“Today” & “”Tomorrow”

​And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” – Joshua 3:5 NKJV

“Sanctify yourself for tomorrow”

קָדַשׁ

מָחָר

“Show yourself set apart for God’s use in preparation for what is to come.”

Planning and preparing for tomorrow, even for eternity, not just living for the day. 

Yes, vision that sees past the moment and looks to the future. Grasping hold of what is most enjoyable in the moment can come with costs unexpected for tomorrow. A child with no wisdom yet doesn’t under stand this. They will give up the promise of ten in the bush for the reality of one in the hand. In fact, or very nature cries out for this even if we are adults – but our experience has taught us something different. 
For example, as a married man,  don’t I know from experience that letting my eyes wander will result in me forgetting the amazing blessing that I have been given in my wonderful wife? 

For example, as a working man, if I spend up my paycheck the weekend after I get paid, or buy and live past my means,  don’t I know from experience that not having any self-control and discipline in my handling of the smaller things like money will leave me in debt and servitude to others, and will impact my ability to help those truly in need around me (the heavier matters of life).

For example, as a studying man, if I think of myself as wise and able to instruct others,  won’t I eventually encounter something that is past my understanding, and won’t I be humbled by the laborer, mechanic, plumber, farmer, ditch digger, and garbage man when I find that I could do very little for myself in a world where they do not provide for me. 
So when I’m saying be sanctified, be set apart,  I’m not saying be divided from the people. No, how can you poor out the love of Christ or share the Good News of you isolate yourselves from the very people we are called to go out and reach? 

No, I am saying,  be separate by your resisting the desires of the flesh, the last of the eyes, and the pride of life. I’m saying that the Lord has a purpose and mission and destination for you, Child of God, and you should prepare yourself for what lies ahead. I’m saying,  don’t let yourself get tangled up in the chains of the dead, but cast them off and prepare yourself for His Holy use. 

For you do not know when “that day” comes. You do not know when your running total of “todays”will come to its end. You do not know what work will be done in you and through you to accomplish His will today and prepare you for tomorrow. 

Are you sanctified? Or are you bathing in sin and worldliness and self in order to satisfy the desires of your evil heart? 

Do you know the Lord and love Him or do you hate Him? Don’t answer me with your words, we are proving it today with our lives. I pray that this truth is not bringing condemnation upon you,  because I pray that you are consecrated for His Holy use,  I pray that you are a peculiar and set apart people – and I pray that if you are not that you will repent while it is still “today”.

Yes, we will choose today who it is we will serve. If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, return to your vomit,  enjoy the rain that He sends down upon both the just and the unjust,  enjoy your today until tomorrow comes if that is indeed your decision. I have stood on the mountaintops and sounded the trumpet,  and so many have returned to their true love instead of remembering their first love,  He who loved you before you were even in your mother’s womb. If you have chosen a better party than the wedding feast of the Lamb, I will go and invite all from the streets and the dutchess and the highways and the hedges to come instead. They will be grateful because they will understand that they have been forgiven much.

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” – Revelation 19:6‭-‬9 NKJV


And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,  and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.  Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’  But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.  And the rest seized his servants, treated them  spitefully, and killed them.  But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.  Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’  So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.  So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him  into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:1‭-‬14 NKJV

Rise and go…

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt. 

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

– Matthew 2:13‭-‬14‭, ‬19‭-‬21 ESV

#Awake #Arisen #On Mission

Have you received the call to rise and go?

Have you dreams or the answers to your prayers pressed you on towards a new and unknown destination? 

What will be your answer to the call today? 

We can’t change yesterday,  nor can we let guilt or pride over our past influence our actions to “rise and go” today. 

Lord, help us to be attentive to your call,  to listen for your instruction, to be prepared to go,  and to rise and go when called into action. And if we are to wait, if this is our time to rest in your grace and prepare for the knock at our hearts, let us meditate upon your word,  renewing our minds, preparing ourselves for the journey ahead by consuming your Word, loving and serving, and looking to you without ceasing. Amen.

Come, let us reason together

​Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,  learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.  

“Come now, 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 become like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;  but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

– Isaiah 1:16‭-‬20 ESV

#WashYourself #CeaseEvil #LearnGood

Are your sins easily hidden? Or are they clear and visible and evident in your words, in your attitude, in your “un-grace”? I say this because that lack of grace at work in your life shows up like a scarlet stain that can’t just be seen,  but it can be smelled as either the fresh aroma of life or the decaying stench of death. 

I praise God that I smell such a wonderful aroma of life coming off of the lives of my friends and loved ones most of the time. It is a welcoming and inviting aroma that purr from their hearts and comes out in their smiles,  their encouragement,  their joy, their love for one another. And I see them willingly obedient, and eating of the good of the land, and they warm my heart for what they are pouring out into the lives of so many around them. it’s a valuable treasure that when they share it with others,  they come away with more themselves. 

