FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 3 – Published 1/20/18
THERE IS A WAY TO KNOW OUR PURPOSE – I
When it comes to obtaining spiritual knowledge and wisdom, it’s all about personal revelation. In other words, it’s not how much information we know but how much we understand and has been allowed to be seeded and rooted within our heart. The devil and all the demons of hell have tons of spiritual knowledge but they do not allow it to penetrate their conscience and change who they are which makes it of no effect. Here is one of several basic fundamental principles to remember. Make sure you know your direction. Research thoroughly before you move. If you do not know what to do or where you are going, do something positive while you are waiting. If you have been praying for a long time and have not heard anything, I once heard someone say, “while waiting for a door to open, praise Him in the hallway.” If you are really serious, you can declare a “private” and personal fast. There is no need to broadcast this on facebook or tell everyone you see. By the way, fasting is not always just about food but can be the denial of other pleasures along with dedicating some quiet time alone with Him every day. When you discover all of the basic fundamentals and requirements that are connected to what you are interested in, you may realize you are not qualified, not ready or simply not called to proceed at this time or at all. Yes, God can do miracles but He does not put the cart before the horse or force people to embrace or accept you. He can give you favor and present opportunities but most of the time, we (diligently and with perseverance) work in order to be in the “position” to press forward. He opens doors for situations that He has been preparing in the background that can utilize your skills and is the perfect fit for you. We need to know our gifts and callings before we can have a vision for what He is planning so that we can move in a definite direction. Besides, it’s all about His will and not our own dreams and plans.
LEARNING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAITH AND REBELLION
Just because we read about how to live a victorious Christian life does not mean we will automatically convert into an overcomer. We must absorb His Word through our brain and into our spirit all the while yielding our will and the resistance of our flesh. The true Christian life is not easy, in fact, the more serious we become the more difficult it will be. Listen, if we are born again, our spirit is connected with God’s Spirit and we have a wonderful opportunity to channel His energy into our being. If we can prevent our mind from talking us out of it, we can be saved from ourselves but it’s going to take our total commitment and dedication. Being filled with His Spirit means that He has been given us the opportunity to transform the way we think and this will literally change who we are. Persistence and stubbornness are not the same things. Being stubborn toward God is being rebellious and He is not impressed with this type of determination. He appreciates and blesses us for being persistent because it is a demonstration of faith but when He tells us no and we keep going forward we have fallen into disobedience. There have been times in my life where I did not know whether to quit or keep going. When doors have been slammed in my face and locked from the inside I kept knocking and continuing even to the point of trying to force them open with a bulldozer. There are major problems with this type of mentality. They never come open and all of the attempted demolitions makes a huge mess, not including the misery and discouragement from resentment and bitterness. It’s crucial to know if the devil is working against us – or if the Lord is saying no.
DO WE REALLY WANT TO LISTEN TO GOD?
Anyone that has ever got off the couch and tried to do anything they felt was important has felt the resistance of the carnal flesh. Whenever God’s children feel a passion to demonstrate their convictions, it would be a good idea to be prepared for laziness, rejection, control issues and emotional vulnerability. Most of the time it is not our fear about how others will react or what they think about us, but it’s the warfare required to take control of our own mind and will. It’s true, we will face adversity and it is truly disheartening to realize that most people are not interested in our vision, but the real war will always be between our flesh and God’s Spirit. When we venture out of our comfort zone and take the bull by the horns, we are setting ourselves up to be tested within the deepest recesses of our being. Everyone wants love and appreciation because feeling good about ourselves is a huge part of our psychological and emotional stability. However, when we place too much emphasis on how we “feel” and not enough toward what God says, we are already being defeated by compromise. We are emotional beings but we cannot afford to be controlled by them and one of the most difficult things is knowing the difference between our voice and His voice. This helps to understand why religion is plentiful and taking up our cross is rare. It is much easier to live according to our own way of thinking than to eliminate the denial and accomplish what the Lord has planned. As we discover what God wants us to be, we are then faced with deciding just how much we will do.
