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 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

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

Living in the Miraculous 

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

Nothing is impossible for God, yet being just as He is, He is bound by His own words that what He has said He will do whether it be in reward or in judgment, He must do. 

James (the brother of Jesus being a son of Mary and Joseph) gives very clear instruction on seeing God move in the miraculous. In previous verses he says, “if there are any sick among you, bring them before the church, anoint them with oil, have the leadership pray over them, and this prayer of faith will move in healing upon them.” Faith requires that we believe in what God says and how He says to do things, it is trusting that He knows best enough to obey His instructions. 

The passage then continues going a bit deeper into why those prayers often don’t work, then gives us an absolute assurance that they can, if we will have the faith and humility to meet God’s conditions for it. 

First he states that we need to be humble enough to confess our faults/sins (failures), and seek Godly friends to pray with about these things with you as you press God for strength in repentance. God is clear that He only gives His grace to the humble because only the humble seek Him, trust Him, depend on Him, and obey Him. 

Grace is God’s divine favor, power, and influence, all of which are needed to preform the miraculous, and it is only given to the humble. So let your first focus be on cultivating humility toward God and reverence for His presence. Humility and reverence will cause you to trust and obey His voice and leading which will by default cause you to walk in righteousness (doing what He says is right instead of what you think or feel is right). Therefor, walking in righteousness is the second requirement to moving in the miraculous. 

If you have faithfully repented of (turned away from/ceased to do) all known sins (which are failures to obey God’s voice) as God reveals them to you, and are walking in righteousness (obedience), then the third requirement is fervent prayer. James tells us in no uncertain terms that Elijah was a man just like us. He was not super human, he was not made any different then you are I, nor were the temptations he faced any less. He simply chose to trust God, obey His voice, turn away from temptations to sin, walked in righteousness, and prayed fervently. He simply met all the conditions that God had laid out and if we will do the same, then we too will walk in the miraculous even as he did, for God is no respecter of persons, nor has His power diminished.

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

God has not changed, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What He does for one He will do for others if they will meet the same conditions. If they walk in the same humility, exhibit the same faith, endurance, selflessness, and trust. God is a good father that desires to give good gifts to His children. Yet we tie His hands from doing so because He, being just, cannot move against His own words. His word says that He resist the proud, therefor can He not work with the proud, only against them. His word says that He does not hear the prayers of the unrighteous, therefore He cannot move on their behalf. And above all, He cannot reward unbelief, therefore if we do not trust Him enough to seek His voice and believe it, no matter what we see, think, or feel, then He will not move; for it was because of unbelief that He withheld His promise from the Children of Israel in the wilderness until a generation arose who were willing to meet the conditions so that He could finally bring the blessing forth. 

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. SUBMIT yourselves therefore to God. RESIST the devil, and he WILL flee from you.” – James‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭

“Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” – John‬ ‭9:31‬ ‭

“But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?” – Hebrews‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭

No, nothing is too hard for God, nor has He changed or diminished, only our faith has, our willingness to submit to God and resist the devil; to seek, listen, hear, trust, and obey God at all cost. The conditions are simple, humble yourself, listen to His voice, repent of failures to do so, trust what He says, walk in that trust no matter what, and pray fervently. In other words, believe, really believe, and these signs WILL follow those that believe. 

“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 ‭

Only Those Clothed In Wedding Garments Will Enter In

bride-of-christ_n“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew‬ ‭22:11-14‬ ‭

Scripturally the Wedding garment always represents RIGHTEOUSNESS (Revelations 19:8). We cannot expect to approach GOD OUR KING without being properly clothed!

“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 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 3:18-22‬

Today, after reading this, I was amazed at how similar the “Marriage dinner” parable was to this, then I thought how the Pharisees would’ve known that also.

“The word of the Lord which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord. I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham; And them that are turned back from the Lord; and those that have not sought the Lord, nor enquired for him. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel. In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills. Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off. And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil. Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.”‭ – Zephaniah 1:1-18‬

“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. 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. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”‭ – Hebrews 3:1-19‬

Submitted by Heather Wright

None Good But God

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” – Matthew‬ ‭19:16-17‬ ‭

In this passage Jesus makes it very clear that only God is good, yet we read in 1 Corinthians 6:9 that only the righteous will make it to heaven. How can this be? The answer is very simple. To be righteous and to be good, though commonly thought to be so, are not the same thing. To be good implies that you are inherently and naturally good in and of yourself. That of your own goodness you will make good decisions, of your good knowledge you will judge rightly, of your good nature you will always do what is good for others, of your good understanding you will choose good outcomes. This just isn’t so. The reason Jesus said that not even He was good, but God only is the same reason He also said that He did nothing unless His Father in Heaven told Him too and said nothing unless He heard God speak it to Him first. In this was God’s goodness enacted through Him unto righteousness, and Christ being our example, the same applies to us.

