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A little bit of the book of Jonah in all of us

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been finding a little bit of Jonah in myself.  I think sometimes we Christians can behave a lot like Jonah given our circumstances.

Jonah’s Disobedience

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Interestingly enough, I found this passage title to be “Disobedience”.  That is the beginning of all of our problems.  When God initially tells us not to do something, and we don’t listen.  Unforgiveness is an area where we can be disobedient to the Lord.  Also doing all the little things He tells us not to do can be considered being disobedient to the Lord.  Some Christians know they are not supposed to do things like drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, go to nightclubs, watch soap operas, but they do it anyway because something inside our carnal nature just wants to rebel.  It’s in all of us.  The amazing thing about Jonah is that he had the Presence of the Lord with him, and then he decided to leave and turn away.  Some of us may be experiencing great things in the Presence of the Lord in our church and when times get tough we may be tempted to pull away.

The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to [a]break up. Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the [b]cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it [c]for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

Doesn’t this story sound familiar?  This is exactly what happened with Jesus on the boat.  The storm was raging and He was still asleep.  There must be something about security in the Lord that allows you to fall asleep during the worst of circumstances.  I remember when Hurricane Ike hit Houston.  It was pummeling the roofs, and it was one of the worst ones we’ve had that caused a lot of damage, but it wasn’t as bad as Katrina.  Well I was rattled by the storm, and my dad, who was and is an unbeliever slept through it.  If an unbeliever can do that, how much more can we who have faith sleep through the literal storms, and the symbolic storms in our life.  It’s easy when things are going well.  But when things are hard it’s hard to have that faith that everything is going to turn out for good.  Jonah was even out of the Presence of the Lord, which is why he was getting them into trouble.  Sometimes when we are disobedient, we can cause the ship of local church to be in turmoil.  It is also a reminder that if you’re considering switching churches, then, what can happen, when you do.

Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may [d]learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “ Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “[e]How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm [f]for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm [g]for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” 13 However, the men [h]rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. 14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”

15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

So here Jonah makes his declaration that he is the reason that they are in the boat because he fled from the Presence of the Lord.  This is what Adam and Eve did as well.  When we have that Presence of the Lord upon our lives (which comes through living a repentant life and worship and the Truth of God’s Word) we shouldn’t leave it at any cost.  We shouldn’t let our unforgiveness be an issue and we should choose to let our anger, bitterness, resentment, and all the things in our heart that are keeping us away from God, not be an issue in our lives anymore.

17 [i]And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

This is the stomach of the fish that Jonah was in.  Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights.  Jesus was in the tomb three days and three nights and then He was and is risen.  Sometimes we feel like we are dead and stuck, and we are in the same place.  We don’t think that we are going to get out of it, and then a miracle happens. But during those times we cry out in distress and in pain so that we can see a deliverance from our problems.

[a]Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said,

“I called out of my distress to the Lord,

And He answered me.

I cried for help from the [b]depth of Sheol;

You heard my voice.

“For You had cast me into the deep,

Into the heart of the seas,

And the current [c]engulfed me.

All Your breakers and billows passed over me.

“So I said, ‘I have been expelled from [d]Your sight.

Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

“ Water encompassed me to the [e]point of death.

The great deep [f]engulfed me,

Weeds were wrapped around my head.

“I descended to the roots of the mountains.

The earth with its bars was around me forever,

But You have brought up my life from [g]the pit, O Lord my God.

“While [h]I was fainting away,

I remembered the Lord,

And my prayer came to You,

Into Your holy temple.

“Those who regard [i]vain idols

Forsake their faithfulness,

But I will sacrifice to You

With the voice of thanksgiving.

That which I have vowed I will pay.

Salvation is from the Lord.”

10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

Look at the prayer that Jonah made.  He said what misery that he was in and he knew the Lord’s power.  That’s a key to answered prayer.  To recognize and be truthful about your situation.  He also offered up thanksgiving, which some people say should be at the beginning but it actually takes place at the end. I am not sure if Nineveh or Tarshish is the place that Jonah is talking about in his prayers but I am assuming it is Nineveh.  This place that Jonah hated so much was full of idols according to him.  Sometimes we get caught up in a place that is full of idols.  We just want to see them leave and we get so bitter and angry even in our prayers, that we don’t see that God still loves them. Sometimes we ourselves get caught up in our own idols

Nineveh Repents

3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was [a]an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the [b]ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let [c]men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in [d]his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would [e]bring upon them. And He did not do it.

