Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Pretenders and False Prophets

You may have heard it said that what goes on in the church affects what goes on in the world, or our culture. This is true, because God has given His Spirit and power to the church. So how we use, or misuse, what He's given us is going to affect, not just the church, but the world around us. What we see going on in the world today has its spiritual roots in the church.

The church sows seed. This seed grows up to produce fruit, whether good or bad. The sin or false beliefs of the church result in a manifestation of sin and false beliefs in the world. What's going on in the culture reflects what is going on in the church. One area we are seeing this manifest is the idea that people can believe whatever they want and it will become truth for them.

We see this in the area of common core math, gender choice, sexual preference, or any thought or belief people have where they are under the false assumption that they can choose what they want to believe, live according to it, and it becomes truth. This is not truth, this is pretending.

Pretending, for example, is when a girl thinks she can be a boy just because she wants to be. She dresses up and plays the part of a boy, striving to be more and more masculine. She never really becomes a boy but will try to act like one and may think that she really is one, or will eventually become one, if she truly believes it. That's pretending, not truth.

Unfortunately, I think this pretending that is going on in the culture is a result of pretending that has gone on in the church. There may be times God's people have gone after things that they want to be true, but are not. We might even be "believing God" for a thing to happen, but if it's not in alignment with the heart of God it's not His truth for us.
"...“Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Mark 11:22-24
The idea that we as Christians can have whatever we want by believing and speaking it, it may be "true" in the sense that we will get what we want when we apply this principle--sometimes. (God's grace keeps it from happening every time!) We spend a lot of time trying to get this to work for us on a consistent basis. We buy books, study, mediate on the Word, confess it, and are careful not to speak anything contrary to what we are "believing" God for. But the real question is, are we going to submit to God's plans for us? Will we accept His truth for us? Because truth is what He has planned for us--who He has made and called us to be.
"For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
God has plans. He has plans for us. Do we know what they are? Do we care what they are, or do we just seek after the things we want? Are His plans our desires? Are we pursuing His plans to become our desires? 

God has foreordained things for us--to be conformed to the image of Jesus for example (Romans 8:29). He wrote in our book the days ordained for us before we were born (Psalm 139:16). So if we don't seek His plans for us, it's like we're trying to create our own truth--pretending to be something we're not. We're living according to our desires, will and plan, building our own kingdom.

As a result of the church sowing the seeds of trying to create our own truth, we have a culture in the world where people think they can believe whatever they want and it will be true. The church has power. We have planted these seeds. We have people believing whatever they want to believe, because they've been told that they can believe whatever they want to and it will be true. In reality, truth is what God says it is. The church needs to repent of this attitude if we are gong to see change in the culture.

If we are willing to align ourselves with His truth, and use the principles of faith to bring about His will in the earth, then we are following Jesus' example of what it means to be a true child of God. Jesus said He only did what He saw the Father doing, He only said what the Father told Him to say, and He always pleased the Father (John 5:19, John 12:49, John 8:29). As followers of Jesus, we too are to align ourselves with the Father in all we do and say. In all of our pursuits.

This applies not only to what we say about our own lives, but it applies to what we are prophesying to others. Whether we are prophesying or "believing God" we need to seek His heart, His Word, His truth and His plans. Jesus said to pray, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10). This is how Jesus said we should pray--for the Father's will to be done, for His kingdom to come to the earth.
“I did not send these prophets,
But they ran.
I did not speak to them,
But they prophesied.
“But if they had stood in My council,
Then they would have announced My words to My people,
And would have turned them back from their evil way
And from the evil of their deeds. Jeremiah 23:21-22
If we don't get His heart and seek after it then we are just pretenders and false prophets, trying to make truth out of something that is contrary to what God is saying.

Our pursuit should be to bring about the Father's will in the earth. If we just want what we want--the desires of our own heart--we are not seeking truth. God is looking for those who will make His desires their desires. He's looking for those whose heart's desires match His. He might say, sure you can have what you say, but He is looking out for those who will use their faith to build His kingdom because they have aligned their heart to His. Are we going to prophesy out of His heart, or out of our heart? Will we use the tools He gives us to build His kingdom, or our own?

