareness of His presence, we could certainly improve from where we are. The Nazarene denomination is a group of Christians that are convinced that it is possible for an individual to reach a level of perfection or sinlessness. It’s called, “entire sanctification” and comes from the teachings and doctrines of John Wesley. I have heard Bible teachers Present the idea that sin is not something “we must do” because they believe that most of our trespasses can be avoided and can be traced back to the willing choices that we make. The question that needs to be asked is not whether our sins are covered under the blood of Jesus but what about explaining the fine details and small print clauses that reveal just how this process works and what it includes. We know that if we confess our sins and repent with Godly sorrow that He listens and responds by forgiving us. However, what happens when someone is involved with a sin and does not ask for forgiveness neither do they even worry about it because they are convinced that the sins of a Christian are “automatically” washed away? Will there be any type of judgment for unrepentant sin in this believer’s life? I want to continue with these thoughts in the next message, but in closing I just want remind us that we are to hate sin. We are not to view sin as exciting, thrilling, interesting or entertaining. Sin makes God sick and angry and He is very offended when we allow it to dominate our life. It always comes back to the importance of developing an awareness of what we are thinking which directly effects our walk with God. The closer we are in our love relationship with Him the further away from sin we should run. To hold onto sin with one hand and hold God’s hand with the other is living in deception.

CHAPTER 27

ARE YOUR SINS CAPTIVATING OR NAUSEATING?

For in that He (Jesus) died, He died unto sin once: but in that He lives, He lives unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be DEAD indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. LET NOT SIN therefore REIGN in your mortal body, that you should OBEY it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but “yield” yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:10-13).

It is relatively clear with the above scripture that Jesus died once for the sins of ALL people. This may sound like a simple (non-controversial statement) but before we go any further allow me to mention again that the Armenian view believes that His blood paid for everyone’s sins but in the end only the ones who receive this sacrifice by faith will be adopted into God’s plan of salvation. The Calvinistic view embraces the doctrine of limited atonement or in other words Jesus only died and redeemed the elect that God not only foreknew but predestined from the foundation of the world. They believe that if Christ has truly paid for everyone’s sins – then redemption should be seen as total reconciliation of all souls. This is a wonderful conversation that we can study some other day but for now, let us continue with our topic. We notice in verse 10 that Christians are to be identified with the death and resurrection of Christ as a type and shadow with the reality of us DYING or being DEAD to sin and then being born-again and transformed by the power of God into a new creature. The scripture goes on to remind us that since this drastic change has occurred within our being, we are now equipped and enabled to begin fresh and live holy as He is holy. Notice carefully, verse 12 does not imply that being controlled with sin AFTER we have obtained the revelation of sanctification is an option or a luxury. The passage strongly emphasizes the strict “command” and discipline needed in the individual to NOT ALLOW sin to control the mind. Remember last week we talked about the origin of sin coming from our thoughts and in verse 13 we see that yielding or abandoning our WILL allows us to abide in the spiritual sensitivity and personal intimacy with God that is needed to resist temptation. Everyone will serve whom they love as the Lord of their life (whatever it is) and will not only allow but invite these idols to dictate their direction!

It is common to hear people say, I cannot live holy because I am weak, helpless, a pitiful sinner and filled with failure. Many will confess that it is impossible and not realistic to live without falling captive to sin, but allow me to present a simple thought; if we do not consider holiness as a possible state of being, it is most likely that our subconscious state of thinking will NOT even try. We can view this mentality as being similar to standing at the base of a mountain and proclaiming there is no way to climb to the summit, even though we can see through binoculars there are several that are at least half-way there. Many times we forget that in spiritual warfare the attitude of demonstrating faith is a crucial strategy that can make the difference in victory or defeat. Like I have said before, we will probably never reach a sinless existence on earth, but may we also not allow our flesh to discourage us by giving us a perfect opportunity to use our carnality as an EXCUSE to live in disobedience. If we do not ATTEMPT to live holy or THINK about living in purity, we will not be as discerning to His conviction and actually fall into darker iniquities more easily. Our old nature is always looking for a reason to give-up and I promise that if we receive counsel from our flesh, its advice will be, “don’t worry about sin – do whatever you want and enjoy it.” It is like soul winning – if we are not aware and do not have a burden for souls to be saved; we will not spend a minute in prayer about it or even be looking for an opportunity to witness to someone.

Proverbs 23:7 says,“For as he thinks in his heart – so is he”and this little verse is packed with a storehouse of revelation wisdom. Whatever CONSUMES our thoughts, our focus, our love, our dreams, and our passion – this is what we will become! If our determination is to live holy, what is there to stop us but our own choices? If we are NOT concerned that sin is an offense to God, we will continue to live a double-minded, lukewarm, defeated life. Whenever we choose to listen to our old nature we are vulnerable to being tricked by our own internal rebellion. Our carnality is so clever that it can function as a defense attorney on behalf of Satan and the kingdom of hell because it has not only been influenced but highly trained and skilled at presenting “half-truths.” The flesh will argue that we are now set free from the old law and have been given spiritual liberty and peace through the grace, mercy and love of God. This is true but at the same time can be twisted and taken out of context according to God’s bigger picture of absolute truth. Just because we are no longer under the law does NOT mean that God has changed His view about sin. He did not send Jesus to suffer and die so that our life could be one continuous party. We rejoice, celebrate, praise, worship and are grateful for our forgiveness and deliverance FROM sin – NOT because now we can sin all we want!

For sin shall NOT have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law but under grace? God forbid. Do you not know, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6: 14-16). I admit it is difficult to understand how we can reason within our mind and come up with such strange ways of justifying our desires. It is like we have the ability to “customize” our own way of living as we carefully put all of the puzzle pieces together to satisfy our own pleasure and contentment. Our emotions are very deceiving because they have the power when working in cooperation with our carnality to give us peace and confidence even when we are horribly wrong. Selah. Listen as these verses continue the context of the thought. “For when you WERE servants of sin, you were free from righteousness. What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ASHAMED? For the end of those things is DEATH. But now being made FREE FROM SIN, (having nothing to do with sin) and becoming servants to God, you have your fruit unto HOLINESS, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6: 20-22). It is very interesting to note the word “ashamed” because this is what comes to mind when in the Garden of Eden, God came calling for Adam in the cool of the day and Adam was embarrassed to come out because he was naked. I believe this guilty “state of being” is running rampant within the church and has caused the Christian presence in general to become cold, weak and spiritually dry. When any Christian is being controlled by sin, they are living in a long-distance relationship with God which in turn drains them of the power and faith to live as a red-hot flaming minister of the gospel. When we are living in dis-obedience we are afraid of Him and lose our boldness and confidence which comes from being pure. When we openly enjoy the darkness and corruption of sin, we do not want to walk and hold hands with Him because we know we are wrong and need to repent.

I have always been under the impression that if we are living close to God that we would hate the sin in our life. It would seem logical that for someone to be filled with God’s Spirit, this would empower them to be “hyper-sensitive” to sin and be able to easily recognize when darkness and evil is trying to knock on the door. I will confess, there have been times in my life where I did not hate my sins but actually embraced and protected them. It is by the grace of God that His Holy Spirit CONVICTS us and “haunts” our heart by reminding us that we are going in a wrong direction and need to turn around. When the heart becomes calloused and numb to sin, we lose our feelings of guilt and the rebellion of our old nature becomes like an out of control “monster” with no conscience or feelings of remorse. The truth is that we should hate those times when we choose to please our flesh or invite carnality to lead us and gladly forget about what God wants. It does not take a Bible scholar to understand that sin drives a wedge in our relationship with God until we repent and turn our focus back to Him. Actually if we are walking as a true disciple of Christ, sin should make us nauseated because we realize that we are hurting and disappointing God. In this light, our attitude toward sin makes the difference between being aware of our thoughts and actions and living an undisciplined life of constant compromise.

Have you ever sat and thought about how Jesus suffered for you? Do you hate that Jesus had to suffer for your failures? Sometimes I believe we see pictures of Jesus on the cross and hear about how He rose from the dead, but we think on the terms of Him doing it for the “world” instead of for us. A personal relationship with Christ means that we are “bonded” with Him in the knowing that He died for us personally – and that He loves us personally. There are many things to be filled with joy about today! I know my sins are covered under the blood of Jesus and I know that I cannot fail so much that God will stop loving me. I know I am saved by grace though faith and that the seal of that salvation is the Holy Spirit residing inside my own heart. In order NOT to take for granted the blood of Jesus, we must be “on guard” for a lethargic arrogance that can cause us to stop caring about the sin in our lives because we think it is automatically covered by Jesus. It seems that much of the problem is that we forget just how God feels about sin and what He has done to deliver us from it. If the old saying is true that, “out of sight – is out of mind” then maybe we need to keep reminding ourselves of how much love it took to bring Him to earth and inspire Him to be willing to die for us. “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us ALL. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shears is dumb (quiet), so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:4-7). This is a perfect explanation of how God feels about sin. He gave the highest most precious gift that could be given so that we could be saved from it. For us to “wallow” in sin after such a display of compassion and generosity would be like spitting in the face of a firefighter that just pulled us from the flames.

The utter brutality of His sacrifice illustrates just how much God hates sin and should cause us to live soberly and in reverence to Him. There are no words that can explain or do justice to communicate the horror He suffered for our sins. He was more than wounded – He had nails hammered into his hands and feet, his head was dripping in blood from the crown of thorns and He spent his final hours scraping his shredded back against a piece of wood, hoisting his weight upon the nails in his hands and feet just to take each and every breath. He did all of this naked and under the hot sun was mocked and laughed at all because He loved us more than His own life. He was bruised and beaten, bashed in the face again and again and when He was whipped, it was not just those thin red lines you get from a normal leather whip. Jesus was scourged with strands of leather embedded with glass, rock, and anything else they could tie onto leather. The effect of this sadistic device was to dig into the skin and rip it away from the body as it was pulled across. His back was more than striped – it was shredded. How can this kind of pain and suffering that occurred during the punishment and death of Jesus be described? How can this type of love be measured? Let us not forget that Jesus deserved none of it because He was “perfect” without sin. Our heavenly Father allowed His only begotten Son to suffer a level of suffering and pain that no one can even fathom in their worst nightmares. This is just a glimpse of how God feels about sin.

Eternal life is a free gift that Jesus purchased for us through His agony and death. Even the sins we will commit today are paid for because they were placed on Jesus at the cross. We must never think that our sin has no effect because it does and let us be reminded it is our sin which nailed Him to a cross. There are always consequences for sin but the cross is a reminder that Jesus bore the punishment for the sins we commit. All sin must be punished and in Christ the WAGES of our sin was His death. You see, without Christ, we would bear that punishment eternally but through the establishment of His blood covenant we can be forgiven. In the end, it is about gratitude. Are we truly grateful for what Jesus did for us? Do we consider the COST of our sins and the PRICE that Jesus paid for us to deliver us from temptation? The answer is in our actions. Appreciation is more than just saying “thank you” but actually living as though we do. Sadly, our willingness to sin reveals our lack of gratitude – and this is where we must evolve! “A possible you” includes the possibility that you and I can not only visualize but actually manifest a much better and improved way of life in the area of purity and virtuous living. Grace is not a license to be carnal. It is time to realize that refusing to let go of our precious sin is like wiping our muddy feet on His love.

CHAPTER 28

KNOWING WHEN TO DRAW THE LINE

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Mathew 10: 32-33).

It is not my intention to offend anyone with this article or cause you to be upset. I do not want to be known as being negative or bringing discouragement to our already difficult struggle to exist in this world. However, I also do not believe in sugar-coating everything just so that we can live in a fantasy because many times these dreams are not true reality. I am convinced that a crucial part of being a good soldier for Christ is being filled with HIS knowledge and wisdom so that we can be AWARE and informed not only about what God wants us to do but also the strategies of our enemy. I realize there have been and presently are many good Christian people and not everything is gloom and doom and I am sure that throughout our history there have been select individuals that loved and served God sincerely. Nonetheless, we must admit that Satan has been given the authority to be the prince of the power of the air in this realm under the jurisdiction of The Almighty God and has carefully built his “system of the beast” through influencing the minds of those who do not know God. We are the true pilgrims of this world but are not trying to establish a “land” of freedom – we are servants of Christ with a mission to speak God’s Word to the lost so that souls can be rescued from an eternal life of darkness and suffering. Our “Beulah land” or Promised Land is not this earth but will be with God in heaven someday, so it is time to recognize and acknowledge the way things really are. It is difficult to accept that many events have not been what we thought they were but the beauty of being filled with the Holy Spirit is understanding God’s view – and not placing our faith in man.

It is very clear that we live in a world that is rapidly changing. It is no secret – things are not the way they used to be. There was a time (even 50 years ago) that Jesus Christ (the God of the Bible) was accepted by most people in this country as the one true God. Today, our government now proudly proclaims that we are NOT a Christian Nation but rather a diverse “hodge-podge” of religious ideas and convictions that are “equally” true and respected. Instead of weeping in shame for how the world has betrayed the one “TRUE” God and fallen into gross darkness, this declaration of false unity and religious tolerance has become admired as the new “constitution” of the New World Order. This persuasion or indoctrination has now taken a firm control by establishing the correct way to think and what is socially acceptable. So, who came up with all of these corrupted philosophies and ideologies? Well, as Christians, it is basic knowledge to understand there is a spiritual enemy that opposes God and everything His Kingdom stands for. Satan is the ruler of this dark force that spends every minute trying to influence the thoughts of mankind. In this light, we can know that man did not create humanism but rather the “system” created him, as his rebellion came naturally from his fallen nature and caused him to become an easy prey to the dark side. Satan should be very proud of himself, (he always is) that he has tempted Adam and Eve to sin and lose their standing with God in the beginning, and has now finally convinced most of the world to turn against God. Since all humans are born with a fallen nature it has become easier to deceive them. Why? Because the gospel is the only power that can “wake up” those who are dead and the Christians have the responsibility to proclaim it! As more and more Christians have abandoned their mission to be ON FIRE evangelist and become mesmerized with their own pleasures – the world has grown much darker and aggressively evil.

Years ago when we as Christians began to take a closer look at the way the world was changing, we were shocked to discover that maybe we were not really as strong of a Christ-led people as we thought we were. We took for granted that this country was “one nation under God” and that all who govern and represent this land would fight for Biblical principles. However, when we research history and are willing to look “under the surface” there is overwhelming evidence (even in the very beginning) of strange doctrines and the heresy of Biblical error. For example, the idea to build the statue of liberty was not really to invite people from around the world to live here so they could be saved through the gospel of JESUS CHRIST. Actually there were several reasons but for the most part it was an invitation for anyone who desired to live in freedom to come and enjoy a new way of living. Many Christians have thought this statue was a Godly symbol of truth and justice but who in their right mind can connect a “goddess” called “MOTHER of exiles” with the Lord Jesus? Many now believe this iconic symbol is just another example of American Babylonian-ism and represents the great whore that rides the beast and that New York is the city of Babylon that is mentioned in Revelation chapters 17 and 18 that will be destroyed. I encourage you to do a personal research of the history of this event and a Biblical study of these chapters.

It is believed that Frederic Auguste Bartholdi the sculptor, (also a freemason) had been working on some creative ideas of pagan idols and selected for the Statue of Liberty a goddess called “Libertas” which was a Roman personification of personal freedom. Interestingly, another name for the statue of Liberty is, “Liberty enlightening the world” BUT it is not referring to the holy liberty FROM sin – but rather a liberty TO sin without anyone restricting you. This evil deity promoted “personal” liberty to do anything that felt good – which is exactly the message of the devil to the human race! She was also called the “matron goddess of prostitution” because she endorsed sexual freedom, (imagine that). The ancient writings of Cicero describe the Libertas cult worship and refer to her as the “mother of harlots.” (Where have we heard that?) Thus, we can now clearly see that the outward representation of a demonic spirit was placed at the entrance of this nation and boldly opened the floodgates of perversion and darkness. Once again, the message of Satan and his beast system was given the “liberty” to poison this country because the Christians were too blind to recognize his angel costume! Let us also take a quick glance at the inscription on the base of the statue that was written by a woman named Emma Lazarus. It is called “The NEW Colossus” and refers (you guessed it) to an ancient statue called Colossus of Rhodes, the Greek titan-god of the sun Helios and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. He is often depicted as wearing a crown that looks like sun-beams.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand. A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Many are convinced this message was declaring that the United States embraces all religions and respects all worldviews and this land will be a safe haven for all people. So what could possibly be wrong with this? It seems very innocent and sincere to want to protect all people no matter what god they worship because we are about letting “freedom ring.” Well, there are TWO WAYS of seeing this intention. The first, are those who do NOT have the Holy Spirit flooding their soul with God’s way of thinking and consequently are always seeing things in a completely different (or wrong) interpretation. The old carnal nature tries to use human logic to justify and compromise what they think is the best way and are not controlled by the conviction and fear of GODS will. We see in the attempt to build the tower of Babel that man was trying to lead himself with his own intelligence. Let us agree that without allowing God to lead – all of us are vulnerable to believing a lie! If this statue does not represent Jesus Christ (and it does not) then exactly who is speaking this message? Maybe some thought they could protect the innocent by bringing them into this country of purity and God’s Word but the devil was acting the part of the witch in seducing Hansel and Gretel by luring his victims into his house so that he could eat them! Instead of being “ONE NATION UNDER GOD” we have become saturated with blasphemy and infected the whole world with filthiness! This is why devastating judgment is on the horizon and is recognized by those who fear Him as the “Day of the Lord.”

The second way of thinking comes from a remnant of believers in Christ that are praying for a renewed mind which uses spiritual discernment instead of leaning on their own understanding. They do not follow a man and do not worship any nation, political view or organization. This small group of disciples will never agree with the masses just because they want to fit in. They realize that the American dream is not God’s idea and that if we had been a Christian nation we would have built a huge cross that had God’s Word engraved on it instead of a pagan goddess! Amen! Through the years many took for granted this was a Christian nation and that all political leaders were God fearing people and that we could convert all the people that come through our borders and live in a promised land of milk and honey. Allow me to say that we are a little ahead of schedule and this HOLY, monarchy government will not occur until the one thousand year millennial reign of Christ. Nevertheless, the “old school” thinkers thought that they could control the way everyone looked, the language, morality, public education, politics, the legal system and of course the churches doctrines. However, when humanism gave birth to tolerance and the gates of false unity and no absolutes were opened, there was no way that Christianity could be first and foremost in our society and culture. In fact, respect for Christianity has gone from sitting on the front row of the bus to the back row and now is having a difficult time even staying on the bus at all. The New World Order has been given time to rise and gain power (while the church has been napping) and is now aggressively saying, we will put an end to this madness of Jesus being the only true God, and His Word as true – and they have! Our mission today is not to turn the entire world around – but to live the Christian life in front of everyone so the lost can SEE God’s character and love.

The “system of the beast” has become a world-wide standard of thinking that is produced by the devil but transported and facilitated through the vehicle of the carnal mind. The blind cannot see and fools cannot comprehend wisdom, thus we have the masses that are ruled by their flesh and easily persuaded by Satan. These “zombies” are the messengers that carry out the devils agenda and have now established what is socially acceptable and politically correct! Those who are the remnant saints will NOT follow the system of the beast and will NOT play the game or bow their knee to any lying demon or false idol. It does not matter if it is the greatest speech ever given and is wrapped up in red, white and blue – as they are led by their Great Shepherd, they will know when it is time to draw the line.

The darkness is all around us and I am sure you have noticed that the system is trying to listen and watch everything you do. What does this have to do with “a possible you?”? Everything – if your intentions are to devote your entire heart to Christ in these last hours! The future the true disciple of Christ will not be able to minister the gospel without being seen or heard. There will be situations where God will perform miracles for His glory and protect His people in certain circumstances but overall the destiny of being persecuted will become a reality to those who are completely sold-out to their Lord. As the conscience of the world becomes seared, the blindness and hatred will grow stronger against those who stand for and speak the piercing truth. This “allegiance” to the system of the beast has now taken a firm control concerning the correct way to think and act and the remnant (you and I) will be required to STAND against it! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

CHAPTER 29

EVERYONE WILL BE GIVEN THE CHANCE TO EXPLAIN

And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus EVERY knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that EVERY tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:8-11).

Let us continue with discussing the system of the beast, our accountability, the coming judgment and what will happen at the end of the age when all things will be fulfilled. When speaking of death and where the spirit goes, in elementary terms we can say that God’s children go to a good place and those who have never known Christ go to a bad place but the complexity of this topic finds there are many different opinions about what happens until we arrive at our final destination. Some believe that after the spirit leaves the body, it goes directly to heaven or hell and that is that. However, many Bible teachers are convinced that the spirit (whether saved or lost) proceeds to designated holding chambers or a temporary plane of existence until the final judgment. This is a huge subject and not really worth arguing over because it is truly difficult to understand it completely with the limited information we have. There is much speculation but to reduce strife, may we agree that the spirits of all saints go to be with God at death. It may not be the final heavenly abode and we may not have a final glorified body or all of our rewards yet – but it is all about who you are with – not where you are at! Amen? The lost on the other hand might not be necessarily be in the lake of fire and they may not have received their final sentence of punishment but again we can agree that wherever they are – it is dark, miserable, empty and void of God’s presence. So, even though there are libraries of opinions and commentaries of interpretations about all of this, we can say for now with a fair amount of confidence that ALL souls will stand before God and after all is said and done the final judgment and sentence will be given to every spirit that has ever lived and all things will be finally settled forever.

Before we go into more about the judgment, I wanted to mention an important aspect that is associated to our attitude about sin. It is very common in today’s world to notice more things that used to be considered shameful but now are open for everyone to know. In the past we were not so naïve that we did not suspect there were terrible sins being done behind closed doors but now the imagination is no longer needed – abominations are being done openly without humiliation for the entire world to see every day. In fact, it seems the aggressive ones are proud of their deeds and the masses have become “numb” (thanks to a relentless liberal media) to their acts. For example, becoming pregnant without being married years ago was embarrassing because it was the result of not being pure. The reason why people a few generations ago would sneak around and hide in the dark is because they hated for the light of truth to expose their depravity. I know this is alarming but I believe there is not much light being generated anymore because Christians have allowed the “basket” of lukewarm love to conceal and diminish the light of Christ within their heart. I noticed in the paper recently an article about our local gay-pride day filled with parades and festivities. I do not mean to pick on this one subject because there are many more examples that can be used, but for the sake of making a point I will continue with this illustration. I read the article to see just what in the world could be said to justify such bold arrogance and the same theme kept appearing; it was all about the concept of fairness and the right to be accepted “exactly” as they are. I was thinking about the motives behind all of the hoopla and actually there are many other political and religious views that proclaim the same battle-cry such as for example – feminism. It is time that we as Christians allow the Holy Spirit to show us the big picture of what all of this is really about. The gay rights agenda is not JUST about same sex couples no more than feminism only stands for the right for women to have abortions. These are just tentacles like that of an octopus but the brain and eyes of the beast are controlled by the spirit of anti-christ – the power and confidence of the SYSTEM of secular humanism! How else can we explain why the mainstream media has pushed the gay agenda into the living rooms of this country even though the percent of gay Americans are tiny?

Just as Satan manipulated Adam and Eve with trying to convince them that God was “afraid” that they could be as smart as He was, the message of aggressive rebellion has never changed. Satan knows that mankind can be brainwashed if something can be repeated and “hammered” into their conscience. (Why do you think we are “attacked” repeatedly by commercials on television)? This “New Order” is beginning to hypnotize every society and its pledge of allegiance can be summed up as the right to do whatever we want to do without anyone being negative or critical – including God! The world hates what God has to say just like they hated Jesus when He spoke the absolute truth. The carnal flesh did not want to feel guilty then and it does not want to feel His conviction now! It has come to the point where anyone that offends someone (with the truth) is guilty of a hate crime. Lies are being embraced and truth is being rejected! The innocent messengers (you and I) will be arrested just like Christ and the hatred and persecution from the masses will be focused on the very same thing – to silence the truth – (the key to salvation).

What does this have to do with sin, holiness and judgment? Everything! I have talked about many things over the years but within the pages of absolute truth I am not afraid to be a voice in the wilderness that will stand by this statement; “The Christian life is NOT thinking, saying or doing whatever we want! The old nature of our human will must die. Choosing to live according to our own desires is completely opposite of God’s will for our life and the promotion of a carnal freedom to do whatever feels good without any regard to God’s Word is a deception and lie from the pits of hell.” The message of the gospel is to receive Christ and become totally transformed not only in our spirit but also in our conscience. This renewal includes no longer obeying our old nature but following the voice of God in purity and Agape love. Fairness, tolerance, freedom, unity, respect, legalism, emotional feelings, equality, religion, worldviews, opinions, interpretations, philosophies, or any other reason to disagree with God will NOT be an excuse at the judgment. Loving God is listening and responding to Him – what else is there?

Let us continue with what we can expect to see and experience in the future. These events are not something we will watch like being at the movies but we will participate and “literally” be involved with giving an account of our life while standing face to face with God Almighty. It will not help our case to point fingers and blame our upbringing, our friends, parents, social status, false teachers or even the devil for the trespasses we have committed. If knowing this and believing it is true does not have any impact on us or cause us to be more conscious of our actions then I do not know what will! Romans chapter 14 tells us that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and that each one of us will give an account to God. “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you reduce to nothing thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue confess to God. So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Verses 10-12). Since we believe all of this is true and that we will stand before God one day – would it not be wise to live holy and be more careful how we walk? Why would anyone that has obtained the treasures of knowledge and wisdom, intentionally do things that are negative and offensive to God? Why would anyone live their life in the bondage and misery of sin and then regret these things while trying to explain why they did them? Our life is not a game and there will be nothing funny about our intentional rebellion. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and this revelation should be one of the pillars of our faith. If we desire to walk with God in eternity – it is time to start walking with Him now. “For thou art NOT a God that has pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with Thee” (Psalm 5:4-6). It is true that God’s mercy and grace will take all things into consideration and since He has never failed (and never will) His judgments will always be perfect – without political contamination.

We have heard of the Great White Throne judgment as described in Revelation chapter 20 and are the final judgment prior to the lost being cast into the lake of fire. “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, STAND BEFORE GOD; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were JUDGED every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was NOT found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” We know from Revelation chapter 20 that this judgment will take place after the millennium and after Satan, the beast, and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire. These books that are opened evidently contain records of everyone’s deeds, whether they are good or evil, because God knows everything that has ever been said, done and thought, and He will reward or punish each one according to their works. “And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22: 12). We notice that another book is opened, called the “book of life.” It is this book that determines whether a person will inherit eternal life with God or receive everlasting punishment in the lake of fire. Although Christians are held accountable for their actions, they are forgiven in Christ and their names are written in the book of life from the creation of the world. “The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottom-less pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names WERE NOT WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Revelation 17: 8).

The fact that there is going to be a final judgment for all men, both believers and unbelievers, is clearly confirmed in many passages of Scripture. Every person will one day stand before Christ and be judged for his or her deeds. While it is very clear that the great white throne judgment is the final judgment, Christians disagree on how it relates to the other judgments mentioned in the Bible, specifically, who will be judged at the great white throne judgment. Some Christians believe that the scriptures reveal three different judgments to come. The first is the judgment of the sheep and the goats or a judgment of the nation’s found in Mathew chapter 25. “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered ALL NATIONS: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.” (Verses 31-32) This takes place after the tribulation period but prior to the millennium; its purpose is to determine who will enter the millennial kingdom. The second is a judgment of believers’ works, often referred to as the “judgment seat [bema] of Christ.” “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10). At this judgment, Christians will receive degrees of reward for their works or service to God. The third is the great white throne judgment at the end of the millennium that was described earlier in Revelation chapter 20 and this is the judgment of unbelievers in which they are judged according to their works and sentenced to everlasting punishment in the lake of fire.

Other teachers believe that all three of these judgments speak of the same final judgment, not of three separate judgments. In other words, the great white throne judgment in Revelation chapter 20 will be the time that believers and unbelievers are all judged at the same time. Those whose names are found in the book of life will be judged for their deeds in order to determine the rewards they will receive or lose. Those whose names are not in the book of life will be judged according to their deeds to determine the degree of punishment they will receive in the lake of fire. Those who hold this view believe that Mathew chapter 25 is another description of what takes place at the great white throne judgment. They point to the fact that the result of this judgment is the same as what is seen after the great white throne judgment. The sheep (saved believers) enter into eternal life, while the goats (lost unbelievers) are cast into eternal punishment. Like I mentioned earlier, it is difficult to know the exact details of events but whichever view one holds of the judgment, it is important to never lose sight of certain things that we do know. First, Jesus Christ will be the judge, all unbelievers will be judged by Him, and they will be punished according to the works they have done. The Bible is very clear that unbelievers are storing up wrath against themselves. “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasuring up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5-6).

Believers will also be judged by Christ, but since Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us and our names are written in the book of life, we will be rewarded, and not punished, according to our works. Many believe that we may lose rewards and fail to earn crowns of achievement and in this sense we could suffer “loss” but we will not be harshly dealt with or be ridiculed or considered a criminal. Those who are truly saved will walk with Him so close that they will know what is standing between them and God and their love for Him will not want “anything” to hinder or separate this intimacy. We would like to think that all Christians are walking in this level of spiritual bliss but I have often wondered about the sins of God’s children that are forgotten, ignored and where forgiveness was never asked for. Do these un-repented sins just drift into the universe and eventually disappear? Does God require that all of our sins be brought before Him in sorrow? We know that our sins were forgiven when we were born-again and also realize that His grace is extended to forgive us of our trespasses when we repent in the sorrow of brokenness but I am curious about the many sins that slip through the cracks. (If all sins were automatically forgiven there would be no need to ask forgiveness when we fail).

We should ask the Lord to reveal to us our sins and call to remembrance thoughts and deeds that we need to make right with Him. No doubt, He would even tell us to go to other people and ask them to forgive us for what we have done. There are consequences to our sin that we may not have thought about because the old nature does not care about restoration, restitution, integrity or the refining fire of holiness. In this light, we can believe this level of maturity and sensitivity is a vital part of our personal relationship with God to stay in a state of prayer so that we can talk to Him about our shortcomings and weaknesses and continually ask Him to help us and forgive us. I can definitely see the need for “praying without ceasing” and having a constant awareness of His presence. It is one of the greatest miracles ever given when God chose to forgive our sins and to know they are gone forever and will not be charged to our account because they have been bought and paid for by the compassion and mercy of the Lord. The blood of Jesus was the highest, most valuable gift that could be offered that had the power which could purchase and redeem the spirits who were hopelessly lost. The enemy may try to tease us and condemn us for our past failures but that is his job as an accuser and liar. We can hold our head high with confidence and rest in the promises of His Word that is founded on His covenant with us. We should NOT live our life in fear or be anxious to stand before Him in the judgment. We should be inspired and motivated to live the way we “know” He wants us to live. Let us rest in the peace of His promise, “As far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

CHAPTER 30

THE SYSTEM OF THE BEAST

As time goes by, we find an increasing concern about the stability of this nation and the world in general. Many people try at all cost to avoid thinking about politics and how they relate to their worldviews simply because it upsets them. It is common to find individuals intentionally putting on “blinders” to the world’s condition as they state their case in a short deliberate sentence; “my worrying and stress will not change anything – it cannot be stopped.” Or what about this one; “what can we do about it?” This may be partly true but if we are not careful we may be waving a subconscious “white flag” in surrendering to the system of the beast. We call it the “system” of the beast, because it is mentioned in Revelation chapter thirteen and seventeen as being a controlling, influential power from the dark side that represents, is closely associated and directed by Satan or is actually Satan himself. It is not my objective to try and explain all of the eschatology details concerning the beast, the dragon, anti-christ, false prophet, the horns or the heads and all that is connected to these prophecies. This is an incredibly deep study and there are several controversies involved with the interpretations and symbols. What we are sure of is that the system receives its power from the devil and is in opposition to God and His Word and that all people who are not born-again will worship the beast and his political and religious system. “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the beast), whose names are not written in the book of life of the lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

So, I realize the world is dominated by the influence of the devil – but what has all of this to do with “a possible me?” Well, since you and I are living right in the middle of this system, I would say everything. Since we are being pulled by it, tempted, influenced, mocked, persecuted, persuaded, attacked, bombarded, hated, shunned, stressed, worried, paranoid, fighting and confessing against it, the truth seems to be that we are spending most of our time trying to deal with it. It is clear that nearly everything we do is connected to it – so it is important to discuss it and develop a wise strategy against it in order to become and remain an overcomer in this life! Our discernment can increase as a result of spending time in meditation and communication with God and this sensitivity is mostly taught as becoming aware of the Lord’s presence. This is very awesome, but since it is an increased recognition of the overall spiritual realm, it also pertains to the dark side. “Beloved, believe (trust) not every spirit, but “try” (prove) the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). I am convinced we are not to be consumed with worry and doubt because it is an unhealthy negative state of mind to our spiritual well-being. It can also be agreed that just because this world’s system is like a runaway train going down the tracks and we can see where it will end up, that does not mean all is hopeless or lost. If we could exercise self-discipline within our mind and seriously ask God to control our thoughts, we would see that He has not really called us to rearrange the world or change the system. If we would bring out God’s Word and begin a goal of studying and praying each day, our spiritual eyes would be opened more clearly and we would begin to see that the believer is already victorious and ALREADY more than a conqueror! We just need to receive the revelation of our identity IN CHRIST which is simply saying that we need to KNOW who He is and who we are in Him! The Lord simply desires that we would not become distracted or discouraged with what is going on all over the world and start being aware of what we should say and do in OUR OWN NETWORK. If all Christians would just focus on the people in front of them instead of watching the news every minute or absorbing tons of information that tends to overload our brains, they would discover that God can actually use them where they are with those they know.

