The Reality of Reaping and Sowing

THE SECRET PLACE
“He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

PART 19

THE REALITY OF REAPING AND SOWING

I admit – I am driven. I want to know the hidden truth’s that are contained in the will of God. I remember as a child, asking questions about the scriptures and why the church did not believe these miracles applied today. The older men would smile and say these manifestations were for a specific purpose and they are not needed anymore. That was 40 years ago, and I have not stopped seeking the answers to my questions. I will always believe that God is the same and that Jesus desires to do everything He can to help people. I believe there are reasons why bad things happen but it is usually not what people think. God does not fail – humans fail. Our sins bring much trouble into our lives and most of the time we can blame no one but ourselves. Discernment is knowing God’s will, and knowing God intimately is a powerful step toward knowing what He is thinking. Understanding the revelation of His Word is possible and He longs for us to know Him. He sent His Holy Spirit to fill us and help us to know His will. Jesus Himself, lives inside of us and speaks to our spirit as we surrender our carnal will to Him. How can we believe that God wants us to stumble in the dark and not know His ways and thoughts? How can we stand and boldly speak for Him if we do not know what He wants us to do? The question is; will we allow the strong desires of our flesh to hinder us from personally knowing Him and His will?

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mathew 6:9) These are some of the most familiar words in the world. At first glance, they appear to be very simple and straight to the point; however, as one begins to meditate and examine thoroughly, it becomes overwhelming how such few words can be the foundation of such a large structure. We can understand and accept that God is the King of heaven and of His coming Kingdom. We agree that His name is to be adored, worshipped, reverenced and respected above all other names. Granted, these are huge sections of the foundation all on their own, but when we come to the last few words, we discover a hidden treasure map that can reveal and unlock many unknown mysteries.

There are questions that need to be answered, because without them, we perish – but with them – we succeed. By the way, what does being successful mean? It means that as we walk this journey of being a child of our Father, we become the hands, feet and mouth of Jesus! To know God personally is the meaning of life and everything else falls after this revelation. Our Father is the answer to all questions, and if we are completely devoted to seeking truth, we will wake up in the morning seeking His face in order to know Him more. Selah. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Mathew 5:6) We cannot know the revelations of God’s Word or His specific will for our life, if we do not seek Him with ALL of our heart. Religion gathers historical information “about” God, but has no passion to KNOW Him personally. It is NOT ENOUGH to just go through the motions! It is NOT ENOUGH to settle for a lukewarm, mediocre life of being half-spiritual and half-carnal. As we draw near to God and become one with Him, We will know more about what He is thinking and be able to follow His instructions more clearly. Abiding means to LIVE in His presence and this increases the sensitivity of our discernment to know truth from error. This divine understanding increases our responsibility to DO what is right, make the right decisions and operate under His anointing. The masses only want the free benefits and blessings but turn away from sacrificing the control of their will.

“Thy will be done – on earth as it is heaven”, holds the secret code that can decipher the understanding of who God is and His perfect will. When Jesus ascended back to heaven after He died and resurrected, He said I send to you a “comforter” that can help you in your spiritual walk. A very good question would be to know what the Holy Spirit has been sent to help us do. I believe that as we draw near to God we are drawing near to The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the THIRD PERSON OF GOD and when we become serious with walking in THE Spirit, we are talking about walking “WITH” The Holy Spirit and giving Him our complete attention. The Holy Spirit is not God’s helper – He is God! He is here to live in us and HELP US understand how to intimately become one with God. He is offended when we yield to the temptations of sin and He will resist those who walk in carnality. “God will resist the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6) Let us meditate on a few questions that allows us to think about what we believe. Understanding His knowledge is crucial to knowing how to live, and it is the “doorway” to “KNOW” what God expects of us. This revelation of spiritual truth is what enlightens our conscience and has the power to unlock the barriers that could be preventing us from pressing toward the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus.

1. There is no doubt that God has a highly detailed blueprint for each of His children’s destiny. This plan was set in motion from even before the time of our conception. “According as He has chosen us in Him “before” the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4) Can we agree that these “plans” represent His will for our lives? Yes – I believe God has a vision of a specific journey, calling and destiny for each person that accepts his invitation of salvation. This is why being LED by His Spirit is the most important theme in the Bible. When we respond to His voice in obedience – WE ARE “fulfilling” our planned destiny.