Just like people need to embrace their birth gender, there are innate gifts, qualities, aspects of our personality and placement in life that God has given to each one of us that we need to embrace. We need to accept who we are called to be--God's truth and plans for us--and live according to that. We might be believing God, using our faith, confessing the Word, trying to arrange our lives a certain way, but we won't fully flourish until we surrender to His truth for us.

Just because you can have what you say, doesn't mean you should say what you want. It means you should pursue God's heart--to want what He wants. Seek Him, find out what His desires are, what His heart is, and then speak out those things. Stay with Him until His desires become your desires. When our heart is out of alignment with God's, and we hear that we can have what we say, we will try to use the principles of faith to get stuff  or positions we want. This takes us out of truth.

We will be tested so our heart's desires will be revealed. When we are faced with this power--the power of faith and this ability to have what we say if we believe in our heart--the true motives and intents of our heart will be exposed. What are we going to pursue? What are our desires? What are we going to go after? Will it be God's will, plans, and purposes or something contrary?

This doesn't mean we don't ever have fun, enjoy ourselves, or ask God for things for the family. It means that we submit to His will within the boundaries He defines. We have freedom within boundaries. Are we going to submit to His will within those boundaries or try and move past them?

Go after His heart. Pursue His desires. Find out what they are and make it your goal. Become His bondservant. We get the heart of God, His plans, and His wisdom by becoming a bondservant. We need to do that before we can become His friend. As a friend, we have the freedom and maturity to make more choices for ourselves. But first, we need to have His heart. When we submit to His way of doing things, like a bondservant does, we see how He does things and we have the right kind of attitude so we can see the wisdom of it.

Father God, I repent of trying to make my own truth. I repent of not seeking Your will, of not finding out what is on Your heart and what Your desires are for me. I want to know Your plans for me. I want to pursue those plans and make them my heart's desire. I don't want to be a pretender or a false prophet. I want to speak what is on Your heart. I want to align my faith with Your heart and speak truth. I repent on behalf of Your church, my family, myself, and my community. I'm asking for a turnaround in our society. That the hearts of the people begin to turn towards You and seek Your truth. Once again realizing there is a standard of truth outside of themselves. Raise up a people who will seek Your truth, and pay the price for it. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Faithfulness: Proven by Time

This is part III of my "Faithfulness" blogs. So far we've seen that:

  • Being faithful is being consistent--consistently loyal to the Father. 
  • Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and of God Himself.
  • God does not ignore the enemy's accusations, but addresses them.
  • He addresses them by providing evidence--The blood of the lamb and our testimony, which is recorded in a written record.
  • Through the blood of Jesus our sins are blotted out and we are made righteous.
  • Through the testimony of our faithfulness our loyalty to God is evident, proving that our faith in Jesus Christ really has changed our hearts making us righteous.
  • God has both the desire and the means to express His goodness towards us.
  • We are protected by His power and the strength of His kingdom.
  • Faithfulness is remaining true to Him until the end.
  • Through faithfulness we have access into His eternal kingdom and promises.
  • Satan's accusation of Job tested his faithfulness.
  • When our faithfulness is proven, we have gained access to spiritual power to carry out His desires in our lives and in the earth.
  • Being consistent to remain filled with His Spirit, cultivating the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, will cause us to be aligned with the Father in our heart, and release His Word with power.

Understanding the above points will help in understanding that faithfulness really is the proof of our faith. I think we've done a disservice to the body of Christ with some of the teaching that has gone on about faith. I did the same thing when I first heard the "faith" message. I was so excited to hear that I could "have what I say" that I ran with it as hard and fast as I could. I drove myself into the ground, ended up bankrupt, divorced, and eventually backslid for a period of time. It wasn't pretty.

If not presented properly, the "faith" message may give the idea that because we are "believing God" for something to happen, He is required to give us what we ask, and while it doesn't happen we begin to accuse Him. Anytime we find ourselves accusing God during our difficulties, we need to realize we are aligning ourselves with His enemy and ours--the accuser himself. Is "faith" wrong? No, of course not, but we may need to adjust our definition of faith a bit. If we realize that faith is expressed in faithfulness then we will clear up a lot of misunderstanding.

We see this more clearly in the following Scriptures.