Instead of looking at the entire world, He is saying how about looking to your next door neighbor, someone you work with or a family member. It is the hearts of the blind that are caught in the systems snare trap which is why we must live each day “WITHIN THE STORM” without fear and with a “sensitive” spirit in order to be ready to respond and react to the opportunities that are before us. I am totally convinced about the believer having spiritual authority in this life because we have been sent as agents of change from heaven. Jesus had authority and now He lives in us! The world is dark and the lost are blind so we know the authority that they are operating in is not the correct path to follow. God’s people are from the Kingdom of light and are to be a holy representation of the one who created everything. God’s idea since the resurrection of Jesus has not been to change the direction of the world but rather to change the hearts of those who love Him. Understanding spiritual authority is the responsibility of the believer, and this should give us confidence to know that we are the ones that have the real answers to all of the problems of mankind. There is nothing that God does not understand or cannot create or restore. We have the good-news of the gospel and within this revelation contains the absolute truth of all things and the purpose and meaning of our existence. His miracle power of total salvation is manifested through faith in His Word and is the reason why Jesus was crucified and resurrected and the reason why we rise each morning! The evil system is designed to stop this truth from being released and the more determined we are to speak God’s Word, the more resistance we will encounter from it.

The Father has already prophesied the end of the world and His eventual destruction of the beast system, so we do not need to worry about that. What we should be concerned about is how to abandon our will and take up His cross now! If Christians would become disciples, the love and power of God would be accomplished according to His idea of salvation. He saved us so that we could be used by Him to save others. We are to live as “active” participants, not to physically fight against the system but to reach out in compassion to those who are caught up in it! The Great Shepherd is the deliverer but He uses His messengers as they obey His voice. “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 strongholds. 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” (II Corinthians 10:3-5).

We as Christians must recognize that the direction of this world is closely monitored by God and each detail has been prophesied in His Word. The Lord has given a certain amount of liberty to Satan that came from man’s blunder in the Garden and consequently the human race has suffered since that day. Many believe in the fall of man and the curses that became a “sentence” for disobeying God’s commands, but few actually realize that a system of government was birthed within this transition period and has been a strong influence on the way we all think and perceive. Satan when he was called Lucifer was thrown out of heaven as a result of an ugly “out of control” spirit of pride and now as the “prince of the power of the air” he actually is convinced in his twisted mind that somehow he can rule the world. This is why Jesus came to restore man’s relationship with God and re-establish his spiritual authority through the blood covenant.

For as long as I can remember, people have argued and fought over elections, campaign platforms and political personalities. The ideas have always been the same, just altered and camouflaged to fit the problems of the day. The election strategy is basically simple; “we are heading in the wrong direction, we need change and you need me to lead us to success!” and for the simple minded spectator it works beautifully every time. The reason why I call the average person “simple minded” is because it is easier to deceive the ignorant as the true reality is usually hidden behind the bright colored lights and flashy entertainment. The masses believe they are voting by making choices but the decisions were made long ago. Since the devil has been given a part to play in the grand finale, the “top secret” information reveals that the people (including the politicians) are just puppets. You see, when will we ever come to realize that political parties and charismatic politicians do not give “birth” or produce a system – the system produces them! The devil does not need to train and educate the heathen how to ruin a world – he just needs to influence them to turn away from God and man will destroy himself and everything around him. The lost are in denial but God’s servants realize that mankind cannot rule himself. Humans are not smart enough and their carnal nature is too corrupted to walk in peace and love. We can take a tour of history and see the trails of destruction and fallen empires where men tried to be their own god. Without the God of the universe directing their thoughts and purifying their hearts, the masses are just spoiled, rotten brats that have grown up! Any society that does not allow God and His Word to intervene into their affairs will end in collapse.

When the creator fashioned man in His image, His intentions were not to make man completely independent of His Holy Spirit or His personal intervention. When man made the intentional and intelligent decision to throw God’s Word in the trash can and not listen to the instructions on how to live – the downward spiral began. Mankind does not have the capability to know all things or the power to rule the world or even manage his own affairs. Man was designed to be a “vessel” or instrument for the Fathers purpose. The humanistic attitude is that humans do not need a God that controls them because they are smart enough to blaze their own trails and build their own kingdoms. We only need to turn to the book of Job to be reminded of how silly and foolish this way of thinking is. Allow me to say boldly, that no matter how many books or colleges boast about the strength and creativity of the brain, man is DESPERATELY needy for God. The Lord provided the instruction manual, map and compass of the Bible to educate mankind on how to live. It is His divine wisdom that has the power to be perfect in judgment and is the only source of absolute spiritual truth. Man wants to dissect truth and compromise the absolutes by making all philosophies fit into his confusing puzzle. God’s will is for His children to develop a courageous confidence by learning and abiding in faith and then purity will generate boldness to speak His divine reality.

A perfect example is to watch our government handle situations. Have you ever really thought about it – the system does not have one answer to any difficulty! They CANNOT solve any crisis on their own because they have told God to go away. The only thing that government knows how to do is put more money into the problem but that is not the solution! The real problem is that the system is being guided by those who are blind and deaf to the Spirit of the Lord. We as Christians have thought for the last 200 years that if we could elect individuals that were strong in the faith of God, they could help guide this country into the divine wisdom of the Father. Sadly, what we have learned within our lifetime is how the “system” was much more advanced and prepared to fend off any type of spiritual warfare aimed at tearing down the strongholds that have been built. Many politicians who started out with excitement and good intentions, fell into a waiting “spider web” of evil when they wandered into the halls and territories of the dark kingdom. That’s OK! The devil has been given the opportunity to deceive the nations and that has been done! We have thought that everything will be alright and that things will not spiral out of control, but we must now face the situation in knowing that the rest of our journey may not be like we have planned.

Emotional happiness will not be enough to sustain us when the financial empires of the world fall and nations are brought down to their knees. We must recognize now that the media is owned and controlled by our enemy and he is trying to distract us from becoming filled with the revelation of divine reality. This reality includes the truth about our covenant with God which explains our spiritual identity. I am in no way trying to scare anyone, but rather trying to bring a sobering reminder to the way things really are. We are in a full-blown WAR (unto death) with an enemy that is a formable opponent. The difference between becoming an overcomer in this life and being defeated is how much revelation we can absorb into our spirit and mind. The ones who thought that God was obligated to do everything for them will eventually realize that all of the weapons were put into barn – but we had to go get them and use them! It will be too late for many to try and develop strong faith at the last minute. Victory in Jesus will be the result of years interceding, studying, worshiping, learning, growing, developing, advancing, and maturing into higher levels of spiritual enlightenment. This is why we must continue preaching about seeking God and His Kingdom NOW with all of our heart, mind and strength. In closing, I believe the devil has worked hard against me, even in the writing of this short letter. I have had several physical and mental challenges and distractions within the last week but Praise be to God –I will not stop! There is not a more important life-changing concept than the believer’s spiritual kingdom authority over evil, but we must KNOW God – and who we are IN HIM! “But you are a CHOSEN generation, a ROYAL priesthood, a HOLY nation, a PECULIAR people: that you should “show forth” the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (Peter 2:9) Beware of the New World Order! It is the “roaring lion” which seeks to devour you!

CHAPTER 31

HAVING CONFIDENCE IN THE VALLEY

Just the sound of those words is an encouragement to me. Let us turn to a simple verse that is found in first Samuel chapter 30. In verse 6 we read. “And David was greatly distressed; for the people was talking about stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: BUT David ENCOURAGED HIMSELF in the Lord.”

If there is one thing we all need now – it is encouragement. Of course the devil realizes that if he can keep us upset, frustrated, disappointed and dissatisfied, that this will cause a vexation and bondage to our spirit and inspire us to throw a pity-party in our conscience. This dark negative energy is exactly what punctures our “joy tank” which many people have not even recognized has happened that can quickly leave us spiritually dry and empty. This is a very serious condition that will continue to decline as it attempts to literally destroy our life. If this “hardness” of the heart is not corrected it can bring terrible consequences with affecting (and infecting) everything and everyone we hold dear. The pain of sadness leads to misery and can attach itself to us like an oppressive spirit and once it begins to control our thoughts it is very deceiving. Our perception of the glass being “half-empty” can become a normal way of living and this can actually change us into someone that no one wants to be around, but when we recognize what is happening within the depths of our soul, we can fall on our face and ask God to restore our fellowship with Him and He will cleanse us and flood our being with His peace that passes all understanding.

I have used this story about David in the past to illustrate about how important it is to know how to be encouraged when things are not going well and there is no one around to minister life into our soul. The “possible you” needs to learn that the Word you are absorbing today can be used to bring salvation to you tomorrow! I used the word “salvation” because when we are facing the mountains that seem impossible to conquer, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit can help us see not just the problem that is before us but the big picture of being “saved” in ANY area including from our-self. The Word of God, when it becomes a personal revelation within our mind and spirit becomes written on the tables of our heart and is a life-long companion to help us obtain (and maintain) victory in every situation. This is why it is so crucial for us to take the time to study when things are going well so that we can build our “fortress” of strength and wisdom to draw from when the trials come and we need extra faith. I have noticed in my life that when the storms come and I find myself down in the valley of despair, I can literally feel the Word of God supporting me as His truth helps to carry me through to the other side. Instead of lying in a fetal position, crying out that our life cannot be fixed or that there is no hope of carrying on, it is the power of God’s Word and the faithfulness of His presence that will flood our heart with hope, because the time we have invested in knowing Him and learning His thoughts are not in vain – in fact, they can not only save our life, but maybe help save someone else. Praise God!

The reason why David was so upset is because he had just returned to Ziklag to find that the city had been burned and many of the people had been taken captive by the Amalekites. These were the enemies of the people of Judah and had caused David much personal pain by stealing two of his wives. Have you ever felt that someone has stolen from you, hurt you very badly or maybe you feel that you were dealt a bad hand, and this fell upon you like a dark blanket of depression? I believe that all of us in our lifetime have experienced deep pain and sorrow from losing something or someone and it’s tempting to just cover up our heads and give up. However, we notice an amazing demonstration from someone who KNEW God strong enough to realize that he needed to see with his spiritual eye and rely on his faith and trust in God MORE than what he was seeing with his natural eye. If David were here he would agree with this; we have two choices; we are going to go through the valley one way or another. We can crawl on our hands and knees, spewing out negative curses and confessions while working ourselves up into a lather of anxiety and sadness – or we can realize that the little foxes are trying to spoil the vines and this is a perfect opportunity to show everyone that we still trust God with ALL of our heart! Yes, you guessed it – walking THROUGH the valley is all about staying filled with JOY!

Allow me to ask you some simple questions; do you smile like you used to? Do you love like you used to? Are you as happy as you have ever been? Do you feel the power of the Spirit like you used to? When is the last time you cried while being flooded with His presence? Do you really love and care about people like you used to? Do you enjoy life or does everything seem to disappoint you? Are you pleased with how you have lived or do you feel down inside that you have failed? There are times when we feel down and it seems that nothing is going right even when we are really trying to do the best we can. Frustration, aggravation, loneliness, regret, resentment, bitterness, heartache, unforgiveness, extreme worry and fear are all enemies ready to steal our joy There needs to be a time and place where we stop and get alone with God to have a heart to heart talk while we evaluate our attitude in order to get right and get on the same page with the one who has all the answers. The longer we try to carry these burdens the more weak and sad we become and I believe this is why David was quick to repent. If you remember, when he was a young shepherd boy, he would sing and play unto the Lord while he was in the fields and sitting under the trees in the evening. The Bible says he was a man after God’s own heart and this was the result of choosing to block out the world and concentrate on the Lord of glory. He learned “how” to know God, how to worship and praise Him in spirit and in truth and this relationship became strong and beautiful. He “invested” the time with Jehovah and this spiritual intimacy helped build and develop who he was so that when he became older he could DRAW out encouragement, boldness, confidence, faith, strength and determination to rise up from the ashes and listen closely to what God was saying. You see it does not matter if we have lost EVERYTHING – God owns the entire world and can restore back to us 10 times what we had! It does not matter what the doctors say because they are only practicing what they think. GOD KNOWS you from the inside-out and He certainly does NOT need a bunch of greedy insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations conspiring with a medical team’s opinionated diagnosis.

Jesus has paid for our healing in the package known as “total salvation” and it is His will to heal us the same as it is to save us! The only reason He would not want to heal someone would be a private sovereign situation between them and God that we would not know anything about. When Jesus walked the earth the only reason someone did not receive healing is because of their lack of faith. (If you read something different I would be interested in seeing it). The same is true with the doctrine that teaches how that ONLY the 12 disciples ministered under the authority of God’s power. There were certainly more than 12 followers with Christ throughout His ministry and at the time of His death and His miracle power not only did NOT pass away with the first century church, His resurrection actually opened up the windows of heaven to whosoever would believe in His covenant! It is not how much we know but rather it is understanding what we know and this transfers in our personal relationship with Jesus as to “who we know.” All of the time you have spent learning about God and telling Him how much you love Him, will have the chance to someday come back to you and support you in the time of crisis. Those that have not built their house on the “rock” will not have enough time to learn how to re-build when the storm is on the horizon. Unfortunately, many have found themselves in a hospital room facing a life-threatening emergency but have not filled their storehouse with faith to be used for their healing. Their confidence for healing is very small and their fear can easily overwhelm their faith. When doubt and anxiety floods the mind and heart, we are helpless in the realm of spiritual authority and are vulnerable to the enemy. It is true that God can reach out and give a miracle through the faith filled prayers of mature intercessors but this is left up to God’s perfect will. Most of the time it is the faith of the person going through the crisis that will make the difference between being delivered or being devoured. There is no condemnation to those who have not invested the time to be spiritually strong but this is just a reason why miracles are hindered and another example of why true Christianity is not just sitting around waiting on Jesus to come back.

I do not personally believe the Christian life was ever intended to be easy. There are some that teach an extreme version of spiritual authority that is taken out of context with God’s perfect plan and are convinced that we can ask for things outside of God’s timing and specific will. I believe in the Christians responsibility to speak God’s Word and the authority over Satan for God’s glory but there is a huge difference between following the voice of God and our own carnal desires. For example, if the Christian could ask God for whatever they want, it would be like winning the lottery every week and consequently would cause the Kingdom of God to collapse like the fallen Roman Empire. Christians may seem spiritual from a distance, but actually (most of us) are filled with weaknesses and problems that bleed over into our thoughts and deeds. The scriptures that speak of the believer’s authority are based on hearing God’s instructions and our strict obedience in how we approach all situations. What could be more damaging than a novice Christian waving a loaded gun of “name it and claim it” passages from the Bible without teaching responsibility and accountability? Everything in God’s plan for each individual consists of a perfect solution at the perfect time and this intricate plan requires us to learn His wisdom from our mistakes. When anyone barges in on God’s ministry, they can interrupt what God is trying to teach and actually obstruct what the Lord is already working on. Words of prophecy are a wonderful expression of God’s definite direction and confirmation but even in the boldness of faith they should always be delivered in the spirit of reverence.

When we share about the hardships and trials in this life, there are few that really understand what that means especially when we are referring to our spiritual life. This is because not many have never dared to venture out into the deeper waters of faith. We speak of the “will” so much because it is the center of our desires and if our rebellious spirit is allowed to do what we want as a lifestyle – we have not advanced past the “nursery” of knowing how to be a disciple for Jesus. We like the word Christian because it seems to include a wide scale of commitment and since many teachers explain that it does not matter what you do or how you live – “it’s all good!” The problem with this lenient theology is that we may pass all of the requirements in man’s final exam but the Lord knows every tiny detail within our being and usually is not impressed with our intelligent concepts. For those who in the past (or even now) that have ventured into the deep end of the pool so to speak, you know exactly what I mean when I speak of increased warfare activity from the enemy. We should agree that for those Christians who lay on the couch and are not involved with the Lord’s work, the enemy would not really need to waste his “arrows” because they are already doing him a great service by NOT exercising their spiritual authority over his dark kingdom. However, the individuals that trigger the “alarm system” of hell are the ones that finally realize what being a true Christian is all about! These are the remnant saints that not only read about God and His demands – they get off the couch and do them! What causes this enthusiastic determination? Their knowledge has been converted into a revelation! And, until this happens there will NOT be a change in anyone’s life and a “possible you” will most likely remain the improbable you! If anyone has ever wondered why the religious spectators hide behind the four walls of the church to avoid thinking about the idea of being a disciple, it is because they are AFRAID of the devil.

OK, now we might as well be honest and lay ALL the cards on the table. They are not only afraid of losing their reputation as someone who has worldly integrity and respect – they are also afraid that God may not come through with His miracle power if they were to ever attempt to demonstrate complete faith. Say amen or mercy me! Within the knowledge about God, most Christians have not “experienced” being on the front lines of the battle and to be painfully transparent – they have no desire or intention to be. Why? We just spoke about it. They do NOT want to invest the time and sacrifice that it will take to become filled with God and strong in the faith on this level. Besides, who in their “right mind” would choose to walk around with a bulls-eye on their back? (Only the serious ones).

If you are feeling down today, remember that God has not forgotten you; He knows your exact location in the valley. I can also promise that He is trying to reach out to you MORE than you are trying to reach out to Him. Do you actually think that you can love Him MORE than he loves you? What could be more encouraging than to walk confidently with Him through the valley?

CHAPTER 32

THE REALITY OF SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY

Fear them NOT therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, that speak ye in the light: and what you hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops” (Mathew 10:26-27).

Let us declare today that God is wonderful! He is fair and just in all His ways. His decisions are perfect and even when things are not going as we would like, He is completely aware of our circumstances and is working and interceding on our behalf. This life may seem to be easy for some but I promise that it is only an illusion to those who are peeking through the window from the outside trying to see what is inside. Many times the way we observe things that others enjoy are only the fleeting moments of good fortune and favorable situations. What we fail to see is the other ninety nine percent that people struggle through and have to deal with. I am not saying that everyone’s life is bad or that there are not individuals that walk in the peace and calmness of God’s presence, but rather I am saying that this earthly life was never intended to be a “yellow brick road” without challenges, temptations or tribulations. The lost try to do everything they can to figure out their own destiny and control their own directions. While many may find times of generic satisfaction, it is always temporary and never fulfilling neither does it bring any true contentment. The saved will discover that everything they learned when they were young needs to be re-filtered and adjusted to fit the standard of God’s divine reality. The heart must be recreated, the will refined and the mind emptied out and renewed so that we can be on the same page as the one who saved us. In each person, I believe the Lord is at work to get their attention and draw them into His love. He is coming soon. I can feel it in my spirit, can you?

We have heard many times that it is not what happens to us but how we handle what happens to us and this is a wise and worthy saying. I can promise you that if you have not been through a sorrowful, life changing event in your life – you will. I can also say with confidence that the Word of God is the strongest fortress, the most solid rock and the most stabilizing anchor that can be found. When we allow His Word to saturate our mind, we are digesting truth within our heart and spirit and this is where our faith evolves into confidence and a KNOWING that can hardly be explained. Many people confuse the emotional realm with faith because it is so similar. Our emotions come from thoughts and these are like images that flash across the screen and have the capability to influence us. For example “fear” is always a party crasher no matter how much we want to celebrate our boldness. When we read an inspiring story or have a motivating and exciting thought about doing something, many times these are only what are called – “whims.” This means they are great ideas but can be shot down with a certain amount of discouragement. When the dark side hears someone talking about what an awesome idea they have or boldly speaking forth a positive confession about something, the demons take notice and will immediately begin to draw up a strategy of attack. Our enemy has been taking notes throughout the years and is quite aware of our weaknesses and soft-spots. Of course why should they change now since the former ambushes have always been so successful? When the influence of doubt is launched toward someone who is trying to gather faith, it becomes a tug-of-war to see which side has the most pull. The deciding factor of course is our free-will and whichever position we decide to go with is the side that will be victorious. For the Christian it is a “win-win” even when faith cannot be found and it seems as though the enemy has won because the person may leave this world but instantly be in the presence of God. In this light, there is no fear of death even though things could have been different had they been more prepared for battle. “And the SEVENTY returned again with joy, saying Lord, even the devils are subject unto us THROUGH THY NAME. And He (Jesus) said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto YOU power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over ALL the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:17-19).

So how can we tell the difference between believing in something with our emotions and having faith in something? I admit it is deceiving but I also know it is the difference between receiving and not receiving. Let us establish a very important fact – God and His Word do not fail! He has never missed an appointment, forgotten someone or been unable to hear someone’s prayers. He has heard every cry, seen every tear and felt every pain. He does not favor anyone, exaggerate, lead people on, make false claims and neither does He delight in seeing His people suffer. His Word can be counted on – no matter how bleak the situation, how many people say it is hopeless, or how many demons gather around to laugh. There is nothing too difficult for God and there is nothing that He would consider outrageous or impossible. He can heal your body or my body by speaking it into existence just like He said “let there be light.” Every word that God has ever spoken did not return void or empty – but it went forth and accomplished everything that He intended. The difference between being enthused and “locked in” about an idea is whether or not the thought has been transformed into a “revelation.” A personal revelation is KNOWING within your spirit that something is not only true but it is for you! Knowledge is the gathering of facts and wisdom is understanding knowledge but revelation is receiving the Word and will of God into our heart. It is knowing that God has literally spoken to us and there is nothing or no one that can take away, destroy, remove, cancel or discredit this holy communication. Faith comes by HEARING and hearing by the Word of God! Faith comes when we hear God with more than our natural ears – it comes when we listen with our spiritual senses!

Thomas Edison is said to have made this statement before he finally invented the light bulb; “I have not failed – I have just found 10,000 ways that will not work!” It is common for many people when they receive prayer and do not see any results to allow the Ocean waves of doubt to flood upon their shore because we are automatically programmed to come to the conclusions of failure and defeat. When these negative reactions are accepted into the conscience, we are as the old sailors would say – “taking on water.” With outside influences and the mocking of our trust, it becomes an all-out WAR to prevent our ship from sinking. Is generating faith easy? Of course not! However the more of God’s Word we fill our heart and mind with – the stronger our faith will be! If you notice the life of Jesus and the short time that He was on the earth, He was so filled with the Word (He was the Word) that the Word constantly came out of His mouth and directly into the situation. Yes, you guessed it – that is how we have been called to live! Filled with the Spirit means to be “overflowing” with God’s Word so that we speak into every need or problem. Jesus spoke to the forces that were against the people and against His Kingdom. He did not hesitate or run in fear because He KNEW that when He spoke – His WORDS would do what He said! Being filled with God and renewed in our mind means that we speak the “will” of His Word!

As I grow older, I do not see things the way I used to. The most important treasure in life is God’s Word! There are many events happening in the world today and we can say without fear that life is becoming more challenging. Today is the day to draw near to God! Today is the day to become saturated with the Word of God so that we are STRONG in our faith. I believe the type of person that God intended us to be, is an individual that walks in a very high level of spiritual sensitivity. This is only achieved with the study of His Word and constant prayer. These are the ones that will overcome because they understand the meaning of perseverance. The remnant saints KNOW God’s will and have a CLOSE personal relationship with Him. Those who are walking in purity and confidence will remind Him of His Word and remember that He has never broken His promises! This is truly walking in the Spirit! When our life lines up with His will and testament – He will HONOR our obedience and provide the miracles that we need. He is not holding back our blessings or playing games with us – He is waiting for us to give our lives to Him completely so that He can fulfill His vision for our destiny!

Allow me to say today, that God’s power has never declined or lost energy. When the Father sent His Son to live and die on this planet so that we might be restored into fellowship with Him, He had a beautiful plan and a holy vision of expectation for us. May I take my liberty to say this hour that He has never re-considered or changed His mind in any way. When Jesus walked this earth as the “man – God” He was all about saving the lost in whatever way it was needed. You do not find Jesus telling anyone that it is not God’s will that you be saved, healed or delivered. Actually, if one researches the life and ministry of Christ, it is recognized that all who came to Him in faith received His blessings and power to change their circumstances. The “good news” of the gospel is that Jesus established His covenant with those who believe in His Word and His Word explains how His blood holds Him accountable to what He has promised. The general message to the masses pertains to the born-again experience and how God forgives sin and creates within us a brand new spirit. The continuation of “being saved” includes whatever is needed in this journey to enjoy and maintain a Spirit filled, obedient, abundant life.

What I have been noticing lately in my life is the strong temptation to be distracted from what I should be thinking and doing. When we have situations that we know requires fervent prayer, do not presume that it is going to easy sailing! Becoming too busy is a clever tactic used by the enemy to get us off track from what we should be focused on. Concentrating on our prayers and confessions will take a strong self-discipline and determination in order to be successful. Vacations are a perfect example of putting our spiritual life on hold just for a little while, but it is just long enough to take our attention away from the task at hand. Believing for our physical healing is something that requires our faith and the enemy is very active trying to keep us from receiving our miracle from the Lord. Everything from people confessing curses on us to becoming absorbed in doctors and medicines can keep us focused MORE on the problem than JESUS our deliverer. If we just sit back and do not pursue the revelation of healing and invest the time to build our faith then we will end up with the default which is que sera sera. It may be news to some Christians but our spiritual journey does not consist or remain as a spiritual daycare for the Lord to constantly change our diapers and feed us bottles. I have to admit this sounds awesome because it is so easy to just walk through life and not have to exercise our faith for anything. It is so wonderful to agree and accept the default life (the life where faith is not developed) and blame God for everything that happens in the name of His “will.” This way no matter what takes place – it was God’s fault (decision) and had nothing to do with us. Well brothers and sisters, I must burst your bubble and announce that this is not the degree or maturity that God had in mind when He gave us His Word. I can say confidently that God desires His people to understand what an “overcomer” is and that the blood covenant of Christ is what empowers the saints to exercise spiritual authority over the enemy in the name of Jesus!

Allow me to ask you a question; when you make a statement in prayer and close by saying – In the Name of Jesus, do you believe in your heart that this Name carries the power to establish what you said as true? Are you not using His Name as the highest authority in creation? Are you confessing His Word and believing that God is listening and responding? Are you convinced this is a valid spiritual LAW that God honors within His kingdom principles? Then, the only reason we would not want to advance in our understanding and confidence in this authority would be because it is too time consuming, as enmity to our flesh or we are not convinced this is the way God’s government operates. In most cases these are just more reasons (excuses) why our carnality is stronger than our passion to know God more. It is not an unreasonable statement to declare that the closer we are to God the more faith we will have. The reason why we do not trust Him is because He is like a stranger to us and the first lesson we learn in “fear 101” is to never trust a stranger. For example, we trust our mom and dad with everything we have (even our life) because we KNOW they would never betray us or harm us in any way. We know without a shadow of a doubt that our parents want to do everything they can to help us succeed and not fail or be defeated in anything. How do we know this? Because we KNOW them! We know where their heart is toward us because we have been so close to them in our life.

Since God is our heavenly Father and we are His children, His idea was that we would be closer to Him in this life than ANY other person in the world. Why? Because trusting Him would come from knowing Him and this would cause us to be mature in the faith which would teach us how to “walk” in the power and anointing of His Spirit! When we are children, the tools in the barn never cross our mind because we are just kids and are not expected to do the hard work that is needed to accomplish certain projects. “BUT” when we grow up and become strong and have our own property, we not only have learned how to use the tools – we realize that it is our responsibility to get the job done. This is the way the Lord planned for His Kingdom to function. He knows that when we are first saved that we are not able to do very much because we do have the knowledge, the strength or the faith that is needed to be an overcomer but He expects us to learn and grow that we might emerge as a well-trained laborer. He gives us all the (tools) His Word, spiritual gifts, talents, power, anointing and covenant authority needed to do the work and even decided to live inside of us to personally direct us and perform miracles through us. This is on top of sending the Holy Spirit as a comforter and guide and His angels to help us in our mission. HOWEVER – when will the church see that He is waiting for them to demonstrate how all of this works? Christians have no problem understanding how all of this is supposed to be functioning but for some reason they do NOT include themselves in the equation. It is time the body of Christ put away their cheer-leading uniforms and became players!

There are different levels of understanding and faith, just like there are different levels of love and wisdom. The reason why it is so important for a person to receive Christ at an early age is because they need as much time as possible within their lifetime to learn His truth. Even if we studied every evening and lived to be 120 years old we would still only scratch the surface of knowing His vast treasures of secrets and mysteries. This knowledge is not necessarily hidden from us but rather is reserved for those who diligently and sincerely “seek” the meaning of life. These seekers that are serious about knowing God and who evolve in the enlightenment of their understanding are rewarded with the keys that can unlock His miracle power. Our lives are not always smooth sailing and we have an adversary that keeps a close eye on our spiritual development as the devil recognizes those who are spiritually weak and loves to use his ability and legal authority to influence the un-renewed mind with fear. Allow me to say that when trouble comes upon us and fear has been injected into the situation, it will affect us at whatever rate our level of faith has matured. If we have wasted our precious time with pursuing the pleasures of the world, our faith will remain a tiny seed or as a tender plant. This tiny level of spirituality can be easily shaken and the human system of emotions can react as if it is drowning in hopelessness. Fear can wreak havoc within the human mind and directly has a huge impact on the body the same as unforgiveness, resentment, jealousy and hatred. The devil has a relatively easy job of just whispering his poisonous negativity and then stands back and watches our reaction begin our own self-destruction. The Lord knew this would happen and tries to warn us through His Word and the Holy Spirit but many would rather trust something more tangible like a psychiatrist, psychic, horoscope, alcohol or an ancient remedy or book that someone is trying to sell. These imitations and substitutions for the power of God are very disappointing and usually make things even darker, confusing and more discouraging.

Now brother, you are saying that God’s will is His Word but we must agree that there are other reasons why miracles do not happen. Well, I do know that God is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants, but I also know that He will never betray His Word because He cannot lie. We can sit around all of our life trying to find excuses why God’s Word failed or we can “invest” our energy trying to draw closer to God so that we can SEE His Word be fulfilled!

CHAPTER 33

THE “GOOD OLE BOY” MASQUERADE

We do not need to go very far to hear a person telling someone else to go to hell, or a story being told at a funeral about some good ole boy, but within the theological doctrines and philosophical worldviews, there is nothing wrong with being honest about heaven and hell and who is going where. You would not think that people who have the Bible at their fingertips and libraries of study helps would be clueless about who is saved and who is lost – but sadly that is the case. All of this is in addition to the indwelling Holy Spirit which is ready to help teach us and interpret the Holy Scriptures for us, still many people will respond to this subject by saying that no one knows another person’s heart and that we should just believe the best in everyone. This would be fine if we wanted to live in “Whoville” but when we are trying to teach our children God’s absolute truth, we need to have real answers to real questions! I believe one reason that people start feeling uncomfortable about eternity is because they are not sure about their own. The way people act about their spirituality is definitely strange especially those who declare to be Christians but do not really want to act like one. As we will discover, this is not war-games where we pretend to be in a battle or a heavenly “try-out” to see who makes the team, this is spiritual reality and everything that is done or not done – is what defines who we are!