2. Can we agree that God has high “expectations” that His plans for us will be accomplished? Yes, of course He has very strong intentions for us to complete as much of our destiny as we can. He is ready to help us with anything we need. There is no lack of supernatural miracle power on God’s watch. He does not make mistakes with our lives. “Wherein He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and understanding; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” (Ephesians 1:8-9)

3. Do you believe that “every detail” of God’s plans for all of His people are accomplished without fail? To begin with, God is perfect and whatever He does is perfect. If anything happens that misses the mark, it is because man failed. I believe it is not possible for someone to follow all of His blueprints to the letter. In fact, God’s Word say’s that everyone has sinned (rebellion) and fallen short of the “glory” (not followed His instructions). The amount of glory to God is based on the amount of obedience we manifest. Selah. This means that in our failure to be able to walk without error, we all suffer the consequences of our shortcomings and trespasses. I believe He does intervene in people’s personal lives especially when He is allowed, and when we miss the mark, He can still cause all things to work together for the “good”, but keep in mind that second best is never as perfect as the original plan. In addition, I believe there are certain things that are never fulfilled. Therefore, I do NOT believe that His plans are always accomplished in people. There are men that have been called to the ministry but with free will, they followed their carnal desires to do something else. They may still be saved but in refusing to follow Him with ALL of their heart, in disobedience they missed God’s “perfect” will.

4. Does this also include and apply to those who are not His people? For one thing, it is not impossible for the lost to hear God’s voice but it would take a miracle. As the blood of Jesus has the power to save and forgive every human spirit, God’s plan for ALL humankind is that they all might be saved. In this light, we can say this is a plan. Since I believe that God does not predestine anyone to hell, but rather hopes that all would be saved, evidently this is an example of Him also being disappointed in the lost. Even when the lost perform good deeds, they are not counted as eternal rewards because it was not done in the right spirit. Remember, God did not accept Cain’s offering of fruit and vegetables because it had to be presented with blood and that is what HIS righteousness is all about. Being redeemed is the covenant of being one with God.

The lost cannot please God no matter what they do, because they are not connected spiritually. As long as people live the way they want and feel good about it, they will never surrender their will to God. Selah. Even after the lost become saved, it is common to NOT understand what it means to love and serve Jesus as Lord. It takes time to learn about spiritual warfare and the need to discipline our flesh. It takes time to develop the intimacy of prayer and how to walk in His Spirit. The battle within the Christian world today is the huge amount of distractions and temptations that is causing the warriors to become lazy and at ease. Many have taken off their battle gear and put on their pajamas. Selah. The pleasures of this life are a very powerful influence on our old nature that still remembers the days when we lived according to our own will. The world has become so violent and unstable, it is tempting to hide behind the walls of the church and in our homes where we can lock the doors and pull down the shades. Be encouraged from II Timothy chapter 2, “For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He will deny us: If we are faithless, yet He abides faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” We are growing in our faith; we are learning how to trust His perfect love and how to yield to His perfect will. We want to do what is right because we love Him with all our heart. “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and NOT a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes his way and immediately forgets what manner of man he was.” It is time to examine our heart and study His Word! Faith moves God and His promises never fail!

5. So what does release God’s power for things like physical healing? To begin, I am amazed at how fragile the human body is. I have been feeling good lately and I have been praising God for blessing me with good health. However, a couple of days ago, I began sneezing and feeling stuffy, but just ignored it. I ended up going to the doctor and was diagnosed with a sinus infection. I prayed, laying hands on myself and done everything I knew to wage war against this virus. I feel so bad I can hardly sit here and write, nevertheless I still feel very grateful that so far in my life, I have only had some minor health problems. Let me say, I believe in prayer. I believe in laying on hands and praying in faith, in the Name of Jesus. I believe in anointing the sick with holy oil and I believe in prayer cloths as a point of contact as a faith agreement. I also believe that we can pray over holy water to be used in deliverance and God’s power can be transferred within a substance just as He flows through our hands. I said all that to ask – number one, why did I become sick, and number two – does God desire for me to be sick right now? There could be several possibilities for me being sick but whatever the case; I honestly believe He does not enjoy seeing His children suffer. Just because we are feeling symptoms or have been diagnosed with something has nothing to do with faith and God’s power! We have two choices; we can receive it and give it control or fight against it and allow God to give us victory over it! If we have repented of our sin, we can approach Him with confidence and believe that He will intervene on our behalf.

