THE SPIRIT IS WILLING… Teach me, O LORD!

Image result for teach me the way of the statutesDAY ONE: 

(Matthew 26:40-41) Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

We often face frustrating times when we know we are failing to walk in the sincere and godly desires of our spirit. This arise from the weakness of our flesh. In those times, as stated in the previous posting, we need REALITY, REFOCUSING, AND REVIVING. Psalm 119:33-40, will be our guide in this process.

*(Read THE SPIRIT IS WILLING FOUNDATION if you have no idea what the three words above have to do with this article)

(Psalms 119:33) Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

The word teach”  is a strong word expressing humility and dependence in the one who is asking. The word does not imply ignorance of information, but a dullness or insensitivity to carry our the information when it’s necessary. Asking the Lord to teach us, as David is in our psalm, means we are asking Him to discipline us consistently; for the purpose of not wandering off into danger. This request is pastoral.

A shepherd uses the rod and staff to keep the flock from going astray, which is to teach the animal the safe way. Let us not diminish this true portrait with our popular caricature of shepherds and sheep.

This means that what is taught comes with stinging, consistent reminders when we are dull to hear–continual and convicting calling out to us at all times; for the purpose of learning the shepherd’s voice–and painful correction when we walk outside the way He is leading. In essence we are asking the Lord to establish guardrails for our wandering off; guard rails to scrape us awake when we fall asleep at the wheel. Anyone who has fallen asleep while driving, and have been saved from death by a guard rail understands the scraping discipline its safety. It works, but grinds the metal into friction and scars.

Guard rails are to keep us on the road when we are to weak to stay awake or drive recklessly, beyond driving limits. This is why the Psalmist declares “Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statues”, for he knows he has grown weary and needs to be kept awake. But what is the way of His statutes?

When dealing with the word “way” in Hebrews is refers to the well-worn singular road road, as the means of arriving at our destination. Jesus speaks clearly of the way the road we are to travel on. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus speaks of the difficulty of the way that leads to eternal life.

Because of this difficulty and our weakness its takes absolute surrender To God’s leading. How often has God given us a definite path to walk and in discontent of the difficulty, we chose another path which makes more sense to us. It is in those choices to justify compromise, we grow more weary in our flesh. The Lord’s way is the way of His statutes.

Statutes are the God the ordained allotment for my one’s life–the boundaries God has set for the good of His kingdom and my safety. Ultimately statutes refer to God’s design for your individual life and ministry. To rephrase verse 33 “Teach me the boundaries of my responsibility and the allotted material need to walk in that way.

Walking in His statutes deals with contentment in calling and provision (II Timothy 6:11). When we look beyond the statutes that define our life and calling and what provision is needed for it, we weary our flesh further.

Of great interest to David was not operating beyond where God had called him to operate. Even as God had chosen and anointed him over Saul, He would not presume to take the kingship, until God took it away from Saul in death. In Psalm 19:13 David cries out “keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sin, let them not have dominion over me”.

REALITY

Although our spirit is willing to serve Jesus on the narrow road, regardless of the peril it puts us in, the rest of our person (soul and body) must be sanctified in that holy desire. Until we grow accustomed to the way of His statues for our life, meaning His personal calling and provision for that calling, we will experience failure attributable to the weakness of the flesh.

REFOCUS

Ask the Lord some searching questions and wait for His response…

  1. Do I desire to serve you with all my heart?
  2. Am I in a season where I feel as though I am failing, even though I desire to walk godly with Jesus?
  3. If I am weary, what is it that that is causing me to be weary?
  4. Ask the Lord to reveal 1 or two passages to serve as statutes to keep you in His way.
  5. Ask the Lord to give you strong conviction, anytime you breach His revealed scriptural statues.

REVIVE 

Commit to obeying Him in what is revealed. As He moves in you in your daily life yield to His leading… “Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes and I will keep it to the end

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Posted in Matthew 26:41, Psalm 119:33-40, The flesh is weak, The Spirit is willing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE SPIRIT IS WILLING… 7 days of Revival

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(Matthew 26:40-41) Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

In Jesus most desperate season of prayer, on the night before His death; His  sweat became as red drops of blood on the ground. More than once He came to find His disciples too tired to pray with Him. His instruction “watch and pray that you do not enter temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”, was not just for the three disciples with Him in the garden for that particular night.

Jesus instruction was to guard and guide the rest of their lives; His command was to guard and guide the life of every child of God until He comes! As Jesus was under continual attack from the kingdom of darkness, so too are those truly invested in following the Savior with all their hearts. In fact, Peter Himself sounds this warning again in 1 Peter 5:8-10 where we read “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”.

Clearly, we see suffering and devilish temptation will not cease or diminish as Jesus return nears. In fact the more we grow in Christ, the more intense and powerful temptation will become. This does not mean that temptation is always like a bull in a china shop or a tidal wave; for it can be overwhelming in its subtlety.

Mature saints understand that their Christian strength, comes not from gaining sufficiency in their practice, but by daily recognizing their utter dependence on Christ by faith. True saints of God live with an unspoken inner understanding of “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”; the more mature we become, the more inwardly aware we are of the weakness of our flesh; or shall we say the potential of our flesh to pull us into a lack of sobriety, and away from the will of God.

