Mob Rule is No Rules

​”In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” – Judges 21:25 NLT

What a troubling world we end up with when each man decodes for himself what is right or wrong for his particular moment,  situation, and circumstances. What a troubling and dark world we encounter in places where people have turned away from authority and morals. 

Can’t we see this in the lawless and immoral society that TV would like to sell us and convince us is right. Hasn’t the world tried to call what is wrong right,  and what is right wrong? 

“People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart. The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.” – Proverbs 21:2‭-‬4 NLT

People are good at deceiving themselves into inconsistent and unjust behavior towards each other. People are good at justifying their sinful and wrong actions in their own minds. People are good at being swayed into all kinds of things when they claim themselves as the only ruler of their lives. 
And two things will prevail in that kind of self serving life – either lawlessness or a life waffling between pride and despair. This is because if we have no limits,  if there are no boundaries,  if we have no strong foundation on which to build upon, our own plans will prove to be our stumbling blocks. If we sell whole heartedly a life of self fulfillment and pleasure, others around us will suffer while we hoard for ourselves. If we seek a life of works and knowledge and self improvement, others will suffer by having to be around the proud,  arrogant,  and self righteous person we have become. 

Yes, there is something much better than the lawless rule of self endulgence or the rigidly legal rule of self improvement. I have Good News,  friend,  because there is a much better path. This path is narrow,  and you must choose to enter it by believing in Jesus Christ,  the Word of God, God come in the flesh to mankind to demonstrate the one way, the one truth,  the one life. 

Belief in this generates change,  because if you believe that He is Lord over your life and that you are no longer sitting upon the throne of your own life – you will realize that you don’t get to be the rule maker anymore. You don’t get to decide for yourself what is right or wrong in your own twisted mind. You have a straight path that has been laid out before you. You have a Lord who says,  “Follow me.” He gives us guidance and direction,  and we either prove that He is Lord over our lives or we prove that we serve a different master. 

So we should all all ourselves, “Do I believe? Do I love His instruction and want to follow His way? Or am I more interested in having it my way?”

I encourage you to know the heartfelt truth of these answers and see them played out clearly in your life today,  friend. Decide today who it is that you really serve. Do not claim one master by name and serve another in your heart – it will do you no good, friend. 

The Lord examines the heart. 

May He fill your heart today with conviction against sin, with peace and goodness towards one another, with forgiveness and mercy for the broken,  with boldness to share the truth with both the lawless and the legalistic. May He fill you with the fruit of His very nature and Spirit so that you might walk along His path and so that others might know today that you have been with the Lord and that you have chosen to abide with Him forever. 

Barely Saved

For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?
1 Peter 4:17‭-‬18 NLT

We have a lot going on right now. We are in the middle of so much change that I can barely keep up with all of the moving parts. I received a call in the middle of the day yesterday while I was at work and answered some questions without my full attention being on the call. After hanging up, and after thinking about what was asked, I realized that I had made a mistake in what I had said.

“Liar! Liar!”, the voice cried out in my head, “I’ve got you now!”

The old me wanted to hide from the mistake and attempt to cover it up – covering me in guilt by calling me a liar because I misspoke in a moment of the day’s fever pitched drone of work, stress,  etc. But there was another voice that spoke as well – convicting me that I needed to correct myself.

The enemy voice warned me that if I corrected myself,  it would look to the other person like I’m a liar even though I would know by making the correction that I was in fact, being honest. That voice wanted me to find a way to look honest to the person while remaining a liar in my heart.

Yes, this is the struggle. These are the types of challenges we face when we’ve let our guard down and are distracted. I was quick to speak without really listening and thinking about something – and as a result, I found myself in a trap. And the trap was whether I cared what I looked like on the outside or whether I cared enough to do what was right.

My decision was made, I would correct the situation. But how do I handle it in the best way? Do I try to explain myself in detail? Do I dance and make an over compensating effort to clean it up? Or do I just admit, do I just apologize for the lie – yes, a lie is a lie whether spoken with ill intent or good intent. Truth is truth, false is lying.

