The Pastor And The Prophet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Hands of Christ 

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” – 1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:27‬ ‭

We’ve all heard the phrase, “we are the hands and feet” of Christ. This phrase is an indirect quote that summarizes chapter 12 of the book of 1 Corinthians. The chapter as a whole explains that though Christ’s Spirit still remains, His physical body is no longer in this world. Therefor, until He physically returns on that fateful day, we are to allow our physical bodies to be used by His Holy Spirit to continue His work and ministry in His stead. 

This is why the chapter begins with Paul identifying the spiritual gifts that Christ functioned in and explains that those who have His Spirit will allow themselves to be used as His body continuing His physical work by continuing to function in these gifts, as He did that the overcoming power of the Kingdom of God against the works of the kingdom of Satan would continue to be demonstrated in the earth to the freeing of souls from it’s lies, bondages, and limitations. This is why, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!” It is the power to set at liberty those that had been captive! Liberty from fear, from sin, from sickness, from demonic oppression, from torment, from all the works of the devil, because it is authority!

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭

This is the truest since of what it means to be the hands of Christ! Demonstrating the authority of the Kingdom! Through out the New Testament when the command was given to “lay hands” on someone, the Authority of the Kingdom of God was about to be demonstrated in the Name of Jesus! The sick were healed, the oppressed delivered and set free, demons cast out, the dead raised, the lame made whole, the Spirit of God was given, gifts were stirred up, callings manifested! The power of Christ’s authority became alive causing people to have faith in the grace (or power) that had been made available to all through Jesus Christ! 

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant… But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to EVERY MAN to profit WITHAL.” – 1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:1, 7‬ 

Here’s the exciting news! Nothing has changed! It still works the same today! Only our faith in it has changed so that you see only the rare few who dare to read the bible for themselves and belief it actually walk in the truth and power of it! A lot of people talk the talk but only the few who know who their God is and truly believe actually walk the walk in freedom bringing, hell overcoming, demon stomping, territory taking, life changing, faith stirring, miracle working power and authority! 

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” – Mark‬ ‭16:17-18‬ ‭

“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” – Daniel‬ ‭11:32‬ ‭

Until Christ returns, we have been given the commission to continue His ministry in every aspect that He preformed it, functioning as His body led by His Spirit moving in His gifts by the power of His grace that He made available to us by His sacrifice. Upon His return, we will all have to face Him and give an account of what we did, or didn’t do with this great gift and commission that He suffered so much to give us. I for one would like to hear those words, “well done, My good and faithful servant. Inter into rest.” Yet I fear for the many who will hear, as the unfruitful servant who buried his talent did in Matthew‬ ‭25:30‬, “cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Note that this was a servant of God, a believer in God, yet he did not make it in because He did not bare fruit for the kingdom. He hid and wasted that which Christ had given all to give to him. Yes, he called Him Lord, yes he believed in Him, but he did not do His will, he trusted in his own ability and buried the gift that God had given him, that had he used, would have allowed him to do greater things then he could have ever done on his own. God would have multiplied and compounded the return of souls for the kingdom like interest on money in the bank if he had just used the gift that he had been given access to. Don’t let other people’s fear and unbelief rob you of your faith unto the hiding of your talents. Let your faith rob other people of their fear and unbelief by the digging up and using of your talents. 

“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: …;” – 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:6-8‬ ‭

The gifts are given as tools for the harvest, to continue His work and demonstrate the reality of the authority granted by the victory over Satan that was won for us at Calvary. If you truly believe that Christ overcame His enemy and put Satan under our feet then these signs will follow you because you will walk in victory and authority speaking, doing, and living the power of this good news! If you will only believe, then you will give His Spirit, your body, to do His will. Then will you truly be His hands and feet, then will His gifts and talents be used to the harvesting of souls with interest! Then will signs, wonders, and miracles follow you, because you have believed, truly believed. 

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” – Romans‬ ‭8:14‬ ‭

Christian, Stop Debating and Start Demonstrating

“He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” – Proverbs‬ ‭9:7-10‬ ‭

How often do we see believers getting caught up in debates with unbelievers? Is there any fruit in that? According to scripture, the answer is “no”. Unless a person has the fear of the Lord, which equates to an understanding of, and a belief in God’s just judgment and hell, and a reverence for His omnipotent wisdom, then they themselves have no wisdom. 