Infirmities are connected to sin (which is disobedience against God) just like poverty. Nevertheless, let me clarify something before we go any further. The type of sin I have been talking about is “deliberate, premeditated and intentional” sin. I am not referring to the trespasses, stumbles, or failures, where we make mistakes and seek His face in repentance. These sins are a result of the imperfect, mortal realm that we live in, and His forgiveness stands ready to wash them away. The wicked hearts of the unredeemed mortals along with the lost state of their spirit “naturally” embrace the dark side. The lost are spiritually blind and their carnal reaction to temptation causes them to be susceptible to the influence of evil. We can see clearly how people start out in life as seemingly decent individuals but crumble under the pressure to do things that are beyond the imagination. Does God want to see them destroy themselves or others? No – He realizes they have allowed the Father of all lies to deceive them and lead them to ruin. Allow me to ask you another question; do you believe God will protect someone from becoming sick? Do you believe Satan also has the power to protect someone from being sick? I definitely believe God has the power to protect us. He had a “hedge” around Job, and His Spirit encamps around us and He uses His angels to watch over us. The problem comes when we read the “fine print” and realize these are NOT unconditional promises. In other words, His level of security is directly related to our level of obedience. If Ananias and Sapphira had not lied to the Holy Spirit, they would have lived and been blessed. We may think we are getting away with our rebellion but WE ARE going to be held accountable for what we commit and omit.

Sickness and disease was not present in the perfect atmosphere of a sinless creation. Did God want to see His creation become corrupted and filled with death? Of course not! He warned about what would happen if they disobeyed Him the same way a parent warns their children of the consequences of doing wrong. He gives us the freewill to walk in His Spirit or to sneak off and do private things that we are not supposed to do. However, it is interesting to note, that when we think we have fooled everyone, the sin within us can literally change our destiny. We may not notice the effects of our actions right away but just as the seed is sown in the field, the consequences of sin can also take a while to sprout and develop. The account of David’s adultery with the wife of Uriah is well known to most Christians. Few, however, have discerned the patterns revealed through David’ life, or see how these things apply to them today. David understood that all this had come as a judgment from Yahweh. He was forgiven, yet his son Amnon raped his sister and his other son Absalom killed him. Absalom rebelled against his father David and he also was slain. David’s sin opened the floodgates of tragedy to enter his home and his son with Bathsheba died. These are examples of how sin can alter and destroy many lives. We must observe carefully and realize there are consequences and reasons why things happen and much of it has to do with our carnal decisions.

THE WALK OF INTERCESSION

THE WALK
PART 50

THE WALK OF INTERCESSION

The memory of Charles Haddon Spurgeon has been cherished
among evangelical Christians for over the past 100 years. Many
Christian leaders consider him one of the greatest preacher’s England ever produced. He is commonly hailed as the “Prince of Preachers”. Over 63 volumes of published sermons still bear witness to the richness and success of C. H. Spurgeon’s ministry. Though known as a great preacher, it was not preaching that made Spurgeon such an inspiration. Mr. Spurgeon repeatedly acknowledged his success as
the direct result of his congregation’s faithful prayers. It has often been remarked that the whole church helped produce Spurgeon. It was not his ability or talent that brought conviction to the heart of the listener – it was through his humility that God’s anointing could be generated. When visitors would come to Spurgeon’s church, he would take them to the basement prayer-room where people were always on their knees interceding. Then Spurgeon would declare, “Prayer is the refining fire of the spirit and the powerhouse of this church.”

Spurgeon in his autobiography described his gratefulness for being blessed with such a praying church. “I always give all the glory to God, and I do not forget that He gave me the privilege of ministering from the beginning to a praying people. We had prayer meetings that moved our very souls, each one appeared determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of intercession.” Spurgeon regarded the prayer meeting as the spiritual thermometer of an individual and a body of believers. His church’s Monday night prayer meetings had a worldwide testimony for many years. Every week a large portion of Spurgeon’s sanctuary was filled with earnest and fervent intercessors. In Spurgeon’s eyes, the prayer-meeting was the most important gathering of the week. However, it is here many of us find ourselves in conflict with Mr. Spurgeon. We love our meetings for preaching and praising and yet sadly neglect those set aside for praying. One of Spurgeon’s greatest concerns was that Christians everywhere would desire and learn to truly pray. He taught his people to pray, doing so far more by his example than by any preaching. Visitors heard him pray with such reality that they became ashamed of their own mere repetition of words. Throughout his entire ministry, many hearers remarked how his preaching moved them, yet still his praying inspired them even more. D. L. Moody after his first visit to England, being asked upon his return to America, “Did you hear Spurgeon preach?” He replied, “Yes, but better still I heard him pray.” A close friend of Spurgeon’s, commented on his prayer life, “His public prayers were an inspiration, but his prayers with the family were to me even more anointed. Mr. Spurgeon, when bowed before God in family prayer, appeared a grander man even than when holding thousands spellbound by his oratory.”