WE CAN BE AS CLOSE TO GOD AS WE WANT
There are reasons why things happen (though it seems that most of them are unsolved mysteries) and every now and then we can see a glimpse of how God was actually at work behind the scenes. I realize we could all save ourselves a lot of heartaches if we would take the time to hear God’s voice but this will only happen when we decide that being close to Him is the meaning of life. Sometimes I wonder if He becomes intentionally quiet so that we can learn more about faith. Could this possibly be a part of our spiritual education where we have the opportunity to develop humility? If we received an immediate answer every time we talked with God, we would not understand the virtues of patience and His perfect timing or even have a burden to pray. If solutions were automatic we would probably become demanding and prideful and lose our compassion and sympathy. GOOD NEWS! It’s possible to NOT be led around by our emotions! The Lord is trying to renew our mind with His Word so that we can see what He sees and not find ourselves caught in a snare trap every five minutes. He demanded that we become transformed by the renewing of our mind because He knows this is the only way an individual can be an overcomer! However, the devil is trying everything he can to distract us from thinking about God and loves to throw some awesome pity parties. The enemy knows that if he can discourage us, and keep us upset and worried, he has immobilized our love and one of the key elements of our spiritual life – our joy. We can become dedicated to listen and follow God’s thoughts OR continue being entangled in the confusing world of emotions – the choice is ours. “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose LIFE that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Next week we will conclude this message.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 2 – Published 1/13/18
LORD, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU AND ME
“I repent of my sin and any trespasses against You. With both the sins of commission or omission, I ask You to forgive me and wash me clean with Your blood as white as snow. I confess by FAITH that my mind is influenced and controlled by Your Word and that I have a passionate desire to live under the persuasion of the Holy Spirit! I choose to gird up the loins of my mind by reading Your Word and filling my mind with Your thoughts. Dear God, Your Word strengthens me and keeps my mind free from unbelief and lying strongholds. I plant Your Word deep into my mind, as Your divine truth develops into a strong and bold lifestyle. Please give me more desire and self-discipline. I understand that I can draw as close to you as I want, but my flesh is so weak. Help me to be more determined and give me the perseverance to prevent the devil from finding access into my life! I love you Oh Lord, I trust You and I ask all of this in Your holy name, amen”
Let us spend a moment confessing with our mouth and declaring to heaven and earth what we really desire to be in this life.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” These simple prayers and confessions are a part of the warrior’s armor. God is ready to equip His children but our spiritual development comes from the inside out. Absorbing His Word and speaking our prayers and confessions out LOUD is a part of the word of our testimony. Revelation 12:11 declares, “And they overcame him (devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
It’s true, the dedicated follower of Christ is always under attack from the devil and the closer we come to God the more intense the spiritual warfare. However, let us not forget that our greatest enemy is our flesh. If we can discipline our flesh, we will not need to worry about what the devil says or his temptations. How many will take this battle seriously? It’s much easier to ignore the responsibility to pray and turn away from what is pleasing in His sight. In fact, “floating down the river” takes no work at all and explains why true Christians are few and far between. We are not referring to a religious ritual but we are talking about those who have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and a passion to be pure.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” II Corinthians 10:4-5. This is reminding us to not fight and argue in our own intelligence but rather to enter into our prayer closet and see the power of God produce miracles for His glory!
God is pouring out His Spirit today as His return is very soon. His Bride is carrying the light of His presence. This remnant is called to demonstrate His character and commissioned to speak His truth! Joel 2:28-32 declares, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.”
Isaiah 55:11 promises, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” God honors HIS Word and His Word NEVER fails! As we allow our heart and mind to become filled with God’s Word, we can release His truth into the atmosphere and allow Him to energize and empower these words to accomplish His will. Let us take a moment and become saturated with His love, faith, and hope. May you be renewed with His strength as you draw closer to Him. Speak these confessions OUT LOUD and experience a surge of spiritual hope and encouragement.
LORD, I DEDICATE MY LIFE AND WILL LIVE FOR YOU NO MATTER IF NO ONE ELSE DOES
I AM ALLOWING YOU TO CHANGE MY LIFE AND TO MAKE ME A LIVING SACRIFICE
I AM DETERMINED TO HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE IN ALL THINGS FOR YOUR GLORY
I AM GETTING INTO POSITION TO RECEIVE YOUR BLESSINGS AND FAVOR
IF I HARBOR SIN IN MY HEART – YOU WILL NOT HEAR ME – PLEASE PURIFY ME
I WILL PRAISE AND WORSHIP YOU WITH LITTLE OR WITH ABUNDANCE
JESUS, I KNOW YOU PROVED HOW MUCH YOU LOVED ME ON THE CROSS
THIS DAY I GIVE MY MIND AND HEART COMPLETELY TO CHRIST
LORD, YOU GO BEFORE ME AND MAKE THE IMPOSSIBLE – POSSIBLE – AMEN!
