The Power of a Believer’s Prayer

Yesterday, I found that there is biblical evidence that God does not hear (and even considers an abomination) the prayers of sinners who do not seek His will. That’s actually good news if we are His and are hoping to see His will done in our lives and in the world around us. I encourage you to read this companion message because I believe that these two lessons together can act as bookends (or guardrails) for a biblical understanding of prayer http://wp.me/p1U0eQ-Fq

Today, I’m looking at the power of prayer in the hands of a righteous man, a kingdom servant,  a child of God, a believer in their heart.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. – John 15:7 NKJV

If you abide in Me
Yes, let’s dig into this a bit. First, let’s consider if we abide in Him. Romans 8:1-11 tells us what it looks like to “abide in Christ”. It emphasizes the difference between carnal minded people of the world versus spiritually minded people who put their mind on the things of God. We must realize that these are two very different types of people. One loves the world and one loves God.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who  live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. – Romans 8:5‭-‬10 NKJV

And this is partly a reminder of yesterday’s lesson if we focus on the words about carnal people – but if we examine our hearts and know that we are walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh (Galatians 5), then Romans 8 encourages us that we have the Spirit of Christ in us. So let’s either be encouraged that we have the Spirit of Christ in us, or let’s follow the instructions of Acts 2:38 to receive the promise of grace:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” – Acts 2:38‭-‬39 NKJV

And let’s remember that this is not a religious checklist of ceremonies, but that it involves repentance in our hearts. There is no power in the water of a religious baptism ceremony, it is supposed to be an outward testimony of the rebirth that has taken place on the inside.

and My words abide in you
So we must also ask, do His words abide in me?

C.H. Spurgeon has a wonderful and lengthy sermon that you can read here http://www.romans45.org/spurgeon/sermons/2506.htm about “God’s Law in Man’s Heart” – but I’ll only include a portion that speaks to the truth of how, God’s word is written in my own heart:

the law is written in the heart by repentance working hatred of sin. Burnt children, you know, are afraid of the fire. Oh, what a horror I have had of sin ever since the day when I felt its power over my soul! It was enough to drive me mad when I felt the guilt of sin; it would have done so, I sometimes think, if I had continued much longer in that terrible condition. … And now, being set free from sin, can I go back to it? Some of you, my brethren and sisters, came to Christ with such difficulty that you were saved, as it were, by the skin of your teeth. You were like Jonah, you had to come up from the bottom of the mountains, and out of the very belly of hell you cried unto God. Well, that experience has made sin so bitter to you that you will not go back to it. The law has been written in your heart with the steel pen of repentance, and God has made sin to be a horrible evil to you.”

You see, the working of repentance, the activity of belief, the fruit of faith,  the result of having a righteous master is that we are “sanctified”. And that is an expensive and very religious sounding word that means that we are becoming like our new master, we are becoming like Christ in a process of rebirth as a new creation and refinement through the trials of this life. And we will love our new master and hate our old one, because they are enemies and oppose one another.

This builds something new inside our hearts, with the old fleshly desires and sin burned down because we realize they were traps baited with short lived things of the world that tempt those with no sight to work towards the eternal treasures. This new construction is built on love,  which springs forth a new construction and growth of a righteousness even greater than following a set of written laws – it is having new desires, a new heart, a new purpose as a child of God.

Yes, His Word is written in our hearts when we see sin as the enemy that it truly is and we hate those desires that we once loved.

When we still struggle as a slave to the temptation, is it because we long to be in the fire with our master? This is a question we must ask ourselves, because many have entertained the promise of a Savior,  while never accepting a new Lord over their lives. This is probably the most dangerous place a person can choose to dwell – living in denial (and I’m not talking about the river).

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. – John 8:34‭-‬36 NKJV

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in  it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:21‭-‬25 NKJV

so you will ask what you desire
Yes, we will ask for what we desire. And if the above items are already in line with the Lord, when we are desiring His will be done in our lives,  when we are in opposition to sin and wickedness, isn’t time spent speaking with the Lord a great opportunity to sit down and examine our desires? Isn’t that a great opportunity for us to learn about the true motives of our heart and for Him to help us and guide us so that we will ask for what we desire?

You see,  many times we may ask for things that we think that we want,  but those aren’t really what we desire because we haven’t thought about the underlying consequences. You see, a lot of the time,  we pray about things and circumstances that we think that we want to work out a certain way. But that is because we are sorry sighted with limited vision. We don’t understand the ramifications and consequences,  and many times he knows better.

