A Sacrifice of Love

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” – Revelation‬ ‭6:9-11‬ ‭

Many Christians, talking about tribulation and the end times, say that they will be willing to give up their very lives for Jesus, yet when halloween roles around they aren’t even willing to give up candy for Him. Jesus said that to be friends with the world makes you the enemy of God. Likewise to be holy set apart from the world unto God (as God has clearly commanded us to do (1 Peter 1:16) will make you a friend of God and an enemy of the world. This is why Jesus said that if the world hated Him, then it will hate you also if you choose to be among the few who truly follow Him, His instructions, and His example.

Today as I see so many churches and Christians buddying up to the world my heart and mind goes back to those who suffered and died taking a stand against it. Jesus first of all, countless martyrs through history, the persecuted church of today, and those who will one day stand against the full force of the antichrist system now being set in place. When I see the very things they died to free others from (like death, hell, and the grave) being celebrated by the church, it grieves my heart as I feel it grieving the Holy Spirit of God.

“Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Holy day, and I am profaned among them. Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.” – Ezekiel‬ ‭22:26-27‬

When I see halloween and all it’s demons, death, witchcraft, fear, and everything anti-Christ brought into the church, I’m taken back 2000 years to when Jesus flipped tables and cracked whips for far less. What a sad state the church is in today when those who claim the Name of God, do not know the word or God, nor care for the heart of God; and worse yet, attack those who do calling them legalistic when in reality their obedience is based on love. After all, only true love for an other can overpower love of self and drive a man to willingly sacrifice without contempt, of which Jesus Himself is our example.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” – John‬ ‭14:15‬ ‭

Truly I tell you that in all things it’s comes down to love. You will either choose to sacrifice your love for God on the alter of the world or you will choose to sacrifice your love for the world on the alter of God. Let us love not our lives, will, lust, and world but let us through falling in love with Christ, overcome it in anticipation of a better one to come! This world is not my home and I won’t die for it, I’ll die to it. Jesus is my home, because home is where my heart is and that, I will die for. Money, notoriety, reveling, parties, ungodly friends, lust, candy (in relation to halloween), it doesn’t even register in comparison to my love for Christ, therefor I do not even count it a sacrifice but my reasonable duty as a faithful and loving bride. (Romans 12:1-2)

Relationships are harder to hold together when things are difficult then when they are good. Any relationship not based on selfless love will crumble under pressure. So it’s time to open the Word, get on your knees, get to know the real Jesus, and fall in love with Him. If you won’t stand for Him now when it’s easy, it’s because you don’t really love Him, and you if don’t really love Him, you surely won’t stand for Him later when it’s hard. If you truly believe His words, then it’s time to deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Him.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” – Revelation‬ ‭12:11‬ ‭

“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.” – Revelation‬ ‭3:21‬ ‭

“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible….And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:“ Hebrews‬ ‭11:24-27, 32-36

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Set Apart

I think that the disciples had a hard time wrapping their heads around God’s plan because they thought that Jesus had come to overtake the world system when really He came to overturn it.

I think many believers still have the same problem today. They want to be kings of the earth instead of kings in the earth. Paul said that we are in this world, but not of this world. We are kings and priest of an whole other Kingdom. The sooner we stop trying to over take the world system the sooner we can start overturning it by the power of a better one.

“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” – Colossians‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭

God did not let Moses become pharaoh to save His people in Egypt (which he could have, being the next in line to do so), he called Moses to both forsake Egypt and be an example that would lead His people out of Egypt as they did the same. By calling for separation from the Egyptian world system God was then able to pour out His power two fold, in favor toward Those who had put their trust in Him and in wrath toward those who had put their trust in the things of Egypt (the world system).

“And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.” – Leviticus‬ ‭20:26‬ ‭

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” – 1 Peter‬ ‭1:15-16‬ ‭

The Kingdom of Heaven it so far removed and superior to what is, that it does not come to take over what is, it comes to disprove and dispose what is. It’s time to stop trying to build a better pyramid, come completely out of Egypt, go out into the wilderness, and let God teach you how to build something that His presence can inhabit.

