Get Ready

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” – 1 John 3:17-24

James tells us that faith without works is dead, that they must come together like a spirit and a body. Each being useless without the other, the two making a whole. In this passage do we see John saying the same thing, that the commandments of the new covenant are to both believe on the name of Jesus (which means salvation from sins)(that’s the faith part), and to love one and other (that’s the works part) because love is not an emotion, it is an action. Love is sacrifice, love is service, love is tending and mending, love is labor, love is forgiving, love is something you choose to do and walk in daily with devotion and commitment, it’s not merely a feeling.

The counterfeit of love, which is lust, is nearly a feeling and it is fleeting. But love is a choice and we make it daily. This is why God continually commanded us to love. Even telling us to love our enemies! He would not make it a commandment if it was not a choice.

The greatest commandment, the first fruit of the Spirit, the way that the world will know that we are Jesus’s. It all comes back to love, which is an action. Yet do we not have the strength to stay that narrow road without putting our faith in Jesus. In the fact that He is able to save us from sinfulness. To forgive us and to empower us to forgive others their trespasses against us. To help us to pray for them. To help us to be a servant to the least among us. To shine the light and love of Christ by the leading of His Holy Spirit that others might see it and believe in Him because that they see something different in us. They see love.

Don’t shut up your bowels of mercy, dear brethren. Your fellow man (your enemies being included among them) are about to need you desperately. Like no time before in history, are you going to need to walk in this selfless, sacrificial, humility. Prepare your heart in faith to do the work of the Kingdom of God in this earth. It’s time to be a light in the darkness.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never fails…” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

“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.” – Matthew 5:44-45

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” – John 13:35

A Wasted Vineyard

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.” – Proverbs 24:30-34

A vineyard of one who does not know how to tend it, the field of one who is lazy in the spirit, both are wasted and overtaken. The field is covered in thorns, through scripture thorns have represented sin. The wall of the vineyard is broken down. The prophets tell us that when the walls of morality and the truth of God’s word that protects us from being overtaken by our enemy are neglected or rejected, God will stop protecting it for a moment as both a judgment and as a mercy. To teach the slothful, prideful, selfish, and arrogant a lesson. Those who think they know what they are doing but have really only made a mess of God’s vineyards.

The lazy do not seek the Lord, it is too hard. The prideful do not seek the Lord, they think they know more. Both come to the same end, destruction.

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

“Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)” – Philippians 3:19

“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. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” – Proverbs 3:5-7

“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

Seek Him early while He may be found. There comes a point at which the door is shut, the last trumpet sounds, and all of a sudden you realize that the walls are down. The land is not fruitful, the thorns overtake, they choke out the good because of the caretakers mistakes. What is coming on this nation is the fault of the church, they have forsaken their work. They slept when they should have sought. They played when they should have fought. They indulged when they should have fasted. They sugar coated when they should have stood fast in the truth. They trusted the words of men when they should have sat at the feet of Jesus, waited upon Him and sought the Holy Spirit for His.

Now the suddenly will come because of them. This is why judgment begins in the house of the Lord. Because they were the guards and they did not keep the door. They slept on the job, they got distracted by the good life, they gave their affections to the blessings and not to the master of them. So the enemy will come to take them that they might run back to the one who originally gave them.

God has warned and warned, and still does He leave space for repentance as long as there’s breath. Yet will this event not be stopped, it’s too late for that. I tell you of a truth, that what comes next is a mercy as much as a judgment. He must teach them the consequences of not trusting Him fully. He desires to prosper, to bless, to make fruitful. But it takes discipline, sacrifice, abiding in His truths, and tending the vineyards.

How serious do you take your work, oh minister. How serious do you take your faith, oh believer. How serious do you take your savior, oh redeemed. Are you seeking, and serving, and following His leading? Or are you sleeping while the vineyard is becoming a wasteland, good for nothing but to be cleared in a moment of judgment. God will wake you up. By fire or by invasion. The field will be cleared and the vineyard made fruitful again. He would rather have done it the easy way, but you refused to seek Him.