Sometimes we are so on top of the world and that we have achieved to new levels and new heights and we think we are great and may have taken God for granted not realizing how much we need Him and how much we have drifted away and that is when we become overthrown.  Then we begin to believe in God, and we may go through periods where even food is not as important as God and we cry out.  If you’ve never lived a day where you are so hungry, then you really don’t know what it is like to be fasting.  The king said, “Do not let beast, herd, or flock taste a thing.  Do not let them eat or drink water.”    Can you imagine that – not being able to eat or drink water.  It’s almost like having the stomach flu, but this didn’t happen by chance, it was voluntary.  Can you imagine the suffering. They repented by fasting and turning from their wicked way, which God changed His mind about them.

Jonah’s Displeasure Rebuked

4 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this [a]what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore [b]in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my [c]life from me, for death is better to me than life.” The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”

So then Jonah, was like – “I had to go through all that for nothing – for no good reason.  I had known as much to begin with, and I had to go through all that.  It wasn’t worth it.  It’s better off if I died”  God was not pleased with Jonah’s attitude.  God was looking for a good reason to be angry.  In his mind he was thinking what he went through would have been better off if they hadn’t repented.  If they had just stayed the way they were.

Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of [d]it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. So the Lord God appointed a [e]plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was [f]extremely happy about the [g]plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “ Death is better to me than life.”

Sometimes we get so stressed out by different things and different things come our way and we just don’t know how to handle it.  Sometimes we find little satisfaction in temporal things for comfort but when they are not working we get discouraged.  Sometimes we like our car so much and it gives us joy and freedom and then it gets totalled then we get so discouraged.   Sometimes God provides shade, but then He removes it too.  Don’t you think Jonah would have gotten out of his predicament if He said a prayer like “Thank You Lord for the awesome sun who shines upon the heat during the day.  Great is the Lord who created the sun, and deliver me from this heat.”  We might tend to think that it is like the Amalekites, or the devil that attacks us at our weakest, but sometimes it could be God trying to teach us a lesson.  We don’t rely upon God and his goodness and what he has done for us.  Jonah had been rescued out of the fish.  That was a big deal!!!  Imagine just all no air and you can’t breathe, but then you get delivered and don’t you believe that the God who did before can do it again.  We too often become like Jonah.  God used this reminder to show Jonah to sympathize with what the Ninevites were going thorugh.

Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which [h]came up overnight and perished [i]overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

The lesson that God was trying to teach Jonah and all of us is compassion.  There are so many lessons in this book of Jonah.  When a city comes to repentance, God spares the city.  When we come into repentance God spares our lives.  This shows the mercy of God and His immense compassion.  We often see God in the Old Testament as wrathful and strict and showing Judgment, but in this example it shows us that He is still merciful and kind and loving.  That He loves us immensely, and He wants to show us compassion.  Sometimes when we are angry with someone and we can’t seem to see the big picture and the whole situation God uses circumstances and speaks to us regarding certain issues so that we can live out the characters He wants to see us develop.

 

 

Initial Error of Balaam

If you’ve never heard the story of Balak and Balaam which God talks about in Revelation and in Numbers, and it is a pretty interesting one and in many ways, some of us believers are acting like Balaam, without even realizing it.

Numbers 22:

22  Then the sons of Israel journeyed, and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan opposite Jericho.

Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. So Moab was in great fear because of the people, for they were numerous; and Moab was in dread of the sons of Israel. Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this [a]horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the [b]River, in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me. Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too [c]mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to [d]defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”

So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand; and they came to Balaam and [e]repeated Balak’s words to him. He said to them, “Spend the night here, and I will bring word back to you as the Lord may speak to me.” And the leaders of Moab stayed with Balaam. Then God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10 Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent word to me, 11 ‘Behold, there is a people who came out of Egypt and they cover the surface of the land; now come, curse them for me; perhaps I may be able to fight against them and drive them out.’” 12 God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” 13 So Balaam arose in the morning and said to Balak’s leaders, “Go back to your land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.” 14 The leaders of Moab arose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”

15 Then Balak again sent leaders, more numerous and more distinguished than [f]the former. 16 They came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor, ‘Let nothing, I beg you, hinder you from coming to me; 17 for I will indeed honor you richly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Please come then, curse this people for me.’” 18 Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, “ Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the [g]command of the Lord my God. 19 Now please, you also stay here tonight, and I will find out what else the Lord will speak to me.” 20 God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do.”

