Happy Happy Happy

THE SECRET PLACE
Hurt me with the truth and never comfort me with a lie
PART 27
HAPPY – HAPPY – HAPPY
Are you happy? If you are not, would you like to be? Of course! Is that not what everyone is trying to find? Happiness has always been a hot topic because the flesh loves to be fulfilled and content. Unfortunately there is a problem – the flesh only seeks within the temporal realm and the appetite of the eyes is never satisfied.
Scholars and experts that write about happiness usually have many readers because it seems we are all curious as to finding it and keeping it. The subject is as old as time and those who study human behavior agree that happiness is NOT something we can attain through an outside substance or circumstance. In other words – what things can do or what people can do for us alone, CANNOT make us happy for the long-term! But, things and people can “add” enjoyment to our life IF we have the sense of well-being that comes from a Godly attitude. I am sure that most all of us have dreamed of things that we sincerely believed would fulfill the deep longing in our heart and bring us contentment. However, when we finally did obtain it, we enjoyed it for a while but sadly realized it did not quench our soul.
Many famous people in Hollywood have confessed over the years that becoming well-known and very wealthy were visions that came true but these things could never fill the void of loneliness and depression that followed them. Mansions and expensive vehicles only bring temporary pleasures and thrills. Relationships with the “beautiful people”, outrageous jewelry, traveling around the world and collecting the treasures of kings and princes have actually made some individuals more miserable than they were before. Remember that King Solomon had everything and was very depressed as he said that all the riches of life were nothing more than “vanity”. It is common for people to NOT be able to comprehend WHY they are so SAD and become addicted to painkillers to dull the pain of this deep disappointment. Happiness eludes the poor the same as the rich because humans try to substitute spiritual needs with earthly solutions. So, where is true happiness? Well, the philosophers and psychologist can write libraries about theories and therapy programs, but when it comes to absolute truth, we always end up sitting at the table with God. Have you ever noticed that when things are going good, we keep God and His Word at a distance because as long as we can turn the steering wheel, we feel independent enough to make our own decisions? However, when we are facing a severe crisis that brings us or someone we love to the edge of eternity, we feel tiny in the vast universe of divine reality and we agree to at least listen. Ok – here it is – Happiness is NOT what the Christian is searching for! What in the world do you mean? When we take a closer look, we see that happiness is actually a shallow emotion that is experienced when things are going “our way”. Being happy depends on circumstances and situations and we all know these tend to fluctuate. So, we are not going to base our eternal hope on the shifting sands of a temporary sense of wellbeing. You see, those who are NOT spiritually born-again can only experience this level of mental contentment because they do not have spiritual security. Emotional happiness depends on things like good health, lots of finances and what people say and think about us BUT when life is NOT going well – these individuals are definitely NOT happy!
So just what are we really trying to find? I am glad you asked. It is a gift from God called JOY and it is a strength that only comes from knowing Him personally. Joy is the deep, spiritual contentment even when things are not going perfect. In fact, joy can be experienced in the darkest prison and when life brings the raging storms that would try to destroy us. There can be genuine joy when we have been diagnosed with a fatal disease or when our loved one is dying. God’s joy gives us the ability to walk in peace if we lose our finances, if we are hungry, when we are out in the street and our family is freezing. When the world turns against us and we have nowhere to go, joy knows that our faith and love has the attention of God – that His Word will NEVER fail and He will intercede in His time. Praise Him!
JOY IS A STATE OF MIND directly connected to our personal relationship with Christ. It is a state of well-being within the deepest part of our soul and spirit that is based on our love, awareness and obedience in Him. We are filled with contentment when we KNOW we are walking in His perfect will and His peace will rest upon those who follow His voice. Sin is the destroyer of joy. It is the haunting and misery of failing God and the knowing of our willingness to produce the darkness of strife. Repentance restores our relationship and renews our joy. Can we find a more peaceful place of joy than resting on the bosom of Jesus?