THE SPIRIT IS WILLING

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Jesus words in Matthew 26:41The spirit indeed is willing” are not in reference to the Holy Spirit. He is referring to one of the realities of our tripartite being (the three equal realities of our humanity). The Lord reveals this clearly in I Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the very God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ”. It is that order, in which God works to bring redeemed souls into a holy and sanctified life.

Because God is Spirit, we must relate to Him first by our spirit. The problem is that our being born into sin (after the nature of Adam), leaves our spirit like cut off from God. This sad reality means it is impossible for us to understand God’s word, ways or have any relationship to Him. Without God miraculously restarting our spiritual man (born again), we would be without hope. Yet even before a man looks to the Lord, in His mercy He will bring life (John 3:1-6, 16:8-11).

This regenerative act makes it possible for us to understand the word of God; encountering conviction of sin, judgment and righteousness. At which point we can see and enter the kingdom, if we do so through faith and repentance. Once our spirit has been enlivened by God, we can become “willing” as Jesus stated. The disciples, even though still unbelieving to a point (although professing belief Jesus rebuked them for unbelief in Mark 16:14), were alive and awakened and willing; even though their flesh was weak.

 THE FLESH IS WEAK

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The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. Jesus is saying, mind the weakness of your flesh. Understand the weight of its weakness physically, intellectually and emotionally.  Understand the proneness of the flesh to put off for tomorrow what should be done today. Understand the proneness of the flesh to overestimate its ability to carry out righteous desires. Understand how our flesh underestimates the power of the temptation, the strength of our enemies and the expediency of the hour. In the case of the disciples, they lacked this crucial understanding at every turn.

THE FLESH AN ENEMY OF OUR REVIVED AND REDEEMED SPIRITS

The flesh, as Jesus speaks of in Mathew 26:41 in the context of “spirit, soul and body” (I Thessalonians 5:23), is combination of soul and body. Before God enlivens our spirit, through regeneration, our soul leads our life, with our body at is beck and call. Having this combination ruling us long before Jesus became Savior and Lord, can override even our most sincere spirit desires for God.

For those who are in Christ, this scenario is heightened for our flesh is not only weak, but the seat of our “old man” and its old patterns. As we are in Christ, the “old man” the “flesh” has been put to death at the cross; but it is used by Satan to war against our spirit being in union with the Holy Spirit. In this, its desires and power appear to have life of its own (Galatians 5:16-17). 

(Galatians 5:16-17) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

The “flesh” does not refer to the soul and body of the individual, but is term which refers to the indwelling principal of sin of the “old man” or “flesh”—or the remnant of remaining patterns of the old life. Although this is the old life principal has been crucified with Christ (Romans 6:5-8), and counted as dead at the cross, its practical influence dies slowly. This principal of sin, attacks our body and soul, to disjoint our spirit’s union with the Holy Spirit.

So long as we give in to “the lusts of the flesh” and its pattern, it can weary us further and weaken our spirit, soul and body resolve to yield to the Holy Spirit. In fact, the flesh lusts or desires so much for its old ruler-ship, that it is at war against the Holy Spirit. It is this war, that often wears us out, and causes discouragement so that you do not do the things that you wish”. It is this war, with its subsequent victories and temporary defeats, which tax our resolve, and weaken us.

Here Jesus’ words ring true for us; “Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation, your spirit is willing, but your flesh is weak” and working against you. As much as it is a blessing to understand this truth and live it by faith in Christ’s finished work, it will not cease in its attempt to discourage or weaken.

What are we to do when battles, temptations, failures, victories, confusing attacks from the enemy, seem to pummel us without relief. How do we respond when its seems confusion reigns, our flesh is screaming, and we are being drawn into insensitivity and hopelessness? We need three things, lest we fall… REALITY, REFOCUS and REVIVING.

Psalms 119:33-40

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.
Establish Your word to Your servant,
Who is devoted to fearing You.
Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your judgments are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me in Your righteousness.

REALITY, REFOCUS AND THE NEED FOR REVIVAL

Psalm 119 happens to be the longest chapter in the Bible and quite a piece of work for a shepherd. David was inspired by the Holy Spirit to pen a psalm of God’s law and testimony, God’s instruction for life, and how to live in it. There are three elements we need to discuss to understand this passage of scripture…

  1. Reality; as the psalmist who knows he has need and asks God specifically for it
  2. Refocus; on the 8 practical truths revealed
  3. Revival; This can only come from God Himself

The word REVIVE in the Hebrews means to be made alive or restored to life and health, after a deteriorating experience of illness. Imagine if you will, being in a coma… alive… but not moving. Spiritually alive, but with no fruit, or strength to move in the will of God (even though you desire to). Therefore, we need God to REVIVE US. Please understand that this Psalm follows a very real N.T. command (Ephesians 5:18-19).

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When beat up or down, tired from long spiritual struggle, whether in victory or defeat, how many of us have the strength for “speaking to ourselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God?” None, for the “spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak”, unless they are being filled with the Holy Spirit. Remember this gift of the fullness of the Holy Spirit is not automatic.

