The Personal Wilderness 

“(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)” – Numbers‬ ‭12:3‬ ‭

Did you know that scripture records Moses as being the meekest man on earth, but he didn’t start out that way. In fact one of his first actions after stepping into the knowledge of his call was to kill a man in anger. He defended the beaten Israelite by striking down the Egyption that beat him, causing Moses to have to flee into a personal wilderness. In this personal wilderness Moses found his wife and spent 40 years tending his father in laws sheep while his self and pride was stripped away and he learned to be a humble selfless obedient servant of God.

Only once Moses himself had learned these lessons in his personal wilderness season, was he then qualified and commissioned by God to lead others through their’s, where they would have to learn the same lessons.

The Israelite’s spent 40 years in the wilderness learning the necessity of laying down self will for obedience to the will and wisdom of God, but Moses had to do it twice. Once for Himself to learn and then again to lead others in the learning of it. At times on this journey the Israelites would come to challenge Moses or the decisions that God had led him to make. They often proclaimed that they were just as holy as he or just as qualified to lead because they were all in this wilderness together, but what they failed to realize was that this was not Moses’s first wilderness, however it was there’s. Furthermore, they didn’t see the reality that Moses (having already gone through his own wilderness) did not have to be in this wilderness with them but was there in humble sacrificial obedience only to help lead them through their’s. In this did Moses have to endure two wildernesses while they only had to endure one.

This is a very real reason why scripture tells us not to envy spiritual leaders, teachers, and ministers. They can’t teach what they haven’t experienced for themselves, therefore must they endure great personal wildernesses that most don’t see in order to learn the lessons required to be able to lead others through their corporate wilderness that they do see. Not only are ministers held to a higher weight of accountability in eternity, but true called of God leaders also endure greater trial in this life for the sake of learning the deep lessons of God that they might transfer them to those that God entrust unto them. This wilderness college is God’s method of testing, training, and equipping those He desires to use. 

The wilderness is where you try everything your way and see how it doesn’t work, until you surrender to try it God’s way and see that it’s the only way that works. It’s where your independence is lost and dependence on God is gained. It’s where you learn to hear God’s voice, trust, and obey it. The first time Moses ever heard God speak was in his own personal wilderness, that by the time he had to lead others through their’s he was well versed in seeking, hearing, and obeying that he not act of his own will and lead them astray from God’s. 

Don’t try to get ahead of God and skip your wilderness or you’ll end up spiritually killing people instead of saving them. Before his personal wilderness Moses was rash, prideful, ambitious, arrogant, and he killed a man. After his wilderness he was the meekest man on earth and saved a nation. Don’t get ahead of God. Don’t forsake small beginnings. Don’t forsake the wilderness. 

“For who hath despised the day of small things? …” – Zechariah‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭

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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 BATTLE OF THE WILL

img_5061“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.” – ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭57:15-16‬ ‭‬‬

Contrite: crushed to powder; destroyed
Humble: low, lowly, abase
Revive: quicken, restore to life
Heart: inner man, mind, will, emotions, character

As I understand the Scripture, GOD is looking for a people who ACKNOWLEDGE not in word alone, (but in action and deed) that HE IS GOD by a people who are destroyed in their own will, mind, and breath and lay low in disposition of character. In other words, NOT SELF-willed; but GOD-willed. Only this dead-willed people will our HOLY LORD GOD REVIVE! This is the BATTLE OF BATTLES, the war between GOD and man, and the sooner people decide to destroy their own self-will, self-desire, in humility and surrender, the sooner GOD will quicken, or revive our spirit and hearts to Himself.
GOD cannot revive what refuses to die! Even demons are more submissive to GOD than the self-willed man. The mercy of GOD waits for people to submit to HIM, but HE won’t strive with us forever, there is an end to this struggle between GOD’S WILL and self-will, but at the end of this battle which side will you find yourself on? The scariest thought for me is to be found in self-will standing face to face with GOD! For as Scripture states HE resists the proud, but gives Grace to the humble.

Compassion for the repentant:

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” – Isaiah‬ ‭57:15-21‬ ‭‬‬

GOD desires to heal us and restore us to life in Himself, but those who refuse to give up their heart, will, and desires to Him, will come under His Judgement.