I have worked with men all my life and noticed how they act and how they respond in different situations. I am sure the attitudes are all the same with men and women as I have seen the weak being bullied and the quiet timid ones that usually end up being the followers that submit to the aggressive ones. The leaders are usually boisterous and arrogant and swelled with pride and self-confidence. This is probably due to an overactive hormone release of testosterone or maybe a strong will and charismatic personality, but whatever the case, it is interesting to listen and watch how people react to the gospel. It seems that deep within the fabric of our mentality there has always been a hesitancy to be proud and bold about God and His Word. Many that were raised in Christian homes felt the security and peace to be themselves and enjoy the contentment of family unity and love but when people leave this environment and begin to express their own identity, the Word of the Lord all the sudden is not so “cool” or comfortable. Most young men try to be tough and fearless because it seems to generate respect from both sexes but what puzzles me is how and why older men hang on to this ideology or philosophy that measures the worthiness of a man according to his strength and intimidation factors. I have seen older men, (professing Christians with families) instructing in a classroom of younger men, be perverted, childish and curse – then literally make fun of the faith with laughing and half-hearted apologies to the clergy who are present. Now brother, these are just good ole boys having fun – they do not mean any harm. Yes, I know and here we go again with trying to paint a horse to look like a zebra. We must stop playing games with God and those around us and become mature enough to understand what being a Christian is! Being a follower of Christ is not going to church on Easter and then acting like the devil all the rest of the time. I have heard many stories where people in the workplace act like heathens then are discovered to be an active member of their church. We must realize this is why the general church environment is polluted and stagnant. These “split personality” Christians are hindering the move of God because of their carnal impurity and intentional rebellion. Allow me to say that it is NOT “cool” or “cute” to be a smart-aleck rebel against God! Showing off and making fun of what is holy is very immature and deserves a trip to the woodshed. May I add that if someone is truly a Christian and has made the choice to live in the “middle of the road” the Lord is not lenient about bringing discipline. If a person can live this type of lifestyle and feel no remorse or conviction from the Holy Spirit then it is clear that the outside behavior does not match the claims of an internal transformation! Please listen to these words carefully; if no one around us would consider us a Christian – then maybe we’re not one!

Just out of curiosity, if we could ask everyone who they think is going to hell, would you not say that most people would confidently reply that all sinners end up in hell? Well, that might sound like a good answer but we may need to stop here and do a little more research about it. The old time preachers would say there are two kinds of sinners – lost sinners and saved sinners. This pretty well sums up the entire human race, and I agree this is a correct statement. Though many are saying that no one should judge another person especially where they will go after death, (and I partially agree with this position), I still believe that we should NOT walk around in confusion as to what God expects of His people or how to be aware of the lies and confusion of the devil. You see, Satan wants everyone to believe that we are all good and that it does not matter what people do or say or how they act. Now, I would like to discuss this situation with of course asking God to first help us all to see HIS interpretation about the saved and the lost.

A lost person is someone that has NOT received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. They were born with a default spirit that needs to be redeemed and transformed by the power in the blood of Christ. These lost souls are commonly called sinners not out of disrespect or ridicule but simply because they have not been forgiven or delivered from sin. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word and when the heart is convicted this means the conscience realizes that we are heading in the wrong direction and that we need God’s love to be cleansed and saved. A redeemed person has accepted the free gift of salvation which forgives their sins and changes their identity into a righteous state of being. A saved person accepts Christ as Lord into their heart to be the center of their love. As the saved person meditates on God’s Word, they are transformed into His image from the inside-out. However, being saved does not necessarily mean that a child of God will not continue to stumble and commit trespasses. Being made righteous means when God looks at our sin, He sees the covenant that Jesus established between God and man and this last will and testament backs the promises of redemption, justification and a continual forgiveness. Being born-again is being re-created as a new person that becomes convicted when they do wrong and exercises repentance while being determined to have their mind renewed and their old nature completely overhauled. Even though the newly saved person still sins, they have God now dwelling within their conscience and as promised by Christ, the Holy Spirit will guide and lead them into God’s perfect will if they choose to follow His voice.

So, we can establish the basics of the sheep and goats as; the lost have not accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior which is the cause of them going to hell and the ones that have received Jesus and are born-again are “saved” by His grace and will go to heaven. Nonetheless, the concept of eternal destination is not what many people think it is because it matters not what a lost person does to try and “EARN” their way into God’s favor. The Lord has one way of fulfilling His great plan of salvation and mankind must follow His divine reality. We must remember that being bad does NOT send anyone to hell – it is not receiving Christ in our heart. The same is true with being good does not send someone to heaven; again it is whether or not Jesus is our Master. I know this sounds simple but actually it is one of the most confusing subjects of spirituality. Those who are LOST and trying to be good on their own may go throughout their entire life in a fog of deception and never understand that their world-view is wrong. We are not on a “point system” where God gives everyone credit for what they have done and will add it all together in the end for a grade. Some people actually think that if the good outweighs the bad that the Father will give them an admission ticket to paradise. It is amazing to notice that at most funerals it is usually presumed the person went to heaven and stories are told about how they would give the shirt off their back to anyone that needed it or other worthy deeds and attitudes of generosity. This may present the deceased as a giving person but it actually has no accuracy in confirming if they are saved. There are many “crafty” individuals that give charitable donations only for the prideful reason to look good in the eyes of others and it is actually common to see the lost having emotional compassion and helping others in need. We do not think about this subject or talk about it that much, but let us take a moment to recap. Number one: Hell is a place without God’s presence. Number two: God does not send anyone to hell. Number three: People do not go to hell because of what they do or do not do. And number four: People go to hell because they have NOT accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord.

If we are truly SAVED we have the presence of Jesus within us that will guide and help us in our everyday affairs. Our salvation is not based on works because our deeds could never reserve a chair for us at the table but rather our place has been guaranteed by the blood of Jesus and His covenant with us. No one is “good” and all were lost since Adam and Eve fell – BUT, Christ paid the RANSOM for the sheep and delivered the “whosoever’s” from darkness into His marvelous light. Praise God! The remnant saints will NOT be ashamed to stand for God and His Word and will NOT be intimidated when the devil tries to run them off! It is time that Christians walk boldly in the power of God’s anointing and accomplish their calling. If we ask for more faith and courage He will give it to us and we will NOT fear what man can do to us! Amen!

As we study God’s Word, pray and walk in obedience to His voice the new Christian will develop and mature into a reflection of God’s image. Even though we do not work to go to heaven, we work because we love to obey God! Selah. We do not live holy in order to earn His favor, we live pure because we love Him and want to be as close to Him as possible! When the refiner is purifying gold he knows the dross has been burned out when he can “see” his reflection in the gold and likewise we are to reflect His image in our life. We realize that we will not walk perfect all the time and are faced with trying to explain how God’s children (which are supposedly “saved” from hell) yet still sin on a regular basis? First we must clarify that we all stumble and make mistakes but this is not the same as living a deliberate intentional life of evil thoughts and deeds. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall NOT inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (womanish), nor abusers of themselves with mankind. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God.” (I Corinthians 6: 9-10) It is important to notice that the passage continues with the reminder that many people that are saved now have done these things in the “past” and even more hideous acts and deeds BUT these sins were NOT keeping them from heaven! These deeds were the result of a person NOT being born-again! We must also remember that The Lord forgives sin when there is genuine repentance but there are still consequences for our actions and those who have been forgiven may still suffer from the damages that cannot be changed. Salvation is all about God’s mercy rescuing us from destruction and is given as an expression of His love as we continue in verse 11, “And such were some of you: BUT you are WASHED, but you are SANCTIFIED, but you are JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” We also find another passage of warning found in Revelation chapter 21 and verse 8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death.”

When we give our heart completely to God and are redeemed by His great sacrifice, we make a 180 turn completely in the opposite direction and do not look back! We are NOT finished or defeated because of our past. We are not to return to these sins after He washes us clean in the blood of Jesus. He is the God of many chances and is filled with pardons and liberty that can free us from the oppressive haunting and nightmares of our old life. This is the power of starting all over, a CHANGE that only Jesus Christ can bring as He receives all the glory from every transformed life.

Those who are God’s children do not want to sin in their new spiritual relationship with Christ and recognize sin as hurting and offending Him. They learn over time that His presence is the most important blessing in life and when they are dirty, there is no holy intimacy in the secret place. If those who are saved continue in their carnality He will step in and correct them as the Bible clearly teaches (which is another wonderful confirmation that we are His). “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, my SON despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him. For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every SON whom He receives. If you endure chastening (discipline), God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?” (Hebrews 12: 5-7) In this light, it is obvious as to what is happening in an individual’s spiritual life. If someone says they are a Christian and have no evidence or demonstration, then either they are being disciplined by THE Master or being deceived by the father of all lies!

To bring a balance to our conversation, it would only make sense to admit that everyone wants to go to heaven – but very few desire to go about it the right way. People are always looking for something free because they do not want to pay for it. It is also common to not care as much about things where we do not have a personal attachment or that have not cost us dearly. For example, if we were to give $20,000.00 for a bar of solid gold, we would definitely be sure to put it in a place of safety and be very careful with it. Why? Because we worked very hard for it and it is of great value to us. When we choose to abandon our will, this becomes the highest cost and sacrifice of our life; in fact it is our highest carnal treasure. If we stop and ponder this truth, we can agree how this can be measured as to how serious we are with God. In other words, if we have put very little “investment” into following Jesus, our spiritual life will have little value to us. On the other hand, those who have loved God with all of their heart, mind and strength are focused on His face because they have given everything. The ones in this life that have enjoyed this world’s pleasures but have ignored the Lord will have nothing in the end but the ones who have surrendered their will for God will be blessed with an eternal inheritance. “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called but few are chosen. “And every one that has forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my names sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit ETERNAL LIFE. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Mathew 19:29-30).

I receive magazines that talk about the integration of spiritual ministry into the world of health care and I realize that there are many different faiths and spiritual views among those who have serious illnesses. I also understand that the “system” forces professional clergy to work within strict guidelines when it comes to respecting whatever or whoever someone considers their “higher power”. However, the point of writing a letter such as this is to NOT follow the religious/political agenda that only attempts to make people “feel” better within their emotions. The mission of God’s saints is to TELL THE TRUTH of the gospel so that people are not comforted with a generic peace as they pass away into eternal darkness. There are way too many intellectuals that are highly trained in the psychological and socially acceptable “ministry” of trying to calm people’s fears but they do NOT have a clue about the reverential fear of the Lord and His demand to obey His voice. This is another example of those who dedicate their life to trying to help people but actually will have much blood on their hands in the day of judgment. Our duty has never been to just make people “feel happy” about themselves or try to get them to see how good they have been. Our calling is to tell them that Jesus Christ is the only power that can save a soul – His Word is the only message that is true – and His salvation is the only way to heaven. I do not care how offensive, non-tolerant or rude that seems to the world, it is necessary to offend in order to convict! Smoothing the truth like spreading frosting on a cake just so that people will not become angry is actually loving our reputation more than their soul! The Lord has never been afraid to tell the truth and neither should we. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we might have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.” (I John 4:17) All Glory, Power, Honor and Praise to His name forever! Amen.

CHAPTER 34

SENDING GOD’S CALLS TO VOICE MAIL

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect (mature): yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing. But we speak the wisdom (truth) of God in a mystery, even the HIDDEN WISDOM, which God ordained before the world unto our glory (benefit)” (I Corinthians 2: 6-7).

We will not enjoy all that He is until we give Him all that we are. Selah. There are as many interpretations about God being willing to perform the impossible as there are people but whatever anyone believes, there is an absolute truth – God is still in the miracle business! The Lord is attracted to faith like a magnet is to steel, but we have to admit that genuine faith is few and far between. Remember the symbolism of the tiny mustard seed and how the Lord used that to compare the power of faith. He said that if anyone could produce just a “speck” of true faith that it could move mountains, so this allows us to see how elusive faith really is. I personally believe it is difficult to separate and distinguish between faith and our emotions because our feelings is what we have been leaning on since we were old enough to remember. Our feelings just come natural to us because they are a part of our old “default” nature. We have learned to rely and trust how we feel and it will take a complete overhaul of our mind to become renewed in our thinking. I believe this transformation must at least be in progress BEFORE we can truly begin to build true faith because the carnal mind will NOT allow us to develop our spirituality. I had not seen this before but this revelation reveals the sobering reality why many of God’s people do not know what faith is or have their prayers answered because He only moves within our prayers through the LAWS of faith! The LAWS of the emotional realm are NOT recognized by God because they are based on the carnal flesh. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity (hostility, animosity, hatred) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh CANNOT please God” (Romans 8:5-8).

I realize that He has a special plan for each individual and that we are all unique in purpose and calling but there are also spiritual laws and definite standards when it comes to Godly character. When the lost attempt to do good deeds, it is appreciated by the people but does not automatically generate a spiritual reward from the Lord or “extra credit” when it comes to eternal salvation. The principals of God can be set in motion and the manifestation of truth can be received but this is only pertaining to this life. In other words, an unsaved person can give generously and in turn be blessed because of the unfailing laws of God’s Word but no matter how much they do it will not have anything to do with saving their soul. The same is true with a saved person that gives with the wrong intentions. They may enjoy the blessings of reaping and sowing but their works will be burned up because they have already received the glory. The Lord is not mocked when it comes to knowing the motives of the conscience and is the holy judge for all people and doing anything in the name of carnality will not be honored in eternity.

We spend a lot of time discussing God’s will because everything that happens seems to hinge on whether to give Him credit for doing something positive or blame Him when something goes wrong. However, as we have been speaking lately, when Christ died and resurrected His blood covenant joined man and God together that brought His saints into participation WITH Him to build His Kingdom on earth. Jesus caused quite a stir in His brief ministry but more than just demonstrating His power to the early church – He was also teaching us, (2000 years later), the responsibility of carrying on His lifestyle which includes accomplishing His will.

Now, I understand very well, (actually I know many people) that many Christians do not agree with this doctrine because they base everything that happens on the sovereignty of God which means He does whatever He wants. I am not going to say this is completely false because He is God but (not to burst your bubble) like I have said before, His sovereignty does not super-cede His Word. God has a general will which is His Word and a specific will which is the literal manifestation of His desires BUT He does NOT say one thing and do another. In this light, (not to be sacrilegious) we can hold Him to His Word and have complete trust and confidence that He will not “double-deal” on any issue or with any person. Or in other words, His specific will is not contrary to His written will. He does not tell us something in our prayer closet that is the opposite of His Word. Alright, let us just pause right here for a minute and allow you the reader to think about this. Before we go on, I just want you to consider if this is God’s truth and not some weird religious philosophy. (?) This is why I keep saying that understanding His general will for all of us can be learned and received as a revelation because His Word is His will.

OK, let us move forward. I am convinced that even the ones that believe all miracle power and demonstration of God’s glory passed away at the death of the disciples are still on board so far. Since most Christians accept His Word as being true and for us today, it seems the actual controversy now is with the “specific” will of God. This is where we find situations that cannot be explained and volumes of stories where it seemed that faith and prayer did not work. The majority of Christians follow the path of “why” did this happen or why did this not happen and in the end always come up with the only thing they can think of – “it was God’s will.” I must admit, it is puzzling to see one person in a hospital bed surrounded by church members and many friends and family asking God to heal them and they do not recover, while at the same time across town there is another person that is being prayed for and there CT scan comes back negative! A modern-day miracle – Praise His Holy Name! What was the difference? You guessed it – in both cases, everyone said it was the Lord’s will. I know there are actually several reasons that could be factors in both circumstances and I know that in most cases we will not comprehend what happened until we ask Jesus in heaven one day, but if He left instructions (and He did) and we follow these instructions to the letter and extend our mountain moving faith according as His Word has promised, either we are out in left field with our faith or His Word does NOT apply in all cases. If His Word is filled with exceptions and respecter of persons, then our faith really has very little to do with anything and we would do just as well to live life without praying and without building our confidence in His Word. We could just relax through our journey and live every moment without listening to His voice, obeying His commands or stepping forward in faith because we are telling the world that whatever happens is God’s responsibility. Now to me, this is very confusing and I can clearly see that if there are people out there that feel this way, then no wonder they do not invest all of their time reading, studying, learning and growing spiritually stronger because what would it matter? If there are any Christians out there who believe this lazy and lifeless ritual called religion I hope they will fall on their knees and repent of their doubt. This type of a negative attitude life is an unbelieving misery of bondage that just floats through day after day and never really believes for miracles or is on fire for anything. Not only is this an infection of error within the individual’s conscience but it also has a direct effect on everyone in their network. We have been called to be a spiritual catalyst, front-line warriors, leaders with boldness and victorious overcomers that demonstrate His power with courage and confidence. Sitting in a pew and living the default life of apathy, unbelief, and fear is not what God had in mind when He gave His WORD to us.

I do not believe it would take a Bible scholar to know that many people become perplexed when it comes to trying to figure out God’s specific will. It seems that many conservative thinkers and teachers have chosen to accept the views that there is no way to know His specific will and there are no demonstrations of spiritual power in this age which has left His general will to be bogged down with endless interpretations. Actually, these two facets of “normal” Christianity have opened the door for the evil spirit of religion to take the place of the Holy Spirit and alarmingly very few can tell the difference. Instead of repenting and admitting the reason why we cannot find God’s will is because we are not close to Him, it becomes much easier and less convicting to just announce that it is just not meant to be. It is with these arrogant declarations of laziness and ignorance that puts people at ease and rocks them back to sleep. The same is true with divine healing or any other situation that requires fervent prayer and fasting or a sacrificial determination of obedience. “For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (I Corinthians 4:20) In other words, we can listen to philosophic lectures all day long but they are only opinions unless God breathes His anointing and power into demonstrating His Word. He did not stop using His people as instruments for His glory – His people stopped becoming vessels of honor for Him to use! Selah Humans want the best of both worlds without having to pay for anything. They love the idea of freedom and free blessings but when they face the message of “bearing” the cross and abandoning their will, they change channels. Whoever started preaching about free salvation maybe should have used the word “opportunity” but I presume that would not have drawn such large crowds or brought in as much money. People are always thinking that spiritual authority has something to do with humans acting like super-heroes that have lightning bolts coming from their fingers or that can walk around with all types of supernatural powers. The truth about the power that God has given to His church is that our spiritual authority does NOT work independently from God’s Word or His specific will – rather it works WITH IT! When Jesus Christ comes into someone’s heart to become their Lord, how could we have the potential to be any closer to Him? If we choose to become one with Him and bask in the intimate relationship that He wants to have with us, we are walking in His Spirit and are cooperating with His still small voice. This capability and God designed “blessing” is designed for the reason to communicate – right? This communication allows us to pour our heart out to Him and for Him to respond and REVEAL His specific will for all of our situations. My question is; if this personal spiritual connection to Christ is real, (and it can be) how in the world could any Christian confess that we cannot know what God is thinking? Because many people are only able to see and operate in the natural realm of their emotions. They have never understood or accepted that we are bonded with God spiritually. “But the natural man receives not (does not accept) the things of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (judged). But he that is spiritual judges ALL THINGS, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? BUT WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST” (I Corinthians 2: 14-16).

No matter how we slice it or dice it, having the mind of Christ is knowing the will of God! “Jesus said unto them, my meat is to do the WILL of Him that sent me and to finish His work.” (John 4:34) This is a perfect example of Jesus knowing the will of His Father and likewise a clear proof that we also are to know what he wants from us because we also have been sent to do His work. It is ridiculous to think that we have a highly detailed and outlined mission to accomplish yet we cannot know how to do it. The will of God is waiting to be found by those who seek and knock on the doors of heaven. He has promised to open and give unto all who seek first His Kingdom! Those who are walking in His will must KNOW what they are doing and where they are going like Jesus. “He that says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked.” (I John 2:6) We are confused and have become our own worst enemy if we accept the lie that we cannot know what He is saying.

It is sad to see the modern churches of today and how far they drifting away from knowing and demonstrating God’s will. I am not grouping all churches together or implying they are all the same but only speaking in general terms. I am perplexed as to what pastors are thinking in these last days but my heart does go out to them because I believe they are being distracted from God’s voice. I understand there are MANY reasons why the power of God is not manifested in the churches and I realize that most pastors comprehend that the level of power is directly associated with the discipline of the people’s relationship with the Lord. This is no doubt most of the problem as the pastors probably feel like their hands are tied because of the overload of carnality and fleshly attitudes from the congregation. If the people are lukewarm and have decided that God is a low priority, it would not matter how “on fire” the pastor was or how many revivals he scheduled. I am also very concerned about those who are accepting Christ today and in their new excitement, they venture into a stagnant religious environment that leads them in the wrong direction and eventually hurts them. It is awkward and difficult to warn a new Christian of the dangers within the religious system because we do not want to discourage their enthusiasm. May the Lord continue to give us His holy wisdom and keen discernment in these last hours. Amen.

CHAPTER 35

WHAT TYPE OF SIGN ARE WE LOOKING FOR?

I was recently told that people do not like to hear the same things over and over. This was a comment that was given during a discussion about spiritual teachings and the different styles and focuses that ministers have. I believe that most teachers are drawn to certain subjects and are passionate about specific areas of life and this can be seen in all types of education for example; history, math, science or in any type of skill or trade. People do not become bored with what they teach because of their deep love of the subject matter. Of course, the delivery and approach to expressing and communicating truth can make a difference in how students enjoy and receive knowledge. After considering the original statement, I began to wonder if it is really a rejection of “all” repetition or is it subject matter? The evening news is an example of the masses that hear the same thing each night and yet are mesmerized by the continuous flood of bad news. They are faithful to the news and want to know what is going on even though it is relatively the same thing over and over. Another example is talk radio where the subject content is always the same but the listeners are glued to every word. These individuals who follow the topics of what they are interested in have no problem with listening to the same thing constantly because that is what they LOVE. People who grow tired of hearing God’s Word are backslidden and have grown cold to His voice. These are same ones that stir strife within a church by whispering that the pastor is boring, the worship is outdated, and the programs are dull and lifeless. Sadly, many marriages also dissolve for this reason; many jobs are abandoned and so on and so forth all because things are not exciting or stimulating enough. Most of the time the problem is within the person who has grown restless and discontent and this is usually a result of not having the peace and joy that is only found in the intimate relationship with Christ.

I have been told that I am a hard-nosed, (hellfire and brimstone) writer that seems to concentrate on how sinful we are and how desperately we need to change. I am not denying or ashamed that this has been the “mantle” that has been given to me as I am not smart enough to have mapped out my calling or planned this as an agenda on purpose. I started writing music one day back in 1982, and the first song I wrote was called, “All of Him – less of me” and I have been writing about this ever since. If I tried to write with any other direction or reason, I would lose my passion and feel like a “cookie cutter” religious “sell-out.” I am always convicted of what the Lord gives me to write and it has been spoken over me several times through prophetic words that I would write a difficult message. Why should I or anyone else be surprised that the Christian life is a hard road to follow especially since Jesus Himself told us it would be like this? Becoming a disciple of Jesus is NOT a popular subject and will never lead the parade in the category of “feel good” theology. Of course, this is why I stress how important it is to remember that the flesh HATES anything to do with the sacrifice and surrender of our will. I realize that we all would love to hear about how great we are and how everyone will be saved someday but this “la, la land” mentality “secretly” injects the human emotions with attitudes of laziness and rebellion and hinders our mission. Children say they hate discipline but deep down they need and appreciate someone who cares enough to spank them. The same is true with not respecting those who “sugar coat” truth until it has no meaning at all. Many pastors and churches have taken this path of trying to be all things to all people for the sake of social and political reasons – NOT because they were being led by the Holy Spirit.

The remnant who sincerely seeks truth will not become bored with hearing it! In fact, heaven will be filled with praising and worship and shouting as we glorify and magnify His Holy Name – continually! I cannot comprehend how Lucifer could have become irritated and annoyed with His position, or how he could have schemed against the perfection of God but somehow the attitudes of jealous strife consumed him. I would say this would be impossible to happen in the future and I certainly hope this is true however I am concerned that if God’s Word cannot hold our attention now – that it will not be able to hold us then and maybe these people who are bored with Him today, might need to start all over again so they can be on the same page as He is! I realize we all need tons of encouragement because life is very difficult. Encouragement is like water to a person that is crawling through the desert and that is why people flock to hear something that makes them feel good about themselves. Nevertheless, we also must understand there are many religious leaders that capitalize on this market and are trying to gather as large of a crowd as they can for their own personal gain. This is where God’s anointing stops and human psychology starts and sadly the spectators are happy and willing to participate as long as they can justify their conscience. This exposes the difference between religion and spirituality as religion enjoys the knowledge but the spirit understands knowledge as revelation, manifestation, and demonstration.

I was talking to a person the other day and we were joking around about doing good deeds and how most people believe that the Lord keeps “score” on a system of points and credits. This individual has not accepted Jesus into their heart but is considering it. He is under conviction and has been reading his Bible and I honestly believe that God is seriously knocking on the door of his conscience but as we all know the hesitation of NOT wanting to surrender to God is nothing new. Some feel that it is “negative” to be constantly reminded of the war between the flesh and the Spirit but are they forgetting how important it is when it comes to receiving Christ or rejecting Him? It is not a secret that humans hate to submit to God because they love the lifestyle of pillows and chocolates. No wonder people are seeking a soft message. Our internal structure of thoughts has designed the external vessel of who we are and of course, this is what being born-again begins to tear down first. As the blackboard of our heart is erased and a new KING is seated on the throne of our conscience, we can begin to truly LIVE life as it was intended. We were never created to exist without God’s guidance but rather were fashioned to be a temple where God could live and move freely.

Each of us has the decision to lay down our life at His feet and take up our cross and follow – if we choose. The truth is that to most people this does not sound encouraging because it includes the huge responsibility and accountability to live according to God’s voice. Contained within His moment by moment intimate relationship is the covenant agreement to do whatever He is asking. In turn, He promises to work “with us” and provide the supernatural power and authority to walk according to His Word. Those who accept this opportunity can and will say – “may it be done unto me according to Thy Word!” This means that everything He has promised in His Word can be attained by those who have deliberately placed themselves in position to receive all that he has. In turn, they have agreed and vowed to give Him all that they are. If this revelation ever becomes boring then somewhere down the line we have sprung a leak and our tank of living water has run dry. The closer one draws near to God, the more serious they realize our world’s condition. Yes, we need encouragement but a soft, watered down gospel is not the answer. Most of our personal edification is found in the study of God’s Word and the secret place of prayer. His love, grace, and compassion will be sufficient for those who desire a genuine experience with Him and only those who truly love Him will love His truth.

CHAPTER 36

BECOMING OUR OWN WORST ENEMY

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile (deceit) let him eschew (avoid) evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue (follow) it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Peter 3: 10-12).

I was listening to a radio program the other day and they were airing a short interview with a young gay man. He told the story of how he was raised in a religious home and how his family had such high hopes of him going to college, getting married, having a family and living a wonderful “normal” life. He said that he tried to put on the false smiles and the mask of being happy but he finally broke down and revealed that he could not exist in such a miserable lie. He said that he realized that the God of the Bible did not accept him as he was (neither did most of the church) but he confirmed through his public statement that this “rejection” would not prevent him from living his life exactly as he pleased. He was somewhat arrogant and defiant (as a result of being hurt) as he went on to say that he and God did not talk much anymore and had a rather cold and distant relationship. He seemed to blame all of this on the Lord for not compromising His stand toward those who prefer the same sex. It was as if he was right and God was wrong and that somehow this was going to comfort him while he continues to brag, “I did it my way.” Allow me to say that whatever our excuse for rebellion, no one can justify sin! Our hostility and sneaky plans of revenge remind me of when babies discover that if they scream loud enough and long enough they can selfishly get what they want. This does NOT work with God when it comes to Him “bending” His own standards. To walk in the attitude of this level of pride results in us becoming our own worst enemy as we are destroyed by our refusal to let go of what we “think” is right. “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” I Timothy 4: 1-2.

Please listen to me as I have been given a very important message to pass to you. Through the years we have spoken extensively about the power of the tongue and confessing God’s Word. We have also talked about our intimate personal relationship with God where we pour out our heart to Him in the secret place and enjoy the pleasures of being in His presence. However, I was meditating the other day about all of this and I sensed the Spirit whisper to me that we should be careful not only about the negative words we release that can be created but also about revealing our fears and weaknesses where the devil and his demons can HEAR them! God instructs us to go into our “closet” and talk to God in “secret.” Why? Because the devil will not follow us into the holy of holies and he cannot hear our personal secrets that we are crying to the Lord. When we open our mouth and tell all of our fears and weaknesses out loud, the enemy can freely begin to launch attacks against us that he knows will pierce us and bring us to our knees. If we have any particular problems we are facing and have serious concerns about a situation – that is exactly where he will pinpoint his attention and intentionally target our weakness in order to defeat us. Become aware of what you are saying because you could easily be causing many of your problems and becoming your own worst enemy! The secret place was given this name not just because it is a private place to meet with God but because what is said between us and God is a “secret” and not for the natural world or the spiritual world to hear – especially Satan.

Another very important reminder for our spiritual development is having a VISION for our faith! Seeing our self the way God sees us may be the key to our victory. When we ask God to help us change and make us a better person in His image, we really need to take this one step further and try to spiritually “see” this individual. “A POSSIBLE YOU” is all about finding this person and identifying what we are believing for. The idea of “CHANGING” from who we are into what God wants us to be is the “DYNAMIC” of genuine salvation and the purpose of our Christian progression. We will never reach a sinless plateau in this life but we can become more wise and stronger as we continue to mature in our journey. It is like when high school students take college prep classes in order to become more familiar with the next “level” of learning we likewise should always be eager to advance in our understanding as we progress toward the next step of our spiritual evolution. The same is true with having a vision of what and who we are interceding for! Let us not pray one thing and then speak negatively about it because the power of our words can hinder the possibilities of our faith. Whether we are seeing visions with our natural eyes or having dreams and visions in our spirit, these images are being displayed within our mind and accepted into our heart. May we be careful to NOT allow tele”vision” to replace the real “vision” of our destiny that God is calling for us to be focused on! Are we so naïve to ignore the reality that being distracted could be preventing us from having miracles come to pass? Yes, life and death are in the power of the tongue but it also makes sense that our “insight” could be the missing link of our total faith process. Envisioning the final result will energize our words and become the “substance” of things hoped for and the EVIDENCE of things NOT seen.

It is amazing how self-sufficient and independent the human brain can become. Those who are strong willed and have a high degree of determination to succeed have always been more difficult to surrender their will than the average person that does not have an energetic vision to accomplish lofty goals. Many would think that I am referring to a lost person but actually there are a few Christians that have qualities of high intelligence, practical common sense and have a pit-bull mentality that cannot be easily side-tracked or discouraged. Within the personality and psyche of many of these over-achievers, there is an analytical personality that is “direct” and examines everything with a microscope all within the seemingly effortless flow of control. These types are “hard-wired” to be cautious and skeptical and are often judged as being aggressive, always on guard and down to business. Actually, these are solid traits that can be used for good and in God’s eyes; they are considered unique, gifted and filled with His unlimited potential to do great and mighty things. The problem is the declared war that battles against their soul. Not only does the enemy target these visionaries with attacks of fear and intimidation, but their own strong will becomes a force to reckon with and is a regular “deal breaker” when it comes to trusting anyone (especially a God they cannot see). We have heard many times that it is much easier to accept the Lord into our heart at an early age. Why? Because if we have Christ as our Lord when we are young, we can be molded to fit His pattern and learn gradually how to adapt our mind and views to His Word. We can “grow” not only physically but also spiritually and mentally when we are still flexible and pliable in the tenderness of our years.

