Monday, April 7, 2014

Pitfalls II:Drunk with worry

One of the most destructive forces active in the bride of Christ today is that of worry.  This force alone has the ability to incapacitate believers and render the abundance of teachings fruitless.  In a culture where we like to plan and have control over just about everything we can, the epidemic of worry is crippling us and making it difficult for us as believers to hear His voice and so trouble comes upon us without warning.

The Trouble with Worry

I don't think we often consider the impact of worry.  I know I have been caught thinking that the only problem with worry is a restless night's sleep and inability to focus on the really important things while I'm consumed with the worry of the day or week or whatever it might be.  I've also been caught just waiting for the event to pass which dissolves the worry that was rooted in the fear of the unknown.
Jesus was very clear on the topic of worry because it had such significant consequences to the believer.  Jesus when responding to His disciples regarding the end of the age said,
"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that Day will come on you unexpectedly." - Luke 21:34
Did you catch that?  Jesus places cares of this life, carousing and drunkenness all in the same category.  The effects of these are the same with regards to our spiritual life.  All of them will numb our spirit so that we cannot clearly distinguish His voice.  When one is drunk, one cannot pay attention or remember the important details.  The same is true when one is carousing or preoccupied with the cares of this life.  So much so that when the end comes those preoccupied with the cares of this life will be just as unaware of His coming as those who are drunk.  It's a scary thought.

Take a look at the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:18-23 where the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and make it unfruitful.

Jesus Answer to Worry

I think one of the most amazing things about Jesus' ministry was that He always had the solution.  Unlike the Pharisees who burdened others with loads without lifting a finger to help, Jesus was always there to help.  In fact many who came to Him with one problem ended up getting the real problem fixed which took care of a lot more than just what they came for.  His passionate desire for His bride to made whole is the joy that allowed Him to endure the cross.

Jesus solution to worry was to just not do it.
"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:34
At the end of the day, this is the answer, just don't, God designed for us to live in day compartments and not to live in tomorrows compartment.  We weren't design to live in tomorrow, but in today.  Tomorrow is God's territory - "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Now although this is the answer, Jesus delivered it with so much love and reasoning behind it so that we would be empowered to let go of worry.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:25-34
Can you hear the love of the Father?  If we get a hold of this love by faith, there will be no more room left for worry.  Pray "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ would give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power" (Ephesians 1:17-19).

For further study:

  • Ephesians 1:3-14 Paul describes our redemption in Christ that we are holy, without blame, adopted, accepted, forgiven, sealed with the Holy Spirit to give Him praise through His glory.
  • 2 Peter 1:3 Peter describes how His divine power has given to us everything we need for life and godliness that we might be partakers of the divine nature.
  • John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
  • Romans 8:32 "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things."
  • Romans 8:18-39 Paul describes the amazing blessings we have in Christ which make the troubles he faced pale in comparison.  He talks about being more than a conqueror, how creation groans for the revealing of the children of God, how the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness, how everything works together for our good and who shall condemn us?
  • John 14:23 "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
  • Psalm 91 A picture of perfect peace in the midst of turmoil.

A Crown of Glory and a Diadem of Beauty

The prophet Isaiah writes to those in the tribe of Ephrayim who have been overcome with wine.  While God does not deal with us in the same way as the Israelites because we have an everlasting covenant sealed by the blood of Jesus, it is important to see the Father's heart here and to know that the effects are the same.  Being overcome with worry is the same as being overcome with wine.

In verse 7 the prophet describes how they are confused and led astray, how they get erroneous visions and are unable to judge correctly.  The same is true of worry.  If continuously keep being led astray and we have a hard time hearing the voice of God and our decisions seem to get us into trouble or are quickly nullified, we should reflect on whether worry is the root cause.  God's love for us is intense and passionate even when we find ourselves overcome with worry and He will do everything He can to bring us out of our current state, but we must trust Him.

When we find ourselves ensnared in worry, the Holy Spirit must teach us like toddlers using nursery rhymes and simple truths.  It is the young men who are strong and whom the word of God abides and whom have overcome the wicked one (1 John 2:14).

As the end of the age draws near, worry will increase and many will be rushing here and there as their anxiety increases and their pride prohibits them from seeking first the kingdom of God and letting God provide.  There will be a remnant, those for whom God will be a brilliant diadem and a glorious crown.  God himself will be their crown because they have trusted in Him (verse 5).  This is God's invitation that He will show himself strong on your behalf.

The picture I have is of a world where people are busy, anxious and burning the candle at both ends either just to survive or to maintain or expand the wealth and life they have.  A world where those who know their God are in the minority.  Many will believe in God and have their salvation, but few will rise to walk in the fullness of all that He called them too, to live the abundant life.  In this midst of the rushing waters, the turmoil of nations, the remnant of His people will walk in perfect peace and everyone will know that God is for them because God himself will be for them a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem.  These are those who shall do valiantly and whom the Lord will show himself strong on their behalf.  These are those whom the creation groans and yearns for... the sons of God.
"[1] Woe to the haughty crown of Efrayim's* drunks, to the fading flower of its proud splendor, located at the head of the rich valley belonging to people overcome by wine! [2] Adonai* has someone strong and powerful. He comes like a hailstorm, a destructive tempest, like a flood of water, rushing, overwhelming; with his hand he hurls them to the ground. 
[3] The haughty crown of Efrayim's* drunks is trampled underfoot; [4] and the fading flower of its proud splendor, located at the head of the rich valley, is like the first ripe fig of summer— whoever sees it picks and eats it.
[5] On that day, ADONAI-Tzva’ot* will be a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem for the remnant of his people. [6] He will also be a spirit of justice for whoever sits as a judge, and a source of strength for those repelling enemy attacks at the gate. 
[7] But there are others reeling from wine, staggering about because of strong liquor; cohen* and prophet reel from strong liquor, they are confused by wine. Led astray by strong liquor, they err in their visions and stumble when judging. [8] All tables are covered with vomit and feces, not a single place is clean. 
[9] Can no one be taught anything? Can no one understand the message? Must one teach barely weaned toddlers, babies just taken from the breast, [10] so that [one has to use nursery rhymes]?—
Tzav la-tzav, tzav la-tzav,* kav la-kav, kav la-kav,* z’eir sham, z’eir sham*
[Precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there]. [11] So with stammering lips, in a foreign accent, [ADONAI*] will speak to this people. 
[12] He once told this people, “It's time to rest, the exhausted can rest, now you can relax”— but they wouldn't listen. [13] So now the word of ADONAI* for them comes “precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there,” so that when they walk, they stumble backward, and are broken, trapped and captured!" - Isaiah 28:1-13 (CJB)
For further study see:

  • Daniel 12:4 As the end draws near many will be rushing hear and there
  • Luke 18:8 When He returns will He find any with such faith?
  • 2 Chron 16:9 The Lord will show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are full committed to Him.
  • Romans 8:19 Creation groans for the the manifestation of the sons of God.
  • Daniel 11:32 Those who know their God shall do great exploits.
God has called and chosen you to represent Him on the earth.  He has done everything He can to ensure you have everything you need to overcome sin, to have all sufficiency in all things and to demonstrate His glory and love on the earth.  He is good and He chose you to show the world how good He is.  God is no respecter of persons, if you seek Him you will find Him, if you knock He will answer.  Abide in Him and He will abide in you.  Jesus said that we would do greater works because He is going to the Father.  Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father with the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before you waiting for you to take up the challenge, be all He called you to be.  Nothing in this world can compare with the glory He has for you.  Nothing comes even close.  If the things of the world captivate our thoughts it's a delusion.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spiritual Dominion - Sermon of John G. Lake

Dr. John G. Lake's sermon on Spiritual Dominion copied from: The Spiritual Ministry of John G. Lake (highlighting mine).

The lesson that God seems to have put in my soul tonight is found in second Timothy, the lst chapter.  Do you know we do not read the Scriptures like people read a text book.  Have you ever observed how a scientist reads his text book?  He weights every single word, and each word has a peculiar meaning.  If we read the Word of God like that we would get the real vitality of what it says.  I wonder if we have caught the force of this scripture:
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, according to the promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus.”  (Verse 1)
There is no life outside of Jesus Christ, no eternal life outside of Jesus Christ, by the declaration of Jesus Himself.  John said:
“God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”  (1 John 5:11-12)
All the Scriptures are dear to my heart, and bring their Peculiar ministry and lesson, but the words of Jesus are the supreme words of the Gospel.  Jesus said:
“It is the Spirit that quickeneth … the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”  John 6:63
Do you know the difficulty in our day is that we have run away from Jesus.  That is, the church at large has.  The world is making a great struggle at the present hour, and we are in the midst of it ourselves, to get back to Jesus.  We have run into false theology, we have run into ”churchianity” and human interpretations, and a hundred other follies, but friends, it is a perfectly lovely and refreshing thing to get back to Jesus.  Take the words of Jesus and let them become the Supreme Court of the Gospel to you.
I consider all the Word of God the Common Court of the Gospel, but the words of Jesus are the Supreme Court of the Gospel.  If there is a question that is not clearly decided according to your vision in the Common Court of the Gospel, then refer it to the Supreme Court, which is the words of Jesus, and the words of Jesus will settle anything that is in your mind.
If our questions were settled by the words of Jesus, we would be out of all the confusion that the world is in at present.  I do not see any other way for the world to come out of her present confusion unless it is to accept the words of Jesus as final authority, to accept Jesus as the divine finality where all questions are finally adjudicated, and stand by the words of Jesus.
Just as an example on that line, I suppose there is not any question in the Scripture that is more muddled and fuddled and slobbered over than the subject of water baptism, and we have a dozen forms of baptismal practice, emphasizing different phases of baptismal consecration.  But, beloved, the words of Jesus would settle the whole controversy.  Jesus’ words settle both the spirit and mode of baptism forever.  All the damnation that the Christian world has been in over that question is because we simply refused to take the words of Jesus and believe and obey them.  I am such an enthusiast on the words of Jesus that if I was compelled to choose between the practice of the apostles and the words of Jesus, I would stand by the words of Jesus.  It is the only method that has kept my soul from the confusion I see in other lives.
Coming back to our lesson, observe these words:  “According to the promise of life.”
There is no promise of life outside of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was the most emphatic teacher the world ever saw.  He said:  “Ye must be born again.”
There is no arbitration by which you can get around the matter.  There is no possibility of avoiding that truth.  You have got to come straight to it and meet it.
“According to the promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus …”
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which first dwelt in thy grandmother, Lois, and thy mother, Eunice; and I am persuaded that it is in thee also.”  (2 Timothy 1:5)
Timothy had two generations behind him of women of faith.
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”  (2 Timothy 1:6)
Paul had some faith in the value of the putting on of his hands.  It was not a mere form.  I want to call your attention to the Word of God, especially on this line.  Paul’s own convictions were that, through the laying on of hands on this young man, an impartation of God to his life had been given.  It was so real that even though Timothy was not aware of it and was not exercising the power of God thus bestowed, yet Paul’s conviction was that the power of God was present.  Why?  Because he had laid his hands on him in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he believed the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ had been imparted to him.  Therefore, the gift of God was in him.  Therefore, the faith to exercise that gift ought to be present, and he believed it was present because of the fact that the Faith of God had already dwelt in his mother and grandmother, and he believed in him also.
Beloved, it takes faith to exercise your gift of God.  There are just lots of people around everywhere who have gifts of God, and they are lying dormant in their lives, and there is no value for the Kingdom of God through them because of the fact they have no faith in God to put the gift in exercise and get the benefit of it.  Probably, Timothy was a timid fellow, and Paul is going to show him why he should be exercising this gift of God, which he believed to be in him.
There are so many preachers who are afraid of the devil.  They have no idea of how big God is who dwells in you.  They have no idea of the power given to you because God dwells in you.  They preach fear of the devil, fear of demons, and fear of this influence, and fear of that influence, and fear of some other power.  If the Holy Ghost has come down from heaven into your soul, common sense teaches us that He has made you the master thereby of every other power in the world.  Otherwise the Word of God is a blank falsehood.  For it declares:
“Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4)
“Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  (Luke 10:19)
And if we had faith to believe that the “greater” is in us, bless God, we would be stepping out with boldness and majesty.  The conscious supremacy of the Son of God would be manifest in our lives and instead of being subservient and bowed down and broken beneath the weight of sin and the powers of darkness around us, they would flee from us and keep out of our way.  I believe before God, there is not a devil that comes within a hundred feet of a real God anointed Christian.  That is the kind of vision God put in my soul.
When I went to South Africa, years ago, after I was there a short time, I attended a great missions conference.  It was a general missions conference of the country.  We were bringing a new message on our teaching the Baptism of the Christian to heal, and they wanted to hear us, and get us sized up and classified.  On account of the Holy Ghost and the power of God featured in the conference, we were a peculiar lot.
Among the difficulties they discussed in that conference was the tremendous influence of the native medicine men over the people.  They call them witch doctors.  They are a powerfully developed psychic type of man, and for generations and generations they have studied psychic things, until they understand the practice of psychic laws.