Buy the rebellious and the willful. I know the stench well, it used to engulf me. I used to walk in its thick cloud, as it blinded my vision and hindered my navigation. Whereas others hear the Word of God and are humbled, you think that it doesn’t apply to you! You think that this message is meant for someone else, but why has the Lord brought it to your ears? It is sharp and it cuts deep. 

So will you:

​1) “Wash yourselves; ”

2) “make yourselves clean;” 

3) “remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;” 

4) “cease to do evil, ” 

5) “learn to do good;” 

6) “seek justice, ”

7) “correct oppression;” 

8) “bring justice to the fatherless,” 

9) “plead the widow’s cause.”

Or do you have something better to do even though the Lord has called you to “Come, let us reason together”?

Will you say,  “I am too busy for the Lord’s work, too busy to be called by the Lord into action,  into ministry. ”

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,  and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.  Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’  But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,  while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.  The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.  Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’  And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.   “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there  a man who had no wedding garment.  And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  For many are called, but few are chosen.”

– Matthew 22:2‭-‬14 ESV

Context Matters!

​You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? – Matthew 23:33 ESV

Yes, these are Jesus’s words! These are the “words in red”, but don’t mistakenly think that Jesus walked up to some scared teenage girl headed into a planned parenthood building and said this. Don’t think that Jesus walked up to a boy or girl struggling with their identity and the temptation of their flesh that has led them into shameful ground before a perfect and holy God and said this. Don’t think that Jesus walked into the meth cooker’s house, or the bar, or the jail and said this. 

No, He walked into the church. He pointed that sword from His mouth in the direction of the religious and said to those hypocrites –

You make it burdensome for the people to come to me. Instead of helping them carry their burdens, you lay burdens on their shoulders. 

You do everything to be seen and honored yourselves. You take the best seats and titles and honor from others and return it to your “same people” instead of extending it to those you don’t know, those who are poor, needy,  sick, burdened, lost. You enjoy your season tickets, golf courses,  country clubs, first class accommodations while His people starve, hurt, freeze, suffer,  and die alone and without love or hope in this world. You celebrate with songs and lukewarm religious practices that make me sick enough to puke you out. 

You want to be seen and revered as wise teachers and leaders when you don’t even know how to serve and love. You are puffed up in knowledge and pride and you would rather be called Father yourself than admit to who your real father is. That snake, that liar, he is quite satisfied with you remaining religious and lost and serving as hischireling crying Lord, Lord but serving only your own pride.

You won’t enter into grace and belief yourself,  and you try to shut the door in the faces of those who would. You would tell them that Christ is necessary but that He is not sufficient. You would tell them that even though they have received salvation by grace through faith that they must turn back to the law because you wish foolishly that you could pluck them from His hand so they might fall short of grace? May it never be so! Foolish children, who has bewitched you? Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Having begun by the Spirit,  are you now being perfected by the flesh? Do you not know that those who rely on works of the law are under a curse? Are you cursed or blessed? Are you bearing love or condemnation? Thistles and thorns or fruit? 

You make grand overtures to sign people up for your religious practices, observances of days and seasons, sacrifices of obligation,  and empty works – and you prove them twice the chill of hell as yourselves. They no more know God or bear the fruit of His Holy Spirit than you do,  you sons of perdition! 

You guard the safe keeping of the money and “valuables” in your buildings, houses, warehouses and bank accounts, but you have no such safeguards for what is the only thing valuable that ever enters your building – my people. You wouldn’t even know if you lost a hundred of them, but you sure would know if your balance sheet was off a penny! 

You spend your effort on tithes and attendance and clothes and appearances because these are the greatest desires of your own eyes and what is valuable to you – thinking foolishly that I value the same things by your same priorities. But I desire mercy above sacrifice, justice above bribes, and faithfulness of heart above outward compliance. With your striving to uphold the law, you strain at removing the smallest speck of dirt on your dinner plate while you try to conceal your coming on the log wedged securely in your throat.

You are full of greed and self-indulgence. Though your mind has learned the great mental gymnastics of hiding your heart from the undiscerning, though you have learned to treat the symptoms of your cancer it is still at work killing you from the inside. So realize the heart of the issue and get that transplant, that cure, before it is too late.

Yes, you are dressed in the right outward appearance,  but you are dead inside. Your fear of admitting the lies that you have spread founding your own reputation as white washed, should be exceeded by your fear of falling into the hands of am angry God who knows your heart. The stench of your hypocrisy and your lawlessness is not just like death lingering in the air,  it is the rotting death of your “legacy”. 