When we have already built the foundations of our world-views and political/social ideas and philosophies, it is much more difficult to persuade us to tear all of that down and start over. You see, when we receive Jesus as a young person, we are like a lump of fresh clay on the potter’s wheel where we do not have a lot to tear down and we can begin to celebrate and rejoice as we begin the molding process on our brand new life. When we are older we dry out and become hard and “set” like concrete after a few days. When anyone chooses to live an independent existence that relies completely on their own instincts and logic they become a vessel of their own design. The potter (which is God the creator) cannot put us on His wheel and salvage the temple that we have become. The only thing He can do is break us and crush us back to powder and mix us with water so that we can become clay again. This “born-again’ opportunity can present us as a little child and by child-like faith, we can become transformed and renewed as a disciple of His Kingdom. So we can clearly see that it is God’s specific perfect will that we raise our children in the guidance of spiritual truth so when they are still very young hopefully they will flow into their profession of faith as they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Would you agree that the longer a person waits to “deal” with their spiritual condition the more challenging it will be? When I say this, it sounds like I am implying that we can turn to God whenever we choose and use Him like we do the water faucet on our bathroom sink. Allow me to say that I have no intention of teaching this concept of salvation. I say with all humility and with the sobering reverential fear of His person, that if anyone is ever convicted, moved, had their conscience pricked or spiritually awakened, it was God reaching out in His LOVE, grace, and compassion! If we ever come to love Him – it is because He first loved us! What many people have become deceived is that He does not promise that He will always hold the door open or continue knocking with us repeatedly ignoring His call. Many have wandered through this life thinking in the back of their mind that they have plenty of time to respond to God or that He will always be ready to welcome them in their last breath. This may sound like a sneaky plan to dive in at the last minute – but is this worth the chance of being wrong?

Let us stop for a moment and seriously meditate about how we become a Christian and what does it mean to receive and accept His invitation. When we are lost, we have no interest in the things of God and it is a waste of time to pester someone about getting saved. In fact, if we are not led by God, we can actually hinder and damage God’s plan to intervene in someone’s life. This is why we pray and ask God to give us a burden for lost souls, cause us to be a good witness for others, for us to be sensitive and obedient to His voice and to open divine appointments for us to share the gospel with someone that is ready for the seed. When someone is lost (however they hear the gospel), it is this POWER within God’s Word along with His Holy Spirit that comes upon them and DRAWS them while revealing their need to be redeemed. It is this conviction that exposes who we really are (our hopeless condition) and temporarily opens our spiritual eyes long enough for us to see ourselves the way God sees us. This wonderful example of mercy beckons for us to let go of this world and embrace Him as the author and finisher of our faith. However, we have been given the free-will to make the decision whether or not we are going to accept this invitation. In this light, it is clear that our rebellious human nature and the hard-hearted, stubborn passion for “control” can definitely become our own worst enemy.

There is nothing anyone can say that can save a person – it is completely between God and the individual. We can witness and testify and instruct but salvation has nothing to do with this earth – it has everything to do with what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Likewise, there is nothing we can do or give that can save our own soul. If there is anything we can do to EARN our salvation, then the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus were not needed. I think some believe that everyone’s deeds are weighed and if the good is more than the bad they go to heaven and if not they go to hell, but as we have mentioned earlier – deeds have nothing to do with destination. It is whether or not we are saved that determines where we will spend eternity. The question that we all must deal with, “How much is my soul worth?” comes from closely examining our heart as we pursue our most important answer. Some people believe that if we live and die without God in this journey called life, that we are to do everything we want and drain every drop of pleasure we can because we only have one chance to enjoy it. When people are young and healthy they do not consider the great price they are paying because they are convinced that living their own will is not costing them anything. Yet, how many times do we hear of these types of people regretting all those years of selfish independence as they reflect and now face eternity in their last dying moments. You see, the lost (that have knowingly rejected Christ) actually “sell” their soul as an exchange for a generic fleshly freedom. They barter and agree within their conscience that they are willing to be saturated with a lifetime of pleasure consisting of doing as they please – as a trade for whatever happens in the next life. The sad reason why many keep busy and fill their lives with distractions throughout this short season of life is that they do not want to be reminded of this horrible deal. It’s amazing that seemingly brilliant individuals that work tirelessly around the clock in order to close the big transactions in the world of business would be so easily deceived into such an obvious rip-off. How many people have labored all their life accumulating materialistic treasures and building empires of wealth and affluence, yet will leave this earthly realm empty handed and spiritually bankrupt? Can you think of anything that would be worth trading for eternity? Houses, cars, jewelry, sexual pleasures, power, fame, respect, pride, recognition? As we have said many times before; having a relationship with God is THE meaning of life and nothing in this world is worth more than yielding our life to Him and abiding in His loving presence.

Let us observe one more area that pertains to the human natures struggle to let go of the will and the world. Have you ever considered that it may be more difficult for a wealthy person to surrender their will than an average individual? Now brother. I do not believe that has anything to do with it! We all have the same temptations and the same level of resistance. I understand what you are saying and do agree to some extent but the Word of God seems to speak directly about this subject. I am not saying that God excuses the prosperous but I believe He also takes into consideration that the pull of wealth and the love for materialism is very strong. God is not ignorant or insensitive to the powers of temptation but still cannot compromise His standards. Everyone must follow Him the same way and that is to lay down their idols and trust Him completely. Allow me to clarify what I am trying to say; when I speak of “surrender” or abandoning our will, I am not necessarily implying that the wealthy would be asked by God to sell everything they own and live on the street. The point of becoming His child and trusting Him as our Lord and Savior is developing a genuine LOVE for Him and being completely obedient to Him IF He asked us to do it. Let us look at Mark 10:25, “It is easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” In our first glance at this passage, the first thing that comes to our mind is that God is saying it is impossible for a wealthy person to be saved. However, I believe this “mental image” is being strongly emphasized because of the seriousness of the issue. This is not a joke or something to be taken lightly. Our human nature is very fierce and filled with egotistical attitudes that will fight at the drop of a hat to defend what we have earned. It is no secret that the prosperous are very proud of their accomplishments and the same perseverance and discipline that helped them achieve success is the same internal fortitude that is ready to go to war in order to keep it.

It is not wrong to be rich. Having wealth is a blessing and can be used to do many wonderful things. The Kingdom of God operates within the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit but it is also helped along the way with finances. In fact, I personally believe that God would love to prosper all of His people but He also knows that riches without living a dedicated, holy life of discipline would spell disaster and is a clear warning that we could become our own worst enemy IF our ability to gather wealth became our idol. When the rich young ruler was told by Jesus to sell all that he had and to come and join with His ministry, He already knew the man’s heart and realized this young, successful businessman loved the authority that wealth provided MORE than anything else. Jesus was trying to expose to him the very thing that stood between him and God. The Lord wants ALL of our heart not just what is comfortable. Let us look at another passage. “For we brought nothing into this world – and it is certain we can carry nothing out and with having food and clothes let us be content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the LOVE of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after (were greedy about), they have erred (turned away) from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Timothy 6: 7-10). All the Lord has ever wanted is our heart and that includes our thoughts, deeds and most importantly our love. Today, He is waiting for someone to invite and allow Him to sit on the throne of their heart as King and Lord. Amen.

CHAPTER 37

ARE WE RUNNING TO JESUS – OR AWAY FROM HIM?

People avoid God simply because they are afraid to be His presence. Somewhere deep down in our human psyche we realize we are spiritually naked. When the light shines into the darkness, the dark does not extinguish the light but rather runs and hides and the same is true with the spirit that has not been transformed by the love of God. This running “instinct” recognizes our submission to God’s will as a type of “raining on our parade” and is a built-in protection mechanism that is connected to our enmity toward Him. This means that our default nature hates God and anything to do with His Word, His Kingdom, and His people. Our flesh is married to our free-will and together they love the freedom of doing whatever feels good. No matter how spiritually knowledgeable, the sub-conscience realizes that in order to submit to God’s standard of living, it will require the abandonment of our carnal independence. To say the least, this fleshly freedom is “precious” to the joys of our freedom and the rebellious way of living intentionally chooses to remain as the captain that makes all the decisions. To remain in control, the carnal will fights constantly to run away from God’s power that can save us from ourselves.

There are two types of people in this world; those who are running away from God and those who are running toward him (and there seems to be no in-between). The lost are running away from Him because just the mention of His Name causes them to “cringe” with anxiety and guilt. Also (unfortunately), there are multitudes of the saved that have allowed their old nature to overpower their new spirit and are also living in the shame of fear and weakness. These “backsliders” have allowed their will to pull them BACK into their old habits and be enticed to become entangled in their old temptations. The Lord has a great measure of mercy toward everyone including these wayward souls and only He can know the details of how He will deal with them. Whatever the situation with individuals that tend to avoid God at all cost, we can be sure that deception always plays a huge part as it desperately attempts to “maintain” our blind arrogance which justifies the conscience with feelings of false security. Sadly, since most people have always lived exactly the way they want, we can see clearly how the un-renewed mind can become “spoiled” in its way of doing things and even Jesus cannot make them change. While speaking about living however we want, most have never quite realized that this is not an amusing game that we can take or leave but rather it is a very deep problem that may determine where we end up in eternity. I think we can be fairly sure that if we live exactly the way we want in this life that we will not be included on heavens guest list because this would be contrary to God’s idea of Jesus being our Lord. May I include, there are many that have never considered just how aggressive the human will can be when it is fighting to keep its position as the chief operating officer. The throne of our heart is a very heavily guarded palace and king self is prepared to fight to the death!

Many have been taught that spiritual warfare is the battle against the devil and I am not saying that He is not an opponent against God and His saints but he is not to be given the level of focus the will needs to have. Satan may roam as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, but the will already has an oval office in the west wing of our conscience! The devil is on the outside looking in but the will is already on the inside and up and running “smoothly.” We must realize that the devil influences and specializes in whispering secrets to the will so that the will might accept his ideas. Some believe that we cannot control our thoughts but this a philosophical view that is used as an excuse to do whatever we want. It is NOT the devil that “makes” anyone do bad things but rather they must be accepted by the will and then the will gives orders to the body to carry out the desire. For example, can the devil “make” you be discouraged and sad? No, but he can sure pound you with negative thoughts that drain your joy and can cause you to forget the truth of how much God loves you. Can Satan “make” you a nasty person that no one wants to be around? No, but he can whisper lies into your ear about how everyone is against you, how that people are just using you and taking advantage of you and really do not care about you until you begin to believe and accept it. If these deceptions are embraced it can cause anyone to become paranoid, offensive, angry, hurt and many other negative emotions that can distort who we are and change us for the worse. On the flip-side, the intention of salvation and the indwelling presence of God within our heart were to also be a steady influence within our mind and conscience. Those who become born-again are to listen to God’s voice and respond with obedience. This is a brief glimpse of the “battle” within our conscience to either follow the plans of Jesus or obey the desires of our own will.

This teaching once again is getting ready to turn more intense. It is not a condemnation to our spirit but it is spiritually convicting to our will and flesh. Allow me to say, we do NOT have time to talk about religious patty-cake issues that cause us to continue in our apathy and sleepiness. Radical faith is all that we have time for in this last hour because it is where the rubber meets the road within our Christian life. Radical faith is the way Jesus walked and the message He taught! The cost of “cross-bearing” has a direct impact on everything we say and do and for anyone to have anything negative to say about this lifestyle it reveals exactly how they feel about Christ Himself. We, (as ministers of HIS gospel) are not “creating” a philosophy of Christian living – we are MESSENGERS trying to relay God’s Word. No one’s flesh wants to submit their will to God, but unless we do our Christian life cannot be what God intended for it to be. If He was totally satisfied with a normal religious life, why did He so harshly condemn the Pharisees? They were absorbed with a legalistic knowledge of God instead of a personal relationship with Him which did not include submitting their will to Him. We can try to analyze how we think things should be but it has no bearing on how things really are. We will not be given partial or extra credit for coming up with our own ideas about the Lord or being an innovative thinker that pioneers our own religious path. God has a certain way that He has established and it is our obedience to His way that makes all the difference. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I (Jesus) will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” Mathew 7:22-23. What in the world does this mean? “That day” is referring to the judgment where everyone will stand before God and it is clear that many who spent much time doing religious works will be shocked to discover that they were tragically deceived. If we continue reading in the context of this passage, the Lord goes on to describe how crucially important it is to KNOW God. Sadly, many are convinced they are saved and become involved with many deeds and works (like the Pharisees) yet have never experienced Christ personally. If this example of deception does not cause us to tremble and be sober about our salvation then what will? People who float through life and think that we can just do the best we can and everything will be alright – do NOT understand reverential fear. The TRUE Christian life is radical faith but a meaningless, emotional, religious life accepts just enough of God’s knowledge to ease the conscience! The masses are confused; if Jesus is NOT sitting on the throne of our heart – He is NOT our Lord. If He is NOT our Lord – then what is He to us?

Radical faith separates the genuine from the pretenders! So, what exactly are we talking about? Radical faith is a result of finally surrendering our heart to God and laying our will at His feet. This abandoning of our life and embracing HIS new life, is why Jesus died and rose again. Oh I am sure that all of us would rather hear messages about all of the good things God has for us but it is only within the context of the surrendered life. Humans love the idea of getting something without having to pay for it and when they hear that Jesus was crucified so they could go to heaven they are all in. It is true, salvation is free and this is a general outline of His desire but it is not cheap, it is not only conditional to our covenant relationship with Him – it will cost us EVERYTHING! If we abide in Him and He abides in us, then our love for Him will lead us into His perfect will and transform us into His image. If our intention is to only “hitch a ride” on the shuttle to paradise without bearing our own cross, we will be disappointed. I am not trying to be negative but there are only a few that will make the determination to be a “cross bearer.” “Enter in at the straight gate: for WIDE is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and MANY there be which go there. Because straight is the gate, and NARROW is the way which leads unto life and FEW there be that finds it (Mathew 7: 13-14). Of course we do not want to hear this continually! Who wants to surrender everything they have and all that they are? Dying to the idol of SELF is an incredibly difficult mission but the reason why we need to meditate on this is because it is the foundation of our salvation. Jesus uses a very strong paradox of what He expects (demands) for us to demonstrate in our love and devotion for Him – IF we actually want to be His disciples. If we do not desire to go all the way with Him in this journey, we will continue living in the outer court deception. Let us turn to Luke chapter fourteen.

(Verse 26) “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Many have said this is confusing because of the strong word “hate” that is being used but in the context of the meaning, we can know that is to be interpreted “loved less.” The emphasis here is that our love for Christ is to be “supreme” over every other love in our life. On the list of priorities in the Christian life we should have God at the very top, but to be honest, this level of loyalty and devotion is usually as difficult to find as water in the desert. To say the least, this is radical faith and one of the most blunt and aggressive commands that explains cross-bearing. There is much involved within these words as God is conveying the difficult message that His children are not to allow the entanglements of this world even when it involves family to interfere with God’s directions. The true disciple is to live the abundant life in the Holy Spirit with all of the fruits and attributes of God and is NOT to compromise from the stress and pull of anyone else. Many times Christians are heavily influenced by their family (along with the devil) and choose to dis-obey God in order to please everyone else. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is because God cannot truly be the LORD of anyone that does not have Him as their first love.

(Verse 27) “And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” This passage continues the uncomfortable series of statements that are usually avoided by the religious world. Those who are self-sufficient and use religion as a social status “false security” will have no place in their heart for a commitment like this. Again, we see there is not any compromising or “deal making” with anyone that tries to avoid surrendering their will by using excuses. This is cut and dried and difficult to face, but it also perfectly explains what God is expecting. I believe Christ needed to present this message in this way or man’s philosophic reason would dissect and analyze these words until they had no meaning at all. It all comes down to just how much we actually believe God’s Word and of course how determined we are to obey Him. The huge question still remains as to just what bearing our cross really means and the details could be quite lengthy. To condense the spectrum into a compact thought, we could say that basically it is laying our will down at His feet and loving Him with ALL of our heart, mind and strength. This may seem simple but I can assure you it is a TALL order. Allow me to ask you today; have you decided that this is how you are going to live the rest of your days?

(Verse 28) “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see whether he has enough resources to finish it? “Sacrifice” is one of the most commonly used words in the terminology of Christianity. The remaining verses of chapter 14, is devoted to “driving home” the need of serious consideration along with an honest personal examination of the “big picture” of our life. Our free-will is center stage and along with the privilege to choose our own path, also is attached the responsibility and of course the ultimate consequences. It is evident that we cannot live a double life even though we have been taught this way. The Christian life must become our only life and everything we do and have is to be directly connected to our mission. When Jesus said in verse 33, “So likewise, whosoever that does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple”, He was not making a suggestion but rather trying to convey the demand of being “possessed” by Him. Only those who love Him above ALL things in life will run to Him and gladly lay down their life for Him. 

CHAPTER 38

LIVING FOR CHRIST MUST BECOME PERSONAL

The remnant that lives in a state of seriousness for God discovers through time that maturing in Christ is a process that helps us understand what life is all about. The phases and levels of learning to know God and to learn about human behavior can hardly be grasped by the young novice. The spiritual life can be seen as an interstate highway that leads us to a specific destination. There are blessings that can be found in the “rest areas” but there can also be the dangerous temptation to build our home there. As we have said before, each person is a unique individual and this includes their own measurement of wisdom and spiritual containment. As God used the expression of being filled with His Spirit, the concept can be realized that if our heart is like a container there are endless percentages of amounts stored within our mind and conscience. There seems to be no limit to how much we can absorb and this encouragement to continue being filled also allows us to notice that possibly we can likewise lose some of His presence if we discontinue the filling process. In this light we can see how crucial it is to not only press toward the mark of becoming filled with Him – but also to STAY filled. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be FILLED with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5: 18-21). Allow us to continue with looking more carefully at this passage.

When Paul preaches to be “filled” with the Spirit, he is referring to the Holy Spirit and in accordance to God’s Word this is not an option. The Bible is not a book of suggestions but rather a daily instruction manual about how to become what Christ died for us to be. The reason why most people live in a state of lukewarm spiritual mediocrity is because they refuse to obey God’s demands and commands. These verses begin with comparing alcohol consumption and the “feelings” of intoxication with being filled with God’s presence and the overwhelming joy this brings us. He goes on to reveal the secrets of how we can encourage ourselves by confessing God’s Word out loud and worshipping Him in Spirit and truth. We notice that he is trying to explain to us that we do not need to wait on someone else to sing or preach – we must take the initiative to approach God on our own. Why? Because our relationship is not based on a public service or corporate meeting, it is grounded on the intimacy of PERSONAL love and adoration. Without this personal relationship with Him there is no being “filled” with Him and without His anointing and power He is not able to use us to accomplish His will. Paul concludes with the importance of being grateful to God which is connected with humility and meekness and this provides the attitude that allows us to be submissive not only to the Father but also to one another in the reverential fear of God. All of this (which is Christian living) can only happen when we desire to be emptied of self and filled with His Spirit.

No one can take God seriously while also being absorbed with their own life. This time it is not Paul speaking but Jesus Himself, “No man can serve two masters: either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mathew 6: 24). There are only two masters in this life – God and our will. There are many idols that are associated with the devil but even Satan himself can only become our master if our will allows him to be. This verse is specifically referring to money and materialism but definitely not being limited as the only other “master.” Most people do not think of what they love as having anything to do with serving something or someone. This is because they fail to remember that the external temptations and idols of this life are not really what is causing us to become a servant – it is our will that is the true captain of our ship. Until we allow Christ to govern every part of our being, it is our will that is the commander and chief executive officer of our life. All of the other lust and desires that capture our attention are only entertaining our rebellious nature. The truth that most people do not consider is that until the Christian life becomes “ultimately” personal there will be very little spiritual transformation!

I want us to go deeper into this thought of Christ becoming personal and I would like for us to turn to John the nineteenth chapter. In this section we read about the exchanges between Jesus and Pilate, the crucifixion of Christ and eventually his death. In verses 25 through 27 we notice that His mother Mary did not run away but rather bravely is seen standing by the cross in the emotional trauma of agony while watching her innocent child be tortured. I want us to think for a minute about just how PERSONAL this event was for the mother of Jesus. Everything she had experienced and seen in the past 33 years was beyond human understanding as she had been so blessed to have been chosen to give birth to the Son of God. She had been completely convinced in her mind, heart and spirit that Jesus was God and there were so many miracles that proved who He was she could hardly remember them all. Her life was NEVER THE SAME after she “conceived” and began to carry Jesus as He became and remained the “center” of her being. Do you see where I am going with this? Only when we become filled with God and He becomes the focus of our existence can we “give birth” to Him! He cannot be expressed or released within us until we are overflowing with Him! He did not grow inside of Mary to remain hidden within her – He came to be a ransom for sin and to be launched into the world to do His Fathers will. Likewise, salvation is not for us to have Him live within us and remain hidden because of our fear and lack of faith but His desire is for us to be FILLED to the point of overflowing with His presence so that THROUGH US He might accomplish not OUR will but HIS will!

After Jesus died, was buried and rose again, I want us to continue thinking about His mother and His disciples. We notice in today’s world when something tragic happens to a child that sometimes the mothers will turn to the legal system or even congress to try and pass a law that will promote awareness or might prevent a crisis from happening with another child. Why is this? Because the mother has taken the event so personal that it is ALL she can think about. Those who are directly affected by tragedy do not take what happened lightly neither does the impact of the reality fade away quietly. When the mother of Jesus went back to the routine of everyday life after Jesus eventually went back to heaven, do you believe she just stopped talking about God’s plan of saving mankind? Do you think her memories were that Jesus was just a good kid that was passionate about religion? Definitely not! She was CONSUMED with God’s plan of salvation and was POSSESSED with His divine truth that she knew was real and the cure to redeem all those who would believe. Yes, of course she was a fanatic and I’m sure she could hardly think of anything else but my question is; why are we not the same way? For one reason, we do not think about what happened to Jesus in the same personal way she did. He was not our child but was someone else’s the same way we do not feel the deep sorrow when we see those mothers on TV pleading their case before the world. It is because these are not our children and these problems do not directly affect us. We are not dealing with these specific difficulties so we are not as concerned or interested. However, for example if our teenager was killed by a drunk driver we would want to speak with the president of the United States to see if he could do something about how to “fix” this from happening again as an honor to the innocent one who tragically lost their life. It seems that Christianity has become a sleepy addition to our already hectic lifestyle and instead of us being fervently passionate about Jesus and the burden for souls, we are intimidated and embarrassed to be an aggressive messenger of His gospel. It would seem that if God lived inside of us, and we had the opportunity to release Him to the world, this would be the most ultimate PERSONAL experience and “mission” anyone could have! There is no doubt our will is so strong and dominating that it has threatened us to keep this “extremist” business under strict control. Another question is; will we ever become so determined to be a radical Christian that we discipline our will into submission? Do we really desire to be “led” by His Holy Spirit or is this just a religious thing to say that makes us seem spiritual?

I’ve been noticing lately how that many companies are using graphic skins on their vehicles. These computer images are pretty awesome advertisements and supposedly do not damage the finish on the paint. I have been considering having it done to my vehicle with a theme of the crucifixion and have actually mentioned it lately to a few people I know. The response so far has been surprisingly negative because they would not want everyone staring at them. I thought that it had the potential to reach out to thousands of people and possibly could be used as a powerful witness that could bring conviction and salvation to those who see it. I am surprised that I have not seen anything like this already and evidently it is because of the same reasons. We do not feel ashamed to wear a shirt with our church name on it or even our seminary where we went to school or even a cross around our neck. Many people place small bumper stickers or emblems on the back of their vehicles that contain spiritual messages however, I guess that covering your car completely with the gospel would be a little “extreme” but is that not what we have been called to be? How much courage would it take for someone to stand on the corner of the street with their Bible and begin to share the gospel? Now brother, people would think you have lost your mind! Do you not have any pride or concern about your integrity and are you not caring that people will laugh and make fun of you? Oh, I get it, we are embarrassed to be seen being a fool for God. We are afraid that people will not respect us anymore because they will think we are an out of control, unstable, weird, scary, religious extremist. I realize that we do not really need to do anything to show that we are Christians except to actually live like one, but it does make you think about just how much more we could do to tell the world about Jesus. I have mentioned this before, but what if we knew Jesus we coming this Friday, would we do anything more than we would normally do? Jesus knew what His mission was and He also knew the condition of the world. He did not have any time to waste and realized that the more He preached and performed miracles the more people would be able to know God. This is why He taught on the hillsides and from the boats that were docked on the shore. He was completely absorbed with His mission and did not care what people thought of Him. He was never intimidated and did not allow the mocking unbelievers to scare Him away or prevent Him from doing His Fathers will. This has caused me to wonder just how far we are willing to go with our witness. Are we a person who thinks that having a cross on our key-chain is pushing the envelope or are we building courage to become a “sold-out” radical that lets go of everything and gives their life completely to God?

Have you ever been driving down the road and saw an individual carrying a large wooden cross? A couple of times in my life I have actually seen someone doing this and I have to admit I was awestruck. As I drove by my heart was pierced with emotion and in my shock I was immediately reminded of Christ and convicted that I did not have the courage to do something like this. So what causes someone to build a large cross, put it on their shoulder and begin to carry it through town? It’s simple; Jesus has become so personal to this person that the burden for souls has become a “life-changing” revelation. There are levels of desire and concern and when our love becomes a burning passion WE WILL do something out of the ordinary! It is NOT knowledge that causes us to become a radical disciple – it is being set on fire! We are supposed to be a “peculiar” people and I believe that includes willing to be a fool for God and not caring about our reputation but more concerned about being a representative!

When we draw from the wells of our soul, we tap into the deepest most “personal” places of our being. Within each human conscience there are rooms and closets of secret compartments which hold thoughts that many times are never revealed or exposed. It is in these chambers of our mind that we come to terms with what we believe is true and allow our trust and love to be developed. It is in these hallowed halls of intimacy that God desires to have access and to bring His penetrating light of truth. Our heavenly Father does have an agenda and that is to literally possess us. If we can ever become determined to harness our free-will and allow Him to set-up His Kingdom within us, He can freely take control and complete His will through us. This can only happen when we become tenacious to please Him and become saturated with love for Him. The definition of tenacious is; “Steady persistence in a course of action, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” “Lord, give us passion to become tenacious for you, amen.”

CHAPTER 39

THE BELIEVERS AND THE DISCIPLES

Not everyone one that saith unto me (Jesus); Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; BUT HE THAT DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER which is in heaven” (Mathew 7:21). This has been a puzzling statement because ministers have always pleaded to their listeners that all one needs to do in order to be saved is just call on the Lord. Evidently, salvation is not always this easy because it has much to do with the attitude of our intention. I do not believe that Christ does not give eternal life and save whosoever chooses to accept Him, but rather it must be something that is done correctly on the receiving end. This divine process is not just a small matter but could become the most devastating misunderstanding in someone’s life. For the Lord to reveal such a statement there is a definite message that He is trying to expose so that no one becomes deceived in their comprehension of what God requires in the born-again experience. There are many that have responded to an alter call but have lived as though they did not know Christ at all. I have come to the conclusion that IF we are truly saved, we will accomplish our destiny that He has planned for us because this is “doing” the will of our heavenly Father. For those who just believe that His Word is true but for some reason He never enters into their heart, it can be said that this failure to become an heir of promise is what makes the difference between being saved or lost. For example, in first Corinthians we read about how important it is to have and express love and if we do NOT have God’s love within us then we do NOT have anything. This must be interpreted (as difficult as it is to admit) as not being saved and not going to heaven. In other words, we can do a lot of wonderful deeds and be a decent, friendly, giving person but if we do not have the spirit, attributes, character, fruits and nature of Christ within us – we are bankrupt, empty and lost. “Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in your name? And in your name have cast out devils? And in your name have done many wonderful works? And then I (Jesus) will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Mathew 7:22-23).These leaders were literally preaching God’s Word and exercising spiritual authority over demons and yet something was terribly wrong! How could these people be lost? Obviously they thought things were one way when they were another. Somehow in the midst of their religious knowledge they missed God completely. They thought they were leading the way and doing the right things but evidently were terribly deceived and not an HEIR of the redemption bloodline.

I want to look closer at verse 23 and notice something. First, it is very interesting that Jesus said “I never knew you” because we know that God “knows” everyone whether they are saved or lost. I believe the word “know” here is much deeper than Him knowing their heart, I believe the “knew” He was referring to is connected with the bond of marriage that is associated with the deepest human intimacy. It is common within the Old Testament that the Hebrew term “knew” was used when explaining that a man and wife had made love when it was referring to a woman becoming pregnant. For example, “And Adam KNEW Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord” (Genesis 4:1). The point I am making is how crucial it is that we enter into the holy vow of blood covenant with Christ and become sealed as a genuine creation of His grace. I am afraid that many who presume they are redeemed do not have a genuine experience of God’s presence to COMPARE with what they have come to know as an emotional religious feeling. Even reading the Bible will not automatically save us because some scholars have spent their life gathering knowledge but have never asked God to save them. A few have even spent most of their life trying to dis-prove His Word. Yes, it is wonderful to read the Bible every day because God’s Word is alive and is the power unto salvation for all who will receive it into their heart, but if the motive is for anything other than to love God more deeply and to do His will – our religion is in vain. The last part of verse 23 is another sobering statement where Jesus tells these deceived individuals to leave His presence which I cannot imagine such a sense of failure and discouragement. But to even go further, we notice that He condemns and accuses them of being involved in sin. Not only is He rejecting them on the grounds of not being born-again, but He is actually declaring that they were entangled with darkness and being driven with a carnal imagination. One idea is that maybe they were working in the “name of God” to promote their own popularity or financial gain. Maybe they were caught up in the praises and glory from others and were puffed up with pride from being successful. Whatever the reasons that caused them to be insincere the question we must ask is that whether or not a person within their conscience actually knows deep down if they believe that what they are doing is true? To answer our question we can see that after death and even in the judgment these souls are still trying to argue and justify their actions. As Lucifer was deceived while working for God in heaven, we can tremble with reverential fear as we also observe the power of deception within those who live their life in the arrogant, aggressive blindness of religion. “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1: 21).

When The Son of God walked the earth, He had large crowds that followed Him. We know that He was a perfect teacher, made provisions for their needs and performed some of the greatest miracles ever seen. However, allow me to ask you a question; were all of these witnesses His disciples? I believe we can safely say the answer is no. Why? Because discipleship is much more than watching or knowing about someone! There are reasons why people are committed and likewise why they do NOT care about things and we can generally agree that most of the individuals that listened and observed Christ were curious as a “spectator” the same way we would be if an evangelist came to our church. There is no doubt they felt and witnessed the power of God but at the end of the day most of them went home and carried on with their normal routines. I say “most” because I do believe there were some that not only understood His message but actually responded to it. The ones who received Christ as their Lord were eternally changed and I am convinced they devoted their lives to His gospel but there were others that were just not willing to follow His message all the way. I must emphasize the noticeable difference between someone who believes in Christ – and someone who abides in Christ – the same is true with those who know what the Word says and those who believe it enough to obey it! In the parable of the sower we see that God’s Word is not always guaranteed to germinate. It is alive and able to grow but will not “force” itself – it depends on the condition of the heart and mind and to be more specific, the willingness of the person to “allow” it to grow. The amount of our independence that we are willing to surrender has a direct influence on how much of God’s Word we will allow to develop within our life. The “good ground” is a heart that has decided to “drop their nets” and follow Jesus. Just what does this mean? How can I stop living and start following Jesus? We have it wrong. He is not asking anyone to stop living – He is waiting for someone who desires to “start” living. Let us continue.