THE WALK OF PEACE

THE WALK
Part 45

THE WALK OF PEACE

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He has chosen for His inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)

I am sure that as we approach this election, that it is not the first one that has been a major concern among the masses. However, I do believe this one is especially high on the “worry scale” because we realize our Nation is “really” in serious trouble and on the brink of collapse. I was in Indiana this weekend and was having dinner with my wife and some women that she works with. They asked me why it seemed the average person does not appear to comprehend the seriousness of what is happening. I said, I believe it is because for many of us, our lives for the most part have not been personally affected up to this point, however as we have seen in the recent natural disasters – conditions can change very quickly. It is probable that we are being “warned” by God, to stop and look deeply into the mirror as to whom we are, and whom He has called us to be. I believe we will eventually see and “feel” the effects of a transforming world and we must prepare our hearts for the levels of tribulation that is coming. When people are cold and hungry, they snap out of their trance and take notice they are in trouble. It is in these times of desperation that God is going to use us to minister LIFE to those who are searching for truth. We, who are followers of Christ, have been training to learn the true meaning of life and very soon will be used in divine appointments to introduce many to Jesus. Praise God! Just because the world falls apart does not mean that we are left helpless or hopeless! I quote Leonard Ravenhill, “I have The Father on my side, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit and 2/3 of the angels. What do you think I am going to do? Sit down and cry?” In this light, let us rejoice that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life and may we have faith to believe that whatever happens, God will give us the grace and wisdom to overcome. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a WITNESS unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Mathew 24: 14)

There was a time when honest men and women rolled up their sleeves and worked with a clear conscience. The system has always been corrupt and possessed with an evil agenda, but it was the “core” people (like our parents and grandparents) who believed in God’s Word and prayed in the fear of the Lord. Most did not realize what was going on behind the scenes; they lived a difficult but simple life, trying to do what was right according to their limited understanding. Through time, (unfortunately) this inner circle has dwindled while Satan’s strategies have been growing. Now, the deceived outnumber the remnant and work day and night to destroy our system in order to rebuild this planet into a New World Order. I remind us of the words of the angels throughout God’s Word – Fear Not! This is not a day to pace the floor and be fearful of what is coming. In Luke chapter two, let us listen to the message of the angel and be reminded who is actually in control. “Fear not: for behold, I bring you GOOD tidings of GREAT JOY, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Jesus is the King of all Kings and He is still Savior and Lord of all. With His love and grace, He has saved our souls and we will “walk” in this hour, with confidence that He knows what is happening and will do whatever it takes to bring His will to completion. “THY kingdom come, THY will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Mathew 6:10) We walk in peace because we believe this is true. Amen.

Prophecy has been written by the finger of God and His absolute truth will come to pass EXACTLY as He has spoken it. The idea that politicians can bulldoze the past corruption and build a better world is a fantasy to help the masses stay calm. If the people of this dispensation realized what the anti-christ has planned for the future, there would be rioting and chaos in the streets (which will probably happen anyway). God has written in His Word that life on earth would progressively continue to deteriorate. Today the same evil spirit controls the legal system and religious world that crucified Christ! When Satan deceived Adam and Eve, he obtained authority to become the “prince” of man’s earthly government system. God allowed Satan to execute his destructive agenda but is limited to God’s will – as the story of Job reveals the Omniscience of the Father. The devil’s dark agenda contains the formula to distort man’s thinking and turn his eyes away from the truth by giving him a new philosophy to call his own. The “NEW” World Order is an old man made agenda to rule the earth according to his own carnal thinking. Millions of souls have been lost to hell and millions more are on the edge of eternity. We have NOT been called to save an earthly government – we have been called to be light holders for the love of Jesus Christ. We have been called to “LIVE” the cross of Christ in front of the world, so the eyes of the blind may be opened and many souls might be saved. Our thoughts are about the blood of Jesus and our prayers are about people – because it is all about God’s love.

Over the years, we have witnessed the leaders of our country abandon their “duty” to execute common sense in exchange for personal gain. Have we come to the point of no return? It is possible and as I try not to be filled with a “doomsday” attitude, I am sure all of you have been thinking about it in the back of your mind. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that another elected official in the White House will NOT be able to keep a ship (which has a large hole in the bottom) afloat. It is a very sad time when the masses would rather put more faith in a deceptive politician than God- but it is true! Many people would rather spend all their time debating over the hopeless scenario of our economy, than to invest their time and resources into prayer, giving, loving and witnessing.