Yes, you outwardly honor with your flattering words the very ones from the past that you try your best to kill today with your biting and devouring. You stand on high saying, “I would not do such things” when you are quick to go to war with any wise man who offers you a rebuke. You are a fool,  drinking the full measure of the foolishness of your fathers. 

You serpents, you brood of vipers, HOW ARE YOU TO ESCAPE BEING SENTENCED TO HELL?

You think this should be aimed at the sinners,  with your picket signs, and your political support, and your vocal self-righteousness but the Lord has set His eye on you. He is that bear lying in wait for you, He has walked you in so that you cannot escape, He has bent His bow and His arrows will pierce you, He will make your teeth grind on gravel,  if you do not hear my cry and repent! Do not delay! 

Because the steadfast love of the Lord is everlasting,  and His mercies are for the humble and the lowly. Will you rail against the Truth? Will the rock fall on you so that you are utterly destroyed,  or will you fall upon the solid rock and be saved and sing praises of His mercy, love and grace through the testimony of your life extending these same mercies to so many more? 

If you read this and said to yourself,  “_______ ought to hear that.” or “That preacher over at _________ sure needs to hear that” – then you are the very person that needs to stop right here and go back and read this message that IS MEANT FOR YOU! Because if you think that you can teach _________ something, you fit the bill for this message. If that is you,  go back and read it again and let the words til up the soIL of your heart – you aren’t so perfectly cold and dead that the Word of God can’t touch your hardened heart at all are you? 

If you have come to repentance, continue reading,  otherwise, I’m sorry,  but this message is not for you. 

My child, your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more. 

 

God Saves, God with Us

​”She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” 

(which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:21‭-‬23 ESV

#HisPeople #Saved

Jesus, Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous), a rendition of the Hebrew Yeshua (ישוע) “God Saves”.

Immanuel (Hebrew: עִמָּנוּאֵל‎) meaning, “God with us”.

Yes, God is for us and not against us,  believer,  child of God. I’m thankful for this when I realize how much of my life I was against myself, and I was against others – not that I was overly cruel or so wicked that I would gather a crowd who hated me and were ready to kill me for my great treachery and lawlessness, but I definitely wasn’t much help to anyone whether we are talking physical needs or spiritual needs. But even then He was for me. 

But He did have people that were ready to kill Him and scourge Him and put Him on that cross, not because He was wicked to them,  but because the light of His love some so brightly against their darkness that they would rather remain hidden than be brought into the light. And He died so that I might live. In fact,  more importantly,  so that He might live in me and through me. 

A love poured out. We know the end of the story,  and we are quick to hurry along to it, but we might miss the beautiful rose. We might overlook this precious Prince of Peace come into the world as a babe to teach us things like the faith of a child. 

It reminds me of that little one’s prayer,  “Lord, please make the bad people good. And the good people nice.”

Teach me that you are close, Lord, and that you are for even those who (like me) can be hard to love. Teach me to pour out the rains of love onto both “the good and the evil” – those groups in which I might foolishly classify those you call your own, those you came for and have called, those you long to see not stumbled by my hypocrisy and my falling short of your perfection and glory. Don’t let me be wise like a teacher, but humble like a studious servant, Lord. Remind me of that childlike love and faith that you desire,  Lord. Amen.

Go, Baptize, Teach

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – Matthew 28:19‭-‬20 NKJV

Christian, you are purpose built and newly created to fulfill that purpose. And it is in your weakness that you are strong. God did not use the army to defeat Goliath,  but a young boy. God repeatedly shows His power through those who are just willing to say “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” – and “Send me, I will go”.

God uses words of action and purpose in His directions – He isn’t satisfied with the learned thinking man’s prayer for deep knowledge and understanding of the Word of God that is never put into practice. He isn’t satisfied with the religious who want to be powerful by their own knowledge that puffs up, He wants people that will humble themselves and ask Him for the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit.

He is interested in our walking close with Him, becoming more like Him. He wants our sin to make us aware of our need for repentance. And our reliance upon Him for the synthetic to truly repent to reveal grace. And our grattitude for grace to reveal the opportunity of a life of discipleship. And our reliance on His Holy Spirit to be that faithful disciple and servant to reveal sanctification.

The walk of a Christian is in God, in this body that He has given us to be a vessel for His Holy Spirit – not just in a religious practice where we tithe to Him a piece of our time. Not just in a check we give to a hireling to tithe a piece of our money. Not just in generous gifts to family and friends a few times a year to tithe a piece of our generosity. Surrender to Christ is meant to consume our lives like a roaring fire – both freeing us from the chains of our sinful past and burning away those things that don’t bring Him honor and glory – refining us to be more like Him.

So, Christianity is not whether or not you’ve said a prayer with your mouth, but whether you’ve believed in your heart.