It is marvelous to see the psychic manifestations they bring to pass.  I have seen shocking things take place at the hands of witch doctors, things that nobody would believe unless you beheld them.
On one occasion two men who had become extremely jealous of each other, both native chiefs, and they lived sixty miles from each other.  One time, as I was in the kraal of one of them, I heard them discussing this difficulty with the other chief and it was decided by the chief that the next Sunday morning he was going to set the other fellow on fire.  I wanted to see this phenomena and I got a horse and went across the country to be there on Sunday morning.
The chiefs go out and round up their cattle and herds, look over their flocks, etc.  It is a sort of Sunday exercise.  I rode along.  We had not ridden for more that an hour when I observed that this fellow was becoming very hot.  Within half an hour he was absolutely purple.  I knew somewhat of medicine; I would have said the man was likely to have a stroke from blood pressure.  After a while he began to complain of terrible pain, and finally he became exhausted, got down and lay on the ground, and passed into a state of terrible exhaustion.  I believe the man would have died.  I had heard about these sort of things, but this was taking place under my own eyes.  I saw that unless the man got deliverance he would die.  When it got to that point, I said to the brethren, “it is time that we prayed.”  I stepped over and laid my hands on the chief, and called on God to destroy that damning psychic power that was destroying the fellow and God shattered it.
I talked to the conference about this matter.  I said, “It is a strange thing to me that in all the years of missions in this land that your hands are tied on account of witch doctors.  Why don’t you go out and cast the devil out of these fellows, and get the people delivered from their power?”  They took a long breath and said, “Cast the devil out?  He will cast the devil out of you!”  The secret of our work, the reason God gave us one hundred thousand people, the reason we have twelve hundred native preachers in our work in Africa, is because of the fact we believed the promise of:
“Greater is He that is in you, that he that is in the world.”
We not only want to seek them, but challenged them separately and unitedly, and by the power of God delivered the people from their power, and when they were delivered the people appreciated their deliverance from the slavery in which they had been held through their superstitions, psychological, spirit control, and they are most terrible.
“God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)
Whenever they got in the presence of one of these fellows and wanted to cast out the devil, I always felt I wanted to get his eye.  The eyes of a man are the windows of his soul.  In teaching a class of children I asked them what the eyes are for.  One little chap said, “Your eyes are for you to lookout of.”  Do you get it?  It is not a poetic expression, they are the windows through which you look out.  It is wonderful the things you see when you look out.  Sometimes you see fear, and the spirit of darkness, and you see the devil in the other life.  Marvelous things that you see with your inner eyes.
The world laughs at our Pentecostal people, because they sometimes talk about seeing by the Spirit, and sometimes we talk about seeing psychically. We see all the time, naturally, as you and I do now.
God anoints your soul.  God anoints your life.  God comes to dwell in your person.  God comes to make you a master.  That is the purpose of His indwelling in a Christian.  The real child of God was to be a master over every other power of darkness in the world.  It was to be subject to His. He is to be God’s representative in the world.  The Holy Ghost in the Christian was to be as powerful as the Holy Ghost was in the Christ.  Indeed, Jesus’ words go to such an extreme that they declare that, “Greater works than these shall ye do.”  (John 14:12)
It indicated that the mighty Holy Ghost from heaven in the lives of the Christian was to be more powerful in you and in me after Jesus got to heaven and ministered Him to our souls that He was in Jesus.
Beloved, who has the faith to believe it?  Who has faith to exercise it?  We cannot exercise anything beyond what we believe to be possible.
Listen:  “God hath not given us the spirit of fear.”
Fear of the devil is nonsense.  Fear of demons is foolish.  The Spirit of God anointing the Christian heart makes the soul impregnable to the powers of darkness.  How I love to teach men that when the Lord Jesus anoints your soul and baptizes you in the Holy Ghost, that the almightiness of the Eternal God, the Father, by the Spirit, and Jesus Christ combined, has come into your soul.
One of the thirty six articles of the Church of England says, “The Holy Ghost which proceedeth from the Father and the Son.”  There is no truer thing in all the world.  Do you get it?  “Which proceedeth from the Father and the Son.”  In the fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation you see the distinctive personalities of God the Father and Jesus Christ.  God the Father occupies the Throne, is holding the seven sealed book in His hand.  And Jesus Christ, the silent Lamb, without an attendant, not an angel to accompany Him, absolutely alone, presents Himself to the Father, and the Father hands Him the seven sealed book, as He whose right it is to unseal and open the seals.  What I want to bring to you is that the Spirit of God, the divine master, the eternal power of God, the combined life and presence, by the Spirit of the Father and the Son, is given to you.  Not to leave you a weakling, and subject to all kinds of powers of darkness, but to make you a master, to give you dominion in God over every devilish force that ever was.
“God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
The Spirit of Power is the Holy Ghost, bless God.  And not only of power, but of love and of a sound mind. Not craziness and insanity, but a sound mind, by which you can look in the face of the devil and laugh.
Once I was called to come and pray for a blacksmith at Johannesburg, South Africa.  He was in delirium tremens.  When I got to the house they had him locked in a room, and the windows were barred.  The wife said, “Mr. Lake, you are not going into that room?”  I said, “Yes, I would like to.”
“But, Brother, you do not understand.  My sons are all more powerful than you are, and four of them tried to overpower him and could not do it.  He nearly killed them.”
I said, “Dear sister, I have the secret of power that I believe matches his case.”
“Greater is He that is in you, that he that is in the world.”
“Sister, you just give me the key, and go about your work, and do not be troubled.”  I unlocked the door, slipped into the room, and turned the key again, and put the key in my pocket.  The man was reclining in a crouch like a lion ready to spring.  I never heard any lips blaspheme as he did.  He cursed me by every expression I ever heard, and worse.  He threatened me if I came near him he would tear me limb from limb and throw me out the window.  He was as big as two of me.  I never saw such an arm in my life.
I began to talk to him.  I had the confidence that, “Greater is He that is in you, that he that is in the world.”  I engaged him in conversation until the Holy Ghost in me got hold of that devil, or a legion, as the case might be.  I approached the bed step by step, sometimes only three inches, and in half an hour I got up close enough where I could reach his hand.  He was still reclining in a posture like a lion.  He caught his hand and turned his wrists.  I was not practicing any tricks, but I unconsciously turned his wrist over, and as I did it brought my eyes down near to his, and all at once I looked up and I could see the devil in that man begin to crawl.  He was trying to get away.  God Almighty can look out of your eyes, and every devil that was ever in Hell could not look in the eyes of Jesus, without crawling.  The lightnings of God were there.
My spirit awoke, and I could see the devil was in terror and was crawling and trying to get back away from my eyes as far as he could, I looked up to heaven and called on God to cast that devil out, and lent Jesus Christ all the force of my nature, all the power of my spirit, and all the power of my mind, all the power of my body.  God had me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.  The lightnings of God went through me and the next thing I knew he had collapsed in a heap and flopped down like a big fish.  Then he turned out of the bed on his knees and began to weep and pray, because he had become human again, and the devil was gone.