Desire is not enough, we must recognize our REALITY of in at the end of ourselves. We must then to REFOCUS on those 8 essentials of the redeemed spirit, and plead with Abba for REVIVING. This truth is so important David uses forceful words to communicate his desperation; as he was asking God to do things, he was unable to do for himself at this point… TEACH, GIVE, MAKE, INCLINE, TURN, AND ESTABLISH.

Over the next seven days, I offer to you, my dear friends, devotions from Psalm 119:33-40, in and effort to strengthen our spirit, soul and body against burn out, temptation, and great spiritual attack. Until then “Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

 

 

Posted in Matthew 26:41, Psalm 119:33-40, temptation, The flesh is weak, The Spirit is willing, Uncategorized, watch and pray | Leave a comment

Blood Blessings: Draw Near, Be Healed

Image result for hebrews 10:19(Isaiah 53:5) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

It is important to remember that although the word blood is not written in the above passage, it is what came forth from the torture of the cross. Thus far we have discovered 4 overwhelmingly awesome blessings we received by faith in Christ’s shed blood. They are as follows.

  1. We are freed from sin and slavery and being bought back with his shed blood
  2. We are forgiven through His shed blood
  3. We have peace with God, through the war reparations paid with His shed blood
  4. We have the blessing of continual cleansing of our conscience from dead works

*(here are links to the previous four articles on the blessings of the blood of Jesus… Blood Blessings Preview, Blood Blessings: WHY , Blood Blessings #1 , Blood Blessings #2 and 3 , Blood Blessings #4)

This final article concerns the blessings we attain as God draws near to us through the blood of Christ. We will also investigate the blessings attained as we are able to live in God’s presence, because of the blood of Jesus. Let’s begin.

The LORD (YHWH) Draws Near Through The Blood

In O.T. times the Hebrew high priest would apply the blood of a sacrificial animal upon the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. This ministry would occur once per year and God in His Shekinah glory would descend over the mercy seat to judge His people’s sins. YHWH would not see their sin, as it was covered by the blood. This would allow the people to continue in relation to God. This necessary atoning act was a type to point to the Lamb of God.

Jesus’ blood was the perfect atoning element, not only to bring the O.T. sacrifice to a close, but to wash away the sins (not cover) of all who receive Him by faith and repentance. Christ’s shed blood made possible God’s ultimate end: Him dwelling with us forever in a restored relationship.

As we began our journey in Ephesians 1:7, where the blood paid for us to be bought out of our sin slavery, and pay the penalty incurred for our sin—and as His bloodshed made reparations, or war payment for damage done, making the way clear for peace with God—so having removed all barriers, that peace could be realized in His presence, where God Himself is our peace, our shalom (Ephesians 2:14).

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(Ephesians 1:13-14) In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

When we express faith in the fullness of Christ’s death and resurrection, the shed blood and all its power, opens an avenue into our life for God to draw near to us in His glorious presence. This is the state where Isaiah 7:14 has practical meaning in our lives, as Christ our Emmanuel or “God with us” resides with us forever. This takes place in the Person of the “Holy Spirit of promise”, who is the guarantee of this promise. Consider Jesus’ own words.

(John 14:15-17) “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

(John 14:23) Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

This reality can lead to the greatest potential of our restored relationship to God; Christ dwelling in our hearts not as an invited guest but seated in full ruler-ship as King of our lives. His end is to own us, as His purchased possession, which is the fullness of our redemption. We see this in Ephesians 3:14-17.

(Ephesians 3:14-17) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

Although redeemed (purchased) with the blood, forgiven because of the blood and at peace with God through reparations made with His blood; Christ was not always allowed to sit in His rightful authority in our lives. It is therefore our  responsibility to respond to God’s presence as He draws near, by submitting to His full intention for us. To draw near to Him.

We Draw Near To Him Together

(Hebrews 10: 19-25) 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.

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The “let us” statements refer to us as individual saints, as well as living stones in fellowship together. Let us begin first with the privilege of drawing near to Him, as blood bought, off the hook, at peace individuals. What does it mean for you and me to draw near through His blood? Right off the bat, it means we must believe we can draw near without some ritual or element. We come on the merit of Christ’s blood alone. Faith in that means we come boldly. That does not mean cavalierly, but with confidence that a child belongs with His Father, because they are of each other. Our drawing near means 24/7 access to the fullness of God’s powerful presence. Whoever encounters God’s presence is changed. So how do we draw near? James 4:6-9 give us practical advice

(James 4:7-10)Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

  1. BE HUMBLE… Remain in a true state of awareness concerning God and yourself—knowing we need His constant leading, empowerment, encouragement, love and yes, correction. Humility means we know and feel our dependence on God so much; we seek Him for what we need.
  2. SUBMIT… This means we obey His leading rather than resist.
  3. RESIST… This means we reject and deny the world, the flesh and the devil, attempting to get us to balk at obedience.
  4. CLEANSE… This means we clear our lives of the sin which easily entangles us and lay aside the burdens that wear us out in our resolve to obey the King of our heart. (I John 1:9).
  5. LIVE WITH SOBRIETY… This means we live with a sober idea of life, with regard to the times we live in (Ephesians 5:16).