Spurgeon fully recognized that the Church’s greatest need was not to have another, “Prince of Preachers”, but to have more princes of prayer. One of his many published sermons expressed his feelings on this. He wrote, “Shall I give you yet another reason why you should pray? I have preached my very heart out. I could not say any more than I have said. Will not your prayers accomplish that which my preaching fails to do? Is it not likely that the Church has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? The new trends of modern church religion do not teach about “agonizing” in prayer. There has been much talk lately about pockets of revival springing up in our nation. Many are saying they desire such revivals in our own local churches, and cities. Yet, is it not the prayer meetings that are still the most neglected? If Christ Jesus were to visit us today with His glorious, anointed power, how could such a blessing be sustained where there is no ground work laid in prayer? To merely exercise our words about miracles and not our knees is hypocrisy! It is time to make the prayer-meeting as exciting as our favorite preaching and praise meetings.”

“It is amazing when you think that one sermon on the day of Pentecost produced 3000 people? However, we had some places where 3000 sermons were preached and nobody was saved. And it doesn’t even faze us.” -Leonard Ravenhill

“We cannot be certain that a thing is right because it is old, for
Satan is old, and sin is old, and death is old, and hell is old; yet
none of these things are right and desirable on that account alone.” -C.H. Spurgeon

“If Jesus had preached the same soft and compromising message that many ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” – Leonard Ravenhill

“In the New Testament church it says they were all amazed – And now in our churches everybody wants to be amused.”
-Leonard Ravenhill

“The men that have been the most heroic for God, have had the
greatest devotional lives.” -Leonard Ravenhill

“An unholy church! it is useless to the world, and of no esteem among men. It is an abomination, hell’s laughter, heaven’s abhorrence. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church.”
-C.H. Spurgeon

E. M. Bounds in his classic little book “Power through Prayer”
wrote, “What the Church needs today is not more or better
machinery, not new organizations or more and novel methods,
but men whom the Holy Ghost can use – men of faith, men
mighty in prayer.” Edward Payson was just such a man, a man mighty in prayer. He prayed without ceasing and felt safe nowhere but at the throne of grace. He may be said to have studied theology on his knees, as much of his time he spent literally prostrated with his Bible open before him pleading the promise; “I will send the comforter and when He, The Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.” Payson’s advice to his fellow Christians was, “prayer is the first thing, the second thing and the third thing necessary to be a follower of Christ. Pray then my dear people, pray, pray.” It has been well said that the secret of Edward Payson’s ministry was that he prayed much in secret. The scars on his bedroom floor testify to this fact. Next to Payson’s bed were deep grooves in the hardwood floor where his knees had pressed repeatedly in times of travail. To read “Praying Payson’s” diary is to be touched by his tender love for Jesus and burden for the lost.

On January 4, 1807, he wrote, “I was favored with a spirit of prayer beyond all my former experience. I was in great agony and wrestled for both others and myself with great power. God seemed to bow the heavens and come down and open all His treasures, bidding me, to take what I would.”

January 29th, “I never felt such longings after God or such a desire to depart to be with Christ. My soul thirsted for a more filled communion with my God and Savior. I do not now feel satisfied as I used to with the manifestations of the divine presence, but still feel hungry and craving.”

February 18, “I was enabled to lie at Jesus’ feet and to wash them with the tears of contrition. No pleasure I have ever found in the Christian life is superior to this.”

February 28, “I was favored with great enlargement in prayer. I seemed to be carried out of myself into the presence of God.”

Like all true men of prayer, Payson understood the need for true humility. It was the burden of his secret prayers that he might be delivered from pride, from self-seeking, from preaching himself instead of Christ Jesus the Lord. Through humility and fervent prayer, he was always in hopes of seeing a fresh wave of spiritual renewal. The revivals which took place under his labors were numerous and characterized by a depth and power seldom seen. Often Payson’s congregation was overwhelmed with a sense of Christ’s presence and power and irresistibly brought to tears. Mr. Payson’s diary testifies that without prayer there can be no passion of the soul for God’s presence.

