Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘A Higher Reality’

Obedience Releases Blessings

Your level of true success in life, which ultimately means your level of success in serving God, is directly related to how you regard the realities of the spiritual realm; how your daily heart knowledge informs your head knowledge that the realm of the Spirit – God’s domain – not only exists, but that it instructs and determines our physical reality. The unseen directly effects that which we see. When that understanding guides us, then and only then are we in full kingdom “rhythm”. While there are many choices we could make in life, many paths we could walk down, many goals we could pursue, there is only one path that holds and releases all the blessings that are ours in Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). Those blessings, those promises God has made with His covenant people, are not automatically released with the new birth. They are received through our faith in the reality and the authority of the heavenly realm.

I have heard many cautionary stories of brothers and sisters in Christ who have veered off their “appointed course” (Hebrews 12:1) – those who willfully disobeyed the leading of the Spirit; those who received promising prophetic utterance over their life and ministry which was never fulfilled; those who let the stumbling block of idolatry {and that manifests itself in so many forms, but simply put, it refers to holding anything or anyone as more important than God} overcome their first love (Revelation 2:4). But each and every one of these failures, these falling-short-of-glory-stories, can be simply diagnosed as not requiring God as their “first and vital necessity” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Obedience requires first listening to the Spirit and then acting on what we are told. Careful and correct listening requires the resolve to spend time with God. The determination to spend time alone with God requires the acceptance, the acknowledgment, that GOD IS, and that He is my first need in life.

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come {near} to God must {necessarily} believe that God exists and that He rewards those who {earnestly and diligently} seek Him {out}. (Hebrews 11:6)

When you “search diligently for Him and regard Him as the foremost necessity of your life” (Zephaniah 2:3), when that heart resolve defines us, then obedience to His Word and to His guidance becomes our very reason for being and our vantage point. And when we know that our hearts are right before God in this way, our faith in our Father’s Word, unhindered by doubt and self-condemnation, receives the promise (Hebrews 10:35-36).

Physical beings walking around in this physical world, strongly influenced by the tyranny of our physical senses, need mind renewal (Romans 12:2) and spiritual rebirth (John 3:3) to overcome the influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Knowing this, our Creator gave to mankind the life of Jesus to imitate, the teachings of Jesus to obey, and the Gift of the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the realities of His kingdom. True faith receives this new way of seeing what life is actually all about, submits in love and trust to His Word, yields to and obeys the Spirit’s guidance and walks in full manifestation of His promised blessings. Only God living in us could accomplish such a transformation (John 14:23; John 17:21). Daily experiencing this world through the eyes of the Spirit instructs us in the reality of the spiritual realm. Released into His care, relinquishing any personal notions of what we think should be, in order to honor and seek His plans and purposes, is our daily calling. Anything short of that compromises God’s plan for our lives.

Obedience to all of these truths ushers in the blessings of God – all that His Word says is ours. And they are extraordinary blessings. Life lived in the Spirit, yielded to the Spirit, is filled with our Abba’s watchful and tender care and all of the blessings He says are ours in Jesus.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians3:20-21)

Our First and Vital Necessity

1 Chronicles 28:9 speaks of the life-altering decision, the foundational imperative, the divine mandate to know God:

…{have personal knowledge of Him, be acquainted with and understand Him, appreciate, heed, and cherish Him} and serve Him with a blameless heart and a willing mind…If you seek Him {inquiring for and of Him} as you first and vital necessity you will find Him…

Within Scriptural context this is David exhorting Solomon, but within biblical, spiritual understanding, this is our Father instructing us. Paul exhorts the Ephesians (and us too!):

…try to learn {in your experience} what is pleasing to the Lord {let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him} (Ephesians 5:10)

The expectations that we encounter in God’s Word are our road map to successful living before Him. This is our instruction manual! And through the loving guidance of the Holy Spirit, understanding and appreciating and firmly grasping and accomplishing God’s will (His plan and purpose for each of our lives) is not only possible, it is God ordained, and, yielded to Him, it will be!

God does not reveal Himself as wanting to be intimately known if we could not achieve it. He does not, like an unfair, unjust taskmaster, develop a long list of unreasonable requirements which we could never fulfill. That’s Satan’s misrepresentation of Him! Like a loving parent raising up children, our Abba shows us the right path to take, the correct way to think, speak, and act, and the manner in which He is to be known and understood. With extraordinary love He grants to us:

…a spirit of wisdom and revelation {of insight into mysteries and secrets} in the {deep and intimate} knowledge of Him. (Ephesians 1:17)

Because being intimately known, and therefore honored and cherished, by His children is the desire of God’s heart, the enemy has thrown many roadblocks in our way. Satan’s aim is to distort Truth, disrupt progress, and diminish God’s standards and revealed will in our lives. When you entertain the idea that God is unknowable and unreachable, that we can never truly interact with Him and hold conversation with Him, you are listening to the enemy’s lies and not attending to God’s Word or His Spirit. When we explain away Scriptural Truth as “not for today” or really only spiritual concepts not valid in this physical realm, we give away His established blessings and reject the full life Jesus accomplished on our behalf.