21  So Balaam arose in the morning, and saddled his donkey and went with the leaders of Moab.22 But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as an adversary against him.

Notice how it says God first says to Balaam not to go, and then the implication says it is ok for him to go.  Then God gets angry with him.  Why is that?  That is because He is testing him if he will do the right thing.  But God knows that the heart of mankind is decietfully wicked so He knew He wasn’t going to do it.

Now I’ve had a sermon on this preached to me before in my Church and the sermon was called “Obedience Like A Donkey”.  I’ve only had one other time that the Lord reminded me of this verse and I quickly repented, but I don’t know if I changed what I did.

Here’s my story, using a personal example.  I was idolizing a television pastor, who was used to “ease my conscience” when I sinned, and I had the Lord tell me in an indirect way, several times, there was a conviction in the spirit, that maybe I shouldn’t be watching this preacher, and even though what they were teaching was Biblical, the theological doctrine was corrupted.  I had my spiritual mentor in the Church, tell me not to watch this person, because they will only bring me down, and because I was trying to pursue Jesus, this person became an idol for me, and I did not want to give up watching their television show because it made me feel better.  Instead of reading the Word of God for myself, which all teachers and preachers of the Word of God tell you to do, I decided to get spoon fed, and it was like a staircase model, where I was on the top of a staircase and this person who was at a lower level, and had less skill and training and personal experience, brought me down.  There were other issues going on for a while, and when I needed to have my conscience clear and my faith strengthened, everything around me began to fall, and I had literally been brainwashed into thinking what all these television preachers were saying and getting confused with corrupt teachings, until I finally came to repentance and said “enough is enough”  but by then it was too late, I had passed my three day limit of not reading the Word of God for myself, and my life began to spiral downward.  There was still growth, and I know God has a plan and purpose for everything and He can make good out of bad.  So I learned, “When God says ‘NO!!’ He means ‘NO!!”.  During this time I was still writing on my blog and doing things, but I realized, that my spiritual life had to get back on track because of my conscience.  At that point, I had difficulty receiving from the Holy Spirit.

This is the same thing I learned when I posted “Obedience is more important than Grace.”  God has been teaching me how to hear His voice, and after many sleepless and tearful nights, I decided to change my priorities, but now I have to climb back up to where I used to be and maybe that’s the toughest part of sanctification process is that if you don’t accept it, you can be thrown out of the purging process and out of God’s revealed will for your life and it can be very destructive.  But a new season is coming for all of us.  God has not changed, what has worked in the past will work again, and there is nothing new under the sun.  Let the reader understand.  I hope you guys learn from the mistake of Balaam and be obedient to the Lord the first time, especially when you  are debating in your mind, “I want to do this, but then I also don’t want to do this.  I don’t know what to do.”  As you become mature you will learn.  A good question to ask, is how is this going to benefit anyone other than me?  Does this appeal to my senses, or make me feel like I can get “away with it” if I do it.  Idols are very destructive, and they can lead you to a downward spiral, and especially when people seem to let you think that disobedience is ok, when it is not ok, then you should be warned not to repeat it. Television preachers sometimes make themselves a target for idolization, even if it is not their intention, but is usually the case with the media industry.  So message for today is “beware of idols”  – and “beware of disobedience” there is also a sermon on my Church’s website called, “Idols in Your Backseat”.  Although in this passage the first instruction that God has is usually the best, and if you put yourself in the middle God can answer you to your own desires even if it is not his will.

 

 

 

Obedience to God is more important than Grace

Yes we know that Grace is part of Jesus’ nature, but Obedience is much more important.  I’ve already posted videos on The Call to Obey, and the Obedience to the Holy Spirit videos.  But as I am learning on the Christian walk, that your immediate initial reaction in most cases is probably the best.   God gives you many warnings, and you end up debating with God and get out of the hedges of protection.  Your angels may still be with you and this message is not to condemn.   There are many times I’ve written a blog posting or even done things in life without being obedient to the LORD, thinking that it wasn’t Him talking, it was me. Here’s what we learn about Obedience like a donkey.

