Luke 22:46 (NIV), “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
We all get tired, lazy, under the weather, weary, and lethargic and the list goes on… But God says to us, “Get up!”
Not much good happens while we sit on our backsides. Sure a bit of office work, some reading or computing, but actual work for the Lord, work that wins souls and pleases Him happens when we are up and moving.
Sure Jesus made it through it all without the prayers of the disciples, but perhaps His suffering would have been less, or maybe the real suffering happened to the disciples because they didn’t watch and pray.
We do get down, but make sure you call on the strength of God and get back up.
We feel week and tired, but He promises us rest.
He also cautions us not to grow weary in well doing. That doesn’t mean don’t do good things, it means build yourself up in His most Holy Word and walk in His love and strength.
I Corinthians 15:58 (AMP), Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose].”
We who are born of Heaven are not working on our own. We are co-laborers with Christ. We have a myriad of angels working on our behalf, ministering in our lives according to God’s perfect will. There is so much going on “behind the scenes” that it would make our heads spin. In the spiritual realm there is no inactivity, no sleeping, it is always moving and things are being accomplished every second. Satan knows that his time is short, so the battle that is being wages is massive. Sometimes I wish that I could be like Elijah’s servant and see “those that are for us” who outnumber those who are against us. Remember only one third of the angels fell, which means there are twice as much for us as are against us. We are at war; we are soldiers of the Most High.
What are we fighting, laboring for?
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT), “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
God handcrafted us as a master artist, to do good works. Every gift and talent that He placed within us is to further His Kingdom, to bring Heaven to earth. He has so much love that He isn’t satisfied with a small family, He wants a huge family. Our job is to bring them in.
I recently read a book about the Andersonville prison camp for northern prisoners of war, in Georgia during the Civil War. The conditions there were horrible; you can google it if you want all the gory details. The general in charge had never stepped inside the walls. The townspeople ignored the smell and the rumors of the men who were rotting alive. Some of the guards who were called “Sentinels” were about the only ones who felt any compassion as they witnessed it firsthand. Those were so overwhelmed by the futility of trying to help over 13,000 prisoners, without the general’s approval that they did nothing. One particular part of this story really moved me… there was an older guard who began bringing a potato, or a lemon and dropping in from his guard tower for a particular soldier to eat. When a younger guard who had become so depressed by what he was seeing that he was losing all faith in God, asked him “what is the point?” This was his answer (paraphrased), “I may not be able to feed them all, but by God I can feed one.”
I got to thinking about that, after I cried for about ten minutes. That’s how I feel sometimes when I see how bad the world around me is, when I feel like there are so many who don’t know God. I have asked myself, “how can we ever reach so many”, or “what can I do, I am just one person?” But, if we all have that same attitude as the older guard, each one reach one, our churches would be full! I am not responsible to save the world. Jesus already did. I just have to take one person at a time and let them know that this war is already one. Tell them, and more importantly show them the love of God. His goodness turns hearts to repentance. Those angels I was talking about are working on them, the Holy Spirit is brooding over their hearts preparing them to receive, and Jesus is wooing them.
Yes, there is work for us to do. Spiritual and physical, we need to witness and clean the toilets. We need to feed the hungry and change diapers. All done for God, all as co-laborers with Him, and it will all glorify Him.
We are not spinning our wheels, if we are led by His Spirit, though it may seem that we aren’t accomplishing much in the natural, our labor is not wasted or futile!
So, keep working. Take one day at a time, but look at each one and each opportunity in the light of eternity. Always remember, there are more for us than against us!
II Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV), “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Did you ever know someone who was great at getting involved, in starting new projects, enrolling in a college classes, setting goals, and making resolutions…but they weren’t so great at finishing anything. I have, several in fact. I was brought up to finish what you started. You ate what you put on your plate, if you signed up for ball; you went to every practice, you stuck it out. In fact it was such a big thing, and I had very little self confidence, that I hardly ever committed to anything. If I knew I could do it, without a doubt, then I’d go for it. Thank God, I have found my confidence in Him. I’ll give just about anything a try if it pleases Him. If I mess it up, it won’t be from lack of effort. So, you’d think I would have a lot of “success” under my belt.
