1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” NASB
I’ve heard more explanations of this than I care to remember and virtually all of them fell short of bringing me the peace and confidence that their explanation revealed the depth of the truth in this passage. It is obvious, to me, that Jesus, through John, would not have issued this prohibition without reason. Here we find the command Not to Love Something, but what? We are told to ‘not love’ the World or the things of the World but what is it that we are not to love?
In study I have found that the word world is used in the Bible in three different ways and speaks to three different things:
World as in the ‘physical universe’ or God’s material creation.
World as it refers to and identifies PEOPLE or the ‘world of mankind’.
World as it refers to the dwellers on the earth who, are ‘by nature without God, acting and living in a way that only has reference to ‘this life.’
If we interpret this passage using the ‘physical universe’ as the meaning, we will be required to ask, does not God love His own creation? Therefore, would it be wrong for us to love, respect, and appreciate what He has made? In the second using ‘people’ as the meaning we know that GOD loves all mankind so how could we be prohibited from loving them too? That only leaves us one possibility and that being the World of Man outside and apart from God. Clearly, he is telling us not to love the Life of Sin or Separation from God.
Then we notice that he said we are not to love the ‘things of the world’ and if you pursue the reading you will see that he beings to talk about the sins of mankind here listing some as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. In each case it is, clear to me that the prohibition is not referring to people, the planet, or things that we might possess and/or use of this world’s material creation but The Life Outside God. The World here is referencing a life, mentality, and condition that is a description of a life that ignores God, His Word, and His love. It focuses on ‘self’ and is in rebellion to God, His Word, and His Love.
Therefore, we are to Not Love the World meaning the World that is represented by a philosophy, nature, and character that is apart from and alienated from God. We are to not love the condition that affords licentiousness, lasciviousness, and lawlessness. We are to Love God first and foremost. We are to reject the pull of the pleasures of sin and the tug of the devil to be a god unto ourselves.
As you go through this day go IN GOD’S LOVE and share that love with everyone you meet! Blessings abundantly!
Hebrews 11:1-6 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”NASB
We are facing the need for a miracle in our lives. It’s been a three-plus-year battle, does that mean that God has denied our request?Does it mean that we were praying outside the will of God? Does that mean that it was not meant to be? You could conclude those things, or you could conclude that possibly God, who is not limited by our clock or calendar, has a different timeframe and plan in mind.
I choose the latter because I fully believe that we have prayed within the guidelines of the Word of God, in obedience to that Word, and therefore within the scope of The Will of God. We have an assurance that God is our provider, protector, and source, have hoped for the things we have asked, and are convinced that He has heard our prayers. We do not see the fulfillment Yet, but as the patriarchs of old, we are Looking and standing in Faith knowing He is our Reward.
What should we conclude when the miracle does not come at the time, we asked for it or seems to be delayed or denied?Possibly nothing other than rest in the reality that it is in God’s hands. We should remain faithful and resolute in our commitment to Him. We should continue in our obedience to Him, and maintain our confidence in Him. If the Holy Spirit reveals that, as James said, we have asked amiss or for wrong purposes, it would be time to run to the foot of the Cross. It would be time to ask for God’s mercy and for the Holy Spirit to correct our thinking.
However, I believe it is imperative that we continue to cry out to God in persistent prayer. I do not live in a ‘Que Sera, Sera’ whatever will be will be world. I believe there are purpose and power in prayer and that prayer changes people and as a result, things. If prayer has no purpose why did Jesus spend so much time encouraging it? If prayer does not produce results why did He tell us to prayer with importunity?
Our problem is that we try to force God into our ‘microwave world mentality’ and coerce Him to follow our ‘calendars’, ‘clocks’, and ‘schedules’, and He Will Not Do That! He is God and He will do things His way, in His time, and under His conditions. You can’t bribe Him, coerce Him, force Him, manipulate Him, or cajole Him into doing something. He is the Shepherd; we are the Sheep. He is the Teacher; we are the Students. He is the Infinite; we are the Finite. Therefore, instead of fretting about our ‘timelines’ and ‘schedules’, we should and will Seek His Face! If there is delay it may be nothing more than God following His own timetable rather than denial.