So, no sugar coating is necessary. I just need to swallow this pill and learn to pay closer attention to what I’m saying. It’s almost like this tongue is hard to tame unless I’m focused and intent. Imagine that. I think that I’ve read something about that before.

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
James 3:1‭-‬12 NLT

Cornerstone or Stumbling Block

You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.

As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.

Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.”

And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
1 Peter 2:4‭-‬12 NLT

This idea of grace, of forgiveness of sins, this testimony of Christ who is God come in the flesh that died on the cross for us – it will either be the stone that we build a new holy life upon – or it will be an excuse people use to continue in their lives of sin.

Knowing about Christ will either push us  into a life of grateful obedience – or we will use it as an excuse to justify our remaining in captivity.

And it all boils down to belief, true belief in our hearts,  not just that he existed as a good and wise teacher – but that He is who He said He is, and that is God come in the flesh, who is risen and who will judge the whole world on that day to come when we will be changed in an instant, when we will be in the presence of the Lord.

What is Christ for your life today?

Won’t you build upon the foundation that He had provided by walking His way in your life today?

Won’t you deny your flesh and surrender your life to produce the fruit of His nature?

Won’t you yield to His will and be His Kingdom representative to the world today?

Whatever you do today, let it be done in Truth and in Love, because our lives are that living sacrifice, that reasonable service, that true worship that we lift to Him in Spirit and in Truth.

Go, let your day be that worship. Let them see that YOU are the church,  and that Christ lives in you!

Who do you serve?

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. Lead me, O Lord , in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.
For there  is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is destruction; Their throat is an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, For they have rebelled against You.
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O Lord , will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.
Psalms 5:4‭-‬12 NKJV

Yes, the Psalmist equates “put your trust in the Lord” with “loving the Lord” and with being led in a righteous life. And this path is contrasted harshly against the path of the wicked who do not trust in the Lord or love Him.

And this message is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ, because He taught that if we will turn from our evil ways to instead trust the Lord and love Him that He would come and live with us and abide with us and lead us along the narrow path of righteousness.

There are vessels for holy use, and there are vessels of wrath. Both are very different in their nature, their desires, and their thoughts – which are all hidden from us. But some are very good at hiding these in their words and actions of they are concerned about what people think of them. A vessel of wrath may dress up the outside to look good,  but still be a white washed tomb with only death inside,  void of any Holy Spirit fire, void of any fruit of the Spirit.

A born again Christian life does not just produce emotional praise on Sunday and a life of lawlessness the rest of the week when away from the eyes of others.

It also does not produce a religious life full of measuring and judging that leaves no room for the very mercy and forgiveness that imperfect people claim to have received for themselves through Jesus Christ but are happy to keep away from the “undeserving”.

But the Psalmist boldly proclaims:

Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, For they have rebelled against You.

Yes, this is our attitude towards sin,  towards the wicked, while still preaching and offering the Good News of Christ to those who have ears to hear. Because He tells us that those who says:

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.  But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one.”
John 10:25‭-‬30 NKJV

Isn’t it clear that the wicked do not believe? That they do not trust in the Lord? That they do not love the Lord? That they do not seek His Kingdom and righteousness,  but they seek only for themselves and their own bellies? That they do not listen and hear and obey His voice? That they are headed to destruction?

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.  The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.  I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.
John 10:7‭-‬18 NKJV

Have you entered by the gate,  friend?  Or are you trying to climb over the wall a different way?

Do you hear His voice?
Does He know you?
Do you follow Him?

These are the things that He says of His sheep.

He lay down His life for the sheep, because He lives and cats for the sheep.

Do you love and care for the sheep?

Will you feed his sheep?

Will you encourage and equip, honor and rebuke accordingly,  standing bold and firm on the foundation of Christ our Lord and Savior because you are a vessel of the Holy Spirit set apart for His Holy use?