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” – Isaiah 55:6-13

The Mystery

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” – Ephesians 3:14-19

In Ephesians chapter 3, Paul decrees that the mystery of what God was doing through the ages was to bring the Jews and the Gentiles together as one family. Though it had been hidden in times past, now through the revelation of the Holy Spirit given to all men by faith in the atoning blood of Jesus which made a way for us to be cleansed and boldly approach God’s thrown of grace to not only confess our sins and be forgiven, but also receive His Spirit and be born again as a new creature into God’s family.

This shift made possible by the atoning blood of Jesus began the dispensation of grace. Not even the powers and principalities knew what God was doing or they would not have killed Jesus. It was a “check mate” moment that changed everything and elevated redeemed man far above them in rank and authority, being made sons of God, Kings, and Priest in His Kingdom!

How did Jesus do this? When man fell, he fell out of fellowship with the Father. He could not enter into the true mercy seat to make an atonement for his sins because the real mercy seat is in heaven. What was built in the tabernacle by Moses was a replica, a type and shadow of the real. Yet no sin can inter into heaven so man was stuck without a true and lasting atonement.

Until Jesus, the biggest mistake the devil ever made was to kill Jesus. Why? Because He was guiltless. Death came by way of sin, so without sin death had no hold on Him! Jesus was the first man, since Adam’s fall at creation, to die without sin! So was He able to inter in to heaven and bring the blood of the atonement to the mercy seat of God and ask for the forgiveness of the people as our High Priest in the heavenlies!

What blood could He bring in to heaven with Him, besides His? So He made Himself the sacrifice! But before He did this, He became betrothed to a bride.

At the last supper, that Passover Seder, where He was preparing to be the lamb for us, He did something astonishing and unexpected. He sat with the disciples, who in this moment represented the church, and shared a cup over a meal. You see, in the culture of the time, when a man found His wife, they came together to share a cup of covenant over a meal, in the bride’s father’s house. If she drank of His cup then she agreed to be betrothed to Him and to wait for Him to prepare a place for them.

Jesus, the son of God, betrothed Himself to the church that night over a cup of covenant. Judas was a sinner whom Jesus said was possessed with Satan. Therefore was Satan there that night. 1 John 3 tells us very plainly that the righteous are the children of God but the unrighteous are the children of the devil. Therefore Satan, the father of the children of the unrighteous, unwittingly participate in the betrothal his children to Jesus that night! So that now as many as choose to leave their father’s house and cling to Christ as a bride does to her husband, they can be delivered from that house of bondage, and no longer be counted among the family of it. They are brought into the family of their new husband. In this case, the family of God! How amazing, and complex, and simply perfect is what Jesus did for us!

But what God did through Jesus didn’t end there, because once betrothed to the church and in covenant with her, He then acted as a covering for her. Protecting her and taking her place being willing to lay down His life for His bride. He took the punishment for our sins that we might be set free from them. He covered us by standing in between us and the wrath of God that was coming for us under the law. This pleased God for He did not desire our destruction but His justice required that the law be fulfilled.

Now as if the majesty of the fullness of what God did for us on that day that has already been explained wasn’t enough? There was yet an other amazing benefit in Jesus’s crucifixion toward us. Because that He had betrothed us, and made us His bride, when He died, all that was His was willed to His beloved. In that moment, we who were nothing, because the righteousness of God with all of the power, grace, and authority of His Kingdom. Joint heirs with Christ. Part of God’s family. The son of God’s wife, sharing one spirit. So that now rather you be Jew or Gentile, we are all the same in the kingdom because of this man Jesus!

This is the mystery of God. Foretold through the ages, but not revealed or understood until Jesus fulfilled it in it’s fullness. When His blood was spilled taking away our sinfulness and giving us His righteousness. For we all have, like sheep gone astray and needed to be saved. Praise God for His amazing grace.

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” – 1 Corinthians 2:7-8

A Humble Remnant

“Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the Lord; she drew not near to her God. Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. The just Lord is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.” – Zephaniah 3:1-5

The Book of the Prophet Zephaniah is a prophetic record of Israel (God’s congregation or church) becoming so puffed up with pride and ingrained with pagan mindsets (which are all based on selfishness, self promotion, self validation, self worship, and self indulgences) that they could no longer work together as a body under God’s leading. It became all about “me”. They trusted in themselves and had stopped letting God lead.

