Monday, April 17, 2023

Deliverance from being in bondage to man


Over the past 22 years perhaps the greatest hindrance to my walk with the Lord was seeking men and following them rather than living out what was written on my heart regardless if those whom I esteemed would be disappointed. I have had to stand against excommunication, threats, brothers making videos against me and warning others about me and sharing their "concerns" while rarely ever specifying any legitimate concern. 

I am not facing any of this right now but after scrolling through Facebook I have been compelled to share this.

Thank God for delivering me from that lion years ago but it was a horrible bondage and I am still becoming more and more free.

Sometimes I scroll through Facebook checking on different people and I see them in the same struggle. I see them wanting to break free but certain individuals who they have allowed to speak into their lives keep them in a place of severe entanglement and uncertainty using the Scriptures. Men have an evil habit of keeping men from following Jesus and what He has plainly written upon their hearts using the Scriptures as they understand them. 

The difficult thing is that the Scriptures make strong statements that seem to disagree with one another and many directly or indirectly pick sides and earnestly contend for others to stand with them on their side and strongly warn others who seem to drift from standing with them. 

Many would love to have fellowship with others who they know are living out what is written on their hearts but they find themselves struggling to do it because of men in their lives who would be concerned and disappointed. 

Many have a deep peace and strong witness that certain brothers and sisters or churches are walking with the Lord but they do not seek their fellowship and to walk with them because of who they are walking with now. 

I see so many over-emphasizing the lighter matters of the law while neglecting the weightier. They justify their behavior and positions using examples from the old testament instead of following JESUS. 

As for me, I would love to have the walk of Enoch, the praise of Daniel, the voice of John, the cry of Moses, the heart of Mary but most of all, I want the likeness of JESUS. He alone is the brightness of God's glory and the exact of image of His authority and character. 

We all must make the choice to walk even as Jesus walked. We are not called to follow in the steps of anyone else but Him who was crucified for all. We must seek Him with all of our hearts and be willing to accept and endure the scorn, disappointment and censorship of those who would oppose us. The psalmist declared, "My soul follows hard after Thee" (Psalm 63). 

Moses was a friend of God, as was Abraham but the psalmist didn't follow hard after them to become a man after God's heart. He said, "One thing have I desired of the Lord and that will I seek after: to dwell in the house of the Lord and to behold His beauty" (Psalm 27). Sure he benefited from their walk with the Lord but He could not be limited or bound to an imitation of man's opinion on how they walked with the Lord.

What we see emphasized in the new testament, especially in Jesus, we ought to follow hard after. We ought to look for His emphasis while reading the Scriptures and our life be a perpetual echo of that emphasis. All who oppose this we ought to view as opposing JESUS in us. Jesus must be all to us in lip and life. He must be first and sitting in the highest place of heart honor. 

May God give us the courage we need to truly live for Him regardless of threats, warnings, Scripture manipulation, religious abuse, or any other thing. 

So many open the Bible to read what they believe instead of believing what they read. 

So many believe what they read but they fail to rightly divide what they read. They find a crumb in the Scripture, some potentially new light or rather a light that had been hidden under a bushel...something in Scripture but not emphasized in Scripture to the degree they claim...and they hamper on this revelation as though all of the law and prophets did hang upon it. 

But Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40). 

Even then men have managed to add many lighter aspects of the law into the balance, in fact, so many lighter matters and perhaps many man-made matters which cannot even be called lighter due to their nature, while leaving many weightier issues unweighed. 

What are the weightier matters? Jesus told the Pharisees, "judgment, mercy, and faith" (Matthew 23) and "judgment and the love of God" (Luke 11). 

What are weightier matters? What you see in Jesus the most, what you see Him doing the most, what you hear Him saying the most. Look to Jesus for the answers. Follow hard after Him. Be men and women after the heart of God and not after the hearts and praises of men.

Monday, February 27, 2023

The slothful . . .

 "The slothful man says, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets" but the Christian says, "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force". 

If you have tasted the goodness of God, be careful not to become slothful in what God has required of you and commanded you to do. 

"The slothful hides his hand in his bosom; it grieves him to bring it again to his mouth" (Proverbs 26:15).

The slothful has lost sight of JESUS CHRIST. The will of God which ought to inspire him, pains him, for he finds himself unwilling to overcome difficulties. 

"The desire of the slothful kills him; for his hands refuse to labour" (Proverbs 21:25). 