Judgement for the unrepentant:

“Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew‬ ‭11:20-30‬

Submitted by Heather Wright

An Instrument of Worship

imageHow many of us saved and born again believers want to be used for God? I would hope that to be the desire of us all, but the LORD revealed to me why only a few of us actually walk out His perfect plans for our lives.

God showed me a valuable lesson, He showed me an instrument… (for me it’s a guitar). He said, “How awkward would it be if when you went to pick up your guitar and tune it to play, that it would un tune itself; or if when you picked it up to play a song, it would decide to play something else. Would you be able to use it?

You see this is the reason why so few are actually being used by GOD. We think we know better about what we should do than GOD does, or we are simply not willing to be tuned to HIS PERFECTION, but what it all really is, is that we want to do it ourselves, our way. We have free will and the ability to do what we want to do, so in order to let GOD use us we have to surrender and remain surrendered, allowing the HOLY SPIRIT to have control of the strings of our hearts and play out that which pleases HIM. We must be always in a place of Worship surrendered unto HIM for all HE desires to do with us.

For many of us, we think of images of those like Billy Gram, but that’s not necessarily what GOD has in mind. It’s the simple place where when GOD speaks, we say yes and do just as HE says. When GOD says, “Don’t go anywhere today, stay still be with only ME.” Do we? When He speaks again and says, “I want you to go tell your brother, “that little secret sin in your heart, GOD sees and is asking you to lay it down.” Do we? Do we obey HIM when it’s difficult and unpleasant to our flesh? Do we? Do we fast and pray seeking to be turned to HIS PERFECTION? Do we? Will we weep over our sins and those of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Will we ask HIM what we should do to be of use to HIS KINGDOM, for HIS GLORY to be displayed in our lives and those we are around? And when HE answers, will we trust and obey? All of those things are necessary components of an instrument of worship unto the LORD. You see, what I’m about to share with you is the rest of the revelation GOD showed me… when you are doing what you want to do, and refuse what HE wants you to do… we actually are instrumental in doing harm to HIS KINGDOM, and become instruments used by satan for distraction and destruction.

You see it’s vital that we remain surrendered unto HIM, only then can He pick us up and use us! Not all of us are called to be Billy Grams, but all of us are called to WORSHIP HIM, and by doing so (this surrendered life) will be even more valuable to GOD!

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans‬ ‭12:1-2‬

No one wants to suffer, yet it is this very state of a “living sacrifice” that pleases HIM, allowing GOD to transform us into the perfect image of HIS SON JESUS CHRIST of whom GOD says: THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED!

Submitted by Heather Wright

GOD ALONE

humble-yourselves-before-the-lord-christian-wallpaper-hd_1366x768How often it happens: we get Saved -GOD delivers us from Egypt (bondage to sin), then gives us a promise (a land flowing with milk and honey)… but then, you find yourself in a wilderness leaving Egypt behind you… you don’t know it but GOD has a plan and is using the WILDERNESS – to make you thirsty, hungry, and desperate for HIM! GOD LONGS TO INHABIT A PEOPLE WHO WANT NOTHING BUT HIM!

Get alone with GOD until all you want is HIM, then when you get there… ABIDE WITH GOD… that’s all HE WANTS is for us to want HIM AND ONLY HIM!

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness because they never understood this: GOD was after their heart. They complained about the journey every step of the way, and wandered even longer because they never reached this place where nothing else matters, but GOD and being with HIM. They made themselves other gods and worshiped them, enjoying the pleasures of sin and wanting to go back to Egypt, because they didn’t believe GOD or HIS PROMISE.

The wilderness was to make them thirsty, hungry, and desperate for GOD! GOD was showing them time after time that all HE wanted was them!All HE wanted was them to want only HIM! Why do we do just like them? We complain about how long the journey is, when the journey is to make us to appreciate the promise that much more! GOD will take us though anything and everything it takes to get us to the place where we realize that all we really need is HIM and HE becomes our ONLY desire! Until then, learn to trust HIM on the journey knowing that this is the goal that we would want to DWELL WITH HIM! The promise land is nothing without HIS PRESENCE!!

