Bringing in the Sheaves

THE SECRET PLACE
Hurt me with the truth – but never comfort me with a lie

PART 25

BRINGING IN THE SHEAVES

“Bringing in the Sheaves” is a popular American Gospel song used almost exclusively by Protestant Christians. The lyrics were written in 1874 by Knowles Shaw, who was inspired by Psalm 126:6, “He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” I’m not sure everyone knew what this hymn was about but for the most part, it was widely believed to have something to do with being a witness of the gospel and its power to save the lost. It is an analogy between harvest time in the fields of grain and the spiritual harvest of souls, to be had as a result of the diligent sowing of God’s Word. The harvest time for the Christian should be as joyful as it is for the farmer as he sees the fruit of his labor. The Psalm is actually a promise of restoration to Israel after their captivity in Babylon. It reads, in part, “Bring back our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” The promise was that those who wept for the return of God’s people to their homeland and left the security of their captivity to return would ultimately reap the harvest of their investment. The hymn combines this Old Testament truth with the New Testament principles of reaping and sowing taught by Christ, including phrases like “sowing seeds of kindness” and “labor for the Master.” Jesus taught quite a bit on the subject, with his parables on the soils, wheat and tares, and mustard seed. He also used the illustration of the harvest a number of times to represent the end of the age, a time that should be prepared for by living in anticipation of His return and in going out to the “highways and hedges” and compelling as many to come to His “wedding feast” as possible before the end of the age. Nonetheless, our enthusiasm about Jesus will be contagious if we are truly in love with Him. Unfortunately, we can lose our zeal so easily that it becomes difficult to concentrate and “maintain” a consistent witness. We may have a few strong days where we are aware of His glory, and then through weakness our flame of passion can lose the intensity of His fire. It is true – our walk with Christ is revealed in the intensity of our love for Him. The deeper our commitment and devotion to Him, the more confident and “filled” we will be with an infectious longing to tell the world about how awesome He is. Do you remember when we received Christ? We were so excited we wanted to go out into the streets and grab strangers to tell them about Jesus. What happened? Selah.
Witnessing is not just relaying the four pillars of faith, it is being ready “in season and out of season” to discern exactly what GOD wants them to know. However, in order for us to have the boldness of His anointing – we must prove our integrity by LIVING in the reverential fear of His holiness. In other words, people will be more inclined to listen to us speak into their life if we have the reputation of practicing what we believe. I heard a true story the other day from the life of a popular minister and I would like to pass it along because it shows the importance of being prepared to speak God’s piercing truth under the power of The Holy Spirit.
A man walked into the Pastors office, seeking help for his poor wife. He proudly introduced himself as one of the chief engineers of NASA and had spent his life working to develop manned rockets including the space shuttle. The pastor asked what had happened in his marriage and the man said his wife did not want to live. The pastor said that he would be glad to help and told him that he would speak to her only if he would come with her and sit in on the conversation. He agreed, set up an appointment and brought her to the office the next day. The pastor said, what is troubling you my dear lady and she looked over to her husband and said she could not exist any longer with this “demonic monster” of a man. She went on to explain that, (and he agreed) though he was very wealthy and well respected in the world of academia, he was also an alcoholic, adulterer, abuser, deceiver, gambler and a compulsive liar. The pastor began to turn his attention to the man and out of curiosity asked him if he considered himself a Christian. The man began to laugh and with a smart aleck response said, of course not – I am an atheist! I came here so that maybe you could help her understand how to tolerate the way I am.
The pastor continued. So, as an atheist, you are saying that you know there is no God. He responded yes. May I ask you a question dear sir? Since you are an intelligent person, could it be possible that you might understand half of the knowledge, wisdom and spiritual truth in the world? The man said I am not sure of what percentage I know. The pastor said, but would you agree that you do not know ALL truth? Yes, I agree. The pastor continued, so then could it be possible that in the percentage of truth that you do NOT know, it could be true that God is real? Mmmm…ok, you may have me there. The pastor proceeded. If this is the case, then maybe you are more of an agnostic than an atheist because an agnostic does not KNOW there is no God, they just have never found Him to be a reality in their own life. The pastor requested permission to go on and the man smiling said by all means. The pastor said, now we need to identify what type of agnostic you are. There are “closed agnostics” and “open agnostics”. The man became more curious as he was being personally exposed and wanted to know what that meant. The pastor explained that closed agnostics have NO desire to pursue their spiritual conclusions about God and are content to live the rest of their life NOT caring about what they do NOT know. The open agnostic realizes there is undiscovered truth that can be comprehended if they would only take the time to investigate. The open agnostic wants to prove their worldviews and not live on their opinions as they are willing to seek that which they do not know. So, my question to you sir, is which type are you? The man stared straight ahead and seemed visibly shaken. After hesitating for a few moments, he said he needed time to think about this.
The Pastor asked, would you be willing to “prove” the existence of God by making a decision to read His Word for one week and sincerely asking Him that if He is real – to present Himself to you? Would you accept the challenge to agree that if God would prove Himself to you that you would give him your life and allow Him to save your soul and transform your mind? Are you serious enough about wanting to know TRUTH that you would sign an agreement to do this with all diligence and honesty? If you truly have the desire and determination, then I am convinced that within one week you will come face to face with The Almighty God. If He does not reveal Himself to you then you may continue in your old familiar path of living the way you want. God’s love and my thoughts and prayers are with you both. The next week, the man walked in and asked if he could talk. The pastor closed the door and the man fell on his knees and cried like a small child in a genuine release of sorrow and repentance. He never dreamed that in seeking help for his wife, his life would come face to face with God’s grace. He was connected through divine destiny for God to knock on the door of HIS heart and a life was super-naturally changed forever. The old saying is simple and true, we do not know what we are missing if we have never had it. The lost world does not have a clue about the presence of God because they have never met Him. This is why evangelism is such a strong identification within our life of faith and obedience to Christ. It is in the divine appointments and miraculous connections of words and deeds between people that become spiritual seeds that can cause a soul to be reborn. It is this transformation of the heart that leads the triune individual across the spiritual bridge of atonement and redemption into God’s open arms. How important is it for us to be sensitive to these “passing ships in the night”? How crucial within the miracle process is it that we actually BELIEVE that God is constantly trying to use our witness? If we are not paying attention to God about our responsibility to others, then what exactly are we accomplishing?
I have pondered this scenario many times, but may I present it again. We may not have bundles of obvious sin that we have COMMITTED because we try to remember to ask forgiveness. However, we may be shocked to discover our many failures of OMITTED sins that we never thought about because we were too busy allowing our carnality to lead us. AWARENESS is the sensitivity that helps us remember that people are watching and listening to us. It is in the life of sincere PRAYER that creates this seriousness and holiness that keeps our spiritual eyes and ears focused on the still small voice that is trying to keep us focused. What is our mission? What is our calling? Could it be anything more than living our life IN CHRIST so the world can SEE the God they do not know? When a child of God walks in His Spirit, their actions become the representation of Jesus Himself. This IMAGE of the Most High is the interference and interruption that causes the men and women to realize their path of life is NOT on the right course. If there cannot be placed a value on the spirit of an individual, then how priceless is the witness and testimony that we project? There is not a higher honor in the heaven or earth than to live and walk as an ambassador for the living God of all eternity. How would we feel if we discovered that we failed to help others know God? How would God explain to us at the judgment that because of our concerns about personal comforts and pleasures on earth that we MISSED many opportunities to be used by Him to save them. Instead of us being excited that we finally made it to heaven, it would be disturbing to realize that we did not have enough love, concern, desire, compassion, or burden to pray that we would be used in God’s harvest field. In order to love others as much as we love ourselves, we will need to be just as concerned with them going to heaven – as we are. Selah.