As awesome as it is to draw near to God as an individual child of God, the ultimate end of Hebrews 10:19-25 is to illustrate the blessing of drawing near as the body of Christ. The Let us statements “Let us” produce wonderful things when a collection of individuals who are submitting to God’s rule, draw near together, as reflected in (I John 1:7).  Not only do we get the cleansing of the blood but greater faith, greater confidence in witness for Christ in word, and greater confidence to minister supernaturally to needs (Acts 2:4-37, 3:1-8).

The Product of God’s Presence Being With Us

As we began this piece with Isaiah 53:5, we end our investigation into Blood Blessings, with “By His wounds we have been healed. Let us understand that God’s holy Presence changes people. One need only to look at Moses, who spent his life consistently in the presence of the Lord to understand the transformational power of God’s presence.

(Deuteronomy 34:7) Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.

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We must remember Moses’ interaction with God, as wonderful as it was, was not what we have in the promise of the fullness of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. When we apply this to our sanctification, we can literally take Psalm 103:1-3 as our own “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases”

Of course we can take this to mean physical healing, but so much more, as I Thessalonians 5:23 declares “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

  1. SPIRIT… At the moment we express faith in Christ shed blood and complete atonement, we are made alive in our Spirit, reconnected with God by the Holy Spirit.
  2. SOUL… who we are as individuals made in the image of God. The life of God able to come to us as we submit by faith brings healing of intellect, emotions, affections and feelings and thoughts. As His presence gains more dominion…
  3. BODY… His presence will alter our physical brokenness or provide power not to be limited by our physical brokenness…

Christ’s blood was shed for the purpose of our living and abundant life, as God defines, not as we define. Jesus lived an abundant life, despite having only the clothes on His back, no home, no pay, no guarantee of provision for food. How? He knew by the promises of the word of God, that the Son had all He needed in His Father. What does that abundant life look like for us?

  1. Presence of Abba affirming Him through voice and miracles
  2. Provision for our needs
  3. Power over forces of nature and all the enemy
  4. Power to heal and bring restoration to any who comes in Jesus’ name.
  5. Love to love our enemies
  6. Grace and power to minister to the hurting.
  7. Joy in the face of death
  8. Power to rise out of a sinful life, be holy, defy the devil all through the power of Jesus’ blood.
Posted in hope for America, Isaiah 53:5, the blood of Jesus, The Blood of the Cross, the Christ Life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ear Wax Can Damage Your Faith… Really?

Related imageWith a title like that, you’re probable wondering if I have lost my mind; I have not, at least no more than normal, but can ear wax actually damage your faith? Well… yes. Before we get to how it can damage faith, let us dig in to what ear wax actually is. As I did a little research, I found that ear wax is really in quite interesting. I have included a quote from Wikipedia below.

Earwax, also known by the medical term cerumen, is a gray, orange, or yellowish waxy substance secreted in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. It protects the skin of the human ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication, and also provides some protection against bacteria, fungi, insects, and water.

Earwax consists of shedskin cells, hair, and the secretions of the ceruminous and sebaceous glands of the outside ear canal. Major components of earwax are long chain fatty acids, both saturated and unsaturated, alcohols, squalene, and cholesterol. Excess or compacted cerumen (ear wax) can press against the eardrum or block the outside ear canal or hearing aids, potentially causing hearing loss.

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Because excessive ear wax build up is pretty much an issue for all humans, we invented things like cotton swabs, to clear our ears of it, so a build up causing hearing loss does not occur. I know few if any who like to feel as though they can’t hear, yet it is a common problem as a result of excessive ear wax build up. So I have established that ear wax can cause a loss of physical hearing, but how does that reality, intersect at all with our faith? Let me explain. Let us read James 1:21-22…

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

Before we examine the link to earwax, let us first establish that this passage is part of a larger section in James chapter one, which gives us several practical essentials of living with faith in Jesus Christ. In simply skimming the content prior to our two focused  verses, you’ll find instruction on: attaining wisdom in prayer, praying in faith rather than doubt, a caution against trusting riches, the blessing of enduring temptation, the peril of temptation, the pull of temptation, the origin of temptation, the process of temptation; and the need to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.

There is certainly much to HEAR (pun intended) from the Lord in this chapter. Listing in our focused upon verses are few hindrances to our walking in faith and more specifically hearing God rightly.

  1. “lay aside all filthiness” refers to things that would make us unclean before God. This refers to sinful behavior that defiles the holiness and purity we are to walk in before God. These are the grosser sensual sins of the flesh of sexual immorality, idolatry, and participation in darkness. Paul gives strong commands to break from these as well (II Corinthians 6:14-18).
  2. “receive with meekness the implanted word of God” is a positive command, calling us to seek God’s will and way in the word of God; being dependent on its precepts and commands, for every step we take (with meekness). Here we see God’s word is not only as the foundation of our life with Christ, but walking it it our whole life purpose. In our culture with all the watered down devotions and blinking bible apps, we have lost this dependence for pithy crumbs of scripture, that serve almost as trivia answers for our curiosity and religious need. If we will not meditate on scripture and wait for God to speak by the Holy Spirit, through the word of God, we can forget hearing anything more than human interpretation.
  3. “Be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” Here we see that hearing God’s Spirit through the implanted word of God is not sufficient to maintain our walk of faith; we must obey what He commands. Without the essential commitment to obedience, our faith and relationship to God has potential to be damaged. It is very important we also have clean spiritual ears.