There are obviously some who are troubling and disturbing and bewildering you {with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel} and want to pervert and distort the Gospel of Christ (the Messiah) {into something which it absolutely is not!} (Galatians 1:7)

From Genesis to Revelation God extends to mankind the Truth that He wants to be known, and known intimately. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that ability has been given. Our part in this relationship with our Creator is to seek after Him as our “first and vital necessity”; to give Him, His Word (Jesus), and His Spirit first place in our lives; to cherish Him as our very reason for being; to love His Word as our most precious possession; to daily honor Him with time spent in His Presence (getting to know Him and to recognize His voice); to imitate Him:

{copy Him and follow His example}, as well-beloved children {imitate their father} (Ephesians 5:1)

Then no false gospel, no teaching contrary to His Word, no thoughts contrary to Gospel Truth will compromise or diminish your faith walk. The blood of Jesus which won our salvation and our testimony of our Father’s goodness and loving-kindness will define our days.

Rut, Rot, or Revival

I recently read an excerpt from a book by A.W. Tozer entitled “Rut, Rot, or Revival” in which he speaks of the “dictatorship of the customary” and the “psychology of the usual”. These issues were purposefully directed to the sometimes woeful state of the Body of Christ in relation to our incorrect representation of life in Christ. He correctly asserts that we are often in danger of slumbering in our complacency (rut), we are in a state of satisfied sameness (rot), and we have gratefully accepted comfortable status quo. That hardly demonstrates:

…constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another.
2 Corinthians 3:18

How can the worldwide Body of Christ effectively offer to the lost the powerful ministry of reconciliation back to God when we are hardly alive ourselves to the energizing ministry of the Holy Spirit? Smith Wigglesworth has suggested that if you are not daily growing in the things of God than you are in a back-slidden state! While some may consider that an overstatement, it is, in fact the call of our Father, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, that we “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18), “with a growth that is from God” (Colossians 2:19). Luke 1:30 (Amplified) extends the meaning of grace with the words “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving kindness”. That’s what our Abba extends to us on a daily basis. There is never ending growth in God. We are never finished!! There is always more to know, to learn, to become.

…He wakens me morning by morning. He wakens my ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught].
Isaiah 50:4

As members of the Body of Christ that is our daily calling – to grow in grace, to crave to know more about our Father, to enter into this most extraordinary walk in the Spirit. We are to:

..teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom {in spiritual things…(Colossians 3:16)

And we are to approach our Father and our walk with Him according to the leading of the Spirit:

…in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things… (Colossians 1:10)

Ruts and rots are boring and nonproductive – something our Father never is! Ruts and rots stifle growth and accept quiet mediocrity. Ruts and rots allow the attitudes and accepting standards of the world into our approach to God – both individually and corporately. We are not to allow the world’s standards and the world’s way of doing things to compromise, to infect, our growth in the Spirit and our accurate representation of God’s ways of doing and being right. The people of the world who have yet to know Christ need to see how gloriously “otherworldly” life with God is meant to be!

As we attend to the daily ministry of the Holy Spirit, as we welcome in growth in our own spirits, we enhance the Body of Christ. We boldly speak of what we are learning and sensing and bless others. We demonstrate the peace and confidence and joy which is a direct result of life in the Spirit and enable and invite our brothers and sisters in Christ to see possibility! We revive others as we daily and steadily “grow and increase in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance and recognition] (Colossians 1:10). And energized and revived believers have a profound effect on the local church. We look for what the Word promises and are no longer satisfied with the “dictatorship of the customary” or the “psychology of the usual”.

Daily Renewal – Part Three

We come now to a second aspect of our faith walk that needs instruction, understanding, and mind renewal according to the Word of God – tithing. There are so many aspects of the tithing covenant – the obligation and associated blessings of tithing – that much of the church is missing today. Heaven speaks, but many are not listening.

Because of the rebellious attitudes prevalent and growing today, “obligation” is a tough word for many to receive. This is true not only in the world, but, sadly, in the Church as well. When churches preach and pronounce as an aspect of their beliefs that tithing is an Old Testament concept, under the law, which we no longer need to attend to for we have a “more excellent and more advantageous covenant” {Hebrews 7:22} through Jesus, they are taking it upon themselves to re-structure God’s established covenant for prosperity and protection. Many in the church today give generous offerings to God – some consistently over and above 10% of their income. However, it is being given and received without the underlying acknowledgment that the tithe – 10% of their income – is always the Lord’s. To regard the tithe as simply a now discarded Old Testament requirement is not only an indication of lack of correct teaching in this area, it is, more significantly, a rejection of God’s expectations, His system of financial prosperity for His children, and His continuous plan regarding kingdom living.

