“Remember”

“And having a high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Hebrews 10:21-22

Jesus was not kidding when he declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18)

He occupies the highest throne of authority! Remember:

He called a coin out of the mouth of a fish.

He stopped the waves with a word.

He spoke, and a tree withered.

He spoke, and a basket became a banquet.

He spoke again, and demons fled, sickness was healed, and even a battalion of soldiers collapsed instantly!

Economy, Meteorology, Botany, Food supply, Governments,… “All things have been handed over to me by my Father” (Matt. 11:27)

So when we pray, we need to remember just who it is that hears us! Taking all things He is and has done should stir a faith and peace in our valleys when we call out to Him!

So pray! Since God works, prayer works. Since God is good, prayer is good. Since you matter to God, your prayers matter in heaven. You’re never without hope because you’re never without prayer. And on the occasions you can’t find the words to say, just call on His name. He is near to the brokenhearted and they of a contrite spirit.

Going forward, when you spend your time with Jesus in prayer, just as with communion, do it in remembrance!

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;”

Colossians 1:16-19

“Glorification In Suffering”

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” – Romans‬ ‭8:17‬

No one that I know in the natural sense enjoys suffering. No doubt there are many days we wish it would all just “go away.” Unfortunately, (as it would seem unfortunate), the Bible is very plain regarding the topic: Suffering is and always will be a part of “this” life.

Jesus set the expectation stating:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

In our opening verse, it calls the “born again” (John 3) “children of God,” as well as equal heirs or sharers of Christ; both in inheritance and in peril. It compares the tribulations of life to that of Jesus’ encounters of His suffering, BUT it equally assures us that if we are joined to Christ in suffering, we are ALSO joined to Him in glorification!

Here’s a profound reality: Promotion is an elevation of a “lower state.” In that, we realize that whilst we are in the body, in suffering, in this cursed world, the only way from “down” is “up”

So many questions have been asked such as “Why God?” (as I’m sure we have all asked the same question before). Though we may not see God’s full picture, and the grand scale of his plan, we can rest assured that He is smarter than us, and knows exactly what He is doing.

At some point, undeniably-Biblically, “Joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)

Brining balance to the reality of trials of life, it is necessary to point out the imperativeness that we should not be enduring tribulation or affliction as a result of sin. Though the Bible tells us that it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), it also tells us that we should not be suffering as a consequence of willful sin.

“But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” – 1 Peter 4:15-16

Each & everyday (as I would recommend very early in the morning as according to Psalm 63:1), we should seek God for His strength for the upcoming day that His grace would sustain us to resist the devil that he would flee from us, as well as for the endurance of this present suffering as glory in the name of Jesus Christ! You might say it like this: “Bad days don’t have to be “bad” when God is good because the truth is life is always good when God is your life, because God is good!

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18.

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 ‭

The Gift Of God

bowing-down“Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?” – John‬ ‭4:9-11‬

‭ When Jesus came to the woman of Samaria and asked for a drink, she was surprised for two reasons. For one she was a gentile and also she was a woman. This was a double portion of lowliness, so to speak. Therefor, she was baffled that He would even choose to speak with her at all. Yet, Jesus’s reply reveals something very interesting about what was about to come.

Jesus tells the woman that if she knew about the gift that God was going to give to the world through Him, then she would ask Him for it and He would give it to her. This is important in several ways. First of all, this “gift of God” that Jesus referred to which would come as a river of living water from within, was the Holy Spirit.

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

‭ “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” – Acts‬ ‭2:38-39‬

‭ Now that we understand that Jesus was talking about the gift of the Holy Spirit, the next important thing we can glean from this is that you have to ask for it. Jesus told this woman and many others, “if you ask Me“.

However, one of the most astonishing things that Jesus reveals through this exchange is the very thing that caught this woman by surprise (as it would catch the world by surprise and still does today) is this: The fact that she was both a Samarian and a woman, the lowest of the low, yet Jesus Himself says that if she ask, He would give this great gift of God to her.