You see, if I want to sell my house today and that is what I pray for – selling the house really isn’t what I desire. My desire is way down deeper than the house, even deeper than the finances,  even deeper than the plans that I have in store. You see,  I can dig deep enough until I become enlightened about what the desire is at the root that is truly driving my decision – and sometimes the Lord knows that my desire will best be fulfilled by a direction,  timing,  or plan that is outside of my own perspective. And sometimes He will teach us the dangers of a “want” when we faithfully examine the underlying desire that is fueling it.

Yes, He can help us ask for what we truly desire.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the  will  of God. 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. – Romans 8:26‭-‬28 NKJV

and it shall be done for you
The Word of God is true. He is Faithful and True. It is through His Word that He created everything, the breath of His very spirit and life poured out into the world. It shall be done for you. This is the point of prayer.

For the word of the Lord  is right, And all His work is  done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord . By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. – Psalms 33:4‭-‬6 NKJV

The prayer of a believer, filled with the Holy Spirit and faithful in his desires, is powerful.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. – James 5:16‭-‬18 NKJV

Is your religion defiled?

The world is turned away from truth and cannot endure sound doctrine. The world chases after whoever will tell them what they want to hear. And those who make merchandise of the gospel have no problems adjusting their message to meet the demands of their audience and to increase their friendship with the world.

False teachers love the world, not God. They may live the idea of His promises, but they do not follow in His ways. But the one who stands firm upon the Word of God finds many enemies,  and encounters opposition, and trials and tribulation – as was promised by Christ for His followers while they were in this world.

So many people seek religion, or forgiveness, or prosperity, or health – but are there any that seek the Lord? That seek His will being done in their lives?

Looking at ourselves under that same lens of examination – Whose words, and advise, and example, and influence are we consuming in our lives? What example are we giving the world by our lives?

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” – James 1:27 NKJV

[The religion that is acceptable to God is not a once a week participation in religious services, or morning devotionals, or offering prayers,  or giving money to so many false prophets that are making merchandise of the gospel. It is loving and serving those who are in need. It is stepping past religious observation and stepping into the role of being a disciple of Christ,  laying down your life for others. Yes, belief in the heart results in something outwardly manifested in our lives.]

“Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” – John 9:31 NKJV

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. – Psalms 66:18 NKJV

One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. – Proverbs 28:9 NKJV

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. – James 4:3 NKJV

[Yes, there are those who do not love God more than their sin, than their own selfish desires, who wallow in their sinful ways all week long but who show up to church, who lift their empty praise and prayers to a God who does not hear them because they serve a different master.]

Hear the word of the Lord , You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord . “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats. “When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord , “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. – Isaiah 1:10‭-‬20 NKJV

[Yes, there are many false teachers who pretend to be His messengers of light, who promise injustice will be done and rewards will be given to the unfaithful,  whose lies raise a stench to the nostrils of the Lord as they promise that evil will be rewarded with good, as they dismiss repentance and righteousness and holiness because they do not desire it themselves. They trample the sacrifice of Christ under their feet, and treat the blood of the covenant as unholy and powerless, by deliberately continuing in their sin after coming to the knowledge of truth. They promise others that they will escape judgement as they slip more of their filthy lucre into their pockets. They have only a fearful expectation of judgement and raging fire, and they seek to drag many to destruction with them. The Lord will repay them,  “The Lord will judge His people.”]

Therefore thus says the Lord : “Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them. – Jeremiah 11:11 NKJV

[Yes, their true master, self and mammon will fill their bellies and their purses – but the Lord will not hear them even when they cry out. They are, apostate,  they are reprobate,  they are liars Luke their father the devil.]

Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.”
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God ! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ ”
And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’—‘By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them—them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters—for I will pour their wickedness on them.’ – Jeremiah 14:11‭-‬16 NKJV

[And the Lord would not even have us pray for them other than that their doors might be closed and their false light stamped out. He would rather their altars be torn down and their idols tossed into the fire as a warning of what lies in store for them.]

APPLICATION

So what will we do with this truth?

Will it change how we come to the Lord with our praise, our worship,  our prayers?

Will we give up our empty, repetitive, religious activities and seek Him closer, alive, and growing in every part of our lives?