This dismissal of Old Testament teaching, and God’s revelation of Himself throughout the Old Testament, is harmful to our faith walk and our deep and intimate knowledge of Him. The Holy Spirit, through the writers of the New Testament, consistently referred back to the Old Testament whether to acknowledge fulfillment of prophecy, to explain spiritual realities, or establish profound eternal truths. Jesus proclaimed:

Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the law or the prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them. {Matthew 5:7}

And indeed, He does just that in the area of the tithe. The first mention of the tithe in the Old Testament occurred centuries before the law was established. In Genesis 14, after returning from a successful battle, Abraham tithed a tenth of all the spoils of battle to Melchizedek.

Melchizedek king of Salem…he was the priest of God Most High. {Genesis 14:18}

There are only two things we know about Melchizedek from the Old Testament – he received Abraham’s tithes and he blessed him. In the New Testament Jesus is called “a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:10, 6:20, 7:15, 17, 21). When the Word says something once, it is important for us to know. To say something a second time, we truly need to sit up and take notice. When it is said over and over again, God is truly trying to get our attention! To ignore the relationship here in the area of tithing is to willfully reject God’s established plan to bless His people. The very first thing God said to Abraham after he tithed to Melchizedek was:

Fear not Abram, I am your shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great (Genesis 15:1)

. Our Father, in Malachi 3, the chapter which speaks uncompromisingly about the requirements of the tithe, says:

I am the Lord, I do not change. (Malachi 3:6)

With that awareness, look at God’s expectations concerning the tithe:

Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? {You have withheld your} tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation. (Malachi 3:8)

And all the tithe of the land…is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord…the tenth shall be holy to the Lord. (Leviticus 27:30, 32)

There is the obligation. God claims the tithe as His; to ignore this expectation is to rob from and defraud Him! As with all of His covenant promises – our part is obedience, His response is blessing.

Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of Heaven for you and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes… (Malachi 3:10-11)

In Joshua 6:18 the Lord warns:

…keep yourselves from the accursed and devoted things…

The word “accursed” in the Hebrew is “cherim” which means “to be separated unto God’s own use, devoted unto the Lord”. In his book From Just Enough to Overflowing Bob Yandian further explains Joshua 6:18 by saying:

“God is saying …This is separated unto Me, so don’t make it a part of your life. Give it to Me so I can work with it and bless you through it… When we hold on to or tamper with what God says is His, we are separating ourselves from Him, which is a cursed place to be”

Finally, a story I heard firsthand from a pastor working among believers in an African community. There had been much hardship in the land due to continuous drought. The people were poor, with no end in sight to their hardships. When in prayer on their behalf, the Spirit of God said to this pastor, “You have not told these people about My tithe.” In obedience to the prompting, he began teaching and preaching on God’s commandment and expectation of the tithe. They responded in obedience and despite continuing poverty all around them, they flourished – their crops, their livestock, their prosperity were a clear sign to themselves and to all who witnessed it of the blessing for the tither and what God in a life looks like.

Incorrect teaching concerning the tithe is blatant disobedience according to the Word, for it presumes to present a new way to interact with God concerning our finances. Being “generous” toward God, even giving abundantly into kingdom work, but rejecting the first principle, the process, the God-ordained, God-established system of tithing, and teaching this to others, proclaiming this as New Testament truth, is an ignorant rejection of what God has established and proclaimed over and over again in both the Old and New Testaments. When churches misrepresent this all important kingdom principle they are not effectively equipping their people to receive the blessing associated with the tithe. And whenever any spiritual principle is compromised, whenever God’s expectations are mishandled, we are not walking in the fullness of His will for our lives.

(For further and deeper insight into this, I refer you to Keith Moore’s teaching “Tithing Today” at MooreLife.org under “Free downloads – Series List”)

Daily Renewal – Part Two

We continue addressing the vitally important, life-altering practice of speaking God’s Word and His Truth into our days -spiritual realities transforming the physical world. We renew our minds and our situations with the words we resolve to speak.