September 27th, “It seemed as if God would deny me nothing, and I wrestled for multitudes of souls, and could not help weeping that God would set on fire the hearts of the people.”

September 28, “I was favored with the greatest degree of freedom and fervency in interceding for others. I seemed to travail in birth with lost sinners and could not help hoping that God is about to do something for His glory and the good of souls.” Within days, “Praying Payson” saw his prayers answered through a miracle of many souls being saved.

On April 23, 1808, Edward Payson wrote, “My heart seemed
ready to break with its longings after holiness.” Such desires for heart purity, holy passion and the person of Jesus are the marks of a healthy and normal Christian life. The lack of these precious things in the modern Church reveals a nominal, cold religious life. Too much of what is called the Church today is not fit to live or die. The lukewarm Christian is unprepared to deal with our demon possessed age or the coming judgment seat of Christ. Truly, the greatest need for the body of Christ today is to see the need to be mighty in prayer. That is the problem; many only pray fervently when they are desperate. When they are content, they do not feel the need to intercede. When we see life as God sees it, the eyes of our heart will be opened to the convicting burden to intercede for others. Selah.

THE WALK OF THE CROSS

THE WALK
PART 20

THE WALK OF THE CROSS

What do scriptures like Mathew 10:38 really mean when it say’s, “And he that takes NOT his cross, and does NOT follow after me, is NOT worthy of me”? First, we need to read this verse in context with the flow of thought in the entire passage. According to historians, a person condemned to death by crucifixion had to carry his own crossbeam to the execution site as was within the law of capitol punishment. The cross was an instrument of death and Jesus used this parallel for us to see the cross as a place for our carnality to die and a bridge to heavens grace all at the same time! Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for us and we likewise sacrifice our will through the same concept so the world can see Him in us. Going back to the collective thought of the section in Mathew chapter 10 we see verses 34-39 explaining that walking with Jesus is not for the faint of heart. Jesus is talking about priorities and how nothing can be exalted above living (and dying if need be) for Him. Even when it comes to family, He is saying there can be NO compromise. Any tolerance of sin leads to backsliding and the danger of a lukewarm attitude toward the red-hot – on fire “passion” of our calling. The walk of the cross is humility that is under girded with Holy strength. It is truly the meaning of life.

Taking up our cross creates the difference between the sheep and goats, the wheat and tares and the spiritual from the religious. It is the definition and foundation of salvation because of the miraculous power of love that it contains. It is the denial of sin and yet also the honor of obedience. It is the suffering of discipline and the source of faith for us to yield our will to Him. It empowers us to choose the narrow path of this life while securing our future with Him in the next life. The cross is NOT an END but an exciting beginning of glory and triumph because of HIS resurrection! It represents THE WAY – the only way into a personal, intimate relationship with God and the guaranteed validity of the promises of His Word. In other words, our entire life as a Christian must be melted down and poured into what the cross represents as the bond of our holy union with Christ. His cross was erected on Golgotha (the place of the scull) and likewise it is there in the deepest recesses of our mind that we must become transformed into His image. We must choose the cross in response to the cross choosing us. Selah. The revelation is learning about what is in His cross – and the responsibilities of our cross. Our heart “chooses” the painful, agonizing transferring of control from us to “His will be done”.

The cross is identification with him and this in turn causes us to become representatives for him. Therefore, we can say it is an example and a descriptive parallel of the requirements of all Christians to surrender everything they are and everything they have to the divine reality of the cross. That message is about the endless love of God to save many from an eternal torment. It is about the endless mercy and compassion on the hopeless condition of lost sinners and how he gave his life to purchase them with his blood. It is more than a piece of jewelry and more than an ornament on top of a steeple, it is a life of suffering persecution, Godly sorrow, sacrificing and denying to live according to our own plans and dreams. It is also the gateway to living in the glory of His presence, being saturated in His love and living in the blessings of His revelations of truth that change us from the inside out – while being a constant reminder that we are NOT our own. “For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”. (I Corinthians 6:20) “For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant is the Lord’s slave: Likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.” (I Corinthians 7:22)