Will we remember in those times when we’ve let it become practiced and repeated that we are better off not lifting it at all than lifting it in vain?

It’s better not to “fake it until you make it” when it comes to the things of God. Many fall into the empty pit of religion by that trap. Instead, choose who you will serve – and stand firmly and boldly by that decision. Count the cost,  and if you believe, you’ll see that no cost in this life is written missing what lies ahead for those who are in love with their Lord and Savior.

I urge us all to seek the face of the Lord,  seek a purified heart, resist temptation, rely upon the Lord completely.

We need to Immerse ourselves in His Word, in His teaching, in prayer because we want what fruit He has to bear in our lives TODAY – not to just rely on a promise of heaven SOMEDAY.

One is an alive, undefiled relationship with Him active in your life moment to moment – the other is dead, defiled, worthless religious practice and ritual.

One is a living sacrifice lifted to Him by walking in the Spirit – the other is the stench of diseased and rotting flesh headed to destruction.

We all want “Freedom”

Each one of us either wants freedom from God’s righteous way to live the way we want to – or freedom from our sinful ways to live the way God wants us to.

There is God’s way and there is the way of the world,  and those two are at odds with each other. This is why many practice religion once a week just to live their own lives the rest of the week. They know what is the right way, but they do not want it. They know about God, but they do not love Him.

Many have found something they love better than God and His ways, and it is themselves and their ways.

Yes, He makes it clear that these things lead to destruction –

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 6:9‭-‬10 NKJV

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 NKJV

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are  dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Revelation 22:14‭-‬15 NKJV

“Christian”, I do not tell you these things to stand as your accuser. I do not condemn you,  nor does Jesus Christ condemn you. But if you are still living this way, you must examine your heart and ask if you are still condemned like the world and its ways of sin. You must ask yourself what it is you truly desire. You must ask yourself who it is you really serve with your heart. And if it is not the Lord, if He is not Lord of your life, have you ever truly known Him as Savior? Has He ever truly known you as servant, follower, disciple, child of God?

Please, don’t rely on a religious ceremony or promise – the Pharisees did this (selling forgiveness and profiting off of the guilt of people) and were rebuked heavily by Jesus Christ, God come in the flesh, for misleading the people with empty religious practice. Rely on the Lord and the Lord alone – fall in love with Him and His ways.

If you can’t say that you love Him but you want to learn how, or you know that you need to love Him more now than you have in the past, that is a wonderful place to be – setting your eyes and your heart and your trust on the Lord. This is called repentance – it is turning away from sin, turning away from self, turning away from the world to seek God first and foremost and singularly in your life. He died on the cross so that you could repent and receive His Holy Spirit to guide and teach you.

Yes, repentance is a big step. Yes, it is a huge turning point in your life – and you get to maintain this repentance daily, even moment to moment for the rest of your life as you choose freedom from sin and temptation and death in a new life,  walking with a new Lord of your life. This is called walking in the Spirit instead of in the flesh,  and it produces the fruit of His nature in your life –

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who  are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22‭-‬25 NKJV

Don’t settle for powerless religion that ends in death because it offers you a promise of freedom to feel comfortable continuing in sin – that is a lie from the devil himself – those are not “Christians”, nor do they love God – they are the synagogue of Satan.

Settle only for walking as a new creation,  because if Christ has set you free, you are free indeed.

Worship in Love


“keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
– Jude 1:21 NKJV


TRUTH

“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”

Psalms 95:8-11 NKJV

[We were once in the wilderness, a part of the rebellion, an enemy of God – interested in our own ways and desires and not His.]


HOPE

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to  be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:7-10 NKJV

[God loves us. In fact, this is our ONLY hope,  that God loves us, because we have proven to ourselves and to others many times in our actions and our words that we are imperfect, flawed sinners. It is only through His love,  His sacrifice that we find salvation, that we learn love.]


FAITH

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

– Psalms 95:1-2,6 NKJV

[Our response to His love, to His mercy towards a people undeserving of His love is grattitude, is thanksgiving, is praise. Praise not just in occassional religious ceremonies, but in our daily lives,  even moment to moment throughout our day.]


LOVE

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

I John 4:11-16, 20-21 NKJV

[Yes, He teaches us love through His life,  through His Word,  and through His Holy Spirit that lives within us believers. And our purpose is to demonstrate this love, to testify to this love,  by accepting it and pouring it out onto those around us. We are called – yes, we are even commanded – to Love God,  and to Love others. And this isn’t a burden, but a blessing.]