So God stepped back and let them lead themselves right into a war. Sword, violence, and pestilence passed through the land like a scourge. Great was the destruction of all that they had hope to make themselves lords over. In this we’re they stripped and their hearts refocused. Some among them cried out to God for deliverance and began to move in selflessness as they tended to each other’s needs like a family.

“Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” – Zephaniah 2:2-3

God had long been giving warnings and space for repentance. He made it clear that judgment was coming because of pride and of sin. Acknowledge you’re sins and repent, come away from them and be changed, reject pride and be humble in the sight of God and of men and you will be protected. Yet very few did this, they clung to their vanity and forsook God’s great mercy. So the window of repentance was closed and the humbling began to move in, first of an economic collapse, then in a physical war and fire.

“I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings. Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” – Zephaniah 3:7-9

God desired revival but could not endorse these people. They did not rightly reflect or represent Him. They were full of pride and haughtiness, they lied and deceived and controlled and manipulated in the name of God without fear or conviction. God would deliver them from this wicked selfishness through a furnace of affliction. He would purify the bride that they might finally be able to work together to do God’s works and build His kingdom rather than tear it apart to build their own. He would tear their’s down and show them how pointless their strivings were. Their’s can’t last, while His can’t be defeated. Better to labor to build His Kingdom.

“In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. – Zephaniah 3:11-13

By the end of the book we see a remnant of humble sacrificial charitable selfless body of believers working together as a family with God finally leading them. In this does God return their blessing and provision and endorsement through the power of His anointing because that now they rightly represent Him. Now they trust Him to lead them. Now they had stopped trusting their own ambition to work out well for them. Now they are selfless. Now they are united. Now they can be used to bring about revival.

“And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes… The Lord of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar. And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.” – Zechariah 9:8, 15-16

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 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. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.” – Philippians 2:1-18

Transplants

I have three large blueberry bushes. I have tended to them tenderly, growing them in each their own large pot. I have watered, I have fertilized, I have tended the soil in their container with great care. I did not dare put them into my ground because that I have learned from past experience that blueberries only thrive in a very specific soil type. If my ground isn’t right and I try to plant them here, they will die.

You see blue berries don’t like it easy, they like soil that is very acidic. In fact they grow in places that few other things can grow. They have a purpose there, repairing the soil and baring sweet fruits in otherwise baron places. So before trying to plant them I had my soil tested. My results came through clear, my soil is neutral to slightly alkaline, it is a fruitful land and much can grow here, but not blueberries.

If I try to plant them here I will fight a very laborious and loosing battle to keep them alive. However, where my sister lives is the perfect environment for blueberries to grow and thrive and produce much fruitfulness! So I had a decision to make. I can give these plants that I have labored so dearly to raise up away or I can keep them and watch them wither away. I can trust God to do what He does best in the right environment or I can keep trying to make it happen by my own strength and intellect.

My pride might say, keep them, you have invested so much into them, they are about to finally start baring and bringing in a return for your labor! But the best thing for the plants would be to allow them to be transplanted. How much more fruit will they produce! How much longer will they live! How many more will partake and benefit from their sweetness!

My friend, dear minister of the Lord, are you more concerned with ownership then with fruitfulness? Sometimes it’s best to transplant. You will yield a greater harvest and return on your labors in eternity if you let the Lord place your dear young tender plants into the environment that He has created for them.

Thank you for your nurturing, your watering, your care, now let them be taken to where they will best bare the sweetest most abundant fruit for the Kingdom.

Nurseries are needed but if a plant stays contained too long it will become stunted, unable to bare much fruit, and eventually die before it truly reproduces. It would be better to give that plant away and receive a reward with interest for it’s many generations of fuiltfusness then to keep it and let it parish fruitless or stunted.

“Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:” – Matthew 25:24-32

Feeding the Sheep

“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats… Then shall the righteous (the sheep) answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” – Matthew 25:37-40

Jesus tells us through out His Earthly ministry to tend to the needs of the brethren. To love and to help them. To serve and to encourage them. To correct and to direct them in love. To “feed His sheep”, not so much the goats.