Moses met GOD ALONE on the mountain…
King David and Elijah met Him in a cave…
Daniel in an upper room until people got jealous and threw him to the lions in a den, yet still He remained alone with GOD. John the Baptist and other prophets In the wilderness… And the Apostle John exiled on an island… Whatever it takes… find yourself alone with GOD AND ABIDE WITH HIM.

All throughout history GOD has been searching for people that want only HIM, so if that is you.. Hear the voice of the LORD and harken to HIS CALL: COME UP!!! COME UP AND BE WITH ME!!!

If it’s not your ONLY desire, then someone or something else has your heart… repent and lay it down now.

Submitted by Heather Wright

Honoring Personal Convictions 

“I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.” – Romans‬ ‭14:14-15‬ ‭

In the times before Christ, God wrote many of His laws and commandments in stone for all to see and follow. However, after Christ, because that He had given us the gift of the indwelling Holy Ghost, He was then able to speak to each of us directly, writing His laws and personal commandments on our very hearts.

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” – Ezekiel‬ ‭36:26-27‬ ‭

Having this personal communion, communication, and conviction, God now instructs each believer in righteousness individually. There are times when He may lead you to do something, say something, pray something, or forsake something that He has not asked of an other. In this personal thing you must obey, though it may not be asked of anyone else. We see this experience through out the bible among the truly faithful. God asked Abraham to lay down Isaac, and asked this of no one else. He asked Elijah to pray and stop the rain and no one else. He asked Noah to build and Ark and no one else. He asked Moses to fast and pray on the mountain top and no one else. God seeks for those who have the faith to obey Him when He speaks personal right now instructions that the masses don’t understand. 

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” – 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭

The truth is that all those who will obey the leading of the Holy Spirit will be slandered and attacked for it by those who don’t, because of the conviction it brings. Nevertheless, those who endure and obey anyway will without fail be both validated and rewarded by God who sees all, knows all, and is faithful above all. So take heart and have faith! 

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

However, for those of us on the other end of the Spectrum being among those who have not received an instruction or conviction that someone else has, let us take heed to Paul’s warning not to offend. For he states clearly that it shows a lack of love for those whom Christ died for to use our liberty as a means of snobbery, pious, or unbelief over the convictions of others. Just because God has not instructed you in something does not mean that He has not instructed an other in it. As long as it is not in contradiction to the written word of God, then support your brothers and sisters in the love and peace of Christ and He will bring all things to light according to His will and purpose in due time. After all, one of the greatest and most persistent lessons of the Bible is that when a person is truly obedient to the voice of God, everyone else witnessing it will think they are crazy. So choose to not be among those making the obedience of the faithful harder then it need be, pray for them, love them, be at peace with them, and wait for the Lord to reveal His will in due time that you might be rewarded with them. 

“And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” – Acts‬ ‭5:38-39‬ ‭

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” – Matthew‬ ‭10:38-41‬ ‭

Why Fasting Is Critical To Growing In Grace

Did you know that according to the Bible, fasting increases the measure of Grace God imparts to you? Grace is God’s favor, power, and divine influence and being obedient to fast increases these amazing attributes of grace into the life of the believer, but why?

It comes down to humility. You see for starters, fasting is not an option for the true believer. Jesus never said, “if you fast“, He said, “when you fast” and equated its importance in the life of a believer to prayer. As surely as you know that you must pray, you must also obey to fast when He calls you to do so. Why? Because He said to.

“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance:…” – Matthew‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭

“But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;” – Matthew‬ ‭6:17‬ ‭

Fasting is such a perfect picture of the relationship, reality, and function of faith and grace. God says to fast, in faith you humble yourself and obey by turning away from (or repenting of) food and as soon as you turn away the food in faith then God sends His grace to supernaturally strengthen you and empower you to walk this thing out when you otherwise could not!

“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – Matthew‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭

You see, James 4:6 tells us that God gives more grace to the humble. However, what many do not realize is that you must humble yourself, God will not do it for you. Therefore, you can have as much grace as you want, if you want it enough to humble yourself for it by choosing to obey God in faith, pick up your cross, follow Him, and believe that He is able to get you through any wilderness that He leads you into. If you want to grow in grace as we are instructed to do in 2 Peter 3:18, you must humble your flesh by disciplining it, or as the Apostle Paul Said, by “putting it into submission”.