PRAYER

Lord God, plunge me into your love so that I can love you with all that I am. I know that I’m asking you for the very thing I’ll give right back to you,  but my heart feels small and shrunken;  I struggle to live you well or even love at all. Immerse me in your love so that my heart, soul, strength, and might find their true home, and I will find the room in my heart to love my neighbor. Amen. (WSC 42)

Truth, Hope, Faith & Love for a Day, for a Life

TRUTH
————
O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—
O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
Render punishment to the proud.
Lord , how long will the wicked,
How long will the wicked triumph?
Understand, you senseless among the people;
And you fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?
He who formed the eye, shall He not see?
He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,
He who teaches man knowledge?
The Lord  knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile.
Psalms 94:1-3, 8-11 NKJV

[Judgement, wrath, and punishment lies ahead for the proud and the wicked. The Lord is not blind to their heart, their thoughts, and their desires.]

HOPE
———
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so,  I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
John 14:1-6 NKJV

[When we realize our need to no longer walk proud and wicked, we can rely upon Christ – who died on the cross for us,  who defeated sin and death, who rose from the dead, and who will come live in us and teach us the way,  the truth,  and the life.]

FAITH
———-
Blessed is the man whom You instruct,
O Lord , And teach out of Your law,
That You may give him rest from the days of adversity,
Until the pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not cast off His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
But judgment will return to righteousness,
And all the upright in heart will follow it.
Who will rise up for me against the evildoers?
Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
Unless the Lord  had  been my help,
My soul would soon have settled in silence.
If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord , will hold me up.
In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.
Psalms 94:12-19 NKJV

[In grattitude for our salvation and inheritance of eternal life, a Child of God grows in faith by trusting the Word of God, learning from Christ’s example –  from being convicted by the Holy Spirit against sin – and by choosing to seek righteousness, surrendering our will and desires,  and walking out His will for our lives.]

LOVE
———
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Jude 1:20-23 NKJV

[Godly love looks past our own salvation and seeks fellowship with other believers. It is active in both encouragement and accountability – understanding that all situations call for love. Sometimes that love is demonstrated compassionately with soft words and actions –  while other situations require swift, decisive, and bold words and actions in order to save some from the flames of destruction.]

Sow in tears

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with  him.
Psalms 126:5-6 NKJV

“Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy”

Failure, humbling ourselves, and restoration – this is the story we find repeated throughout the Bible. We find imperfect people who will humble themselves to the Lord are the very ones that God uses.

And even for those of us who are new creations in Christ and who are seeking to walk moment to moment in the Spirit and not in the flesh,  we find that we are not perfect. If we dig deep enough into our hearts, into our thought life, into those opportunities we missed or ignored, we can see that we are not perfect reflections of Christ’s blameless and perfect example.

And in our being humbled, redemption can take place, from faith to faith, from grace to grace. It is here that we receive joy – not in our works but in His.

“He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing”

It is in this place of Godly sorrow, of yielding to Him,  that His work is done in our hearts,  where the annointing (the outpouring) of His Holy Spirit and His very nature and character can be poured out into our lives like fresh, new streams of living water. And this water is not just for us to drink, but to take forth and share with others, pouring out His love into a thirsty world in need of His grace and mercy.

And as we go out, taking this Good News to the world around us – as we pour out truth, hope, faith, and love as is according to the need of each person that we can help – the Word of God will plant itself in them, and it will be watered,  and it will grow. Yes, it is our purpose to go out,  and if we do, there will be a harvest that we had the opportunity to participate in.

“Bringing his sheaves with  him.”

When the grain is reaped, it is laid in handfuls behind the reaper to be gathered by children or those who cannot stand the harder work of reaping (Psalm 129:7). The handfuls are bound into large sheaves, two of which are laden at a time on a donkey (compare Nehemiah 13:15). In some districts carts are used (compare Amos 2:13). The sheaves are piled about the threshing-floors until threshing time, which may be several weeks after harvest. It is an impressive sight to see the huge stacks of sheaves piled about the threshing-floors, the piles often cover an area greater than the nearby villages.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not keeping an eye on the sheaves. I’m not out here trying to “win souls” so that “my harvest” can be great. No,  you see,  I’ve acknowledged for myself that I can’t save anyone’s soul myself – the Lord draws those that are His. But I do have work and a purpose that is assigned to me as a disciple and follower of Christ. I have the “opportunity” to participate in the work at hand each day, and every moment that I can share Christ through my service,  through my love, and even through my words. It is my faithfulness to the work at hand that will allow me to participate in whatever harvest takes place. I’m just a servant in my Father’s garden. I’m just a servant in my Father’s Kingdom,  seeing that His will be done in my life today. It is my faith that works, it is His Holy Spirit in me that produces, not me.