Wait, aren’t we to help everyone? While the scripture does tell us to be kind to the stranger and to help all as the Spirit of the Lord leads, we do not have the same obligation to feed and to tend to them as you would the brethren. When a person has surrendered to the words and teachings of Jesus then we are to offer all that we have to help them get on their feet both physically and spiritually. However, to those who are unsubmitted to the words and teachings of Jesus, we have no such obligation and doing so without a direct word from heaven can end in much fruitlessness and exhaustion. It’s a good work, but it’s not a God work and it will amount to nothing on the day of judgment if God never told you to do it. In fact it can even amount to iniquity and rebellion if it keeps you from doing the fruitful work of the Kingdom that God truly had intended for you to be doing.

“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 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.” – Matthew 7:19-23

Be cautious of the trap of good works. While God does have good works for you to do, what some might want to push you into (through guilt, or fear, or manipulation) that Jesus never called you to do personally, can be a trap of the enemy to pull you away from the narrow path that He has laid for you to walk in obedience to the leading of His Spirit.

We are to help the poor and the needy, yet there is a difference between the poor and needy and the lazy and greedy. We are to help the widow and the orphan, yet is this different then those who are suffering the consequences of prideful, selfish, and rebellious decisions unto their own humbling. Don’t remove a man from his stripping before it’s work has been completed in bringing him into submission the the leading of the Holy Spirit and words of Jesus.

This is an area that needs great discernment. The Bible never told you to ware yourself to nothingness enabling sinners to continue in their wickedness. In fact, Paul said that if they do not submit to sound doctrine then to send them away, turning them over to Satan for a season that they might be humbled and saved. The scripture also says that if they insist to believe or to teach an other doctrine other then what Jesus taught then to have no part with them, less you be found guilty of spreading or enforcing their error by association.

So then we can see that scripturally, that we do have a moral obligation to tend to the needs of the brethren who are seeking after Jesus and His teachings. Yet when it comes to the lost and rebellious we need to seek the Lord, who is the only one who truly knows the heart. For we are not obligated to be taken advantage of, or used into uselessness.

We are to shine the light of the truth of the gospel of Jesus, demonstrating His love, mercy, and compassion. Yet also knowing when to say “no”, just like He did when people came manipulating with the intent to use Him.

After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, many return to Jesus seeking, not Him or redemption of their sins and selfishness, but simply free fish. What was Jesus’ response to this? He did not placate the selfish manipulative spirit in operation. He sharply rebuked them. He gave them no bread and no fish like they wished, instead He gave them the real manna from Heaven, the straight forward truth that He Himself was living and manifesting and allowed them to either receive or reject it.

When they refused it, He let them depart empty handed. He came to cleanse our soul and fill us with His Spirit, not nearly to fill our selfish bellies. To place the later over the former is the hight of pride, selfishness, excess, and rebellion! Jesus and His Holy Spirit will not take part in it.

There is a difference in our obligations to the sinful and rebellious, than to the brethren. Remember this the next time the enemy makes you feel guilty and overwhelmed with fruitless task meant only to pull you away from the true work of the kingdom. The enemy will send assignments that seem like good works that are really there to detour you from following Jesus. Be gentle as Lambs but wise as serpents. Your enemy is very cunning and knows how to turn your good nature against you to make you fruitless and exhausted.

When God has called you to it, it may not be easy but it will be fruitful. When the enemy pushes and manipulates you into it, it will only wary and discourage you. Seek the Lord for council, He knows the heart, He knows the need, He knows the grounds that are ready to take the seed. His work is fruitful and never without harvest. His yoke is light for He does the work for us. He gives us the grace and the rest and still rewards us, though He did the most of it. While the assignments of the enemy will leave us empty, exhausted, confused, discouraged, used, abused, with a fruitless harvest. So be wise, know the difference, seek the Lord and His wisdom. He knows the end from the beginning, so trust the leading of His Spirit and don’t be made to feel guilty for obeying it.

“They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” – John 6:30-40, 51, 66-69

“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” – Philippians 3:17-20

Glory

“Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” – John 17:7-10

Jesus said that nothing that He did was of Him, but all was done by the Father through Him. Not even His words were His own, but that which He sought the Father for did He speak, and that alone.