Many people would think the idea of there being a difference in a believer and a disciple would be silly. The masses generally think that “you’re OK, I’m OK” in God’s sight and that most everyone that lives a decent life will make it to heaven. The character of God has been correctly portrayed as someone who is filled with love and mercy and most humans have developed unmentioned security that takes for granted the concept of God being very understanding and lenient. I was trying to explain to someone the other day about how simple it is to ask Jesus into our heart but at the same time emphasizing the monumental, life-changing effect this will have on the individual. This person said they felt the “pulling” on their conscience (which I knew was the Holy Spirit convicting them) but in all honesty this person was not warming up to the idea of surrendering their will. They believed that God was going to take all of the good things in their life into consideration and that in the end they were convinced that everything would be OK. The plan was to “by-pass” the event of Calvary and just operate on the points or grading system of deeds. Of course we know that no matter how intelligent or business minded we are, there are no special deals with God. In fact, when we meet with God especially within the salvation process, we must not treat Him like He is just another man. God is so magnificent and holy that He demands respect! If we try to bargain with Him or think that we are somehow deceiving Him, He will move away quietly and not respond at all. Being saved is not what many people think it is and sadly this is why many who believe they are God’s children are not. We respond to Him in brokenness and humility AFTER He has approached us. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) If He did not go after us with His gospel, we would never give Him the time of day. “No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me DRAW HIM: and I will Raise him up at the last day.” (John: 6: 44) If someone is under conviction it is not just because another human relayed the message of God to them – it is because the super-natural power of the Lord pierced their heart and is knocking on the door of their soul. When someone opens the door of their life and welcomes Christ in to become their Lord and Savior, God literally comes in to live within them and become a permanent resident that controls, directs, leads, influences, disciplines, blesses, fills and empowers them as His disciple according to His Word and His perfect will. There is a huge difference between a believer and a disciple that is possessed!

The devil believes in God and knows that God is who He says He is. Satan knows God’s Word and is very familiar with all of the stories, doctrines and teachings because he was literally there with every one of them. I am saying today that memorizing Bible verses and hanging them on our wall will not save us! Going to church will not save us! Giving to the poor will not save us! Being a good spouse and a good parent will not save us! The Pharisees memorized entire books of the Bible and did not know God at all. Look at the masses of people today who rub their rosary beads or the millions that bow down toward the east and pray 7 times per day thinking that God will accept their ideas and rituals. If a religious act or ceremony could redeem our soul – then why did Jesus die on the cross? What about the differences between Christians that pray and worship God daily in Spirit and truth and others that have never studied, witnessed or prayed? Allow me to ask, in your views of Christianity, do you still feel there is a difference between the talkers and the walkers or are you persuaded that all “believers” are the same?

I realize that when we are discussing about people becoming “born-again” that we are referring to individuals that are being born into God’s family. I know that in the natural realm, whenever a child is conceived there is nothing that can happen which would cause that baby to NOT be the child of that mother and I am not sure if there would be anything to “reverse” this blood-line when it comes to the spiritual dimension either. I realize that many believe our salvation and “right-standing” with God depends on what we do and I can agree to some extent that our obedience is connected to our awareness. But, thank God He replaces our righteousness with His righteousness and makes us acceptable through the grace of His blood. Our righteousness is like filthy rags as we cannot redeem ourselves! Only the blood of Jesus can be sprinkled on the mercy seat and has the power and authority to forgive our sin. It is not my intent with this message to discuss “once saved always saved” but I can confirm my positive views about eternal security.

I believe that IF we are abiding in His Spirit, there is nothing or no one that can “steal us” or change our spiritual identification. It seems that it is not so much as someone “losing” their salvation as much as it is they never had it! For example, we see another clear verse to help us understand the difference between someone that is radically in love with God and those who just think they are. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (I John 2:15) The key word here is “love” and is connected to worship like unto an idol. It is alright to have material things but it is wrong to fall in love with them and allow them to control us. The remnant disciples of God are learning to let go of this world and to embrace Jesus and Him alone. In conclusion, for those who say they are God’s children yet live like the heathen, I am convinced these souls are deceived and probably lost. Since their spiritual eyes have never been opened they cannot discern what they have never had. Deception is difficult enough for those who have been enlightened but for those who are still walking in dark, it is a case of just not recognizing the difference. Amen.

CHAPTER 40

HOLY SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION

There are Christian leaders that are falling all around us and most of the world has come to disrespect and not trust anyone that professes Christ. Christians have portrayed the religious ideas and done a lot of talking over the years but what the world needs to see is someone who walks in the image of Jesus. Whether you and I are dwelling at this spiritual level or not, it does not mean that God’s expectation is not real or that His Word is not true! When preachers preach God’s truth and fail to live it, this does not mean that God’s commands are not expected, it is impossible to live, or that we should stop trying to follow His instructions to be holy as He is holy. It just means that many who know what to do – are not doing it! This may discourage us but it should not keep us from fulfilling what God is telling US to do! In fact, it should inspire us, even more, to become what God has called us to be so that we can “prove” and demonstrate His authority. We will only be responsible for OUR sins and the choices WE have made which means we should spend less time judging the failures of others and be more concerned with how we are living. In discussing the difference between the believers and the disciples and with the help and wisdom of the Lord, let us continue trying to understand the way we have been living and what we need to become that we might give Him the glory He is worthy of.

I have been in many church services throughout my life. This does in no way make me an expert but it does give me some insight to compare different situations and religious style. I will be completely honest today and admit that I have been disappointed with most of them. It is not that church is conducted in a wrong way because most all assemblies have a traditional format and seem to follow a familiar agenda. For example, I recently visited a small church in my area on a Sunday morning and it was a typical service of opening prayer, two songs, a message and an altar call. Like I said, there is nothing particularly bad about a meeting like this because as some would ask; “what more do you want?” Others may be thinking another question like, “why don’t you start your own and show the world how it’s done!” I understand the attitudes and intentions of these responses and instead of trying to defend my statements, I am humbled by the thoughts and feelings within my own weaknesses and inadequacy. I am not criticizing technique, but rather intentions concerning the reason I am writing about this in the first place – the lack of God’s visible power in the church! There are tons of activities and people that can go through the motions of religious contributions but where are the miracles? Where are the obvious manifestations of His glory that was seen on a regular basis when Jesus walked the earth? I thought the church is to be His assembly of disciples that move in the power and evidence of Christ who is the healer, the deliverer and the one who can change any circumstance or situation!

It seems there is always a box filled with “excuses” why the power of God is not present in the church but rarely do we hear messages about the real reason. It is because we are all to blame and we do not want to deal with it or talk about it. To face the reality of our lack of spirituality is just too insulting to our pride. Most church members will become angry and ready to fight when someone challenges them or even insinuates that they may not be as knowledgeable or holy as they think they are. It is common to look in the mirror and feel quite confident of our Christian walk especially if we have been involved for a long time because our ego associates the idea of time spent with spiritual maturity. This is NOT the same thing! As I have said before, the time spent behind the walls of the church has very little to do with how spiritual we are. I realize this is like a foreign language to many people but it is the truth. Another thing that can also cause deception along with our collection of knowledge is how much support we have contributed toward the cause of the church. Just because someone invests their time and money into a religious activity does not automatically fill them with the Holy Spirit or the attributes of Jesus. I realize it is hard to believe that a church could be filled with members and have plenty of money in the treasury yet be spiritually dead but it is not only possible – sadly it has become normal.

Now brother, I think that all Christians are good people and all Christian churches are representing God in the earth.” If only that were true. As we have said before, the first problem is that many “members” of the local church are not members of God’s family. The wheat and tares look very similar and most of the time cannot be detected as being any different. The reason why the tares do not know they are lost is that they have nothing else to compare their life to. In other words, they themselves do not know the difference between God’s presence and their emotions because they have never experienced God personally. The second part of the problem is that the ones who are truly His children have allowed the world to pull them away from the outline of what the “real” Christian life is supposed to be. As much as my flesh loves to believe that we do not need to do anything for God, my spirit is not that dumb. We can play games of fantasy and live in an imaginary realm of fiction and deny that we are going to be held accountable for our life but God’s Word is very clear about His demands. I have thought about this for many years and I will admit that it has hindered me in my willingness to join churches, (even though I have been a member of many different types). I realize that people are the church, but the gathering together as an assembly has given me much grief. I am not saying that much of my frustrations are not caused by my own misunderstanding because I do believe this could be the case many times, but I am also convinced that God’s people (including myself) are hesitant to obligate our life to His service the way He is calling us to do.

I do not want to spend a lot of time about this because we have talked about it in the past but it is good to recall just how sensitive God is to the way we think and act as believers. I get a little enthusiastic about this passage and feel a fire within my heart when I read about the condition of a soul that has been rocked to sleep by the deception of religion. How many times will we need to be reminded that if we are not red hot – we are NOT pleasing to God? It is not what we do or how much we do; it is being obedient to His voice within the sincere passion entwined around our intimate love for Christ! This is not a message to Mars but to the church and has always been the prophetic word of wisdom for His church. “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness will not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye-salve, that you might see.” (Revelation 3:18) When people hear these words, usually the first thing they think of is how God spoke to this church 2000 years ago because they were blind and carnal. I personally believe that He is speaking this now to the modern church of today. He mentions GOLD that is tried in HIS fires of purity which signifies cleansing and the divine value of true holiness. He speaks of His people wearing white clothing which represents being a spotless bride, a sanctified disciple and putting on the garment of praise, love, peace, and joy. And the third point is the salve for the eyes of the heart which is a type and shadow of spiritual clarity, focus, devotion, correct priorities, worship and the faith to seek heavenly insight and wisdom to live as an overcomer. The devil is a heavy influence on those who are living comfortably in their lives as he tries to reassure our flesh that we do not really need anything. This life of pleasure and comfort can be a blessing from God but can also be a distraction from doing His will. The church world is filled with abundance and everything seems to be going wonderfully just like the Laodicean assembly. However, this story was told in order that we might NOT make the same mistake and allow me to say this is devastatingly serious! “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I wish you would be one or the other. So then because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” (Verse 15-16) Do you believe this means they are going to heaven? This is more than chastising because when we spit something out, we dispose of it, cast it away and it is gone forever. Let us go on. “Because you say I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; yet you do not realize that spiritually you are wretched, and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Verse 17) Many of the churches today have beautiful buildings, riches, and professional programs but are empty when it comes to releasing God’s anointing and power. What good is having a service if God is not there? The reason why religion is popular is that many are trying to ease their guilt. The Pharisees did not realize that God was displeased with them and neither did these Laodicean church members. All they were concerned with was putting on a beautiful show and performing all of their programs and meetings with worldly quality and excellence. Even assemblies that do not have the resources still have become so set in their ways of ceremonies and rituals that they are not even concerned with what God really wants to do in their church – or their life!

I have always heard that worshiping God is very personal – and I do agree. Most people do not desire to show any emotion at church and heaven forbid that they would ever step out in faith and exercise a spiritual gift. One reason is that many Christians do not believe that such things exist which conveniently excuses them from even seeking to be used in this capacity. The traditional group is convinced that spiritual gifts and demonstrations have passed away and that we do not need all of the “spooky” stuff. On the other side of the spectrum, we find the highly charged emotional crowd that seems to place more emphasis on trying to produce a phenomenon than to learn how to be filled with the nature and character of Jesus. It is sad but true that many Christians really do not care whether they do anything for God or not. I can say this confidently because most of the Christians I have ever known have lived this way. Many that proclaim to follow Jesus have been taught that if you are a believer in Jesus, you are saved and guaranteed a place in heaven for all eternity. It has been widely presumed with the help of songs and sermons that mention cabins in the corner of glory or making it in by the “skin of our teeth” that it does not take much effort or sacrifice to enter into the pearly gates. I personally feel that the masses are convinced they are OK if they do nothing, the same as they will if they do a lot – so what is the motivation to surrender the will? For some reason many have accepted the concept that a person can just “believe” in God, yet live however they want and float through life without being obedient to God’s perfect Word and they will be accepted by God with open arms and all the angels will sing “Joy to the world.” God’s grace and the power of His love are awesome – but this may be stretching this reality into a dangerous fantasy. An overcomer is a disciple that has given everything in order to fulfill God’s purpose in saving them. Jesus said that if we are not an overcomer we will not be invited to be with Him around His throne. “To him, that overcomes (wins the victory) will I grant to sit with Me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” (Revelation 3:21) The church sings “Victory in Jesus” but most do not understand what they are singing about. Yes, it’s true that Jesus won the victory but He desires and is waiting for you and me to live victoriously over our flesh and the devil by faith and courage in the Name of Jesus! If we truly have faith – where is our demonstration? Selah.

I understand that it takes time to spiritually develop and that God is patient unto those who are sincerely trying to learn and grow in Him. But our topic lately is very blunt about the possibility of being deceived in our thoughts of salvation. Disciples are believers but not all believers are disciples! We are all guilty of picking and choosing certain verses that give us peace but being saved must be studied in the entire context of God’s requirements and our accountability. His grace was not given to be used as an excuse or “free-pass” for our rebellion, but rather an opportunity to embrace His truth that we might be transformed into His holy bride. I believe that many churches are not teaching the depth of God’s Word and the masses have drifted away from the reverential fear of His holiness. We are to teach the same gospel that Paul was inspired to relay in that it is time to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, that we may be found blameless and harmless as the children of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. Many times I have felt that maybe I am expecting too much from the church services but then I begin to wonder that if our services are dry and powerless then is this not a reflection of the people’s hearts? We do not need more programs – we need a holy spiritual revolution! Yes, it is good to fellowship and makes friends in church and yes it is good to feel that we are a part of a community and family of like-minded believers but what good is all of this if we are not being God’s disciple? “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and DIE, it abides alone: but if it DIES it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life shall lose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serves Me, him will My Father honor.” (John 12:24-26) Are you “dying” to be His disciple?

CHAPTER 41

SEEKING AFTER A SIGN

As many of you know, I started these weekly writings in 2009 with the first year’s theme about worship. I was a worship pastor at the time and was inspired to write about my experiences along with my studies about worship throughout the years. With those writings, I have been working to compile them in a book called, “Wonders of Worship” and it has been a grueling job to cut, tweak, edit, add, merge, separate, and organize to make it clear and presentable. In the process of putting this book together (my first), it has stirred my heart and allowed the Holy Spirit to “convict” me as well. It is no secret that I have been (I guess you could say) disenchanted with the church environment for many years and with His mercy and love, He has allowed me to take another step of maturity and enjoy the freedom that comes from His truth. While proofreading my previous comments, I am seeing worship in a bigger picture with a deeper insight than ever before and I would like to share it with you.

I have been asking the Lord to enlighten me about His church for years and what He has told me is not exactly what I wanted to hear. Sadly, He has revealed to my heart that I have had a lot of pride and much of it has been connected with looking through a microscope instead of binoculars. Generally speaking most of the time we think we have pride under control and are convinced that the self-discipline of our conscience prevents the darkness from sneaking around in our life. But of course, as we have said before, deception is “silent but deadly” and can quietly hold us captive within our mind and heart without us even recognizing it. The danger is that it is only invisible to the one who cannot see it as this character trait of our old carnal nature is usually noticeable to everyone except the one that is in denial and is especially common in those who think they know a lot about their favorite subject and have spent much time becoming smarter than everyone else. Unfortunately, many people believe they know more than anyone else and have a difficult time listening to someone that might have a new insight that is worth considering. I have said all of this because many times even though we are highly convinced in our conclusions – things are not always the way they seem. I believe we can agree that all of us are like this to a certain point and the difference between those who continue learning God’s wisdom and those who are hindered by their rebellious attitude comes down to being open-minded. In this light, we can see that pride is actually a “damn” of sorts that can prevent us from moving forward and can hold us as slaves to ignorance and blindness. It can also cause us to have a calloused conscience where we spend more time criticizing the way everyone else lives instead of having compassion and demonstrating how Jesus wants us to live. I did not mean to spend this much time about the dangers of arrogance but I certainly needed it for my own soul.

For many years I have taught and written about the church and my endless pursuit of its purpose and mission. Like most people, my studies and experiences have influenced my theological views and molded my convictions into what I believe. In my quest to find the mysteries and wonders of God’s glory in this realm, I have seen bits and pieces of His super-natural interventions and on these rare occasions, my faith has been strengthened. I am convinced that we must continue to have these visions which are an internal clarity of God’s will that is given through the intimacy of seeking Him personally. Without knowing Him, we have no clue as to what He is saying or how to please Him. However, it seems that in my journey of trying to serve Him, the church has repeatedly been a place of hurt, misunderstanding, rejection, and disappointment for me. I have always thought I had much to offer and had no shortage of enthusiasm or willingness to be involved, but it has been my perception of how things “should be” that has frustrated me. I realize that I am guilty of actually adding to the problems of the church by thinking that I am the “judge” of how it should operate and I am realizing that if this attitude is not controlled by the conviction from the Holy Spirit, I will continue to lead discord, resentment, and strife. Yes, it is common for the average church to have these difficulties but instead of making it worse, I should invest my time in trying to make it better!

My mothers, dad used to always say, “everyone else is crazy” yet through this comical expression is a serious hidden infection that can and will hinder clear thinking. While it is true that many do not comprehend truth, there are some that do and if we build walls around our reasoning, our opinions can sometimes betray us. When we refer to a specific topic, it is important to remember not to include everyone because there are usually exceptions. For example, to say the church has failed, we are saying there is not a single person that can be found faithful. If our discussion about the church is to remain intelligent, I believe we need to remember that devotion for our Lord was never expected to be huge but actually rather small. When Ephesians chapter five talks about the “glorious” church, it did not say that it would be massive because Mathew 7:14 says, “Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it.” He was emphasizing a holy, spotless bride which consists of the remnant disciples that are few and far between. Within many assemblies, there may only be a handful of true disciples and as it may be true that the church as a whole has not followed God’s voice, it does not mean that everyone that attends is only a religious spectator. God invites all who hear HIS Word to respond and will save all that is His, which gives us the assurance there is and will be a band of overcomers, a victorious bride, and a holy remnant that He is excited about and has lovingly called them to serve His purpose

I know the Bible teaches about groups of people that have gathered together to worship God since the beginning. There has been praise music, and leaders that teach and relay what God is saying to the people and there are tithes and offerings that were used to support the ministries and outreaches of these groups. We observe everything from the Old Testament where we see Moses and the tabernacle, the congregation of Israel, and the law of God’s Word all the way to the Pharisees, the temples, and the observance of religious ceremonies in the day of Jesus. Then after Christ, we see the New Testament Christian church developing in the callings, offices, and gifts of the Spirit, having meetings in the upper room and the revival at Pentecost. Then, of course, we read about the condition of the seven churches in the book of Revelation and all of this gives us a small insight about these assemblies of believers that were organized and observed the commands and commission of God’s will. But, I must admit that I am still confused because I have been thinking that the “church” as an organism would rise up “stronger” in the power of God and be a recognizable representation of God’s glory here on earth instead of growing weaker. When studying about the restoration of the tabernacle of David and trying to identify it, mostly what I have witnessed in my life has only been a gathering of believers that sing and talk. However, the reason why I began by mentioning my pride is that evidently my views have been distorted by my lack of understanding. It all has to do with comprehending that the CHURCH is not the building down on the corner because that is just a practical meeting place for God’s followers. The literal CHURCH is a sold-out individual that is a member of a chosen generation and a holy nation that make up the body of Christ – the TRUE church.

Like the commercial says, “everybody knows that.” But, it is amazing how many still cannot separate the church as a building from the church that is a person. Within this reality of there being few serious Christians around, most of the assemblies are filled with spiritual babies that have chosen not to surrender their will. Seeing this revelation, it is understandable why the mighty rushing wind does not blow through the buildings, people are not healed and delivered, or angels are not seen flying throughout the sanctuary. To make a long story short, my disappointment of not seeing the phenomena is now put in the perspective that the general church population is not abiding in the Spirit and do not have any intention to do so. AND, this lukewarm and carnal attitude explains why the “church service” is not as miraculous as God desires for it to be. In order for the manifestations of God’s glory to be revealed – Christ must be OVERFLOWING within the life of the believer. The church service is a direct reflection of the heart of the people and if they are “the walking dead” so will the church service! Allow me to say this; if we are waiting for the glory clouds, angels and lightning and thunder from God’s presence to fill the sanctuary – we are probably going to be disappointed. I am NOT losing my faith or compromising in defeat and negativity, I am just trying to see clearly what the glorious church is all about. Yes, the Lord desires to move mightily when His children meet together but He cannot manifest the literal glory of His throne in the brick building across the street when the majority of the members do not believe it and do not want it! Since we are the “temple” of the Holy Ghost, I believe this mystery is being revealed unto those that are “seekers of truth” and have become determined to give their entire life to God. These are the ones that will be used to perform miracles one moment and be martyred the next as they represent the Kingdom of God. The beauty of holiness and the perfection of His holy love WILL BE the demonstration of His presence and will be accompanied by the power and glory of the supernatural. God longs to reveal His wonders and mysteries to those who desire to see heaven on earth but it will not be with a vessel of dishonor or a conscience controlled by carnality.

I have poured out my heart to simply say that I have been expecting something that will not come the way I thought it would. This is not to say that God will not manifest Himself in meetings but I believe it will mostly be through individuals that have become refined and willing to be used as His instrument. The remnant overcomers will conquer their flesh and as they surrender the control of their will, He can fill them with the power of His Spirit. It is faith that releases God’s authority that will generate miracles for His honor and purposes. These holy expressions of love will NOT be treated as pearls before swine or a carnival sideshow of unexplained magic tricks, it will be done according to God’s perfect will and always an extension of His ransom of love. I have always thought the glory cloud would fill the church sanctuary and the foundations would shake like Isaiah talked about. I have heard people testify that during a worship service they saw gold dust falling from the ceiling and angels or an image of Christ that manifested above the congregation. Allow me to say, God is not against bringing healing and deliverance or showing His glory, but the problem with us “weak” humans is how the phenomena capture our attention more than instruction. I noticed with the gold dust testimony that nothing was mentioned about God’s Word or how He had convicted them to repent or change their life. All that was talked about at the meeting was the “sign.” We can clearly see with modern technology that it is taking more and more entertainment to hold people’s attention because we have a tendency to move away from discipline. Maybe in trying to see the supernatural, people like me forgot to appreciate the people and that my ministry was to intercede and love them like Jesus does. Instead of spending my time in the prayer closet learning how to live a holy life and allowing God’s anointing to be a blessing to everyone, I became frustrated and critical with everyone’s failure to be holy. A good suggestion would be to not spend as much time worrying about why other people have not yielded their will, and just do what Jesus is telling us to do. May God help me to learn that I CANNOT change anyone! To even think that we could transform a congregation and set them on fire for God is arrogant. The best chance for anyone to be touched through our life is for them to see God in us! When we are living in the awareness of His presence and have allowed Him to become our Lord, people will sense the anointing and be convicted to search for His truth.

Allow me to clarify what I am saying. All of these phenomena are wonderful and God wants to do it and can perform it anywhere He wants, but I was looking in the WRONG location! Instead of coming to the service and waiting for the Shekinah cloud to fill the house, He desires to manifest His power and glory in our heart and soul all the time! If His glory is going to be revealed when we are in church – then someone who is anointed by God will release it and everyone will recognize it! You see, this is the reason why many meetings are cold and dry, He will not force His presence and I believe that many times He feels that He is not welcome. The level that He can move among us and in us comes down to how determined we are to give our life over to Him. A church assembly that is filled with carnality and lukewarmness is nothing more than a room of religious spectators “What? Know ye not that your body IS THE TEMPLE of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own” (I Corinthians 6: 19). I am not suggesting that He cannot or will not manifest His presence in the church service, but I am saying He wants to demonstrate it within us first! I did not intend to be someone who always seeks after a sign but rather wanted everyone to “SEE” His majesty and be filled with His love. The wisdom that I need to apply here is that this can still happen through the way I live – not where I go to church. “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. And He left them, and departed” (Matthew16:4). Everything that God is trying to do on the earth – He desires to do through His disciples. What we call church has been swallowed up by the same religious spirit that contaminated the Pharisees. Our programs and rituals cannot take the place of allowing God to possess us! Allow Him to “pour out” His Spirit in you and fill you to overflowing. Let us yield our will completely to Him so that we can be in the position to be seen as a spotless virgin bride. I have been in many services where it seemed the mission of the day was to “pump” everyone up into a state of excitement. To be honest as a leader, I learned over the years how to do this myself. In some churches where this is the accepted style, if the song leader and pastor do not perspire through their shirt and a few saints run around the sanctuary a couple of times, they have not had church! Allow me to say without offending either side of the fence, that emotion is not necessarily the anointing. I have been guilty of wanting all of the gifts of the Spirit to be activated every service and I thought I was extending my faith! I have prayed to see miracles that could not be explained along with outpourings of God’s power that would bring salvation and deliverance and was disappointed when it did not happen. I now realize it is still wonderful to have expectations – but the members will only be as anointed together as they are individually. If the people are not walking in His Spirit, the church will not be empowered. Nothing takes the place of “abiding in the vine” and it is the time we understand that it is God’s presence “radiating” from within the overcomer. If you and I really want to “see” God manifest His glory, let’s fast and pray for a week while we ask Him to open the eyes of our understanding. Let’s make a decision to intercede 2 hours a day for the lost that is in our network so they might be saved by God’s grace. Mmmmm…it seems we all want the fishes and the loaves without having to personally drop our nets and follow Him. It is true that God IS and has done many awesome miracles and He had a reason for every one of them, but His utmost desire is to convict us, change us, equip us and use us as an extension of Himself.

I am sorry Lord for all of the times I was looking for your miracles instead of looking for you. I wanted to see your power without desiring to be transformed and filled with your Spirit. Forgive me for looking for you all around me – and not within me! Your truth was there all the time and I could not see it. It was like I could not see the forest for the trees. Thank you for speaking to my heart and revealing your truth. It is so easy to become confused with deception and I pray for all Christians who are living in denial. Stir the hearts of your pastors and leaders. Convict them to fall on their face and learn from you. It is a snare trap of arrogance to think that we know it all. Help us O God, we are desperately needy for you, we love you, amen.”

 

CHAPTER 42

THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

There is a popular worldview that has become the battle cry for those who hate to live according to the way God’s Word has demanded. The intention of these rebels is to condemn the old way of thinking and promote a “new standard” which is changing the way we think about everything in the name of “freedom.” May I say that I believe there is certainly nothing wrong with seeking and studying spiritual truth for ourselves, and there may be valuable wisdom that we learn, but at the same time there are specific absolutes that are a part of God’s wisdom that cannot be altered or compromised (no matter how intelligent we think we are). Of course, we can believe whatever we want, but just because people are convinced of specific views and thoughts – that does not mean it is true. Even if the entire world decided that God and His Word cannot be a reliable source of spiritual enlightenment and perfection – it would not change the reality of absolute truth. This New Order now proclaims that if a person believes an idea is true – it is true to them, and this may be partially correct, but there is only one TRUE truth and when someone believes something that does not agree with God’s Word – it is wrong.

Many views are connected to spiritual doctrines and as we take a glimpse of some of these new “standards” that focus on outward appearance, we notice how it exposes what we really are on the inside. Our image is a visible part of who we are and is the exterior housing that “performs” our thoughts. We are quick to judge and have an opinion instantly when seeing someone because that is how our mind has been programmed. This is why we are so paranoid and sensitive to the way we look because we know that everyone who sees us is doing exactly the same thing we are doing. There is nothing wrong with making sure we are clean and to be aware that it is alright to make a good impression, but may we also be more concerned with being who God made us to be. This explains why in order to have a clear mind and peace within our conscience, we must come to terms with how we look and learn how to accept and “fall in love” with our image. Selah. I know cancer survivors that have had extensive surgeries and are sensitive to the way they look and what others may think. There are many people that are sick, overweight or think they are unattractive and they realize that everyone is noticing them. This is completely normal. The strength of being a survivor is more than just enduring the pain of loss and rehabilitation, it is knowing within your heart that your life is not finished and that you are the same person (except now you are stronger and wiser). Life is all about allowing the perfect love and beauty of God to be released from an earthly vessel that is not perfect. For those who know God, we realize that He is passionately in love with us no matter what state we are in. If you had a flock of sheep and one of them had a limp, would you not love that one as much as the others? God is the Father of His children and loves each one more than you and I could ever love anyone. This confidence in being loved by the God who made us fills our heart and mind with strength and hope so that we can face any trial with mountain moving faith. And what is this hope? To know that Christ has promised His people that after this brief life of “training” in this world, we will be given a NEW glorified body that is completely whole, strong and perfect! We will run and dance and sing and be filled with joy and peace forever! Allowing Him to use us in this fragile body, (whatever may happen to it) is the opportunity to demonstrate all of the attributes, fruits, gifts, character traits and attitudes of Christ. We were made to “release” HIS glory!

Being content with the way we look is not the same thing as being content with the way we are! Selah. Many can change their appearance and there are some who cannot unless they receive a miracle. Nonetheless, it is the condition of the heart that we should be concentrated on because our highest responsibility to allow God to transform our “heart.” In other words, we do not need to look like a model to have the radiance of Christ shining from us, and likewise, we can be strong, healthy and beautiful but be very repulsive and ugly in our personality. In this light, we must ignore the world’s standard idea of beauty and embrace God’s definition of reflecting HIS image. Though He may love each of us where we are in our journey, He is not satisfied when we have no intention or desire to continue with His metamorphous process. The flesh gets all excited when it hears the motivational speeches about how it’s OK to stay exactly like you are including bad attitudes and willful sin because the world’s concept of beauty rarely has anything to do with the “beast” on the inside. God’s idea of true beauty is a heart that is surrendered to Him and has become determined to cast down the beast of wicked thoughts and desires of carnality. Allow me to say that He is far more interested in how serious we are to yield our will and love Him with all of the heart than how muscular, toned, shapely, handsome or pretty we are. 

This brings us to an important question; when it comes to physical appearance, who was it that set the “standards” for what is desirable or unattractive? In other words, when we look in the mirror, who are we comparing ourselves to and why do most everyone generally agree when it comes to what looks good and what does not? We can pick up any magazine and see women and men that grace the pages with an extreme amount of confidence and the idea behind the marketing of the physical body and beauty is to cause everyone in the world to dream of the pleasures and satisfaction it would bring to look like that. I personally believe the world has been deceived by this interpretation of what is beautiful. “The Possible You” includes learning and developing in many different areas and one of them is to understand exactly what is going on behind the scenes of reality. The devil controls the “media” and uses the lights and smoke screens of pride to “influence” and SELL his services which include, peer-pressure, intimidation, depression, embarrassment, condemnation, insecurity, fear, doubt, jealousy, resentment, low self-esteem, being self-conscious and a general sense of inadequacy and shame. All of these attacks to our mind can many times be related to how we see ourselves and how we “think” others are judging and creating an image of who we are. There are several things we need to consider in order to enjoy and thrive in who we are and where we are right NOW. 

First, let us settle an issue that many people have tucked away in a closet in the back of their mind. It is common to believe that if we looked more handsome or more beautiful that others would be drawn to us and we would be far more “happy.” Living the dream has many meanings but some are convinced that if they had six-pack abs, a breast enhancement, long flowing blond hair or asymmetrically proportioned body that life would be filled with opportunities and that everyone would not only be envious but would flood them with respect. Allow me to burst the bubble of this lie. The way we look on the outside has nothing to do with who we are on the inside including our level of joy and peace. There have been numerous people that for example have lost impressive amounts of weight and became the physical specimen they envisioned and guess what? They were just as miserable as they were before because technically they were still the same person – only a different version. Yes, it may open the doors to some opportunities but no one really wants people to admire them only because the “the default system” now approves them as more worthy? Worth more to whom? The world of beautiful people is just a collection of pride and arrogance that is very temporal – here today, gone tomorrow! Exercise is fine because it promotes good health but to think that becoming more “shapely” will automatically make you more valuable or loved is going to be very disappointing. In fact, it could make things worse by adding more negative attributes (like vanity) than you had before you started.

We can get into deeps waters fast when we try to figure out just who was responsible for the way we look. Many are angry with God for making them the way they are and see life through a peephole of hopelessness because again they associate the physical with who we really are. They have never received the revelation from God that the real person that God created is our spirit man that is directly connected to the spiritual realm. We must remember that God’s original creation in the Garden of Eden was perfect and the first man and woman likewise were perfect in GODS sight. When sin destroyed the perfect world it affected EVERYTHING including our DNA and opened the floodgates to diseases, deformities, immortality, and imperfections. It would be impossible to answer all the questions about “why” certain people were born with sicknesses or why so many become stricken with devastating health problems in their lives. The truth is that all of us are born under the curse of sin and are vulnerable to the random attacks of an infected environment. It is like when you plant a garden and everything looks so perfect and orderly only to find that within two weeks there are all kinds of tiny sprouts of “weeds” that just “show up.” Where do they come from? They are a part of the default system like everything else that was altered and distorted through the judgment for sin. God is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants in order to accomplish His perfect will and He can intervene in people’s lives in all sorts of ways but I would say that most “exteriors” of the human body are random consequences of an imperfect environment.