Be encouraged as you go through this day! Blessings abundantly!
What have we missed by relegating this sermon to small portions rather than looking at the whole and in the full context? That is a question that has led to a challenge that the Holy Spirit has presented to me to research and study. I’ve already seen several things with just a cursory reading of it and realizing that most of the time what has been called the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is not the entire message of our Lord that day.
It beings in Chapter Five and frequently many stop at verse eleven but Jesus did not stop speaking then and it is an interesting endeavor to do somewhat of an outline of His message that day.
In Matthew 5:1-12, Jesus identified the Blessed by contrasting and identifying human conditions. He identified and told us of the Blessing to the Poor in spirit. (v. 3) Those who mourn. (v.4) The gentle. (v.5) Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. (v.6) The merciful. (v.7) The pure in heart. (v.8) The peacemakers. (v.9) The persecuted for righteousness. (v.10) The falsely accused and ridiculed. (v.11)
He then transitioned to identifying who we are, as believers, and how we should live in Matthew 5:13-20. We are salt which is a preservative as well as a condiment for seasoning or giving flavor to food. We are light and our light will be seen either for good or bad. He identified what our relationship with God’s Law and our personal and individual righteousness or piety is to be
In keeping with that from Matthew 5:21-6:1, Jesus broke down how His Gospel and the New Covenant extends far beyond the Mosaic Law. He identified how it goes beyond being a rigid ‘letter of the law’ to one that deals with the condition of the heart. In Matthew 5:21-26, we find His discourse on the condition of the heart and our relationship with other humans and how God expects us to resolve conflicts. In Matthew 5:27-30, we have His treatise on purity. Matthew 5:21-32 that overlaps into verses 33-37 deals with marriage and sexual purity.
In verses 33-37 the ‘vows’ connected to marriage are expanded by Jesus to all of life and our relationship with God. He identified the importance of ‘oath keeping’ and being people of our word. In Matthew 5:38-48, we find Jesus destroying the Old Testament judgment that permitted revenge and expands it to a ‘new heart’ in which we focus on redemption, Christian charity and love, and the forbidding of showing partiality. In verse one of the next Chapter, we find the continuation that warns of doing what we do for the accolades of man.
In Matthew 6:1-4 we find the message of Jesus regarding the poor, philanthropy, and anonymity in giving or at least doing so without ‘fanfare.’ He identified that if you give to be noticed you have received all the reward you are ever going to get.
In Matthew 6:5-14 we cannot disassociate this passage from the previous instructions regarding giving because God is saying, “If you give in secret, God will reward you openly.” He also identified that if we ‘pray in secret’ without trumpeting our time, frequency, etc. of prayer God will honor that and the reward will be visible for all to see. Simply, you do not need to nor is it God’s desire that you ‘toot your own horn.’
This powerful instruction on personal private prayer is so enlightening and liberating that were we to implement it into our lives we would immediately be transformed into a different person altogether. We are warned in verse 14that if we refuse to forgive, we have blocked forgiveness for ourselves and there are no loopholes in this, it covers everything and every situation.
He expanded His message in Matthew 6:18-34 to cover fasting, money, life, and faith. He gave the recipe for the Victorious Abundant Life climaxing that revelation in verse 33. Jesus did not lay out a ‘retirement plan’ but gave us an ‘eternal plan’ for our provision in life.
In His discourse Jesus dispelled worry and fear. He wiped out the fears that arise from a bad economy and a dead-end job that has no apparent benefits. He destroyed the concern of only being able to live from payday to payday and the normal fear that comes with planning for our golden years.
If you question whether verses 25-33 are connected to the previous verses notice how He began verse 25 saying, “For this reason….” What reason? The reason just mentioned regarding serving two masters, laying up earthly treasures, and the need to have a clear mind and heart regarding this world’s goods as is described in verses 22-23.
Then we come to another expansion of all that He has been teaching as Matthew 7 begins. Judging is more than rendering a verdict as to what you think of someone or their actions it also addresses the previous verses and thoughts. What is your judgment on giving, forgiving, the poor, laying up earthly treasures, marriage, sexual purity or impurity, and personal relationships? You cannot make this a standalone passage because the context will not permit it.