Therefore in this was the Father glorified when God’s plan and will was fully manifested for the good, and teaching, and correction, and redemption of all who would believe and receive of it.

Unless God builds the house, he who builds, builds in vain. Unless God guards the city, he that watches, watches in vain. The works of God will stand and withstand the fiery trials that come to test it. But the works of men’s hands will fail them, and amount to nothing in the end.

The Work that God did through Jesus still stands today after two thousand years of trial and persecution. The work of the pharisees that opposed Him while seeking the attention and accolades of men was gone in only a few short years. God does not fail. His words do not return void. If what you have build has come to naught then it’s time to stop, repent, and humbly surrender to Him and His will. Because His will, will always win.

Jesus continues by saying that in the same way that He did the Fathers will and the Father was glorified in Him, would Jesus be glorified through the followers who were given unto Him. When we do what Jesus says as the head of the church and body, then do His plans (and by proxy, God’s through Him) manifest in victorious demonstrations of God’s majesty in the earth. Yet will this only happen for His glory and not for yours. You take credit for what He alone has done, and the Holy Spirit will have no part in it. He will be grieved and depart from it. He will pull away and the enemy will rush in and tear down that which you have put your hands and will too. So be oh so cautious and ever vigilant of this.

You can do nothing good, but only the Holy Spirit through you when you humble, yield, and submit to it. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will only ever speak of, give glory too, and focus men on Jesus. Therefore, the moment that you speak boastfully of, give glory too, or turn men’s focus to you, the Holy Spirit will have nothing more to do with it. It counters His purpose and work in the earth, which is solely to glorify Jesus.

So why does it seem that some who do this still move by the power of the Holy Spirit? Because there is a counterfeit. The antichrist spirit moves in signs and lying wonders. Even the magicians of Egypt moved in counterfeits of the works that God did through Moses, to an extent. But alas, their works did not last. They all meet their limit, their destructive end in wrath and fiery judgment. They are swallowed up in Victory by the true power and authority that they are seeking to mimic in order to get men’s worship and attention.

God will not be mocked. This is a serious sin. Don’t be found guilty of it when the destroyer comes knocking. Make sure that you are under the covering of the one who is always victorious. The one who won the fight already. The one who’s blood paid the price for our redemption. The one who’s work is from everlasting to everlasting. The one who is all power, glory, truth, wisdom, and revelation. Make sure that you are humbly submitted to, placing your faith in, and giving the glory for every victory to Jesus. Both in the private praise and thanksgiving of the prayer closet, and also in the sight of men. Turn your attention to Jesus and turn others attention to Him, giving Him all the credit in every situation. Because this one thing is certain, that He will not share His glory with an other.

“That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:29-31

“And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” – Haggai 2:7

Of His Spirit

“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” – 1 John 4:12-14

Jesus, Peter, James, Jude, Paul, and all of the early apostles warned us continually of counterfeits in the pulpits, of false prophets, and of wolves in sheep’s clothing. So how will we know them? Jesus said that we will know them by their fruits. Paul later tells us of 9 fruits of the spirit that we can use to sharpen our discernment, the first and greatest of which is, “love”.

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus recited the Shama. Stating that it was to love God above all and to love others more then yourself. He also told us that if we loved Him then we would keep His commandments. In this did He tells us is the fulfillment of the law, because that is we love God we will obey Him and it will not be grievous for us to do so, for love drives and motivates like no other. Note will we sin against our fellow man. If we love them more than ourselves, then will we walk in selflessness.

Being therefor humble servants, will God then trust to elevate us to greater responsibilities in His Kingdom. If He can trust us to love, to be selfless, to be humble, and to be servants then He knows that He can also trust us with the power of His Kingdom to do the work of it in fullness.