Dear hearts, don’t you see, in a moment that character of education develops a certain confidence in God, and it makes your soul sick when you see Christian men and women sneak around afraid of the devil, and teaching people the devil is going to jump on you and take possession of you.  Not a bit of it!  There never was a devil in the world that ever went through the blood of Jesus, if the individual was in Christ.
In the Jewish Bible, among the listings of the covenants, is one that is known as the Threshold Covenant.  That was the Covenant by which the Israelites went out of the land of Egypt when God told them to slay a lamb, and put the blood in the door posts and lintel.  And the Jewish Bible adds they put the blood on the threshold.  And a lot of people get the blood of Jesus on their head, but it seems to me they do not get it under their feet.  The Word of God teaches us to get the blood under your feet, and on the right hand and on the left hand and over your head.  That is your protection.  There was no angel of death in the land of Egypt, or in hell, that could go through that blood unto that family.  No Sir!  He was absolutely barred.
Friends, do you believe it was the blood of the lamb that was barring the angel of death?  Do you believe the red stains on the doors frightened him away.  Oh sir, the blood signified to me that there is one that goes through the blood, that is the Holy Ghost.  And beloved, the Eternal God, by the Spirit, went through the blood to the inside, and stayed there and defended the house.
“Greater is He that is in you, that he that is in the world.”
All these little insignificant devils that came along in this sickness or that sickness, or that temptation of sin have no power over you.  Dear friends, from heaven there comes to your heart and mine that dominion of Jesus by which the God anointed soul walks through them, through myriads of demons and they cannot touch you.
I was in Pretoria, South Africa, visiting with a friend and trying to keep out of the hot sun, to meditate and pray; and as I meditated and prayed, I seemed to be lifted up in the Spirit until I was a mile or more above the city and could see the city like you would from an airplane.  When I got up there, I made a discovery.  There were spirits of darkness and myriads of spirits of light in the most awful conflict I ever saw.  Naturally, you think of a weapon when you see a fight.  I thought, “If only I had a weapon I would get into that fight.”
Presently, the Spirit of God got hold of me and when these demons came at me from all sides, I waded into them and began to knock them sown.  It continued until I had knocked so many down I had to climb over them to get at the rest.
When the vision lifted I prayed, “Dear Lord, what does it mean?”  And the Spirit of the Lord said to me, “This contest that you have seen in the upper air will exist among your own people in six months.  This lesson is to teach you that there is a dominion in Jesus Christ, and “greater is He that is in you, that he that is in the world.”
Friends, it is time you and I, as the Blood washed in Jesus, awoke to our privilege, whereby in the Name of the Lord we cease to sin, and let no unholy condemnation remain upon our life any longer.
I do not know, but maybe I have come through a different school from what others have, in the lines of the Spirit, but I am sure of one thing, that if Christianity was to leave me a weakling, to be oppressed by the power of darkness, I would seek something else because it would meet the need.  It is that which meets the need that gives you divine supremacy in Jesus Christ.  Friends, when your heart is surcharged by that faith in God so that “greater is He that is in you that he that is in the world”, you will pray a new prayer.
Moses came to the Red Sea with impassable mountains on the right hand and impassable mountains on the left hand, the army of Pharaoh behind him and the sea in front of him.  If any man had a right to stop and pray, surely you might say that man had.
Over and over and over again, when we get to the real ditch, we try to jump over the thing and put the responsibility back on God.  Just watch God make a real man.  When Moses got his prayer nicely started, God rebuked him and said, “Wherefore criest thou unto me?  Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift THOU up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it.”  (Exodus 14:15-16)
I want you Pentecostal Christians to get this.  God did not say, Moses, you stretch forth your hand, and I will divide the sea.  He said, “Stretch forth thine hand over the sea, and divide it.”  You have faith in me, you stretch forth your hand and divide the sea.  Jesus said practically the same thing to His disciples,
“When he had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.”  (Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1-6)
Beloved, He gives it to you.  What is the Holy Ghost?  It is the gift of God Himself to you.  The Holy Spirit is not simply given that you may be a channel, and always a channel.  No sir!  But instead of that, the most magnificent thing the Word of God portrays is that Christ indwelling in you by the Holy Ghost is to make you a son of God, like Jesus Christ.  God’s anointed from heaven, with the recognized power of God in your spirit to command the will of God.
It may not be all souls have grown to that place where such a life as that is evident, but surely if the Son of God by the Holy Ghost has been born in our heart, it is time we began to let Him have some degree of sway in our heart, and some degree or heavenly dominion of value, and some degree of the lightnings of Jesus Christ breaking forth from our spirit.
That is what the word of God speaks to my soul tonight.  That is why my spirit rejoices in this blessed Word.
“God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and or love, and of a sound mind.”
The sanest man is the man that believes God and stands in His promises, and knows the secret of His power, receives the Holy Ghost and gives His way in his life, and goes out in the Name of the Lord Jesus to command the will of God and bring it to pass in the world.
At the end of the first three hundred years of the Christian era, there were millions or Christians.  Christianity was an aggressive power.  Christianity went into the heart of heathendom to undo their superstitions to break down their psychological forces, to leave the consciousness of Jesus Christ in the heart, to heal the sick, to raise the dead.  Oh, God in Heaven, bring our hearts back to it!  Christianity was a conquering force.
But, friends, there was a consecration secret in the life of the early church.  It was this: If She could not conquer, they would die.  Dear friends, you will never exercise very much of the dominion of the Son of God in your spirit until your heart is ready to say, if I cannot get the mastery, “I can die.”  The early Christians died, plenty of them.  Millions of them.  That is the reason people say the blood of martyrs was the seed of the Church.  Bless God, they died for their faith.
Friends, you and I will never know or have the big ministry and the big victory until our souls have arrived at the place where we will die for our faith also.  Lord God, help us.  These days, if a man gets a stomach ache he is afraid he will die.  Die if you have to die, but do not disgrace the cause of Christ and weaken in your faith and sell it man or the devil.  When that degree of consecration comes into your heart, when that degree of determination comes into your spirit, you will not have to die.
But I tell you, most of you will think she is dying before we enter there.  That is the life into which dead men enter.  That is the resurrection life.  You have to die to get it.  You have to die to enter there.  We die to our sin, we die to ourselves, we die to the opinions of men and we die to the old world, we die to the fear of spooks and demons and devils, and prove the truth of the text, “Greater is He that is in you that he that is in the world.”  In my name they shall cast out devils.  Rebuke the devil and he will flee from you.  We live in Jesus Christ.  Blessed be His name.  (Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians . 6:11, James 4:7, 1 Corinthians. 10:13, Matthew 17:20, Luke 10:19)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Is Doubt Okay?