Some believe that democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government but rather can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves financial support from the public treasury. We have filled our social system with mindless spending to the point where now the people vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits. As we can see first hand, this way of operating opens the door to loose and dishonest fiscal policy, which always leads to collapse and is followed by dictatorship. However, we as Christians do not claim this world as our home but realize that we are spiritual aliens that represent another world called heaven. We are spiritual missionaries and will either live for Him and be protected until we accomplish our mission or die for Him as we experience the ultimate sacrifice for our Lord. Whatever our destiny, may we stand strong on the front lines with the assurance that He is worthy of all honor, worship and glory! “Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:18-19) I can say within my own heart and conscience that if God Almighty does not reach down and untangle this “sinful” mess – our country will be bankrupt. Of course this is exactly what Satan is waiting for, to enable his anti-christ to present his new “beast” that will lead the world into bondage. God in His foreknowledge has always known what man would “choose” in his gift of free will. In addition, we can read prophecy that allows us to know how our world eventually comes to an end. We can see the world grows darker and more evil against God until He comes back to destroy it. This is not being negative – it is accepting what has been promised. God did not corrupt the world. Humanity was given the freedom to choose good or evil and since time began, the natural man has loved pleasure and temptations of the darkness more than the beauty and peace of God’s eternal light.

(Lord Woodhouselee, Alexander Fraser Tyler) Tytler believed that democratic forms of government such as those of Greece and Rome have a natural evolution from infancy to eventual corruption and decline. In Greece, for example, Tytler argues that the patriotic spirit and love of ingenious freedom became gradually corrupted as the nation advanced in power and splendor. It has been noted within the general masses, the short lifespan of some nations that made great advancements, yet went into a full circle returning to their original state. This is the dreadful progression that is evident in our own country: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and from dependence back into bondage. Some believe the United States is now somewhere between the “complacency and apathy” phase, because there is so many already dependent on the government. With our government giving away all of our resources to a world that despises us, on top of supporting a huge percentage of our own people, it is clear that no one could balance our checkbook. Satan inspired our government to borrow money from other nations so that bankruptcy could manifest at a faster rate. With the weight of maintaining a very expensive military and the staggering cost of natural disasters, it brings up the question of just how much is our credit limit? What happens when we are told that we cannot borrow anymore money? The candidates will not touch this subject because they do not have a clue. The candidates will not plead with the people to fall on their knees and repent to God, because they are ashamed and afraid of the heathen that will mock their campaign. Little humans that are deceived to think they can patch the bottom of the ship and set course on a new successful voyage to paradise. Emanuel – God is with us! It is not about the success of a country – it is about how devoted we are to Christ within our network! He is our lifeline to safety that enables us to live in His peace. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

THE WALK OF PEACE

THE WALK
PART 28

THE WALK OF PEACE

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

In the last few years there has been a surge in the interest for bible prophecy and rightly so as we are no doubt in the “last days”. Allow me to rephrase that time line and say with more accuracy that it is more like we are living in the last “hour”. Along with coming to the end of this dispensation, there are many different ideas and thoughts among Christians as to the order of events in Bible prophecy, but most all agree that judgment is happening now and will continue to increase. It is not my intention at this time to lay out my own personal interpretation of end time prophecy but rather to encourage all of us to keep our hands on the plow and to NOT look back.

The world is beginning to tremble under the stress of sin and these theological interpretations about what is coming upon the horizon have the religious community buzzing about how to prepare for the gradual increase of calamity. For the ones who believe the teachings about being “caught away” with a pre-tribulation rapture, today is not necessarily a day of worry or anxiety. Many Christians are convinced that Jesus will return before the time of intense judgment and will be rescued from what God has promised as punishment against the wicked. The idea with this particular brand of eschatology (which has been nicknamed the great escape) reminds me of a group standing around, patiently waiting at a bus stop. They are straining their eyes to see their transport device while being aware of the gathering rain clouds. I work with a man that comes in each morning saying that he is disappointed that the rapture did not happen while he was asleep. I have never heard him talk about God or share the gospel but only appear to be worried about leaving the darkness of this world and getting a good seat around the throne. Actually, I was raised with this doctrine along with the predestination teachings that are very difficult to understand. These two creeds are fastened together by some Christians to work hand in hand. If we believe that everyone has already been “selected” then there is usually not much concern about witnessing. This in turn pours cold water on the fiery passion for lost souls and excuses the attitude of burden for those who are lost. Some believe since Jesus is coming to rescue the chosen and leave the ones who were not chosen, He has made all the decisions and understands the lack of faith to believe in prayer. Many are convinced that any moment the worthy saints who have been made ready, will suddenly disappear from this earth to join Christ in the air. They will go to heaven for a while and feast at the wedding supper of the Lamb while the earth suffers under the tremendous wrath that God pours out on the blind. Then they believe He will return with His saints and destroy all evil as He establishes His new kingdom.