In Acts 1:8 we read that the power of the Holy Spirit is given to make us witnesses for Jesus. To empower us to spread the gospel and testify of Jesus. So for this gift to be offered by Jesus to a woman of Samaria was very surprising. Yet after her conversation with Him she did just that. She ran to town and told all the people about this Jesus and brought them to His feet!

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:” – Acts‬ ‭2:14-18‬

‭ Through this great Gift of God, given for all generations to whomsoever would humble themselves, repent, believe, and ask for it, all the week, meek, and lowly are filled and empowered by the Spirit of God to do His work and will. Therefore, their limitations no longer matter because it is God’s limitless power working through them. Male, female, young, old, weak, strong, feeble, whole, it doesn’t matter anymore because it is the power of this gift of God, His own Spirit, working through us that does it, and not we ourselves, (though we must submit to it).

“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” – Luke‬ ‭24:49

‬ ‭ “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” – Acts‬ ‭1:7-9

‬ ‭ Lastly, the woman ask Jesus a question. She says that this well is deep, how then will He draw this water up. Well, for Jesus the water flowed from His side when he humbled Himself unto the obedience of the cross and was pierced for our transgressions. However, for us it flows when we humble ourselves before God in prayer, fasting, worship, adoration, and obedience.

“And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” – Acts‬ ‭1:13-14‬

‭ “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” – Acts‬ ‭2:1-4‬ ‭

Spiritual Wartime vs Peacetime : Avoiding The Complacency Trap

CoveredbyCloudMany times it may feel like we are at peace in our walk with very light afflictions, burdens, sufferings etc. During this time we may as well receive a multitude of physical and spiritual blessings, prosperity, loved ones doing well, no one in your circle is in some major sin or in need of a dire healing or miracle, economy isn’t all that bad, your local church is doing well and you or your loved ones aren’t experiencing any major attack of the enemy. This is where everybody is OK. This is known as a ” Peacetime” season. This may be the reality for you. Or even worse (as many Christians do and I for one am one of them) MANY times we trick our minds (mostly in American culture) into believing this; “I’m OK, so you’re OK.” Which can lead to spiritual complacency.

God showed me this while explaining what a (US) military personnel does in a Peacetime scenario. “They hone both their combat and MOS skills, they train for war so they are still prepared for war. The military must be able to leap into action immediately, so their training focuses around this fact.” 

The truth is, we must treat our walk as if we are “ALWAYS” in Wartime scenario because truthfully, we ALWAYS are! If we are stuck for too long in our carefree complacency and then the storms of life suddenly come we can find ourselves standing in sinking sand headed for catastrophic peril. Jesus warns us in Matthew 24:43 “If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.

It is also important to note prior to Jesus being arrested in the garden he found his disciples sleeping several times and the moment he was arrested Peter wrongfully cuts off a soldier’s ear. Many times we tend to REACT like this when a crisis happens rather than having a PROACTIVE consistent readiness in our walk with Christ.

Some key scriptures about spiritual warfare:

“He teaches my hands to war” -Psalm 144

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” – 2 Cor 10:4

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

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:10-12

“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” – 2nd Tim 4:2

And my favorite!… “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” – Matthew 11:12

Submitted by @ Jason Kennedy

Legalism vs Obedience

img_5061There is (and always has been) from its founding, a conundrum within the church. The disobedient call obedience legalistic, while the obedient call disobedience the same. At first glance it can be hard to decipher one from the other and even harder to decipher which one is true. So allow me, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, to clarify this issue with a simple definition. If you hold this truth in your heart and mind you will always know the difference between obedience and legalism, and that is this:

Legalism is actions taken to please men

Obedience is actions taken to please God

The same action can for one be legalism and for an other obedience. For example, fasting. If a person, church, or denomination mandates a fast and people fast to please that person, church, or denomination knowing they will be looked poorly upon if they do not, then it is legalism. However, if God tells someone, or even a group of someones, to fast then they are simply being obedient. In fact they are actually expressing their faith through their obedience and faith is the opposite of legalism.