We have a real enemy that tries to get us off the track. He will do anything to derail us, slow us down, or get us to even move backwards. That’s who he is. He comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10). He doesn’t have a single other agenda. To put it simply his job is to get us to quit, back down, or give up. You can’t get him to stop attacking. That happens when we get to heaven, and he gets to hell. Don’t lose heart though, you can repel, and counter attack anything and everything he throws your way…if you have surrendered your life to the One who is all powerful. God has given us weapons, and protective gear. He has warned us of the wiles of the Devil, and placed before us simple instructions on how to overcome. Jesus already did, He defeated the devil over 2000 years ago. We just carry on in that knowledge. We battle a defeated foe, a lion who can only make noise because his teeth have been pulled.
So why does it feel like we have gotten our ears boxed? Or maybe you have been in the same battle for years, and you haven’t even given much thought to the war. What’s the problem?
Honestly there could be various reasons, but today I am going to talk about one of those reasons. Take a look at something our Senior Pastor said while preaching a series about “Changing Your Perception.”
“The enemy attacks, that’s who he is, but when he consistently gets the upper hand it is because our perception is wrong.” Dr. William Hohman
Since you didn’t hear the message, I’ll clue you in on the concept.
When we know, not with our head, but in our heart, truly know, who God is we have unlimited power at our disposal. Think of it in this way, if you know God is your healer, you believe with all of your heart that Jesus’ stripes purchased your healing, you will stand firm against every bodily attack. You won’t be fighting the sickness, you will be fighting the fight of faith, the fight to remain true and committed to God and His word. Look at Job, Satan had permission to wreck havoc on Job’s life, yet Job didn’t “curse God and die” as his loving wife recommended, no, he kept his faith. Sure it wavered a little, we are human, but he never gave up on God. He stayed committed to the One who was able to bring him through.
When we know that our Father is the King, we can walk in our authority as princes and princesses. We command those who are subject to us (which according to the word is pretty much anything that is in the way of us fulfilling our destiny in God.) The key is to know who He is, know who we are, and submit to the King. When we know what His plan is, we can walk on the right path, recognize the obstacles, and command them to move.
We have to be committed. We have to “set our faces like flint”, “quite like men”, “run the race with patience”, and “stand firm”. It’s only when we do those things that we will receive the promises.
Hebrews 10:36 (NIV), “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Romans 12:11-12 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English), “Be diligent and do not be lazy; be enthusiastic in spirit; be working for your Lord. Be rejoicing in your hope. Bear your afflictions bravely. Be persistent in prayer.
Ephesians 6:13 (NLT), “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
Have you mastered the art of quitting, well quit it! Press on to master the art of loyalty and commitment. He is worthy of our commitment! We won’t be the only ones who will benefit from our perseverance. When we fulfill the call God has placed in our lives, when we use the gifts and talents He gave us, so many people are blessed. Lives are changed! The Kingdom is built!
Isaiah 30:15-17 (NIV), “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”
God gave them a choice. Trust Him, repent, and find rest. In peace and quiet they could find strength. What did they choose? To run. How many of us do just that. When faced with the old choice of “flight or fight,” we fly, we flee…we run away. God offers peace and rest and yet instead of running to it, we run away from it. Maybe the road looks scary, but He promises strength and rest.
Paul new all about this choice. He went through some stuff. Viper bites, stoning, beatings, jail time, ship wrecks, and then a messenger from Satan comes to buffet and harass. Notice what God says when Paul asks Him to remove this “thorn.”
II Corinthians 12:7-10 (AMP), “And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).”
God doesn’t take the thorn away. He basically tells Paul to take His strength and “man up.” God’s grace is sufficient. I used to hear it preached that Paul was supposed to suffer, so God left the thorn. There was even a popular song that said something like, “if the thorn needs to remain,” thankfully the Holy Spirit clarified this for me. I had lots of thorns! His GRACE , His power and strength are fulfilled and completed in our times of weakness. That’s when He comes through. That way we don’t get the glory, He does. He never leaves us in a mess. He always gives us a way out! He promises us that. So He would never leave us to suffer any messenger of Satan. What He does do is give us the authority and the power to overcome any attack. Isn’t that good news?
