“Increase”

“And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?”

Habakkuk 1:14-17

Now here is a picture of fishing for men that we don’t hear preached very often. A word of judgment and wrath from God because that many men had been gathered in, yet the glory and praise for it was being given unto the instruments used to collect the increase rather then to the God who brings the increase. They began to worship their own nets, the works of their own hands because by them they became prosperous.

This is a very carnal mindset and is quite dangerous as it both grieves the Holy Spirit and provokes God to anger. It happens more then we realize, and it serves the devil by stirring up envy, strife, and devision among the body. Crediting your own preaching, teaching, denomination, singing, program, promotions, anointing, movement, or gadgets for a soul saved is worshiping your net rather then the God who put the increase in it.

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” – 1 Corinthians 3:3-7

Paul continues this passage by stating that; yes, everyman will be rewarded according to his work and obedience to the leading of God’s voice to do that work. However, that man cannot take credit for what that work accomplished because only God can make the work bare fruit. You can be obedient to plant a seed but only God can make it suddenly spring into newness of life! So you better Cry Out to God that He bring the increase or else your labors will be in vain. Yet when He does, don’t go praising your own hand for planting a seed, or your rake, or tractor, or field, praise God who brought that dead seed to life and made it fruitful that all the rest not continue to be wasted!

Remember that when the tool gets the praise for how God used and blessed it, God gets angry and throws the tool down. He will not share His glory with an other, He would rather work tool-less. When someone truly cry’s out in faith, God will answer. He will come and do what no man can. When the real Jesus shows up, the fish do too and you will see increase that you never saw before. You can use the same tools, in the same way, but you’ll get totally different results. When this happens the temptation will rise up to take glory for what God Himself has done. When this happens, stop and remember that you’ve planted these same seeds and work this same ground before and didn’t get the same results, so Praise and Glorify God who sent it. Don’t start worshiping your net as this great and special net that can do what no other net can do. Worship the God who filled the net as a great and. special God who can do what no other God can do, and He will keep doing it.

“And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.” – Luke 5:1-7

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The Rewards Of Righteousness

We read of great exploits throughout the scriptures preformed by righteous men and women of God. We also read many marvelous promises of God, nearly all of which, again are contingent upon righteousness.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – James 5:16

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:12

“The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry…The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles…Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” – Psalms 34:15,17,19

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” – Psalms 37:25

So what exactly is righteousness and how do we attain it that we might walk in these blessings and power? First we must come to terms with the truth that God is no respecter of persons, if He did it for Elijah, Abraham, Peter, and Paul, then He will do it for you if you meet the same conditions they did.

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” – Acts 10:34-35

“… The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” – James 5:16-18

So we see that according to James (the brother of Jesus), everyone has equal opportunity to walk in righteousness unto miracle working power. We also see according to Peter (the disciple of Jesus) that God is no respecter of persons picking certain people out of favoritism. Instead He will use anyone (are as the Bible often puts it) “whosoever” will fear and reverence Him and walk righteously. Peter also makes it very clear that if we do not walk in righteousness then we are not only missing blessings, we are missing Jesus all together because only the righteous “are excepted by Him”. So how then do we walk in righteousness?

The first thing you have to come to terms with is that you cannot do it apart from God. Not by good deeds, or intellect, or strength of man. Doing what you think is right is self righteousness and God says that your righteousness is as filthy rags before Him. However, doing what God says is right is walking in God’s righteousness. Even if one claims the Name of Christ yet does not do His will, then he is self righteous just like the Pharisees.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21

“And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” – Matthew 12:49-50

Therefore, believing and doing what God says is right is true righteousness, and what is this but faith? Real faith. Not just empty faith professed but true faith expressed! This is why without faith it is impossible to please God and without righteousness you are not excepted of Him. You see true faith is believing what God says because scripture says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. You seek, God speaks, you believe, trust, and obey, which will cause you to be in right-standing with Him and He will count you as righteous. For the word “righteous” literally means “to be in right standing with God.

So this means that in order to be righteous then we have to hear from God so that we can then choose to believe what we have heard. Hearing comes by God’s Word, either logos (His Written Word) or Rhema (His present personal spoken Word). Therefore, in order to walk in righteousness we have to believe both the scriptures and what He speaks to us personally in the place of prayer. Therefor, if you are not personally hearing from God daily through His word and in prayer and personal communion then you cannot walk in righteousness because you have not heard His instructions and only have your own righteousness to lean on.