From Matthew 7:1-28 we find His finale or conclusion which ties it all together. He brought to light our own imperfections and the fact that that condition must be taken into consideration when we view others. He warned about trying to give the holy and pure truth to those hearts that are filled with darkness and reject Christ and the things of God.
Please understand He is not saying we do not witness to them, but you cannot maintain the same relationship with them as with those of the household of faith. Yet, we treat everyone the way we desire to be treated even those who are the aforementioned and walk in total darkness. Does that guarantee they will treat us with kindness and respect? NO, but it sows seeds before them that will follow them into eternity. He identified that this lifestyle is not only difficult but one that ‘few’ will be able to or willing to follow and practice. He identified that in following this lifestyle we will be able to recognize the ‘false’ and ‘counterfeit’.
That is very sketchy but a brief overview of the “Sermon on the Mount” and how I believe it should be studied. Each new thought or seemingly new thought is tied to the previous and if studied in its connection to the previous we will glean new insight into that new thought. Remember that chapters and verses were not part of the original text but are a man-made insertion to help us identify and locate passages. It would do us well to read the Bible without any consciousness of chapters and verses and read paragraphs not just chapters.
I love the way Matthew concludes in Matthew 7:28 – “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for Hew as teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” In East Texas vernacular, “His preaching was not all foam and no beer, all hat and no cattle, all hammer and no nail, all shot and no powder, or all sizzle and no steak.” He spoke with authority and power rather than just reciting the words. My cry to God is Lord let me be a voice, not an echo. Let me speak with authority, having experienced the Word not just reciting the words. Let me demonstrate the message not just refer to it.
Matthew 25:31-46 –” But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 “And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35’For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? 38’And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39’And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they themselves also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” NASB
That is a long passage of scripture to draw out one verse and highlight what I hear the LORD saying to my heart and what made me weep before God. It is verse 40 – “unto the least of these…” Jesus said, that if we ministered to the insignificant, the unknown, the obscure as well as those with renown and celebrity we are ministering to Him. That is arresting and challenging.
Most Christians would say, “Amen!” We believe we are doing that but some I recently had the Holy Spirit challenge me on how I and much of the Body of Christ responds to Prayer Requests. This is a dangerous topic for me to talk about because of the battles my wife has been having with Breast Cancer. We are super blessed that literally thousands have and are going to the Throne of God on her behalf. What I am going to say is not about us, our situation, but something I was challenged by the Holy Spirit regarding “Praying the Heart of God.”
Let me cautiously proceed and if this touches you then you must respond as your heart directs. I do not mean this condemnatory or that we should not do some of the things I will highlight but that we should learn the heart of the Father for All People. If you get that part, you will understand the challenge and it will likely have the same result in your heart as it has in mine.
I have launched and participated in prayer vigils, massive calls to prayer for well-known individuals facing grave need, and issued a DEFCON 1 alert on their behalf. I have participated in intercessory prayer on behalf of men and women of God who are virtual household names, have a measure of celebrity and acclaim. That is good and I would never want it to cease. God wants us to intercede for His warriors. That is His heart!
I had to acknowledge to the Holy Spirit that I have not exercised the same level of earnestness on behalf of those virtually unknown whose needs I have been asked to pray about. The LORD asked me how many times I had called for prayer vigils on behalf of the unknown mother, the farmer, the truck driver, the widow or widower, the student, or others who few knew outside the local church they attend. I wanted to say, I take all prayer seriously, but knew in my heart that my level of earnestness was not equal for all requests that came to me. I knew that, in a measure, I was showing respect of persons rather than praying the Heart of God.
I would never want the Body of Christ to fail to call for prayer vigils on behalf of those who are known and being used mightily of God. We, the Body of Christ, are mandated to pray for one another. I do not believe that God has to have sickness to take someone home and therefore when I see sickness or tragedy that threatens a believer’s life, I do not consider it a tool of God to take them home. If I did, I would feel that I was praying against God if I prayed for their healing. I believe Jesus bore the stripes in His body that ALL could be healed, and He came for the express purpose of destroying the works of the devil and I believe sickness is a work of the devil. It is not from God!