Keith Moore, pastor and teacher to the Body of Christ shared two powerful stories along these lines. Always remember that when you hear such testimonies- this is the will of God concerning you as well. for He is no respecter of persons and what the Truth of His Word has accomplished in one life it will accomplish for all through faith in His stated Word, His revealed will. (Ephesians 6:9)

A man came to Pastor Moore actually quite hopeless concerning his addiction to nicotine. He said that he had been prayed for many times to be able to stop smoking with no success. He had often thrown away packages of cigarettes only to go in search of them again. Pastor Moore counseled him to say, every time he bought a package of cigarettes, “I don’t need or want to smoke.” Every time he took out a cigarette and lit it up he was to say, “I don’t require nicotine any longer.” In between puffs he was to speak out, “I don’t need cigarettes.” With some surprise the man warily agreed to these instructions. After a few weeks he came up to Pastor Moore amazed and joyful, testifying that one day he went to have a cigarette and simply did not want it anymore. He was free! The words of his mouth changed his outcome.

Pastor Moore also tells of a daughter of God who was extremely ill with stomach cancer. She had been a missionary, teaching and preaching the Word of God in Central America, but was now “bedfast”, reduced to skin and bones. How disease robs us of our vitality and our work and witness for the Lord! This sister in the Lord could keep no food in her stomach; whatever she ate came right back up again. She was so weak she could barely be heard when she spoke. Pastor Moore leaned in close to hear her whisper, “I am so weak I can’t keep any food down.” He heard in his spirit, “Let the weak say I am strong.” (Joel 3:10) He told her to repeat after him, “I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might”. Slowly at first, very slowly and almost inaudibly she spoke those words. For forty-five minutes he and she spoke those words until her voice could be heard outside by all who passed by, praising God and speaking in faith. Pastor Moore instructed her to say when she tried to eat and couldn’t keep it down, “I have a ravenous appetite. I eat in health and my body receives in health.” He further instructed her never again to say, “I am so weak and I can’t keep any food in my stomach.” Every time she threw up (in other words when visible physical symptoms still seemed to prevail) she was to wipe off her mouth and say, “I eat in health and my body receives in health.” Two or three months later she was up and about the work of the Lord, gaining weight and walking in health.

I too, along with so many others, have experienced a season of physical attack. For truly, that is how we must view such encounters. One brother in Christ has said, “I consider a splinter in my finger as an assassination attempt.” Smith Wigglesworth has said:

If it is only a finger or a tooth that aches, if it is only a corn on your foot that pinches you or anything in the body that detracts from the higher spiritual attainment, the kingdom of Heaven is dethroned to a degree. Disease or weakness or any distraction in you is a power of violence that can take the kingdom of Heaven in you by force. The same spiritual power that will reveal this to you will relieve you. On the authority of the Word of God, I maintain that “greater is He that is in you” (1 John 4:4) than any power of Satan that is around you. How much more would be done if you would inwardly claim your rights and deliver yourselves.” {Smith Wigglesworth Devotional}

For many months an infection requiring surgery kept me unable to walk. I was at first wheel chair bound and spent a month in hospital and at a rehabilitation facility, followed by months at home seated on the couch. During this process I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. From the very outset of this physical attack I knew two things – God is my Healer and I needed to speak that Truth every day, all day. I listened to healing tapes concerning healing. I read Keith Moore’s book on Healing. Gloria Copeland’s books on healing promises and God’s Will for You, and Bosworth’s Christ the Healer. I fed on God’s Truth concerning healing. I spoke God’s Truth concerning healing. I called my body strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. I spoke to my pancreas – spirit taking authority over flesh – and said, “My pancreas is strong and healthy and it produces just the right amount of insulin for the nutrition I give my body.” I said, “Diabetes is a disease under the curse of the law (Deuteronomy 28:15, 61), but Jesus has redeemed me from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). I called my circulatory system strong and healthy and my blood pressure normal. I called my immune system strong in the Lord and healthy. In fact, for many weeks I daily went through an inventory of all my body parts and systems- brain, heart, lungs, digestive system, etc. – calling them healthy and exhorting them to perform their functions and to fulfill their purpose the way the Creator God made them to perform.

I came home from the hospital with medication for every physical issue the medical community had discovered. I checked my blood sugar four times each day as instructed and gave myself insulin shots, all the while saying that this was a short lived phenomenon. I checked my blood pressure every day, as instructed (there was a pill for that too). I was given sleeping pills and stomach acid pills and pills for nausea. I had no appetite (all the while calling my appetite strong and healthy) and often gagged and threw up due to the regimen of pills and the toll the infection had exacted from my physical well-being. I called my digestive system a healthy receiver of good food.

When I truly just wanted to share with others how awful I was feeling – weak, nauseous, and yes, sometimes discouraged –I spoke only what the Word says about me instead. I remembered a similar testimony from Barbara Arbo, a sister in Christ whose prayer ministry at The Sanctuary – a New England place of prayer in New Hampshire that is such a blessing to the Body of Christ. Barbara says that when well-meaning friends asked her how she was feeling after a serious and painful injury, her answer was always “I am getting better and better and stronger and stronger every day.” That became my mantra as well. Every day I spoke praises to God for His love and goodness to me and for the reality of and the manifestation of my full healing. When I weakened in this – and I did – my wonderful faith-filled daughter encouraged and exhorted me to stand on His promises only.