12 And God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”

13 So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go back to your land, for the Lord has refused to give me permission to go with you.”

14 And the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak, and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”

15 Then Balak again sent princes, more numerous and more honorable than they. 16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Please let nothing hinder you from coming to me; 17 for I will certainly honor you greatly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Therefore please come, curse this people for me.’”

18 Then Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more. 19 Now therefore, please, you also stay here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me.”

20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men come to call you, rise and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you—that you shall do.” 21 So Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.

Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel

22 Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road. 24 Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. 25 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck her again. 26 Then the Angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff.

28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”

29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!”

30 So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?”

And he said, “No.”

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. 32 And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. 33 The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.”

34 And Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back.”

35 Then the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but only the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

36 Now when Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, which is on the border at the Arnon, the boundary of the territory. 37 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not earnestly send to you, calling for you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you?”

38 And Balaam said to Balak, “Look, I have come to you! Now, have I any power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak.” 39 So Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kirjath Huzoth. 40 Then Balak offered oxen and sheep, and he sent some to Balaam and to the princes who were with him.

Many times God will tell you don’t go there, and then you go, or he’ll tell you don’t take that street, and then you take that street, and he’ll tell you don’t make that turn, and  if you don’t listen and obey your going to end up in more trouble than you realize – you’ll end up in a crash, and if you listened in the beginning then you wouldn’t have had to go through all that.  Obedience is the most important thing and for obedience it takes discernment.  People have been given wisdom as it says in James to make wise decisions, and one person’s disobedience can have consequences, so obedience is very important.

Grace is very very important and vital to the Christian faith, but obedience to the Lord is very important.  We are all learning to hear the Lord’s voice, but the Lord does give you warning, and when you make mistakes – All things work out together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, but you can’t just willfilly disobey the Lord and get away with it.  He will keep warning you and warning you until you wake up and if you don’t listen, then there’s nothing you can do except get hit unexpectedly with something you thought just came out of the blue, and it can cause damage that wouldn’t have been there if you didn’t disobey.

Disobedience can cause a domino effect.  Eve’s disobedience led to Adam’s disobedience, which led to the downfall of the whole society, and when you disobey, it’s not just hurting you, it’s hurting people way down the road that you cannot see and effecting people throughout generations.  If one person disobeys in one area then it hurts people way down the road that you cannot even think about.  You have been given blessings, but even those can be taken away from you if you don’t obey.  I’m sorry to say that but it’s the truth.

For example, you have a car, but then you go and like I said in the previous example you don’t listen to him, and then your car ends up in damage.  Yes your lives are spared and that’s what is important, but if you listen to the Lord at each and every time.  Obedience is not always doing what you don’t feel like doing, or in other words just because you have a natural inclination towards something doesn’t mean you have to go against it.  As you draw closer to the Lord your natural impulses will be more like His, but sometimes He’ll tell you things that will just boggle your mind, and it’s something you don’t want to do like giving something away.

Discernment is the key and prayer is very important.  Sometimes like it says in following the Cloud example, you go where the Holy Spirit tells you to go and you do what He tells you to do, and if He hasn’t told you then don’t do it, and just wait.  Go with whatever seems good to the nature of God.

Also we need to spend more time in prayer.  The more time we pray, and really set apart time favorably in the morning especially if you are going to go outside of the house .  Now this is not going to be something where you can decide hey, this is what I am going to do, but it is something that the Lord will lead you.  Jesus said to follow Him, and that means to obey Him.  That means following the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Yes you can pray for Grace, and God will do it for those who He loves, but when you have looked back and seen where you have not gone where God wants you to go, then you will come back with regret and remorse, which is really what repentance is all about, so that you can change your mind for the better.  So this is my own personal warning for you guys.  Yes Grace is important, but Obedience is more important because take a look at Achan and Ai, the whole town was punished for one man’s disobedience, and also Balaam and the donkey is another example.  Even the Apostles were obedient to the Holy Spirit, and that’s when they found Grace, when they truly repented turned around and followed after the Lord.  We are not all perfect, and it does take discipline and discernment to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, but learn to be obedient because even Jesus said I do nothing unless I see the Father doing it. Any time you think you should or shouldn’t be doing something then it’s the best time to listen and obey.