Yes Egypt is comfortable, yes Egypt is grand, yes Egypt brings glory to the works of your hand. Yes the wilderness is humble, yes it is plain, yes it forces dependence on God, often through pain. Yes it’s a sacrifice, yes it takes faith, but on the other side of the wilderness a promise awaits.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” – 2 Corinthians‬ ‭6:17‬ ‭

“And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.” – Exodus‬ ‭14:17-21‬ ‭

Jesus‘s Gospel

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” – Matthew‬ ‭7:13-15‬ ‭

The gospel that Jesus preached is the only true gospel. It is the only thing that can save you, deliver you, and empower you. Anything else is what the Bible calls a “damnable heresy” preached to deceive you by the antichrist spirit filled wolves in sheep’s clothing ministering doctrines of demons, or the well meaning misled masses speaking lies and hypocrisies with all deceivableness, void of the truth because they do not know their god.

I say that with a lowercase “g” because Jesus continues this very passage to say that the “many” that take the wide path to hell in this message are people who thought they were saved and serving God but were actually serving the devil by serving a god of their own will and making rather then serving the true God of scripture. Hence the warning to be cautious of wolves in sheep’s clothing who come to deceive you into leaving the narrow road that so few walk to join the masses on the wide path while still be leaving that you are going to heaven when you are actually marching straight to hell while still professing that Jesus is your Lord.

This is not my opinion, this is what Jesus Himself said. This is the real gospel no matter what you’ve been told by anyone else, Jesus’s Words are the truth on which we stand. We MUST believe Him is we claim to believe in the One who sent Him. (That is something that He said also).

So let’s ask ourselves today, is the gospel that you believe, profess, and live, easy? Does it leave you lots of options and wiggle room to do your own will? Is it the gospel that most people believe and follow? Then it’s not the true Gospel, you’re not on the right path, it’s the wide, easy, path of the many that miss heaven while thinking they are saved are on that Jesus warned about.

Jesus said to truly be saved we have to deny ourself, take up our cross, and follow after Him by His very example. We have to do as He did and in all things say “Lord, not my will, but Thy will be done.” We must give up everything that is us to take on everything that is Him. If you haven’t crucified the flesh, given things up, put sin to death, rejected the world, and suffered ridicule, slander, and persecution for the sake of the narrow path then it’s because you are not on it, you are on the wide one, the easy one, the wrong one.

The gospel that Jesus preached is not the popular gospel of the false prophets, the wolves in sheep’s clothing will lead the larger crowd on the wider path straight to Hell. Choose today to come out from among them and be ye separate says the Lord. Choose the narrow path of self denial of your own will, wants, ideas, logic, and desires. Rather replace it with obedience to God’s will in all things and receive the rewards of eternal life and glory in heaven with the Father forever. Don’t believe the lies of false prophets, teachers, and preachers. Jesus said that “many will come in My Name but I never sent them”. The ones He sent will be the ones teaching, preaching, and demonstrating the narrow path. This is the fruit by which you will know them. A Holy root will produce Holy fruit and to be Holy means to be set apart from the world, not like the many, but like the few. So check yourself today and determine, which one are you?

The narrow path is not easy, it is the one that is hated by the world. It is (like Christ) despised and rejected by the greater church most of all. Those many who falsely believe that they are saved who are actually fallowing false prophets on the wide road will always persecute those few who choose to walk the narrow road because their willingness to stay on the straight and narrow at all cost exposes the wide road and those who call you to walk it for what it really is. Therefore, the few that do walk the narrow road will be hated for it. It will cause separation. Friends, family, the world, most will not like you because your very life breathes conviction to their compromise, and exposer to the false teachers lies.

So again I ask you today. Is your Christian walk easy? Is it broadly encompassing of worldly things? Is it based on you surrendering to God’s will everyday, or is it based around allowing you to continue surrendering to your own will? Is it the path that many walk, or is it the one that very few walk? Are you persecuted for it? Is it the gospel that Jesus preached, or are you following another gospel straight to Hell?

“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. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” – Matthew‬ ‭7:20-24‬ ‭

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men (even when caused others to oppose, despise, reject, or hate you) him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” – Matthew‬ ‭10:32-39‬ ‭

It’s Not A Trial, It’s An Assignment

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ ‭

If you start looking at your trials as assignments allot of things will change, not only for you but for those around you. As a believer, what you go through is often not about you but about what God is trying to reveal to others through you if you will stand in faith, love, patience, and hold fast the mind of Christ so that others can see the character of Christ when it makes no earthly since to them.

It’s not a trial, it’s an assignment. Don’t make it about you and mess it up. Someone needs to see the love of God manifest when it makes no earthly since. Someone needs to see the peace of God present when it makes no earthly since. Someone needs to see the patients of God expressed when it makes no earthly since. Someone needs to see the righteousness of God professed when it makes no earthly since. Someone needs to see the Word of God confessed when it makes no earthly since. Someone needs to see faith arise when it makes no earthly since. Can God use you to do it? Will you take the assignment even if it takes you through Gethsemane?