One by one, every issue and the associated medication for that issue was gone. My appetite is no longer compromised, no blood pressure medication is needed; no insulin is needed for my blood sugar levels are within normal range. I am the healed of the Lord!

Jesus said, “Take no thought” about physical issues. (Matthew 6:25). Consider not (Romans 4:19) the concerns and limitations and hindrances of the flesh. Speak only what God speaks about you.

When the church does not teach these Truths, the Body of Christ suffers and is weakened. We must encourage each other into mountain moving faith. We must exhort each other to “have faith in God constantly”. We must give each other firm footing in all of the promises of God. Take great care with what you are hearing and speaking.

And He said to them, “Be careful what you are hearing. The measure {of thought and study} you give {to the truth you hear} will be the measure {of virtue and knowledge} that comes back to you – and more {besides} will be given to you who hear. (Mark 4:24)

Daily Renewal – Part One

I recently attended a church which represented itself to potential, new members through a group meeting entitled “Who We Are”. Much of their stated doctrine was in line with the teaching in the Word. However, in three areas the “caution” light went on for me. The leading of the Spirit not only warns of “misconceptions ahead”, but He instructs us always in the way we should go; He strengthens our resolve in holding firmly onto the teaching we have already received and He illuminates our understanding when Gospel compromise is being presented.
Whenever man’s reasoning tries to influence or “explain” the Gospel message to make it more palatable, more politically correct, or even more “enlightened”, the Word and the Spirit will instruct us, will renew our thinking, and will demolish those beliefs that set themselves up against the Truth of the Word (2 Corinthians 10:5). In this particular case the Gospel realities of healing, speaking in tongues, and tithing were compromised. But so subtle a difference that one might believe it could be overlooked to reap the benefit of good fellowship among believers. And certainly misconceptions can be corrected, and the Lord will often send in His servants to do just that.

Meanwhile, there was a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, who came to Ephesus. He was a cultured and eloquent man, well versed and mighty in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and burning with spiritual zeal, he spoke and taught diligently and accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he was acquainted only with the baptism of John. He began to speak freely (fearlessly and boldly) in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him with them and expounded to him the way of God more definitely an accurately. (Acts 18:24-26)

When the misdirection in presenting the Gospel is so subtle, it can be an unexposed stumbling block for the believer. Faith comes by continually hearing God’s Truth fed to our spirits so that we can mature into well-trained disciples. (Romans 10:17). So when a growing and maturing spirit comes across teaching that seems reasonable, and seems to be honoring God, it can actually stunt and limit our walk of faith. Let’s take a closer look at each of these three doctrinal areas.

Heavenspeak on Healing

…you have become dull in your {spiritual} hearing and sluggish {even slothful in achieving spiritual insight}. For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food. For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action, for he is a mere infant {not able to talk yet}! But solid food is for full grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law. (Hebrews 5:11-14)

Healing is the children’s bread (Matthew 15:26-28). When the Church dilutes that message it is taking a stand in opposition to Gospel Truth, misrepresenting God the Father to the world and to His born again children, and seriously compromising His power and ability, and His revealed character.

So for the sake of your tradition (the rules handed down by your forefathers), you have set aside the Word of God {depriving It of force and authority and making It of no effect]. (Matthew 15:6)

There is a malaise throughout the church brought about by incorrect teaching and only half-hearted seeking for God’s Truth. We are to “mine” the Word as if mining for silver and gold. (Proverbs 2:4-5) We are to search the Scriptures to establish what God says is correct for our lives (Acts 17:11). When ill health tries to gain a foothold in a person’s life don’t allow it to establish a doctrine to follow! For a church to state and stand on the false idea that healing does happen “if it’s God’s will” is to put our experience in this physical realm above the already established blessings in the spiritual realm. The devil, Satan, God’s enemy thoroughly enjoys such twisting of the Truth for it disproves the Word.
Those who weakly acknowledge healing if it manifests but will not flex faith muscles to “receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36) have quite effectively removed faith from the equation and to perpetuate that falling short, they teach others along the same lines.