SPIRITUAL EAR WAX BUILD-UP (“and overflow of wickedness”)

Further, the word “wickedness” refers to evil with malice of intent or malignancy. In this definition we see the sin that arises in us for the same reason that Cain killed Abel. This is sin that seeks to protect the self at any cost, that will remove challenges to what “I” want. This is the sin that causes people to defame others to make ourselves look better. This is the sin that seeks to undermine even a friend just to get ahead. This is the sin that will stop at nothing to get what it believes it deserves. This sin arises from the will of the old man of sin, that seeks to protect, propagate, and provide for what is in error seen as “my right”.

For the Christian this “wickedness” has been crucified with Christ, yet in the word “overflow” we see the faith damaging problem of ear wax and how it equates to the build up”wickedness“, which can damage our faith and spiritual hearing.

The word “overflow” in the Greek language means the residue remains: the “wickedness” remaining over in the Christian’s life from his state prior to conversion. As we know, the old man and his “wickedness” has been crucified and has no dominion over us (Romans 6:4-14). Though it is not the sovereign principal of life, as the Holy Spirit dwelling with us is to be the life principal and sovereign ruler, the pattern and pieces (of wickedness) remain floating in our spiritual system. When we lack obedience, give in to the sensual (even if its not “filthiness”), justify too many “all things are lawful… but not expedient” things, or flat out sin, then the “wickedness” builds up, like ear wax.

Oh, guess what? The word in the Greek language used to describe the condition of a person having excess wax in their ears is the same word for… you guessed it “overflow” from our text! And this word and spiritual condition is diagnosed right before the Holy Spirit led the writer of James to pen, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”.  So yes, my friends, ear wax of the spiritual kind, can damage your faith, by limiting your hearing of God, making obedience more difficult.

Let me be clear, this is a residue, a build up of what used to be. An “overflow of wickedness” is not an actual malice filled murder or purposeful undermining of a friend (though to much build up can lead to horrendous sin in believers), but a build up of what causes those things… Our turning from selflessness to selfish pursuit of our desires. I believe we all need to consider how much spiritual ear wax we’ve allowed to build up.

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Pray the Holy Spirit will “search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). If revealed we have excessive build up, a Q-tip will not do. We need the super powered syringe of the fullness of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-38; Ephesians 5:18). Come to think of it, let’s assume we have an issue and set our heart to be filled with that River of Living water, which will blow out all our impurities and hindrances to hearing and doing the word of God.

HAPPY HEARING SAINTS

 

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Blood Blessings: Cleansing Power

Image result for washed in the bloodPerhaps, one of the most familiar blessings known among followers of Christ is His ability to cleanse us from our sin. Most of us, at one time or another, have sung…

“What has washed away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus”, or…

“Are you washed in the blood, in the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Jesus shed blood is the most important and wonderful physical/spiritual element in the entire universe. In addition to its power to cleanse Christ’s followers of sin, we have also discovered in previous posts…

  1. We are freed from sin and slavery and being bought back with his shed blood
  2. We are forgiven through His shed blood
  3. We have peace with God, through the war reparations paid with His shed blood

Today we will look a little deeper into the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood, but first let us with joy consider the power of Christ’s blood to continually cleanse us from sin.

As we already have discovered, Christ’s blood was not only the currency needed for the atonement, it is the element which cleanses our account of sin. This is not only a past tense reality, but a present tense truth, as we sometimes stumble after our King.

(I John 1:7-9) If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

Power in the Blood

Hallelujah! Not only are our sins forgiven at the cross, but as when we fail to walk in Christ’s righteousness (from time to time), we have forgiveness and continual cleansing of stain of the sin, as well as the pattern of its unrighteous behavior in our practical life. The only requirements are that we remain in fellowship with one another, walking in the light of truth and continuing with a soft heart to the Holy Spirit, that we may be convicted of sin and confess it upon that conviction.

The reason this reality is possible is that Christ as our great High Priest continually ministers the power of His shed blood in the true Holiest Place in heaven. The book of Hebrews chapters 7-10, beautifully illuminate this truth, as well as revealing another blessing of the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ.

(Hebrews 9:11-14) But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once and for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh (year to year in the O.T. system; my added note), how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 

BLOOD BLESSING #4: CLEANSING OF OUR CONSCIENCE

The answer to the question in verse 14 is that the blood will cleanse the conscience completely. Understanding the nature of our conscience is essential to it being cleansed as God intended. Conscience is the part of our individual humanity that is stamped with God’s image, as we are made in His image. This moral impression of God’s character happens at some point during procreation, where God does what He does.

Related imageAs it often is with things concerning man, it is Christ Himself, who is the point of our contact with God’s image. In John 1:9 we find Christ as the Light of the world and that “Light is the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world”. When you have time look at Hebrews 1:3, where we read Jesus is “the expressed image of the person of God”; in the study of the phrase “expressed image” you will find another illustrative understanding of this truth.