Faith and Patience
" that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Hebrews 6:12
Patience requires a period of time. Being patient for five seconds isn't really patience. Someone needs to remain patient for a period of time before you can call them patient. So we will need to remain in faith and patience for a period of time in order to inherit the promises of God. This means that we remain faithful for a period of time. We keep our trust in the Lord for a period of time--until the end. We remain faithful, consistently loyal, to Him. We don't begin to accuse Him, whine, lose courage, lose hope etc.

Just as we can't prove patience without time, we can't prove faith, or faithfulness, without time either. Being faithful for five seconds doesn't prove a person is faithful. Making a profession of faith once with no life change doesn't prove a person's faith either. A period of time is required in order for faith, or faithfulness to be proven. How much time? Until the end. When is the end? Well, that's up to God to decide. So when we say through faith and patience we inherit the promises, we could really say, through faithfulness we inherit the promises of God.

Endurance and Faithfulness
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4
Endurance is the ability to hold up under tough times. This is similar to faithfulness. Faithfulness means you hold true in your allegiance to someone consistently and at all times--good or bad. Once again, this involves a time period. The testing of our faith goes on over a period of time and it produces the ability for us to hold true to the Lord during tough times. We remain faithful to the Lord until the end, in good times and bad. We remain loyal Him no matter what. We don't begin to accuse Him or question His judgement. This is a test of our faithfulness, and the outward evidence of our faith.

The Substance of our Faith

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval." Hebrews 11:1-2
You could say that faithfulness is the assurance and conviction that you will continue your trust in the Lord, remaining true to His heart, His Word, and His Spirit, even when what you hope for is not seen. Faithfulness is the part that you see. Not only does it become a character trait inside your heart, it is the substance--the tangible part--of your faith. It is seen as loyalty and courage in the face of whatever might challenge the goodness and power of God. It is as fiercely loyal as Job who said, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him." Job 13:15.

Can you see how helpful it is to look at your faith as faithfulness, a character trait, rather than as something you possess like money used to purchase something? It's important to understand this so you don't become discouraged over time, you will endure to the end, and your faith will be proven genuine. Time is necessary to prove the existence of your faith. Faith that endures over a period of time is faithfulness.

Time is a gift from God. He placed us in this realm of time to prove our faithfulness to Him. When we have faith in God, we don't just make an occasional statement that we believe in Him, we prove it by our heart and our choices. We have an opportunity to choose Him and His ways, faithfully, over the course of our lives. Are we perfect? No. But that doesn't mean we don't endeavor to live faithful lives to Him. Our faithfulness to Him proves our faith in Him. Our faithfulness over the days, months, and years of our lives, is evidence of our faith in Him.

Don't give up! He has faith in you. He has faith that the finished work of Jesus was enough to change your heart enabling you to receive His Spirit and live a faithful, overcoming life. Nothing the enemy throws at you can shake your faithfulness to the Lord. Let your faithfulness rise to meet His faith and bring the eternal realm of His glory and power into your life today!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Faithfulness: The Way to God's Strength and Power

Have you ever dreamed of doing something great for God? Have you ever thought, "If I just had the money, I would do such and such and it would be a great blessing to others and to God's kingdom?" Have you ever felt the pressure of not being able to take care of your day to day responsibilities because you didn't have the money to pay the bills? If so, then you've noticed that even though you might have good desires in your heart, you may not have the means to make them happen. Even if your heart is right, you don't always have a way to make those desires happen.

God, on the other hand, not only has good desires in His heart, He has the means to make those things happen. He has the power to back up the desires of His heart. The Lord showed me this one morning as I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the responsibilities of life. I didn't realize how much I was letting myself get bogged down with these pressures until He showed me the majesty of heaven and what that meant.

When you think of the beauty of heaven and new Jerusalem, and consider the grandeur of it all as described in the Bible, notice the display of wealth that is revealed. Huge pearls for gates, foundations made of precious gemstones, streets made from pure, transparent gold, and so on. God's wealth represents His power. When we see His wealth displayed, we also see that He has the ability to do what He wants.

Earthly kings who have a lot of wealth have the ability to have large armies. They can protect their people, or even expand their borders. They can provide good things for those within their kingdom if their heart desires to. However, if they do not have a good heart, they can use their wealth and power to do evil. Thank God He is faithful. He maintains His integrity to the goodness of His own heart and will carry out His promises.