The truth is that non of us have any wisdom of ourselves, our world view is so limited and our minds, will’s, and emotions, are so easily manipulated, twisted, and confounded by the enemy who was by God’s own admittance, “the wisest creature God had created.” That means the devil is wiser then you, he is a lier, and a master deceiver. The devil will outsmart you every time, but he will never outsmart God. Therefore, to fear God will cause you to obey God, which will cause you to walk in His wisdom, which is the only wisdom that is wisdom because it’s the only wisdom that can outsmart the devil’s wisdom.

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made…”- Geneses‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭

“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 ‭

So understanding this we can see that it is utterly pointless to try to instruct someone who does not fear the Lord and therefor honor His wisdom above their own. So believers, stop debating with unbelievers, they cannot know the truth until they have first come to know Him that is the truth. Don’t debate moral issues with people who do not have God who is the only moral standard. Don’t debate the deep truths of the bible with people who do not have the Holy Spirit of God, it is not yet open to them. Just give them the gospel, give them the good news, give them Jesus! 

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:1-2‬ ‭

Only once a person has truly had a real life changing, new creation, rebirth experience can they then walk in the humility to be instructed in the truth. Only after they have been made new and impossibly changed from what they thought they knew will the revelation of the reality that God’s ways are truly higher then their ways allow them to open up to the deeper wisdom of the way, the truth, and the life. Until then, you’re fighting a loosing fight. Trust God, He knows better. 

Stop debating and start demonstrating. You’re not demonstrating Jesus when you are debating Jesus. Show forth the good news and demonstrate the power of the the kingdom of God to set the captive free, transform lives, and do what cannot be explained or understood by the limited wisdom of man. No one can argue with your testimony, so stop debating Jesus and start demonstrating Jesus and you’ll see that the gospel  works on others when you show that it worked on you.

“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 ‭

“But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” – 1 Corinthians‬ ‭4:19-20‬ ‭

“Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” – Jeremiah‬ ‭17:5-10‬ 

Not His Will

So often we hear the phrase “whatever is meant to be will be“, or “God’s will, will be done.” It gives us a great sense of ambiguity in not only the over all scheme of things but also in our own lives and convictions, or lack thereof. So where does this concept come from?

Well it surely doesn’t come from God. The bible is full of story’s where things didn’t work out the way they were suppose to. Death, murder, selfishness, immorality, wrath, judgment, all of which came solely as a result of people living in opposition to God’s will; for God told them not to do these things. 

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” – ‭James‬ ‭4:17‬ ‭

In truth, sin is simply any form of rebellion against God’s will. If everything was God’s will then there would be no sin because there would be no rebellion, for the very nature of rebellion is to choose to act against the will of the authority over you. If your children are being rebellious, it means that they are not obeying your will for them.

Now hear me out on this, God is above all and in the end His promises will stand, God will do His part, it’s your part that is in question here. The Israelite’s that left Egypt are a great example of this. They left for the promised land, yet Paul tells us that because of the unbelief of God’s words that drove their constant rebellion to God’s will for them, they could not enter in. God still kept His promise to Abraham by sending their children into promise but they themselves lost their part in it because of a refusal to believe and obey God’s words, but it did not have to be; hence the warning to us not to make the same mistake.

“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” – Hebrews‬ ‭3:7-12‬ ‭

Now, let’s take this concept of God’s will always being done straight to scripture and see what it plainly says:

“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 ‭

Peter, a disciple of Christ, clearly states that God is very patient in His wrath and judgments toward us because it is “not His will” that anyone would perish but it is His will that everyone should come to repentance. Yet we know that very few actually do come to repentance in the over all scope of things because Matthew 7:14 tells us that “narrow is the way that leads to life and few are they that find it.” 

So if it is God’s will that all come to repentance unto eternal life, then why do so few do so? The answer is given just a few more verses down when it says clearly that it is because most do not do the will of the Father. 

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

You do have a choice to make, everyone has a choice to make. Will you be counted among the many or among the few. God is patient because it is not His will that any should parish, therefor He waits for you to choose to repent of your rebellion against His will and realign yourself with it, but many simply choose not to. The choice is yours, God will not make it for you, so I implore you, choose ye this day whom you will serve while there is still yet time. 

Jesus stands at the door and knocks desiring to come in, sup, talk with you, and tell you His will for you, but you have to choose to open that door and once you have, you have to choose to listen to what He tells you there. It’s all about a choice. It’s always been about a choice. From the garden of Eden, to the garden of Gethsemane, to the garden of your heart, it’s always been about a choice between saying “my will be done“, or “thy will be done.” It’s about a choice, and the choice is yours to make, choose the narrow path, choose to do the will of the Father, choose life.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” – Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19‬

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

“And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” – Revelation‬ ‭2:21‬ ‭

“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” – 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭

“Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, …” – ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:37

“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 ‭

“…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 ‭

The Gospel Truth

IMG_2253-1“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” – ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭

Many people have a misconstrued interpretation of Scripture, and therefore ERROR GREATLY!!!