“And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.” – 2 Chronicles 12:14

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Your own plan, your own idea, your own logic, your own agenda, your own ministry, your own words, your own understanding, your own strength, your own tools, your own skills, your own wants, your own wisdom, it all equates to your own righteousness which equates to filth to God. Therefore, if you do not seek God for His words to give you His wisdom, His plan, His insight, His instructions, His strength, His power, His promise, His will, His righteousness then by default what you do will be your own will and that is evil in the sight of the Lord.

“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” – Romans 10:2-3

“…Presumptuous are they, selfwilled…And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;” – 2 Peter 2:10, 13

So we see that it takes both humility and faith to walk in God’s righteousness. It takes humbling ourselves to recognize that we need to seek God to hear His voice, and once we have heard it it takes faith to trust and obey it. However, man in his natural fallen state cannot hear God’s voice, for his sins have separated him from the righteousness of God. So if you don’t hear God’s voice then there is something you must do first.

You must humble yourself, confess your faults unto God, and repent. Then by faith you must call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to wash you clean with His blood and fill you with His Spirit so that you can go boldly before the thrown of Grace where you will then have direct access to God, His voice, and His righteousness.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

By faith it can be yours. God is no respecter of persons. If you believe what He said enough to do it by faith then you will gain access to the very thrown of God and being reconciled back unto the Father, He will then begin to minister to you, to teach you how to hear his voice and be led of His spirit into all truth.

However, once that He has begun to speak to you and instruct you, you must then daily humble yourself to hear what He is saying and have faith to believe it no matter how difficult it may seem. Remember that He truly is God, that nothing is impossible to Him, that He gives more grace unto the humble, and that nothing shall be impossible to those who truly believe because He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Remember that it doesn’t matter who you are, it matters who He is, and what He says.

If He says it, you believe it and walk in it, and that will position you in right standing with Him. Submit to this and you will be standing right where He wants you so that when the time comes and the curtain is drawn you will be in position to play your part in the destiny that He has planned for you and it will be counted unto you as righteousness.

“And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” – Romans 4:21-22

“Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” – Genesis 18:14

“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” – Matthew 17:20

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” – Jeremiah 32:27

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” – Numbers 23:19

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” – Matthew‬ ‭5:6‬ ‭

Faith Tested is Grace Proven

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” – Romans 8:16-17

2 Timothy 3:12 tells us that “ALL who live Godly WILL suffer persecution.” They will be rejected, lied on, slandered, cursed, hurt, and hated at the least, while many will be beaten, in-prisoned, tortured, and even put to death. Yet we are told that though the severity may very, persecution, trial, and tribulation is not some remote possibility for Christians in an other country or of an other time, but that ALL true believers will face it and have to endure it if they are truly led of God’s Spirit because the first place the Spirit will lead you is into a wilderness where the faith you claim will be tested so that you can come out testifying to others of the faith you have and the grace it manifested to you in your wilderness when you stood upon it and where not shaken from it. In this will you then be proven fit for the masters use in the greater works that He desires to entrust you with. For they will surely stir up a far greater persecution against you then the former, yet will you have learned to trust God with this giant on the battle field because that you have already learned to trust Him with the lion and the bear in the wilderness, for the purpose that the impossible feats of faith preformed by you may glorify God even as Christ did.

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” – Matthew 4:1

Even Christ Himself had to endure rejection and persecution for the sake of obeying the Father’s voice and will, and it is no different for us, for the servant is not greater then His Master. If they did it to Christ, they will do it to us. So away with this false notion of an easy Christianity, a painless Pentecost, a Passoverless salvation, a sacrificeless death, and a powerless resurrection. It’s high time the modern church put down their pacifiers, their passive liars, their useless muses, their petty excuses, and pick up their cross and follow Christ down that straight and narrow path that so few are willing to walk because it’s not the easy road, it’s the broken one. It cuts the feet with every step, yet for love we ought to walk it. We will walk the wide road being cut to the heart with every step for the love of the world but we won’t walk the narrow one for the love of God.