So, Christianity isn’t whether you talk about Him and hear about Him on Sunday,  but whether or not He lives in you and His will is being done in your life each day.

So, Christianity is not about your church membership or religious pedigree,  but whether or not you love Him and His ways.

If you love Him and His ways, Go, Baptize, and Teach.

If you do not yet love Him and His ways, Repent, Believe, and Prepare yourself.

If you will not love Him and His ways – if you insist on your own way,  go and chase your desire for sin,  and He will give you your heart’s desire,  but do you know what you are giving up? Is there anything in this world worth your eternity?

My daily task

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord .
I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity in my own home.
I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
I will not endure conceit and pride.
I will search for faithful people to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
and free the city of the Lord from their grip.
Psalms 101:1‭-‬8 NLT

[Yes, we stand in opposition to sin and wickedness. Not just offering a Savior who offers forgiveness in return for religious sacrifices over and over again, No! We surrender to a Lord who offers deliverance from being a slave to sin to walk in his Spirit and nature instead of in our flesh.]

A good tree produces good fruit,
and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 
A good tree can’t produce bad fruit,
and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 
So every tree that does not produce good fruit
is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 
Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit,
so you can identify people by their actions.
Matthew 7:17‭-‬20 NLT

[Identifying someone for what they really are by evidence of their lives is not judging. If the Bible says “[X] shall not inherit the kingdom of God” but someone confesses with their mouth that they are a Christian bound for heaven while they happily continue participating in [X], we can know that they are deceived. And yes, there is sin that leads to death and sin that hinders our witness – no sin is good or acceptable or comfortable remaining in the life of a believer. So we must not only seek forgiveness, but stand form in Christ against sin, fully surrendered to His will.]

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!  When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.  When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
John 15:1‭-‬12 NLT

[We do not oppose each other. We are not hungry to examine each other and find fault with each other. But if we have truth and see someone claiming the name of Christ who is deceived in their heart, what is kinder? To let them find out that the Word of God is true after it is too late and there remains no opportunity for them to repent of those things that “shall not inherit the Kingdom of God”? Or to share even the Truth in Love that they would rather not hear – so that they might be freed from the oppression of their sin, so that their chains might be broken, so that they might live?

Jesus shared uncomfortable truth to shine light on the darkness – calling people to completely surrendered lives of discipleship, repentance, and sanctification – not half hearted,  empty religious practice remaining slaves to sin.

Are we so afraid of the reaction of people that we have lost our fear of God – who wants us to know and share the truth and love of this gospel of Jesus Christ that is sharper than a two edged sword?

If the Word of God cuts them deeply, it isn’t because we are lifting our sword against an enemy, we offer healing. My brothers and sisters are not my enemy while I hold out hope for their deliverance from the sin that enslaved them.

We realize that truth, wrath,  and judgement is very much true and expected for those who remain in darkness – they face one side of the Sword (the Word of God) like a weapon against an enemy, like a lion waiting to devour.

And we realize that mercy, love, and sanctification is very true and expected of those who are healed by His touch (like a doctor’s scalpel for a patient).

Will we bring the Word of God to bear today on behalf of our brothers and sisters and against the enemy?]

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.

Arise, Awake, Don’t just dream light, Be light.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 NKJV

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
Ephesians 5:8-14 NKJV

Being a follower of Christ is not about just having an enlightened understanding of Christ or of His teachings – yes,  this is how we come to the knowledge of truth – by hearing the  Word of God. But being a follower must be more than just head knowledge – it must be active and alive in our hearts and actions and daily lives.

We are to walk in the light. We aren’t to fear or hide from the darkness. We aren’t to participate in the darkness,  we are to expose it. Jesus didn’t spend time amongst sinners so that He could sin, but so that He could bring them to God. We should do the same. Jesus didn’t use love and mercy as an excuse to break the law, He demonstrated how God’s instruction is built upon loving God’s ways and character and nature instead of our own carnal desires. He doesn’t call us to add to our subtract from the Word of God to fit our own comfortable lifestyles or opinions,  He calls us to pick up our cross and follow in His footsteps – in His example, in His truth, in His life – even if it leads to a similar end to His with people hating us and persecuting us because they hate Him.

He never instructs folks to “say a sinners prayer and then get in a good church” – He calls us to lay down our old lives and follow Him. He calls us to die to ourselves and to love Him completely. He calls us to walk in light and to be the church, to be the body,  the vessel,  that is willing to carry His truth, His love, His message out to the world – even to those who hate it. He doesn’t call us into a life of guaranteed comfort and prosperity in this world. He doesn’t call us into a life of complacency towards godliness, holiness, righteousness, repentance, and sin.

He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”