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” – Philippians‬ ‭2:5-8‬ ‭

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” – 1 Peter‬ ‭4:12-19‬ ‭

Christians and Halloween: What Does God Say About It?

The Bible tells us that there is great power in agreement, but as with all things this power goes both ways for good or for bad. As we move into the Halloween season Christians should be reminded that you have no authority against that which you come into agreement with. Therefore, if you choose to participate in halloween in any form or fashion, you are forfeiting your authority against hell by coming into agreement with it.

As someone who has been in ministry my whole life I cannot begin to tell you how many people come to us in the weeks following Halloween asking for help fighting spiritual battles in their lives, families, and homes that often include all out deliverance ministry. They are usually at a loss as to why they suddenly became powerless to keep the enemy out of their homes when only weeks before they were willingly inviting him in while declaring agreement with all things demonic in the name of Halloween. What Does the Bible say about agreement with such things?

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Notice that God says here that He won’t actually receive you until AFTER you have come out from among these things and decide to be separate. He will not be counted as your Father until you have chosen to deny yourself and to take His side over the world’s.

“He that is not with me is against me; (Jesus’s Words)” – Matthew 12:30

The Bible says that to be friends with the world makes you the enemy of God. You cannot serve two masters, who you agree with and agree to associate yourself with, you choose to obey and serve. Therefore when you choose to be friends with the world you cannot be God’s and instead become His enemy by coming into fellowship and agreement with His enemy. You must choose a side and unless you choose to separate from the world you have chosen fellowship with hell and God will not receive you.

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” – James 4:4

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” – Hebrews 12:14

Yes the Bible really says that without holiness you will not go to heaven. Holiness means to come out from among them and be ye separate, different, set apart. If you walk in agreement with the world and the works of the devil, you are not separated from it and are therefore not holy unto God and you will not see the kingdom of heaven. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been told by your friends or your church or even your pastor, this is what you have been told by God Himself and this is what will bare weight and witness against you on the day of judgment.

“He that rejecteth me (Jesus), and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” – John 12:48

When you stand before God you will not be judged by your opinion, by what others did or told you to do, by what your church or your pastor told you to do, but by what God told you to do in His word. He has spoken and it’s up to us to choose to obey or reject His Words.

So all the world is doing it (that’s probably a pretty good sign that you shouldn’t), so all your friends are doing it, so all the churches are doing it! Just because all of Israel danced before a golden calf does not mean that Moses and Joshua should have too. Someone has to take a stand, choose to obey God’s words, and take God’s side.

“When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” – Deuteronomy 18:9-12

Jesus never once said that those who say a prayer or call themselves Christian are saved and will go to heaven. In fact He said that many will call themselves by His name and go to church and think they are saved but when they die He will tell them that He never knew them. Why? Because they did not do His will, they did their own. They did not do what He said to do, they did what they wanted to do. They did not obey His words, they worked iniquity, they did not separate themselves from the world. Jesus‘s alter call had nothing to do with what you say but with what you do. After all, an alter is where things go to die. What Jesus did say was that in order to be truly saved you must deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow His example, and that if you do the world will hate you for it because you will no longer agree with it and it will not agree with you.

The simple truth is that if you are in agreement with the world, then you are still the enemy of God. If the world hates you for your separation from it, then congratulations you are in fellowship with Christ. I say it in love because many do not know the truth of God’s word but ignorance will not be an excuse when He has made it available to you and you simply choose not to read it or believe it. Stop basing your eternal soul on Facebook memes and the silly things that other people say. Pick up the word of God, read it, believe it, and live by it, because one day you will surely be judged by it.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:11-17

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” – John 15:18-19

Click here to hear a powerful teaching by this author on the power of “Agreement”!

All In

“Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” – John 13:26

The word “sop” means a crumb or morsel (I say that for clarity sake), but the word in this passage that the Lord specifically directed me to this morning is “dipped”. In the original Greek the word used here was “bapto”, meaning to wholly cover in liquid. This immediately brings our mind to the word “baptism”. However, the word “bapto” is never used in reference to being baptized in Jesus. Why?