The LORD challenged me about my attitude and response to prayer requests and it has prompted me to make a serious change in my approach. I believe that when the LORD challenges us, He is desirous of changing us and motivating us to take a different pathway in our behavior and attitude.
I feel that going forward I am to prepare a prayer journal in which EVERY REQUEST, especially those of graveness which would include life or death, is logged and prayed over with the same fervency as those of the well-known who have a measure of celebrity.
I heard the Holy Spirit say to my spirit, “If you make one life more valuable than another you are breaking My heart and not praying the Heart of the Father.” That broke my heart and I am still repenting for my failure to do “unto the least of these as well as to the greatest of these.” I am still repenting for falling into the trap of being a respecter of persons. That may be due to my love for them as a friend, a family member, etc. It may be due to my respect for them or my view of the importance of their minister or life. Regardless of the reason, it is not justifiable in the eyes of God because He Loves All.
The Holy Spirit challenged me with the thought, “Who did Jesus die for? Is the Blood of Jesus more for those with a measure of celebrity or for EVERYONE?” If Jesus did not die for ALL, then He died for NONE! If God is concerned with the little birds and counts the numbers of hairs on our heads, then He is surely concerned about EVERY SOUL! Therefore, for me to take one grave life or death need more seriously than another is to violate the heart of God.
I want to be one who Prays the Heart of God. I want to be one that ministers to Him by ministering to the Least of These. I want to be one that considers every believer a member of the Body of Christ and valuable. As a member of the Body myself, I must consider their need My Need and pray about it as earnestly and seriously as I would my own need. If I do that, then I am much nearer Praying the Heart of God than if I respond with more earnestness and fervency for some than others.
We all have people that are closer to us than others and therefore their needs will loom larger for us than those of people we do not know or barely know. But, if we truly Pray the Heart of God, We Value Everyone Equally and pray with the same fervency. Who knows the impact of that little-known or unknown person? They may be the prayer warrior that changes the world. They may be the one that wins the next Billy Graham or sires the next Elijah or Elisha. John 3:16 tells us the Heart of God when it says, “For God so loved THE WORLD…” The World not just special people in the world.
Please know that as I write I weep and am continuing to repent before God for my failure to value every person as God values them. I am asking the LORD to help me always bear this in mind and to learn to Pray the Heart of God for All Needs.
I ask everyone to forgive me for any lack of earnestness I may have taken regarding a need you made me aware of. I am heartbroken that I may have failed you or anyone and want the Father to transform me so that I take all needs seriously. I realize that it is not possible or practical for the Church or individuals to have a prayer vigil for every need. However, we can make a note of the need, and as we go through the course of our day, Pray. That would transform us into people who “Pray without ceasing.”
I hope my open confession helps you in some small measure. God bless you and I pray you will prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.
John 9:4 – “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work.” NASB
I have become deeply concerned with the focus of many believers in the face of the troubles of this world. I sense that many are simply waiting for the Lord Jesus to come on a rescue mission and take us out of this world and let the devil do his deed. Jesus is going to come, and the devil is going to increase his activity and destruction but that is not the focus Jesus left us with.
The apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 that we are to take comfort in the reality of the return of Jesus. As one man said, “That is a Fact, Jack!” Jesus is going to come back just like He said. That reality is incredibly comforting. However, our LORD did not leave us as orphans or emaciated weak frail, and incapable creatures. He left us with the Power of the Holy Spirit and the Assurance of His Promises.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 that the Gospel would be preached to the WHOLE WORLD for a witness to ALL NATIONS, and then the End would Come. He instructed us in Matthew 28:18-20 to GO into the world, preach, make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them, and teach them to observe His commandments. He promised that He would be there with us in the process.
In Mark 16:15-18 the writer amplified those instructions with even more detail, telling us to GO and preach to everyone everywhere. Jesus said that as we do, “signs” will follow. If we relegate that to the first century, we dismiss the rest of the New Testament and the words of Jesus to pray for laborers to be sent into the harvest field, which is the world.