THE WALK OF SORROW

THE WALK
PART 51

THE WALK OF SORROW

I must be honest with you that I was convicted writing about the power of prayer. We can talk about being a Christian all day long, but there is no greater character development than to learn (and demonstrate) the “responsibility” of prayer. We have heard the scripture that talks about those who literally give their life for others, but I believe that we can also “lay down our life” as a sacrifice to stand in the gap – as a fruit of agape love. “Greater LOVE hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) The weakness of most professing Christians is they are willing to participate in many religious activities but have never been taught how to pray. We hear about being a soldier and putting on the whole armor of God, but until the mud covered foxholes of prayer become a lifestyle, we will not understand divine reality. It is in the uncomfortable trenches of intercession, where faithful servants are developed. It is within the closets of secrecy that tears of agony become the incense of beauty that moves heaven and earth. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

To be religious only, is to live a carnal mockery of true spirituality. When we were growing up, we heard people pray in church and at the dinner table and we tried to incorporate this into our spiritual experience. However, we may have never really grown in our comprehension of holy communication or our passion to build upon this foundation. This may sound elementary but one of the most crucial aspects of the Christian life is the need to ask God to give us the desire to live for Him. For example, if we really want to witness to the lost, we must ask God to “arrange” for us the opportunities. If we choose to “have an ear”, we may hear Him say that we need to be more prepared before we run into the lions den. Likewise, if we are curious about learning how to pray and desire to enter into the realm of intercession, first we must ask Him to give us the burden to pray. I promise, if you dare to ask – you will receive.