So we see two things here, the goodness of God and the power of God. You could say, His kindness and the means to carry out acts of kindness. We worship Him for both His kindness and His majestic power. We can trust in Him because we know both His love and His power, His ability and His heart. He's not all talk with no power, or all power with no mercy. He is both. He desires good for His people and He has the power to do good. This is very encouraging and makes it easier for us to be faithful to Him.

As the Lord showed this to me that morning, I saw myself standing in His majestic kingdom--barefoot and feeling the gold under my feet--I realized that I am protected by His power. Being under the strength of His kingdom I don't have to rely on my own power or strength. No matter what happens, in the end I am safe in Him. What I need to do now, is to be faithful. It's not just faith, but faithfulness, that brings us into a place where we can receive His promises. Faithfulness is remaining true in faith until the end. Through faith and patience we inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12). This is faithfulness--keeping faith consistently through a period of time until the end.

As I began to realize the importance of faithfulness. I asked myself, "Will my faithfulness be able to hold up under the pressure?" To what degree does my faithfulness remain? Do I have a "breaking point" where I can't maintain my worship of the Lord during a tough time? This is what satan's accusation was of Job--that he wouldn't remain faithful if things got bad. It's helpful to realize, that our faithfulness is tested.

My faith(fullness) is being tried, tested, and proven. There will be times I fail because no matter how sincere I am in my heart, and no matter how faithful I am in my choices, I may fail when I try and walk it out, or I may slip up in the attitude of my heart. I am still growing and maturing in this. The testing of my faith is a part of the process of my faithfulness growing stronger, and ultimately my being conformed into His image.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;" 1 Peter 1:3-7
The proving of my faith(fullness) to Him is more valuable than earthly wealth or power. When my faithfulness is proven, I have gained access to a spiritual power to carry out His desires in my life and in the earth. Earthly wealth perishes, but heavenly wealth represents God's eternal strength and power--His ability to carry out what He desires. That is the kind of power I want in my life!

So the end result of my faith(fullness) being proven is having something more valuable than earthly means to carry out the desires of God in my life and the lives of those around me. Through faith(fullness) I tap into God's power and strength. When we are sincerely faithful in our hearts towards Him, we open up access to His power. Psalm 84:11 says that He will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly.

Through faith(fullness) I give my all to Him. When I give to Him out of a heart of adoration and worship--admiring Him for who He is--I am doing so out of an acknowledgement that He and His ways are right. His ways are the right ways and I am surrendering my strength and my desires to His. When I give to Him financially, I am not just giving Him my wealth, I'm giving Him my power--the means I have to carry out what is in my heart.

So then, once our faith(fullness) is proven to a certain degree, and we have access to His heavenly strength and power, we will need to access this power for it to become a reality in our lives. How do we do that?

To answer that question, look at three things:

  • The heart of God
  • The words which express His heart (Matthew 12:34)
  • The power that backs up His word and heart.

This translates into the fullness of the Godhead:

  • The heart of God is the Father. (John 5:19)
  • The Word of God is Jesus Christ. (John 1:14)
  • The power of God is His Spirit. (Acts 1:8)

Most of us understand that the Father is the heart of the Trinity. This is where love, goodness, truth, righteousness, and so on come from. We also understand that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh and He is the communicator and mediator between God and man. He sealed the covenant between us by His own blood--shedding His blood to maintain the integrity between the Heart and Word of God.

The demonstration of God's power is done through His Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:4, Acts 10:38, Hebrews 2:4). Spirit is breath (John 20:22). If you want to see God's power in your life, you'll need to remain filled with His Spirit. Breathe in His Spirit consistently. This isn't something we do once or twice. How many breaths do you take in a day? This is the kind of consistency the Lord desires for us to have.

Every breath, all day long, means we are consistently faithful to fill ourselves with His Spirit. Remember faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. Nurturing all of the fruit of the Spirit will nurture the heart of the Father within us. Then, when we speak His Words, they will carry His power--His Heart, His Words, His Power.

Jesus' disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume the people who rejected Jesus. He rebuked them and told them, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of." (Luke 9:55). A wrong spirit will not get the desires of God's heart accomplished. A wrong heart speaks wrong words releasing something that is not of God. Even if they seem like the right words are being spoken, if they are "right" words spoken from a wrong heart then they do not carry the true desires of God, nor do they release what's right. They are dangerous words. Words are powerful. This is why its so important to have His heart and His Spirit, before we speak. If we want His power, we must have His heart.