Faith works in the heart of the believer.

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it  not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
I Thessalonians 2:13 NKJV

It is the active testing and proving of this faith, this yielding humbly to God, that produces growth.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/jas.1.2-4.NKJV

Faith is not stagnant or dead in the heart of the believer, it produces work in the heart,  which results in work and service in the world.

What does  it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does  it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
James 2:14-17 NKJV

“You’re so judgemental and hurtful!”

I speak out against sin in general – not pointing a finger at a particular person or telling them their final destination/sentence. And then, the very people that love that sin so much that they’ve claimed it as the defining name for themselves take offense as if I’m “judging them”. No, speaking truth about what is and is not sin is not judging.
YOU ARE NOT YOUR SIN.
If I am speaking about your sin, I am talking about something that has hold of you – I’m not talking about you.
 
Sin is not arbitrary, and it is not defined by the masses, it is defined by the Word of God. I do not claim to be sinless, but I do look out for the traps, the tricks, and the temptations of sin. The problem isn’t that people aren’t perfect – that’s true of all of us.
 
The first problem is that people don’t accept that sin is what God calls sin, and that is absolute. I admit that I have sin, but that I try my best to avoid it. Many try to justify to themselves that this isn’t sin or that isn’t sin because they want to believe that they are good people. You see, I acknowledge that I’m not perfect. But I’m not trying to call good bad and bad good in order to feel comfortable with who I am. I accept and acknowledge good as good and bad as bad, as defined by the Word of God.
 
The second problem is that people don’t love God, they love sin. Yes, I understand that many hate the light. Yes, I understand that many hate to hear me mention the name of Jesus Christ. Yes, I understand that many hate to hear anything about sin, repentance, discipleship. Yes, I understand that many hate to hear anything about Christianity that comes with a cost, or a commitment, or a calling, or a purpose for our lives other than to enjoy life today to its fullest. But is that biblical Christianity? Is that what Christ actually calls us to do when we look at His Word and His Commandments?
 
I understand that many people say that “the church has hurt me” and that “religion has hurt me”. I used to say the same thing. But it wasn’t that the people actually were judging me or saying things to hurt me. The truth is that I wasn’t interested in hearing the truth. I was satisfied trying to make my idea of Jesus fit whatever my lifestyle was at the time – instead of trying to make my lifestyle fit what the Word of God tells me about Jesus. I had no interest in knowing or falling in love with a real, alive, righteous and perfect God – I was satisfied loving and serving myself. The church didn’t hurt me – the conviction about truth hurt because I wasn’t willing to lay down my way of life and follow His.
 
Proverbs 9:7-12
7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,

and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction[b] to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
 
And some will ask, well why do you do it? Why do you throw your pearls before the swine?
 
Matthew 10:26-33
So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

If we refuse to accept the truth about ourselves and about God and about His stance when it comes to sin, how can we realize the true value of this grace?

If I talk about sin, it isn’t for judgement or for measurement and comparison – but it is so that we might wake up and see it for what it is. It isn’t something for us to toy around with. It’s serious business.

And when I realize that, it opens my eyes to not only the value of grace, but the power of His Holy Spirit to come into my life and change me.

Are you willing?

And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Matthew 8:2-3 NKJV

Over and over in the Bible, I see people asking and pleading for help from the Lord. I see people asking,  “If you are willing, you can”.

But today, I hear many talking about God as if He “has to”. It’s almost an attitude of,  “Okay, God, I did X, so you have to do Y – because you did it back in the day for that other guy in the Bible.” Yes, the narcissism of this world religion everyone what they “deserve” has crept into the religious gatherings to the point that people are told to pray the same lie over and over until God makes it true and that it is their own lack of faith in the life that is making it not true. Seriously? The Father of lies and author of confusion is selling this, and people are buying it up on the best seller last hoping for their best life now.

Can’t we see the issue with this false teaching? Can’t we see that this is the way the false prophets of the false idol Baal were beside the prophet Elijah of the one true God?