Paul figured it out and then he instructs us on what to do.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV), “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
We fix our eyes on Jesus, not the thorn, the trouble, the evidence of Satan’s attack. Then we stand and fight like men (or women of God). An older lady from the south said it this way, “play the man.” When Jesus was faced with a hard choice, He didn’t run. He endured the cross.
So maybe you have run in the past. Maybe that is all that has been modeled for you. It’s not too late to change. God is gracious. He longs to be gracious to you.
Isaiah 30:18,21 (NIV), “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him…Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
What is the reward for staying to fight?
Revelations 3:5 (NAS), “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
Psalm 125:1 (NAS), “A Song of Ascents. Those who trust in the LORD Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.”
We all go through stuff, from a “bad day,” to acute trauma. Its part of the human experience, part of the earth cursed system. We live in Satan’s domain, right in his territory. He doesn’t like us born-again-believers. He fights us tooth and nail, (that’s a metaphor, because Jesus has pulled his teeth, he can only roar). So, life can be hard. Loved ones pass away, jobs are lost, and sometimes we just make very bad choices with uncomfortable consequences. However, if we belong to God, if we name Jesus as Lord and Savior, we don’t have to let all that shaking dislodge us!
Proverbs 10:25 (NASB), “When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.”
We all go through it, saved and unsaved. The difference, and it is a huge one, is that we don’t get blown away. Our foundation is everlasting. We are like the wise man who builds his house on the rocks.
Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV), “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
God doesn’t bring the storm. I have to make that clear. Storms aren’t a “punishment” from God. He doesn’t bring sickness, poverty, troubles, or trials. Jesus said being in this world we would have trouble, but to be of good cheer, He overcame the world. (John 16:33). This world fell, and is falling. If you haven’t noticed it gets darker and uglier by the day. People say all the time, “What’s this world coming to?” I think the answer is clear, “the end.” This time more than ever we need to stand on God’s word and His promises. Do what He says to do. I love the way the Amplified Bible says “the uncompromisingly righteous.” We can’t compromise. We can’t try to keep one foot in the world and one in Heaven. There is no dual citizenship for those who are Children of God. We can’t serve two masters.
The great news is that if we serve Him, without being double minded, those storms pass us by. Sure there may be a few broken branches, maybe a shingle in the yard, but our house will not be moved! We can’t be shaken. In these last days God said that He would shake everything.
Haggai 2:6 (NIV), “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.
Joel 3:14-16 (NIV), “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is ear in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.”
This shaking will be for the unsaved, those trying to straddle the fence. Those who teeter on that dangerous high wire, they will fall on one side or the other. The final choice will be made.
I want to live on a firm foundation, not a slippery slope. I want to know and be confident that God’s ways are good and perfect. I want to stay rooted and grounded in His Love and remain steadfast, unmoving.
I may shake and tremble at times. I may stand afraid, but I will stand, and I will not be moved!
Matthew 5:8 NIV “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
What does it mean to be “pure in heart”? “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” Titus 1:15. What is in your mind, what is on your conscience? Do your thoughts run to things that lead to temptation, or to see the bad in others? That is an unclean heart, and (dare I say it!), unbelieving heart. If we truly believed that God is who He says He is and that we are who He says we are, as His children, we wouldn’t harbor those thoughts. If our own conscience is clear, we don’t tend to search for sin in other’s lives. We weren’t put here to be the “sin police”. We were put here to love others and to show them the Father, just like Jesus did. Now that doesn’t mean that we “wink” at sin, or deny it. But our purpose is to help deliver them from their sin, to show them the way to Jesus so that they can be cleansed from their sin.
There are so many benefits to maintaining a pure heart. Job 17:9 (AMP) “Yes shall the righteous-those upright and in right standing with God- hold to His way, and he who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger.” In Job 24:3 God’s word continues with, “Who shall go up into the mountains of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up in falsehood, or to what is false, not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing rom the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Do you want to hold to God’s way? To receive a blessing from the Lord? To be able to stand in God’s holy place? Then keep your heart pure.