So the short answer on how to access the power of God to the degree of your faith(fullness) is that you continually align your heart with His heart. You sincerely align yourself with His Word. You maintain the integrity between God's Spirit within you and the words you speak. You pursue being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. You desire God's heart to be the driving force in your life. You admit He is right and submit to Him as the Righteous One. You nurture the fruit of the Spirit in your life. You don't rely on your own strength or power to live your life, but recognize your place in His kingdom and tap into His strength and power. You remain faithful to Him knowing that He will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly. You surrender your strength, your desires, and your wealth to Him, because His are better and He is offering them to you!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Faithfulness: The Key to Living in the Eternal Realm

God is cultivating faithfulness in His people now. It is a fruit of the Spirit, and very much a necessity for us to develop in our lives. Faithfulness is the key to walking in the eternal realm. In this realm we are not bound by time restrictions. A greater level of freedom and accessibility to God’s promises wait for you in this realm. There are things you will be able to access in your life now, instead of waiting a lifetime to receive them. The rewards of faithfulness can be accessed “ahead of time” if you are proven faithful. Yes, faithfulness takes time in order to be proven, but be faithful to God and watch things smooth out in your life!

God knows the faithfulness that is in your heart, even before it is walked out in your timeline. This may take some “quantum” thinking to understand but remember that God is not bound by time. As you live a faithful life now, remaining consistent all the time, Then the “all the time” or “eternal” benefits become yours now.

Being faithful is being loyal to the Lord no matter how things are going in your life—good or bad. Being faithful is being consistent—consistently loyal. This opens the doors for the eternal realm of heaven to come flooding through. Let’s look at an example of faithfulness.
"The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord."  Job 1:8-12
Notice that God pointed Job out to Satan, “Look at My servant Job.” He doesn’t try and hide us from the enemy, hoping he won’t bother us. He brags on us like a proud parent would. However, keep in mind when the enemy comes before God and makes accusations, he is accusing both us and God. He accuses God of being unjust, unfair, etc. (The only reason Job is such a shining star is because you have blessed him. If You took away Your blessing, he would curse you). And he accuses us of not really being as loyal to God as we appear.

Criticism and accusation are both works of the enemy and they work together. If we participate with him in either one, we are partnering with him against God-whether we criticize/accuse God Himself or other people. No matter what is going on in your life, don’t resort to criticisms or accusations!

After this, Job lost everything—his possessions and his children. Yet he worshiped the Lord, so Satan went back to the Lord.

"Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.” So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Job 2:1-6
Notice that God gave Satan boundaries that he was not to cross. The first time he said not to touch Job. The second time he could touch him but not kill him.

Why did God allow Satan to do this to Job? Because God is a God of integrity. Once Satan accuses, there is an accusation on the table before God and He, God, will respond to it. He doesn’t ignore it or blow it off. You can be sure if an accusation is made against God’s integrity, justness, His children etc. He will address it!

How does He address it? He presents evidence to support/prove His position. If He says we are righteous, and the enemy brings accusations against us, God presents the evidence that we are righteous. What is the evidence?
  • The blood of Jesus
  • The scribal records of our deeds—our witness or testimony
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” Revelation 12:11-12
We overcome the accusations of the enemy by the blood of the lamb and by the written evidence of our testimony.

The Scribal Records/The Word of Our Testimony

The scribal angels bring records of when we worshiped God during tough times, when we were faithful, when we were true to His Word and His ways. These kinds of things are recorded and brought to address the accusations of the enemy. It goes something like this:
  •  God points us out—look at My servant!
  •  The accuser accuses
  • God presents evidence—and we are His witnesses
          The scribal angels bring the records of when we overcame and when we didn’t. If we repent, then our sins are blotted out. (See Isaiah 43:25, Acts 3:19, Colossians 2:14) and the evidence shows only the times we have overcome.

In the courts of heaven, we ask to see/hear the accusations against us. By doing so we can repent of what we need to, and gain understanding of what the enemy is accusing us of. If you see an accusation, repent. The enemy does falsely accuse, but there may be some truth, or partial truth, to the accusation. Don’t try and justify yourself, Jesus is your justification! Thank God He gives us time/space to repent, like He did Jezebel in Revelation (Rev. 2:21).