Then, on the other side of the fence, there are those who are persuaded the remnant church will remain on the earth and be used by God to walk the Christian walk in front of the world as a demonstration of God’s power and glory. These saints believe they will not be rescued but rather will be used to minister and stand for God’s truth to prove their faith as all other martyrs have throughout the ages. They may fall under the sword in persecution or be imprisoned and abused but they will be PROTECTED from the anger, punishment and WRATH from God. They believe the catching away of the bride will not happen until much later within this dispensation. They view the end of the age as Noah was protected within the ark but yet was still “in” the flood. Another type is the three Hebrew children who were “in” the furnace but was protected because Jesus was with them. Even in the story of the pass-over we notice that God said, when I see the blood I will pass – over – you. Therefore, we see the two camps of ideas and may I say that depending upon which side you are on – it does make quite a difference as to how you think and how you live. If you do not believe you will be exposed to the trials and temptations of the tribulation, you will not worry about being prepared. If you believe that God desires to use you when the world is reeling from fear, then you are no doubt hearing His instructions about what your mission will be and how to stand strong for Him.

Those who are waiting for the bus are constantly saying more and more as each day goes by – come Lord Jesus! This is not a bad thing to confess as long as it is not meant in a selfish way. I do not believe that we are demonstrating love and the character of Jesus if we just want to disappear away from all of this madness and not really care about all of the lost who are in our network. Salvation was never intended to be a secret or a golden ticket that we keep to ourselves. We were given the gift of grace like a anti-biotic that healed our infection. We in turn have been called to take this life saving medicine to the entire world so they will not die from the deadly virus of sin. If we keep the medicine locked up, what does that say about our love? Another serious thought is the attitude of not having to be prepared to face persecution and not having to worry about living in the midst of violent, chaotic world of demonic hatred. It is scary to think about living in a day like Moses did and it brings much relief and excitement to think that we would be snatched from the jaws of the dragon just in the nick of time. There would be no need to think about or pray about where to go or what to do as a survivor. There would be no need to pull away from the world’s power grid or be prepared to leave your home and flee to another location. You could just live for today, watch television and hope that Jesus would come while you sleep and save you from being uncomfortable. Let everyone search the scriptures for themselves and seek their salvation with fear and trembling. I am not trying to say what to accept and what to reject but only using these concepts as examples of what Christians embrace in their world-views. Pleased do not misinterpret my direction – Jesus is coming for His bride that He is making ready! The point is that God does not really want us to argue about when He is coming. Working until He comes and being ready everyday like it is the last day – is the key! Salvation is a finished work “and” a work in progress at the same time. Jesus paid the price for our redemption but has called us to live a life of obedience to Him. Instead of being so legalistic about doctrine, why can’t we stay in an attitude of prayer and love? “Peace comes not from the absence of troubles, but from the presence of God”. (Alexander Maclaren)

The opposite of peace is being anxious and we usually experience anxiety when we are uncertain of what is going to happen. We become worried and concerned when we have a serious need or faced with a threat. Everything that is connected to worry has the smell of negativity. This negative “dark” energy loves to consume us and control our mind because we have given it our blessing. Living in peace is a choice that we allow to happen. If we do not fight for this state of mind, the enemy will be more than happy to steal our peace and leave us in a fetal position of depression and fear. We talk about trusting God and how we must stand strong in the day of adversity – until our life takes a nose-dive. To really trust God means to believe (to KNOW that you KNOW) that He can see into the future and that nothing can ever take Him by surprise. This includes seeing you and all the emotions you feel and all of the circumstances you will face. Peace comes from knowing that He is aware of our needs and will provide for us. Peace comes from believing that His power is greater than any force of danger that might threaten us. Constantly reminding ourselves that He lives inside of us and is aware of us every second, will cause us to know and abide in “perfect peace”. Peace is connected to freedom, as we do not feel “bound” by panic or discouragement but rather totally resting and trusting in His perfect will. “The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)