When considering what we look like and why we were made a certain way, it is wise NOT to second guess God or allows resentment to infect our heart, but rather it is how we react to the “cards” we have been dealt. Selah. Learning how to trust Him with every ounce of our being must reach a confident level of spiritual maturity because we cannot minister to anyone else until we have something to give and have the faith to do it. When it comes to our external appearance it is all about allowing the beauty of our spiritual love to become the point of “accepting” who we are. We must embrace that God does everything perfectly and that He never makes a mistake! “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: MARVELOUS are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14) This includes allowing the power of God to project and generate “through us” to the point where people sense the presence of His Spirit STRONGER than what they are noticing about our physical appearance. If we are only focused and worried about what we look like – so will everyone else! It is when we turn inward and follow His leading that He can use us more effectively than any ideas we may have had about how we look. Shame on us if we were to ever allow our appearance to stop us from serving our maker. Our outside has nothing to do with who we are on the inside! There are individuals that are ministering God’s message around the world that do not have legs or arms while healthy Christians complain that they do not have the time or any interest to serve Him. I have a picture in my office of a young woman that was born with no arms that is typing at a computer with a specially made instrument that she holds in her mouth. Her name is Anne Rindfleisch and her personality is very vibrant and enthusiastic and I quote what she said in the interview, “Life is what you make it. If you make it productive and happy – you’ll be happy.” It is obvious that our joy has nothing to do with what we have or what we look like. The decision to be happy in the Lord can overcome all of the doubt in the world. Do not listen to any influence that is not positive and filled with hope! Evil lies are waiting to penetrate our soul with a spirit of rejection and “faith crushing” depression but it is NOT the truth of the Lord. God always speaks the truth and in our times of prayer and communion, it is His boundless love that will encourage us.

Being content with our life in God is not the same thing as being satisfied with who we are. We must realize that knowing The Lord is the greatest miracle in the universe but we have much room to improve in the areas of our mental, emotional and spiritual maturity. The world is establishing a politically established way of thinking that everyone must accept each person completely “inside and outside” WITHOUT the need to be changed by the power of God. It seems there has been a terrible misinterpretation of the old hymn “just as I am.” The intention of the song was that the sinner would recognize their hopeless condition and through the conviction of the Holy Spirit would “see” their desperate need for a Savior that can CHANGE them. True, it is God’s promise to the LOST that it does not matter what a person has done, they can come and receive Jesus Christ – just as they are. However, it does NOT mean that God and everyone in the world must embrace what you and I are if we have no intention of surrendering to the power of God’s love. We are to love everyone, but God is not tolerant of a rebellious nature that has decided to live independent from His desire to intervene and transform. Selah. This life is all about embracing the theistic view of obeying His will and submitting to His authority – (not to respect the views of humanism or anyone that teaches the opposite of His Word). This is true worship and true faith that believes everything The Lord creates is beautiful in its own way. Do not allow the devil to prevent you from knowing that you are God’s most valuable possession.

CHAPTER 43

THE PERSON IN THE MIRROR

When is the last time you have pondered deeply about your relationship with God? We do not hesitate to stay organized and take inventory of our material possessions because we consider this a wise investment of our time. Why? Because it is good to know what we have, what condition it is in and what we need in order to be more aware and prepared. We are “protecting” our investments and being a wise steward over our estate. However, for some reason, we forget about the internal warehouse of thoughts, reasons, secrets, and intentions that are piled and filled with unorganized clutter, which by the way we also own. When the mind and heart are in shambles, it can distort how we think and feel about everything. We all take in so much information similar to a hoarder that collects meaningless “stuff” but cannot bear the thought of parting with it. There are places within us that often go untouched because maybe we are unlearned about certain things or just not willing to deal with it or do not care about it. Whatever the case, the point is that all of these thoughts and attitudes have a direct influence on the way we think and the way we feel. For example, a very important “fruit” of being a disciple is to live in a state of freedom and joy but if we are entangled and cluttered with negative thoughts, stress, worry, fear and sin, we can unknowingly be dialing up our emotions while dialing down our relationship with Jesus – (our true power source). The idea behind this way of thinking is that there is only room for one chair on the throne of our heart and usually our will has his bottom glued to it! The great question of the hour; how do we cast him OFF our throne and invite Christ to take His place there? It is simple yet excruciating – we must want to do it!

I understand there are many voices trying to distract us from God’s voice and turn our eyes away from Him. We use these excuses constantly and I am not saying they are not real but the problem of this merry-go-round tug of war will never change until we stop playing hide and seek with our flesh. The person who is overweight and trying to lose some pounds has no excuse for hanging around a donut shop, the same as a person with a problem with lust would go to a strip club to meet some friends. The desires and addictions that we love will always have the power to control us until they become dead to us! The concept of salvation declares that the old nature dies and we become a new creation in Christ and in the symbolism of baptism, we are immersed into Jesus as we go into the grave with Him and are made ALIVE in the resurrection of a brand new life! Our Spirit goes from a hopeless condition of death to a spiritually transformed new spirit that has eternal LIFE! But now wait a minute; I thought our old “nature” was also changed. Well, the idea is that since we are now “possessed” with Christ within our heart that we would not have the old desire to sin but rather we would want to live holy as He is holy. This is true to a certain point, but much of our appetite for sin is connected to just how close we want to live with God. Even though we have been given salvation by grace and are forgiven through the blood of Jesus, we ALSO have a free-will that can “elect” who we want to sit on the throne of our heart. Whoever sits on the throne of our heart is the LORD of our life.

It seems that many people have become confused with the conditions of salvation by believing that all they need to do is raise their hand and accept Christ as their Savior. This can happen if we are being drawn by the Holy Spirit after we have been convicted by God’s Word and we should be forever grateful. Those that have been truly saved should realize they have entered into a progressive relationship with the Lord that agrees to humbly yield their control so that He can live through us. If we continue after we are born-again to hold on to our will, then we will live defeated and are in store for some rough discipline from our Father. If we have settled on living however we want and just settle for a religious carnival ride, we can slowly become filled with the confusion and misery of carnality. I can envision a hot air balloon that is tied down with many ropes and as each one is cut – the vessel is allowed to rise. Our deep commitment to being in control is holding us down and not allowing us to grow and develop into the higher spiritual levels where God can use us. I realize it is very difficult to let go of the steering wheel and live by faith and trust Him to be our pilot but that is exactly His desire. This process will start with prayer and will be maintained through prayer. Without a constant Holy Communion with Him in the depths of the secret place, we will remain entombed within our rebellious cocoon.

Beware of allowing stress to twist us up in knots until we are ready to explode. When our joy has been drained, we automatically become influenced by fear and sadness. This heaviness of discouragement and depression causes us to look and sound like a lost sinner without any hope or peace. We begin to forget about praying and worshiping because life becomes more of a survival than a celebration. We still “believe” in God but instead of being an overcomer that is helping Him in His Kingdom, we can easily become a hindrance and a representative of defeat and negativity. When you look at your relationship with Jesus, what is the primary motivating factor in why you follow Him? Do you follow only as long as you get your needs met, or do you follow Him regardless of the cost? This simple question shows why most people say they are a believer (as long as it is easy) and only a few are determined to be a disciple even though the journey requires serious sacrifice. Let us turn to the book of James as we continue thinking about our need to take a personal inventory of our soul. “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any man is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a glass (mirror). For he beholdeth himself, and goes his way and straightway (immediately) forgets what manner of man he was” (James 1: 22-25). This is the condition of many hearts today. We have heard God’s Word so many times that some have become “numb” to the realization that God is speaking to them. This is because we have drifted away from His presence which has left us LESS sensitive to His voice. It does not matter how much we know – it is how much it is causing us to DO His will.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 44

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS

As the armies of the world gather to make war against Christ in the name of Satan, Jesus has no other choice than to crush them with His power and purify what sin has ruined. Allow me to ask, could the widespread infection of corruption have been held in check if Christians had taken prayer seriously? I believe so. There is a huge difference between God predetermining the fate of the world and knowing how the world would eventually “choose” their destiny. Since God is the ultimate authority and has the power to change anything, I believe we could agree that prayers of faith are designed to unite WITH the will of God as He said He was willing that none perish! When people are convicted by the Holy Spirit through prayer and God’s Word, they are candidates for change and when people change – situations and circumstances change. In other words, if the world was saturated with prayer, God could pour out His super-natural miracles and bring healing into the world, but since there is just a tiny amount of prayer, the world has turned into a savage monster and will be destroyed. Could we have at least made a difference in our network? Absolutely! Great news! It is not too late to re-dedicate our life to prayer life and follow Jesus more intensely – and hopefully, more souls will be rescued before it is too late.

You see, God is the ultimate ruler of heaven and earth but He operates through human agents. Most all of the blessings, opportunities or “doors” that are crucially important for us to receive in our faith visions are controlled by those in authority over certain portals. We have experienced the reality of how certain windows can open and how others are locked as the world’s resources are managed within the limitations of God’s will. For example, everyone realizes the Kingdom of God requires huge amounts of finances because there is so much to do and everything is very expensive. And how many times have God’s people had a burden for a project and (as they became convinced of God’s instructions) devoted themselves to serious prayer and fasting and PRAISE GOD someone donates exactly what they need! How did these strangers find out about the situation and what convicted them to release such a huge blessing? You guessed it – Prayer.

Much of the church is asleep which makes them responsible that the wicked has become the dominant majority? It is the church’s fault that our government operates with the devil! We can talk all day about what people used to do and what they used to be but the truth is that Christians did NOT stand up for what was right and as sin took over THEIR life it became easy to wink at sin everywhere! When Christian families compromise God’s truth, the demonic forces grow into a rebellion whose agenda is to destroy the human race. Many Christians have become lukewarm and allowed the thief to bind them and ransack their homes, families, churches, and nation! The masses rebelled against God and refused to sacrifice their sinful pleasures. Playing footsy with Satan has opened the floodgates of hell upon this country and ultimately upon the world. It was not God’s perfect will, but once again He is coming back to clean up the mess. Amen!

What can we do? There is HOPE! We can begin today to convert our fears into faith! I hear people all around me every day murmuring and criticizing in anger about hating where they work, the government, the economy and so on, but if all of that energy was transformed into fervent prayer, it would have the potential for changing the way things are – to the way they should be! If each Christian would develop a prayer journal for their personal network of associations, the world would be a different place! Do you really believe that? Who cares enough about people, neighbors, family, the government, the churches, pastors, missionaries, and all those in need that they will spend their evenings in the secret place with God instead of being entertained? If you knew that your prayers could really change other people’s lives – would you do it? The problem is that in order to pray, a person must allow themselves to undergo a total self-examination of their own heart and life. They must empty themselves of the carnality and allow God’s light of LOVE to flood their soul. It is much easier to shake your fist in disgust at the failures of the world than to close your mouth and put on the prayer garment of humility and compassion. The mind must be renewed through the wisdom of truth of God’s Word and then with repentance the heart can be filled with the power and confidence of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is a very serious approach to God’s throne and only with holy sincerity can we connect with His presence. No doubt that is why there is way more talking about prayer than actually praying. How many will pay the high price of intercession? Love is the foundation for praying which is why praying has dried up like a riverbed in the desert. Our love, respect and trust has drained out of our hope container and the lethargic attitude of “I don’t care anymore” is spreading like a plague! This dangerous feeling of depression can bleed over from our emotions into our spirit and cause us to backslide away from God. The intention from Satan is to amplify disappointment and hopelessness in the heart of the saint for the purpose of causing lukewarmness. What will it take to get our “caring” level up to where it is supposed to be? Yes once again – prayer.

Here is a key point; no one has ever been forced to sin which means that sin is preventable. It is not God’s will for anyone to sin. As we see in the Old Testament how that God brought severe punishment for disobedience and Jesus in the New Testament emphasized very sternly to “go and sin no more”. Every time we make a wrong turn from God’s will we have wasted an opportunity to be used for His service. He can help salvage our heart from the wreckage of our disobedience and with our repentance and His miracle power, He can make all things work together for the good. However, our rebellion will not always be excused without consequences. God’s perfect will does not make room for our fleshly attitudes or personality dysfunctions because we have been commanded to allow Christ to “possess” us completely. Yes, we will completely blow it from time to time but even though our destiny is altered, we can still learn from our experiences and become more determined to succeed. But, brother everyone sins, plus I am not being intentionally perverted with filth. Well, good for you! You may be avoiding the “committing” of sin but how are you doing in the “omitting” department? The sins of omission are where most Christians are failing because they are “not doing” what the Lord is telling them TO DO! Selah. Just because we are not going to the bar every night or robbing a bank, does not necessarily mean we are living as a faithful and obedient disciple of Jesus! The problem is that most people do not know what God’s perfect will is for their life. Many children are not raised in homes where the parents stay on their knees and pray all the time. Thus, they are usually NOT trained in the Word of God or guided by the Holy Spirit as they seek their place in this world. Their lack of knowledge and the failure to understand wisdom will definitely damage their chances of finding God’s perfect will which is another perfect example why it is so important for parents to be devout Christians (not just religious) and to help spiritually “guide” their children. Am I talking about living in a monastery and praying all day within a dark dungeon? Well, sometimes I think that would help, but since we need to function within society on a daily basis we need to “manage” our walk with God and not excuse our responsibility to follow Him as a lifestyle!

We do not need to be a scholar as we observe the natural world and the spiritual world to come to the conclusion that God’s realm is highly superior by a long-shot! I am a believer that prayer has always been a direct opportunity to listen and speak to our heavenly Father with the purpose of accomplishing His instructions. Since God is perfect – everything He thinks, says and does is perfect and that is always His “perfect” will. When He does not intervene, things become distorted and confused which I realize is our LACK of prayers that are connected with this revelation. Well, now brother are you trying to say the fate of many is in the hands of a few people praying? In all humility that is exactly what I am saying. I know that most people want to “hitch a ride” on a fast rapture train to heaven but they need to be careful about the intentions of their heart. If people had the Agape love of the Father it seems to me they would want to stay and help others find their way to the train station. Selah. The commitment to intercede is not a special gift that only a handful of people have but it is a divine requirement for ALL of those who call themselves a disciple of Christ! Many say they are looking forward to His appearing but may be shocked when they realize that He was very disappointed in their laziness and lack of caring. He may be more interested in why they ignored His commands to pray than the golden ticket they are waving. When God’s people pray, miracles change the course of circumstances and when they do not pray, people and situations will suffer. The point of our conversation is accountability; everything is conditional and involved in the benefit of prayer or the suffering from the lack of it! Repenting of our sin may not be the only trespasses we will answer for – it may be explaining why we did not “invest” much more of our time in the meditation of prayer pleading with God to stimulate our LOVE. Well, brother, doesn’t God do what He wants to do whether anyone cares or prays? It is true that God is sovereign in His holiness and He is perfectly free to do whatever He wants but this does not nullify the validity of how we have been given the responsibility to love and intercede. “Father, please awaken us we are desperately needy for you. Break our hearts, humble us, and give us a burden for souls. We cry out for you to provoke us and convict us to pray, in your holy name we ask, amen.”

CHAPTER 45

GOD INVITES BUT DOES NOT FORCE!

The Lord is very interested in us. He created us and everyone knows that whatever you create, you watch it, protect it and are proud of it. God listens to every word we say and knows every thought we have. He would love to help us change but He is waiting patiently for us to come to the point that we call on Him to help us. However, it is MORE than just saying words…it is meaning it with our heart. We must be completely focused with faith and become ready to surrender our will to His will, or the goal to walk with God will not be achieved. Change is God’s specialty but if we are not serious, He is not deceived. He loves us so much that He cannot compromise. Go before Him with a broken and contrite heart and He will flood your heart with His power and wisdom. Is God or your flesh in control? There is literal misery living with the internal conflict of regret. Anger and resentment toward our own decisions we have made can torment our conscience and directly affect how we think about our future. Discouragement can become so heavy that it can convince us that we cannot become anything more than what we already are. This self-image of low esteem is related to depression and hopelessness and has no place in the life of the believer. We all have times of feeling down but this is usually the result of taking our eyes from Christ and looking at the stormy waves and wind. Remember, when John kept his eyes on Jesus he walked on the water but when he allowed fear to overwhelm him, he began to sink. It is crucially important that we stop living in denial and ask God for the courage to lay ALL of our cards on the table. Taking a personal inventory of our heart is a great place to start because it reveals what you have and what you need. Examining our conscience is like taking inventory and launching a strategy proposal so that we know where we are and where we need to be? Instead of living with our head in the sand and allowing our negative emotions to control our destiny, it is time to push “satisfied-self” off the throne and invite Christ to be our Lord and King. This is not easy, in fact, it will take our entire life to learn and develop in this way of living. Harvesting has to do as much with planting words as it does a crop in the fields, and if we allow heaviness and sadness to be planted in the rich soil of our conscience, we can be sure that if we water them with doubt and negative confession, a huge crop of oppression will flourish. These dark clouds can block the beautiful rays of light from God’s Son and deceive us into thinking that we are a failure or that our labor is nor desired or appreciated. Satisfied-self is always ready to give up and forget about trying to persevere because it is an extension of the old carnal nature and it has every intention to dominate our thought life until we become determined to do something about it. Until the vision and desire of the “possible self” becomes stronger than the established “satisfied self” we will remain the same! You will never be the person you desire to be unless you can “see” the possible you with the eyes of your spirit.

The most important aspect of the metamorphose process is to make certain that the individual you see is the person God has called you to be. Freewill has been given to each man and woman but as Christians, this does not mean we can become whatever WE want to be. When we were redeemed with the blood of Jesus, this meant that we were literally purchased from the eternal legalities of spiritual law. In other words, we were all doomed because of the curse of the fall to be hopelessly destined to everlasting punishment and separation from God. Within this purchase agreement, there is a covenant vow that declares that everything God has is ours and all that we have is His. We have no problem dancing and shouting about inheriting the riches of heaven but become selective when it comes to surrendering our most loved possession. And what exactly is that? I thought you would never ask – our will. We want to enjoy unlimited natural and spiritual blessings while still clinging to the freedom to do whatever we want. This is not going to work! He is not blind nor deceived to our game playing. He bought us and that means He now owns us. We can play around all we want but the true reality is that He wants our intentions, motives, desires, energy, dreams, plans, hopes, visions, and decisions which sums up in one word; our heart. Until we “see” this divine revelation we will always think that we are in charge of our own destiny and that we can do anything in our own strength and courage. This is a twisted view of the successful life. The truth is that we must see exactly what God has designed for us to be and with His anointing and intervention He will bless our labor and faith in order to accomplish HIS will in our life for HIS glory! Getting all the pieces arranged correctly is crucial when it comes to being truly blessed and victorious.

If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).

This has been a popular verse for many years and is one of the strongest and clearest encouragements for the body of Christ when it comes to repentance and prayer. It has mostly been used in the context of God’s children being re-dedicated back to God so that He can deliver them from the hardships and difficulties resulting from sin. However, I do not believe it would be wrong to allow this verse to also be used as a meditation and confession about walking with Him as a lifestyle. Instead of thinking exclusively about God bringing restoration and blessings to a nation as a whole, we could pray that God would align our will with His will so that His purpose can be manifested IN US personally! I realize that trying to understand the hidden mysteries of how God operates behind the scenes will take more than just “surface mining.” I also believe that we can see and hear many things with our spiritual eyes and ears – IF they are open. As always, He is willing to bend over backward to help us, but He is “limited” by what we allow Him to do. Yes, I know it sounds disrespectful and blasphemous, but I am convinced we can prevent God from accomplishing His desires in us.

Brother God can do anything and everything – He is God! How dare you even mention the possibility that there may be something He cannot do if He wants to do it! He is the creator of all things and His sovereignty gives Him the authority to decide all things and makes Him in total control! Well, it is not my intention to take anything away from the glory and splendor of God’s majesty, but truth has the power to set people free from their ignorance and the bondage that results from the lack of knowledge. Take this verse for example; It begins with a very important word, “IF”. Just this first word indicates that it is the decision of the people that will depend on whether God intervenes a little, some or not at all. We must be in agreement that God always wants to forgive and bless, but He does not “make” people repent! In this light, we must also agree that God does not always see His will accomplished every time in everyone. I understand how unusual this sounds but there are times when He is disappointed and saddened by the choices people make. You can go through the entire Bible and see the numerous situations where individuals made the wrong choices and suffered the consequences of disobedience. God was with them, trying to warn them and help them, but their free-will gave them the power to control their destiny. So why am I saying all this? I am trying to put the spotlight on the fact that everything that happens is not necessarily God’s fault, but rather WE have the direct responsibility when it comes to running and winning the race of life. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily beset (harass, tempt, attack, afflict, trouble, oppress, plague, torment) us, and let us RUN with patience the RACE that is set before us” (Hebrews: 12:1). It is NOT God’s desire that we partake in sin and allow our life to become so entangled with carnality that we cannot run. Likewise, it is not God’s fault that we finish our life in disappointment, sadness, and failure. You see, the miracle we are looking for is within our own heart. We just need to understand how it can be manifested through God’s power and for His glory. In this light, it may be possible that we are holding back our own victory by refusing to let go of our favorite sin.

Sometimes we think about our spiritual life and do a quick summary of how we are doing and usually, we come up with a generally clean bill of health. Of course, our flesh is often the doctor in charge and his opinions are of course biased according to his own convictions. This old nature is a happy go lucky type that never sees the harm in doing anything as long as it gives pleasure to the body. Instead of being disappointed at being deceived, the flesh is actually content with it because it simply means that it does not have to worry or stress over reality. In fact, the flesh is so determined to avoid reality that it cannot stand to be anywhere that is quiet. Why? Because when we are quiet the old nature is afraid that we will hear God’s voice and that we might be drawn to His presence. If this is given a chance to evolve, the heart just might reach out by faith and accept the love of God which will destroy the stronghold of the old nature and replace him with a new Lord and Master of the soul. It is clear why the flesh loves to live in the darkness and saturate itself in the chaos of noise and distraction. The truth is that most of the time we are not doing well within our heart and we have issues that need to be dealt with. Only when we become serious with our relationship with God and develop a passion to become pure and holy will we ever understand what it means to dwell in His presence.

CHAPTER 46

A SATISFIED YOU vs. A POSSIBLE YOU

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may KNOW what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:17-18).

So who is this “possible person” I am searching for? Can I identify him or her? Can I see or know who this unique individual is and what he or she will become? We have asked these questions all year and hopefully, we are closer to the answer than when we started. Only you can realize the difference between the “satisfied you” and the “possible you” because you are the one that can decide whom you will serve. Only you can choose the vision of your destiny and act on it! If we allow our will to be in control we will never accomplish God’s plan. We may do many things but He will not be impressed or pleased. Only you can stop your will from controlling your mind and only you can take a serious look at God’s blueprints for your future and begin to dig the foundation of your new life!

If you have not noticed yet, this message is about personal transformation. Let us realize that a library of inspirational books would not scratch the surface of this topic. It is no secret that the spirit of slumber can contaminate our soul and frequently invites many unwanted guests into our life such as laziness, lethargy, a hard heart and a general attitude of I don’t care. Why is this? I believe it is worth the time to look in the mirror and notice a serious habit that we just seem to “naturally” develop and that is our love for security. We work all day and tolerate many things that we do not enjoy which causes us much stress and anxiety. Then, what do we all look forward to doing when our day is finished? We long to go to our cozy little house, pull the shades, lock the doors and enjoy the comfort and safety of our “refuge.” Brother, are you implying that this might be a bad thing? Not unless it causes us to develop a shortage of love. How so? If we allow our mind to retreat into a world of private isolation, we can subconsciously learn to avoid contact with others. These feelings can grow stronger until we actually enjoy being with ourselves more than being with others which in turn causes us to NOT think about people or care about them. When we stop for a moment and consider the negative results of such a lifestyle, we know this is a direct reason why we do not PRAY like we should. Prayer is a result of love. The more we love the more we pray! A wonderful first step toward personal transformation would be to ask God to give us a burden for souls and a stronger love for others than we have for ourselves.

If you are serious about change, it would be wise to search within your past to learn how certain events and situations have greatly influenced your direction. If your life is not going like you know it should, you can trace your steps until you find where you drifted away from your destiny. For example, negative comments that were said by others may have been seeds that produced discouragement and these distorted thoughts became absorbed and accepted into your state of being. In more severe cases we know that rejection for any reason can affect the way we think and have a major impact on our personality and decisions. Being abused is another huge wound that can distort our mind and cause us to live in a “matrix” world that is filled with lies, fear, distrust, anxiety, depression, and anger just to name a few. You must not only “see” that this is a major reason why you are the way you are because people usually know “why” they are struggling, but it is the determination to go through God’s “rehab” program of forgiveness and restoration that seems like climbing a mountain that has no peak! You may be disappointed about HOW the Lord has “molded” you and are struggling with the idea of forgiveness. Maybe a lack of confidence or a lack of understanding has cost you dearly and now you wish you could go back and do things differently while the devil harasses you about it being too late. Have you ever felt condemned because of something you have done in your past that keeps haunting you and beating you down with shame? May I include that whatever is hindering you from living in God’s perfect peace and FREEDOM is a weapon of condemnation from Satan to keep the strongman in bondage! If he can keep you in the darkness of intimidation, he can prevent the miracle of God’s healing power being manifested in you and likewise ruin your potential of becoming a victorious overcomer. Remember, the Lord’s truth is the most powerful light in the universe that is trying to get your attention so that He can teach you His Word. Understanding His covenant promises will “unlock” spiritual doors to a new reality of power and liberty that He intended for you to walk in. However, in order to change the way you are from this time forward, you must see the “satisfied you” as the way you USED to be and embrace the “possible you” as the way you CAN be! Amen!

The Lord wants to challenge us! He loves to provoke us because it makes us THINK! How can we progress if we do not meditate? How can we evolve without becoming saturated with His wisdom? Here are three distinct developmental phases of life that we can learn and implement in order to achieve our goals. The first part is what I will call the “satisfied you” and is everything about you that makes up how, why and who you are now. This current, “real-time” you, is the result of all that you have done whether good or bad, how you have interpreted it, how you have formed your views and has become a perfect snapshot of your state of being. The second part of this triangle is the “possible you.” This is something you may have dreamed about or possibly something you have never seen or thought about before. You see, some people live from day to day and are completely content to allow the “default system” to mold them into whatever and guide them wherever. This manifestation of a dormant soul has not been pre-destined for mediocrity but has been placed in neutral by the “will” as a choice. Dwelling in the proverbial “comfort zone” is an easy place to live which includes lots of pleasure and relaxation but not much thinking, just enough work to get by, and of course intentional distraction. The “satisfied you” will choose to live in a self-induced coma because it is a wonderful way to play hide and seek with accountability, responsibility, and destiny. However, beyond all the game playing there is a hidden revelation of hope. We can stay a caterpillar all of our lives and eat and sleep for 90 years WITHOUT becoming what Christ died for us to be, OR we can go through the larvae stage of transformation and develop into a new creation that soars into the heavens. We already have the green light from the creator to spread our wings, but until we are “ignited” with His passion and inspired with His faith – we will be like an airplane that is too heavy with doubt and fear to lift off the ground! The third part is the most difficult part. It is the decision whether or not you actually want to change. If you do – you must become determined to see yourself the way God sees you. We must make a holy VOW to God and ourselves that we will do whatever it takes to allow His supernatural transformation to become a divine reality within us. If you have decided to follow Jesus from the inside out – then prepare your life to be turned upside down.

CHAPTER 47

JESUS LOVES TO TRANSFORM

I was listening to a sports show the other day and they were interviewing a coach that was talking about how talented and strong his team was. They had been playing some weaker teams and dominating them, but at the end of his comments, he mentioned something that I thought was very interesting. He said what they needed was some adversity to wake them up! He concluded that so far, the season had been too easy and he was worried they would become complacent with all of the prosperity and relaxation. He said they needed a real challenge by playing a more difficult opponent that would “push them” into playing with more passion. I thought about this and how it relates to our Christian journey. It seems when things are going good, we naturally slide into a lackadaisical attitude where we forget about being on guard and begin daydreaming about the pleasures of the flesh. Have you ever noticed that when you are going through a dark valley you are more serious about prayer and spending time with God? It is true that He wants to bless us in the good times but is also willing to pick us up after we have been run over by a truck because He loves to see us “learn” from our experiences as we go deeper in our relationship with Him. He is concerned much more about how close we are to Him in the Spirit realm than what we want in the natural realm. We just cannot seem to comprehend that our carnality is NOT our best friend neither does it have our best interest in mind. I admit it is difficult to live a disciplined life, but discipline is a pillar within the foundation and character of God. He loves it when we have exhausted our resources, our strength, our connections and how smart we think we are because that is when we fall on Him in total faith and release our deepest love.

When Lucifer became filled with the sin of pride as the beautiful, leader of the angels in heaven, God was disappointed that he rebelled and had to be cast out. I’m sure He was sad that His creation had turned corrupt however God is so AWESOME and perfect, He was still able to incorporate the idea of a negative influence. The story of Lucifer sounds like a fictitious parable but it actually happened. Satan actually has very little power because he can only do what God allows him to do. He uses cheap sales pitches to deceive the masses that do not know any better but the spiritual “reality” is that He is being used to accomplish God’s work in the earth! I am not saying the enemy does not use temptation to deceive the world but he is actually only persuading the carnal nature of man to continue in their default lifestyle of sin. “And we know that ALL things work together for the good to those who love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) This means that even when a person takes the bait and falls on their face in failure, God can still use whatever pieces are left of a shattered life, arrange them according to His desire and use it perfectly for His glory! For example, if a person falls into a terrible drug addiction, experiences, and overdose and by a miracle escapes dying, this individual can become a very powerful voice against drugs and be used to help many turn away from these destructive lifestyles. Of course, we reminded of the Apostle Paul when before he became a Christian he was a fierce opponent of Christianity and actually had many innocent people killed. When he received Christ into his heart, he turned into one of the strongest representatives of God’s Kingdom and led many to salvation. When humans do not have the knowledge of divine truth, their views can be persuaded – and it is within these deceptions that mankind destroys himself and those around him. It is obvious that many are caught in the spider web of confusion not because they are “possessed” but rather are being mentally and emotionally “swayed” by the lack of holy knowledge. My question today is how can we break their trance and be used to make a difference in the destiny of people? Can our prayers of faith generate enough power to change them?

I believe that God has always desired for His people to pray even in the Old Testament. I believe God listens to prayer and that faith moves Him to do miracles. Not necessarily that prayers of faith actually change God’s mind about the way He has decided to do things but it is commonly believed that faith is “finding” the mind of God and praying according to HIS will. We do NOT believe that God just makes decisions on the fly because He has seen the paths and situation in every life from before they were born. God PLANS are connected to His omniscience which means He knows everything past and future. He knows what He wants to see happen – and how it is actually going to happen. May we agree that many times these are NOT the same? It may be true how Adam and Eve lost the closeness of their relationship with Father but where does it say that He stopped intervening in their lives? When Jesus rose from the dead He restored authority to the believers and filled them with His power and presence but He also included our free-will. Father desires that we grow strong and aggressive toward the devil, to crush his head and destroy his influence and I am sure He wants this – but the question of the hour is, do we believe we can do this and do we really want to?

Here is another example of how things do not always turn out the way our heavenly Father plans. The Lord gives the miracle of life and a special baby boy grows up as a cute, normal child and becomes a man. God watches Him throughout his life and desires to get his attention but he hangs around the wrong crowd and eventually joins a gang. God knows that one day he will be filled with rage, buy a gun, become involved with terrible crimes and eventually be killed. Now, we all know that for him to be possessed or influenced with evil was NOT God’s predestined path. The Lord did not lead this man, help him or bless him to become a gangster, but because of someone NOT intervening in prayer – plus the reality of this man’s carnal free-will, the outcome was tragic. It is true that Father allowed it and could have stopped it, but in many cases He obviously leaves much of this world’s spiritual developments to the power of intercession. If SOMEONE had taken the time to fervently pray for him instead of just confirming how bad the situation was, I believe that God would have performed miracles and divine appointments and that particular destiny would have been changed. How can I say that? Because we have learned that God reacts with our faith and the principals of His truth. Father listens to our intercessions and His power intervenes with super-natural manifestations! Was there someone in this man’s network of friends and family that could have stood in the gap for him? Was there a Christian in that network that was just so busy with their own cares that they did not pay attention to God’s calling? Maybe the Lord was trying to give someone a burden for this young man but their selfish comfort zone protected them from His still small voice. In this situation who is more guilty; the lost gangster who did not stop to listen to the voice of God or the saint that did not assume his responsibility or respond to the voice of God concerning the man?