YOU PROVIDE MIRACLES AND OPEN DOORS FOR ME THAT NO MAN CAN CLOSE
YOU GIVE ME DIVINE FAVOR IN ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO YOUR WILL
MY FAITH, ANOINTING, AND CONFIDENCE IN YOU IS INCREASING
I AM BECOMING SPIRITUALLY STRONGER AS YOU PREPARE ME TO SERVE MORE
I WILL FAST AND PRAY FERVENTLY BECAUSE I WANT TO LIVE IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES
I AM ADVANCING AND PROGRESSING IN MY FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN YOU
ANGELS ARE ENCAMPED AROUND ME AND WORKING ON MY BEHALF – THANK YOU
I AM INCREASING IN SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT, SENSITIVITY, AND POWER
MY TALENTS, ABILITIES AND SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR KINGDOM
MY HEART AND MIND IS BEING CHANGED FROM THE INSIDE OUT
I AM BEING PURIFIED AND SANCTIFIED BY YOUR HOLY REFINING FIRE
MY CONSCIENCE IS BEING RENEWED AND TRANSFORMED THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
I AM INCREASING IN THE WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR WORD
I HAVE A SOUND MIND – I CAN HEAR YOUR VOICE – I KNOW YOUR DIRECTION – AMEN.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 1 – PUBLISHED 1/6/2018
OPINIONS AND DISAGREEMENTS
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must NOT be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, and correcting His opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” II Timothy 2:23:25.
We’ve heard the old saying, “opinions are like elbows, everyone has one” and there is much truth to this. We can travel around the world and ask people a series of questions about religion, politics and social issues and I’m sure the diversity of answers would be astounding. When it comes to our personal worldviews, we realize that each human being has been given a brain that contains the ability to process thoughts along with a free-will to make decisions about what they believe. For those who accept God as the creator of all things and the Lord of their life, we know that He has graciously given us this wonderful gift and privilege. If we go a step further in our acknowledgment of God, we have no problem with including the Bible as a detailed explanation about what He thinks and how He wants us to live. However, now that we have already crossed the line with a majority of individuals that strongly reject God and the Bible as being the ultimate spiritual authority, we return to our opening statement about everyone having their own ideas about what our existence is all about. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” Proverbs 10:12.
Since the beginning of time, we have witnessed disagreement. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve specific orders and warned what would happen if they did not follow His instructions. Of course, they were easily persuaded otherwise. By the way, every word the Father speaks is nothing less than absolute truth. God is perfect and has never lied or failed. He is the beginning and the end, Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent. These are huge attributes of His character that declares His ultimate authority but, it’s amazing to consider that even with the Lord’s supreme sovereignty, He still gives every man or woman the choice to embrace or reject what He says. So, we read that Eve listened to a strange voice that not only had opposing views toward God but defiantly tried to convince the woman to do the same. In the glorious privilege of free-will, she agreed that God must be trying to deceive her. Unfortunately, this concept had such a strong influence, the human race is still following it today. This sin did not (and does not) go unpunished, as we realize that it ruined the original world and broke the spiritual fellowship between humans and the Most High. Since God is flawless in His judgment, He could not (and will not) ignore this defiant act of rebellion or else it would make Him a liar according to His own words. We are reminded of this passage which allows us to understand there are consequences to our views, words, and deeds. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23.
