Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘Obedience’

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)

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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”)

The Leaven of Accomodation

There is such a wonderful liberty in a life lived in the Spirit. That is our Father’s intention for His kids – a released life, a peaceful spirit. And within His Word is found the counsel we need to avoid shackles that impact that liberty.

Compromised truth – half-realized heavenly standards – comfortable accommodation of worldly standards within our faith walk all adversely impede our life in the Spirit.

A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump {it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church} [Emphasis mine]
Galatians 5:9

Early on in my walk with the Lord I was considering becoming a member of a large well-known church in the Boston area. While attending membership classes I heard the speaker say, “During service we do not, you will not, raise your hands to God [in praise]. We do not want to offend those around us.” The admonition was, apparently, acceptable to the people listening. I determined to seek another church! Lifting up holy hands in praise is honoring to God and a heavenly admonition to His people (Psalm28:2, Psalm 63:4, Psalm 141:2, 1 Timothy 2:8). It has nothing to do with personal preference or church dictate. It is the correct attitude of faith and pleases our Father. To lift up hands in gratitude and submission to God reflects a heart filled with praise and an understanding of His Lordship. This church had established behavior standards for its congregation outside of the will of God! For an entire church body to be so instructed “misleads the whole church”.

In a similar manner a gathering of many churches joining together in an effort towards unity in the Spirit, established the principle that speaking in tongues during the services was not to be done. A similar reason was given – “So as not to offend others.”

Now am I trying to win the favor of men or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).
Galatians 1:10

The intense love our Father has for us, the fulfilled lives He has for us to live, the ongoing, life-giving, spirit-maturing work of the Holy Spirit in us can be curtailed by the leavening agent of accommodation to misleading teaching. It is a harsh truth that “a slight inclination to error, a few false teachers…perverts the whole conception of faith” and “misleads the whole church”.

We want to walk in His fullness in a “manner worthy of Him and pleasing to Him” with a full, deep, and clear knowledge of His will and complete insight into His ways and purposes. (Colossians 1:10). When you discover it in the Word, expect it in your church.

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.

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)

Judgment’s Legacy

I would like to revisit the characteristic of a carefree walk before God (May 30th blog entry) with a subject that may seem unrelated but is actually quite instrumental in our successful achievement of carefree living. I am speaking here of the very subtle trap of judging others. This seems especially relevant during this political season in our country when so many find it the natural outcome of a democratic system to mock and condemn those whose politics annoy them.

Jesus taught us, in no uncertain terms, that judgment toward others is extremely harmful to our spiritual well-being – our walk before God. In fact, the mercy of God in our lives is contingent upon our obedience to Him in this area.

If you have anything against anyone forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go) in order that your Father Who is in Heaven may also forgive you your {own} failings and shortcomings and let them drop. (Mark 11:25)

In Matthew 18:21-35 to illustrate the negative end result of judging others, Jesus shares the parable of a king and his attendant. While the king forgave his servant much (the equivalent of 10 million dollars), that servant did not extend the same mercy to his fellow servant. When the master heard of this, in his wrath, he called him “contemptible and wicked” and:

…turned him over to the torturers (the jailers) till he should pay all that he owed. (Matthew 19:34)

Jesus instructs us that this is the standard of God’s kingdom (Matthew 19:23). God will deal in similar fashion to those of us who do not extend forgiveness – who dare to judge and condemn others rather than love and forgive.

Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourself. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you {use to} deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

Through Jesus, our Abba extends to sinful men grace and mercy and forgiveness. When we accept His Son as Savior and Lord all of our indiscretions and rebelliousness are forgiven. That is a vast debt, a heavy weight of sin, which is simply wiped out. We are cleansed through His blood. We are fully and completely and entirely forgiven. Be always aware, grateful and filled with thanksgiving concerning the overwhelming preciousness, the supreme advantage, the undeserved gift from our Father of the blank slate when it comes to our offenses. Our Lord Jesus has taken them for us – we are in right standing with God because of Jesus. We receive mercy instead of judgment, grace instead of punishment.