SALVATION:
GOD’S Plan? YES!
For HIS OWN PURPOSE? YES!
BY HIS POWER AND FOR HIS GLORY? YES!
IS IT HIS WILL THAT ALL SHALL BE SAVED? YES!!

But, does that mean that all will be saved? NO!! Why? Because Salvation, though it is the work of GOD, is not done by force. HE MADE THE WAY FOR SALVATION, but it’s up to each individual to choose to take it , or not!

“ …choose you this day whom ye will serve; … – Joshua‬ ‭24:15‬

Example: Someone is drowning and the lifeguard throws out the lifesaver… unless the person puts it on, it cannot save them!!! They can look at it, talk about it, acknowledge that it is the only way to be saved, and even believe that it will… but unless they choose to grab hold of it and put it on, they WILL drown!!!

Does GOD want anyone to die in sin and go to HELL? NO!!! But nevertheless, as JESUS says in Matthew 7, MANY WILL! But why? Because they continued to work iniquity (sin): “…depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I (HE SAYS) never knew you!” 

When people choose to remain in sin, though JESUS CHRIST died to take it away, they are foolishly CHOOSING TO ETERNALLY DIE IN HELL, though they had been given the opportunity to be saved!

“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 ‭

That being said, CAN A PERSON LOOSE THEIR SALVATION?

Let examine it! Once the understanding of Scripture has been rightly divided, and the truth attained by searching the WHOLE COUNSIL OF GOD by the help of the HOLY SPIRIT OF TRUTH, then we can give a correct answer to this question. “Can a person loose their Salvation?”
Once you understand that SALVATION, though it is GOD’S WILL for all to be saved, but many WILL NOT BE BY CHOICE, then we can understand more clearly, how these Scriptures unfolded together! I don’t believe that a person JUST looses their salvation, one cannot accidentally loose the most precious gift ever given to mankind. No the power of GOD IS GREAT ENOUGH TO SECURE THIS PROMISE TO US. HOWEVER, to be most accurate with words and the understanding of them, ONE CAN, AND MANY DO, CHOOSE TO RELINQUISH (willfully give up) THEIR SALVATION!!! Scripture is VERY CLEAR! Those who ENDURE TO THE END SHALL BE SAVED!

“I (Paul) therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” – ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:26-27‬ ‭

The Apostle Paul compared his own Salvation to a race, saying “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have KEPT THE FAITH…”. Remember we are saved by GOD’S GRACE (POWER) THROUGH OUR FAITH! We have a part to play in our Salvation! That’s FAITH! And FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD. Right

So what exactly is FAITH? Many people get in constant disagreements over this simple little word: is it belief or works? The answer is, neither. It’s trust, being confidently fully persuaded that what GOD HAS PROMISED HE IS ABLE ALSO TO PERFORM! FAITH IS BEING IN FULL AGREEMENT WITH THE PRESENT LIVING SPOKEN WORD AND WILL OF GOD AND ACTING IN OBEDIENCE TO IT! Simply put, FAITH IS TRUSTING AND SURRENDERING TO THE AUTHORITY AND POWER OF JESUS CHRIST EVERDAY! Jesus said that no one can serve two masters, that he will hate one and cling to the other. SO NO ONE CAN BE A SERVANT OF SIN AND OF JESUS CHRIST AT THE SAME TIME.  NO, JESUS DIED TO TAKE AWAY OUR SINS, Not leave us in them. Sorry to burst your bubble, but being a willful continual sinner will destroy you in HELL!!! However, if by FAITH FULLY TRUSTING JESUS CHRIST, we obey HIS VOICE BY CHOOSING HIS WILL OVER OUR OWN, AND BY CONTINUING TO DO SO UNTIL THE END, WE SHALL BE SAVED!

So if you’re not saved (from your sins) CHOOSE TO BE!

If you are saved, then don’t relinquish (give up) your Salvation to serve yourself, for if you do, you will die in your sins and find yourself in HELL for all eternity without another single opportunity to REPENT and be saved!

“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

“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John‬ ‭1:5-9‬ ‭KJV‬‬

AND TO CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS!