Is it okay to doubt that God exists?  Is it okay to doubt in His faithfulness?  Is it okay to doubt His promises?  I heard this disturbing quote over the weekend, "Our faith is bipolar, we oscillate between faith and doubt and that's okay."  This hardly seems scriptural at all.  Not too say that there aren't doubters in the Bible, there are many of them.  Many of the heroes in the faith had moments of doubt.  Does that make doubt okay?  Where being okay with doubt means that it's a natural state for the believer and therefore requires no action and no repentance.

Be Real

One thing we can't do is deny that doubt is real.  It is real and when it exists, pretending that it doesn't only makes matters worse.  Ask the hard questions, pursue the answers, seek counsel, seek Him until the doubts are dissolved and what remains is faith.  "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)  Doubt like any other sin must be confronted and confessed.

Jesus didn't come to give sight to those who could see (or those who claimed to see), but those who were blind.  If we acknowledge that we are blind, Jesus will come and heal us.  If we acknowledge our unbelief and seek Him to deliver us, He will.  Use the faith you have to press in for the faith you don't.  He came so that we no longer have to live in doubt, but in faith.
"And Jesus said, 'For judgment I have come into the this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.' Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, 'Are we blind also?' Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin, but now you say, 'We see.'  Therefore your guilt remains." - John 9:39-41
If we do not confess our doubts we are no different than the Pharisees and our guilt and doubt will remain.

Faith does not Lean on Understanding

When Jesus came, the entire region where He walked was turned from darkness into light.  People came to a new understanding of God and through Jesus the glory of God was manifest. Jesus confounded the wisdom of the wise and allowed the simple to enter the kingdom.  The unlearned, the tax collectors and prostitutes where entering the kingdom of heaven ahead of the learned.  Jesus declared that the kingdom was available to those who believe by faith.
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me." - Matthew 18:1-2
Succeeding in God's kingdom requires the humility and faith of a little child who accepts the word of God without questioning, without doubt.  A little child does not consider the consequences of what happens if this doesn't work.  What happens if I tithe on the first fruits of my income, will I have enough to pay my bills?
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." - Hebrews 11:1-3
Although it makes no scientific sense that God created the universe out of nothing, we believe by faith.  In the same way we do not need to understand how the prayer of faith brings healing, but only that it does.
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" - Hebrews 11:6
Smith Wigglesworth put it this way, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."

What Would Jesus Say?

When Jesus sees doubt in us today, what does He say?  What Jesus is saying today about doubt is the same thing He said 2000 years ago.
  • When the disciples could not heal the boy with epilepsy, Jesus said to them, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me." (Matthew 17:17:)
  • When Peter walked on the water and after looking at the waves began to doubt and sink, Jesus said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31)
  • When Jesus appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!" (Luke 24:25)
  • When Thomas refused to believe that Jesus was resurrected until he could place his finger in the nail prints and place his finger in Jesus side, Jesus appeared and said to him, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.  Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:27-29)
All fear, doubt, unbelief and confusion are from the devil.  We reject these as we reject any other sin.  Jesus called that generation wicked and twisted because doubt is illogical in God's kingdom.  When we are transformed by the renewing of our mind we will see with a kingdom perspective where doubt just doesn't make any sense.  Jesus often asked the disciples why they doubted, because there is no logical reason to doubt if we have believed the Word of God more than our fears.

James writes concerning doubt,
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let no that man suppose he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:5-8)
James' words to the doubter are harsh, but true.  Without faith it is impossible to please God and while doubt prevails we can be sure we will receive nothing from the Lord.