Selfishness! It’s all rooted in selfishness. “Oh make me known like Christ but don’t make me known for what Christ was known for. Don’t make me too unconventional. Don’t make me too uncomfortable. Don’t make me too unlikable. Don’t make me too unconformable. His yoke is easy and His burden is light, I don’t really have to carry that heavy cross”…

Oh my friend of little faith, you miss the point completely. Because of love the true believer will pick up the cross in faith, then being yoked together with Christ will He then bare the burden with you and you with Him. In this will His strength make the burden light and easy to bare as His grace is shared with those who love Him enough to except the burden in faith. Once picked up in faith then and only then will His grace (which is favor and power) be poured out that you be able to carry it as a witness and testimony to others of the impossible love, strength, power, faithfulness, and glory of our God granted to us and manifested through us that it might prove us in faith and the strength of our God through us in grace. Yet none of it will come but by trusting God when you are led of the Spirit into a wilderness that no one else will understand and everyone else will reprimand.

So lay down your desire to please anyone but God, set your eyes on things eternal, set your heart on Him alone, yoke up with Christ Himself, pick up your cross in love and faith, and go in fearless grace, because that love for God cast out the fear of man. The fields are ready, the Master is calling, do you have eyes to see and ears to hear? Or will you forfeit the Kingdom in the name of comfort, doubt, selfishness, and fear?

Yes we are saved by Grace through Faith but understand that faith must be tested for grace to be proven. In this is the tree proved by the fruit that it bares, and those that be proven only, Jesus says… “the Kingdom is theirs”.

“So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:” – 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” – ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:13‬ ‭

Prayers for All Men

“And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.” – Acts 22:4-5

Paul (at this point called Saul) had been a very hard man, hunting, imprisoning, and even murdering the followers of Christ in an effort to eradicate them completely. Yet as he recounts his journey to Damascus where he had an encounter with Jesus, repented, and got saved, he makes an interesting statement that the Lord is drawing my attention to this morning.

Paul stated that he was going to Damascus to take those who were bound there to Jerusalem to be punished. No doubt he was referring to Christians that had been imprisoned for their testimony of Jesus. He was literally on his way to gather them and bring them to the priest in Jerusalem to be tried and most likely executed.

We all know what happened to Paul during this trip, but today my mind goes to the persecuted Christians who were in Damascus waiting for him to get there and rip them from their homeland to face execution in Jerusalem. How they surely prayed such fervent prayers for God to deliver them, yet I wonder if they (having so fresh Christ’s teachings and example) prayed for God to deliver their persecutor? Will, when we all stand before God on the day of judgment and the account of every man’s life be read, hear the story of how the prayers of these few nameless believers set on course these events that would change the world forever?

The early church and many believers around the world today face the dangerous of wicked men like Saul was, yet though they may have to keep a separation for safeties sake their prayers for them can infiltrate the most dangerous places and hearts if we will but be faithful to send them. It was too dangerous for a believer to walk up to Saul and speak the gospel to him, yet the prayers of the saints from a distance went where no man should and did what no man could. So never stop praying.

Though surely many more did, we do know for sure that at least one of Saul’s victims did indeed pray for him even while Saul aided in his death. As Stephen was martyred by stoning, Of which Saul was present, he prayed this prayer.

“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” – Acts 7:59-60

Jesus commands us to pray for those who hurt us, use us, and persecute us. How much more does He expect us to pray without ceasing for those who just don’t agree with us or listen to us? Sure, God could have poured out wrath and sent a bear to devour Saul on the road to Damascus and delivered the believers that way. But it was far better that God pour out mercy and send Jesus to deliver Saul on the road to Damascus that he, the believers in prison in Damascus, all the thousands of lives that Paul’s preaching reached, and all the millions of souls that his writings have since reached would all be delivered through this one act. This is why God delights in mercy. Mercy is better then wrath. Pray for mercy with a merciful heart. Pray for all men, pray for the ones that need it most, for the Saul’s. After all, it’s the Saul to Paul testimonies that have the greatest impact in proving the limitless ability of the life transforming power of our Jesus. So pray, even when it’s too dangerous to get close to a person or situation, still pray. There is no distance that prayer cannot span, no heart it cannot pierce, no terrain it cannot infiltrate, no enemy too fierce. So pray, everyday, for all men.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” – 1 Timothy 2:1

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” – Matthew 5:44

“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:18-20

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” – Isaiah 61:1

Praise Wins The War

“And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.” – 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Many enemies where marching against Israel at this time, three different armies to be exact. Upon seeking the Lord for a battle plan, Israel received a strange response. They were told not to be afraid, but that God Himself would fight for them, they needed only to believe in God and His words being spoken through His prophet and praise the Beauty of His holiness!