The BLOOD OF CHRIST CANNOT CLEANSE WHAT IT HAS NOT BEEN APPLIED TO. It’s time to WALK in the TRUTH of HIS WORD AND HOLY SPIRIT AND ALLOW HIM TO WASH AWAY OUR SINS!

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward….And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it….Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies: And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.” – Isaiah‬ ‭1:4, 15-20, 24-28‬

Submitted by Heather Wright

Beware of Dogs

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” – Philippians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭

Paul warns the church of Philippi to be ware of dogs in this, his letter to them. The word translated to dog here in the original Greek was “Kyon”, which referred to either a dog or a man with impure thoughts. Paul, explains further how to identify the character of these dogs among the sheepfold that they might better recognize them by their mindset. In doing so he instructs them in this simple truth. 

God is no respecter of persons, of prestige, of ritual right, or carnal knowledge. He is a respecter of faith and faith only. Not faith in what you think you know, in who you think you are, or even in what you think you believe, but faith in what He says. This alone impresses and pleases God. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Therefore, only those who believe in what He did so that we can hear from Him directly and then once hearing have faith in what He has said to them (even as Abraham did), have laid down their own righteousness (what they think is right) to take on and walk in true righteousness, God’s righteousness (what God says is right). In this, obeying God’s voice and spoken word to him, was Abraham counted righteous for our example. 

To this end does Paul state in this letter to Lydia and the elders of her church that of all men he was most worthy to trust his flesh but even he was deceived by it, therefor did he lay it down and if he could not trust to rely on it then no other can either. Nor should they judge in whom they trust by means of it. Paul’s pedigree, his degree, his perfect performance of ritual and knowledge of the law, everything he thought he knew, he had to count it all lost, that He might gain Christ. Christ didn’t die so that you could keep on assuming that what you have to offer in your own knowledge, strength, skill, talent, or zeal is worthy of God’s notice. He suffered and died so that you could be atoned for and enter in to His presence to build a real relationship with Him, so that you can hear directly from Him, and trust (or have faith in) Him enough to follow His voice and leading in every situation. Anything less is ritual, idolatry, pride, and unbelief wrapped up in a dead sheepskin. 

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” – Philippians‬ ‭3:2-11‬ ‭

“Remembering our Frame”

“This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not .” – John 8:6

For me, this is probably one of the most intriguing verses to find in the Bible.

Quick Background:

If you’re familiar with the verse and/or passage, you’ll know it involves a pretty unfortunate, embarrassing, public-shaming scene for a woman caught in an adulterous act. If you pay pretty close attention to the exact wording, scripture says that this exposure happened IN the temple where Jesus was sitting teaching the people (8:2), as well as the woman was literally caught in the very act of adultery. (8:2)

For the record, I write this, not for shock value, but for a clear picture of the Biblical account of the unfailing mercy, immeasurable love, and forgiveness of our God. Not only were the religious leaders shaming her in front of “the congregation,” but they were actually ready to kill her.

The writer, John, points out their malicious attempt to catch Jesus in a controversial stance for which to accuse Him, but Jesus begins His huge winning response by first stooping down, ignoring the accusers, then “doodling in the dirt.” It was the doodling part that had me stuck at, “Why?” Then all of a sudden, the Lord graciously reminds me of a single attribute of Himself, easily overlooked, but relieving & profound all at the same time:

“[14] For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” – Psalm 103:14

Personally, having studied the scriptures since childhood, I can say that today, I am totally convinced that Jesus shut out the world around Him, and had a momental and monumental inward reflection of remembrance that we quite literally are dust, as he was passing his fingers through it reinforcing the need for a merciful reply, as opposed to a wrathful one.

Now I obviously cannot, nor am I attempting to say that this is in-fact exactly what He was thinking, or answer why He wrote in the dirt; it is subjective, but I can’t help seeing anything else. When you consider the full context of the scenario, Jesus’ dirt drawing, the. blunt-profound & humbling response to the Pharisees, added with the merciful hand of forgiveness stretched to the woman literally lifting her up out of the dust, it connects perfectly. It’s as if it reinforced His stance of a merciful reply. It can also sound something like, “He who is not ‘dirt,’ cast the first stone.”