If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. (1 John 3:17) Message Bible

It is all too easy, it is ignorant, and (worst of all) it mischaracterizes our heavenly Father when we place on Him the responsibility of when healing happens. It seems honoring to God to say that He is sovereign and holy and all powerful so He will do what He wants and we will not always understand, doesn’t it? But, we do not ask God to do what He has given us to do. For if, according to the Word, we receive all of His promises (all of what Jesus accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection) through faith – since faith is the currency of His kingdom – how can we stand in faith and receive in faith for something that may or may not happen depending upon God’s willingness to answer our prayer. God is not capricious. He doesn’t waver in the things He has promised (Hebrews 10:23). If He has stated that faith receives the promise, that is the rejoicing and receiving place. Because faith flourishes when the will of God is known. when a large part of the Church teaches that God will heal is He feels like it, or if that particular case is His will, faith becomes weakly ineffective. Why would we need faith if everything is up to God? For God to say:

But the just shall live by faith… and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him. (Hebrews 10:38)

For we walk by faith {we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk} not by sight or appearance. (2 Corinthians 5:7),

but then reserve the right to determine whether or not the prayer will be answered is unfair and unjust. Neither of these attributes characterize our Abba. Our faith work is to edify, encourage, and exhort ourselves and one another in this walk of faith. The word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11),the words we speak to ourselves and to each other is an overcoming force – “Here’s what God says”, Here’s what God has done for me”! Our Heavenspeak! I offer up, exhort, encourage, and edify with the alive and active Word of God:

If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen to and obey all His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord Who heals you. (Exodus 15:26) (Jehovah-Rapha)

– …Lord, if You are willing, you are able to cleanse me by curing me. And He reached out His hand and touched him saying, I am willing; be cleansed by being cured. And instantly his leprosy was cured and cleansed. (Matthew 8:2-3)

– …Take courage, daughter! Your faith has made you well. And at once the woman was restored to health. (Matthew 9:22)

– How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with strength and ability and power, how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by {the power of} the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts10:38)

– Overhearing but ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing. (Mark5:36)

– And Jesus replying said to them, Have faith in God {constantly}. Truly I tell you whoever says to this mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the sea! And does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will {get it}. (Mark 11:22-24)

– …O you of little faith, why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:31) When Peter started sinking after initially walking on the water

It shall be done for you as you have believed. (Matthew 8:13)

– Do you believe I am able to do this? They said to Him, Yes, Lord. Then He touched their eyes saying, According to your faith and trust and reliance {on the power invested in Me} be it done to you. (Matthew 9:28-29)

– …Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. (John 14:9)

– …By His wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

– The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance) to the full, till it overflows). (John 10:10)

– I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father. (John 14:12)

When we dig diligently and deeply into the Word of God we discover the role faith plays in our successful walk in the Spirit, and the dangers we could encounter when we entertain spiritual teaching that does not stand firmly on His Word of Truth.

Extravagant Asking

What a marvelous, miraculous, awesome, life-altering Gift the Holy Spirit is to us. When we sincerely attend to His placement in our lives, when we understand “the surpassing worth and supreme advantage” (Philippians 3:8-Amplified) of being “baptized with (placed in, introduced into)” (Acts 1:5) the Holy Spirit, joy, peace, power, and the strength of the Lord can define our days.

In Isaiah 11 the Lord prophesies concerning Jesus:

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the reverential fear of the Lord – (Verse 2)

And that same prophesy speaks of us – His born again children, filled with the Spirit of God.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever – the Spirit of Truth…you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you (constantly) and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

At that time you will know {for yourselves} that I am in My Father, and you {are} in Me, and I {am} in you. (John 14:20)

Jesus answered, If a person {really} loves Me, he will keep My word {obey My teaching}; and My Father will love Him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him. (John 14:23)

God lives in us through the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13). In the Spirit, through His ministry, we can walk in wisdom and understanding, the counsel of God, and the sure safety of His might. We too, through faith, do not “judge by the sight of our eyes” or “the hearing of our ears“. (Isaiah 11:3) There is such freedom with the recognition of that privilege. Yielded to the Spirit’s tutelage, we stand on what the Word proclaims, not what the world presumes to be true. For a child of God, whatever is in our lives presently that does not line up with, agree with, His Word cannot stand. When we do not willfully or fitfully wander from His precepts we order our conduct and our conversation, our thoughts and actions according to God’s revealed will (Psalm 119:2-3). We “hear It, receive It, love It and obey It”. (Psalm 119:5) We become extravagant speakers and askers!

Watch now! This is weighty. We are told in Hebrews 10:38 that as His children we must live by faith which is:

conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it.

And if we fearfully draw back from walking by faith, God “has no delight or pleasure in us.”Further, Psalm 119:6 promises:

Then shall I not be put to shame {by failing to inherit your promises}

So, walking yielded, submitted, to God’s Holy Spirit, facing each moment of every day with the correct attitude of faith, we please our Father and will never be put to shame concerning the hope we stand on because we are inheritors of all of His promises (Hebrews 6:12, Hebrews 10:35-36) Our lives reflect His faithfulness, His goodness, His love and His good pleasure. And being instrumental in bringing about our Abba’s good pleasure is such a lovely place to be!