When referencing baptism in Jesus (such as Acts 2:38) a different word was always use, the word “baptizo” which has a very different meaning then that of “bapto”. You see “baptizo” means to be submerged, to abide in the submerging and become saturated by it, to completely absorb and be changed by that which the item is submerged in. To have as much of it in the item as the item is in it so that the item is carrying the substance and the substance is carrying the item. This takes continual abiding in that which it is submerged (Jesus) and not just a one time dipping like Judas’s bread.

The common analogy to explain the difference between the two is in the process of making pickles. When making pickles you dip (bapto) the cucumber into hot water. You put them in but then take them back out. Then you submerge (baptizo) them in brine (a salty vinegar solution) and leave them their. They absorb and are changed and preserved by what they are submerged in and become pickles. They are not just dipped and unchanged, they are in the brine and the brine is in them. They abide in the brine and the brine abides in them.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” – John 15:4-10

“Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue (abide) in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” – Romans 11:20-22

You see true baptism is not about water, (though we do that symbolically to make a public proclamation of our faith) it’s really about becoming completely immersed in Jesus Himself. It’s about diving into His presence and abiding their day after day until you become so saturated by it that it changes you into a carrier of it. Jesus died so that you could come boldly before the thrown of grace and abide their in God’s presence until His presence saturates you and abides in you! But it takes a continual abiding or else you will begin to dry up! If you inter into Jesus’s love, blood, presence, fellowship, relationship, then cease to daily abide in that presence for anything, then you are “bapto”, dipped like Judas’s bread. You went in and came out. When you inter the presence of God, through the blood of God, and come into relationship with God, and then cease to abide in it, you are actually betraying His heart just like Judas.

“If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” – Hebrews 6:6

While still pretending to be Christ’s disciple while having sold out to sin and come into agreement with hell, he betrays Jesus with a kiss. How many today claiming to belong to Christ, while being in agreement with hell, are betraying Him with their heart, thoughts, and actions while kissing Him in public so others want see what everyone already knows and in doing so put Christ to an open shame?

“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith this person was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” – Hebrews 10:29

If you’re not becoming more saturated and changed by the presence of His Holy Spirit every single day, then you are not abiding, you are betraying. If you are not growing, you’re dying. If you’re not praying, you’re straying. If you look back to remember a time of deep intimacy with Christ instead of looking forward with anticipation to the next encounter, then you’ve already given it up and settled for a memory rather then a relationship.

Abiding in love is a present tense consisting, not a past tense reminiscence. It’s time to repent, return to your first love, lay every other love, distraction, ambition, and agreement with hell aside, and abide. It’s time to be baptized in Jesus, completely immersed, soaked, saturated in His present presence, and stay there!

Anything that calls you, draws you, or pulls you away from that is 30 pieces of silver. Don’t trade your relationship with Jesus for it, cause you can’t have both. You might still kiss Him in front of others but your heart has betrayed Him and He knows it. That’s why He’s not kissing you back. Jesus is real! He is a real person with a real personality and real presence that wants a real relationship. Stop breaking His Heart. It’s time to decide that your going all in and staying in no matter the cost required and you’re not backing down or getting out, no matter the price offered. Though all the world hate me, Jesus I will love You. I’m all in.

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” – Revelation 2:2-5

The Mercy Of Affliction

“For God doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” – Lamentations 3:33

Lamentations is a record of wrath, a book of lamenting torment, trial, and brokenness. A chronicle of weeping and sorrow. A memory of affliction and judgment. Yet right in the very center of the book we have this beautiful truth, that God does not delight in judgment nor does He willingly afflict. God is love and He truly does love His creation. After all, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever should call on Him should be saved. (John 3:16)

Why then does affliction come? Because that God is Holy and just and must judge sin with a righteous judgement. Therefor, in His desperation to bring His creation into right standing, He must allow lamenting afflictions to come upon the ungodly in hopes that it will wake then from their selfishness, their apathy, their carnality, their childishness, and their outright rebellion.

Even in judgment there is mercy in that God is allowing men to see the consequences of their own decisions that they might come to realize the wisdom, love, compassion, and glory of trusting in God’s over their own. That they might have fleshly pride and desires burned away that they learn to lean not on their own understanding but trust in the leading of His Holy Spirit. That in allowing them to touch the fire they might finally see that all His correction was meant to be protection and not control or condemnation. This is the lesson of lamentation.

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10

“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” – Micah 7:18

Even in affliction there is mercy for while God does not delight in judgment, He does delight in mercy. We will all stand before God one day to be judged but no one will stand not having been given every chance and opportunity to humble themselves and repent in this life. First through the word of truth, then if that doesn’t work through the lamentation of affliction. Yet it is all because of mercy and mercy is because of love.

“Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:19-23

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9

However, love does not negate justice and all those who refuse to humble in this life will be humbled in the next when they are turned over to the master they chose. You see this is the real mercy of earthly affliction, that God allows men to get a small taste of the cruelty of the master they are choosing in serving the devil by turning them over to his evils and oppression in some measure in hopes that they will flee from him now while they still can. For there is coming a day when all hearts will be tried and those who choose to serve sin will be given to the master of sin in whom they have chosen to make themselves bound and will be cast into his final holding place with him by their own choice. God gives us the truth, He gives us the choice, He shows us the way, and He leaves the rest to us, because that’s what love does. It lets you choose, or else it’s not love, because love is a choice.

“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 5:5

“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

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15

Pick Up Your Cross : Jesus’s Alter Calls

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Matthew 16:24-26

We commonly see the “if you believe in Jesus and want to be saved raise your hand” message given in church. We see many hands go up but few lives changed. Why? Jesus never told anyone that they could be saved by a raised hand or even merely by what they said. In fact He often warned not to believe what people say outwardly professing to be sheep when inwardly they were actually wolves. So how did Jesus give an alter call?

Jesus’s alter calls when something like this: “if you want to follow Me, deny yourself, pick up your cross, follow Me and My example. If you are willing to give up everything in the life you have you will be saved. If not, then you won’t.”

If you have not died to self then you are not alive unto Christ. When the rich young ruler came asking Jesus to be counted among His own, Jesus pointed out to him the one thing that He knew he was not willing to give up attempting to show him that anything you are not willing to give up for Jesus is idolatry. For him it was his money, he was not in any open sin but because he loved his money more then God and when He asked him to lay it down he would not then Jesus did not accept him.

Salvation is a surrendered will in all things that will reflect in a transformed life. When Nicodemus asked Jesus what he had to do to be saved, Jesus told him that he had to be “born again”. In other words, you have to be changed into something totally new, you can’t hold on to anything of your life and be saved, not your sin, not your desires, not your plans, not your ideas, not your comfort zone, not your logic. Or else you will end up just like the Pharisees who rejected the salvation of the Lord while claiming to already walk in it and were called by Jesus, “vipers and children of hell”.

When Jesus offered salvation it was salvation from sin, from selfishness, from self service and self will, from idolatry, and because they were saved from these things they were by proxy saved from hell. If the person was not willing to be changed then they were not willing to be saved and Jesus never made them think that they were. He told them the truth for the sake of their soul. True salvation is a laying down, or surrender of your will for God’s. If this exchange of wills has not happened then you are not saved. As the old hymn says: “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.”

You see most people want Jesus to save them from hell, but not from themself, they want to be saved from punishment for sin but not from the sin that brings the punishment. The reality is that if you’re not saved from sin, you’re not saved from hell either. In fact the Bible says that if you choose to remain in your sin after that you have received the knowledge of the truth of Jesus’s sacrifice to liberate you from it and have been sanctified by His blood washing you of it, that not only does His sacrifice not continue to apply to you but hell will actually be worse for you because that you have by your actions (regardless of your profession) trampled His blood underfoot treating it as powerless, common, worthless, and unholy.

God’s warning to the believer that believes they can remain in their sin, self will, self centeredness, and idolatry and still be saved from hell:

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” – Hebrews 10:26-31

God’s warning to the minister that teaches such things:

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” – Matthew 23:13-15

God continually warning against the rise of these sinning self willed believers, their lack of fear of God, their willingness to speak against the pure things of God and the power of His Holy Spirit sent to overcome sin, and the devil’s purpose through them to filthy the bride of Christ with spots making her unfit for the Lord’s return:

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government (God’s authority against the kingdom of hell and all its works). Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities (this who exercise God’s authority against the kingdom of hell and its works) . Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 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; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” – 2 Peter 2:9-15

Be More

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” – 1 Peter 2:19-21

All through scripture you see this principal of God’s character expressed. He is pleased with those who give the more then expected. The easiest example of this for us to grasp is expressed in the tithe and offering. The tithe (10%) already belongs to God and is expected as simple obedience but the offering (anything above the 10%) is given of your own free will and truly blesses God. Because it is given above what is expected God is pleased by it and blesses it all the more. Yet does He state that both are our duty as saints because it reflects His good character.