“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 ‭9:27‬ ‭

Faith is a choice, you must choose whom you will serve, God or flesh/self. To choose God over self you must humble yourself. You must choose to humble yourself, God will not do it for you. God does not humble man while he lives, He may humiliate you in His mercy and effort to break your pride, but even then you must choose to either become humbled or hardened by the humiliation. All of scripture makes it very clear that you must humble yourself. You must choose to stop trusting in self, in flesh, and in the things of this carnal world, and put your faith (which encompasses trust, hope, and submission) in God alone.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles‬ ‭7:14‬

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” – 1 Peter‬ ‭5:6‬ ‭

Fasting is a humbling. It is not something that the flesh wants to do. It’s an act of submission, sacrifice, obedience, faith, and love. It mortifies the flesh, it baffles the logic, it rejects self will and bows to God’s. It is in every way an act of faith that once stepped out in is completed only by God’s grace, which then builds your faith in His grace for greater things yet to come for those who truly believe in and live by every word He says!

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” – James‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭

“I humbled my soul with fasting;” – Psalms‬ ‭35:13‬ ‭

“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 ‭

“And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” – Matthew‬ ‭17:20-21‬ ‭

“Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord,” – Joel‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭

“Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people.” – Joel‬ ‭2:16-18‬ ‭

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles‬ ‭7:14‬

“And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days:…” – 1 Kings‬ ‭21:27-29‬ ‭

Give Us a King

“Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you.” – Judges‬ ‭8:22-23‬

The mark of a truly great man or woman of God is not one who has many followers but one who directs many to follow Christ, even as they themselves follow Him. Oh, how often do we see men building their own kingdoms at the expense of God’s? How often do we see men heaping followers after themselves. Platform seekers, head counters, prestige hungry, attention greedy, desirous of vain glory. Brothers and sisters, it ought not to be so among those claiming to be of God. Jesus taught to choose the lowest seat, to esteem others better then self, to choose to be servant of all, and if the Lord exult you in this life then so be it, but if He choose to wait until the life to come to do so, then that’s all the better.

We love the sermons about how Saul stood head and shoulders above the rest, about how the crown chased after David, and how wisdom befell Solomon. We love the stories of the kings but we forget the sad truth that laid the foundation for their being. The fact that Israel refused to let God be King over them personally and ever sought to follow a man.

You see God did not desire for Israel to have an earthly King. God instituted a series of Judges over Israel, from which we get the book of Judges. These were prophets, warriors, deliverers, protectors, enforcers, and ministers of God to the people. They were servants of God for the people from among the people in times of distress and need, meant to point their hearts and minds ever back toward God, their true King.

You see, at this time the heathen nations of the earth served and even worshiped men as King, but Israel (an archetype for the church) was meant to be different from the world. They were to serve and worship God as King. Yet they were ever seeking to be like the world and follow after men rather then God. Even the men and women that God raised up to minister to them and their needs in times of trouble such as Gideon became their object of idolatry as they tried to make him their King. Gideon, being a true man of God with fear, reverence, and humility, refused to let this happen, but how often does it still happen in the church today? After all, that’s how most ministries, movements, and denominations are built.

People of God, we ought not to follow after personalities or people. We ought to follow after God personally, He alone is our King and if it’s one thing we can learn from the history of Israel, it’s that even good kings eventually get replaced by bad ones and corruption sets in because all kingship outside of God’s Kingship is idolatry. The church was never meant to follow men, they were meant to follow God Himself. Only the weak, prideful, and rebellious insist on doing so through men of stature, title, prestige, and pomp and just like Israel who insisted on having an earthly king to follow, (though it may start off well) it was always to their spiritual demise in the end.

Yes God still sends judges; servants of truth, deliverance, and protection for the flock, but these are only pasturers (from whence we get the word pastor), hired hands of the shepherd. The flock is not theirs, they do not lead it, they only feed it. Less they lead it away from the true shepherd and invoke His wrath. Which was the reoccurring fate that Israel gained for itself for seeking to follow after men like the world did, and the church in general to this day does the same.

