Chapter 8: Prayer and Encouragement
Accompanying kindness, compassion and the other attributes of the Spirit are prayer and encouragement. If we are correcting a brother and we are not encouraging them back to spiritual wellness, we are not operating under the directive of the King. The entire written Word of God is based 100% on compassion. Even in the Old Testament when God would annihilate entire cities and tribes, it’s because they would not relent in their wickedness and they, by their own actions, forced God’s hand so as to protect His righteous seed. It is never God’s desire for anyone to perish (I Peter 3:9).
This life should only be a pre-cursor to better things to come, not worse. Blatantly or inadvertently, most people purpose to cause this life to be the “best” through worldly lusts of the flesh (sin); as a result, only hell to follow. This life is temporary and we must approach it as such or we will be consumed by the evil one. Sin is death and it is our command as Kingdom citizens of Heaven to cause those in darkness to most earnestly desire the Light. In this mindset, we will devote ourselves to prayer; prayer for the lost, the dying, the sick, the poor, the haughty, the wicked, the righteous, and so on. Prayer is encouraging, both for the one for whom we pray and for the one praying. I’m always encouraged when I stand before the throne of Grace regardless of the reason. We must encourage one another and pray that the faith of our brethren not fail in the hard times. We are to be people builders, not people destroyers.
Not Destined for Wrath:
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing (I Thessalonians 5:9-11).”
We can look at these verses two ways:
- we are not designed for God’s wrath against us, but for His love to consume us
- we are not designed for wrath against other people, but for His love to come through us so as to turn others toward the Kingdom of God
When I hear of or witness firsthand a “Christian” extending wrath against any other human being, I am saddened because I know it saddens the heart of God. For example, recently Joy Beher of the TV show The View referred to Mike Pence, the current VP of the USA, as one having a “mental illness” because of his faith in Jesus Christ. The multitude of the Christians of the land was ready to lynch her at high noon for such disrespect.
Let us recall Psalm 119:165 mentioned earlier: “Great peace have they who love Thy law and nothing shall offend them.” Christians, different from authentic followers of Christ, are quick to offense and quick to criticize the world when they say foolish things against God. She later apologized to the Vice President and, as one would imagine, Christians were once again offended because her apology was a day late, a dollar short, and altogether insincere, allegedly.
When will people of God recognize that the world will speak and act as the world, as the one running the world’s system? His name is Satan, the devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, etc. When the peace of God rules in our hearts, we will be able to extend love and honor to those in and of the world. We will begin to have a Kingdom perspective instead of an earthly, fleshly, limited view.
Prayer is required in such situations, not criticism. It’s equated to being mad at a baby for screaming for not getting their way when what is required is discipline and instruction, not anger and wrath. Worldly people, aka those not of Christ, are like those babies. They don’t know any better. The only way to spiritually handle it with efficacy is to encourage those in Christ so as to not combat the wrong entity or in the wrong way.
People are not the enemy, Satan and his legion of demons are. The war is between Heaven and Earth, between God and the devil. We mere mortals are caught in the crosshairs. When mere mortals surrender to Christ, we become something more than mortal; we transition into the supernatural strangers and aliens from Heaven sent to Earth so as to pronounce and expand the Kingdom of God.
Once that transition occurs in an individual’s life, we no longer see, think, act, walk or talk as our old nature. We are no longer to function in the “tit-for-tat” mentality. We are no longer to be offended by the foolish deeds of darkness. Joy Behar, for example, is a person whom God loves and for whom He gave His life. Our human enemies of this life are people for whom Christ died. Pray for them. Stay away from them if the situation warrants, but do not retaliate in a manner of hatred and wrath. Do everything offense-free and with a heart to turn them toward the heart of God.
“but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:32, NAS).”
“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…(Acts 1:14, NAS).”
“For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother (Philemon 1:7, NAS).”
“Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ (Philemon 1:20, NAS).”
Chapter 2: Known by Your Love:
“By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35, NAS).”
The Greek word for brotherly love is Philadelphia (Leviticus 19:18; Revelation 1:11, Romans 12:10, I Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1, I Peter 1:22, II Peter 1:7, I Peter 3:8, Revelation 3:7). It is easy to find innumerable hateful Christians, but you will never encounter a hateful authentic follower of Christ (with the exception of someone having a rare moment, but it is the exception and not the rule). Many call themselves “Christians” but do not follow the simple command of love. Everyone can have a bad day, absolutely, but there are many who think themselves ‘of God’ yet are hateful, negative, discouraging, depressing, hopeless and more. This is not of Christ as it is the opposite of Kingdom love.
This one poignant verse in John 13 sets a tone for all other Scriptures concerning love. This is indeed a hefty statement because, when the truth is told, few walk according to such supernatural love. As I look around the professing body of Christ, I dare say, according to this one verse, most who say they are followers of Christ are not. I can make this bold statement because of the severe lack of love permeating from our ‘good church goers.’ To be a Christian is not necessarily the same as being a true follower of Christ; the terminology “Christian” is vague at best.
I do not say this to condemn anyone as the purpose here is love and to guide us all into deeper levels of love. However, I say this so as to address the problem so that it may be rectified. There really isn’t much more I can say so as to elaborate about such great love for the brethren as it speaks plainly to the heart of the matter. I suggest to everyone who believes themselves to be called by the name of Jesus to take a personal assessment, to do a self-evaluation of how they extend love toward themselves, family, friends, co-workers, bosses, clerks, strangers, and, equally as important, toward their enemies.