So what does it mean to praise God “in the beauty of His Holiness”? Holiness means to be set apart. It encompasses God’s faithfulness, His uniqueness, His unmatchable power and strength, His unfailing wisdom and glory, His omnipotence, His impossible miracle working limitless ability. It is to vocally acknowledge that He is set apart from all other things and nothing can compare, compass, confound, contend with, or conquer Him.

You see, sometimes we lump Thanksgiving and Praise together, and they should both be given, however their is a difference between them. Thanksgiving is vocally expressing appreciation and faith in the things that God has done. While praise is vocally expressing appreciation and faith in the things that God can do, and will do, and is doing, but has not yet fully done, even when you see no current physical evidence or showing of it yet. It is your faith in God vocalized, not to others (as in witnessing), but to God Himself that equates to praising!

The most amazing thing about this story is that this Praise turned the tide of the war. As they praised God in faith, God Himself fought the battle for them and caused their enemies to destroy each other leaving them only to then turn their Praise into Thanksgiving!

This happened at other times in scripture as well and still happens to this day, for God is unchanging. As Debra the Prophetess and Judge over Israel sang, the very angels of Heaven came and fought along side them, defeating their oppressors. Then in the very next chapter after their victory, their song of praise changes to a song of thanksgiving.

“Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam. Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the Lord made me have dominion over the mighty….The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money. They fought from heaven; the angels in their courses fought against Sisera.” – Judges 5:12-13, 19-20

This again happens in the time of King Hezekiah, as well as many other biblical accounts. God truly does inhabit the praises of His people because while worship is love expressed, praise is faith expressed. It confessed and professes the beauty that is God’s Holiness and all that it entails. It draws Him to take notice, it stirs Him to take action, it pleases Him beyond measure, and it turns the tide of the war. So praise Him in the Beauty of His holiness! Praise the impossible power, love, faithfulness, wisdom, and ability of our King and He will come and inhabit those praises, and when He steps into the situation, everything changes. So praise.

“Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” – Psalms 100:3-5

“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth:…” – Psalms 96:8-10

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is God, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6

“… he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the armies of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” – 2 Chronicles 20:21-22

Pastures Before Palaces

God had chosen David to be king over Israel. This had been prophesied over him as a child in his father’s house. Yet once the Word of the Lord was spoken over David’s life and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, you would think he would be caught up in a whirlwind of exciting events as he was placed on the thrown. But that’s not how it happened, with God that’s pretty much never how it happens. David received this prophetic word of the Lord over his life, the Spirit of the Lord rested upon him, and the anointing was poured out on him, then he was sent back out to tend his father’s sheep in the fields.

“And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither…Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.” – 1 Samuel 16:11, 13

Nothing spectacular happened. No instant promotion, no glitz, no glam, just mocking brothers, a dusty field, and a bunch of needy sheep. You see, David had been promised but was not yet ready to be positioned. He had been anointed but had not yet had his faith in that anointing proven that he would rightly and confidently know how to use it. God had announced the show, but had only begun to set the stage for it.

David was humble and lowly among his people and even among his own house. It would take a miracle to make him King, and that is exactly how God does things. Before David could be King, God would have to do something very unexpected, something that only God could do that would put David’s name in the mouth of the people and prove God’s approval of him. This event would take great faith, as would the events that followed it, for once men see the favor of God on you, some will sing your praise, while others slander your name, and others still will seek to kill that which God has ordained.

This was going to take faith. So God did not send little David out to the palace where guards, grandeur, and great abundance reside. He sent him into a sheep fold where weakness, wounding, and wondering reside. In the palace men learned how to put on a pretty show, but in the pasture David learned what God wanted him to know. In the palace men learned how to be celebrities, a king after men’s own hearts, but in the pasture david learned how to be a Shepherd, a King after God’s own heart.

“And when God had removed Saul, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” – Acts‬ ‭13:22‬ ‭

David learn how to lead the flock by walking where he expected them to walk. He learned how to mend up the broken, how to set at liberty those who had become bound up, how to defend the defenseless, and how to depend on the strength of the anointing to do it all, even in the face of impossible resistance.