Our High Priest

While we cannot receive anything without faith, we also have a great High Priest who understands our weaknesses and makes intercession for us.  If we are real about our weaknesses and our doubts, He will help us.
"Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" - Hebrews 7:25
Just before Peter was about to face one of the biggest trials of his life where his own failures would cause him to doubt and leave Jesus, Jesus said to him,
"Simon, Simon! Indeed Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." - Luke 22:31-32
Here we see a wonderful example of Jesus the High Priest making intercession for Peter, praying for him that his faith would not fail.  Jesus knew doubt and unbelief would be the greatest assault of the enemy against Peter and so He intercedes for him.  Notice that Peter's success or failure was determined by his faith.  Jesus never said doubt was okay and He never said Peter could overcome despite his doubt, but that He would intercede so that His faith would be strong and by faith he would overcome.  Peter's faith would be an encouragement to the brethren so that they too could overcome by faith.
"let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1b-2
Jesus is the author and the completer of our faith, what He started He is faithful to finish.  His responsibility is to complete our faith, our responsibility is to seek Him so that He can complete our faith.  One of the ways we seek Him is by mediating on the Word because "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).  It can be very frustrating to try and complete your faith yourself, in fact it's impossible.  When you find doubt, confess it, seek Him and His word and faith will dispel the doubt.  Let Him replace your doubts, but don't find yourself absolving yourself of your responsibility.  Doubt is sin and an indication that things are not as they should be.  There is no excuse for doubt.

Jesus was on a mission to obliterate doubt, like He said to Thomas, "Do not be unbelieving, but believing."  There is a blessing for those who believe without seeing, who have the faith of a little child.

The Testing of Our Faith

Persecution comes on account of the Word received by faith.  When we decide to believe the word of God, perhaps for our miracle of healing, we can be assured that persecution will come.  The enemy of our faith will set things up so that it appears as though the word is not true, that God has forgotten about us, or that we're too sinful too receive from Him.  It's then when our faith is tested that when we continue to believe we receive the blessing of believing without seeing.  When we make it through the trials, our faith in that area is cemented in our spirit and we can receive in that area anytime.  It is important that we bring to our remembrance the miracles He has done.  The times we've stood on His word and seen His hand in our lives will ensure that we can believe for all the things we have in the past and will allow us to believe for far greater.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." - James 1:2-3
Trials when handled correctly with joy produce patience which leads to perfection, a place where will be able to trust the Father for anything in Jesus name and therefore lack nothing.

Consider Abraham who had to wait 25 years for the promise of his son, or Joseph who had to wait 14 years to see his God-given dreams fulfilled. Many of the ancients waited for promises they never saw fulfilled in this life, but as part of the great cloud of witnesses are watching as the promises unfold.

Nevertheless at Your Word

Until we act in faith we cannot please God and we won't see the hand of God in our life, but we need not fear because our great High Priest makes intercession for us so that our faith will remain strong.  We need to have the humility of a little child and even although things don't make sense we believe.  Simon Peter exemplified this when he obeyed Jesus command to let down his net for a catch even although they had been fishing all night and caught nothing.
"When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, 'Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.'  But Simon answered and said to Him, 'Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.'  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking." (Luke 5:5-6)
This is the faith we're looking for where we say, Jesus, it doesn't make much sense to me in the natural, but nevertheless at your word I will do what you command.  If you will believe you will see the hand of God. "Do not be afraid.  Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today." (Exodus 14:13)

Ask and you will Receive

"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." - Matthew 7:8 
Jesus tells a parable of a woman who kept persisting with the judge to grant her justice.  He compares this to His people who continue before the thrown of God until He answers, saying,
"And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.  Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes will He really find faith on the earth?" - Luke 18:8
God wants to answer, God has promised to answer, but are we willing to push through in our prayers until He does answer?  Will we have the faith and patience required to inherit the promises?  As Jesus return draws near this kind of faith is going to be rare, but those who seek it will find it.  Let this be an encouragement in the same way that when Jesus encouraged the disciples concerning riches:
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." - Matthew 19:24-26
Acknowledge your doubts, but don't focus on them, hand them over to Him, seek Him and with God all things are possible.

Conclusion

Doubt is not okay, all fear, doubt and unbelief is from the devil.  Doubting that He exists will get us nowhere, because we must believe that He exists AND that he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.  If we doubt His promises we won't receive them.  Our responsibility is to seek Him and His word, being transformed by the renewing of our mind.  When we seek Him, our doubts will be dissolved and we will see the hand of God in our life.  We must imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Grace: Reigning as Kings 2

"Grace to you and shalom [peace] from God our Father and the Lord Yeshua [Jesus] the Messiah.  Praised be ADONAI [God], Father of our Lord Yeshua [Jesus] the Messiah, who in the Messiah has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven. [4] In the Messiah he chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in his presence. He determined in advance that through Yeshua [Jesus] the Messiah we would be his sons—in keeping with his pleasure and purpose - so that we would bring him praise commensurate with the glory of the grace he gave us through the Beloved One." - Ephesians 1:2-6 (Complete Jewish Bible)
Every spiritual blessing is ours, He has held nothing back. He is the good Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children. These promises are so amazing, it's hard to comprehend them.  In His good pleasure and purpose He called us to be sons and the purpose of sonship is to bring Him praise in equal measure of the glory of the grace He has given us through Jesus Christ.  In Part 1 we looked at John 1 where the glory of God was manifest in Christ by grace and truth. This same glory is ours by the same grace and truth.

These spiritual blessings will also manifest as material blessings, but the material blessings are not what we are after. When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness all the material blessings will be added, but it is only the unbelievers who pursue material blessings.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"  - Romans 8:28-32 (NKJV)
Paul adds to the picture of the grace-filled man in Romans 8 where he says that all things work together for our good. Nothing can happen to us unless the Father allows it and even then it's purpose is for our good.  It can be difficult to see the full outworking of these promises, but if we look at Jesus' life, nothing happened to Him that wasn't what He intended (and His intentions are one with the Father) which is why He made sure to tell us that He willingly laid down His life.  It was His choice.  Pontius Pilate thought Jesus' life was in his hands, but Jesus told him that he would have no power if it wasn't given to him from above.  Jesus could have called a legion of angels to deliver Him. Before His time had come He just slipped through the crowds that wanted to stone Him.  No one could force a situation upon Him that wasn't of God.

Jesus being the firstborn of all of us set the example for the grace-filled man. Nothing can happen to us that is outside of God's will.  All that we desire will be accomplished in accordance of the promise of singleness of heart and action which is by grace for the humble.

This is not to say that there won't be hardships, but I am of the opinion that most hardships are the result of our own pride in that we seldom submit to God.  He in His mercy allows circumstance to bring us closer to Him so that we can receive His grace and avoid most of the hardships. There are hardships and trials that must come even if we are covered with His grace, but they will scarcely be perceived as such. John and Peter left their first beating rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer for His name. There is also a suffering for His name that He allows which is for our own heavenly glory.