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Matthew 5:44-47 (NAS)
What we see depicted in Matthew 5 is scarcely visible in the modern-day church. For those who’ve attended any denominational church in their lifetime knows full well the lack of affection one has for another. People fight for rights to leadership, positions, to have their voice heard, and any other such nonsense. Without the body of Christ unifying as we ought for the greater good of the Kingdom of God, we will continue to shred God’s name, His Kingdom and His Word; hence, many who believe themselves filled with God’s Kingdom have been deceived by a lie from the great deceiver. Religion as a whole is set directly against the Kingdom of God so as to delude the masses into thinking they are “of God” yet are of the evil one. Remember, Christ was killed by the religious.
I ask with all humility: When will the fighting, hatred, and malice end? When will we cease being lovers of self and begin to place others above ourselves, the Kingdom of God above our own desires, and to walk a life of ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven’? How we treat our family with love is indicative of human nature. How we treat our enemies with love is indicative of how much we love, value and reverence God, His Word and His Kingdom.
Whom Do You Love More?
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. II Timothy 3:1-5 (NAS)
II Timothy 3 speaks volumes about the condition of man, not just those in the world but those who call themselves by the name of Christ. All the things listed above are clearly visible by many who call themselves Christians. Why? Because we are in the last days and, if possible, even the elite will be deceived (Matthew 24:24). Right under our noses are preachers, teachers, apostles, prophets, and evangelists under the ruse of Jesus’ name only to spread more dissention. These people are the false ministers for which we have been warned. True apostles, prophets, preachers, evangelists and teachers will lead us into the unity of the Spirit instead of their own group. By example and word, these will teach the hearers to follow in the footsteps of love.
When someone who claims to follow Christ breeds prejudice or hatred of any kind, be assured they are false; they are of the evil one, the father of lies. Let us begin to set our hearts toward the Holy One of Israel and find the love to which we are called. We must begin to view our brethren and neighbors as ourselves, not as merely a partner against whom we have the right to fight.
Chapter Seventeen: God’s Present Glory
In II Chronicles 7:1-3, we witness the magnificent display of God’s glory overtaking the house of the Lord, so much so that the priests couldn’t even enter. That must have been something to behold! What a beautiful expression of the majesty, radiance and power of God’s glory. If we skip to Revelation 12:23, we again witness the vast physical visual of the radiance of God’s glory. It was so externally bright there was no need for the sun or moon to shine. This is how the illumination of the Lamb of God is so bright there is no need for any other light source. The light of Christ, the Lamb of God, is beyond brilliant.
This brings us to expounding upon the value of the more subtle complexities of God’s present glory; the way He reveals His glory in everyday life. Obviously, we don’t experience the physical presentation of the brilliant illumination of God’s glory on a daily basis. That wouldn’t be conducive or productive as we’d be blinded! To round out the message of finding God’s strength in our most advanced weakness, we must look at God’s glory and how to tap into it on a daily basis.
Take a look at the following passages about the glory of God:
“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3, NAS).”
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14, NAS).”
“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (II Corinthians 4:6, NAS).”
Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the radiance of God’s glory. He is the same Son of God that radiated the house in Chronicles and the city in Revelation. This same Lamb (Jesus), while walking in human form, did not go around glowing and overwhelming people, though He could have. Glory has varying definitions as listed above and I love #6, “a height of prosperity or achievement”. Jesus is without question God’s height of prosperity. Additionally, He is the height of splendor and beauty; the praise, honor, distinction, and renown of God the Father.
With the glory of God defined this way, we can then begin to see how God’s glory is present in those who become the temple of such a Lamb. The radiance of God in daily life is not going to be a loud boom filling you (His tabernacle) with such physical brightness because no one could come near you; no, He will be more subtle, gentle, approachable. His glory, His illumination, will present in other ways.
God’s radiance will shine brightly through you when you can face the worst fears, struggles, and adversities of this life with grace, fearlessness, power and authority foreign to those who walk according to the flesh. God doesn’t generally, as noted throughout the Bible, remove our difficulties; rather, He allows us to get to the weakest and worst place possible so that, when He strengthens us, His glory is revealed.
My pastor, Mike Turner, said it like this, “God reveals His glory when you let Him into the defeated places of your life. Ezekiel’s promise for us today is how the Lord brings restoration to everyone with a broken heart who will trust Him.” If you will choose to trust Him, allow Him to dwell richly within you, and obey His commands out of love for Him, you will be overwhelmed by His present glory and His supernatural strength in perilous times. Allow Him to transform you into His image from glory to glory. His strength and power are readily accessible when you humble yourself to the point of absolute abandonment of self.
Colossians 2:20-23 poses the question, “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?” The verses then state, “These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
Religion and traditions of man can neither exemplify nor manifest the glory of God. It is only in the abandonment of the natural man that you are no longer bound by such heavy laws and regulations. Rules and regulations cannot draw Christ near unto your heart; therefore, they cannot strengthen you. Surrendering to Christ is sweet in the bitter times, calming in chaos, beauty in the face of this heinous land in which we temporarily sojourn, and liberty from the temptations of the flesh. God’s glory will become visible to you when you surrender spirit, soul and body. God’s power, strength and authority will become evident and accessible when you no longer utilize anything of the frailty of self.
May the glory of the Lord be the guiding light in the darkness and the strength in your weakness!