If this is a repeat for some of you then I apologize, but this needs to be ingrained into our spirits.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for keeping each of us alive today, and thank You for the grace and favor you have given us this far, forgive us Lord for when we have not been obedient to You.  Lord God, help us to trust in You even more Lord God.  We repent for everytime we have strayed away from Your will and Your plan and Your purpose, and from every prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Thank You for protecting us and thank You for guiding us.  Help us to see the good in our situation.  May You we learn how to listen to Your voice always. Forgive us for any rebelliousness.  I apply this post with the Blood of Jesus.

In Jesus Mighty Name I pray,

Amen.

Guidelines for a believer to endure through the Christian walk

Recently I read a book called Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard, and it was a wonderful read.  One of the things that I learned is that no matter what turns and twists come in the way, as long as the main character keeps her eye on the Shepherd and her promise for the Lord, she will do whatever He says.  It was difficult for her and hard for her to do, but she did it because she loved God.  One thing though is that through the different trials and tribulations, there were enemies coming after her and some in her own mind that kept her from going from time to time, but because the Shepherd was kind, patient, gentle, and authoritative with her from time to time and He always showed that He loved her, then she was able to make it through anything.

Similarly in our Christian walk, we have Jesus who comes into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who is there to help us walk the Christian life. He is there for to establish a relationship with God and to teach us and to guide us.  The wonderful thing is that there is room for error.  There is room to grow.  Luke 2:40 says – 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit,filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

The first step to know if you are on track is to examine –

1) Your faith walk – Ask yourself what do you believe to be true about Jesus and does that line up with the Truth?

That leads up to the second thing to focus on –

2) Reading the Word of God – Do you take time to read, study, and look for rhema or revelation in the Word of God, and get to know who Jesus is?

3) Prayer and Fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit – do you know how much the Holy Spirit is a comforter and loves those who love God?  He wants to spend time with you.  Talk to Him, reach out to Him, get to know Him.  Do not grieve Him for He is sensitive.  Obey the quiet and gentle nudgings of the Holy Spirit as they lead and guide you.

4) Examining your love walk and relationships – How do you walk in relationships toward others?  Do you show forgiveness or do you hold on to grudges?  Are you incorporating the God kind of love – Agape, with others.  Do your love toward God, even to others?  The one commandment that Jesus gave was to love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.  When you judge others you bring condemnation to yourself.  So be quick to forgive.  Let your heart not be burdened by other people’s mistakes.

5) Do not give into condemnation, but allow repentance – God gives us the grace to make mistakes that even when we aren’t obedient because we are still growing He still gives Jesus’s nurturing heart that says, “Have they condemned you?” to the Adulterous woman, and after her saying “no”, she said, “Neither do I condemn you” – “Go and sin no more”.   We all have sinned and will probably keep on sinning because the Word of God says that a man that says he does not sin is a liar.  No one is perfect like Christ, so the ability to repent and pray to God concerning the issue.  Allow yourself to make mistakes and if you do make mistakes don’t let anyone make you think that you don’t love God or that you have to prove your love to Him.  The Holy Spirit knows that you love Him if you are led by the Spirit.

In Romans 8:1 it says There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Later on the Word says in the same Chapter –

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”[c]

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

6) Trust God, His Holy Spirit, and His Word and not man – Let God be true and every man a liar.  It is good to listen to pastors at the local church or on television, but be like the Bereans and search out the Scripture and test everything they say to see if it lines up with Scripture.  Keep a guard on your heart and your mouth so when someone else says something that does not line up with Scripture accept their right to make that mistake and even though they may be preaching a lot of things based on their personal experience and what the Word of God says, then when they twist Scripture, don’t get offended – if you can correct them, but don’t let it develop a root of bitterness in your heart.  I’ve learned this from personal experience- i.e. Post on Dangers of Preaching out of the Soul.

7) Allow God to change your heart and to take on the Fruit of the Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control that are seeds which are already implanted in your heart.

8) Through praise and worship of God be built up in the hope of an eternal calling and an eternal hope and purpose to know that despite all that we go through and suffer it is worth it – 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

God knows you so well – He knows every sin before you even commit it – He knew that Adam was going to fall, He knew that the Israelites were going to be complaining and murmuring all the way along the wilderness.