"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)  How could we not reign as kings when the Father of the King of kings has promised to freely give us all things.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Submit to God and watch His grace surpass all that you can dream or imagine. Through the grace He gives, give Him praise.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Grace: Reigning as Kings

In The Grace-Filled Man we covered singleness of heart and action, how whatever the grace-filled man or woman sets in his heart to do, he will accomplish because he submits his life to God. When the grace-filled man draws near to God he finds God drawing near to him. When the grace-filled man resists the devil, he finds the devil fleeing from him in seven directions. The grace-filled man acknowledges God in all his ways and God directs his paths (Proverbs 3:6).

Paul writes concerning the grace-filled man:
"For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men. For just as by one man’s disobedience (failing to hear, heedlessness, and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man’s obedience the many will be constituted righteous (made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him)." - Romans 5:17-19 (AMP)
For those who receive the free gift of righteousness and an abundance of grace will reign as kings in this life even more certainly than death reigned through Adam's offense. Selah. It is impossible for those who have singleness of heart and action, God's favor, God's grace to not accomplish all that they desire, indeed God will give them the desires of their hearts, how could they not reign as kings in this life?

A king gives commands to fulfill the desires of his heart and accomplishes all he sets out to do. It is easy for the king because he utters the words and others fulfill it. In the same way, God's gift of grace grants us the desires of our hearts (but not for the purposes of fulfilling our lusts).
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." - John 10:10 (NKJV)

The Greatest Example of Grace

Jesus was the perfect image of grace and truth, the perfect example of the grace-filled man. The prophet Zechariah prophesied of Him:
‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’” - Zechariah 4:7 (NKJV)
Jesus ministry even from early childhood was marked by grace. Everything He did was saturated and overflowing with the grace of God, just as was prophesied.
"And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him." - Luke 2:40 (NKJV)
"So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph's son?" - Luke 4:22 (NKJV)
John the Apostle wrote these profound words describing Jesus:
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. [15] John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” [16] And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. [18] No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." - John 1:14 (NKJV)
The glory which could only originate from the Father was described as being full of grace and truth. Jesus is the perfect and complete manifestation of the Father's glory which is full of grace and truth. "And of His fullness we have all received." This grace and truth that is of the Father, the fullness of Christ is for us.

We were predestined for good works which the Father planned before the foundation of the world.  We cannot accomplish His plans without grace, we will continue to be frustrated.  God only gives His grace to the humble, but the prideful He opposes and much of what they do fails or at best must be accomplished by shear will and brute force. James' advice is to submit ourselves to God.  For the gracious man, Jesus commands are not burdensome and when he resists the devil, the devil flees, and when he draws near to God, he finds God drawing near to him.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Grace-filled Man

I will give them singleness of heart and singleness of purpose, so that they will fear me forever—this will be for their own good and for the good of their children after them. - Jeremiah 32:39 (CJB)

One of the many glorious promises we have in Christ is that He will give us singleness of heart and action, whatever we have in our hearts, that we will accomplish. The ultimate frustration is to desire to accomplish something and not being able to do it.  Now this word is true in many ways, for we know that the Law was powerless against sinful flesh in that it could not make us obey.  The apostle Paul wrote that while under the law the good he wanted to do he could not and the evil he did not want to do he found himself doing that was until He found Christ.  The promise enables us to obey which is why Jesus could say, "those who love Me obey My commands and My commands are not burdensome to him."
 
Singleness of heart and action not only gives us the power to obey, but also provides the ability to execute our God-given desires. This promise is a defining characteristic of the grace-filled man and woman.

The Prideful Man

The prideful man is the very antithesis of the grace-filled man. The scriptures attribute many qualities to the prideful man, but there are some key qualities which we will explore.
Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, and he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations and heaps up for himself all peoples. Will not all these take up a proverb against him, and a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases What is not his—how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’? - Habakkuk 2:5 (NKJV)
The prideful man is never satisfied, he always wants more, his desires are ever expanding and is evidences by his disregard for others by accumulating what isn't his and over-extending himself with loans so that he can acquire more and more.
Hear and give ear: Do not be proud, For the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God Before He causes darkness, And before your feet stumble On the dark mountains, And while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness. - Jeremiah 13:15 (NKJV)
The prideful believer does not give glory to the Lord His God and is often confused and bewildered about the circumstances in which he finds himself.  Life appears to be difficult for him, because he keeps tripping over things which the wise and discerning can easily see. The prideful believer at least has this going for him that God disciplines those he loves and all the trouble he finds himself in eventually takes him to the point where he humbles himself and cries out to God to rescue him, and God who is gracious and merciful delivers him from all his troubles.

The prideful unbeliever has a different fate, he may actually appear successful because God has reserved judgment until the end of the age when He comes with His angels to harvest the tares and burn the wheat. Paul describes the life of the prideful unbeliever as:
[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, [19] because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. [20] For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, [21] because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. [22] Professing to be wise, they became fools, [23] and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. [24] Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, [25] who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." - Romans 1:18-25 (NKJV)
The prideful unbeliever suppresses the truth because he prefers darkness rather than light, He doesn't glorify God and his thinking becomes futile.  He worships mankind rather than the creator and God hands him over to the lusts of his heart exposing him for who he is.

The Grace-filled Man

There is much to be said about the life of the grace-filled man and woman, but I want to focus on the promise of singleness of heart and action.
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? [2] You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. [3] You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. [4] Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. [5] Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? [6] But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” [7] Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." - James 4:1-8
The most frightening piece of this passage is that a believer can find himself being opposed by God.  The very promise of singleness of heart and action is withheld and the believer finds himself frustrated, desiring things he cannot have which lead to fights and even wars. The believer put on pride, expanded his desires, cast aside complacency and found himself an enemy of a jealous God, a consuming fire.  God resists the proud.

God gives grace to the humble.  By submitting ourselves to God, seeking to know and obey His will, we find an abundance of grace and the promise of singleness of heart and action being made manifest.