For Jesus, going to the cross was a mission that was done willingly and likewise it must be with us. Following Him is more than just reading about his adventures; it is actually doing and living just as He lived. The reason why Jesus was so serious and intense all the time is because the cross was always in His heart. This is a revelation for us that can only come from spending time in God’s Word and praying for this revelation.
Jesus embraced the cross as His destiny and “chose” to suffer so that many could be ransomed. He realized how His Father was to use Him as the perfect lamb and that He would become the “bridge” between heaven and earth so that Man could once again crawl into the bosom of God as a little child. We also have the free-will to obey this heavenly invitation so that through our willingness to “walk the walk” many people can hear God’s Word, be convicted by His Holy Spirit and give their hearts to Him. He was filled with genuine agape love, which is the only way He could have endured the assignment – as the same also applies to us in that agape love can be the only reason and motive for our deeds. He walked in humility and was filled with the infinite power of the Holy Spirit the same way we are to walk and live in the divine reality of the miraculous. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For who ever will save his life will lose it: and who ever will lose his life for my sake will find it.” (Mathew 16:24-25) We have been called to lay aside our custom blueprints, our selfish dreams, our independence and carnal nature so that God can be seen in us. Our cross is the daily journey of being like Jesus. Our cross is walking in the divine reality of His Spirit and not giving in to the lust of the flesh.

Do you desire to draw closer to God and bring the power of His cross closer to your heart? Fasting sobers us and is a key to drawing close to Him as it helps us to hear His still small voice so that we can understand the mysteries of His Word. Our conscience can become dull and cluttered with everyday chaos but fasting will bring much needed clarity and quiet to the worldly noise so we can focus on His person. When we just know “about” the cross, it is not the same as KNOWING Him. We can actually become comfortable to its historical image and at the same time become desensitized to its seriousness. Similar to portraying Christ as a baby in the manger, we can mentally reduce Him to a helpless infant while distracting our conscience away from His convicting power as the King of Kings. It is not the cross itself that is the power – it is falling upon it in complete surrender and trust that activates the life-changing power of Christ into our heart. Only when man falls on His face in the humility of repentance can he begin to take baby steps toward his destiny. Sadly, much of our theology has replaced humility with arrogance and the cross with enjoying pleasure. There is a balance, a time for sorrow in the prayer closet and a time to live the abundant life. Jesus was always AWARE of His destiny and he is trying to reveal the revelation of this hidden mystery that we also might be constantly AWARE of who we are and who He is. If we can become focused on the cross that stands before us – it will increase our burden for lost souls. This will happen when we accept these difficult facts.

Number one: the world will hate you and desire to kill you because they hate truth. “Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus WILL suffer persecution.” (II Timothy 3:12) This is not a sermon that will have them dancing in the isles – but it is truth. The farther we go toward the future the more this will become evident. “Then will they deliver you up to be afflicted, and will kill you: and you will be hated of all nations for my name sake. And then will many be offended, and will betray one another, and will hate one another.” (Mathew 24:9-10).

Number two: The cross is not an “option” for the overcomer. “If any man comes to me, and hates not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple, And who ever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27) It is all about priorities. Our motives and intentions produce attitudes whether good or bad. If we are playing a religious game of church, then we will be more concerned with who is singing out of key and where we are going to eat after the service than interceding on our face before God for others to experience salvation, healing and deliverance. If my prayers are centered on making me rich more than making me a soul winner then I am living on the level of a spiritual toddler. If I believe that Jesus is going to rapture me without me having to suffer any persecution then no wonder I am not concerned with being a living sacrifice. How many brothers and sisters have tasted the martyr’s death? How many are suffering now? Why are we not hearing the sermons warning of the coming persecution that could prepare the saints to stand in the coming days of affliction and trouble? Because, the cross is a message for those who desire spiritual reality – not for the ones that love to live in a fantasy world of relaxation, comfort and pleasure. The cross would rather be seen as a golden ticket to eternal life – not as the refining FIRE that purges our carnality.

If we are in the cross – the cross will be in us and this is the only power in heaven and earth that can transform our mind. His cross bears the fruit of His character and blossoms within the crucified life of the believer. If we surrender to His cross in the inner chambers of our heart – our life will be a reflection of His perfect will. The amount of “work” we allow His cross to do in our life – the more He can accomplish within us. Selah. Let us not be like the hypocritical Pharisee that worships a legalistic, empty religion. If we embrace the truth of the cross and allow it to purify us into pure, transparent gold – all that can be seen will be the presence of Christ. All of me – none of Him, less of me – more of Him, none of me – all of Him. “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, put up your sword into the sheath: the CUP, which my Father has given me, shall I not DRINK it? (John 18:10-11) Are you drinking this bittersweet cup?