We, in turn, are to extend that blessing to others. We are to be imitators of our Father in this (Ephesians 5:1).He sacrificed His Son so that we could be restored to His grace. How can we now presume to pass judgment on anyone (James 4:12)? Remember, with the measure you deal out it will be dealt back to you. Is there enough personal pleasure in being able to judge someone’s actions or words that will outweigh sacrificing your right standing with God?

The Lord very often directed our attention to this issue because we fall victim to its trap so easily. We so quickly entangle ourselves through this device of the enemy. God judges; we may not!

Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you {yourselves} may not be judged… (James 5:9)

Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10); we ought not to be!

Our focus, our kingdom work, as children of God, as citizens of His kingdom, is to demonstrate to the lost, dead citizens of the world what God in a life looks like.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves {his fellowman} is begotten (born) of God and is coming {progressively} to know and understand God {to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him}. (1 John 4:7)

When we love others we “perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him“. When we judge we please only the enemy and opt out of grace and mercy. Judgment has no place in the heart of God’s child. It is the presumptuous, prideful attitude and demonstration that we are “better than”. In Jude 1:9 we see the ultimate argument against anyone expressing judgment against another.

But when {even} the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, judicially argued (disputed) about the body of Moses, he dared not {presume to} bring an abusive condemnation against him, but {simply} said, the Lord rebuke you!

If the archangel Michael dare not condemn Satan, we dare not condemn each other!

Judgment replaces our harmony and peace and carefree walk before God with a prideful arrogance and a disobedience that seriously mars our faith walk. Love for others and a desire for their well-being and salvation will overturn and overcome judgment’s penalties and restore peace.

Love – The First Cause (Part Two)

Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in Heaven may also forgive you your own failings and shortcomings and let them drop.

Mark 11:25 is an important addendum to Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom reality of answered prayer. In the previous verses He was responding to the disciples’ amazement at the withering of the fig tree. He taught that if we have faith in God constantly, and believe that what we ask will take place, it will be done for us. Faith operating in love; when you ask in faith, be sure you hold no ill feelings toward others- make sure that you are “debt-free” in the area of harboring negative feelings for anyone.

Love is meant to be our identifier as believers – as faith-filled children of God. We are the spiritual offspring of the God of love (1 John 4:16). When our motivation in all things is love we are operating in kingdom rhythm, we are pleasing our Father, we are energizing our faith (Galatians 5:6), we are warding off fear and concern and anxiety(1 John 4:18), and we are strengthening and establishing our spirits.

There is only one commandment in the New Testament. The Old Testament is filled with commandments – the Ten Commandments from God through Moses (Exodus 20:1-17), dietary commandments, laws and regulations concerning sacrifices, holy days, family obligations, etc. God was indicating to His people that He was meant to be pre-eminent in the lives of men; the best and safest place for them to be was in obedience to His commands. In fact, curses (well documented, itemized and realized) would be the result of rebellious hearts.

Deuteronomy 28:47 – Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness of {mind and} heart {in gratitude} for the abundance of all {with which He had blessed you.

And then, in love, because of love, He sent Jesus to us. And Jesus taught us that all of those laws and regulations and commandments could be summed up and successfully accomplished by us if we truly love God and love each other.

Matthew 22:37-40 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect) (Deuteronomy 6:5). This is the great (most important, principle) and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as {you do} yourself (Leviticus 19:18). These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the law and the Prophets.

There is only one commandment throughout the New Testament –

John 14:34 – I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you should love one another {John 15:12; John 15:17; 2 John 1:5-6}

When we walk in love we are walking in His light, we are following after His guiding principle, and in the Light there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin (1 John2:10).

1 Corinthians 8:1 – …Mere knowledge causes people to be puffed up (to bear themselves loftily and be proud) but love (affection and good will and benevolence) edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow (to his full stature).