One of the many names for Jesus is the “prince of peace” and someday soon, He will return to earth and establish His Kingdom of peace. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) All of this is true and we will know about His eternal peace very soon but we do not need to wait until then to know His peace. If we choose to stay in His presence no matter how intense the storms are raging, we can WALK in spiritual contentment. As the world grows darker and chaos increases, it does not mean that our peace will be altered or decreased. It is only when we drift away from His promises and become confident in our own decisions that we become perplexed. He is giving us an offer that we must not refuse. He desires for us to give Him our worries – in exchange for His peace. Listen to Philippians 4: 6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the PEACE of God, which passes all understanding, will GUARD your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” May we redirect the energy from our worry into prayer because worry never helped anything but prayer can change everything. He does not call us to understand – but to have faith that His ways are perfect. “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. In the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He restores my failing health. He helps me do what honors him the most. Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow. Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.” (Psalm 23 TLB) Knowing and believing are two different things.

THE WALK OF THANKSGIVING II

THE WALK
PART 27

THE WALK OF THANKSGIVING II

I was thinking this week (while in the midst of complaining about the frustrations of life), that being thankful is an attitude or state of mind. I am determined to continue praising Him in appreciation for all of the wonderful blessings He gives me. Each morning as I drive to work I pray for those on my heart and take a moment to realize how good He is to me. Here is a small list of things that I am sure you can relate to as well.

It is a blessing to wake up each morning! In addition, it is even more wonderful to open our eyes and not feel pain. When we swing our bodies over onto the side of the bed and stand on our feet – this is a wonderful thing! So often, we become so busy thinking about what we are going to do that we forget that it is the miracle of strong health that enables us to do it.

Have you ever thought about how glorious it is to be able to take a deep breath? Breathing seems so natural but to many it is a constant challenge and fear. It would be scary to not be able to get enough oxygen like being under water for a long time. We all know how good it feels to come up for air as it gives us such an awesome sense of relief. It is truly a blessing to be able to breathe deeply and not have to worry about it.

With so many different diseases that effect organs and causes them to not function properly, it would take a book to list them all. Our heart for example is another involuntary function that God has designed to keep a constant rhythm without us having to think about it. Many people are not so fortunate. Since the heart is such a crucial organ, its problems are taken seriously and a constant area of concern. What a blessing it is to have a heart that beats normally! We also thank God for all of the medications and devices He provides to maintain heart health.

Another organ that we seldom even think about but plays such an important part of our health are the kidneys. I grew up around kidney disease and watched as it has tortured several members of my family. As you know, the kidneys filter out the poisons, which contaminate the blood, and this waste is normally discarded through the body. Without this filtration, the blood retains the waste and the entire circulation system becomes overloaded with waste. Thus, the blood must be cleaned or the result is death. For those in good health the kidney function is hardly even thought about (or the bowels for that matter). Nevertheless, for the ones who have a disease of the urinary system and are left without kidneys that do their job, it is a demanding lifestyle of dialysis and careful diet. I have watched my father fight this sickness and he has been one of the most courageous individuals I have ever known. This disease completely changed his life and the life of my mother. His life has been a maze of doctor appointments, infections and weakness not to mention the consistent analyzing of the ingredients of every ounce of food and water he consumes. What we consider a normal routine to be able to go to the bathroom would be looked at by my dad as a miracle from God’s throne. When was the last time we were thankful that we could go to the bathroom without pain or even go at all?

I took a break a while ago and went downstairs to take a short nap in my beautiful den. I nestled into my cozy leather sofa while a cool breeze from a standing fan blew gently over me. Our dog’s name is Samson ( a year old French bulldog) and he wedged his way in between me and the couch and let out a sigh of enjoyment that sounded more like the grunt of a hog. I was thinking about what a blessing it is to have a place called home. I am sure most of you have a comfortable home and enjoy the pleasures of your private “castle” of peace and security. I thank God that I can work and make money because finances are needed to support a family. We go to the refrigerator and find something to eat, then get into our nice vehicle and travel wherever we need to go. We usually do not pay any attention to these “luxuries” but nonetheless they are tremendous blessings. We know there are many people that do not have a home of their own. Moreover, I heard recently there is a large percentage of schoolchildren in this country that go to bed hungry. May we not lose our spiritual humility as we live in the blood covenant blessings of Jesus Christ. It is God that has blessed us that we might be sensitive to the needs of others.