To be fully understood, Jesus’ merciful act was to position her in His grace to, “go and sin no more.” (8:11), but if God brings to His remembrance that we are frail and destitute humans that aren’t much more than breathing dirt of the ground, how much more should we take that to account when we might become frustrated or angry or unforgiving to the “dirt piles” around us. We ourself are one. I’m reminded of a portion of the most memorized, (yet seemingly least taken to application) prayer: “…Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US…”

It’s time we remember too…

We need to humble ourselves,

Have patience with others,

And forgive 70 x 7 (indefinitely)

(For Full Passage)

John 8:1-11

Get To Know God

“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” – 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:7-10‬ ‭

Do you know God? No, I didn’t ask if you know about God, I mean do you “know Him”? Do you personally know Him? Do you know His voice? His Words, His character? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? Does He come in and sup with you? Because if He does not regularly come in and sup, visit, commune, speak, teach, and fellowship with you, then He is still standing outside the door knocking. You haven’t actually let Him in. 

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” – James‬ ‭2:19-20‬ ‭

Just knowing that He exists isn’t enough. Knowing that He is at the door isn’t enough. Knowing that He is knocking isn’t enough. You have to actually let Him in and fellowship with Him, talk to Him, listen to Him, get to know Him, love Him, and obey Him.

“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 ‭7:21-23‬ ‭

A lot of people know about God, but very few actually come to know God. It’s heart breaking because Christ suffered and died that we might be reconciled unto the Father and inter in boldly before His thrown. We no longer need a priest to inter in for us but we ourselves can hear directly from God and fellowship with Him like Moses did. Yet with this great unmatchable gift laid before us, we choose entertainment, distraction, relationships, pride, worldly lust, gain, grudges, traditions, doctrines, ambition, and outright sin to keep us from it. We choose these poisonous gifts of the world over this precious gift from God just like Adam and Eve chose the serpents fruit over all that God had labored to make available to them. 

People this ought not be so, nor does it need to be. The choice is yours. Jesus made a way, it’s a straight and narrow way, but it is available to any who will choose to take it, and it leads straight the the thrown of God. It’s available now, open the door, let Jesus in, talk with Him, listen to Him, get to know Him, and He will teach you how to walk this thing out by faith. Not by faith in what you think you know, (for that is self righteousness) but by faith in what He says (which is walking in His righteousness). 

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

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” – 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭

“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” – Daniel‬ ‭11:32‬ ‭

God is real, people! He is real right now. His power is real. The Holy Spirit is real. Miracles, signs, and wonders are real. Yet I urge you today to wake up and understand that Hell is real too, and Jesus really is coming back, but only for those who personally know Him and are known by Him. Knowing about Him won’t save you, in fact it will only assure you a greater damnation being without excuse for not getting to know Him. So how do you get to know Him? The same way you get to know anyone. You spend time with them. Personal one on one time “with” them. Jesus is knocking, take the time to open that door, invite Him in, sit and sup, visit, talk, listen, commune, and be taught personally by God. We are not promised tomorrow, we are not guaranteed another chance. We are only guaranteed damnation if we fail to take the chances given to us in the limited time we have to take them. Today is the day of salvation. Now is the appointed time. Open the door while He still knocks, because when He opens the door Himself it will be too late. Know that you will stand face to face with God one way or the other, better it be now by choice and loving invitation, then later by force to receive eternal damnation.  

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” – Revelation‬ ‭3:19-22‬ ‭

From Barrenness to Blessing 

“And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;” – Matthew‬ ‭13:3‬ ‭

Jesus spoke in a parable of one who planted seed in four different kinds of soil. To fully grasp the context of this parable we need to first understand what the elements of the parable represent. First the soil represents the heart. Their are four different conditions in which the soil in this parable are found. We will discuss that further later.

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” – Hosea‬ ‭10:12‬ ‭

The next element of the parable that is critical to understand is the seed being sown into these soils. The seed is God’s Word, but deeper then that it’s the one who speaks those words, who is the word. It’s Jesus, for Jesus is the word made flesh and it is Jesus whom is the seed of Abraham who was counted righteous because he listened to God’s voice. That is to say, he received God’s words, believed them, and acted upon them in obedience because of His faith in them. You cannot separate Jesus from His words, either logos (written in the past) or Rhema (spoken directly to you in the present). To believe in one you will believe the other, to reject one you reject the other for they are one in the same.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” – John‬ ‭1:1, 14‬ ‭

So we understand that the seed is the word and the word is Jesus but let’s go a little deeper. Abraham believed God’s voice (words) and received a promise that through his seed all nations would be blessed. That those who bless him would be blessed and those that curse him would be cursed, and that he would inherit a kingdom. The promise was to him and his seed. Most understand this to be the Jewish people by nationality, however that is not a biblically accurate interpretation. Scripture tells us that the kingdom being promised here was not to be given to many seeds (as in a people) but to Abrahams seed (singular, as in a person), and that person is Christ in whom all the nations of the world are blessed; whomsoever (of any people, gender, class, or nationality) chooses to believe in Him and in His words, for He is the word! 