You see, truly only God is good. God’s perfect knowledge, understanding, plan, justice, wisdom, love, and selflessness is the essence of all that is good. Only that which comes from God is (or can be) good, not anything that comes from us. For example our talents or selfish, prideful, and desirous of vain glory, but God’s gifts are good because the talent is from us but the gift is from God. In this do we understand the error of Cain’s sacrifice. Cain offered the fruit of his own hand and thinking that it was good, desired God to agree with him. He was not worshiping God, he was worshiping self (his own good work) and asking God to participate. Abel on the other hand, like Christ did not do what he thought was good but simply did what He who is good told Him to do. Though he surely did not want to, he did not rely on what he thought was good but what God said was right, therefor was he counted righteous in the eyes of God.

You see while being good implies that you yourself hold the capacity in and of yourself to understand and do that which is perfect and good, being righteous simply means to be in right standing with God. In other words, to do what God says is right. This is why Jesus told the rich young ruler in our opening text that though none are good, if he will but obey the commandments he will have eternal life. If you will do what God says then, though you yourself are no good, you will still do what is right because you are not following the leading of your corrupt flesh but His good and Holy Spirit. In this simple truth do we come to terms with the reality that though none in and of themselves are good, all who choose to obey God can be righteous. Simply stop trusting in yourself, your knowledge, your skills, strengths, and abilities, and start putting your faith in God and in every word that He says unto obedience. For man shall not live by bread alone, but by every single word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge God’s good and perfect wisdom, will, justice, and love, and let Him direct your path. In this will you be in right standing with God and counted among the righteous on the day of judgement.

Seek, pray, read, and obey. No you are not good, that’s why you must trust and obey the instructions of the only one who is. This is what Jesus was telling the rich young ruler who was use to trusting in himself. Jesus made it clear that He did only what God said to do because He was flesh and flesh is not good, therefore he chose to obey the Holy Spirit of God, because only God is good. So choose to do the same. Choose today to stop trusting yourself, your emotions, your skills, your talent, your strength, or what you think you know, for your heart is deceitfully wicked above all, insted choose to trust God and be led of His Spirit, for He is good. In this is your flesh crucified that Christ’s Spirit might live through you, allowing you to become the righteousness of God enacting the will of the Father in this present world. 

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” – James‬ ‭1:14-18‬ ‭

“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” – Romans‬ ‭8:11-14‬ ‭

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” – Matthew‬ ‭7:11‬ ‭

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: …” – 1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭

Trusting God vs Trusting Self

on-my-knees“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. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.” – Hosea‬ ‭10:12-13‬ ‭

Roman’s chapter 8 tells us that all who are Christ’s are led by His Spirit. John 15 tells us that we must abide in Christ or else our fruit will dry up, wither away, and we will be cut off and cast into the fire. Herein, lies the reality of a victorious Christian life. Abiding in the presence of the King, tapping into the life giving, fruit baring power of God through daily prayer, worship, reading, communion, seeking, hearing, and obeying. By this does the grace of God flow out from the vine (which is Christ) into the branch (which is us) that we might produce the fruits of righteousness (which is obedience to the voice, word, and will of God). This brings life to us and others through the anointing backing up those words and actions with the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

The enemy of faith in God (faith that causes us to seek, trust, abide in, and obey the leading of His Spirit) is faith in self, which causes us to seek, trust, abide in , and obey the leading of the flesh. This is the struggle that wages war in our members described in Romans 8. It has been the root of every right and wrong action taken since the beginning of time. All the way back to the garden when God placed two trees in the midst of the garden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. One embodied trusting God unto life, the other embodied trusting self unto death. He set before us life and death, and told us to choose life, but we chose to lean on our own understanding and it led to death. It always does. Stop trusting in your own limited understanding, your plan, your abilities, your tree of knowledge. Humble yourself, crucify the flesh, trust in God, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and choose life. God is not looking for people that can lead, when men lead they lead others into a pit, He is looking for men who can follow. Only once you learn to humble yourself and follow, can you then be led out of the pit. This is the test of faith, this has always been the test and few are they that pass it. Choose ye this day. Choose to humble. Choose to follow. Choose life.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.” – Proverbs‬ ‭14:12-14‬ ‭