Some ask for it (according to James) but do not get it because their motives are selfish. To consume it upon their own lust or desires. They want attention, accolades, to be seen as powerful, to be followed, to lift themselves up in the sight of men. God will not give of the gifts of His Spirit unto them for this is not the character of His spirit and He is not being represented in this. The seeds that will be planted and spread by those who have this motive are the seeds of the counterfeit. It will only reproduce more wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Yes they do have gifts and lying wonders, yes they do have signs and followers, yes they do have fruits, but no, they are not of the His Spirit. They are the fruits of the flesh. They are rooted in pride and selfishness. They are the opposite of Jesus, they are antichrist. So as Paul warned continually with tears and with weeping, beware of the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Our opening passage gives you two ways to know then who are truly led by the Holy Spirit. The first is by the fruit, the first and greatest being mentioned in it is “love”. Which will produce sacrificial submission, selflessness, and servanthood. And the second sign mentioned is that those who have God’s Holy Spirit will point all men to Jesus. They will speak highly of Him and not of themselves. They will point all men to Him and not seek attention. They will give Him the credit and not feed on the accolades of men. They will know that they are nothing but blessed to be able to announce His greatness and that is enough for them and is their only ambition. They will proclaim at all cost that only Jesus can save men and cause men’s faith to be place in Him and not in them.

The wolves in sheep’s clothing however, operating from an antichrist spirit will be boastful, prideful, arrogant, and selfish. Though they try to hide it mixed with sweetness and good works, will it manifest at key moments so that they are not consistent. In other words, they will be hypocrites.

The word hypocrite was the word used for an actor, in the time of Jesus. Therefore are they synonymous with the wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are putting on a show for the applause (or worship) of men. Again, an other tell tell characteristic of the antichrist spirit.

“… and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5

The Humbling

“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.” – Exodus 3:1

Moses knew that he was called of God to lead his people out of the bondage of Egypt and into great victory and promise. So he began to step out in that mission, yet without wisdom given through time spent seeking, speaking with, and being taught and instructed by God on how to achieve it. He took matters into his own hands and did what he thought best in the moment and ended up killing a man and misrepresenting God’s character and purpose.

Yes the Egyption was wrong, he was beating a Hebrew slave. Moses new that his mission was to deliver them but he tried to do it in his own strength and understanding and ended up with blood on his hands for it. God could not have this, so was he chased out of what seemed like position, out to the back side of a wilderness to learn in humbleness of how God was going to do this.

After all, God was called upon to bring deliverance and He responded. Yet is God no respecter of persons and many Egyptians grew to believe in the God of Abraham through what He did in the sight of them. So that many converted and left Egypt with Moses in the Exodus. Who is to say that the Egyptian that Moses killed would not have been one of them? God was seeking freedom for anyone who would receive it. Moses was still immature spiritually, impatient, puffed up and arrogant. He assumed that he knew what to do, but really he was frustrating God’s plan and purposes by bringing more strife and contention between those that God desired to later make one family in His kingdom.

So what did He do? He ran Moses off from the very place that he knew he was called to change. He had learned from Pharaohs and kings all the wrong things. Now would God take him to the back side of a wilderness to learn from a true shepherd, how to tend to a flock and a congregation in a wilderness. He would learn in lowliness, in meekness, and in much wontedness compared to where he had been. He would learn who God really is and how different He is from Egypt and all that it teaches. He would learn how to lead a people into deliverance through humility, through sacrifice, through service, through feeding and leading and speaking and being among the sheep of his father-in-law’s pasture.

In Egypt he killed a man, in this wilderness his first act was to defend defenseless women and then to tend to sheep after them. This place was a place of stripping, of teaching, and most of all, of humbling. So that when he came out of it, God would say of him that he was the meekest man in all the earth. Such a transition was no doubt a difficult one. Yet was it a necessary one in order for God to accomplish His mission. Moses’s promise might have seemed like it died for a season but it was only so that God’s promise could come alive in him. He was being prepared for more then he could understand or imagine. He would be sent back into Egypt in the proper season, once that he himself was seasoned, in order to face Pharaoh in a way that would be opposite in demonstration to all that Pharaoh was and represented. Humility in the face of pride. Sacrifice in the face of excess. Lowliness in the face of extravagance. Faith in the face of prowess. Truth in the face of counterfeits. Power in the face of weakness. The God of Moses in the face of the gods of Egypt.

He would not be able to do this with the things he was taught in Egypt. He would have to do it with the things he was taught in the wilderness. He would have to have the faith to trust God to do this a different way then what made since to one who was brought up in Egypt in order to call men out of it. The young Moses would have simply overtaken Egypt like the Zealots wanted to do in the time of Jesus. The mature and humbled Moses new that all who would trust God had to be completely removed from Egypt and that only God knew how to do it. He had learned by being a shepherd how to follow the Good Shepherd and that if others chose to follow him as he did then they would all be delivered from the bondages of Egypt and the cruel master of it.