In Ephesians 4 the apostle under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit revealed that Jesus gave gifts for equipping and enabling believers to function in His purposes and that those would last (v.13) UNTIL the church attained the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, become mature. In Hebrews 13:8 we read that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, yes, and forever.” Therefore, if He is the same then whatever He did He does. God does not change, and His word never fails. In Romans 11:29 we discover that God’s gifts and callings are not rescinded. He does not change His mind regarding His Purpose.
In Ephesians 2:6 we are informed that we (believers) are raised up with Jesus and seated with Him in the heavenly places. Don’t stop reading for the next verse informs us that it is “in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
In John 9:4 we read, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me (Jesus), as long as it is day, night is coming when no man can work.” Jesus said that He was the light of the world and then Matthew 5:14-16 we discover that He has commissioned us to be the Light of the World as His representative and a manifestation of Him. Then in Romans 8:37, we discover, “But in all these things we OVERWHELMINGLY conquer through Him (Jesus) who loved us.”
Jesus is coming and things will get incredibly dark but until that second when He comes, we are to be “busy about the Master’s business.” We are to Abide not Hide! We are not waiting to be rescued we are charging the gates of hell and plucking souls from the jaws of destruction. That is our mission and our commission. We are more than conquerors. We are overcomers. We are victors. We are the ones who are to pray and manifest the Kingdom of God in this present world through faith.
Never, never, never, never focus on what is happening in the natural but rather listen to what God has said in His Word and what the Holy Spirit is witnessing to our hearts. God reigns and we have power and authority over the devil. We have a mission and a commission, so believers rather than letting fear grip our hearts or sit back and wait for our rescue, let’s take the fight to the enemy and reap the whitened harvest. We are to ABIDE never HIDE!
I am praying for an awakening in the Body of Christ and a new spirit of daring to be infused in the hearts of pastors, leaders, and those we call the laity. I am praying that the Spirit of God will descend upon us and anoint us to DO… May the words of Jesus and the message resonate and challenge us.
Luke 4:18-19 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, 19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” He quoted Isaiah 61 and it is time that we become Anointed to do… Jesus said, in John 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.”
My prayer: “Father forgive me for developing an attitude or desire for escape and instill in me the boldness of a spiritual lion and give me the vision to see and courage to do what you commissioned me to do. Help me to win as many souls into your kingdom as is possible BEFORE I come home, or you return. Help me to ABIDE and never let me HIDE.”
God bless you and Church, “Let’s Get to The Master’s Business.”Have a Great Day!
John 21:15-17 – “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”NASB
I’ve heard some powerful explanations and etymological explanations of this passage and the words or phrases used and although that is not what I want to focus on here, I do want to address it briefly. In the first question, the original is a bit ambiguous and could have been referring to inanimate objects. Jesus could have been asking Peter if he was willing to forsake all those things for Him (Jesus). Possibly He was asking Peter if he loved Jesus more than the other disciples. Peter had suffered the shame of his rejection of Jesus would make no pretense of loving more than others. He rolled it all on the Lord’s Omniscience and said, “Lord You know.”
My focus is not what words Jesus used in either asking the question or in reference to caring for His church but in the heart and mind of Peter. Peter had abandoned the Lord after making his bold claim that he would never do so and was willing and ready to die for the Lord. Peter had decided to ‘go fishing’ not recreation but to return to his old life as a fisherman. He felt unworthy and he was. He felt the shame of his rejection and abandonment of Jesus and he should. He had been quick to speak his grandiose claim of his bravery, commitment, and faith and it all came crashing down on him.
I can only imagine how Peter felt as he now stood face to face with His Lord. He needed to be reassured and needed to do some deep personal soul searching and that is what Jesus is doing, at least that is my view. The Lord wanted to strip from Peter the brashness of making claims that he could not back up and bring him to an awareness of how much he must and should depend upon Jesus for everything.
It is in this place and state of mind that Peter could become the mighty warrior for the kingdom that he became. If you question what I’m saying about Peter’s mindset go back and read what the angel said in Mark 16 when the women came to the tomb and found it empty – “go tell His disciples and Peter.”Why specifically identify Peter? Because of what I’ve just said! Peter was in such a dejected state of mind that he was in danger of being lost to the kingdom and the Lord did not want that and prepared to prevent that.