It is not a curse or a negative confession to say that we might not always have these great blessings. If we stand for God in the time of the New World Order, we may very well lose these pleasures and luxuries. This does not mean that God will forsake us or fail to protect us, it just means that surviving will require sacrificing and suffering. May we stay sensitive to His voice as we retain our attitude of love and thanksgiving to Him.

THE WALK OF DISCIPLINE II

THE WALK
PART 24

THE WALK OF DISCIPLINE II

I must be honest – I have not fasted a whole lot in my life. I am guilty of loving to eat and have my own problems trying to deal with it. I also struggle with spending time in prayer. I pray and talk with God on the way to work and going home. I talk with Him while I am at work and try to go to bed early so that I can be quiet in His presence and listen to Him but I do not have a two or three hour specific time each day. For those who do – I am inspired to rise to this level of commitment. I personally believe that we are to STAY in constant communion as we WALK in prayer consciousness. Whatever the quantity of time we choose to surrender to Him, our prayers must become a personal discipline that we place at the top of our priority list or our fast-paced life will cause us to forget the needs of others. Last year I felt inspired by the Holy Spirit to go on a seven-day denial of meat, bread, potatoes and sweets. For this particular week, I only ate fruit, vegetables and drank water and fruit juice. I am not boasting of my sacrifice but rather just testifying to you the spiritual encouragement and refreshing this time of seeking God gave me. This may not seem like much of a sacrifice to some but you must understand the amount of rich foods I consume regularly. Fasting done with the right intention and with the humble desire to draw closer to His presence will always be spiritually rewarding and a true blessing to clear our mind and rest our body. Of course, this is not the only kind of discipline we can choose to do because actually the Christian WALK is an entire LIFE of discipline! Fasting is just an example of how we are to live in a “state” of order and control. We are not to be extremist that is strict one minute and let our hair down the next because it exposes the instability of our heart with an imbalance and immaturity of our mind. So, how do we abide in His discipline? We can buy all the books and listen to the video programs telling us how to incorporate Godly principals into our schedule but what we need is more of God Himself! We must be careful that we do not become like the Pharisees who took discipline to a completely insane level of legalism. They became more absorbed in the “science” of living according to the law than trying to connect and know God spiritually. I read an anonymous statement the other day that said the Christian life is not for everyone. It did sound strange at first but the more I thought about it the more I began to grasp its meaning. Salvation is for “whosoever will” but most people will NEVER accept Him. There is such a huge difference between being religious and being a disciple that it is obvious that many church attendees have never had or never will have a burning desire to be a “true” Christian. It is because the followers of Christ must ALLOW themselves to be stripped completely, broken into pieces, melted with fervent heat, molded into God’s image and polished to the brightness of His glory. The masses are completely confused because when they heard the invitation for salvation they were told to accept Christ as their Savior and He would make everything wonderful. They were not informed intentionally about what their requirements and accountabilities would be. They may not admit it publicly but deep within their conscience, their rebellion secretly professes to have never “signed up” to be a living sacrifice or live a life of strict discipline. This lack of holiness is why many churches do lot’s of “activities” but have very little anointing.