“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

So let’s break it down even further. If dead works are works preformed without faith, then dead works are simply works preformed that one never heard directly from God on. After all, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). They might have heard from themselves, or from a doctrine or tradition of men, or from a pastor, or a friend but if they didn’t personally hear from God then it is a dead work. However, if you hear from God, either through His written word or personal revelation in the secret place of the most high (prayer), then you’d better obey, no matter what men say. For the word says that those who know what they should do and do not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).

“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts‬ ‭5:27-29‬

‭In summery, faith is rooted in obedience to what God says, despite what men say. While legalism is rooted in obedience to what men say, despite what God says.

“He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” – Mark‬ ‭7:6-9‬ ‭

Again, the simple truth on this matter is this: legalism is when your heart is concerned with pleasing men. Obedience is when your heart is concerned with pleasing God. Please God, not men. Seek, pray, listen, and obey; no matter what the traditions of men say.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge (submit to) him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” – Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-7‬ ‭

When God Chooses You

esther“And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.” – Haggai‬ ‭2:22-23‬ ‭

All through scripture we see examples of God doing great things for those He has “chosen“. We see these individuals that are “chosen by God”, we see the close personal relationship He has with them, all the ways He defends them, and the many miracles He performs, seemingly on their behalf.

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” – Jeremiah‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭

To the “average joe” or new Christian, this may seem unfair. Why has God chosen this person and not me? Why do I see God manifesting on their behalf and not for me? Why does He always defend them and not me? Well, I’ll tell you a secret. It’s not that they are chosen and you are not, it’s simply that they are walking in obedience to the plan that God has chosen for them and perhaps, as of yet, you are not.

The truth is that we are all chosen for something. God has a plan for every life laid out before they were even formed. This is the essence of what the bible refers to as “predestination”. It is the destiny that God has prepared for your life. However, it is up to you rather you choose to walk in that destiny or not.

“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

‭The bible is full of examples of people who chose not to walk in the destiny (or plan) God had for them. Esau was one such man, who for a bowl of stew gave up his birth right, his destiny. He chose to indulge the desires of the flesh whether then trust in God, and therefor forfeited all that God had planned for him.

An other great example of this is Saul. At the beginning of his kingship we see God telling Saul His great plans for him, coupled with His great provision, protection, and favor, for God had chosen him. Yet by the end of his reign, we see him rejected by God and stripped of everything, his kingdom, his favor, his blessings, and even his protection as he is killed while trying to commit suicide. All because he detoured from God’s perfect plan and trusted his own plans more then God’s.

“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” – Psalms‬ ‭18:30‬ ‭

You see, we look at those whom we can see the favor of God shining in their lives and think, “I wish I was chosen of God like them“. I’m here to tell you that, of a truth, you are! God chose them to walk out a certain destiny (or plan) laid out from the foundations of the world, that’s true. However, He has chosen you to walk out a certain destiny (or plan) as well! You cannot walk in their plan and they can not walk in yours, for we are many members of the same body, jointly fit together, acting as a whole to accomplish the will of God!

Stop pursuing someone else’s destiny, stop trying to create your own, and start walking in the one that God has created you for from the foundations of the world! Then and only then will you see Him move in your life to defend that plan, to empower that plan, and to favor that plan. You see it’s not that person that God is preforming miracles for, it’s His plan which they are walking out. It’s not that person (par say) that He is defending, it’s His plan that He is defending. It’s really not even that person He is favoring over you, it’s His plan that He is favoring over yours. So in short, God chooses the people that choose His plan!

When you choose to put your trust in God’s plan, God Himself will show up in impossible ways to help you walk out the destiny that He has planned for your life, but will not for the one you imagine for yourself. The good news is that the one He planned for you is far better then the one you imagine yourself. The sad news is that so very few choose to lay down their own plans and trust God’s enough to ever come to see that. So they that don’t, envy those that do, while blaming God and destiny for what is really up to you.

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

‭ “For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” – Isaiah‬ ‭43:3-4‬ ‭