Jesus said that is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out. The Pharisees where complaining that Jesus’ disciples hadn’t washed their hands before eating. In todays society where everything is antibiotic from soap, lotions, detergents, and baby wipes, where we are so concerned about germs that we are killing off good bacteria and the bad stuff is becoming immune to the antibodies, shouldn’t we be concerned about what is already inside of us and trying to spew forth? “For our of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34).
We can sometimes be more concerned about what we shouldn’t eat, watch, listen to, etc., and I am not saying that isn’t important. But more important is that our hearts are right. Search your heart and see if there is something in there that needs to be removed. Surrender your heart to God. Allow His Spirit to look in those places that even you have been afraid to look at! He’s a gentleman. He will not only reveal it to you in a gentle way, He’ll help you fill that place up with the goodness of God. Meditate (not by emptying your mind, but by filling it with the word of God) on all His goodness. Remember what He has already brought you out of, how much you have already changed. If you find yourself thinking or speaking negative about anything, be it people, places, or circumstances, STOP. Cast those things down, ask God to forgive you, and anyone who heard you.
We all mess up. All our righteousness is as filthy rags. So take His! His righteousness is given to us at salvation. Then as we keep our hearts pure, we get stronger and stronger. Not is physical muscles, but in spiritual muscle-faith, hope, love, joy, courage, patience, meekness, longsuffering, self control, all those fruit of the Spirit, things we need in this day and age.
“Surely God is good to Israel, Even to such as are pure in heart.” Psalm 73:1
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10,(David wrote this after sinning with Bathsheba, it’s never too late!)
“But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned:” I Timothy 1:5
Now get to work! Search out for yourselves some scriptures on pure and clean hearts. A great recourse is this website http://biblehub.com/
“Then I heard a strong voice in heaven, saying, Now it has come, the salvation and power and kingdom (the dominion, the reign) of our God and the power (the sovereignty, the authority) of His Christ, the Messiah; for the accuser of our brethren, he who keeps bringing before our God charges against hem day and night, has been cast out! And they have over come (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death-holding their lives cheap till they had to die [for their witnessing]. There for be glad (exult), o heavens and you that dwell in them! But woe to you, o earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in fierce anger (fury), because he knows that he has [only] a short time [left!].” ~ Revelations 12;10-12 Amplified Bible
As we begin the new year, 2014, I can’t help but get excited about what is happening in the world. Things are getting bad, and from the pulpit we hear things like, “this is a time of harvest”, “a time of release”, and “what has been sown will be reaped.” For some the harvest will be death and corruption. Or as Hosea says in 8:7a “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…” But it means that all of those who have gone before us and planted the word of God, planted love and mercy, and those of us still planting and watering, will be bringing in a harvest of souls! The harvest is ripe! Pray for workers, but be one yourself!
The devil is full of fierce anger! Why? Because he knows that his time is short! How do we come against his fury? By the blood of the lamb. It has already been shed. The work on the cross is finished. That blood brought us back into right relationship with the Father. We have our authority back. We can declare God’s word and His will and it will come about. We also overcome by the word of our testimony. Tell yourself how good God is, remind yourself of the things He has done for you. Then tell anyone who will listen. In fact tell those who seemingly aren’t listening. Time as we know it is speeding up. Just like Christmas comes up so fast every year, the end is fast approaching and will be upon us quicker than we think. Do we want to leave all those deceived souls in the enemies camp? Or do we want to go in and bring them out? Bring them to the Father’s love. To the sacrificial love of Jesus.
A football team can’t continue to win if they only defend their goal. They have to go out on the offensive and take the ball, then run and fight their way through enemy territory to get the score. It’s the same way with the family of God. We may be assured of our place in heaven, but God forbid we are content with that and allow so many countless others to suffer an eternity separated from the Father’s presence. So they may be reaping what they sowed, but didn’t we all sow some of those same seeds at one time? Thank God, in His mercy and compassion that He didn’t make me bear the fruit of my sin! I am no more deserving of heaven than any of those others who perish in their unrepentant state.
It’s time to stop worrying about what others may think. Be bold, (not rude), and share your faith. Help others, be generous, slow to judge, quick to love and cast off all self-righteousness! We aren’t better than them! We just have a better Father.
So this is a year of harvest. What will your harvest be?