If there is no evidence, or enough evidence, of you overcoming in a particular situation or type of situation, God may allow the enemy, within boundaries, to bring situations that will prove/test you and your faith. God is a just God, and He will allow His Word to be proven to be true. His Word is at work within you. It will be tried within you (see Psalm 18:30). Evidence will be needed that you are all God says you are. Your attitude, behavior, and words during this trial becomes the evidence.
Give the scribal angels something good to record! Stay faithful during the tough times! Don’t waste your trials. They are evidence used to silence the accusations of the enemy!

The Blood of Jesus

Thank God for the blood of Jesus.

All of what we do is being recorded, but thank God when we mess up, we can plead the blood of Jesus—ask that the blood of Jesus speak on our behalf—and receive forgiveness so our sinful deeds are blotted out. To be His witnesses we must overcome, and as we do we prove that the blood of Jesus is not just enough to forgive our sin, but to change us and empower us to live a righteous, holy life! This is the evidence our advocate Jesus presents to the accuser—His blood and our overcoming testimony! Consider all the promises to those who overcome in Revelation 2-3.

Since we are His witnesses, what are we a witness to?

The saving, forgiving power of His blood, which is awesome, but we are also a witness to the power of His blood to change our heart, enabling us to overcome. We are a witness to the work of Jesus—testifying that it was enough for us to be changed, filled with His Spirit, and live righteously, even in the face or temptation of evil.

So remain faithful—consistently loyal--to God and His Word at all times. This trying of your faith is precious (1 Peter 1:7). God knows that. He isn’t throwing you under the feet of your enemy to be trampled on. He knows the power of His righteousness within you. He has faith that you will overcome. Let your faith and faithfulness mingle with His to create a powerful, overcoming life with access to the eternal realm of heaven!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

American, You Are A Politician!

Every citizen of the United States of America is a politician. America is a republic. This means that it is governed by the people. The highest authority in the land is not the President or Congress, it's the people.
Unfortunately, the American people have grossly neglected their office. We need to take office and steer our country back in place.

Many people have thought that Christians should not be involved in politics, that they are under God's authority and don't need to tangle with worldly things. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the opposite is true.

Peter wrote that the people of God are to "submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him..." (1 Peter 2:14). The government of the United States is a human institution. Our republic is a human institution that we, as believers are told by the Lord we need to submit to. In our republic, you are a ruling authority. It's time to submit to this institution, rise up and take the responsibility of your office!

Michael Farris in Constitutional Literacy says, "The Constitution is not a document whereby an all-powerful government grants certain rights and privileges to its citizens. No, it's the other way around. The Constitution is a document whereby the citizens of the United States grant certain authorities and power to their government."

Paul wrote that "every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." The authority of the American republic is from God Himself. The authority you have in governing this country is from God Himself. "Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves." (Romans 13:1-2). Christians have resisted the authority God has given us as a ruling voice, and it has brought condemnation upon us. Our freedom to speak and to live as Christians is under serious attack!

What is your political job description as an American citizen? To vote representatives into office that will uphold the constitution and to hold them accountable while in office. You may also consider running for office yourself. But you can still take your rightful place in the office of a citizen. 

Constitutional Literacy, Copyright 2014 by Michael Farris, Apologia Educational Ministries Inc. Anderson, Indiana

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Poor, the Producers, and the Providers

This morning, the Lord began talking to me about three groups of people called owners, workers, and beggars, also called the providers, the producers, and the poor. This has to do with growing in God's blessing and provision.

We'll start with the poor because we are all born beggars into this world. Babies cannot take care of themselves at all so every one of us was completely dependent on another human being when we were first born.

We were designed by our Creator to grow to a place of caring for ourselves, but some people do not for various reasons. Basically, it comes down to those who can't and those who won't. So within the beggar group are two subcategories called the can't's and the won'ts.

The cant's are those who are unable to take care of themselves for whatever reason. It could be a physical or mental condition that prohibits them from working to provide for themselves. An example in Scripture would be the lame beggar at the gate called Beautiful. He was carried there every day so he could beg from the people entering the temple. He could not work to provide for himself. He was dependent on others to give to him. Read the story about him here in Acts 3.