When we look closely at the life of a prayer warrior, we notice they are very serious minded. One reason for this state of mind is how they see the destiny of souls as a life or death reality. Intercessors do not take divine reality lightly! How can anyone pour their life into something and not be possessed with living for it and dying for it? They have allowed the flame of their zeal to grow stronger until it is a raging fire unto God. Within the flames, emerges something seldom seen but is commonly referred to as a – burden. Even the word itself is so distant and archaic, that it is rare indeed. However, the burden is a very real component of being a disciple of Christ. It is a heaviness of heart, a weight of concern that reduces haughtiness into humility. It is a place where agape love emerges as a spiritual sorrow that is so intense that the person can hardly concentrate on anything else. Jesus was called the man of sorrows, not because He was emotionally sad all the time, but rather because He could discern with the eyes of His heart, the eternal “needs” of all people. Only in the power of His deity could He survive the great agony of knowing the nature of man, and what it would take to save him. He came to earth because His burden was heavier than His dread to be tortured. He willingly carried the weight of the world’s sin and endured the sacrifice of His flesh, because His love was stronger than His shame. Selah. Do you believe He ever stopped thinking about how lost we were? Do you feel He tried to entertain Himself with other thoughts because the stress was more discouraging than He could bear? No, He lived, dreamed and died to be a bridge to heaven, for ALL of us who desperately needed redemption.

Having a burden can be seen as a form of spiritual labor pains. The birthing of miracles involving salvation, deliverance, restoration and healing for example, many times do not fall out of the air as most presume, but rather have been “developing” in the secret place of travail until God’s time of delivery. When we see others with a heart of compassion, we begin to realize how much they need God and how little they know about what life is all about. This in itself causes those who are spiritually sensitive to be broken hearted. This renewed state of mind allows us to look beyond their faults and see their needs. The calloused, cold heart wants to blame people for their condition and are not willing to separate a person’s spirit from their failures. In everyone that God has saved, He his unconditional mercy has reached out with forgiveness and grace even though no one deserved it. This “holy wisdom” examines ones own heart “before” they condemn, judge or criticize others.

The burden is one of heavens mysteries and is coordinated by The Lord as an extension of His perfect will. If we begin to receive His instructions and “unction’s” from His Holy Spirit, we will sense Him laying certain individuals on our conscience. We may not always be in charge for whom we have burdens for because we are not the only intercessors out there and The Father may have someone else praying for them. Many times, we can talk too much in front of the world and actually hinder our reputation as a follower of Christ, but the intercessor is more like a secret agent that becomes very concerned with accomplishing their “secret” mission. To realize that God is constantly operating in the Spirit realm is to live soberly to say the least. This growing in spiritual discernment begins to increase our awareness of God’s presence and this takes our relationship into the deepest level of intimacy. This has been His vision all along, that His people would be in the position to hear His voice and be ready to respond to His will. The coach of the Kentucky basketball team, John Calipari, said something very interesting the other day. He said, “The young players need to realize they must be constantly aware of what they are doing, what I am saying and what their opponent is doing every second. They cannot afford to be distracted and if they lose focus – they will not succeed.” Is this not the perfect picture of how to think and walk in the steadfastness of God’s presence?

People are hiding from the Lord just like Adam and Eve did when God was calling them in the garden. It is an ancient story featuring temptation, disobedience, faithfulness, deception and consequences, (sounds like a modern movie script). This young couple was given a perfect environment and were blessed beyond the imagination – but made a “willing” decision to disobey. I am sure their conscience felt the separation and the emptiness that occurred in their relationship with God, however let me ask the question, has anything really changed within the heart and mind of humanity concerning the way we feel and act about Him? If we look carefully, we will notice the simplicity behind the actions of people when it pertains to their spirituality. If someone is just playing religious games, they will usually avoid the realities of suffering and discipline. Why? Because everybody wants the “good stuff”, the blessings, healings, happiness, and of course the security of heaven but have never “signed up” to pay for them. Going behind the veil of suffering to draw closer to God is not the most popular spiritual teaching. The idea of salvation being “free” is a great selling point and words like grace, abundance, heaven, ransom, redeemed, rescued, forgiven, saved and unconditional love only helps the promotion. These are the “feel good” people who are always on the lookout for a comforting message that will give them the fuzzy feelings of security. Unfortunately, this variety of Christian is usually very shallow in their study of God’s word, intimate worship and the burden to intercede. The Bible calls those who hear the word but are not doers of the word, deceived, and those who put a limited amount of effort into going to church but do not have a constant, personal relationship with God are referred to as “lukewarm”. I scribbled down a basic thought the other day, “Lukewarm people love lukewarm sermons”. This nugget of truth rings loud in my spirit because I look around and see a great falling away of the commitment and faithfulness from those who proclaim God’s Word. People do not want to hear how God really feels toward their attitude because it is not popular to digest the disheartening words of rejection that comes with being vomited out of the mouth of God, (which is why this message is usually found at the back of the filing cabinet.) It is odd that people get excited about going to Africa to hand out tracts, but never think about ministering down their street. People will send offerings to missionaries to spread the gospel but have actually never shared their faith with anyone in their life. A great way to get people running and hiding from God is to point out the life changing responsibility that comes with being purchased or taking up their cross. Most people are eager to believe their ticket to an eternal paradise has been bought and paid for but would rather not consider the requirements that all of this is going to cost them, (but I thought you said salvation was free).