It is our conscience that calls to us, even though it has been horribly damaged in the fall,  when we are stepping over God’s moral law or boundaries. This is what is generally felt in all humanity as that sense of “right and wrong”. When we sin, before being in Christ, we defile our conscience, and it accuses us before God. We either ignore it, or seek to cleanse it ourselves through religion or good deeds or heroic acts, or simply as the president says by “doing better”.

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It is the desire to cleanse our conscience, as humans, that leads to so much useless and vain religion. Our conscience knows there is a Day of Reckoning, whether our humanity believes in the One True God or not and like an automatic program will cause our humanity to seek absolution. Consider the Hindu, who makes pilgrimage to the Ganges River to bathe in its “holy waters” for the washing away of sins. This river’s supposed powers are only as good as the person who never sins again, therefore yearly the devout must make the trip to the Ganges “holy waters”, which in actuality is a disease infested body of water, where unwanted and aborted girls, animals, un-buried improperly cremated bodies and other undesirables are dumped.

This is just one of the thousands of ways we humans apart from the only Anointment God provides in Christ, seek to cleanse our consciences. These practices may assuage our guilt, but will never cleanse our God given conscience. Yet by the blood of Christ, if we receive Him by faith, we will find our cleansing of conscience, which is essential to our Christian character (I Timothy 1:5; 1:19, 3:9).

Although Christ’s blood cleanses our conscience by faith the moment we believe, we are called to aid in keeping it so, by refusing to sin and when we do by walking in God’s prescription for ongoing cleansing (I John 1:7-9). Herein lies the problem. As we found in our previous post, Christ’s blood is reparation for war. We are glad we are no longer at war with God, yet sometimes, our humanity behaves and thinks as if God is still against us, as if there has been no peace made. Our passage in Hebrews 9:14 alludes to this when it declares “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” 

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What’s happening in the context of this passage, in fact the entire book, is that Jewish believers in Christ are being threatened by O.T. Jews to leave the body of Christ and return to Judaism. The Book of Hebrews is a treatise on the supremacy of Christ over all O.T. religion. Therefore, the holy Spirit is reminding them first and foremost not to return to a system of “dead works” or legalistic religion, for Christ’s blood has cleansed their consciences from them. Despite this fact it was possible for them and for us to begin to feel and think we are not cleansed or at peace with god and return to dead works. This was a regular and harmful intrusion in the early church (Check out Paul’s rebuke of the church in Galatians 3:1-4). When this happens it is spiritual shell shock or P.T.S.D.

When we were at war with God, our battles against Him left spiritual scars in our wounded conscience and mental processes, forging deep patterned memories. Although Christ’s blood cleanses our account, washes away the “dead works” and has provided for healing, we understand its practical implementation is a work in progress.  Therefore, when we fail or when bad stuff occurs, we may begin to think in those old wounded conscience patterns…

“I need to make this right with God”

“God must be mad at me, or not love me any more”

“I need to gain His favor back”

“What kind of a hypocrite am I,  how can I even share my faith if I keep messing up?”

We may begin a pattern of practice that is seeking to regain our footing, yet falls into a rinse and repeat cycle, that leaves out the rinsing. This spiritual PTSD damages, frustrates, and is the reason many experience little joy in their walk with Christ, fall into more destructive sin behavior, walk away from the church in shame, or even god forbid give up on Christ completely.

Jesus did not shed His blood so that you would believe God is mad at you, is holding out on you, is being unfair to you, or is powerless to enable you to overcome. His blood has never and will never lose its power to cleanse our conscience.

The best safe guard I know is to remember. You and I have never and will never be righteous enough to gain his favor or affirmation. This is why Jesus came in the flesh and God only accepts you in Christ, therefore, until that time you’re good enough or have done enough to surpass Jesus’ perfect works (which it will never happen) reject your old wounded way of thinking, established before you were in Christ, when your conscience was defiled. Receive Jesus’ cleansing blood on your behalf and start living in the power of God’s Spirit.

If you truly believe what the word of God says about the blood, cease to allow your feelings of I am not good enough for them (church) or God, justify living a moral life when it is easy, or even giving in when your flesh wants to live dangerously. Don’t try to be better by the ramping up our bible reading, church attendance and charity. REPENT, walk away from guilt (which really is a sinful choice) and live in Christ. Simply be who you were saved to be by faith and obedience.

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To “Know Him” Is Worth the Pain #2

Related imageIn Part #1 of this blog series we began considering the cost of Paul’s prayer “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” from Philippians 3:10. Simply stated, the cost is to be set apart for Christ, having surrendered all for the sake of Christ’s glory (check out Philippians 3:7-9 to understand part one of the cost). Most Christians upon hearing of the cost, would agree to “know” Jesus intimately and be filled with the “power of His resurrection” is worth the pain. Yet we must dig further in order to fully understand the blessing and cost for desiring to know Him and the power of His resurrection”.