James 4:7-8 provides the best picture of the grace-filled man.  When the grace-filled man resists the devil, he finds the devil fleeing from him.  When the grace-filled man starts to draw near to God he finds that God is drawing near to him.  Whatever he puts in his heart to do, God aides him with His abounding grace. The grace-filled man is always satisfied, seldom struggles with evil and finds it quite easy to draw near to God.

Continued in Part 2: Reigning as Kings

Monday, August 19, 2013

Perspectives Part I: Defeating the Defeatist

I think that we sometimes believe that God has left us on earth and that we need to muster all our strength together just to survive.  Since He doesn't give us anything we cannot handle, we're pushed to the very limits of what we can handle. We think that it's hard to be victorious, but because Jesus is able to sympathize with our weakness we know He understands when we struggle through life's obstacles. This defeatist thinking is what keeps us in this place, unable to escape, unable to experience victory. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" according to Proverbs 13:12.

This is not to say that it's not tough on earth, Jesus said, "If they persecuted Me, they will also, persecute you," (John 15:20) and Paul said the only reason He stayed on earth was to help save those who were on it. Paul described our stay on earth in this way, "We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; [9] persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— [10] always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." (2 Corinthians 4:8) Through all of this, the life of Jesus is manifested in our mortal bodies. When the Peter and John received their first whipping from the Pharisees they we're filled with joy because they we're worthy of suffering for Christ. If they who suffered so much could rejoice and overcome, we should have no excuse.

"for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom 14:17) God's kingdom is one of joy and His kingdom is within us.

Our Provider

I am of the opinion that one of the biggest surprises we will have when we sit down face-to-face with Jesus just how much he cared and was involved in the intricate details of our daily lives. He cares so much for us that He designed for us not to be worried about food, drink, clothing or any of our essentials.

Meditate on these words from Jesus and think about His heart for you:
"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? [26] “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? [27] “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? [28] “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; [29] “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. [30] “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? [31] “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ [32] “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. [33] “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Mat 6:25-33) The only people on earth who need to worry about these details are the unbelievers and those of little faith.

The Father has deployed us here on earth for His good purpose and He has made provisions so that we are equipped for every good work, He has removed the obstacles so that we can focus on our eternal purpose.  I lead a small team of software developers and one of my primary objectives is to remove the impediments. I want to get rid of the little details that slow them down, eliminate the random day-to-day interruptions so that they can accomplish the purpose for which they were hired. God has done all this and more. He doesn't want us to focus on the distractions of this materialistic world, but on our mission. For this reason He says, "seek first them kingdom of God and His righteousness." God will bless us materialistically, but that's not our focus.

It is finished

Many years ago we experienced a major move of God in our church, which gave me a glimpse of what church should be like. Unity of the brethren, brotherly love, faith, righteousness, peace and joy seemed to overflow naturally. Things which are today a challenge were accomplished with no effort at all, in fact, it would have been more difficult to not have faith or brotherly love. Years after the revival had waned I found myself longing for another move of God, but to the extent that I had been deceived into thinking that without revival these truths and gifts would not be made manifest amongst us. While I still long for a revival because of how quickly and easily God's kingdom is established, I realize that I was 'stuck waiting'. Not having revival became for me an excuse for not seeing God's kingdom come. In this way I took some of what was my responsibility and shifted it to Him.  Truly, we need God to move, it is only through Him that His kingdom can come, but we have a responsibility. He has equipped us for every good work and we need to invest the resources He has given us rather than wait passively for God to move.

While I found myself 'stuck waiting,' the Holy Spirit whispered, "what more could Jesus have done?" I was dumbstruck. Here I was waiting for Jesus to do something so that I would bear fruit, when He has already done it all. In Jesus final moments on the cross, He declared, "it is finished," because it was. He had accomplished everything He was sent forth to do, everything so that we can be a holy nation and a royal priesthood, a people after God's own heart being transformed into the likeness of Christ.

"His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, [4] by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:3-4)
  • Everything you need for this life is provided.
  • Everything you need to be godly has been provided.
  • Everything you need to be like Him has been provided.
  • Everything you need to escape the sins and corruption of the world has been provided.

A Glimpse of His Heart

How does Jesus really feel about you personally?  It's easy to lose perspective when we're in the midst of our day-to-day activity and when we're focused on God's correction and how we so often fall short, we don't often take the time to see things from His perspective.  Reading through the Israelites forty year journey in the wilderness one can't help but wonder if they'll ever learn. It seems to be one rebuke after another. Yet, when the Holy Spirit came upon Balaam from across the Jordan river, he spoke these words:
“The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,
The utterance of the man whose eyes are opened,
[4] The utterance of him who hears the words of God,
Who sees the vision of the Almighty,
Who falls down, with eyes wide open:
[5] “How lovely are your tents, O Jacob!
Your dwellings, O Israel!
[6] Like valleys that stretch out,
Like gardens by the riverside,
Like aloes planted by the LORD,
Like cedars beside the waters."
-
Numbers 24:2
It was because of God's love that He disciplined them and it's because of His love that He disciplines us.  We need to take the time to see ourselves through His eyes, not in a prideful way, but in a way that brings Him praise and glory for the work He is doing through us individually and corporately.

Jesus said of His disciples, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17:12) He took the utmost of care to ensure none of the disciples were lost and in the same way, He takes the utmost of care to ensure we are not lost.

Just before Jesus was crucified He said,  “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31)  Jesus warned Peter of what was probably his greatest trial and Jesus himself prayed for Peter that his faith should not fail.  How would our perspective change if we knew that Jesus himself was praying for us?  Jesus is praying for us, He is making intercession for us, He is praying that our faith should not fail and when we overcome, not if, but when we overcome we have increased our faith and are able to strengthen others and perhaps even keep them from the same trials.  Jesus is always redeeming and each and every trial even those that are the result of our own sins can be redeemed so that those scars become our glorified even as Jesus' scars became glorified.

Notice that Jesus warned Peter before it happened.  Jesus often told the disciples what was about to happen so that they would not stumble, "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble." (John 16:1)

Jesus wants us to know the events of the future to the extent that we can bear them because these will help us not to stumble. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit who would tell us things to come.  "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." (John 16:13)

I know no better way to end this article other than with the words of Paul:
"that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, [17] that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— [19] to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:16-19)

All scriptures are from the New King James bible.