The slothful man desires the kingdom of God with all of his heart but will never attain to it, unless he awakes to righteousness. 

If a lion stood between you and the kingdom of God what would you do? 

If you had to bear in your body "the marks of the Lord Jesus" as the apostle Paul, what would you do? 

If you had to work 60 hours a week for a foreign government who subdued your country and made you a slave, feeding you only with the "water and bread of affliction", and your only way out was to compromise what would you do?

If you had to love your neighbor as yourself, regardless of their origin, color, race or religion, and irrespective of how they treated you, what would you do?

If you truly had to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind and all of your strength, what would you do? 

If you had to watch and pray, stand fast, hold on, be sober, walk circumspectly, redeem the time, seek first the Kingdom of God, lay up treasure in heaven, run the race before you, guard your heart with all diligence, lift up your eyes to the harvest, walk by faith and not by sight, labor night and day, and follow hard after Jesus Christ, what would you do?

The slothful says, "There is a lion in the way" that is, "I can't tackle that", but the Christian says "If God is for me, who can be against me" "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me" "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him". 

The slothful man looks at the things which are seen and is governed by such. The Christian man looks not at the things which are seen, but the things which are unseen. 

In the face of certain danger, conflict, fear and even the devil himself, the Christian is not slothful in business and can boldly say (For the righteous are as bold as lions) "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. 

Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:34-39).

Friday, February 24, 2023

What is strange???

Because grace and truth, because the holiness and love of Christ is foreign to the world, if you follow Christ you will be considered strange. 

You will not always be received. The world receives its own. However, Jesus came unto His own and His own did not receive Him. 

Are you received among your "own" or thought strange by them?

If you are not into sports, T.V., comic books, romance novels, Hollywood, fine dining, vacationing, worldly fashion, the latest trends, jewelry, shows, worldly concerts, icons, war, greed, adultery, immodesty, lawsuits, unforgiveness, and hypocrisies you will always be thought as strange! 

If you use all of your time and energy to labor for a kingdom that you cannot see and for a hope that you inherit after death, you will be thought of as strange. 

If you are moved by the terror of an "unknown and unseen" God, to warn others of an eternal sentence awaiting them for their sins if they do not repent, then you will be thought a fool. 

If you work hard to earn resources to pay only for your necessities and to give the rest away to help the poor and needy, because this way of working is foreign to the world, you will again be labeled a "weirdo". 

If you intentionally live together as the early Christians, having all things in common, being of one mind and one heart, striving together for the faith of the gospel, in the eyes of the world you will be a bizarre cult and of great concern. 

Howbeit, the world unintentionally lives close together, house next to house, striving for the same dead and worthless ideas of the pursuits of their own happiness and are all of the same mind to do this, yet because you do not share their earthly and selfish aims you are strange!

What is truly strange, is that the world lives in a house not made with hands, surrounded by gardens they didn't plant, which all are watered by Another and yet they continue to live selfish and wicked lives, unmoved by the reality of how utterly ignorant they are of this Other! 

Without making any serious preparations for death, for the unknown, for what "possibly" could await them after death they persist in the vain and viscious worldly cycle they were trained up in without asking questions!

What is strange, is that while they have no "proof" for the cause of their existence and for life after death, they continue to chase their worldly dreams rather than seeking the Mystery of their existence. 

What is strange, is that they are more intrigued with what men have made rather than what men have not made! 

What is strange, is that they continually live for and are satisfied with living for what is seen rather than for what is unseen; for what is known rather than what is "unknown"!

"Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead" (1 Peter 4:1-5).

Friday, January 20, 2023

"Treasures in heaven"

 What is meant by the words of Christ, "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal"? Shall we lay up gold there when the streets are said to have been paved with gold? Shall we equate the currency of heaven with earthly treasures? How then shall heaven be of greater value than earth? What is more valuable than the blood of Christ? What greater treasures are there than God Himself and all that He is and has? What did the priceless blood of Christ purchase? What treasure ought we to lay up? 

Souls and the good works which flow from a heart sanctified by the grace of God NO DOUBT!  

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Do we love what God loves? If so, do we love what God loves the way that He loved through Christ who is the brightness of such love and the perfect expression of it? Is our value system one with Christ's? Is there any opposition or distance between our value system and God's in thought or application? 

The thoughts and ways of God are higher than ours, as the heavens are higher above the Earth. However, the thought, mind, Word or Logos of God descended years ago to seed us earthen vessels that we may yield the fruit which is in accord with His holy will. This Seed is the promised Seed: Christ.