(If you have yet to read the first part of this blog To “Know Him” Is Worth the Pain, click here… https://4rs4thechurch.com/2018/06/28/to-know-him-is-worth-the-pain-1/)

(Philippians 3:10) That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

At first glance there is a natural want to spiritualize the powerful truth contained in the phrases “fellowship of His sufferings” and “being made conformable to His death”. To do this would be a terrible and egregious error, for If we want to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, which is to “know Him and the power of His resurrection”, we must share in the fellowship of His sufferings”. Yes we must consider this as a cost, but it is also a distinct and blessed privilege.

(Philippians 1:29) For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

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This privilege and cost is not just for the elite but the rank and file believer as well; as for all early believers as well (John 15:18-21). Yet what does it mean to share in the fellowship of His sufferings? The word “fellowship” means to partake or participate in another’s experience. In this case it means to enter into similar sufferings encountered by Jesus, because like Him we live totally for God’s will. This does not always mean we literally need to die a horrible death, but what it does mean is daily we must lay our lives down for Him. Please read the following passages to understand what it means to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.

  1. (John 15:18-21) Sharing in the “fellowship of His sufferings” means we stand out like a flame in the darkness, because our lives are so different than those around us; our lives reveal God’s holy character, His judgment, humanity’s sin and God’s remedy in Christ.
  2. (Jeremiah 15:15-18) Sharing in the “fellowship of His sufferings” means like Jeremiah we have such an inward passion for God’s will, by the Holy Spirit’s fullness, it must come out, which forces isolation and wounds by those you love, who abandon you as you are abandoned to Christ.
  3. (Isaiah 53:3-4) Sharing in the “fellowship of His sufferings” means we become despised, rejected, acquainted with grief, like a consistent unwanted companion.
  4. (Isaiah 53:4) Sharing in the “fellowship of His sufferings” means instead of being vindicated for the good in us, we have the shame of other’s sin laid upon us. When others sin, we are blamed.
  5. (Isaiah 50:4-5) Sharing in the “fellowship of His sufferings” means despite the pain of sharing in Christ’s sufferings, instead of turning away God speaks calling us to greater obedience.
  6. (Isaiah 50:6-7) Sharing in the “fellowship of His sufferings” means we who are being made conformable to His death are to gladly suffer the loss of all things (Philippians 3:7-9), as Paul described and ultimately lived daily in the truth “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippines 1:21)

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This may seem too much to ask, but what of Jesus Himself. Let us consider that Jesus is the Living Word of God. Before writing was invented, He knew that one day, as the only Begotten Son of God, He would be formed in human flesh, live perfectly, be falsely accused, mocked and tortured to death; yet He suffered for us. So how do we participate with Him in His sufferings? As we experience the fellowship of His sufferings we must hold to the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8), rejoicing that we get to suffer on His behalf. All that being said, can we declare with confidence that those costs of knowing Jesus and the power of His resurrection are worth the pain? The answer is a resounding yes.

The cost is worth the pain, because we are guaranteed to see Jesus face to face, should we endure to the end (I John 3:1-3). This is the most important and enduring hope we have as believers in Christ, yet the cost is worth the pain, also because the road we travel in sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings runs directly through the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”

(Psalm 23:4-5) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Let us take note that in the difficulty of sharing in Christ’s sufferings, we know “You are with me” and not only do we know He is with us, but we received copious blessing in the midst of that trouble.

Therefore the cost is worth the pain because…

  1. His sufferings reveal hidden things unseen outside the fire of affliction (Psalm 119:67, 71).
  2. The fellowship of sufferings is where we encounter Abba’s love greatest (Romans 8:14-17)
  3. Sufferings make us hungry for heaven (Romans 8:18; II Corinthians 4:17; I John 3:1-3). Hold on to His promises.
  4. In the fellowship of suffering we can excel in loving Jesus with the love He gave us in the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

Knowing Jesus and the power of His resurrection is worth the pain!

Posted in Philippians 1:27-29, Philippians 3:10, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, to share in the fellowship of His sufferings, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To “Know Him” Is Worth the Pain #1

Govan-by-Mark-KeralyA virtuoso is defined as a person supremely skilled in music or another artistic pursuit.  Many of America’s cultural and entertainment icons are virtuoso’s. These virtuoso types leave no shortage of moments that inspire. If given a little bit of time, most people could recall an inspirational performance that brought them to their feet in applause. Despite this relative truth, few of those who applaud consider that virtuoso’s necessary extraordinary sacrifice, in order to be a prodigy.

Although born with natural abilities others are not endowed with, the virtuoso still has to pay the heavy price of practice, trial and error, failure and success, isolation for their art or sport, sacrificing lesser social allowances and even human relationships to be one with their virtuosity. Many of them are asked the question after years of success “Was it worth the pain and struggle to get to where you are today?”

Over the past three weeks I have been reminded that God intends all His children in Christ to be virtuoso, to the degree of faith they are given. All of us are called to be salt and light. All are called to be holy as He is holy. All are called to be filled with all the fullness of God by the Holy Spirit. All are called to love God with all of who we are, just like Jesus, who is VIRTUOSITY. Yet there is a price to pay, for the reward of being born again from above and walking as extraordinary men and woman redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Yet is it worth the pain?