The salvation message of the gospel has been a great instrument that has caught many “fish” but much of the church world has failed to “clean” them with the explanation of true discipleship. Pastors are under pressure to baby-sit the carnal, religious spectators that financially support the organization. Most churches function as a corporate community that follows its own ideas and desires instead of God’s vision. Many pastors are just paid to fill a traditional position but actually have very little spiritual influence on the congregation to relay the direction of God to the people. These religious “daycares” are very disappointing to Him because he wants to see the manifestations of His power and glory. He wants to see tears of repentance, healing, His gifts and the revelation of His Word being demonstrated to the hungry hearts of those seeking Him with everything they have. Instead, He walks away from the dead programs that promote fleshly entertainment, half-truths, compromise, legalism, meaningless rituals, fabricated ceremonies and false teachings. I have written many songs about going deeper with God and have taught about pulling away from the world by reducing television and computer time and spending that time in prayer. Though most Christians agree this is a positive step in developing a closer relationship with God, the general idea does not get a lot of amen’s. Why is this? Because people do not want to surrender their carnality! Most people draw the line when it becomes uncomfortable. They only want to watch God until it hurts and then they will flip the channel. Human nature hates the things of God and this is why people shun fasting. They realize that if they draw near to God that He has many things He would like to tell them and they KNOW it is going to come with a price tag and they have already made up their mind – they are NOT willing to pay. This is what running and hiding from Godly sorrow is all about. It is the exact reason why most people do not lose weight even though they would like to look good – it hurts. Cutting out all of the delicious foods that you crave and exercising (on top of that) is the last thing most of us want to deal with.

Denying the flesh so that we can become more spiritually mature is what God is saying and whether anyone obeys or not, it will never discredit the reality of this truth. We choose each moment how much of God we want! Will His standard allow Him to accept just anything we decide to offer? Will He tolerate our attitude of just going through the motions of asking Him to bless us? Will our decisions be accepted just because He understands how weak we are? We must go further and ask ourselves, how can we stay focused on the mind of Christ? We will need to become so “filled” with His Holy Spirit, there is no room left for carnality. The reason why we cannot be consistent is that we are not consumed with God to the point that He saturates our thoughts. There is a eternal difference between being religious and being saved! It is not some of Him and some of me – it must be ALL of Him and none of me. Selah.

So, allow me to ask you some closing questions: Do you believe that your prayers can change situations that desperately need God’s intervention? Does God move and recognize the interceding of His children when they develop a burden for another person’s soul and their well-being? Do you believe that if we made a list of every person in our network that we have a burden for, and we became fervent in our prayers for them, that we would definitely see God’s miracle power change their lives? If our answer is yes, then our destiny will be a living sacrifice as we live in the Godly sorrow of a broken and contrite heart.

WALKING RIGHT SIDE UP

THE WALK
PART 40

WALKING RIGHT SIDE UP

As a work in progress, I am thankful for the constant “construction” and renovation that goes on in my life by His mercy and grace. I enjoy God’s revelations and His wonderful presence that comforts me when I am surrounded with worry and chaos. I have noticed in my walk with Him over the years that I must stay alert every minute because there are so many traps and ambushes that can hurt us in a blink of an eye. Just like driving while trying to dial a number on our phone, one split second can cause us to rear-end someone or run off the road (so to speak) with possible fatal consequences. It is time to study and show ourselves approved unto God. We must become “workmen” or working people that receives the truth from God and develops the confidence to not be ashamed. It is time to know what God is saying and with His wisdom, we will be called upon to give an answer. There are no more fence riding or compromising. The overcomers are anointed and empowered by The Holy Spirit to manifest Christ and stand for God’s will! Those who “walk” in God’s Spirit are not afraid of the cost because they realize the world is literally being turned upside down. They are the light containers and will not be shaken when the world implodes. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally and upbraids not; and it will be given to him. But, let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” (James 1:5-7) The wind of the sea in this case could be the words of the blind masses.