Yes, God was going to do something that would put this humble unknown boy’s name in the mouths of all Israel. He was going to cause him to defeat a giant that no one else had the courage and faith to face. But first God had to build that faith into David’s spirit. This could not be done in the palace with all it’s protective walls, armed guards, disconnect from others, and ease of life. This had to be done in the pasture, this had to be rooted in love for the flock he had been given charge over.

David had invested all into this little flock in the wilderness. It was all he had, an impossible promise and a little flock of sheep. David loved his little flock, he had raised them up himself. Therefor when a lion arose to devour them, he (for loves sake) would not let them be destroyed. Little David put his own life on the line to fight for this little flock and the Lord made him victorious. Then came a bear, a stronger foe seeking to devour his little flock, yet David having his faith in God’s deliverance strengthened by his encounter with the lion, bravely stood his ground against the bear as well and was yet again victorious.

David knew that God had delivered him and his flock from these foes and had used his hand to do so. So when the day came that Goliath challenged Israel and mocked the power of her God, David knew that this foe would be no different. So much had God built little David’s faith in the pasture defeating lions and bears in the Name of his God, that while others were running from the fight in doubt, David was literally running to it in faith. In this did the people see the heart and power of a true King, chosen, trained, and anointed by God Himself, that all the glitz of the palace could not counterfeit.

God’s ways are not our ways, they are higher then our ways, but they are perfect in all of their ways. If God has truly called you to do great things for His Kingdom, then don’t be surprised if He puts you in a pasture instead of a palace. He has a plan. True Pastors are made in Pastures, not palaces. The lessons learned and the faith earned in the battles overcome in the pasture are the only thing that make a King worthy of the Name of our Lord God and Master. Man’s Kings are trained in palaces but God’s Kings are trained in pastures. So be encouraged. Love, learn, wait, anticipate, and believe. What the Lord has spoken, He will cause to be through the abundance of His impossibilities. In the meantime, grow in faith and grow in grace so that when the stage is all set, you will run into place.

“And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.” – 1 Samuel 17:34-37

“Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands. And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.” – 1 Samuel 17:45-48

How Have-to Becomes Want-to

“And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” – 2 John 1:5-6

John states that from the beginning the commandment that God has given was for us to love others. Then he states that to love others is to obey God’s commandments. Christ Himself said that if we love Him then we will keep His commandments. An other passage states that keeping His commandments are not grievous to us. In other words, it is not a burden but a desire. How can this be? When you come to truly love God with all your heart.

Think about it. The things that seemed so laboring and grievous to you will become things that you are driven to do and even desire to do when you do them for the ones you truly love, like say for a spouse or your children. Therefore, when you come to truly love God, you will desire to please Him and letting go of the things that displease Him will be a want to more then a have to.

Jesus said this when asked what the greatest commandment was:

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40

In this one statement is the key to joyful obedience, and it truly was the commandment that had been given from the very beginning being given to man in the very earliest parts of scripture. Jesus says for us to love God with all our hearts, that means we love nothing more then Him, we put Him first in all things, and we put His feelings, words, and wisdom first in all our decisions. Next we love others more then ourselves, putting them second only under God, but always putting them before ourselves. Jesus said that if we do this then we will by default fulfill all the laws God sent and obey all the words of the prophets because every Law God made and every word He spoke through the prophets were meant to teach us to love God first, and others second above ourselves.

Think through the Ten Commandments. You would not break any of them if you loved God and others more then yourself. Why? Because sin is selfish. So if loving God is the key to gaining a desire to obey Him and do what is right in His sight then how do we fall in love with Him? The same way you fall in love with anyone. You spend time with Him.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” – Psalms 34:8

Prayer is key. Jesus stands at the door of your heart and knocks. He desires to come in and sup with you, to talk with you, to get to be known by you. He desires a relationship with you. The more time you spend with Him the more you will love Him because He is good. Meditate on what He has done for you. Ask Him to come in and sit with you and make Himself known to you. Talk to Him and listen for His sweet replies in the still quiets of prayer. He is waiting to reveal Himself to you there.