Yielded to the Holy Spirit daily, moment-by-moment, we think God’s thoughts, speak forth God’s Word, accomplish God’s purposes. We operate so far above the natural inclinations of this world. We are in Kingdom rhythm, we discern Kingdom sensibilities, we represent Kingdom standards, we receive Kingdom blessings.

“Move beyond your human mind, your human measure, your own strength, and all your resources – and let inspiration take charge of you entirely, and bring you out of yourselves into the power of God… Begin to believe in extravagant asking, believing that God is pleased when you ask large things.”

Smith Wigglesworth

What Does Freedom Look Like?

As a former teacher of very young children, and the provider of day care to infants and toddlers, I was able to witness first hand the negative impact of negligible, or non-existent, disciplinary parameters in the lives of children trying to figure out how their world worked. They so very often kicked out against barriers to their “freedom” (in the form of the standards and regulations set by the adults in their lives) to see if they held fast; to see if they were indeed safe within those boundaries or if the stated standard, the boundaries, were weak and easily crumbled with some resistance to them. Ironically, as their rebellion toppled the barriers, they felt less safe and continued this testing and rebelling until they discovered a sturdy and resistant barrier against which their pressure could not prevail. Firm, uncompromising standards would save these young ones so much frustration; so much wasted time and energy unnecessarily challenging parental authority. And safe and free within those firm boundaries they could explore their world, develop their potential and giftings, and become their best and brightest self.

I was recently reminded of this during a Bible study discussion concerning too much freedom in the world; too much freedom to experiment with alternative lifestyles, drug use, and man made philosophies that diminish or eliminate God’s standards. Ironically, the reality is that this is bondage, not freedom.

Like the developing toddler, men strive to achieve “personal fulfillment” and the tearing down of what they consider limiting strictures to their progress through life. They cry out for freedom to be themselves, they rail against established standards and expectations that hamper their personal opinions and worldly pursuits, and they foolishly expend time and energy building a monument to their view of how life ought to be.

Bob Dylan once wrote correctly, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you’re going to have to serve somebody.” Satan knows that once he can get us to take our eyes off of God and His standards (once we refuse God’s sovereignty, His Lordship) we are easy prey to his ways of doing and being wrong. Pride, envy, greed, and the selfish pursuit of personal glory or fleshly gratification – this is the bondage that is camouflaged in the guise of freedom.

Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God). Romans 6:16

So in reality, those without God in the world who proudly proclaim that they are free to be whoever they want to be are enslaved to a very hard taskmaster whose dismal end they too will share.

So brethren, we {who are born again} are not children of a slave woman {the natural}, but of the free {the supernatural}. In {this} freedom Christ has made us free {and completely liberated us}; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to the yoke of slavery {which you have once put off} Galatians 4:31-5:1

We are all called to experience and live within the glorious freedom of God’s children (Romans 8:21; Galatians 5:13). Safe within the boundaries of obedience to God’s expectations and His attentive care we experience freedom, peace, joy, confidence, quietness, and a deep abiding satisfaction that our life has meaning, eternal purpose, and great value.

Conditioned by the revelation of His grace” (Matthew 5:7) we make and maintain a life of absolute peace (Matthew 5:9). There is certainly no better way to live, no better place to occupy, than to be “spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation.” (Matthew 5:6)

Spiritual realities often confound man’s rational sensibilities. In truth, our freedom is found in His Lordship. Kingdom freedom is determined by our awareness of and obedience to God’s standards. Worldly freedom is the lie that Satan offers, for there is no freedom when you are dead in your sins and separated from your Creator.

Separate and Set Apart

What separates the church of Jesus Christ, the believing church, the obedient and set apart church, from the attitudes and beliefs of the world around us; the watered-down morality and compromising, politically correct standards of the world system within which we live? Throughout church history, right up until the present day, there have been those who mistakenly, or intentionally, negatively impact the power of the Gospel in the lives of individuals, entire congregations, or large segments of the Christian community.

For the time is coming when {people} will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction. but, having ears itching {for something pleasant and gratifying} they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold. And will
turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

…because of false brethren (some men who were Christian in name only) who had been secretly smuggled in {to the Christian brotherhood}; they had slipped in to spy on our liberty and the freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might again bring us into bondage. (Galatians 2:4)

In Revelation 2:13-15, speaking to the church at Pergamum, Jesus warns of believers “clinging to the teaching of Balaam…” and “to the teaching of the Nicolaitans” both serious stumbling blocks to their faith walk. We are to cling to and hold fast to His Name and to the standard of set-apart holiness that God requires. We are to stand uncompromisingly on “every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) The enemy will always attempt to infiltrate, deceive, and overcome the power and authority of the church. He sows distraction to the flesh, “the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit”.(Romans 8:3 – Amplified) Today, in this present end-times climate, this is profoundly important – impacting our faith walk and our set apart heart before God as the rapture approaches and Jesus returns for the church.