Peter moved from being brash, rash, and boastful to a committed and calculated disciple of Jesus. He moved from dejection to a boldness of faith that caused him to stand before the crowd on the Day of Pentecost and proclaim a message that could possibly get him killed. He stood before the Sanhedrin and was unmoved by their threats and he could face the lame man at the Gate Beautiful and with the risk of ridicule and charge of abusing a cripple, he declared his faith and acted upon it. Peter became what Jesus saw in him when he called him to discipleship. He saw a Rock and that Reed was now becoming a Rock in Jesus!
Know that the times of failing and stumbling that you have or may encounter are not indications that God has rejected you. Realize that when He comes and turns up the heat and you squirm it is not to bring you pain but to enhance that which He has seen in you and make you what He declared you to be.
Luke 21:25-28 – “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. 28 “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near.” NASB
Many of us have heard, most of our lives, that ‘this is the generation that will see the Lord return’. Well, let me say, I believe that the finale is rapidly approaching and the predictions of the Bible are rapidly coming to pass. The one thing that stands out in this passage in addition to the Return of Jesus, which is obviously the most important, is that there will be a time when men faint from fear due to what they see coming on the world.
We have had it relatively easy in America compared to some parts of the world. This is especially true with regard to our faith and freedom. We have been able to worship as we desire with little hindrance from the government and have lived relatively free lives in comparison to many in other parts of the world. That, I believe, is about to change, and everything that can be shaken will be shaken. We are nearing a time when fear and dread of what is coming will be the prevailing mindset among multiplied millions.
The encouragement I can give is verse 28 – “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near.” The finale is coming and coming soon! Things may get worse and I believe they will, but we have something upon which we base our confidence and hope that is not of this world. We have hope and expectation beyond this life. We have liberty and freedom that is not man given and cannot be taken by man. They may place us in chains, restrict our physical movement but they cannot take our true freedom that comes from God!
Instead of dreading what might be coming, turn your eyes upon Jesus! Instead of fearing what might happen, turn your eyes upon Jesus! Instead of wringing your hands and contemplating throwing in the towel in concession of defeat turn your eyes upon Jesus! He is the author and finisher of our faith and He will Never leave us or forsake us. The finale is not a bad thing if you are in the family of God. It is a promotion to the next and eternal phase of our lives. It is simply relocation from this present world to that eternal world where we will spend eternity with the Lord!
So as you go through this day go in hope and confidence! Banish fear Oh Lord, banish fear from our lives!
Proverbs 10:9 – “He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out.” NASB
The old saying, “Everything that goes around comes around,” is applicable here. The writer of Proverbs is reassuring that if we maintain Integrity, we will find God’s defense, protection, and leading. However, if we Do Not, we will be exposed for the entire world to see. Which do you choose?
I know that often we are perplexed as to how and why those who walk in wickedness and deception escape without any visible evidence that they are being penalized for their ways and often those who seek to walk uprightly suffer. That is not ours to be concerned with as it will only lead to doubt, question, and anger. Instead, we should walk knowing that there will be “Pay Day Someday” and that whatever is done in secret will be exposed to the light. It may not be in this world, but it will happen. I’ve observed that frequently those who walk a perverted path are exposed in time. Sooner or later their deviousness is brought to light and they are exposed to the light of critical examination.
We should all desire to walk in the ‘Security that God affords’ and to do so we must always maintain Integrity and in all things. There cannot be lapses or exceptions to that rule. Tragically, I know people who believe that they have a business life, a social life, a personal life, a religious life, etc. They compartmentalize their lives into segments as though they were totally separate and unconnected. We do not have lives we have A LIFE!
You cannot be lacking in integrity in business and be a person of integrity in Church. It doesn’t work that way. You either have integrity or you do not and if you do not in one place you do not in any place. I can hear someone saying, “Wait, Roy, what about lapses or stumbling.” I have no problem with the idea that a person might have a momentary lapse and fall short of walking in integrity but what they do after that lapse is what determines if they maintain Integrity or not.