Once you truly meet and come to personally know Him, you will fall in love, and the more you love Him, the more you will love others through Him, and the more You will be discussed by the idea of sinning against Him or those that He loves. In this are we changed by the power of His love. When we realized how much He loves us and choose to be thankful and love Him back. It changes who we are, what we want, what we do, and what we live for.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” – 1 John 4:9-11

Saul’s Sin

“And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” – 1 Samuel 15:24

Pastor, it is not your job to please the people, it’s your job to please God. The shepherd is supposed to drive the flock, the flock is not suppose to drive the shepherd. When the sheep heard the shepherd you can rest assured that the whole lot of them will end up in dangerous territory chasing after greener pastures.

Saul, as King over the congregation of Israel got his instructions on how to lead this flock straight from God. He knew what needed to be done, but he didn’t do it. Instead he harkened unto the voice of the people and he lost the kingdom because of it.

Pastor, seek the Lord and obey His voice and leading, not the people’s. It is better to have God’s endorsement then the people’s for it is God who gives the anointing that breaks the yoke and sets the captive free.

Moses did what God said and his congregation hated him for it. They turned against him over and over agin, but every time God enforced His words and endorsed Moses for obeying it. No weapon formed against him was allowed to prosper. The weapons surely formed, many times his own congregation tried to kill him but every time God moved in miraculous ways to defend, deliver, and prove His approval of him. In this were the weapons against him not allowed to prosper.

Saul on the other hand, did not listen to the leading of the Lord and obeyed the voice of the people instead. In doing this was a weapon being formed against him that would prosper. Saul failed to destroy all of the Amalekites and keep Israel separate from them and their sins as the Lord had instructed. Because he failed to trust God and destroy the Amalekites, in the end the Amalekites destroyed him, as it was an Amalekite that struck his death blow.

God’s wisdom is greater then our wisdom and His far-sight is more encompassing then ours. It does not matter what we think, see, hear, or feel, we must trust what God says and do it. He sees the big picture. He sees the snare the devil is laying. He tells us how to avoid it. It’s up to us to trust His voice and obey unto deliverance or choose to listen to self or others and walk right into it. The choice is ours. As for me, I choose to obey God’s voice and trust Him to validate, prove, endorse and enforce it because I know that His plans for me are for good and not for harm (Jeremiah 29:11) but the devil’s plans are to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

Trust God’s voice and no weapon formed against you will prosper. Trust the people’s voice in opposition to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the weapon formed against you has already prospered by your own allowance.

“The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” – Proverbs 4:19-22

“Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these (the excusing of sinful deeds). For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.” – Jeremiah 7:4-8

The Pastor And The Prophet

Living on a small farm with livestock such as sheep, we often have predators come to disrupt the herd and snatch away the little lambs. The best way to keep our territory safe for the flock to grow and flourish is for us to have a few dogs.

To this end we have two very different dogs with very different gifts, skills, and builds. First we have a small beagle named Hanna. Beagles have the strongest nose of any of the dog breeds. So much so that it’s practically an extrasensory perception. Beagles see more with their nose then with their eyes. They can pick up when a predator is lurking when no one else knows anything is happening. They know when it is approaching before it even gets their. Once the foe is there the beagle knows its paths, tactics, and tricks and can track it down when others (judging by sight and limited smell) still think that all is well.

However, for all her discernment, tenacity, devotion, and bravery, she would get herself killed without some help. So while Hanna is the hunter and “point dog”, our second dog, Theophilus, is the guard dog. He is a huge dog, being a mix between the lion hunting Rhodesian Ridgeback and the very protective Louisiana Catahoula Cur. Living in Louisiana we have a lot of different large predators here and while our little beagle is great at picking up on dangers, sounding the alarm, and tracking it down, when she finds it, there’s not a whole lot she can do, so this is where Theophilus’ role steps in.

The scene usually unfolds something like this. The sheep are in the pasture oblivious to any threat, but a predator has begun to plot and stalk in the unseen. Hanna picks it up! Nothing out of the ordinary can be seen but she sees what can’t be seen and trust her nose. She takes off running at full speed yelping and baying and sounding the alarm. Theophilus, trusting in her nose, runs behind her, covering her, and protecting her as she tracks the threat down. Eventually they find the threat and though she continues to bark, she falls back and Theophilus steps up to take care of business, remove the threat, reclaim their territory, and return peace and safety to the flock. Then they return to wait for the next enemy that try’s to come and steal, kill, and destroy within their territory.