The book of judges ends with one of the saddest verses in the bible. After being told repeatedly that God was their King, and the people continuously refusing to submit to Him but rather seeking to fit in and be like others, insisted on following a man. So that finally God was grieved enough, stepped back, and gave them exactly what they wanted. You can not reject God (or His Words) to follow a man, and not expect Him to depart. You can’t serve two masters. There is only one King, one authority, one truth, reject it and you reject Him, which means that He is no longer your King. And so for all it’s redemptions, victories, and struggles, the book of Judges ends with these heartbreaking words:

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” – Judges‬ ‭21:25‬

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not be King over them.” – 1 Samuel‬ ‭8:4-7‬ ‭

(Read the rest of 1 Samuel chapter 8 to see the curse that God pronounced over Israel for demanding that they be allowed to follow a man and how perfectly it parallels those among the church who do the same)

“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” – 1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:12-13‬

“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” – Ephesians‬ ‭4:3-6‬ ‭

“And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”‭‭ – John‬ ‭19:14-15‬ ‭

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 ‭

A Picture Of True Revival 

“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah‬ ‭8:10‬ ‭

For something to be revived it must first die. Many times pride, sin, and rebellion grew to live in the hearts of the people of Israel so that they would not obey the Lord their God. So God would turn them over to their enemies for a season of humbling as they began to see what it is really like to be separated from the love and grace of the God they were willingly choosing to ignore. In this their stubborn selfishness was put to death that the tender humbled heart of a servant and Child of God might be raised up in its place to fulfill the first and greatest commandment. To love and serve the Lord their God with all their hearts, all their minds, and all their strength.Many Old Testament books record the tragic moment of exile and wrath but the book of Nehemiah records one of the greatest accounts of their humble return in which we see a true picture of revival. The people had a long time been in captivity in Babylon. Many generations had been born in captivity to the enemy with not reading, living, or understanding the laws of God. Here enter Ezra and Nehemiah who led the people back to Israel to rebuild the Temple and the walls.

At this point everything is in ruins and decay, most of the people don’t even know what the word of God really says nor how badly they have been in violation of it. So Nehemiah does what all true revival is birthed from. He builds an old fashioned wooden pulpit, they take out the Holy Scripture, and preach the simple unaltered uncompromised truth of God’s word. They preached and when the people began to understand the scripture they realized that they had not been obeying the word of God which led to bitter broken hearted grief and weeping. In that moment did they finally know the heart of God over their sin and they repented! 

Once repentance had broken out then came joy unto the leaders in realizing this sure truth. That as much as God’s heart breaks over sin, equally as much does the Lord joy over repentance and the joy of the Lord is our strength because His favor, protection, prevision, grace, and mercy returns into a repented and revived people. So you see the joy of the Lord is not God’s joy in us, but rather it is God’s joy over us. It is quite literally “the Joy of the Lord” our God at seeing His children repent and return to Him which in turn becomes our strength as He begins to fight for us once more turning back our captivity and bondage. In this is His joy transferred back to us. 

In the selfishness of sin we find pleasure in that which grieves God and hurts others. In the humility and grief of repentance is God’s joy returned and then transferred back to us and to others through His favor which brings life, peace, love, power, and joy to all. As long as the repentance last, the reviving last, and as long as the reviving last, God’s joy last, and as long as God’s joy last, His favor and strength toward us last. For the joy of the Lord is our strength, but it all starts with the preaching of the truth of God’s Holy Word. Because this favor, power, strength, and joy is (in all its forms), the grace of God which comes only by faith, and faith comes by hearing. For how can we believe what He said unto submission, repentance, obedience, and resurrection of new life unless we have first heard His words and commandments that we might come to realize that we have broken them and need to cry out in repentance. Only those who come to realize that they need saving will ever cry out for a savior. The word shows us our need, therefor does faith come by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, and revival comes by faith, for men are revived only when their faith is revived and faith is revived only when self dies, and self only dies when it is pierced by the sword of the Word. 

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” – Psalms‬ ‭19:7-14‬ ‭

“And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchijah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.” – Nehemiah‬ ‭8:4-12‬ ‭