So far we have talked about world-views, the reality of wide-spread disagreement and that God is absolute truth. Now let’s look at another Bible story that involved the same family, but this time with the two sons of Adam and Eve. Their names were Cain and Able, and they were young men trying to function in an exciting and challenging new world. When their parents sinned and were expelled from the Garden, the first blood was shed from an animal and was used as clothing. Blood sacrifices were also explained to be used as a sacrifice of praise and worship to God. This was not an insignificant matter but was considered very holy as even Christ was slain and is portrayed as the Lamb of God. Cain was a farmer and grew vegetables and fruits which was a perfectly acceptable profession and Able was a shepherd that raised livestock. One day, the time had come to present a sacrifice to God as a spiritual gesture of their worship, faith, and commitment. Able followed the usual protocol and slaughtered an animal for his sacrifice but for some reason, Cain brought an offering of fruits and vegetables. God accepted Able and his sacrifice but rejected what Cain had brought because it was not blood and God does not compromise. In short, Cain became so furious that he killed his brother and sadly lived the rest of his life as an outcast. Now, allow me to include that all Cain would have needed to do was repent and then present a new sacrifice to God and all would have been fine. The problem was when he became arrogantly jealous and decided that he could do whatever he wanted no matter what God said. (The apple did not fall far from the tree, pun intended). Cain had an opinion about how to serve God but when God says to do something – He means to do it exactly His way. There is no doubt that rebellion and insubordination is a strong part of our DNA and this old nature is the identity of our most difficult enemy. Many will say that Satan is our only adversary but our flesh is what we should really be concerned about. The devil speaks to our mind about betraying God but it is our will that ultimately decides which path we will take. The Lord has done and wants to do everything He can to help us “overcome” our flesh and the devil but we are servants to whom we obey.
In our discussion about opinions, we find a crucial illustration within this account. First, we see again that our rogue views and ideas can get us in big trouble very quickly. There is not a multitude of options or alternatives when it comes to obedience. There is following God and there is believing something else. Of course, other than God Himself, no one has all the truth and it’s clear that all have sinned and are in desperate need of His constant mercy and grace. The point we find here is there is only one truth and when we are not connected to God’s absolute truth, we are wrong and unless we repent, we will be judged accordingly. Now, I realize this is dogmatic and most people do not agree with this theology but again if we accept the Bible as absolute “truth” then we must submit to foundational pillars of the faith that cannot be altered or modified. We look around today and realize that opinions and disagreements about spirituality and theological doctrines have been the root cause of more death and destruction than anything else. They are also becoming altered and distorted according to the dreams and illusions of carnality. The attitude that Adam, Eve and Cain had toward God exposes fallen mankind as a deceived and blind creature whose only hope is the redemption of the cross. We are fighting and arguing from the time we are in diapers and with certain individuals, controversy becomes such a significant part of their personality that instead of demonstrating the character of Christ, they literally spend their lives searching for new opportunities to provoke and debate. The Bible clearly explains that we are not to wrestle against the principalities and powers in our flesh but rather to war against the lies of darkness through prayer and fasting. We cannot win arguments with our intelligence or charismatically persuade people to believe in God’s truth. We pray and obey, and then place our faith in the Holy Spirit and His ability to convict hearts and change minds.
Another point worth mentioning is that many have the opinion we can live however we want, believe whatever feels good and everything will turn out alright. There is a popular fantasy that all religions are tied together and eventually are blended into one major super-highway that leads to heaven. In this dangerous philosophy, the unity of faith is brought together as a great and wonderful solution to religious division. I can understand if we wanted a simple and quick formula that can ease our conscience and deny our accountability to absolute truth, but this is just another example of mankind trying to establish their own way of living instead of submitting to God’s way. There would have been no reason for Jesus to die on the cross and be raised from the dead if we could just as well trust and worship the Sun or a statue. We would not need the Bible at all if it was acceptable by God for us to read and believe in some other book or ideology. There are many people who have wanted to be God and millions that have followed them but there is only one true God and He is the only way, the truth, and the life. He created everything and everyone will stand before Him at the judgment. There are not 90,747 separate compartments of heaven where false idols, anti-Christs and deceived teachers congregate with all of their followers. There is one throne and one God who sits upon the throne. This is nothing new, it has always been that way and will continue for all eternity.
We can disagree with God all of our lives and we can believe however we want but it will never change the truth. Will it matter what our opinions are? What do you think? Do you believe your opinions are important? Would you give your life for them? Actually, we are all giving our life for what we believe. You know, if we are right by believing and following God and His Word, we will have an eternity to spend with God that will be more awesome than can be imagined. If we are wrong, we can still say that we lived a wonderful life of peace and contentment. For those who have never accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and are wrong about what they believe, the Bible says these individuals have made a terrible mistake and the consequences will be an eternity of darkness and misery. In this simple view, there is no doubt that our opinions and the way we live are the most important decisions we could possibly make in this life. Is it worth researching? Is it worth discussing? Is it possible to find absolute truth and embrace it? I believe yes to all of these questions. Knowing truth has always been God’s desire for us because He has done everything He can to save us from our selves. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that will ask will receive and he that seeks will find and to him, that knocks it shall be opened” Matthew 7:7-8.