All throughout the Old Testament God continuously called Israel back to Himself – to follow His commandments for their own benefit and blessing. We, in this new dispensation, are to faithfully resolve to follow God’s commandment to love – Him and each other – for our benefit and blessing. Under the banner of love we have confidence that our daily walk is pleasing to Him. No negative influences can exist in the light of love. We are carefree in love to serve God and each other. He knows our frame so well – He made us! Love is the balm, the healing ointment that relieves and refreshes and eases and recreates us daily (Matthew 11:29) And what a wonderful promise and blessing comes with obedience to the commandment:

John 14:23 – 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.

The Ever Widening Road

As we get closer and closer to the soon return of our Lord, the chasm between God’s revealed expectations – His standards and His righteousness – and the worldly practices and pursuits, the self-involved presumptions. the delusionary philosophies of lost men grows ever wider. We have watched it happen. We can chart its progress. The litany of choices made, and steps taken, away from God’s standards by individuals as well as nations is startlingly apparent.

Certainly, those outside of His love, His attentive care – the dead ones – stray further and further from His Lordship. They renounce His commandments – His ways of doing and being right – as judgmental; rules that they feel harshly infringe upon their freedom. They are lovers of self (2 Timothy 3:3-4) not God. They encourage each other to further and further sin, falsely labeling their beliefs and misdirection as tolerance toward others, personal freedom, and enlightenment. Scripture teaches us that this is what the last days will look like. (2 Timothy 3:1-4)

We have promises in the Word about this situation:

…When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

It is that standard – our Father’s plumb line- that we raise up. It is not judgmental, it is revelatory. It is not “harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing” (Matthew 11:30), it is freedom. The light of His Word, His wonderful promises to His children, dispels the darkness through which the people of the world are stumbling. We can only shine a light in that darkness when we stand uncompromisingly on His Truth. Here is that uncrossable line. We offer love; in the image of Christ we explain and extend reconciliation with God – yet His standard always holds.

But the ever widening road of compromise and worldly standards and political correctness has made inroads into the church as well. There have always been counterfeit churches (2 Corinthians 11:12-13; Galatians 2:4-5; 2 Peter 2:1) – Christian in name only – from which the Spirit of the Lord has been banished – those who reject God’s full Truth, who compromise His Word to accommodate the world’s loud, clamoring voice, who bow down to the prevalent anti-Christ spirit in the world today, not God’s Holy Spirit. (Jude 1:18-19) Churches who, with a misguided model of Christian love, embrace an inclusiveness that renders them impotent. They do not put God and His revealed will, purpose and plan first. They accommodate worldly standards and ask our heavenly Father to tag along. If you are a friend of the world, you are not a friend of God. (James 4:4)

Take care. Allow God’s Spirit to instruct – to open up your eyes to the dangers of accommodation – an on ramp to the ever widening road. Establish His Word as your standard and His Holy Spirit as your guide through this minefield. The only way that you will bless and powerfully touch the lost is to stand on His Word of Truth with no compromise.

Attend!

There is a power in the Word of God that often goes untapped. God’s Word is our high tower, our safe place, our nourisher. It reveals, if we take the care and the time to listen, and examine, and search as for hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:4), God’s plans for a life well-lived; His purposes and His promises to His people.

Attending to God’s Word is every Christian’s daily calling – it truly is His assignment to us! And His assignments are always, only for our benefit.

Proverbs 2:20-22 – My son, attend to My words, consent and submit to My sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.

Keith Moore puts forth a very interesting concept in his book entitled God’s Will to Heal – 30 reasons why we are sure it’s God’s will for ALL to be healed. He likens the power and positive effect of the Word to the eating of food. You do not need to understand the chemical components and the body’s ability to take in and extract all of the nutrients, the vitamins and minerals, which the food contains. You do not need to have any scientific understanding of how the digestive system works in order for that food to do your body good. You may be entirely unaware of all the nutritional goodness that particular food provides – it will still benefit and strengthen your body.