The love of God requires faith. Without faith, such love will appear unsound, unjust, unfair, unreasonable, overbearing, heavy and hard. For it is through faith that we receive this love in all of its inner workings and that the branches of its understanding outwardly flourishes and prospers through our lives. For to love those who love us is common to all; but to love those who do not only not return love, but instead return our love with hatred is quite another: to turn the other cheek until death ensues, to forsake the vain pleasures of this life to afford to help as many as possible whether grateful or ungrateful for our sacrifices, to be faithful to your spouse regardless of their choices, to be hated unjustly for simply living the teachings of Christ as Jesus and His apostles lived them is scary to many, yet this is the ONLY RATIONAL CONCLUSION TO THE NEW CREATURE WHO HAS THE MIND OF CHRIST. 

For the first few centuries of Christianity, the love of God in the early church seemed scary. For it was, as it were, multitudes possessed of a strange spirit as soon as they believed. Pagans were instantly converted and transformed by the power of God through faith. Their reasoning, perspective, habits, pursuits, vision, hopes, dreams, goals, desires were all transformed in little time. Whether rich or poor, all used what they had to provide for other believers and even unbelievers. Many parted with all of their wealth and gave it to others to distribute. Racists experienced a love without borders. They went from a manifold purpose of life to a singular; they only lived for and devoted themselves to WHAT WAS WRITTEN UPON THEIR HEARTS! Unity was not as difficult to attain; for they experienced a common salvation through a common faith in their common Head and were stitched together with the thread of the cross!

 "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Is your heart one with God's? Is your heart where God's heart is? Does your treasure on earth witness against your Christian confession? What does it testify of those who lay up for themselves SOME treasure in heaven but not all? A little here and a little there; a little hot and a little cold; to ignorantly do this is one thing, but to voluntarily prefer the vanity of this life to the blessedness of the Promise cannot be reconciled with the mind of Christ. 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Why does evil exist?

Evil exists because God created a world where love is possible. A world where love is possible could not exist if evil was impossible because both love and evil cannot exist without the ability to choose. To exclude the possibility of evil from the world is to exclude the possibility of love also. 

Apparently, our Creator believes that a world where evil is possible is still better than a world where love, meaningful relationships, and the ability to choose are impossible; that a meaningful existence is better than a mechanical or robotic existence.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Love of Jesus

Perhaps from the bloody cross, Jesus taught the apostle, "Love endures all things".

Perhaps it was the bloody cross that entered into the apostle's mind when Jesus told him, "It is more blessed to give than to receive".

Love is a Fountain. Love is a Giver. Love gives to those who do not deserve it, or earn it, and to those who would never desire to return it. 

Except for one place, everywhere Jesus went He was a Giver, even from the Cross. 

From His mother's womb, He caused His cousin John (the Baptist) to leap and baptized His aunt Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit. 

From His birth, He brought angels to sing from heaven announcing tidings of peace and goodwill. 

From His childhood, He gave thought-provoking questions which confounded the elders.

Throughout His life, He gave His virtue to the thankful and unthankful, to the good and the evil. 

At His betrayal, He gave His enemy a kiss of peace and called him "friend", for Jesus was certainly a Friend to him. When His disciple defended Him using a sword, cutting off an officer's ear, Jesus stooped down, grabbed the ear, and miraculously restored the officer's ear. 

Before his trial, He prayed that the faith of His beloved disciple would not fail after he would deny Him before His enemies during the trial. 

At His trial, instead of speaking from hurt, rejection, or anger, He gave silence. His silent acceptance of the cross was our salvation.

From the cross, He gave forgiveness to those who crucified Him. From the cross, He announced salvation to one repentant soul who moments before had railed on Him. From the cross, He gave His disciple to His mother and His mother to His disciple. Even then, He sought to comfort others, rather than seeking to be comforted; to understand, rather than to be understood. His selfless love endured all things. He gave until He had nothing more to give. Perhaps the only way for JESUS to bear the pain of those who hurt Him was to bear the cross and to die upon it for them. The pain of others rejecting eternal life was greater than the pain of His own rejection. From the cross, we learn that when love is in pain, it gives and when love is perfected, it can suffer cheerfully. 

It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive. In His immense poverty, Jesus endlessly gave. His giving endured all things. He died not with His arms folded but stretched out, willing to embrace all who would look to receive His Gift.