I believe that most of the time we do not realize or remember just how much the devil hates us. It is normal to at least hope that everyone enjoys who we are and what we do because it brings us self-esteem and makes us happy to know the world is at peace with us. It is normal to enjoy living with a clear conscience and to get along with everyone. This is fine in the natural realm while being “at one” with our emotions, but if we develop a keen awareness of our spiritual surroundings we will discern something far beyond our “fairy tale”, happy endings. I am not trying to be negative or promote fear but rather to sound an alarm of caution. I am sure you have noticed that the world is rapidly changing. It is literally being turned “upside down” and those who are grounded in God’s truth will not go along with this popular “polar shift”. This in turn will expose us as being unwilling to “evolve” and in the spotlight of accusations such as, ignorant, uneducated bigot, rebellious, imperialist, conservative hate mongers and religious radicals just to name a few. In the “old world” being a Christian was respectable and a good thing because at least someone was trying to be, well, good. In this new world, being a Christian is an example of someone “dangerous” and filled with social prejudice and hate. In the old world, the anointed gospel that spoke of sin and hell brought conviction upon those who lived outside of God’s holiness. In this new world, such talk is an insult to what is politically correct and socially acceptable. Therefore, I am warning all of us that plan to continue promoting Christ and His Word, to be prepared for more aggressive attacks that are on their way. The devil, his demons and all the earth dwellers that are deceived with his lies will not stop “enlarging” their agenda until they confront all who serve God, with the intention to persecute. There is coming a time if not already in progress, when many Christians will face rejection from their spouse and/or their children. It is difficult to do, but we must not be intimidated. Be prepared to face a choice to either follow our government or follow God. We must not compromise even if it cost us everything because when we bow down to Satan we serve him as Lord. It is the hour to examine our own heart and hold onto God’s hand tightly. Do not depend on anyone else in this world but your heavenly Father! There is no such thing as pretending to be one thing and really being another. It does not matter how many are deceived, we will not allow the demon possessed scoffers to lead us over the eternal abyss of hell!

When I arrived at work the other day, we had a heavy amount of freight to ship and the enemy was baiting me to confess what a bad day this is going to be. I jumped in and became absorbed in trying to triumph over the mountain instead of surrendering in defeat. At the very end of the day I was told my manager wanted to see me. I was feeling quite confident that I was going to get a “gold medal” for outstanding achievement as I had single handedly shipped out everything. When I stepped into the office he proceeded to explain that he wanted my input about how to improve the procedure of my job so that I would not come in every morning to a huge mess. Then out of the blue he made this aggressive comment, “do not stare at me like you think I am ignorant”. I immediately fired back that I had not said a word and that he did not know what I was thinking! We continued to exchange conversation pertaining to the business at hand and I departed. On the way home the enemy came to me and began to taunt me with accusations like, “they are using you and do not appreciate you” and “they will never respect you no matter how much you do or how long you are there”. With each mile I became angry and bitter to the point of completely losing spiritual focus on Christ. I stepped out of God’s presence and stepped into thoughts of unforgiveness and strife. I allowed these raging emotions to grow out of control as my peace flew out the window. My joy sprang a leak and by the time I arrived home I was depressed and miserable. How could an entire day of steady accomplishment be ruined in two minutes? Because the enemy knows our buttons and uses these surprise attacks as an effective strategy to “derail” the peace of our conscience. When we walk in the confidence that we are doing God’s will – we will not allow the blind to steal our joy. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently (watching carefully) lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, (snare trap) and thereby many be defiled (sin of unforgiveness).” (Hebrews 12:14-15)

There can never be too much emphasis on constantly walking in God’s Spirit and being alert every second. It does worry me that I can be thrown off balance that easy but it also makes me more determined to upgrade my internal “security system”. I must stand guard at every entrance and patrol the grounds of my conscience so to speak to make sure there are no breaches. It is my responsibility to examine my own “special” places where I am vulnerable, and then deal with these areas. Do you also have certain things that cause you to “lose it”? Have you noticed how you can be going along fine and in a second, you are twisted up in knots? It is embarrassing to acknowledge that I can become extremely upset so suddenly. Of course, I feel like an idiot later, but it would be much better if I could catch myself BEFORE I fly off the handle. If I do not install iron bars to the windows of my emotions and laser sensors to my hearts perimeter, the demons will continue to use the same old tricks to attack me because they have such a high percentage of effectiveness. I must learn and grow in wisdom so that I can be an overcomer in the time that is left before Jesus return. If I ignore my need to “improve” I will not advance but rather continue to be a sitting duck to be hindered no matter where, when or whom I am dealing with. If the safety is not on – it is easy to pull the trigger with temptations. Most of us have “hair triggers” or certain emotional buttons but the Lord is saying to beware of these carnal “land mines” because they have every intention to prevent our destiny. Our past is our current legacy but we can change who we are by changing how we react to circumstances. We have heard of preventative medicine but in the spiritual realm, the awareness of His presence will provide us with the prevention AND the cure. However, if we choose to remain the same in the future, by “default” our past will remain the same and identify our character. “Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:12-13)

I believe that one of the major weapons being used against us is fear. When we listen to sources that reveal tragedies and crisis, the anxiety tries to bind us with panic. Even if it is true about the world of Islam having the agenda to rule the world. Even if it is true that the anti-christ is a Syrian Muslim and that Islam will be the forced world religion, there is nothing we can do about diffusing it. Our prayers are to help us become what Jesus died for us to be and that we might fulfill our personal destiny for Him. Our prayers help us learn how to love and minister to those He brings to us through divine appointments so they may hear, see and feel the love of Jesus. Do we really think that stockpiling ammunition will be able to hold off the system of the world? Have we been called to shoot and kill everyone on earth that tries to capture and kill us? God says in (II Timothy 3:12) that, “Yes, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” I thought being martyred for the sake of Christ was to be an honor and act of love, but isn’t it also possible that we can have faith that God will protect us and provide for us in the time of darkness? Whatever happened to the positive confessions of believing that God will be with us always and never forsake us especially when we need safety and provisions? It is time to let go and genuinely trust Him.