Will you share this Good News with the nations so his sheep might hear His voice in your words, might feel His love in your service, might know His love in your mercy and forgiveness?

Who do you serve?

Submit, Resist, Love

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 NKJV

1) Submit yourself to the Lord. Humble yourself before the Lord to do His will.

ὑποτάσσω

to arrange under, to subordinate
to subject, put in subjection
to subject one’s self, obey
to submit to one’s control
to yield to one’s admonition or advice
to obey, be subject

Our society teaches us that we should have the attitude that we are subject to no one,  that we are the Lord of our own lives and that we should have the freedom to do whatever we like. But this is not the type of freedom that the Bible teaches us. This is not the freedom that the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us.

God did not come in the flesh to die on a cross so that we could continue as slaves to sin and death. God came in the flesh and died on the cross and rose to heaven so that we can be forgiven, so that we can receive Him into our lives, and so that we can see sin overcome in our lives as we walk out our lives as a new creation. Yes, a new creation,  with new desires and a new direction. A life in submission to God’s will, not our own.

And if you are not comfortable with the idea of anyone being the master of your life but yourself, then you have chosen your master and it is not God. This is an important choice that will have a great impact on your life and how you live it. It will influence your attitude towards others, and it will guide your every thought, word, and action.

If you are submitted to God’s will, you will want to continue to number 2.

2) Resist the devil

This is the full picture of repentance. Because we can “say” that we are yielded to God, but if we don’t resist evil,  if we don’t resist temptation, if we don’t avoid sin, if we don’t obey God – then we have only deceived ourselves.

This is the definition of a Christian – one who is yielded to God and who resists evil. This is the picture of someone being drawn closer to God,  someone whowants Christ alive in their daily lives.

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. Saying a prayer doesn’t make you a Christian. Being dunked under water doesn’t make you a Christian. Doing “work for the Lord” doesn’t make you a Christian. Studying the Bible doesn’t make you a Christian.

These things can be evidence that you might in fact be a Christian alive with the Holy Spirit of Christ in you,  but they could just as easily be evidence that you are just acting religious.

So what do we do? How do we know?

I ask you,  Do you know that Jesus loves you?

Do you believe in your heart that He died on the cross and was raised from the dead as the first of God’s children?

Do you desire for Him to come and live in your heart and change your desires and to lead and guide you in a new life?

Do you love Him?

Do you want your life to be free from sin?

Do you want to love and serve others?

Are you willing to pay the price of laying down your own life, to submit to the call of Christ, to pick up your cross and follow Him?

If your heart and your mind are in agreement with these questions,  and your answers are true – I welcome you friend to the church,  to the body of Christ,  alive and growing amongst the darkness of the lawless and amongst the dead and rotting hypocrisy of the religious. We bring the light,  and it looks like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self control – because it is the very nature of Christ poured out into those of us who would be peculiar enough to love and serve God’s will, not our own.

Money, Sex, and God

Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.  Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?
Hebrews 13:1‭-‬6

God of my heart and Lord of my desire: money and sex are powerfully good gifts from you, yet both can become dangerous idols. Order my heart and discipline my desires so that money and sex have their pepper place. May the affections of my heart never run contrary to any of your commandments, but may your love be my greatest treasure. In Christ’s name, amen. (HC 113)

Do we desire the things that God can give us,  or do we desire His Spirit ever more alive and present in our daily lives as we grow glory by glory closer to our Heavenly Father? If we have this perspective backwards, if we cry out for prosperity in this world instead of crying out for God alive in us,  those same “things” can quickly become a curse instead of a blessing.

Money and wealth placed in the hands of a selfish man can lead him into all kinds of dangerous traps where he becomes an oppressor and a hindrance to his brothers and sisters.  But when it is placed into the hands of the faithful,  it can be a blessing for him,  his family,  his friends, and even to the strangers that he entertains and serves lovingly.