Now brother, we all know that God has a perfect plan and that everything is progressing accordingly to His will! Well, I in no way intend to be disrespectful to God in any way or to you in your views, but there may be some problems in our theology. I believe that God is sovereign and there are “certain” things that are written in stone and nothing can stop them. However, I am not convinced that everything goes according to the desires, dreams, visions and plans of God. He KNOWS the FUTURE of everything but sometimes people make bad choices and do not follow His perfect will. I believe some things are predestined and some things are left up to our choice and only He knows why and how much! For the most part, He waits for our prayers so that He can intervene and change situations. Father is Omnipotent and Omniscient which means He is the LORD and has authority over all things. His foreknowledge of the future reveals that He is never surprised but it does not imply He is not disappointed with our decisions. Remember He grew angry at the world’s inhabitants in the days of Noah and destroyed much of His creation (and even regretted that He had made them). I am sure He was also sad at having to do that, but He knew that humanity had drifted out of control and was at the point of no return. He does not enjoy bringing judgment no more than we enjoy spanking our children but our actions always cause His reaction whether good or bad.

Can we pray and increase the level of God’s presence in His churches? Yes. Can we pray for lost souls and be used in divine appointments to lead others to Christ? Yes. Can our investment of time in intercession make a difference in the lives of those in our network? Yes! Can our prayers for those for who sick and going through crisis help them experience victory? Yes! Can our prayers cause us to become filled with the nature and character of God? Yes! Do these questions stir us or convict us at all?

Father we fall before you and repent. We cry out to you and ask for your mercy. We have sinned with our selfishness and pride. We have sinned with our laziness and rebellion. We have loved our flesh so much and become numb to caring about others. Please, Oh God, melt our hardness and cause us to become tender and sensitive to you and your people. If we do not love you or others enough to pray, then how can we call ourselves a Christian? The more we seek you the more we will find you. May we not be able to sleep at night until we have made things right with you. Chastise us, awaken us, and do whatever it takes to get our attention about surrendering ALL to you. It is in your holy precious name we pray, amen.”

CHAPTER 48

BEING SAVED FROM OURSELVES

Do you have a burden for souls? When you are in a huge crowd of people, do you ever wonder about the lost and how many do not know Christ? Have you ever thought about the amount of people in the world that do not know Jesus? When we were little children, we sang songs and confessed in Sunday school about how we were going to let, “this little light of mine” shine so that everyone would be able to “see” Christ in our life. We have been taught that our life can be used by God as a “witness” to minister His gospel to all who are lost. And we know that the heart of evangelism is all about spreading His Word and that through His conviction He knocks on the hearts door of the “whosoever wills” with a loving invitation to accept Him. I can honestly say that I have failed many times to represent the Lord with my best behavior. I have had some success throughout the years and on certain occasions I believe the Lord did use me however; I know there is also much room for improvement. Even beyond the witnessing, I am looking deeper into my life and trying to see the bigger picture of where I am and what I am doing. I have found a wonderful little church that is excited and on fire for Jesus and I thank the Lord for guiding me there. I am starting to get involved and it feels good since I have been taking a break from church for the last few years. I opened the service the other night and felt the Lord was saying that many people are hurting and worried so I took a few moments to just encourage the body and prayed a blessing over them. I have been thinking this week about my blessings and it occurred to me that it does not take much to get me upset. When I think I am having a crisis, many times it matters very little and this causes me to wonder how I would react to something very serious like the economy collapsing or a crisis of this magnitude. I have written many messages and songs throughout the years that contain God’s truth – I just need to walk what I know and allow these messages to penetrate and saturate my own heart and soul.

Praise the Lord, our small church recently has seen 26 people accept Christ over the last 4 months and this is awesome! Most of the time when we think about evangelism, we are faced with the reality that many people are just not interested, so it is amazing to hear about God drawing people by HIS power! People tell me all the time that in the place where they work, the co-workers run away whenever someone mentions the name “Jesus”. You would think that as difficult that life is, the world would be running “toward” the God that has the solution to every problem and the answer to every question. Of course, I am concerned because this burden reaches into much of my family, my wife’s family and those we are acquainted with. My first thoughts are that I am failing as a representative of God’s Kingdom and this makes me feel sad because the most effective deed I can do (prayer) is the very thing I struggle with! I am aware at the end of the age there will be many that will suffer a terrible consequence for their rejection of Jesus as their Lord but just how much responsibility will we have because we failed to pray? Have you ever wondered how all of these people will ever hear the gospel? Most of them have probably heard it before and are living on the thin ice of mercy and we can also agree that the doors of opportunity will only be open as the Lord allows. But, the sobering facts about those we care deeply about is that as they close as their conscience the tenderness of their heart becomes more clouded and spiritually desensitized. Christ will not force Himself upon those who do not want Him and only He knows the number of times He will offer His salvation to an individual. His Word is the POWER unto salvation but He calls everyone to make the decision TODAY. Each day that passes without being transformed, the heart “sets-up” and grows harder like concrete or glue and becomes more calloused with sin. Each hour without Jesus, a person falls deeper into the dark abyss and it will take a longer “lifeline” to reach them. Does this mean that a more fervent intercession is required for an older person? Maybe, because an older person becomes so molded in their ways and defiant, they are more likely to dismiss the idea of being changed and spiritually “transformed.” It is God’s perfect justice and judgment that manages His grace as His foreknowledge allows Him to know the ones that will never respond to His love.

Have you ever thought that the human brain is so independent and the will is so strong that it is a HUGE miracle when anyone is saved? Only God’s power could cause a spirit to be transformed and a mind to be renewed (re-programmed). I have heard people say that it is offensive for anyone to probe or ask another person about their spirituality. They say that what we believe is a private matter and that it is no one’s business what another person believes. I am sure that if I took a survey this view would be a common response but what are we to do with this? We are from another dimension – this world is not our home. We now have an agenda and that is to be used as a constant missionary within the framework of divine appointments. Our mind is to be focused on the job at hand and out heart is to be submissive to God’s instructions. We do not have time to be a hypocrite or friends with the world’s system. We cannot be what Jesus died for us to be and entangled with the distractions of this life at the same time. We only have a certain amount of time and only one life to accomplish our mission. For some reason we have been convinced that we can be an “under-cover” agent for God and not reveal our identity until we are in heaven. This is NOT the way it works! Allow me to say and hopefully encourage everyone within the sound of my voice; if you were planning on doing something – the time is NOW! If you cannot afford it – sell whatever it takes to finance it! If you are afraid – pray and fast until you become filled with Holy Ghost boldness! If you are overwhelmed with excuses to not step out by faith and accomplish your mission – seek God’s face until you are saturated with the revelation of His direct command for your life! If you KNOW what you have been called to do and are NOT doing it – you are in disobedience and God is not happy with you. If you do not know what he has called you to do, it means that you are not interested enough to find out. This means God is still disappointed in you and is waiting patiently for you to get your act together. Of course we do not have the time! Our lives are packed with all of the things we want instead of what God wants. In order to become a disciple we must drop what we are doing and “follow” Him. Why do you think He made sure to record Him “calling” His disciples? So that we could see the concept of sacrifice and the seriousness of commitment! We have every intention of doing everything we want first – and in the end we try to squeeze something in for God. The tragic deception is how the masses believe that God will overlook our wrong priorities. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:15-16).

We realize this is a very hard subject but I am also a firm believer in opening our eyes and heart to the truth. We have mentioned before about how we all want to think that everyone goes to heaven because it gives us peace (whether it is true or not). The true reality is that only a small percentage of people are truly born again and that the majority will spend eternity without God. I am not trying to be negative but I must include that God’s true salvation also does not spread like a contagious disease but rather is usually a very small, personal experience that happens to only a few here and there. We notice that in the world today, the Muslim religion seems to be growing rapidly but this has nothing to do with God’s plan of redemption. The Muslim idol is a false deity that is from Satan and is growing because of the multitudes of blind and ignorant humans. The God of heaven loves everyone and desires to save the lost, but very strong demonic deception continues to keep the masses in bondage to the devils lies. I was on vacation recently and as we were passing through a small town in Alabama, I saw where a church youth group was having a car-wash and a man was standing on the side of the road preaching and pointing to His Bible. This was to communicate that God and His Word is the only way to eternal life and that Christ died that we might be saved.

I believe those peculiar saints that become “overwhelmed” with the burden for souls feel that if they do not do “something” they will explode. These are the ones who might write everyone they know a personal letter about why Jesus came to earth. Or they may actually gather the courage and go out on a corner and preach the gospel. Some try to communicate God’s truth through music or art or writing books because an attribute of being saved is the burden to give others the cure that can heal them. If there was a pandemic and you had the cure but just continued to mingle among the sick without helping them, it would be like you were getting some sort of twisted pleasure from seeing them suffer. I am convinced the reason why we are not more effective as evangelists is because we do NOT have our priorities where they need to be. I promise you that if anyone was seriously dedicated to being used as a sower of the seed – the results would be miraculous. I personally have had “small” seasons of soul-winning in my life and I can testify that it was amazing. The reason I say small is because the enemy has always attacked me very violently and derailed me every time I seem to develop some evangelistic momentum. I remember years ago, I was interceding and being anointed to witness to several people at work. One man was an agnostic and actually beginning to respond with some serious questions. I could sense in the Holy Spirit the Lord was convicting him and I was very excited with what was happening. The very next day I was injured in an accident at work and was out for about a month. During this time he drifted back into his defiance and showed no interest at all after I returned to work. Do you really believe this was a coincidence?

I also remember another story that had a happier ending with me talking to young man over the course of a couple of weeks. This man was so under conviction that he was having dreams and was noticeably shaken with God’s power until one day we ended up sitting in his car in the parking lot and I led him to the Lord. He was weeping and laughing at the same time and I was convinced this was a genuine conversion. I remember coming home that afternoon and falling on my face with overwhelming joy from what I had experienced. It is so inspiring to actually be a part of God’s plan and to literally see the mercy and grace of God intervene into someone’s life. It was very soon after this that the devil attacked him and he was fired and I lost contact with him. Satan hates the intercessors and will pull out the “big guns” to try and stop evangelism. Praise God, let it be known that the Lord will step in and make a way for His Word to NOT return void and will defend, protect, guard, and provide whatever is necessary to accomplish His will! Amen! I am sure that many of you have been used in leading others to Christ and can relate to I am saying about the intense battles and joyous victories.

Our adversary is more clever than we think! It is true, we are not to be paranoid all the time but it is wise to use discernment as an asset to staying in God’s presence. This acknowledgment of the devil’s sneakiness and ability to roam around the earth causing trouble is not meant to glorify Satan, but to understand his strategy so that we will not be deceived. For example, instead of taking away the things we love, he actually wants us to be “consumed” by them. Instead of making us poor, it is not beyond his power to help us become wealthy and be so absorbed in the pleasures of this life that we never even think about God. The devil is a relentless influence that desires for us to fall into the attitude of taking everything in our life for granted. Walking in carnality that dominates our mind and will is the evidence of a mediocre, lukewarm existence that has no passion, motivation or sympathy for anything or anyone. It is the mentality and spirituality of being spiritually neutral and sadly this is where many people live. When most people hear about God their attitude is they can take Him or leave Him – it really does not matter. If we take a closer look at the condition of our world, we will discover the average person does not realize they have been caught in this delusional spider web of darkness. Soaking in the negative information that the world spews out continually can shape and harden a heart until a protective wall is built in the name of self-preservation. This is actually a false sense of security whose roots run deep in the abundance of selfishness which is the opposite of a Godly nature. Most people take for granted they will have plenty of time to pray before they die.

So, for us who know about praying for the lost and the gift of salvation, allow me to ask a simple question; do you believe one person can pray another person into the Kingdom? And if this is true, just how many prayers and what kind of praying would it take to accomplish it? I am sitting here tonight with my eyes welling up with tears because I honestly believe that nothing is impossible with prayer. What about you, do you think your prayers could be used to save souls? I know I have said this before, but if I REALLY believed that my prayers would play a part in the salvation of a loved one – then I need to do it! And if I choose not to become diligent in this task then I have failed at much more in life than I realize! When will I stop being concerned about so many things that mean very little while ignoring my highest obligations?

CHAPTER 49

YOU AND GOD ARE A MAJORITY

The more we venture out of our cave and look around in this great big world, the more we will run into people that are hurting. Yes, there are many who are blessed and have led sheltered lives, but if we really try to look closer into other people’s situations we will notice that many have not had it so easy. Allow me to say before we go any further that it is much more comfortable to live in isolation and just focus on our own needs and desires than it is to be concerned about the problems of others. It is the old idea of “out of sight – out of mind” that allows us to be free from the thoughts and worries of dysfunctional circumstances. It is amazing how us NOT knowing about suffering (whether intentionally or not) reduces our prayers into a “bless me” confession and reduces the big picture of the world’s needs into a tiny peep-hole that we seldom visit. This is a part of the church’s weakness in that it becomes so focused on the “feel good” parts that it forgets about the needy and hurting. Jesus was always more sensitive to the needs of the wounded than blending in with the political and social agendas of the imposter church.

I was thinking the other day about people like Mother Teresa that abandoned her life so that she could help others. She evidently started out with a burden and a compassionate heart and the more she became involved the more it became apparent that she had found her calling. To her, helping and giving became a revelation within her soul and I believe this should be the attitude of a true disciple of Christ. In Mark 12:43-44 we are reminded of the poor widow that gave two cents into the treasury while many of the wealthy were donating large amounts of money. “And He [Jesus] called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in ALL that she had, even all her living.” When we think of a person’s gift or calling, we usually have ideas like a profession or something we are good at and for some this may very well be the case, but allow me to say that it seems only a few ever find it or for that matter even seek for it and even if they do know it they want to control it their way. The “normal” way of thinking is to give God His portion but our true spiritual calling is to drop our nets and give Him ALL that we have.

Have you ever been at work and watched how people act and listen to what they say with the intention of trying to imagine where they are and how they got there? I have been in rooms filled with people that seemed downcast and some were outspoken about how much they hate what they are doing and where they are in general. Many people act as if they are entangled in a miserable existence like a prisoner that cannot find a way “out” of their circumstances. This helpless feeling of failure infects the conscience and the mind with an emotional negativity that haunts the soul like a dark cloud of depression. If anyone has ever been there, it seems as if you are in a deep hole and you are looking up to the sky but cannot figure out how to climb out. Allow me to say, there is no hole so deep that God cannot reach you! There is no island so remote that He cannot hear your cries! There is no place so dark that God’s light cannot find you and rescue you! The God of all creation wants you to be filled with His joy but it all depends on your perception of reality. The three Hebrew children were in the fiery furnace BUT SO WAS GOD! Remember this; it is never WHERE you are that makes or breaks you – it is who you are WITH! You and God is a majority and nothing can stop you from His love and your victory!

I have been to the valley of despair; it is the most miserable place anyone could ever be. I do not enjoy anything about it and though I have never seen or felt a literal hell – I would cast my vote that depression is earth’s version of it. Have you ever noticed how discouragement paralyzes and encouragement motivates? I know what it is like to suffer emotionally and to be consumed with the torture that comes from being offended, hurt, neglected, back-stabbed, deceived, not appreciated and disappointed. I realize that many have had it much worse than me and my problems have been small compared to others that have suffered a great deal nonetheless this life is filled with troubles and most of them is more than we can handle on our own. In these times of discouragement, the last thing we desire to do is to praise God, but allow me to say that praising Him is EXACTLY what we need to do when we are in these valleys of despair. At times we all wrestle with different demons and trials that cause torment within our mind and soul as they are either targeting us as victims or taunting us with our own mistakes. And while we are walking over these hot coals of pity it usually does not make us feel any better to hear the old saying, “it is not the crisis but our reaction” however, beyond the blinding pain there is a divine truth in that statement which actually holds the key that can unlock the door to our healing. Jesus stands on the other side of this door and if we can stop crying long enough and let Him in, then hopefully we can take baby steps of faith and allow Him to fix what is broken. But it seems you are taking the misery lightly and implying that the pain is not real. I am not saying the pain is imaginary or just in your head because I realize it is very real, but I would be wrong to not mention how much of it can be cast down and replaced with joy? Easy for you to say but how can words heal a human being? The greatest mystery has been unveiled and given to whosoever can invite and receive Jesus into their heart. He is THE WORD that saves the lost and His authority is much more than ink and paper. When we ingest His Word into our life by life His power is released within us to create whatever miracle we need! The good news is that when we make the conscious effort to look BEYOND the misery just for a moment, we will see within our spirit a light at the end of the tunnel which is the hand of a merciful God reaching out to us in compassion. His love can open our spiritual eyes so that we can realize how crucial it is to let go of this realm and embrace the Savior of our soul. As recipients of His patience and long-suffering we focus on the one who created us and humbly reach out and trust Him and worship His glorious beauty. When He holds us in His arms of grace we are overwhelmed in His perfect peace and strengthened with His counsel. “Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness: He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous” (Psalm 112: 4).

I realize there are chemical imbalances and psychological disorders in these fragile temples and times when we are genuinely attacked and wounded but strong soldiers cannot curl up in a fetal position in the foxhole and pull the blanket over their head. Pity parties are where the weak in faith and fearful tie a handkerchief to their machine gun and begin to wave it to the world as a message of surrender. But allow me to ask; how can battles be won when we give up on our trust and confidence in God? There is so much work for us to do in these last hours, so many souls that are watching us, so many young ones that need Jesus, so much of God’s Word that needs to be spoken. The only surrender we should ever yield to is – “not my will but thy will O God.” Giving up is not the nature of Jesus because He never bailed out on His road to Calvary! People are depending on us, they need our prayers, our time, our help and our encouragement. Yes, there will be hard times when we are punched right in the mouth and there will be seasons when we have done everything we know to do and still feel like we have failed. But in these dry and windy places that feel like the Mohave Desert we must become desperately serious about shutting ourselves in the secret place of our prayer closet and be determined to not come out until our mind is renewed and our spirit has been refreshed. After a season of mourning and grieving and feeling sorry for ourselves there must also be a time to arise, wash our face and put our armor back on and return to the battlefield in the confidence that God wants to work through us and be seen in us for HIS glory!

How many will discover the revelation of seeing themselves in the telescope of the “big picture” instead of focusing in the microscope of self? People who believe that everything revolves around them, who are self-centered and are always only concerned about their feelings usually have a pocket full of tickets to ride the roller coaster of disappointment and negativity. At times I have been one of these people and it is amazing how I could not see how self-centered I could be. Serving the god of “self” is a sin of idolatry. We all need not just a revelation of Jesus Christ but a revelation of our own heart. Selah. First we must desire to see the reality within our conscience, second we must be willing to deal with it and third we must be ready to pay the price to be transformed. It is unpopular to acknowledge but many times our frustrations are the result of not cooperating with God’s intervention. One of the best ways to snap out of depression is to get up and go somewhere with the intent of helping someone. Pull yourself away from the mirror long enough to see how others are living and your problems will begin to fade. Walk through a children’s cancer ward at a hospital or read foxes book of martyr’s and all of a sudden you may think your life is not really as bad as you thought it was. Go out and buy some cards and send them to those you know with no hidden motives. Donate food to a God’s pantry or buy a needy child a toy and give it to them in the name of the Lord or give a donation to the Bible league so that people around the world can know Jesus. I encourage you to simply take a pen and paper, and write down as many of your blessings you can think of and within no time at all you will see yourself in the divine reality the way God see’s you!

If we do not learn from our trials then our distress has been a waste. Crisis situations are opportunities to put our faith and patience to work! How can we be defeated when God is for us and working constantly on our behalf? He was even involved in the middle of Job’s trial. Maybe the reason we struggle is because we are fighting Him for the steering wheel. If we let Him drive I believe we would be more likely to enjoy the ride, don’t you? Is there such a thing as counting it all joy when the blacksmith is holding us to the fire and shaping us with His hammer? I’m not saying it is easy but actually, yes. If we KNOW that God is making us into what He has called us to be – we can count it all joy! We may suffer trauma, turmoil or even persecution and no doubt it is all uncomfortable but we must eventually get back up and dust ourselves off in order to get back into the race. Remember when the blacksmith is finished with his piece he does not throw it in the corner and forget about it. He has worked hard to produce his vision because he intends to use it for his specific purpose. God knew you and planned you before the foundation of the world and has been taking care of all the fine details to bring you to this place and has every intention to use you NOW more than ever before! He is trying day and night to polish you and challenge you to be a strong and effective instrument to accomplish His purposes. Sure, the world is falling apart because of sin but that is exactly why we cannot afford to throw in the towel. Do not allow unforgiveness, bitterness or being offended to render you powerless. “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house” (Mark 3:27). YOU ARE the strong man and whenever you become discouraged, your pity binds you and holds you captive to the enemy that desires to control your mind and life! True healing is all about forgiveness, letting go, turning the page and continuing to move forward. To remain wounded and bitter is to be plagued with the ongoing torture of emotional and spiritual infection. It is time to advance to the next level of maturity and let the wounds turn to scars (from the inside out) that remind us how God is our “Jehovah Rapha.” The deeper the pain the more valuable the lesson and as you learn from the trials, allow them to build your character and wisdom so you can teach from your experiences. Step back and see that life is all about becoming what Jesus died for us to be and how effective we can be used to help others do the same. God would love to use us if we could only stop thinking about ourselves! Ask for wisdom, Watch for His unseen hand and listen intently for His still small whisper. “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction” (Proverbs 3:11).

Father, we ask you to help us to the next level. We believe that a touch from your Spirit can open the eyes of our heart and rekindle our fire for you. If these two things are not changed – neither will we! RADICAL love comes from radical prayer! We do not need a face-lift – we need a total REBUILD! It is all about your love and your anointing because without it we are powerless. Energize us, motivate us, IGNITE us so that we might IGNITE others to seek your face and engage into being a Jesus fanatic! In your holy Name, we ask, Amen.

CHAPTER 50

LOVE CANNOT COMPROMISE

It’s amazing how drastic worldviews can change in one generation. In our busy daily lives, we hardly seem to take the time to consider the larger concept of life because we are so distracted by the “little foxes”. It is common but not excused to be so focused on what we are doing than what we need to be remembering. For example, the church world is generous when it comes to helping children in need but many times forgetting the little ones running around under their feet. Yes, there have been Sunday schools and children’s programs and even many Christian schools but it has NOT been enough. This is not being critical considering what is at stake. The entire future of demonstrating God’s truth on earth depends on the actions of each generation to preserve it. Of course, the Lord is watching over His Kingdom but when one generation goes to sleep and fails in their responsibilities to pass on to their children God’s divine reality, the entire culture suffers loss and becomes more distorted. As children absorb knowledge they begin to process this information as a type of “laying a foundation” of their own personal worldviews. For those who seek God’s truth, the renewed mind is continually being developed and shaped into powerful convictions that solidify values such as integrity, love, and honor. However, for those whose conscience is being bombarded with the philosophies of the world – the flood of darkness has no intention of taking prisoners.

Many are saying that molding children’s thinking by forcing them to adopt someone else’s interpretations of truth is wrong even if it is the religious views of parents and church. In rare cases this may have a valid argument but when it comes to God’s absolute truth we must TEACH what we KNOW is right and be determined to NOT compromise! Yes, brother but all truth is relative. Oh really? If we trace where this type of foolish thinking originated we may not be as excited to endorse it as reliable. Satan is the author of confusion and the father of all lies. He knows all about absolute truth and his mission is NOT complicated; it is to prevent God’s wisdom from transforming the minds of the “earthlings.” The devil realizes that since humans are born with a rebellious nature against God, we are automatically gullible to philosophical opinions. The flesh nature is weak minded and vulnerable to deception which makes the devil’s mission much easier and sadly has done a fairly good job of keeping God’s truth “top secret.” But, praise God! I want to share a simple and beautiful revelation with you today; God’s Kingdom IS advancing because it CANNOT be stopped! The kingdom of sin and darkness CANNOT prevent the seeker who becomes determined to love and know God from accomplishing God’s will! Amen!

I believe there have been some breakdowns in the general church-world over the last one hundred years and I also feel in my heart there are strange spirits that are operating in some of our major denominations today. Do not misunderstand me, there are pockets of remnant disciples scattered out over the earth but generally speaking many churches have become more politically minded than Christ centered. In this light, there is a huge representation of socially acceptable religion and a very small remnant that is standing for God’s divine reality and this is something the true disciples need to comprehend. The last hour church will not be known for its SIZE but for its passion to reflect the love of Jesus and embrace His Word! So when did the church begin to lose its purpose and identity? Well, that is a good question and it might make more sense to confess that the church actually has NEVER been the spiritual force in the world like it should have been. Yes, religion has always been in the headlines while God’s people have been in their prayer closets! While the religious world has been busy looking respectful to the community, many of its families were spiritually starving. As the generations of children developed in their minds what they observed from the lethargic church and compromising parents, leaders, and mentors, it molded an undesirable view of God and deteriorated the entire idea of absolute truth. I personally believe the modern version of the religious system took a heavy hit in the 1960’s and 70’s because the enemy brought out the many different types and “calibers” of humanism with a more aggressive demonic intensity against the family and society. Could much of this have been stopped by Christians? Absolutely! Can we stop it now? We can make a huge difference by becoming determined to ACT and SAY exactly what He is speaking to us!

When we think about how life is woven together and what makes sense, we begin to notice that as complicated as the world may seem, the basic fundamentals of life are quite simple. God’s ways are precise and strict yet filled with love and forgiveness. Since humans are so simple-minded, we are faced with the hard facts that most people think like a child and act like a child. Children do not like discipline and rebellion hates to be told what to do. Concerning the carnal nature, we can say with confidence that resisting authority is always “in season.” In this way of thinking, it does not really take a lot of effort for the enemy of our soul to drive a huge “wedge” between us and God’s truth – he just needs to influence and whisper his ideas here and there to keep the fires of insubordination burning. In God’s way of thinking, He sends His Son to restore our relationship with Him and gives us a wonderful instruction manual for us to live by. His covenant explains that all we have is His and all that He has is ours. We follow His blueprint in obedience and in turn we are given the awesome opportunity and gracious blessing of Him sitting on the throne of our heart and leading our life as our Lord. Simple right? I wish I could tell you our journey is one big exciting adventure where we all ride into the sunset, BUT our road does have a few potholes and times of suffering and disappointment. This is why our conversations are so loaded with talk about trusting God! You see, faith is very dangerous to the dark kingdom which is why the liberals have been influenced so strongly to abolish and discredit the Bible. The devil has realized that if the concept of “absolute truth” can be removed from the list of “possible theories” – the floodgates of heresy can control the minds, hearts and souls of the world. Seeing this military strategy to damn the entire world to an everlasting hell SHOULD BE a sobering wake-up call for God’s people to arise and enter into spiritual warfare. When love grows cold, the burdens for souls fade away and the Bible turns into a center piece for a coffee table instead of a passionate lifestyle. This is where the infection originated; the generations were not taught how to pray or what was at stake because they only believed what they witnessed! What good have all of the millions of church services been to the world when the Christians act just like the lost? What are we accomplishing with all of our labors within the church when our most precious treasure (the children) is being taught that the Bible is a joke? When church members do not live the Christian life and allow sin to desensitize their soul, the children run out the backdoor and play with demons because they do not know the difference! The masses have been asleep so long now they don’t even remember what they were supposed to do.

Here is a quote from A.W. Tozer. “If Christianity is to receive rejuvenation, it must be by other means than any now being used. If the Church in the last half century is to recover from the injuries she has suffered, there must appear a new type of leader. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting. Another kind of spiritual leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard His voice from the Throne. When they come (and I pray to God there will be many), they will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear.” A nation founded by pilgrims who came here to worship the God of the Bible freely without interference and persecution from ruling elites and those opposed to Christianity’s influence on the culture, has now come to the proverbial fork in the road. Now, after years of attempting to balance traditional Americana with political correctness, the new generation who is pushing the new “my way or the highway” definition of “tolerance” has decided that accommodating our differences of opinion is defeat. Irrefutable history documents that the Bible and its teachings were the biggest influence on those that founded the most free and prosperous nation in human history. Yet in today’s world, if you believe that same Bible is absolutely true you will either be afraid to stand for your beliefs, or you will be silenced.

The church is facing a strong uprising against what is true and the battle which lies ahead is NOT for the faint-hearted. We are entering into a time when our government believes it has the power to FORCE a Christian to accept the dictates of its system agenda. The sad truth is most American Christians would prefer to leave people in their sin provided they are left alone. In God’s blueprint, that is total disobedience to the Gospel and exactly the reason why the culture is at this point in the first place. However, the message of Christmas is that God was not content to leave the world drowning in its sins, so He gave us His Son born humbly in a manger to become “God with us.” The carols are filled with anointed Biblical truth but most do not know what they are singing. Back to that proverbial fork in the road. One sign says “liberty to serve God” and the other sign says “political correctness” which means freedom to serve yourself. Every true remnant disciple of Jesus Christ will have to choose one or the other. We can no longer have both, and the truth is we really never could. It was always going to end this way, we just didn’t want to believe.

CHAPTER 51

LOVE CANNOT COMPROMISE

It is amazing how drastic worldviews can change in one generation. In our busy daily lives, we hardly seem to take the time to consider the larger concept of life because we are so distracted by the “little foxes”. It is common but not excused to be so focused on what we are doing than what we need to be remembering. Selah. For example, the church world is generous when it comes to helping children in need but many times forgetting the little ones running around under their feet. Yes, there have been Sunday schools and children’s programs and even many Christian schools but it has NOT been enough. This is not being critical considering what is at stake. The entire future of demonstrating God’s truth on earth depends on the actions of each generation to preserve it. Of course, the Lord is watching over His Kingdom but when one generation goes to sleep and fails in their responsibilities to pass on to their children God’s divine reality, the entire culture suffers loss and becomes more distorted. As children absorb knowledge they begin to process this information as a type of “laying a foundation” of their own personal worldviews. For those who seek God’s truth, the renewed mind is continually being developed and shaped into powerful convictions that solidify values such as integrity, love, and honor. However, for those whose conscience is being bombarded with the philosophies of the world – the flood of darkness has no intention of taking prisoners.

Many are saying that molding children’s thinking by forcing them to adopt someone else’s interpretations of truth is wrong even if it is the religious views of parents and church. In rare cases, this may have a valid argument but when it comes to God’s absolute truth we must TEACH what we KNOW is right and be determined to NOT compromise! Yes, brother but all truth is relative. Oh really? If we trace where this type of foolish thinking originated we may not be as excited to endorse it as reliable. Satan is the author of confusion and the father of all lies. He knows all about absolute truth and his mission is NOT complicated; it is to prevent God’s wisdom from transforming the minds of the “earthlings.” The devil realizes that since humans are born with a rebellious nature against God, we are automatically gullible to philosophical opinions. The flesh nature is weak minded and vulnerable to deception which makes the devil’s mission much easier and sadly has done a fairly good job of keeping God’s truth “top secret.” But, praise God! I want to share a simple and beautiful revelation with you today; God’s Kingdom IS advancing because it CANNOT be stopped! Selah. The kingdom of sin and darkness CANNOT prevent the seeker who becomes determined to love and know God from accomplishing God’s will! Amen!