“And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” – Genesis‬ ‭26:4-5‬ ‭

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” – Galatians‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭

So now we can see that the parable of the sower in its deepest since being that of different people who have receive Christ (the Seed and the Word) in different ways and the outcome of it. 

The first is one who hears the word and receives the seed but is not discipled. Being unlearned they are unable to yet distinguish between the voice of the shepherd and the voice of the stranger, and following the stranger will be led astray before the seed really takes root and bares fruit. 

The second is one who hears the words of God and receive Christ with gladness! Yet they don’t go any deeper. They don’t let the word take root and breakup their heart ground, the environment of their heart is not changed by the Seed but resist it, they don’t break up their fallowed ground and seek after righteousness. They aren’t told that they have to ever seek to go deeper and to grow in the things of God, therefore they stay shallow never reaching for the deeper things of God and when the storms of trial, tribulation, disappointment, offense, and persecution arise, they are unequipped, unaware, and able to endure not having built that deep unshakable personal relationship with God that they might draw from the deep well that is the Holy Ghost ministering hope directly and personally to them and through them even in dry and desperate seasons.

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” – John‬ ‭7:37-39‬

Though all of these situations are tragic, the third condition of the parable is possibly the most damaging to the faith of others. You see the third one received Christ, the seed took root, grew into a tree, and was even producing fruit! However, other things grew up around it and began to choke it out until it died and stopped producing. Distractions, worries, social status, money, possessions, positions, relationships, idols, vanity, anything that you allow to take your ear away from God’s voice is taking your heart away from it also and you will Bering to dry up and eventually die spiritually. We know that Jesus said that any tree that bares not good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire, and here we see a tree that once bore fruit yet now has become barren and fruitless. Let this sink in and never allow anything to choke out your connection to the root from which you draw your grace and thus cut off the fruitfulness of your faith. No compromise. No complacency. No idolatry. Remember, this world is not your home. 

Finally, the last condition is what Jesus called “good soil“. The heart that hears His words, receives Him (the Seed), allows Him to grow deep roots in you changing the environment of your heart, digging down and drawing up deep wells of living water, and baring much fruit that others might be blessed and more seed spread to the pleasing of the sower. 

So what condition do you find yourself in today? Does the enemy steal the words God speaks to you as soon as they are spoken? That seed was not buried, therefor do you need to die to self and be buried with Christ. Do you need to go deeper into the things of God and the power (and giftings) of His Holy Spirit that you be better equipped to withstand the wilds of the devil? Do you need to remove somethings from your life that are choking out your personal time with God, killing your relationship with Him, and making you unfruitful? Do you want to be counted by God as good ground baring much fruit that you might hear those long awaited words, “well done My good and faithful servant, come and inter into your rest.” 

All of these bad grounds can be transformed into good ground by simply spending time with the husbandmen (the tender of the garden). Determined to get alone with God and get to know God and He will make not only Himself known to you, but He will make the condition of your own heart known to you also, that it might be mended into greater fruitfulness that you might be blessed. For it is His desire to bless but He cannot bless unfruitfulness. So call on Jesus, seek the husbandmen, cry out for Him to plow your heart, soften it, remove the thorns (sin and distractions), attend to His words, seek to go deeper into the things of God, and watch your barrenness become blessing. 

“The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” – Mark‬ ‭4:14-23‬ ‭

Flee & Fight

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy‬ ‭6:11-12‬

The book of Timothy gives really good insight on Christian leadership as Timothy, an apprentice of the Apostle Paul is a pastor. Anyone who is called to ministry really should study this “manual for ministers”

The Christian life in many instances can be very trying at times, but God is always working things in our lives for our good, our growth, and our maturing. Timothy is exhorted in this final chapter of Paul’s letter, to flee the lusts of the world, and also to fight the good fight of faith.

Whether we are leadership or laity, the abandonment of the world combined with the pursuit of God in our battles to trust Him when it doesn’t make sense, is the fruit or evidence of our spiritual regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit!

“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:21-22

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these ; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:19-25

“With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” – Psalm 119:10

This morning know that no matter what you’ve done, you can run for His mercy and forgiveness of sin! The devil wants you to feel like “the fight” is hopeless. It’s not!

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John‬ ‭1:9‬‬

if you have been defeated by the enemy, submit to God and flee and fight!

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” – James 4:7-10