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” – Matthew‬ ‭16:24‬ ‭

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” – Matthew‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭

“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: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” – Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19-20‬ ‭

Jesus’s Hard And Humbling Warning To The Church

14739“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew‬ ‭18:3-6‬ ‭

When this, “the millstone” verse is read or quoted, it is often used to illustrate God’s deep love for, sense of protection over children, and extreme distain for those who hurt them. While this application is surely true, when read within the context of the surrounding versus we see that he was actually speaking of spiritual children. That is to say, those who have just come to the faith and or new babes in Christ.

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” – 1 Peter‬ ‭2:2-3‬ ‭

In this we see God’s great disgust for those who offend and discourage those that are young and unlearned in the faith. Saying that it were better for them that they had tied a huge heavy stone around their neck and drowned themselves in the sea. The fact that He used a “millstone” for this expression was no coincidence, for you see, millstones were used to “crush wheat” and wheat has always been used by God to represent His people. Don’t crush God’s tender wheat (young believers) or the very thing used to crush them will be what drags you down into the abyss. Furthermore, He is pointing out that it will have been by your own hand that you tied this thing to you and dove in, to your own destruction and damnation.

Yes offense will come, all who will live Godly will suffer persecution, but woe to the person that causes the offense. Especially when it comes from those who should know better. You see, if you go back to verse one of this passage, you will see that Jesus was actually talking to His disciples here. Therefor, the intended recipients of this message build upon the point that Jesus was making. He was saying that God is so greatly offended when those such as themselves, who are more established in the faith discourage and cause to stumble those who are younger through pride, envy, arrogance, jealousy, selfishness, selfish agendas, or lack of compassion and patients.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” – Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭

Sinners will sin, the world will offend, but woe if that offense comes from within. For the passage continues by stating that God deems it better to actually cut off a member from the Body of Christ then to allow it to drag the whole body to hell with it because of offense. (Which is to say, discouraging or being a stumbling block to others by way of causing offense)

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” – Matthew‬ ‭18:6-11‬ ‭

Do Not Muzzle The Ox

ce9ccb1ce618d4ac75238431756962e6“For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” – 1 Timothy‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭

Do not muzzle the ox. This is such a simple verse, yet it is so packed with meaning that it alone warrants it’s own study. It is first mentioned in Deuteronomy 25:4 as a law to insure that an ox being made to work a field would be allowed to freely eat of that field that he might keep his strength up and be rewarded for his labor. In this practical and literal interpretation of the original text we see God’s great care, concern, love, and mercy for even the lowly oxen plowing a field, and likewise all animals. Therefore, we can have faith in His even greater concern for us as Jesus stated that if not one sparrow falls from the sky without our Father knowing how much more does He care for us, for we are worth more then many sparrows.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he uses this reality in a slightly different application by quoting this old law to express God’s desire for those who labor in the field of ministry to be supported financially by those they minister to. Hence the included phrase, “the laborer is worthy of his reward“. He was making the point that if God wants the lowly oxen to be supplied for, to maintain their ability to labor on and also as a reward for their labor, then how much more would He want the same for His faithful few laboring in the fields that are white for harvest?

However, I believe that there are even more applications then simply meeting the physical needs of a laborer to be gleaned from this compassionate and convicting verse. When looking at the ox as a type of laborer of God (or minister), and the corn as its source of strength and God ordained and supplied provision, I see God’s nature manifested in that He will not send His laborers out into the fields for harvest without providing them access to the power, strength, and provision to get the job done, which is the anointing, or favor and power of the Holy Spirit. It also implies that any who try to prevent them from using that provision and power to do the master’s work is in direct opposition to the word and will of God and is in danger of judgment and even a curse. In this, I see a “muzzled ox” as a type of silenced minister. One who had a job to do with the power, favor, and anointing of God to do it, yet they are not allowed to walk in the full strength and power of what the Lord has provided, usually for the greed of others trying to steal that glory (like the ox’s promised corn) for themselves.