In those times of lapses the question is, do they excuse it, hide it, or do they immediately take it to the Cross confessing their sin and receiving the forgiveness of God? If others were wounded do, they go to them and ask forgiveness? Integrity is not whimsical or fleeting. It is a rock-solid anchor of life and we either have it, demonstrate it or we do not. If we do, then the Promise of God is that our way will be Secure. If we do not God’s promise is, we will be exposed.
So, as you face situations today that give you the opportunity to either manifest Integrity or not carefully weigh what is happening and choose the way of Security in Integrity.
Luke 13:6-9 – “And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. 7 “And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ 8 “And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; 9 and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'” NASB
This is somewhat of a difficult passage for most people to fully wrap their minds around and accept. The reason I say that is if you fully examine the message it suggests that there can and will come a time when God through the Holy Spirit will deem that a person has become nothing more than an ornamental shrub rather than a fruit tree in the Kingdom.
Two possibilities can be gleaned from that realization. One is that if you fail to produce fruit in your life through relationship and obedience to God, He may choose to remove you from the earthly orchard and take you home. The Second is that failure to produce fruit separates you from God and that is seen in ‘cut it down.’
No matter which interpretation you choose the fact is clear that God is not desirous of ornamental shrubs in his garden He wants trees that ‘bear fruit.’ The kingdom is not enhanced by fruitlessness. Lives are not touched by fruitlessness. If we are nothing more than an ornamental shrub in the garden of God, we have little functional value. The reward of fruit bearing is pruning so that you can bear more fruit!
I do not mean to suggest that you must be a pulpit preacher or doing great exploits for the Kingdom simply that you are doing what the Holy Spirit has assigned you to do and being faithful in that. If you do that you will bear fruit, the fruit God chooses not the fruit man deems valuable. Our lives should be trees that the lost can come to and be introduced to the life-changing fruit of salvation. Our lives should be trees that the saved can come to and receive the life-enhancing fruit of wisdom, knowledge, encouragement, and brotherhood.
We are to be Trees of Righteousness and those trees bear fruit. If you want to know how Jesus feels about fruitlessness reexamine his reaction to the Fig Tree that had leaves indicating fruit but no figs. That will move you to serious thought and hopefully such self-examination that you will turn to Him and call out for His mercy and pray like David, “Renew in me a right spirit, create in me a clean heart, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”
We have been equipped, commissioned, and commanded to Bear Fruit! Examine your heart and life and if you are fruitless it is time to run to the Throne Room of prayer and cry out for renewal and restoration in an attitude of repentance.
Colossians 3:1-4 – “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” NASB
I love it when the Bible says ‘therefore’ because if you will continue reading or read the previous you will find out what the ‘therefore’ is there for. Here the apostle Paul is teaching about the ‘New Self’ and as he begins his discourse in this passage, he says, THEREFORE…Therefore what?
“IF” you have been RAISED up with Christ.
That is a conditional statement that renders the remainder null and void if the answer to that assertion is in the negative. This Only Applies to those who have been Raised Up with Christ in the New Birth. It only applies to those who have been grafted into the true vine, adopted into the Family of God, and have their names written in the Book of Life. It is not speaking to everyone but has a specific audience in mind – Believers!
“IF” that is your condition “THEN” keep seeking the things above.
If you are ‘born again’ by the blood of Jesus then make it a daily and continual practice in your life to ‘Seek’ the things of God, those things where Jesus resides at the Right Hand of the Father.
“IF” that is your condition SET your mind on the things above not on the things of the earth.
Your focus, loyalty, and desire are to be spiritual things not earthly things. That should be the overriding characteristic of your life.
WHY? Because you have ‘died and your life is hidden with Christ’. Because when Christ is revealed, you will be revealed with Him in glory. You are just a sojourner in this world. You are just passing through. Your ultimate citizenship is not this world but the eternal world of God. You are looking for the City whose builder and maker is God. Your desire is God above all else. You have been transferred or translated from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s Light. You are Born Again! Therefore…
The ‘therefore’ is there for you to know what you have and where you are headed as well as to give you guidance on How to Live while you make your journey from this natural world to God’s eternal spiritual world, Heaven! You have an assignment, responsibility, and opportunity but your ultimate objective and goal, Eternity!