9) Stay humble – the beautiful thing about making mistakes and realizing that you have made mistakes lets you know that you are not perfect and that no one else is.  The Bible says that the sin that God hates the most is Pride- or exalting the self.  If we exalt the self- instead of the Spirit we’re in for a time when God will humble us down with His super nail file, or sander until we are His perfectly shaped vessel.

10) The Greatest Law – Love never fails !!!!  Jesus’ love never failed you, so if you let His love grow in you then it will never fail you or let you down.  It will cause you not to make mistakes.

If there is an area where you are failing here is a prayer for you –

Heavenly Father,

If there is an area where I am missing the mark and not changing cause me to see it according to the way You see me as a redeemed child of God.  Help me to grow and to change and to nourish and to grow closer in an intimate walk with You.  Help me to seek after You with all my heart until I find You and help me to be able to live out this Christian walk.  Lord God I thank You for being patient with me even when I have been judgmental and critical of others, judging others for their failures, and if there is any area not please reveal even that to me.  Help me to stay humble and obedient to the Law of Your Love, and the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Help me to grow and be patient.  Help me to endure through all the sufferings and trials and tribulations and persecutions that come.  I thank You that You are the rod that carries me and the staff that guides me through the wildernesses and this bold adventure you have called my life.   Thank You for picking me up when I fall down.  Help me to walk the Christian life.  Thank You Father, You are gracious and slow to anger,

In Jesus Mighty Name I pray,

Amen.

 

Liberation of Repentance, and the Presence of God

A lot of people look at repentance as a bad thing, and of course it is better not to have to repent, but because we are all fallen we need to be able to go to God and say, “Daddy, I know I was wrong, will you please forgive me?  Help me not to do it again.”  When Adam and Eve were in the Garden  and they sinned, they hid from the Presence of God.

Genesis 3:8 –  8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the [c]cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”  Now don’t go running around naked please.

But the wonderful thing now through the Precious Blood of Jesus, is that we can run to Him and say, “I know I was wrong, please forgive me.”  God is merciful and just to forgive.

One time I was at a prayer meeting and I had a heaviness because I felt guilty about something and I couldn’t experience the release of the Presence of God, but through the unction of the Holy Spirit led by the worship leader, who repented on behalf of the Church, there was a tremendous release from all the burdens.  It was coming again to the point of the Cross and saying, “Lord, I surrender, I surrender all my burdens, griefs, pains, and sorrows, down at your feet.  You take them away.”

In the Tabernacle example there is a model – there is the Outer Court, Inner Court, and the Holy of Holies.

When you are in the Outer court, which is the first part after the gate to the worship, you have the bronze altar.  Before that is that the gate and that’s where you enter.  You enter with praise and thanksgiving.  Then the second stage is the Cleansing or self examining at the bronze altar. I am not going to go in to the details of the tabernacle just yet, but maybe in the future post I will share.

When we sin, God doesn’t want us to run away from Him, but to run to Him, but somehow because we have been believing lies, the devil tries to  make us believe that God won’t accept us or love us if we do sin.  That doesn’t mean that we keep on sinning.

 

Romans 9:16 says – 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

That brings me to my second point –

1) Liberation in the Word of God

Even though there is liberation in repentance,  or turning your heart towards God, and away from the sin, there is even more liberation in knowing that the Word of God has all the answers for the troubles you are facing.  I once listened to a sermon called, “The only way out is the Word of God”, and the person said the Word of God brings in the Presence of God as well.  It is better to be obedient to God and not have to repent, because Romans 3:6 says that the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.  But in context it is talking about Christians who are earthly minded –

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

One thing that God hates the most is idolatry – putting something whether that be a molded image, like the hindus and buddhists use, or anything that keeps us from the presence of God, and the people that participate in idolatry, will be stored up for God’s wrath because in idolatry it leads to many sins.  God is a Jealous God because He wants us to love Him completely and not lift up anything before Him including ourselves.

Ephesians 5:1-13 says –

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved[a]you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [b]as a fragrant aroma.

3 But immorality [c]or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among[d]saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no [e]immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 [f]trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even [g]expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are [h]exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.