I heard an interview with a pastor the other day on Christian radio. The host was asking him about his church and he went on to tell about his programs, the size of the church, and he tried to describe his “style” of ministry and so on. After it was over I realized that he had not mentioned anything about the anointing, the Holy Spirit, changed lives, miracles, healings, visions, the power and glory of God, casting out devils, discipleship, weeping, fasting or even reaching out to the community. It seemed the church was focusing on itself and how hard they were laboring to be a success. Sadly, this is the typical, average, “normal” condition of modern lukewarm religion. The reason why the presence of God is not manifested is obvious: the people have not invested their personal time in prayer and intimate worship. If the members have been calloused by the sins of the world, they will not desire the holy of holies but rather are more comfortable with a light, pleasant, religious service. If the atmospheres in churches like these are no different from going to the grocery store, then something is terribly wrong! If God’s power and anointing has been exchanged for entertainment and if Holy Ghost preaching has been traded for politically correct lectures and socially acceptable stories – then where is God? What part does the Lord have in a church where man leads it, designs it and controls it? God is looking for men and women who desire to know what spiritual discipline really means and who has the faith to step forward and say – I will do it! Not because they are trying to impress anyone but because they love Jesus with ALL their heart, their mind and their strength. In the Christian world there are popular subjects to talk about that can stimulate a crowd to stand on their feet and shout the house down. And, on the other hand there are topics that pastors will keep on the shelf because the majority would be offended and not be able to receive it. I believe that fasting is one of such examples because in general most people are not interested in anything that causes a disruption in their daily routine or that could cause suffering. That is why many churches avoid the deeper spiritual “walk” and settle for potluck dinners every week. It is no secret that people love to eat and sadly in many assemblies instead of being built around God’s Word and the desire to grow spiritually the church is built around fellowship where the only “gain” is found on the bathroom scales. Our lives have become so spoiled with the luxury of eating, that food has evolved from the category of “survival” to the plateau of exciting entertainment. For many, food has become one of our favorite pastimes and is the high point of the day. There is so much sadness and depression in the world that some, (even Christians) have adopted food as a way to drown their anxieties and depression, similar to the alcoholic and drug addict lifestyle.

We understand the general meaning of “fasting” to be the deliberate abstaining of food (and) or drink for spiritual purposes. I also believe that we can declare abstinence from other things that we love and enjoy for the purpose of sacrificing our flesh to enhance our relationship with God. The first part of the New Year is a good time to establish our commitment to Christ and start the calendar with a strong statement of dedication and loyalty to His Name and His Word. But fasting can be exercised anytime of the year and is an awesome way to generate power into our prayers of faith. Also it is a form of discipline to train our heart to be more of a giver and compassionate to those in need. Let us begin in Mathew chapter six and verse one, where Christ gives His instructions on several specific aspects of the disciplined life we have been talking about. “Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, for then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to a beggar, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do – blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity. I tell you in all earnestness, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” (verses 1- 2 TLB) Verse 9, “But when you pray, go away to yourself, all alone and shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly and your Father who knows your secrets will reward you.” Verses 32, “So, don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But, your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and He will give them to you if you give Him FIRST PLACE in your life and live as He wants you to.”

It is very common for those who think about being disciplined to believe that when the New Year comes around that it is a magical time to instantly become strict and organized to get everything in their life on track. What sort of New Year’s Resolution should a Christian make? The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make? Common New Year’s resolutions are commitments to quit smoking, to stop drinking, to manage money more wisely, and to spend more time with family. By far, the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, in conjunction with exercising more and eating more healthily. These are all good goals to set. However, first Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to material things. This is not the central focus of what God’s visions are about. The Lord does want to bless us but usually our benefits and pleasures are the side item while HIS plans and destiny for us are the main spiritual meaning and focus. Many Christians make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic goals. However, these New Year’s resolutions fail just as often as the non-spiritual resolutions, because there is no power in a New Year’s resolution. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value unless you have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity. For example, why do you want to read the Bible every day? Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because you have just heard that it is a good thing to do? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body, or is it for vanity, to honor yourself?

Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has a chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God honoring and/or is not in agreement in God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution. So, what sort of New Year’s resolution should a Christian make? Here are some suggestions: (1) pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; (2) pray for wisdom with HOW to fulfill the goals God gives you; (3) rely on God’s strength to help you; (4) find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; (5) don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further; (6) don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” Yes and Amen!

There have been many brave soldiers since the beginning of time to walk out on a battlefield and declare to heaven and earth, that they are willing to die for what they know to be true. Unfortunately God does not give credit for those who believe in a lie. Having faith in a false god or a false belief system does not earn favor with THE GOD of the heaven and earth. Sincerity does not earn special credit because there is an absolute truth and many who are “sincerely” wrong. Sincerity also does not TAKE THE PLACE of discipline. The Lord does not move just because we ask Him to. He cannot turn against His own perfection because that would be compromising and confusing. We must listen to HIS voice and pray according to HIS destiny for the miracle to be performed in His perfect way and at the perfect time. He usually moves when He sees us taking the initiative to help ourselves. In other words, He is more inclined to help those who are working hard toward the vision instead of those lying on the couch waiting for Him to do it all. We must start somewhere and believe that along with our effort that God is going to empower us with His spiritual discipline and open doors of favor and blessing to help us accomplish HIS will.