A "can't" moves on from the beggar group if he matures out of it, such as a child who grows up, or if he has miraculous intervention such as the man at Gate Beautiful. Notice once he was healed, they called him the one who "used to" sit at the gate and beg. Once he was healed, he could work to provide for himself and was no longer dependent on others to take care of him.

The won'ts are those who are unwilling take care of themselves even though they are able. These people don't want to work to earn a legitimate living. They want, maybe even expect, others to care for them without them doing anything for themselves. Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he gave them this order, that if any man is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either. They are not to live as busybodies, or an undisciplined life of not working. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

A lazy person, or a sluggard, will not put proper effort into providing for himself. "The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, but will not even bring it back to his mouth." Proverbs 19:24

Moving On from Beggar to Worker: 

Ideally, the "can'ts" mature into following a worker path, not a "won't" path. It requires maturity and willingness, and sometimes a miracle. As a child grows in ability, skill and knowledge, and has a willing heart, he will come out of the beggar group and into the worker group. He may also begin to discover his gifting and call during this process. Parents play a huge role in this.

A "won't" can change his ways through repentance of his laziness and doing what is necessary to provide for himself.

The worker group is made up of those who begin to work to provide for themselves. Ideally, they are continuing to discover their gifts and planning to work in the field they are called.

Faithful Workers
All workers are exchanging time, effort and skill for money or provision of some type. This is an equal exchange at this point. Time for money, or time, education, skill, etc. for a salary. There comes a point where the faithfulness of a worker pays off. It really is a growth and testing period. It is the fruit-producing stage in more ways than one. Faithfulness, patience, discipline, integrity and so on are tested. The fruit of the Spirit is grown here. As a person remains diligent through the tough times in this stage, he will reap the benefits of his hard work.

The Lord promised to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on those who would not rob Him, but give the tithes and offerings that are due to Him. Not only that, but He will rebuke the devourer from destroying the work of our hands. Malachi 3:8-12

The Lord spoke through the prophet Haggai that when we neglect the Lord's house and do not build it, but take care of our own needs instead, then its like putting our money in a bag of holes. Haggai 1:2-11. When we seek His kingdom first, and His righteousness--or right ways of doing things--then all of our needs will be taken care of.  Matthew 6:25-34.

Jesus taught His disciples that how you act towards the "little things" is how you will act with the bigger things. If you are not faithful with another man's things, who will give you your own? Luke 16:10-13. A faithful worker will treat his bosses business and belongings as if they were his own.

Impatient Owers
What happens sometimes is that the impatience of a worker causes them to enter into a sub-category that is not God's best--owers. These are those who go into debt to try and get the better life that they want or need. They want, and may legitimately need, increase but are impatient or don't trust the ways of the Lord to bring it about, or seek Him for the answers. The problem with following this path, is that you are enslaving yourself to your lender.

"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave." Proverbs 22:7

Some people become discouraged in this group and either live miserably, or give up, even going back into the beggar group.

Moving On from Worker to Owner: 
Its worth noting that although some people may buckle down and work really hard to try and provide, which is commendable, hard work alone will not bring them into the best God has for them. To move from the worker group to the owner group requires vision, faith, and fruit. It also requires God's grace. We can come confidently to the throne of grace and obtain the mercy and grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16. When we have needs, the throne of grace is where we need to go.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;" 2 Corinthians 9:8

God's grace brings you into the place where you have "all sufficiency" or are self-sufficient, so you can have abundance for every good deed. As you are faithful in the tough times, cultivating the fruit of the Spirit in your life, you will move from the place of exchange into the place of multiplicative increase.

These are the ones who have something to give. They have proven they are willing to work for their provision with a good and faithful attitude. They trust in the Lord, knowing it's His grace that enables them to do all things. They are both willing and obedient. If you are willing to do things God's way, consenting to and obeying what He says, you will eat the good of the land. Isaiah 1:19-20

Cheerful Givers
These are those who have not only grown in the fruit, but learned the principles of sowing and reaping. They've learned about increase through multiplication, not just exchange.

The boy who gave five loaves of bread and two fish to Jesus so He could feed the multitude received twelve basketfuls in the end. John 6:1-14. He experienced multiplication, not just exchange. This is how the kingdom of heaven works--by the law of sowing and reaping.