What is the opposite of empty words(words that are void of truth):  The Living Word, which is the Word of God, and He gives you the Grace to reveal the Word to you in that time of need.  That is if you set apart time to study and to pursue His presence or to dedicate your life to Him.  Lately I have been finding that I just open the Bible and God leads me to a verse that immediately applies to my situation and sometimes gives me a rebuke, or something I need to repent for, or gives me a sense of encouragement knowing that He has equipped me for whatever battle I need to face.  Part of the armor of God is the loin belt of Truth – without the loin belt of Truth you cannot have intimacy with God, because it protects your intimate organs from being attacked.  That is to be used in the Soldier analogy.  I think there is more teaching on the Armor of God on one of my posts.    I know some of us are busy with work and don’t have the time to really get in the Word of God so much, and I know I have said it does not need to be out of obligation, but God has a remarkable way of rescuing you with His Word, and sometimes it is as much as flipping a page and then find just what you need.  I was told once not to play Bible roulette, where you just open up the Bible, and the first verse that pops out at you, apply it to yourself.  But the amazing thing is that the Word of God has so much power because it can become a rhema or revelation and not just a letter or logos even if you just open the one page.  Discipline in studying the Bible is important characteristic trait to develop, not because of obligation but because of getting to know Jesus more and more.  So studying the Bible can bring revelation and that revelation can bring liberation.  After all isn’t life all about revelation knowledge of Jesus and who He is?  Whether you get it by youtube songs, or by a worship service, or by the Word of God- the whole point is to get to the presence of Jesus.

So what is the Presence of God –

The Holy Spirit can hover upon, rest upon, and reside within a believer.  When a believer is born again the Holy Spirit resides within the person.  When God created the Heavens and the earth, the Spirit of God hovered upon the waters – Gen. 1:2- The Spirit of God can rest upon a believer where the person can actually experience a sense of “abiding under the shadow of the Almighty” – that is the resting upon.  In Luke it says that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her.  When you are dwelling in the Presence of Almighty, that is when the Holy Spirit is resting upon you.

The key thing about Christianity is that it is not a religion filled with rituals that you must do this and you must do that.  It is about a journey full of mountains and valleys, and there are lessons to be learned, tests to take, and relationships to build with God and with other people.  Sometimes the devil comes in tries to beat you up and make you feel like you are condemned, but you don’t have to listen to it.  The more we feel condemned it means that God has not completed the restoration of our souls and He is waiting for you to come to Him.  He is reaching out to you to turn to Him, to change your mind against idolatry and disobedience, to take up your cross, or whatever is keeping you to fully worship and enjoy Him.  When we work, we can still keep Him in our thoughts – if we work in retail, we can think, “How can I be a light today?”, if we work for an electric company, we can focus on “the Light of this world”, if we work for an insurance company, we can focus on, “What is the best insurance policy?”; if we work with manufacturing, we can focus on “God created the heavens and the earth.”, if we work with computer programming, we can focus on, “God gave a marvelous code of instructions on how this world should work”, if we work with filing, we can focus on, “How wonderfully organized God is”, if we work in media we can thank God for how the media has been used to share the Gospel, etc.

Jesus said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” so the more we focus on the Cross of Christ, the easier it will be for Jesus to lay down the burdens that so easily ensnare us and to break all the chains.

Here is a prayer for protection for inviting the presence of God into your life,

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for revealing to me more about Yourself everyday in the way You see fit.  Thank You for taking complete and total charge over my life and having the mercy upon me that despite the times I disobey in little things, you are always quick to forgive.  Thank you for being the loving arms that hold me and embrace me when times are hard or difficult.  Thank You for letting me know that You are always there for me.  Please remove from my life any area where I am displeasing to you, or anything that gets in the way of sharing our love together.  Thank You for the abundant mercy, grace, and love You have showered over my life.  Thank You for picking up the pieces.  Thank You for giving me the strength to get through anything.  You are precious to me, and I love you.

In Jesus Name I pray,

In the same Spirit, I pray for the people in America who have been devestated by tornadoes.  Please help the victims recover from their damages, and I repent on behalf of the nation for anything that they are doing to displease You LORD God, for You are holy and righteous, and you cannot tolerate sin, please show them Your mercy, and Your love so that they can see that You are not a God of anger, but a God of mercy and that You are willing to forgive America for anyway that it has missed the mark or caused an abomination or a lie.  You rule over the nations in the world and anyone that needs Your help right now, please protect them and put Your hedges of protection around them, and I apply the Blood of Jesus over this nation.  Let us all come back to the Cross of Surrender,

In Jesus Mighty Name I pray,

Amen.