And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
I Kings 18:27 NKJV

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord , if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NKJV

And these same ones who make false promises aren’t even offering people treasures of any value in their empty promises – they are offering worldliness to the masses of worldly, carnal people. They are selling vomit to the dogs and slop to the pigs – but I wonder if they are lying about who it is they serve? Can’t we tell by what it is that they truly seek?

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:26 NKJV

If you have fallen victim to trying to use God as your genie and as your spare tire when you want something – hoping to convince Him into submitting to your will – I encourage you to instead pray as He instructed us. He instructed us to pray that the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Don’t just keep praying the same way, insisting on your will be done – instead of speaking so loudly and demanding, listen for His still quiet voice.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
James 4:3 NKJV

Our hearts on display

“Blessed  are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:3-12 NKJV

Many days,  I feel like a dead man walking. I examine myself to show myself approved and I find myself unworthy – I realize where I fall short of bringing glory and honor to God. I look at His perfect, blameless example and in comparison when I examine close enough, there always seems to be a blemish to be found in myself. So if perfection is my goal, I am doomed,  and my life is worth little more than being a warning to others about the wrath of God. Yes, this is the mentality that religion plants in our heads when we only get as far as measuring ourselves.

He searches the world for those poor in spirit, not those standing proud and strong under their own type of “goodness” under their own striving – because our works are filthy rags before a perfect, holy, and righteous God.

What do the proud, perfect, comfortable and secure of this world have to mourn about? But His Saints, we have much to mourn about as we walk this foreign land as strangers trying to swim against the current of a multitude of sinners chasing their passions and addictions and vices and pleasures in this world. I say trying because we too will slip at times when wearied and distracted and caught with our eyes off of the prize.

So we are humbled by our need for mercy,  and in realizing our own need for mercy,  we can keep ourselves level at the foot of the cross with everyone else. We can extend mercy instead of condemnation towards those who are trying, who are trusting God even when they cannot trust themselves.

Yes, it is our hunger and thirst for righteousness – a hunger for it, not the full possession of it – that leads us towards that eventual goal where our hearts might be profited so that we could see the face of God. But we are not discouraged by our constant measuring and examination and finding our shortcomings one after another. We are praying for the refining fires, the trials, the persecutions where we can demonstrate peace, where His Holy Spirit can be manifest in our life in face of the enemy traps.

The world would say, you fool, pray for wealth and success and health and a long life. But that prayer is for those who love their lives and love this world. We long for our Lord, and He is the only portion and prize that will satisfy our hunger and thirst. We have nothing of worth but our testimony about His Good News and our garments washed by the Blood of the Lamb – because this life is of no value to us until we are in His presence where we will be judged for every word and action.

We will be judged by our heart itself – by the source of our true desires – because faith does not exist in our words or even in our works. Faith exists in the truth about our guiding Spirit – and everything hidden in darkness will be brought into the light. Every secret, every hidden thing of our heart will be laid bare upon the altar of the Lord to reveal who we really are that day.

Lord, teach us, change us. Don’t let us remain in those old ways. Kill this old man of flesh that battles us daily, overcome these enemies that attack is from the shadows daily, and feed, nourish, and strengthen our Spirit to be in agreement with your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Perspective

For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.
Luke 1:49-53 NKJV

I Fear Him = Receive Mercy
I am Proud = Are scattered
I am Mighty = Brought low
I am lowly = Exalted
I am Hungry = filled with good things
I am rich = sent away empty

This is a picture of world/flesh vs eternal/spirit – a picture of how what the carnal consider valuable is worthless in the eyes of God. The things the carnal person would avoid are the things that he treasures.

It truly comes down to the difference between an eternal perspective and a right now perspective. It truly comes down to either loving and serving God and hating sin – or loving and serving ourselves and rejecting God.

Yes, Lord, you have done mighty and merciful and loving things for us. Help us keep our eyes on this new perspective. Set our eyes on the only prize and portion worth having, Lord. Don’t let us settle for anything of this world that might cost us our soul. Establish our footsteps so that when we examine ourselves you might show us approved. Search our hearts and remove anything that hinders your Holy Spirit from shining in our lives for your honor and glory. Call your people to awake and arise. Breathe new life into all these dead bones. Mold us, equip us, send us, and use us for your Kingdom to be come and your well be done in our lives today. Amen.