Believe it or not, this is exactly the relationship and the importance of the pastor and the prophet within a congregation. One without the other is severely handicapped leaving themselves, their flock, and their territory open to the enemy. They can each do something’s well but only together can they truly keep the flock safe, healthy, and growing.

Through out biblical history, when the shepherds over the congregation of the people stopped listening to the voice of the prophet sounding the alarm of approaching danger, they all fell into the enemies hands and the flock was scattered. It’s no different today, but likewise, the prophets words and warnings are of no use if there is no pastor that will trust them, defend them, and act upon them, and enforce them to the safeguarding of the flock.

Understand this, a prophet is not a pastor anymore then my beagle is a guard dog. Neither can a pastor assume to pick up on the unseen in time as well as the prophet can anymore then my Cur could ever hope to out trail my beagle. God has designed it this way on purpose, to keep us dependent on Him by keeping us dependent on His gifts in others. No one person can effectively lead a church body other then Christ Himself, because we are all part of the body ourselves. Each part has its part and no one part can do it all. They all must learn to trust in and be led of the head (which is Christ/the Holy Spirit) who works through all the different parts of the body as it functions together as a whole to achieve the will of God (the head).

All the parts are important, all the parts have their strengths and weakness, all the parts have their place and their purpose. Therefor, it is important for us to learn when to step up into our role, and possibly even more important to learn when to fall back and let those who have been built for this fight, step up and take their place in theirs.

The number one thing that prevents this from happening the way it should is pride and that is why pride always comes before a fall. Pride will cause you to be overtaken by your foes, pride will cost you your flock, pride will cost you the territory. Learn when to step up and when to fall back and you will function in the fullness of how God created you to. A body of different members all being led in different ways using different gifts by one Spirit to achieve one will, the Father’s will; all of it in all it’s scope and perfection, hinging upon these few things, humility, obedience, unity, selflessness, love, and faith.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” – 1 Peter 5:8

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” – Ephesians 4:11-16

Sin Opens Closed Doors

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – Galatians‬ ‭5:1‬ ‭

Temptation in itself is not sin, for even Christ was tempted yet the scriptures record that He was without sin. However, Jesus was not continually tempted by the same temptation as many people are because He took authority against it, resisted it, rebuked it, and overcame it.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭

We can do the same because the same authority that Christ had, He has given us through His blood and Spirit and the power of the adoption that it afford us, which is grace, the authority of sonship!

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; …” – Romans‬ ‭8:16-17‬ ‭

“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” – Romans‬ ‭8:11‬ ‭

If you are a blood bought, born again, Holy Ghost filled child of God then you not only have the authority to kick sin of your life, you have the authority to also chase away the temptation and not allow it to linger at the door of your heart!

Temptation is sin at the door! Think of it as a devil knocking on the door of your heart offering an unholy council. You do not have to open that door! You can tell it to go away and it must obey! This is where “resisting” the devil comes into play.

If you choose to open that door and let it in you have given place to the devil and sin has entered your heart. When you receive the devil’s council you have opened the door and let him in. When you act upon that council you are in open sin and have chosen to give the devil place on the thrown of your heart.

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” – Romans‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭

This is all by your own choice because Jesus suffered and died to grant you the power to say, “no, get ye behind me Satan. You are under my feet. I Am above and you are beneath, I’m not trading places with you. You are a defeated foe! You have to go, in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ, my King!” Rebuke him, cast him out.

In the same manner we see in scripture that Jesus stands at the door of our heart and knocks also. Yet still, you have to choose to let Him in, to give Him the thrown of your heart, to listen to His Holy council, and to obey it unto righteousness. It’s your choice, it’s all your choice, you have the power to make it. You have been given dominion over your own heart, it is your choice what you give access to it. Even Jesus won’t force His way in, you have to choose to open that door and let Him in. It is the same with sin. It has no dominion over you, the devil only has the authority that you give him. Start believing that and stop giving him dominions that he has already lost. Your victory has already been won, believe it, live it, and by that faith you will overcome.

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (the power and  authority of sonship)” – Romans‬ ‭6:12-14‬ ‭

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” – Revelation‬ ‭3:20-22‬ ‭