Father, help us control our emotions. Forgive us for our rebellion and pride. Forgive us for trying to fight our own battles without looking to you as our strength and victory. We repent for our bad attitudes and anger toward others. No matter what people do to us, may we have the grace to forgive. Give us your love and burden for all souls. Thank you for your mercy and for always being there for us, in the Name of Jesus we pray, amen.

THE WALK OF ABANDONMENT II

THE WALK
PART 33

THE WALK OF ABANDONMENT II

The Christian life is NOT a fight to those who abide by the world’s system of flesh. Spiritual warfare is meaningless to those who do NOT desire to abandon the love of the world or their determination to live their own life. Religious people will not hesitate to refer to praying or their expectation of heaven but our level of abandonment unto God is the real spiritual thermometer that “tempers” our love and prayers. I attended a funeral one time where the minister tried to tiptoe around a difficult situation and in the process delivered an immune message that I am not sure, anyone really understood. I admit that some funerals are tough and this one was, but if the celebration of a life lived for God is not there, the message of salvation should be presented to those who still have a chance to repent and give their heart to Jesus. There was never mentioned the plan of salvation, the blood of Jesus, or the desperate need to be born again. The funeral home was standing room only and no doubt, many needed to hear an anointed message of spiritual reality but instead it seemed he was trying to reassure everyone that we are all just a bunch of good ole boys and girls that will be having field parties in heaven forever. What ever happened to the fire and passion about how much God demands holiness or what personal intimacy within a spiritual relationship with Jesus is all about.

The ministry is a calling to those who will abandon their fears to speak the truth. Whatever happened to the responsibility of speaking GOD’S words and not selling out to pleasing men? Anyone that disobeys God in word or deed is guilty of sin and will stand before God for not being faithful. I know that all of us have blown opportunities to witness for Christ and we need to repent and ask God to help us do better next time. But, how many pastors are intimidated by their members and do not care about what The Holy Spirit is saying because they are afraid that obeying God will cause them to lose their jobs? Everyone wants to hear that all people go to heaven no matter if they were saved or not but doesn’t this just make us more comfortable in our own deceptions? There is soon coming a day when every Christian will be forced to take a stand for their convictions and it will NOT be a time to compromise. Selah.

The modern day prosperity movement is an example of devising a plan to present God’s Word as a “money machine” in order to attract enthusiastic crowds. Deceptive teachers use the truth about blood covenant and obedience and then distort it into a “give and get” doctrine. One ministry is called, “enjoying everyday life” but how can this be when the real message of the cross is the “abandonment” of this life. It is not that God will not bless us with abundance but it is intended as a way to GIVE unto others. If we live the way God has commanded us to live, I see His Word warning us of a lot of suffering, sacrifice and persecution – not a constant party. “YEA, AND ALL THAT WILL LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS – SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION.” (II Timothy 3:12) Those who spend all their time enjoying their everyday life of pleasures can hardly relate to practicing the presence of God. The flesh is ENMITY toward God or in other words an “enemy” against the Spirit of God. “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 against God (opposed): for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:5-8) Unfortunately, these “artificial” doctrines are taught as planting seeds and reaping a harvest so that we might fill our bank accounts and indulge ourselves with the pleasures of the flesh. This is a spiritual principal but is not intended to be twisted into a carnal slot machine. No wonder these churches and stadiums are filled! The religious seekers support and are drawn to those who say things their flesh loves. Remember when Pontius Pilate stood before the angry crowd with Jesus and Barabbas, he had the authority to do what was right but crumbled under the pressure of pleasing the people. However, those who speak the truth and who trust God even unto death, will lead a lonely life of rejection and betrayal. Why? Because very few want to hear about the need to abandon their carnality. “You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not understand that the friendship of the world is ENMITY to God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world – is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