I believe there have been some breakdowns in the general church-world over the last one hundred years and I also feel in my heart there are strange spirits that are operating in some of our major denominations today. Do not misunderstand me, there are pockets of remnant disciples scattered out over the earth but generally speaking many churches have become more politically minded than Christ-centered. In this light, there is a huge representation of socially acceptable religion and a very small remnant that is standing for God’s divine reality and this is something the true disciples need to comprehend. The last hour church will not be known for its SIZE but for its passion to reflect the love of Jesus and embrace His Word! So when did the church begin to lose its purpose and identity? Well, that is a good question and it might make more sense to confess that the church actually has NEVER been the spiritual force in the world like it should have been. Yes, religion has always been in the headlines while God’s people have been in their prayer closets! While the religious world has been busy looking respectful to the community, many of its families were spiritually starving. As the generations of children developed in their minds what they observed from the lethargic church and compromising parents, leaders, and mentors, it molded an undesirable view of God and deteriorated the entire idea of absolute truth. I personally believe the modern version of the religious system took a heavy hit in the 1960’s and 70’s because the enemy brought out the many different types and “calibers” of humanism with a more aggressive demonic intensity against the family and society. Could much of this have been stopped by Christians? Absolutely! Can we stop it now? We can make a huge difference by becoming determined to ACT and SAY exactly what He is speaking to us!

When we think about how life is woven together and what makes sense, we begin to notice that as complicated as the world may seem, the basic fundamentals of life are quite simple. God’s ways are precise and strict yet filled with love and forgiveness. Since humans are so simple-minded, we are faced with the hard facts that most people think like a child and act like a child. Children do not like discipline and rebellion hates to be told what to do. Concerning the carnal nature, we can say with confidence that resisting authority is always “in season.” In this way of thinking, it does not really take a lot of effort for the enemy of our soul to drive a huge “wedge” between us and God’s truth – he just needs to influence and whisper his ideas here and there to keep the fires of insubordination burning. In God’s way of thinking, He sends His Son to restore our relationship with Him and gives us a wonderful instruction manual for us to live by. His covenant explains that all we have is His and all that He has is ours. We follow His blueprint in obedience and in turn we are given the awesome opportunity and gracious blessing of Him sitting on the throne of our heart and leading our lives as our Lord. Simple right? I wish I could tell you our journey is one big exciting adventure where we all ride into the sunset, BUT our road does have a few potholes and times of suffering and disappointment. This is why our conversations are so loaded with talk about trusting God! You see, faith is very dangerous to the dark kingdom which is why the liberals have been influenced so strongly to abolish and discredit the Bible. The devil has realized that if the concept of “absolute truth” can be removed from the list of “possible theories” – the floodgates of heresy can control the minds, hearts, and souls of the world. Seeing this military strategy to damn the entire world to an everlasting hell SHOULD BE a sobering wake-up call for God’s people to arise and enter into spiritual warfare. When love grows cold, the burdens for souls fade away and the Bible turns into a centerpiece for a coffee table instead of a passionate lifestyle. This is where the infection originated; the generations were not taught how to pray or what was at stake because they only believed what they witnessed! What good has all of the millions of church services been to the world when the Christians act just like the lost? What are we accomplishing with all of our labors within the church when our most precious treasure (the children) is being taught that the Bible is a joke? When church members do not live the Christian life and allow sin to desensitize their soul, the children run out the back door and play with demons because they do not know the difference! The masses have been asleep so long now they don’t even remember what they were supposed to do.

Allow me to present a quote from A.W. Tozer. “If Christianity is to receive rejuvenation, it must be by other means than any now being used. If the Church in the last half century is to recover from the injuries she has suffered, there must appear a new type of leader. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting. Another kind of spiritual leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard His voice from the Throne. When they come (and I pray to God there will be many), they will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear.” A nation founded by pilgrims who came here to worship the God of the Bible freely without interference and persecution from ruling elites and those opposed to Christianity’s influence on the culture has now come to the proverbial fork in the road. After years of attempting to balance traditional Americana with political correctness, those pushing the new “my way or the highway” definition of “tolerance” has decided that accommodating our differences of opinion is defeat. Irrefutable history documents that the Bible and its teachings were the biggest influence on those that founded the most prosperous nation in human history. Yet nowadays if you believe that same Bible is true you will either silence your beliefs, or you will be silenced. The church is facing a strong uprising against what is true and the battle which lies ahead is NOT for the faint-hearted. We are entering into a time when our government believes it has the power to FORCE a Christian to accept the dictates of its system agenda. The sad truth is most American Christians would prefer to leave people in their sin provided they are left alone. In God’s blueprint, that is total disobedience to the Gospel and exactly the reason why the culture is at this point in the first place. However, the message of Christmas is that God was not content to leave the world drowning in its sins, so He gave us His Son born humbly in a manger to become “God with us.” The carols are filled with anointed truth but most do not know what they are singing. Back to that proverbial fork in the road. One sign says “liberty” and the other sign says “political correctness.” Every true remnant disciple of Jesus Christ will have to choose one or the other. We can no longer have both, and the truth is we really never could. It was always going to end this way, we just didn’t want to believe it.

 

CHAPTER 52

EMMANUEL

Well, here we are again at Christmas and may I say that we have had some difficult trials and times of sadness but all in all this has truly been a year of blessing. I am so grateful our heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus to live on this earth and eventually SACRIFICE His life for our sins with His blood. It was the highest sacrifice and the ONLY ransom that had the power to redeem us and open the doors not only to heaven but also allows us to walk in His presence NOW! God’s grace is amazing and has extended His invitation for anyone to become a child of the King of Kings. So, why do I feel a check in my spirit when I see Santa Clause? Because I am looking at an image of someone that appears to be trying steal God’s glory and take away the attention that the incarnation and resurrection deserves. Now brother, there is no reason why we cannot have BOTH! The other day I was driving down the road and saw Santa and all the reindeer right beside a nativity scene, and I thought nothing of it! I am sorry, but this bothers me and I believe it has everything to do with God’s Spirit and my new spirit within me. There is only one God that has the divine abilities that NO OTHER god has – yet I cannot help but think it is no coincidence that an imaginative character would arrive at the winter solstice and claim to have super-natural powers that is equal to Jesus Christ. To be weary of such a popular entity should not seem strange neither should it be judged as being silly within the Christian world – I am afraid that is not the case. Many in the Christian faith justify this story as something that is crucially important to the development of the young and innocent imaginative mind. To be honest, I can tolerate the Christmas traditions because my human nature just like everyone else enjoys the ideas and concepts of magic and fantasy – but is there anything wrong with wondering how Jesus really feels about all of this?

I admit there is a world of topics to talk about that are more, let us say…peaceful and I am sure – less controversial. It is true that most people stand rather strong in their traditions and it is no secret that any drastic change in the way things are done would no doubt bring a negative response from those who disagree. But likewise, I would hope we have also come such a distance in our spiritual journey that it would be a shame to compromise with the world just because we like the warm fuzzy feelings of “anything” or any type of ritual or celebration that would be offensive to the Lord. I would be the first person to confess how the season of Christmas brings emotions that are sentimental and are difficult to explain, and I certainly do not want everyone I know to dismiss me as an old, grumpy and senile fanatic. I love the thought of the Father sending His only Son Jesus to the earth, but I am just trying to untangle all of the other holiday “symbols” that has tried to weave itself into the cloth of reverence toward God and goodwill toward men. I would never want to offend anyone and I want to be the first to admit that I have in the past actually opposed Christians that were trying to avoid being associated with the pagan connections with Christmas along with the negative chaos affiliated with commercialism. Sadly, I was not very loving in my approach to this situation neither was I, let’s see…filled with Godly wisdom and maturity. I remember when I was a younger, I worked with a Christian fellow that decided to lead his young family away from the traditions of Christmas. He had been heavily influenced through the teachings of his church and had trusted their doctrines and spiritual leadership about not embracing certain holidays. I think what really irritated us was that he would openly describe the scenario of his Christmas mornings without a tree or presents and how his small children would cry. We all thought this was a type of “abuse” and would strongly criticize and accuse him with everything from being in a cult to having mental problems. So, I have seen persecution (and participated in it) and have witnessed the anger against a person that makes a decision to swim “upstream” against what the masses believe. This makes me consider that with such strong emotions that are expressed about such a trivial topic as putting up a tree and decorating it with silver and gold, how will people react when we are faced with following or rejecting the ideas and temptations associated with the anti-christ?

We all make choices each day that are connected to our world-views. In order to be led by the Holy Spirit and follow God’s specific blueprint for our destiny, we must stay constantly focused and extremely sensitive to being side-tracked. I believe compromise is something we must on “full alert” with in order to stay pure in the holiness of divine truth. I cannot think of an exception when compromise should be accepted as each of us has the personal responsibility to seek out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We have been called to be a light and as we have mentioned before, the light from a “lighthouse” is not sporadic but constantly faithful. We are a “never failing” source of truth to voice His gospel and if pressed into a corner, we just need to boldly confess that it is wrong for us to participate in something we feel is not God’s will. I can safely say that we will all have the “opportunity” if we live long enough to stand before the world and proclaim our allegiance. I realize that no one is “forcing” us to celebrate holidays any particular way but I am only suggesting that it is wise to consider the social issues that are being discussed all around us and how that possibly in the near future our legal system will require all people to accept certain views whether they agree or not. My point is that with a small amount of compromise here and there or making special considerations at certain times, we can become vulnerable to a “weakening” or a breakdown of the standards and absolutes of our convictions. I realize we are not perfect, but I know that Jesus would never consider a small amount of leaven into His life. What I am trying to discover, is why we would.

Of course we know that our holidays are not what they seem, yet that does not seem to stop us from joining in. Many of the tiny details that have been passed along for centuries are traditions that have come directly from the witchcraft of pagans and heathens in connection with idol worship. With our appetite and endless infatuation for anything that appeals to our carnal imagination, it seems to make no difference what we do as long as we hide behind the justification that we are not really bowing down to idols. Subtle sins are like snare traps, very similar to watching television programs that offer just a few repulsive nasty words or just a small amount of erotica, nudity and lust. Satan has not been unleashing the floodgates of sin upon the masses all at once, but for the last 60 years he has slowly been serving the coolaid one glass at a time. Those who hate the taste of sin can eventually acquire a tolerance to it when given small amounts every day. Social issues that years ago would have not even been discussed as an acceptable option have now become embraced as valid reasons for the numerous practices and lifestyles. The New World Order preaches their poison and the authorities are forced to follow the lies that has now turned God’s laws upside down! “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). Allow me to ask you a question: would you rather be simple minded and left alone to believe the stories and fables you have been told, or would it be better if you conducted theological research and found that much of what you trusted as innocent – was actually dangerous? Let’s look at it like this: what if you were a scientist that studied the chemical compounds of processed food and how they affect the body and let’s say that you adored a certain snack that you ate several times a day. In your research you discovered that this particular treat caused a gradual shutdown of your organs and produced an aggressive growing cancer. Would you be sad that you stumbled across this knowledge that can now save your life or would you wish that you had never found the problem so you could have enjoyed your snacks? “The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools” (Proverbs 3:35).

All over the world, we can see how folk legends and traditions have become a “sacred” part of certain cultures and each society accordingly will strongly defend them. Whoever coined the phrase, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” was not thinking about the consequences or dangers that is connected many times with things that are cute and seemingly harmless. Allow me to say that bombs made in the shapes of teddy bears do not lessen the unpleasant reality that “cute” can destroy! I believe when it comes to our pagan traditions that we can clearly see the connection between the love for children and our vulnerable emotions. The enemy knows that he could never persuade the masses to participate in a world-wide holiday with something that did not include our most valuable treasure – our children. He uses the innocent child, the needy, desperate, heart-wrenching emotions of thinking about a child that does not have a store bought trinket. The concept of Santa is that he loves the little children so much that He has dedicated his entire life to making them happy with gifts. So, we charge upon the retail world in a furious “call to battle” against the crowds and go in debt as we try to make them happy in the name of how can I “wow” you with more materialism. Somehow all of this evolved from Jesus being born in a manger and suffering on a cross to save the souls of a lost and dying world. “For certain men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles [special messengers] of Christ. And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:13-14).

Satan influences the imagination of humans by giving away fancy bottles of “snake oil” that has no warning labels of ingredients or dangerous side-effects. The highest commandment within the kingdom of darkness is that every human can freely think, speak and act however they want without any consequences or remorse. Satan’s idea is simple: If he can teach that imitational freedom is the most perfect social and political way of thought, then humans can be excused for their personal falsehoods and deceptions without condemnation or consequences. After all, the idea behind tolerance is that I am accepting you for who you are and what you believe so you must respect what I do also and together our compromise can establish a beautiful unity. This break-down of God’s absolute truth is not an accident! The modern thought of social psychology is to relax and accept the agnostic way of thinking that everyone is all a part of a divine acceptance. Of course the agnostic embraces the law of secular humanism because one gives legal authority to enable the other to exist. This is what is being taught today to the young people of this world. It is up to the Christian to step forward and proclaim there is no place for pantheist lies and the deception of heresy when it comes to deceiving our upcoming generation. Would it really be that disappointing to a child if they were told the truth about the difference between a fable and reality from the beginning? To embrace and teach a “make believe” story to the young and naïve about how a human figure can perform such great and magical miracles that directly affect every human on the planet is wrong. We can argue that we are only joking, kidding, telling white lies or whatever justifies our intentional falsifications but it is a lie. Here is a short list of what is actually being taught as real events concerning the image of Santa Clause and the symbol of the Christmas tree.

1. Santa can transform his body (and solid inanimate objects) into any shape or form in order to enter through walls or any solid barrier.

2. Santa has the magical power to disappear and become invisible.

3. Santa has the magical power to fly and work at a supernatural speed. He has unlimited resources and unlimited power.

4. Santa has the super-natural ability to be omnipresent. This means he shares the divine power with God to know every person on earth, where they live and to remember each deed whether good or bad all at the same time – every second. This constant observation and recording of individual good works and trespasses is a direct insult to the idea that God is THE “all knowing” judge that punishes sin and rewards obedience. In this position, Santa becomes a god or idol just like all of the other gods of the world.

5. Santa has the power to know the hidden desires of every person on earth. The Bible teaches that God is the only one who is omniscient by discerning the thoughts, motives, and intents of the conscience of everyone that has ever lived or will ever live.

6. The North Pole, which is the permanent magical dwelling of Santa, represents God living in the eternal super-natural kingdom of heaven. The elves that have special powers are servants of Santa and are representative of the angels who were created to serve God day and night and who have powers to accomplish God’s work. The sleigh and reindeer are a type of the white horse that Christ will ride when he appears in the air. The gifts in the sleigh represent the rewards and crowns that will be given to the remnant “saints” when Christ returns. Santa comes in the night when everyone is asleep, just as Christ has said that he will return when everyone least expects – as a thief in the night. His hair is white and so is the Lord’s. Santa has a list of deeds and God has the book of life.

7. Santa is portrayed as having the authority to give animals the magical ability to talk and fly. But, God is the only one that has ever empowered animals to speak in a human voice or communicate with them using telepathy.

8. The spiritual idea of giving gifts comes from the Father giving life to man and of course Jesus coming to the world, then man responding back with worship. Our Christmas example of giving came from the kings that brought treasures for Jesus and left them with Mary and Joseph as a form of respect and worship for the promised Messiah. Exchanging presents in this day and age has become a distorted act of generosity and has become uncomfortable. The true idea of giving is to be a blessing for those who are truly needy and this is what Christians are to follow every day of the year – not just a holiday. In what way does the concept of our modern gift exchange program cause us to truly worship God? It doesn’t! We just like to give and receive presents because it is exciting!

9. The Christmas tree combines the traditions which are recorded before Christ with the 1700-year-old Santa Clause holiday. “Thus says the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers that it moves not” (Jeremiah 10:2-4). This sounds like a Christmas tree, so why do we do it now? Because we love it!

10. The foundation of our responsibility as followers of Christ is to teach the gospel and how to trust this good news. Yet Christians proclaim even to their own children how to have faith that SANTA is real, that he will appear each year and that he can be depended on to always bring good blessings. When the child is finally told this entire story was a lie, Christian parents then proceed to tell another story about the God figure that is similar but this time it REALLY is true! We are told from birth that Santa NEVER fails but in real life, we discover that we do not always get what we ask for and sometimes we experience suffering and failure. These negative discouragements and disappointments are conveniently never associated with Santa. However, in the harsh reality of trying to find who is to blame, the concept of Jesus can be thought of as “less reliable” especially with a non-Christian atmosphere. What a terrible situation. Santa ends up being a hero and Jesus becomes portrayed as being the bad guy. And we wonder where these twisted ideas came from and what a confusing view this brings to love and trust.

It seems that everyone can accept the baby Jesus because he is so small and not a threat to our lifestyle. Even non-Christians are not spiritually threatened with a nativity scene. When Jesus is shown as a baby, adults immediately feel they have power and control over Him with nothing to fear. However, the crowd quietly wanders away when they meet Him as an adult with all of the authority of heaven and earth demanding for everyone to surrender their lives to Emmanuel.

CHAPTER 53

FINDING OUR PLACE IN THIS WORLD

Here we are at the last week of the year. Many of us have experienced some hurtful events and also have received blessings and miracles. There is much talk going around about this being a significant year in prophecy and about the Lord’s return. Many of you include fasting as a way to begin the New Year which is a wonderful opportunity to invite Jesus to cleanse and bring a fresh sensitivity into our mind and heart. My question today is; do we really want any more of Him than we have now? Do we really want to do anything more than we already are? Are we tired and just want to be left alone? Or do we finally want to “get it right” before Jesus comes back? The answers to these questions will decide what kind of year this coming year will be to us. If we stay the same, this will just be another year, however, let us realize that if we want to be “all we can be” it will depend on how much we are willing to be transformed by His Spirit. Some of us that have been laboring in His fields for a long time are pretty beat-up and banged-up but we also know what He is speaking in this hour and our responsibility to follow and obey.

People have weaknesses. It is time to realize that not only is there a VICIOUS CYCLE going on within other people’s lives – there is one going on IN US! And where there is a sinful habit there is always a CROSSROAD MOMENT. It is not negative to examine our weaknesses – it is actually wise. How can we overcome the problems that are binding us if we choose not to deal with them? This is the place of decision that “cycles” on a regular basis and we are routinely faced with the choice to continue going in the same old direction or change course. These places can be everything from times when we became sick from overeating to saying something we wish we could retract. They can be sexual addictions, anger issues, depression, pride, financial or marital problems or anything that wages a war against us. Anytime someone can push our buttons and cause us to lose control or any type of bondage or oppression that can distract us from accomplishing our divine blueprint – we have a problem! Because we are weak and very vulnerable to temptation these crossroad moments is where we secretly decide if we are going to obey the red light of discipline or the green light of not caring. It begins with a powerful craving to satisfy our flesh and ends with us accepting or rejecting its offer. When we give in to the desire and indulge until we are exhausted, our senses are submerged in a temporary feeling of ecstasy and euphoria. This emotional “dream state” usually dissolves into emotions of sadness, regret, depression and guilt only minutes after we have fulfilled our pleasure. The agony of guilt remains until the satisfaction wears off and the desire returns. Then the process starts all over again. Our flesh knows what it wants and can easily over-power conviction if we do not allow our thinking to be transformed. We do not need a psychiatrist to tell us that our problems started when we experienced certain feelings when we were young. Actually, it does not really matter WHY we have come to this point because we need to stop blaming the past about why we are the way we are. We can sit around and talk until Jesus comes back about why we are weak and fail but will it help us change? Has it helped us so far? It is not the past that is holding us hostage it is our inability to realize that our decisions impact our future!

This is not just a modification – it must be a lifestyle change. In the Old Testament, Israel would demonstrate good behavior “for a while” and then drift back into their old ways of sin. God would become angry and punish them for their lack of faith and obedience and then they would straighten up for a while. What a sobering example of how we are today as the devil knows our weaknesses and patiently waits for the perfect chance to stick out his leg and trip us. Then, there we are down on the floor trying to blame everyone else for our failure when actually it is our own lack of immaturity. Now is the time to overcome the buttons and the “hot spots” which are being used against us and to pray for greater discernment so that we might recognize the ambush before we get entangled in it! It’s time we stop beating ourselves up and going round and round in discouragement because agony is a miserable place to live in and is NOT the abundant life that Jesus said we could have. The crossroad moment is when our strongest desires or fears are breathing down our neck and we must choose to change or remain the same. Yes, the road is very hard and is filled with difficulty and we all have a target on our back because we are chosen by God to overcome the very things we are talking about! You have the choice today to make a declaration that you will give your heart to God’s plan or you can remain comfortable and coast the rest of your life in neutral. Neither God nor the devil is going to force you to serve them – it is your choice.

PART 54

JESUS IS COMING

As the Satanic influenced armies of the world gathered to make war against Jesus, He had no other choice than to crush mankind and once again purify what the darkness of sin had ruined. But I ask again, could the widespread infection of corruption have been held in check if Christians had taken prayer seriously? There is a huge difference between God predetermining the fate of the world and just knowing how the world would choose their destiny. Since God is the ultimate authority of all things and has the power to change anything, I believe we could agree that prayers of faith are designed to unite with the will of God and coming into one accord; miracles are the results of prayer. When the people are convicted by the Holy Spirit through prayer and God’s Word they are candidates for change and when people change – situations and circumstances change. In other words, if the world had been saturated with prayer, God would have intervened and healed the world. But since there was just a tiny amount of prayer, the world turned into a savage monster and had to be destroyed.

You see, God is the ultimate ruler of heaven and earth but He operates through human agents. Most all of the blessings, opportunities or “doors” that are crucially important for us to receive in our visions are controlled by those in authority over those portals. We all have experienced the reality of how certain doors can open and how others are locked as the world’s resources are controlled by the limitations of God’s will. For example, everyone realizes the Kingdom of God requires huge amounts of finances because there is so much to do and everything is expensive. And how many times have God’s people had a burden for a project and (as they became convinced of God’s instructions) devoted themselves to serious prayer and fasting and PRAISE GOD! Someone donates exactly what they need! How did they find out about the situation and what convicted them to release such a huge blessing? Prayer.

If the last day church went to sleep, is it possible that it was their fault the heathens multiplied and became the dominant majority and controlled the legal and political environment? While the church was asleep, the New World Order took control of everything. Since its God’s will that none would perish and that all would love and obey Him, what happened? If destroying the world was a consequence based on mans free-will and not a predestined desire of God, where were His people in the last days? This country was founded on God’s Word and Christians were the majority in the beginning. But when families compromise God’s truth the demonic forces grow into a rebellion whose agenda is to destroy God’s Kingdom. The Christians grew lukewarm and allowed the thief to bind them and ransack their homes, families, churches, and nation! I believe it was the lack of listening to God and the refusal to sacrifice their pleasures for fervent prayer. Playing footsy with Satan opened the floodgates of hell upon the country and ultimately upon the world. It was not God’s perfect will but once again He had to intervene like in Noah’s day and clean up the mess.

It’s not too late to begin today to convert our complaints into seeds of hope. I hear people all around me everyday murmuring and criticizing in anger about hating where they work, the government, the economy and so on, but if all of that energy was transformed into fervent prayer, it would have the potential for changing the way things are – to the way they should be. If each Christian would develop a prayer journal for their personal network of associations the world would be a different place. Who will receive this insight as a life changing revelation? Who cares enough about people, neighbors, family, the government, the churches and pastors, missionaries, and all those in need? Who will spend their evenings in the secret place with God instead of being entertained? What if you knew that your prayers could really change other people’s lives and yet you were too lazy to do it? What would you say to someone like that? The problem is that in order to pray a person must allow themselves to undergo a total self-examination of their own heart and life. It is much easier to shake your fist in disgust at the failures of the world than to close your mouth and put on the prayer garment of humility and love. The mind must be renewed through the wisdom of truth and then with repentance the heart can be filled with the power and confidence of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is a very serious approach to God’s throne and only with holy sincerity can we connect with His presence. No doubt that is why there is way more talking about prayer than actually praying. How many will pay the high price of praying? Love is the foundation for praying which is why praying has dried up like a river bed in the desert. Our love, respect and trust has drained out of our hope container and the new attitude that is spreading like a plague is “I don’t care anymore”. This dangerous feeling of depression can bleed over from our emotions into our spirit and cause us to backslide. The intention from Satan is to amplify disappointment in the heart of the saint for the purpose of causing lukewarmness.

Here is a key point; no one has ever been made to sin which means that sin is preventable. It is not God’s will for anyone to sin. As we see in the Old Testament how that God brought severe punishment for disobedience and Jesus in the New Testament emphasized very sternly to “go and sin no more”. Every time we make a wrong turn from God’s will we have wasted an opportunity to be used for His service. He can help us salvage from the wreckage of our disobedience and with our repentance and His miracle power, He can make all things work together for the good. But, our rebellion will not always be excused without consequences. God’s perfect will does not make room for our carnal addictions or personality dysfunctions because we have been commanded to allow Christ to “manage” us completely. Yes, we will completely blow it from time to time but even though our destiny is altered, we can still learn from our experiences and become more determined to change. But, brother everyone sins, plus I am not being intentionally perverted with filth. Well, good for you! You may be avoiding the “committing” of sin but how are you doing in the “omitting” department? The sins of omission are where most Christians are failing because they are “not doing” what the Lord is telling them TO DO! Just because we are not going to the bar every night or robbing a bank, does not necessarily mean we are living as a faithful and obedient disciple of Jesus!

A serious problem is that most people do not know what God’s perfect will is for their life. Most children are not raised in homes where the parents stay on their knees and pray all the time. Thus, they are usually not trained in the Word of God or guided by the Holy Spirit as they seek their place in this world. The lack of knowledge and the failure to understand wisdom can definitely hinder their chances of finding God’s perfect will which is another perfect example why it is so important for parents to be real Christians (not just religious) and to help spiritually guide their children. Am I talking about living in a monastery and praying all day within a dark dungeon? Well, I see where that idea came from but since we need to function within society on a daily basis we need to “manage” our walk with God and not excuse our responsibility to follow His voice!

I realize a little about how things work in the natural world and the spiritual world and have come to the conclusion that God’s realm is highly superior by a long-shot! I am a believer that prayer has always been a direct opportunity to listen and speak to Father with the purpose of accomplishing what is perfect. Since God is perfect – everything He thinks, says and does is perfect and that is always His perfect will. When He does not intervene, things become distorted and confused which I can perceive that it is our prayers (or the lack of our prayers) are connected with this revelation. Well, now brother are you trying to say the fate of the world is in the hands of some people praying? In all humility that is exactly what I am seeing. I know that most people want to “hitch a ride” on a fast train to heaven but they need to be careful about the intentions of their heart. If people had the Agape love of the Father it seems to me they would want to stay and help others find their way to the train station. The commitment to intercede is not a special gift that only a handful of people have but it is a divine requirement for all of those who call themselves a disciple of Christ. Many say they are looking forward to His appearing but may be shocked when they realize that He was very disappointed in their laziness and lack of caring. He may be more interested in why they ignored His commands to pray than the golden ticket they are waving.

When God’s people pray, miracles change the course of circumstances and when they do not, situations can suffer which also includes the accountability of those who choose not to pray. This is the point of this prayer series; everything is conditional and involved in the benefit of prayer or the suffering from the lack of it! Repenting of our sin may not be the only trespasses we will answer for – it may be explaining of why we did not invest much more of our time in the meditation of prayer. Well, brother, doesn’t God do what He wants to do whether anyone cares or not? It is true that God is sovereign in His holiness and He is perfectly free to do what He wants but this does not nullify the validity of how we have been given the responsibility to love and intercede.

I have a question that I will present and I want to add this is not intended to chase meaningless rabbits across a wintry field. This question is focused on seeing the difference between what God desires as His “predestined ideas” and Him doing what He needed to do in His foreknowledge of the failure of mankind and His church. These questions will produce solid building materials of knowledge that can help us understand more about who God is and how we can become more involved with His plans. When Lucifer became filled with the sin of pride as the beautiful, leader of the angels in heaven, was God disappointed that he rebelled and had to be cast out? Or was Lucifer’s fall, a part of God’s desire and blueprint to produce a negative influence that He could use on earth for His purposes in our free-will? To begin with, it is staggering to ponder that sin could manifest in the presence of God’s throne. The story of Lucifer is not a fictitious parable but a real account that actually happened. Is it possible this is just a cheap sales pitch from the devil to deceive the masses that do not know any better? I am not saying the enemy does not have a stronghold on the influence and direction of the world but is it because he is so powerful or is it because he obtained it by default? When humans do not have the knowledge of actual truth, their views can be persuaded into what they believe is real. It is obvious that with so many different interpretations of religious truth in the world that many are misled. My point is not to analyze the world of religion but rather to know spiritual reality in the area of prayer in particular. My focus will center on God’s plans for the destiny of mankind and how it is connected to the power of praying in faith to change the world.

I believe that God has always desired for His people to pray even in the Old Testament. I believe God listens to prayer and that faith moves Him to do miracles. Not necessarily that prayers of faith actually change God’s mind about the way He has decided to do things but it is commonly believed that faith is “finding” the desires of God and praying accordingly with His blueprints. I believe that every devoted follower of Jesus believes the Father has had a specific plan for heaven and earth for a very long time. Most people are persuaded that God does not just make decisions as He goes without an idea of what He is going to do. The concept of God being omniscient is accepting the truth that He knows everything past and future and has not only already decided everything but will see all things unfold perfectly according to His desires. It may be true how the first couple lost the closeness of their relationship with Father but where does it say that He stopped listening and stopped answering prayers? If He has given His children the divine prayer connection then why have we not prayed Satan out of his place as chief liar and thief of the evil empire? When Jesus rose from the dead He restored authority to the believers and filled them with His power and presence. Father desires that we grow strong and aggressive toward the devil, to crush his head and destroy his influence. Am I missing something somewhere? Did I fail to read some small print that was down at the bottom corner of the page?

Here is another example of how things do not always turn out the way Father plans. The Lord gives the miracle of life and a little baby boy grows up as a cute, normal child and becomes a man. God watches Him throughout his life and desired to get his attention but this person hangs around the wrong crowd and joins a gang. Father knows that one day he will be filled with rage, buy a gun, he will murder innocent people and eventually be killed. Now, we all know that for him to be possessed with evil was not God’s predestined path. The Lord did not lead this man, help him or bless him to become a gangster, but because of someone NOT intervening in prayer – plus the reality of this mans free-will, the outcome was tragic. It’s true that Father allowed it and could have stopped it, but in many cases, He obviously leaves much of this world’s spiritual developments to the power of intercession. If someone had taken the time to fervently pray for him instead of just confirming how bad the situation was, I believe there is a good chance that God would have performed miracles and divine appointments and the course of that particular future would have been changed. Why would I beleive that? Because last week we learned that God holds the heart of every person and He is the only one that can change them. But, why would I say, “a good chance?” Because our free will can override spiritual influence.

Our Heavenly Father listens to our intercessions and His power can intervene with super-natural manifestations. Was there someone in this man’s network of friends and family that could have stood in the gap for him? Was there a Christian in that network that was just so busy with their own cares that they did not pay attention to God’s calling? Maybe the Lord was trying to give someone a burden for this young man but their selfish comfort zone protected them from His still small voice. Now, brother, we all know that God has a perfect plan and that everything is progressing accordingly to His will! Well, I in no way intend to be disrespectful to God in any way or to you in your views, but there may be some problems in your theology. I do not believe that everything goes according to the desires, dreams, visions, and plans of God. I understand that He knows the future of every person, place, and thing and that He has experienced the emotions connected with mankind’s failures. In other words, I’m convinced that He does predestine some things but for the most part, He waits for our prayers so that He can intervene. Father is Omnipotent and Omniscient which means He knows everything and has authority of all things. His foreknowledge of the future means He is never surprised but it does not mean He is not disappointed with our decisions. Remember, He grew angry at the world’s inhabitants in the days of Noah and destroyed much of His creation (and even regretted that He had made them). In fact, there are several occasions where He annihilated many people because of their wickedness. I am sure He was sad at having to do that, but He knows that when humanity drifts out of control, He must step in with the consequences of judgment. He does not enjoy bringing discipline no more than we enjoy spanking our children but our actions always cause His reaction whether good or bad. God’s idea of “a possible you” is that you would follow Him in obedience and walk with Him in the peace and contentment of knowing we are living in His will. We can experience heaven on earth when we choose to love Him with all of our heart and follow His voice whatever may come. This lifestyle is “possible” if we desire it more than anything.