Sex brought to the awareness of an immoral man can lead him into all kinds of traps and soul ties with immoral women, to children not provided for physically or spiritually, to diseases and depression and all kinds of wrong thinking about the value of people and marriage. But sex in the hands of a godly and righteous man who loves the Lord will produce an abundant family of children who are brought up to be nourished both physically and spiritually, who will be a benefit and not a drain on those around them and their community.

And it comes down to the type of prosperity that is being sought after – do we seek things for ourselves, or do we seek God to offer ourselves?

Many, Lord , are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord , make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:6‭-‬8 NIV

Expectation is the enemy of Love

Expectation is the enemy of love.

Serving without any expectation is the proof of love.

Two people that each insist on being the master of the other will never cease being at war with each other.

But two people that insist on serving each other will never cease being in love with each other.

This is true of marriages, families, friendships, and even our relationship with the Lord.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – I Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7 NKJV

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:15 NKJV

One Sacrifice for those being sanctified

But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord : I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then  He  adds,  “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there  is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one  another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:12‭-‬25 NKJV

Do you believe?

Are you being sanctified?

These are important questions of faith that we don’t answer with our words,  we answer them with or hearts.

Whether or not the law is written on our hearts can shed some light on whether or not we believe.

Is our heart true in full assurance of faith?

If doubt has crept in, isn’t that a great opportunity to seek the Lord diligently, because it may be evidence that we are practicing religion instead of maintaining a living relationship where we are drawing closer to the Lord.

Are we holding fast during the trials and tribulations?

If we have allowed ourselves to slip into a perspective of treating God like a genie, expecting Him to bend to our will instead of the other way around,  isn’t that a great opportunity to humble ourselves at the feet of our master and Lord?

Are we interacting with other believers, encouraging one another and holding each other accountable?

If we have allowed ourselves to slip into isolation, leaving love and spirit to remain stagnant and lukewarm within our pitcher instead of pouring out and maintaining the flow of living waters, isn’t that a wonderful opportunity to sound our trumpet cry and to see Him break through the walls and deliver us from the chains of a self centered focus.

We ARE those being sanctified.

Yes, as we see that day approaching,  let’s grow in our determination and focus. Let’s not grow weary. Let’s stay the course.

Come Home

Have you been wandering?

Come home.

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord , meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
Psalms 1:1‭-‬6 NLT

Are you tired of being blown around by the wind,  chasing all kinds of things that just slip through your fingers and leave you unsatisfied and restless?

Come home.

For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.
Hebrews 6:13‭-‬19 NLT

Do you know the good news of Jesus Christ? That through faith your sin is forgiven and that you can come home to the promise He has for your life?

Come home.

He is a heartfelt prayer away because He had never left you. He is waiting with arms open wide. Just look to the cross.

Come home.

Here Today

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
James 4:13‭-‬17 NLT

life is short. These bodies all have an expiration date, and it will amaze you how quickly time slips through your fingers. You will look up one day and wonder where it has all gone. You have spent valuable minutes just now reading this message that you cannot get back – they are gone, spent, non-refundable.

So what are we doing with our time?

Do we treat it as of it is valuable and precious? Or waste it in idleness, procrastination, and laziness towards our purpose and goal of sharing this Good News?

Or do we waste it in time spent planning, worrying, fretting and stressing over tomorrow when we could be acting and doing right now. Don’t let the possibilities for an effective tomorrow stall the reality of an effective today.

“Now” is the only time that we are alive, let’s not let the enemy steal that from us, friends.

Let’s us our “now”, our “today”, realizing that it is our one spot at it.

Let’s work like our livelihood depended on it,
let’s love like others lives friends on our example.

If today is a time to laugh,
Let’s laugh whole heartedly,
If today is a time to mourn,
Let’s cry tears from the very river of our hearts,
Whatever the season,
Let’s live it with strong conviction of heart and a dedicated purpose.

Because today is precious and valuable, and we will only see it once even though it is a flash within the expense of eternity.

We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.  But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.
John 9:4‭-‬5 NLT