You may find that a strange question but Jesus suggests strongly that we count the cost of being His disciples. If we will be disciples of any remarkable quality at all, we must be (or as it is in Greek “be being”) filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore we must count the cost of being filled with the Holy Spirit and ask, is it worth the pain? Let us take a look at Philippians 3:10 to begin our journey.

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”.

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that I may know Him” is another way of expressing the fullness of the Holy Spirit, as the ‘know” written refers to the unity of the believer and Christ. What follower of Christ would not want to “know” Jesus Christ? Is there any better pay off in this life? The answer would be “NO”, but remember to “know” Jesus does have a steep cost. Let’s talk cost and payoff in the now. Let’s consider the virtuoso musician again.

Many have spent countless frustrating hours and lots of money to mimic the inspiring talent of their favorite virtuoso musician. Almost all fail to attain anything close to their favorites prodigious playing, because their favorite is gifted. Despite this gifting, most virtuoso’s are not born with ability to pick up and play their instrument that way the first time. In fact they spend years of hours, picking up their instrument, knowing it, failing, practicing more, succeeding, failure again and finally gaining recognition.

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Consider the case of Stevie Ray Vaughn, the blues guitarist who inspired me, long before I ever picked up a guitar. When he died in a plane crash in August of 1990 I cried. I remember I was on my way to my summer job, hearing the news on my hometown rock radio station.  They played the song “The Sky is Cry’in” one of his hits. I wept. This man could flat out play his guitar like no other. His first guitar “Lenny” (pictured to the right) was a Fender Stratocaster, he named after his first wife “Lenny”. He knew that guitar better than his wife. Through calluses, failures, pain and persevering unto success, he became one of the all time greats with that instrument. Stevie Ray Vaughn had to “know” his guitar “Lenny” intimately.

“That I may know Him” has a similar ring, albeit of the utmost importance to the soul of the Christian, as we are to be virtuoso Christians, inspiring others to pick up Christ. This takes more than biblical knowledge of Jesus. Although knowing about Jesus, from the bible is necessary to “know Him” as Paul prays—and is the foundation of the reforming of the mind (Romans 12:2) —and the framework for us to experience Jesus personally—alone (biblical facts about Jesus) would be like me picking “Lenny” up back in 1990. At that time I had facts about the guitar but no clue how to play one. Let’s just agree I would not have made any beautiful music.

Sadly this kind of fact knowing hinders many Christians in knowing Jesus intimately, same as the religious scholars at the time of Christ’s birth did not know God intimately. We remember when Herod wanted to know where the Christ would be born, those with the bible facts about Messiah’s birth knew the location (from Micah 5:2), but were not moved to find Him for themselves. Consider the Pharisee’s who knew all about the Messiah, yet did not accept Him because they did not “know” God (Mark 7:6-8). These men knew facts about God, but did not know God.

To know Jesus means to know Him, by interaction and handling Him.

(I John 1:1) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled concerning the word of life—

Consider once more “Lenny”, both Stevie Ray Vaughn’s first wife and guitar. He sadly divorced his wife, but never the guitar. He knew every shape and curve of the guitar and perfected his playing on it. He was able to make her squawk, squeal, sustain and growl at will. In his hands there was no division between himself and his instrument. The guitar was an extension of him. “Lenny” and Stevie were one. This helps us understand the phrase to “Know Him”. As we find in I John 1:1, the disciples had word of God knowledge of Messiah, but they knew Him by experience.

We are to know Jesus the same way by the fullness of the Holy Spirit. In this we “hear” and “see” and “look upon” and “handle”… “The Word of Life”, who is the Person of Jesus Christ. In this we “know” Him, yet this takes setting ourselves apart, like the virtuoso musician, dedicated 24/7 to our purpose. To “know” Him is also our being instruments in His hands and Him being in us as King and life conductor.

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An even closer biblical analogy comes from the meaning of the Greek word for “know”, which is used to describe how a husband or wife “know” one another in the consummation of the marriage; where life can come forth in procreation. This in human terms is one soul, spirit and body (in a one flesh union). Linking “that I may know Him” with “the power of His resurrection” brings the payoff: Our partnering with Jesus in resurrection power to bring new birth in others. Who would not want to experience that? Yet Let us remember the cost is higher than that of a musician who is fixated on his instrument, and seeking the fleeting glory that comes from fame.

The cost is to daily look to the author and finisher of our faith. The cost is to separate ourselves from the world the flesh and the devil, that we would not be compromised in carnality. The cost is to be available and set apart for His direction 24/7, where we seek to isolate from the noise of normal human life, to hear His voice leading (Proverbs 3:5-7).

When we accept the cost, Jesus will pluck our lives as the Master musician, making our lives a song which brings Him glory. That is definitely worth the initial cost, yet those who find they are beginning to “know” Jesus this way will begin to experience a new cost that is indeed painful… ““That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings...” in our next post we will explore the meaning of “the fellowship of His sufferings” and again ask “Is knowing Jesus worth the pain?”

Posted in "Lenny" Stratocaster, counting the cost, It's Worth the Pain, married to Christ, Philippians 3:10, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Uncategorized | Leave a comment