I distinctly remember hearing a pastor, whose walk before the Lord I greatly trust and admire, prefacing his teaching on end-times prophecy saying that he was at first reluctantly obedient to preach the message because he did not want to be known as a “prophecy nut”. The Holy Spirit, he said, had clearly led him to teach on the subject, but he recognized the reluctance and aversion many of his listeners had to these particular biblical truths.

I approached this writing with similar concerns. The purity and the sanctity of Christ’s church in these last days is the issue which so many do not want to hear. Jesus warned His disciples to be on the lookout and beware of “the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:11); beware of rules and traditions and teachings that would compromise and even nullify the Word of God; “depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect”. (Matthew 15:6)

Our Lord Jesus:

…loved the church and gave Himself up for her. So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things {that she might be holy and faultless}. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Satan’s initial purpose is to keep people blinded concerning their need for God – to keep them from submitting to the Lordship of Christ. Failing that in the lives of many, his Plan B is to disprove the Word in a believer’s life; to so weaken Bible Truths and our Father’s covenant promises that entire churches operate within the parameters of a compromised Gospel. Millions of Christians around the world – saved and Heaven-bound – have no idea of the authority and blessed life that is theirs in Christ. The world system we live in has, to a large extent, infiltrated the church. The warning of 2 Corinthians 2:11seems turned upside down. For many do not seem aware of Satan’s tactics; they appear “ignorant of his wiles and intentions” and he is gaining an advantage over them.

Paul’s letter to Timothy sets the right standard:

Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me, in {all} the faith and love which are for us in Christ Jesus. Guard and keep {with the greatest care} the precious and excellent adapted Truth which has been entrusted {to you}, by the {help of the} Holy Spirit Who makes His home in us.(2 Timothy 1:13-14)

When you see it in the Word, expect it in your church. So many receive Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. What is the difference? Savior is what He accomplished for us. Lord is the position He is meant to hold in our lives.

“Too often the church today has offered a good message of salvation apart from Lordship. For the sake of not deceiving people, for the sake of any who might otherwise someday hear ‘depart from Me'{Matthew 7:23}, for the sake of the strength of the church, for the sake of truly walking in the blessings of God, let’s forsake our inadequate ‘good’ Gospel message and return to the tree of life – the biblical message of salvation.” (John Bevere – Good or God?)

Vitally United

In Isaiah 28 we are told what causes times of true refreshing. It is our full and complete reliance on the Lord – not on our own abilities and understanding (Proverbs 3:5), not on the teachings and traditions and doctrines of scholars and religion (Isaiah 28:13; Mark 7:13; Colossians 2:8), not on what those in the world around us accept and expect (Mark 7:7). Our Father, our Creator, encourages our absolute reliance upon Him throughout Scripture and condemns the half-hearted, lukewarm (Revelation 3:16), and even dismissive approach to Him ; keeping Him at a distance in the guise of reverence and the mistaken sense that we can never truly know Him.

Isaiah 29:13 – And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from Me, and their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition {without any thought as to the meaning}

Success is life submitted to the purposes and plans of our Creator. Worshipping our Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) means that we are vitally united to Him.

John 15:4-5 – …neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me…apart from Me {cut off from vital union with Me} you can do nothing.

Nothing! Without His guidance, without our absolute submission to His Word and His Spirit, we do nothing of lasting, eternal, God-pleasing value. It is God in us Who works to:

Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will {while He Himself} works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ… (Hebrews 13:21)

Jesus is our example in this when He said:

I have glorified You down here on the earth by completing the work that You gave for Me to do. (John 17:4)

We glorify our Father when we submit, listen carefully, and truly pay attention daily to His leading, so that we too can complete the work that He has for us to do. The Holy Spirit has teaching and instructions, guidance and strengthening for us every day. He will, if we will carefully attend, help us build a character pleasing to our Father, witness to those who need Heaven’s touch, establish our own unique ministry to the world, and daily give evidence to the peace and joy that are ours in Jesus (John 14:27; John 15:11).

In Acts 9, God calls on Ananias,a disciple in Damascus, to go lay hands on Paul that He would regain his sight. At first Ananias is very concerned about approaching Paul for he knew of Paul’s reputation in severely persecuting Christians. But on God’s leading, at His command, Ananias obeyed. Smith Wigglesworth says of him:

“Ananias…lived in a place where God could talk to him. His ears were opened. He was one who listened to the things from Heaven.”

Ananias is a brother-in-Christ for whom it could be said:

…on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherin I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You. (Psalm 143:8)

Take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself to His keeping (Acts 16:31). Stay vitally united to the Lord.

…for the Father is seeking just such people as these for His worshippers. (John 4:23)