His love defied every natural impulse to retain what was best for those who rejected and injured Him. His love did not fail to give what others needed even when others were purposing only to use Him for His gifts. His giving endured all things, even death itself. He gave what was best for others even when it would be worse for Himself. 

The pain others caused Him did not quench His love but rather inflamed it. For it was in suffering that He was "touched with the feeling of our infirmities". He learned what rejection felt like by those who rejected Him and He gave Himself for them. He learned what being hated felt like and He gave Himself for those who hated Him. His love endured all things. 

Perhaps the only way that JESUS could be COMFORTED in His humiliation and grief was to be crucified for those who hurt Him? For the greatest comfort amidst His sufferings was our salvation. Unlike with myself, and with what is common among men, the more pain His loving heart endured, the more that love compelled Him to give. His love endured all things. It was more of a blessing for Him to give than to receive. 

All of the agonies which He bravely endured He conquered as a Man, through that Spirit by which He was begotten. 

The greatest pain He felt was not the rending of His back, not the iron nails in His hands and feet, nor the crown of thorns, but it was the hatred of those whom He loved. Only one time do you hear Him crying out from His personal grief, "I thirst". Yet, He was not thirsting for water or wine. He was thirsting for you and for me. He was thirsting to become our thirst. He drank in all of "Earth's Tears" through the once and for all sacrifice of Himself on the cross to reconcile us to God: the eternal Life and True Love. 

There is only one place where Jesus didn't give. It was the place where He received. He dwelled in the secret place of the Most High. There, He received all that He needed. Jesus said, "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me" (John 6:57). 

Dear friends: The ONLY way to truly have the same love as Jesus and for that same love of Jesus to truly possess us is to feed on Him. He is the Living Bread Who gave Himself for the life of the world. 

Those who are overwhelmed by His love are not overcome by the evil in the world or in the church. What is overwhelming you? The love of Jesus or the cruelty of others? Do offenses weaken your ability to give or do they teach you compassion? It was likely more difficult for Jesus to not love those who did not love Him but what is your testimony? Is it difficult for you to give to those who have disappointed you time and again? Have you any love for those who are unloving to you? Do you truly have Jesus living inside of you? Through his redemptive work Jesus became a life-giving Spirit. Is His life really inside of you? Are you a fruit-abiding branch on the Vine? Does your giving endure all things? If not, then you are not feeding on Jesus. Those who feed on Him will have His life and become fruitful branches of His cross.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

I am poor and needy!

I often find myself "poor and needy" as I consider how to use the time that God has given to me. I don't want to labor for something that I don't have time for. There are so many practical and spiritual needs in the church and in the world. 

I want to preach the gospel, write Christian literature and make edifying documentaries. 

I want Christ to be formed within myself and within others that I fellowship with. 

I want to buy more land, lot it out, build homes for brothers and sisters, orphans and widows. 

I want to drill water wells for the poor who often only have filthy water to drink. I want to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. 

By the grace of God I am involved in these things and have begun and have established some of these works. 

There are many needy souls that I am engaged with daily. There are so many good causes. There are so many worthy causes. But what I need is for the Spirit of God to lead me! 

I am poor and needy Lord! 

I feel that "time is too short" and that there aren't enough brothers and sisters united in Christ: that they are stitched together by religious politics rather than with the thread of the cross of Christ; that they are cut off from each other with the sword of variance rather than by the WORD OF GOD, and because there are so many unnecessary divisions I feel that we cannot "redeem" enough time in these evil days to bring forth the fruit God desires. 

My heart within me is often torn and weeping. I am often crying and moved within my bowels. 

I believe it is high time to focus on the weightier matters: Those things which are weighing heavily upon the heart of God from day to day. 

God help me and all Your people, You know who they are, to be what you want us to be, where you want us to be, when you want us to be. We are Your people Lord! Forgive our complacency! Forgive our indifference! Forgive our pride! Forgive our independence! Forgive the grief we have caused You and others. Forgive our sins against You and against others! Humble us by Your grace and as we humble ourselves give us grace! Help us to guard our frail hearts of flesh from offenses and to be tenderhearted! Fill our hearts with grace and truth, the faith and love of JESUS! Help us to labor together, striving together, for the faith of the Gospel and to somehow "redeem the time" in these evil days (Ephesians 5). Give us the grace of devotion to You through the experience of Your presence and power at work in our inner part, so that we will not be distracted by the entertainments, amusements, and vain pleasures of this lifeless world! So that we will always live for what is eternal and for what is truly important in Your sight!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Examine yourself, whether you be in the faith.