God’s Word is life, healing, and health to our flesh (Proverbs 2:22). It is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It is Jesus! (John 1:1, 14); Jesus through Whom the world was created (John 1:3). When you read the Word of God you are taking into your spirit, your understanding, your awareness – Jesus. Yes, we meditate on it; yes, we learn and then stand upon the Word in faith; yes, we preach and teach it – there are many avenues of human endeavor that incorporate and strengthen God’s Word in our lives. But, first and foremost is its alive and active character created by God. He determined that:

…It shall not return to me void (without producing any effect, useless), but It shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and It shall prosper in the thing for which I sent It. (Isaiah 55:11)

Keith Moore again: “There’s no Word of God that is devoid of power. Everything that comes out of His mouth is rich with light, spiritual nutrition and life for your flesh. Anytime the Word is preached, anytime the Word is taught, anytime the Word is read there’s life coming out of it. It has a cumulative effect on you, month after month and year after year. God’s will is that you are attending services, reading in the Word everyday, and soaking in the Word of God. It’s permeating you, It’s getting in you.”

Spending set apart time daily reading God’s Word will greatly bless you. Treat It with the honor and awe It deserves -God’s Word to you – to bless, instruct, edify, and make you holy. It will nourish and strengthen your spirit, direct and firmly establish your correct path, and help you to trust, rely on, and more deeply love our wonderful Jesus.

Practice and Obey – PartTwo

Then Israel believed His words (trusting in, relying on them); they sang His praise. But they hastily forgot His works; they did not {earnestly} wait for His plans {to develop} regarding them, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness and tempted and tried to restrain God {with their insistent desires} in the desert.
Psalm 106;12-14
[After the incident at the Red Sea]

The process of planting bulbs or seeds is an exercise of faith. The gardener must wait through the process of germination (unique to each seed type) until the full manifestation of healthy plant occurs. In the case of spring flowering bulbs, 6 or 7 months between fall planting and spring flowering is the norm. In the dead of winter, though, when there is no evidence of something happening beneath the ground, previous experience informs and comforts us that we will see the hoped for results in the spring. Physical phenomenon so very often teach powerful spiritual lessons.

The opening verses from Psalm 106 speak of lack of trust and a falling away from obedience to the plans of God. Having just witnessed the parting of the waters of the Red Sea on their behalf and a miraculous escape from their enemies, praises for God and His demonstrated power quickly turned into judgment towards Him because of their limited and selfish thinking – He wasn’t acting quickly enough for them. Hard to believe that the parting of the Red Sea could so quickly be forgotten! Clearly God was for them and had a plan for their deliverance – but “they did not {earnestly} wait for His plans {to develop} regarding them”. The Message Bible says that “they wouldn’t wait to be told what to do”.

The determination to walk in obedience to God is the ongoing process of honoring His Lordship, His sovereignty, and His character. Fully accepting the Truth that it is His desire to only do us good, that He affectionately and watchfully cares about you (1 Peter 5:7), His plans are to give you a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), and He has a unique path for you to walk on – tailored and prepared especially for you (Ephesians 2:10). To step away from that guiding Truth is to willfully choose disobedience. For Israel, according to Psalm 106, while they received from God what they erringly asked for, the result was leanness in their souls – an empty heart (Message Bible).

Obedience is a daily determination despite outward appearance. Obedience is the process of “steadfastly and determinedly” setting your face to honoring and waiting on God (Luke 9:51). The Message Bible version says “gathered up His courage and steeled Himself”. That’s the demonstration of faith-filled obedience – never to be deterred. Of course, because of Who our Father is, because of His love and care for us, the process of obedience is not a hurtful or unpleasant thing, unless we make it so. In our lives, as with the Israelites, praise and joyful thanksgiving often turn into grumbling, complaining, and questioning. From our “wilderness” perspective (when we do not immediately see the results we crave) we call out with our “insistent desires” and wonder at God’s inaction. We contemplate throne-sitting! We replace God’s will and purpose for us with our own limited view of things. And a shift begins to take place. The joy-filled, grateful, praising heart begins to experience leanness.

Like the patience of the gardener cultivated through previous experience of success, let obedience to the Lordship of Christ, let trust and the leaning of the entire personality over onto God be your resolve. Let His plans and purposes for you come to fruition through obedience and joyful trust.