I noticed a picture in the paper the other day of a gay rights activist holding a sign that said, “It’s ok to be gay”. I am not necessarily picking on the gay movement because actually it is more like the sign was saying, “It’s ok to sin”! What kind of world are we now living? How are we as Christians supposed to react to a crowd of people holding signs that declare that any abomination, perversion or type of darkness and wickedness is acceptable? Are we to just ignore the freedoms and rights of individuals? Are we to tolerate their sin and not worry about what people do in their own personal lives? Are we to get involved with politics and fight against sin and create laws against debauchery? I know we are to pray against the darkness and I know we are to stand for God’s truth even if our own family hates us. Nevertheless, my question is – who has the power or wisdom to declare that sin is acceptable? First, a person would have to disregard the Bible as the absolute truth of heaven and earth and that God the Father of all things – wrote it! So, if you sweep that little problem under the rug, I presume you can proceed with creating your own spiritual, legal and moral system within a brand new world order. BREAKING NEWS! This is exactly what is happening! The now generation has thrown God’s Word out the window, which gives them a brand new platform with a new clean slate. Since they do not believe that God’s Word is socially valid, our arguments against their world are not considered legally conclusive, which is the reason why watered down religion alone can never persuade the spiritually blind. This is the highest pride in the universe and compares with Lucifer’s mentality when he was still working in heaven. He said in a paraphrase that, I am smarter than God, more popular, more beautiful and can do a better job of ruling all things. And now, many are possessed with this same twisted spirit of arrogance. They are born of the dark side and pledge allegiance to the lies of darkness. Only the blind and foolish would declare that man’s limited, mortal and corrupted intelligence is the “right” way to live. For humans that do not consider God’s Word to be true, this statement takes away the absolutes and opens the door for the tolerance of all chaos, confusion and lies. In the minds of those who believe in the philosophy of doing whatever feels good, the idea of living holy unto the Lord of all Kings does not matter. Whenever man does not acknowledge sin as an opposition against the maker of heaven and earth, there is a rebellious disregard for HIS absolute truth. God has mercy on all those who shake their fist in His face and shout that they know more and better than He does – but for how long? The system of the world serves the flesh and is becoming more aggressive with their hatred for God and His Word. There is an old saying, that what is in the well, will come up in the bucket. This perfectly explains how the condition of the heart cannot be ignored nor hidden from the conscious mind. The direction of our lives and the motives behind our actions are driven by the convictions of our conscience and spirit. In addition, for that matter all who call themselves a Christian should have the discernment to realize that the one who knows every thought and who hears every whisper is weighing our intentions.

If we are walking with God, we are filled with His Spirit and His power will renew our mind and ultimately control us. If we are distant from Him, we only have traces of His presence, which leaves us lukewarm and carnally driven. Of course, those who have never been redeemed are cold and indifferent to His presence, are spiritually blind and cannot comprehend His truth. Allow me to pause for a moment and ask you where you are this moment in the levels of spiritual intimacy with Christ. We know when we sense His Holy Spirit and we know when we are living in a state of emptiness. The consequences to being lazy in our praying and worship are a “cooling off” within our spirit, which in turn causes a heaviness that blankets our joy and peace. We all go through times when we become tired of fighting the battle and the daily grind of functioning in a negative world can cause stress that wears us down. Being in a state of “blah” can be denied for a long time but that does not mean we do not know its there. We KNOW when we are sliding backward and we KNOW when things are not right within our conscience. If you feel right now that you have drifted away from being “red hot” but, you are still wearing your, “everything’s ok mask”, just stop for a minute and talk to Him. He is ready to empower us to live for Him and give us the strength to pull away from the temptation to compromise.

Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all; I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I can pray no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld

THE WALK OF EFFECTIVENESS

THE WALK

PART 4

THE WALK OF EFFECTIVENESS

“Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits (proud notions).” (Romans 12:16) Where there is contention, (arguing, controversy, disputing, contesting, quarrelsome) there is the spirit of PRIDE! This is a very important revelation to absorb into our character so that every time we are being drawn into conflict, we can examine our intention and ask Jesus to check our attitude. The proud are convinced that they know more, are smarter and can do everything much more effectively than the ones they are attacking. Webster’s New World Dictionary describes it as: “an overly high opinion of oneself. Exaggerated self-esteem, haughtiness; arrogance; inflated dignity”. I do not believe that any of us have conquered every fault or can “walk on the water” so to speak with having “arrived” at total perfection. We all have certain problems that we must battle more than others and sometimes these trouble areas can grow more severe like a wound that becomes infected. I personally believe when someone gives these bad habits free reign, they can expand into an open spiritual door with a warm invitation to demonic influence which can establish the bondage of control. Pride was the deception that caused Lucifer to fall and be cast out of heaven and I am convinced it is his number one device for stirring up every type of evil on earth. For example, when someone has an aggressive personality that instigates and is contentious, they would definitely be vulnerable to being oppressed with spirits of MANIPULATION, STRIFE, ENVY and CONTROL. There is a difference between standing against something that is wrong – and being used as a “wrecking ball” under the spirit of rebellion. The awareness of God’s presence includes the sensitivity of our own level of humility. Selah. “For I say, though the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more HIGHLY than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)