So if you have a call on your life, don’t become impatient or arrogant in how you are to accomplish it. Simply seek to follow after God, even if He leads you into a wilderness, to serve in the lowly until He sees fit to elevate once you’ve passed the test needed to show that you have been sufficiently separated from Egypt. He doesn’t want you to end up leading a new Egypt, building little pyramids in new territories. He wants to do a new thing, to build tabernacles that He can dwell in! That requires sacrifice, obedience, faith, and total separation from the things of Egypt. Things that you don’t even see yet, things that He Will show you in the lowliness of the backside of your wilderness.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” -James 1:4

“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.” – Hebrews 11:24-26

A Hot East Wind

“Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.” – Hosea 13:15-16

This prophetic word to Israel came at a time of calm. When Ephraim was fruitful and flourishing. When they seemed to be at peace with the major powers of the time (Assyria and Egypt). They took the nations around them to be their brethren and continued at ease in peace and prosperity, trusting them completely.

When suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere like an east wind. The armies of the Assyrians would move in. Not only an army from the east but one that (like the hot dry harsh east winds of Israel does to a vineyard or plant) would serve to dry up their fruitfulness. There peace, their prosperity, their plenty would be withered instantly. Strong and violently would this enemy from the east sweep over the land and ravage it.

It was the Lord who would allow this as a judgment for their sins. It would be as the winds that come up out of the wilderness of the south east. Which for Israel meant the winds that come across the desert. Very hot and dry and destructive. Consuming moisture and all that brings life, liberty, and fruitfulness.

It would dry up the springs and fountains of water. This speaks not only to a scarcity of physical resources, but more importantly of the living water of the word of God. They had forsaken it for so long and taken it for granted. Now would they see what it was like to want it, but not have it. An enemy that despised the God of their fathers, who dried up the wells and springs of His words and teachings. They had served the spirit of this enemy willingly, now would they be turned over to him physically for a season that they might see how cruel and destructive it was to be in agreement with this wickedness and the dangers of spiritual laziness; for we have a real enemy and when the spiritual warfare is forsaken for selfishness, prosperity, entertainment, and laziness, the enemy keeps plotting and advancing until eventually the enemy manifest and the war becomes physical. This happened to Israel over and over again and it is no different in our current climate, for there is nothing new under heaven. The enemy uses the same tactics.

The passage continues to prophesy that this enemy would rob the treasuries of the government and pleasant vessels of the people. Their materialism would be turned against them as it attracted violence to plunder their possessions. All that they had trusted in would fail them or be taken.

Verse 16 begins to talk about Samaria which was considered the royal city, or capital, at this time. The prophet warns that it will be attacked, besieged, laid waste, made desolate down to it’s very foundation. They trusted in themselves and they fell. This capital not only forsook, but openly rebelled against God, therefore did He remove His hand of protection from them and showed them how weak they really were without Him.

They had encouraged idol worship, greed, selfishness, perversion, sin, they shed the blood of the innocent (including their own children), they rejected the worship of the God of Isaac, Abraham, and Jacob, and they removed the rightful Kings from leadership that had been chosen by God through the bloodline of David and appointed new kings illegitimately.

For all this would this enemy from the East come like a scourge across the land. Harsh, cruel, and wicked. A hot wind burning, poisoning, drying, and laying waste to it. The capital would fall and violence would befall them to the degree of cruelty that they themselves had agreed to let in spiritually. They had killed their own children on the alters of convenience and in doing so had come into agreement with the demons that influence men to do such wicked things. Now would their women and children be killed openly in the streets for the convenience of their enemies, where all could see the evil, wickedness, and cruelty that such acts unleash. No more hidden sugarcoated sin. It would be preformed out in the open by the enemy they themselves let in. Until such a time as they began to see it for what it is, distain it, cry out in true repentance, and seek the God of their Fathers for deliverance. The judgment of God is more often then not, to simply give to men what they think they want.