However, this principal applies in every area of our Christian faith. Not just finances, I only use that as a clear illustration of it. In our opening passage we see this principle laid out in a much more humbling area of our lives. That of rebuke, ridicule, revile, rejection, oppression, and attack for the sake of our obedience to God or expression of faith.

To this the scripture says that if we be buffeted (resisted, opposed, or rebuked) for doing wrong and we take the buffeting with patience and humility then we have merely done what is expected of us by God. We often pat ourselves on the back when we humble ourselves to take rebuke gracefully that we needed and deserved but God says, that this is simply not being rebellious and is expected by Him.

However, when we are buffeted (resisted, opposed, or rebuked) for doing good, for obeying His voice, for standing in faith in what He has told us, for sharing His testimony or our own, for serving Him, or for ministering to others, and still take it with patience, grace, faith, and humility, then He is well pleased. This goes beyond what is normal and common and enters into what reflects His character to others. Now this does not mean that you stop doing these things but that you keep doing them in love, without offense. Just like Jesus did, who is our example.

You just keep doing these things for the sake of the very people who are buffeting you. Not opposing them, not fighting against them, but fighting for them and humbling yourself before them willing to even lay down your life for the sake of their eternal soul. Speaking kindly to those who have spoken harshly to you. Praying for those who have persecuted you. Washing those who have betrayed you. Serving those who have buffeted you. This is the more that God blesses because it demonstrates His more then normal character to a subnormal culture who desperately needs to see something more. After all, this is exactly what we were created, redeemed, and called for, to show them that there is more. So don’t just cry for more, be the more.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 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; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:43-48

Bold as a Lion

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

Yes the devil is ever on the hunt therefore we must be ever vigilant not to fall pray to him. He watches, studies, and picks up on your weak areas hoping to attack at the right moment when you are at your weakest so he can plan fear, offense, doubt, unbelief, selfishness, apathy, and then rebellion… Do you see the tactic?

Nearly all breaches in the wall begin with some form of fear and progress from their to agreement with the enemy, followed by compromise, then sin, and eventually out right rebellion. Fear of man, fear of what others think, fear of being alone or rejected, fear of being attacked by the enemy, of trial or tribulation, of physical or emotional hurt, fear of missing out on something, fear of not being successful, fear of not being understood or believed. Pretty much every lie of the enemy is rooted in some form of fear. Why? Because it’s all the devil has left.

Christ already defeated the devil at Calvary when He took his “authority” (keys) away. Dominion of the earth was given back to man through the redemptive power of the blood of Jesus who atoned for use and restored the physical dominion that we were created to walk in, then expanded it to include spiritual dominion as joint heirs with Christ as well. Do you know what that means? The devil now has no authority over man except that which we give up and surrender to him through agreement and fear is usually how he gets us to agree to give up our authority against him.

If you agree to be silent then the devil has already won because only the Word can silence him. Jesus spoke against the devil’s temptations when he said “it is written” and then quoted scripture. Jesus also said that the enemy, no matter how big, could be cast out if you will “speak to that mountain”. Jesus further tells us that the devil is overcome because of His blood and also the word of our testimony. So if the devil can make you afraid to speak then he has disarmed you and given himself place. If you agree with him to the point of obeying him and sinning then you forfeit your dominion and make him your master according to Romans 6:16, but it need not be so.

You see, the devil is “like” a roaring lion. In other words, he is “not” a roaring lion, he just pretends to be. Remember that he has already been defeated, through Christ you have all authority against him but he bullies, he bluffs, he pretends to be more then he is hoping to make you fearful of him so that you won’t stand your ground against him and speak.

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” – Revelation 1:5-6

Of all God’s creatures, why does he pretend to be like a lion? Because he is jealous of the real lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah! Because he hates the kingship (authority) that has been stripped from him and given to the righteous sons and daughters of God who are now bold as lions! So he pretends that he hasn’t lost it in hopes that you will be bluffed! He seeks to imitate, infiltrate, and intimidate the true Kings of the earth into laying down their authority and kingship so that he can walk in the void. He only has the authority that you give up and you give it up when he intimidates you with his counterfeit roar!

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;” – 2 Timothy 1:6-8

When you hear that roar do not go silent trying to hide from it! In stead silence him by showing him what the real thing sounds like! When the devil roars at you “like” a lion, remember who he really is, who you really are, and stir up the Gift that is within you (which is the real Lion of the tribe of Judah) and roar back!

“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed…” – Revelation 5:5

“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

“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” – Proverbs 28:1