Do you believe in the One who was pierced for your sins but have yet to be personally pierced by Him?

Do you know what it means to be "compelled by the love of Christ"? 

Do you personally know why Paul said, "To live is Christ: to die is gain"? 

Have you been satiated with "the unsearchable riches of Christ"?

Has Christ become to your soul the "Indescribable Gift"? 

Does your walk contradict your talk?

Does your life agree with your lips?

Does your "hallelujah" proceed from your heart?

Do you thank Jesus for His drops of blood but have little desire to give Him a drop of your time?

Have you grown up singing hymns but still don't know Him? 

Are you more in love with the world than with Christ? Do you have more of a passion for programs than for His presence? 

Are you hidden in the wounds of Christ and found refuge in His side?

What is your fascination? 

What captivates you?

What do you enjoy the most? 

Do you rejoice in suffering? 

Have you any love for those who do not love you?

Are you governed more by fear than by love? 

Are you afraid to die? 

Does your heart find any encouragement when humiliated? 

Do you find obedience to Jesus a burden or a blessing?

Do you find the call to bear the cross a cost or a comfort? 

Are you easily offended? Is it easy for others to correct you? 

Do you hide behind smiles? Do you express passion to conceal your fears? Are you bold yet double-minded? Are you confident yet confused?

Does the Spirit of the living God really live in you? 

Can you truly say with the apostle, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). 

Do you have the "Witness" inside of you (1 John 5:10)? 

Has the Spirit of God testified to your heart that you are a child of God (Romans 8:14-16)? Does this sound evangelical to you? Are you able to see this in Scripture? Have you experienced this? Do these questions frighten you? 

Jesus said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38).

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Fruit is born, not worn.

Some people have learned how to preach, learned how to pray, learned how to fast, learned how to study the bible and to rightly divide doctrine, but they still haven't learned how to love! Ultimately, they haven't learned anything, gained anything, or become anything but vanity.

So many judge others according to their abilities to preach, pray, go without food, study and teach doctrine; they are impressed with such and judge such as lovers of truth, lovers of God, and devout. However, the apostle would simply say that they are, by their efforts, simply a louder sounding brass than others. That they are still, in fact, devoted to SELF, not to Christ. 

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). 

Even worse, many are so devoted to SELF and educated in the Christian life that they wear fruit as if they were truly an abiding fruit producing branch. They could provide ten definitions for each fruit of the Spirit and even imitate the meaning of the definitions but such efforts are merely like actors in a play. They know how to "play" the Christian part, they know the Christian "lines" and verbage to speak, the clothing to wear, when to express passion and when to be silent. 

Yet, little to none of these efforts are natural to them. Rather than the power of God's love, they are compelled by their pride to perform the definitions of the fruit. They hide their grumblings, anger, frustrations, evil imaginations, resentment, and diligently wear their religious garb. 

As Christians, we ought to naturally care for the affairs of our brothers, sisters, strangers, and even all men. 

We ought to be moved with compassion to relieve the afflicted, be a servant to those around us, share the Gospel, receive rebuke with joy, turn the other cheek, and to bless those who have offended us.

It ought to be natural for us to give rather than to receive, to understand rather than to be understood, to comfort rather than to seek to be comforted. 

This is the common faith, the common salvation that the apostle John described, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that does not love does not know God; for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).

Friday, December 2, 2022

What's right may seem wrong

 What is right seems wrong to those who do not perceive the wisdom of the cross. In fact, what is right seems like down right foolishness at times. Even as "there is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof is death" so there is also a way that seems wrong unto man but the end thereof is life. 

Think of it: Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies, to turn the other cheek, to give to those who cannot repay and to love those who do not love them. 

This is the Wisdom of God. This is the Word of God. This is the mind of God. 

Do you marvel at His wisdom or do you think that taking such words seriously is foolishness? 

Jesus said, "Wisdom is justified of all her children". The foolishness of God is wiser than men and the fruit of the foolishness of God is the salvation of man. 

Guard your heart from worldly reasoning. Do not be conformed to this world's way of thinking and of doing things but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. We are not called to be "mere men" (1 Corinthians 3). We are called to follow Christ and to have His image formed inside of us.

The most important thing for us in every conflict in all of our relationships is to have a tender heart.