The givers give to the poor. They don't just work to make money for themselves. Proverbs tells us that he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay them. Proverbs 19:17. The Bible also tells us that he who gives to the poor will never want. Proverbs 28:27. It seems as if this would mean the poor "can'ts" as opposed to the poor "won'ts" because of what Paul said about those who don't work should not eat either. However, he also said if one doesn't provide for his own household then he's worse than an infidel. 1 Timothy 5:8. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes to those who have been blessed and we should always seek the wisdom of the Lord.

Sometimes the givers might loan money, although the Lord told them not to charge interest to the poor or to His people. Exodus 22:25. Yet, He told the fearful servant who was given the one talent that he should have at least put it in the bank where he could have received interest rather than burying it in a hole. Matthew 25:14-29.

Greedy Loaners

These are those who have become "successful" themselves, but take advantage of others who need what they have. They charge a tremendous amount of interest and prey upon the impatient workers--tempting and inciting them to spend what they don't have, going into debt and becoming enslaved to them. These are those who have become "lovers of money." There are some who even fall from the faith as they have fallen in love with money. 1 Timothy 6:10-12. Jesus said you cannot serve God and wealth. Luke 16:13.

I hope this might help you identify where you might be, and be encouraged to know that God wants to bring a harvest into your life. There may be trying times to go through to get to that place, but don't give up. Stay true to Him and His Word and run to His throne of grace!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Your Connection to Your Land

There is a connection between our land and our lives.

I got to thinking the other day that the land we live in is a reflection of our spiritual condition. Think of Adam. He was put in a beautiful garden land. Everything was provided for, he just needed to work the land. He could plant, harvest, prepare food, eat, design beautiful and functional gardens, harvest seeds for replanting, and so on. Yet once they sinned, a curse came upon them and they were driven from this beautiful land into a land that, like their spirit, was cursed.

In this new land, however, they had the opportunity to overcome. The land reflected their spiritual condition, yet it also provided an opportunity for them to overcome the physical and spiritual challenges. They had to learn to work a land that was cursed. They had to learn how to handle drought and weeds. How could they survive in this condition? They also had to learn to worship God in this place, which would be more challenging than in the beautiful garden.

In the days of the flood, God brought Noah and his family into a land--the land of the ark. The rest of the world perished in the land that came to reflect their spiritual condition--death.

God called Abram out of one land and into another. He promised him this land, yet he lived there as a foreigner, not an owner at first. Before they could enjoy ownership in the Promised Land, they had to endure a period of slavery--hard work for the benefit of another. The opposite of freedom--working to enjoy the fullness of their hard work.

When Moses led them out of Egypt, their double-mindedness and rebellion caused all but two of the original travelers to die in the wilderness. The land reflected their uncommitted condition. They wanted to follow Moses, but they wanted to go back to Egypt. They wanted to serve God, but they created idols.

When they did finally enter the Promised Land, it was with an army who was willing to fight for the promise and claim ownership of what God had said was rightfully theirs.

The land reflects what is going on with us spiritually. It may represent the blessings on our life, or it may by symbolic of the obstacles to those blessings. It may be a reflection of our call and destiny, or it may reveal the enemy's opposition to that call. Take a look at the land you are living in. Look at your home. Look at your surroundings. What do you see? What are the blessings. What are the problems? ask the Lord to show you how it might reflect what is going on with you spiritually.

Jesus was driven into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He was driven to a land. This wasn't an indication of His spiritual condition, but ours. He was to die for the sin of all mankind and this land reflected that. He needed to overcome in this wild waste land.

You are in the land you are in for a reason. Where you are reflects your spiritual condition, as well as giving you opportunity to overcome the things you need to overcome in order to fulfill your destiny. Ask yourself, what kind of stuff thrives in the land you are in? What grows? What is the soil condition? What is the climate like? What is the population like? Is your house cluttered? Is your soil dry, or hard, clay, or thorny? Or is it good soil? The Lord has a purpose for you here. Ask Him to show you what it is, and how to overcome what needs to be overcome in order for you to live a flourishing life in Him.

He didn't lead you to this land to drop you off and forget you. But you need to work the land. You won't get anywhere if you sit on a rock and pout, or wonder what went wrong or what you should do. Get up and start working the land. Begin by exploring it. Start by looking at the physical place you live, your job, your surroundings, the people around you etc. Ask Him how to thrive in this land. He will show you!