I see this happen all to often. Someone whom the Lord has chosen, called, equipped, anointed, and sent being muzzled by family members, by society, by culture, by traditions of men, by doctrines, and by other greedy ministers, effectively robbing them of the reward of the souls ready for harvest that are falling to the ground uncollected for the masters store house. This is such a great sin because when the ox is muzzled, not only does the ox get neglected and begins to starve and weaken, but the field gets neglected also by proxy and the harvest is lost.

Believe me, this is not something you want to have on your hands when you stand before God on the day of Judgment. Do not muzzle the ox.

“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;” – Matthew‬ ‭9:37‬ ‭

“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” – Deuteronomy‬ ‭25:4‬ ‭

The Anointing Brings Life!

the-risen-christ“And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” – Exodus‬ ‭30:30‬ ‭

Through out scripture, when God chose someone to be set apart for His service (such as a King or priest), He would signify this importation of power and authority by anointing them with oil. This, of course, was only an outward showing for a stirring of faith of the Spiritual importation taking place that men could not physically see. You see, the oil represented the Holy Spirit, and the anointing of it expressed God’s choice to lay His Holy Spirit upon a particular person that they might be empowered to do His work through the power of the Holy Spirit. We know this because when David sinned against God, he cried in repentance and begged God saying, “take not thy Holy Spirit from me“. For he had seen God remove the power of the Holy Spirit from Saul’s life, stripping him of the anointing.

Old Testament or New, no man or woman in the true service of God ever walked in their own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, which is the anointing. When God calls someone, and they humble themselves to His call, He then equips them to do the work that He has called them to do. This “equipping” is “the anointing“. It is the power of the Holy Spirit backing up God’s will and words through His chosen vessel. Man may (for pride or envy) try to steal other men’s callings, but no man can steal the anointing. For the anointing is the power of God that breaks yokes, brings life, and bares fruit.

We see an undeniable example of this in Numbers chapter 17 in the account of Aaron’s rod. You see God had chosen Moses a prophet to lead the people to promise. He also chose his brother Aaron to become the people’s high priest and the son’s of Aaron to be priest of the tabernacle. As stated in our opening passage, He signified this with “the anointing” of these individuals.

Yet the people (overtaken with envy, rebellion, and pride) murmured against them. “What makes you so holy? We are just as worthy to lead as you?” They complained, though they were not, for God knows and judges the heart and chooses those who esteem His will above their own. These people wanted their way and Moses was simply relaying God’s way, therefor their hatred of Moses’s way actually reflected a hatred of God’s way. So God reacted to put a stop to this great sin before it brought more death into the camp. After all, if we have learned anything from the garden of Eden through out all of scripture, it’s that following mans will/intellect always leads to death. While seeking and obeying God’s leads to life. Hence the two trees in the garden of Eden, the tree of life (faith or trusting what God says) and the tree of knowledge (self or trusting what one thinks). One leads to life and the other to death.

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;” – Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:15‬ ‭

So while God had given His plan, the people wanted to institute their own which would have brought a curse upon them as it did for Adam and Eve, and for all who do the same. So God instructed Moses to take a rod (wooden staff) from the head of each family, write their family name on it and lay it in the tabernacle so that God Himself could show who He had chosen by His own power. The next morning they return to find that Aaron’s rod, once dead, had come back to life! It had budded, produced blossoms, and even bare almonds! While all the others remained dead sticks.

Therefore, God Himself proved His approval of Aaron through the life giving, fruit baring power of His anointing, which is the power of the Holy Spirit. Many may claim to be worthy, many may even carry a rod or title (even the magicians of Egypt did so), and can talk the talk and put on a show but only the anointed of God are backed up by the power of God which is the anointing and only the anointing breaks the yoke.

You see, a rod represents power and authority. However, power from any other source then from the Holy Spirit is a dead stick. You can beat something with it but it can only bring more death. It will never produce life or bring forth fruit. So as we look at God’s perfect plan verses those men’s plan encompassed in that wooden staff of life and those dead sticks, we come back to the garden and those two old trees. One of life and one of death. Choose ye this day. Choose Christ, the very embodiment of obedience to God, so much so that He was called “the Word made flesh“. Obedience to the Word, Aaron’s dead rod brought back to life, the very tree of life, it is all encompassed in that one word that is, “Christ“. Which means: “The Anointed One“.  The Anointing Brings Life.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.” – Numbers‬ ‭17:10‬ ‭

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 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 ‭12:10-11‬ ‭