How eager and excited we are to devote so much of our time to the reform and “education” of others. Those who are held captive by this dark power are convinced the masses of the world are waiting for them to correct and “set them straight”. Judging others comes naturally to those who spend their time thinking about how wonderful, intelligent and spiritual they are. These individuals can do wonderful things for the Kingdom of God and at the same time be at odds with those they are working with. They have no problem rising to positions of authority but have not learned the responsibility of watching their words that creates controversy and division. I would love to say that I personally do not know anything about this character flaw but I must be honest. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and was just as deceived when the bridges were burning as I was during the conflict. I have asking the Lord to reveal to me why I have had so many problems over the years and why things have not “blossomed” like I had envisioned. I have been having some serious heart to heart talks with Him lately and I have pleaded with Him to “give it to me straight”. It has been difficult for me to watch as He turns the pages of my blindness, slowly revealing to me the way I look through His eyes. Selah. It has not been pretty. I have wept and been humbled in His presence. Yes, another crucial revelation of how to WALK as His disciple and just like all the other ones, it is my decision whether to ignore it or – absorb it. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear – slow to speak slow to wrath: for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19)

Our personal interpretation of someone’s character is dangerous because usually we are looking through the eyes of the flesh instead of the eyes of His Spirit. Which is a good indicator that we are more FULL of ourselves than the holy spirit. We convince ourselves and justify our confrontations with those who are in authority but most of the time our instructions are to sit down – be quiet – and pray! Yes, there are times when God might choose to use us in a divine appointment to “enlighten” someone about something but with those who are led by their emotions it is usually – trouble. Talking negatively about people behind their back and rebelling against their decisions is strife. If we are committed to serving under someone’s leadership then we are obligated as a Christian to operate under the influence of LOVE! Constantly fighting, disagreeing, railing and undermining against those we have been called to support are the attributes of the dark side and a terrible witness to those who are observing the character of those representing Christ. It is prayer that can change circumstances if they need to be changed and what if we are wrong in our opinions and God desires for things to go in another direction? Just because we are persuaded by our own understanding about certain decisions does not mean we are WALKING in God’s Spirit or have heard His specific will. “

We carry around all this strife and chaos and wonder why Father seems so distant. “For in many things we offend all. If any man offends not in word, the same is a perfect (complete) man, and able also to bridle (control) the whole body. Behold we put bits in the horses mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, wherever the helmsman desires. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a FIRE, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set of fire of hell.” (James 3:2-6) No matter what we are facing, talking about or thinking about, the two principals we will always face in the crossroad of spiritual growth are; we must see our need to change and we must have the desire to change. Selah. Our sin nature is very strong because it is governed by our will which is the king on the throne of our heart. It is easy to live independently because it is the default system within our soul. Change occurs when we ask Christ to become the Lord of our entire LIFE and He takes His place in our heart as our new King. His divine reality is the new “operating system” that governs our thoughts, our words and our deeds. We cannot manage our old habits and character faults because doing things our way is a part of the old system! Jesus needs to be the MONARCH of our physical, mental and spiritual life that transforms us from the inside out because when He is in control – We are WALKING in Him! A huge part of abiding in His Spirit is allowing the Holy Spirit to help us watch what we say. “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can NO MAN TAME; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7-8)

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging her clothes outside on the clothesline. “That laundry is not very clean”, she said. “She obviously does not know anything about how to wash clothes correctly. Perhaps she needs instruction!” Her husband looked on but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same critical comments. About a month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look she has finally learned how to wash correctly, I wonder who taught her this?” The husband said, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.” And so it is with life. What we see when watching others depends on the purity of the windows through which we look. Selah. Most of us are always more deeply concerned over the reform of others – but hardly concerned at all over the reform of ourselves.

Recently I was praying on the way to work and was thinking about how I measure people and how quick we can form a thorough opinion about people we do not even know. With as much experience we have in psychoanalyzing others, we seem to be not only experts in human behavior but judges as to the motives of everyone’s heart. I had read a quote from Napoleon recently and he had mentioned about “those in the struggle of life” and when I heard this phrase I was reminded how there could be more conflict than we could ever imagine going on inside other people’s lives that we meet everyday. I do not usually even consider that my fellow laborers in the Kingdom of God are “struggling” with serious issues. My brothers and sisters in the Lord are trying to put on a happy face and attempting to work through the pain of problems that maybe no one but God knows and here I am being critical or feeling disappointed in them because they did not seem “nice” enough to me. And what about my lack of sensitivity to the lost who are looking for answers and stumbling around in the dark? I have the solution – it’s Jesus! I know the one who has all the answers – Jesus! Yet, I am more worried about how people treat me and how well they “perform” in my self-designed method of acceptable standards, that I am completely missing the opportunity for God to use me in His divine appointments.

For an old nature that is supposed to be dead, I am amazed at how influential a corpse can be! He is making demands from the grave and for some reason I am listening. I am still trying to establish my own identity and instead of becoming LESS OF ME and MORE OF GOD – I have become spoiled, comfortable and satisfied to live with SOME of me – and SOME of GOD! I have come to the conclusion that I love myself way too much. If we are not being as effective for God as we think we should be, it is NOT His fault. He can only rule our life when He is our King.

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