Obedience

Philadelphia: A Kingdom Call To Brotherly Love

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Chapter 14: Give Unrelentingly

I could write an entire book on giving but, for sake of time, I’ll attempt to give a brief overview on how the Lord calls us to give. I’ve added a list of texts at the end of the chapter. “Giving” is not what we see in churches across denominations where we robotically take our 10% or whatever amount and place it in the offering plate Sunday after Sunday. If we are called of God to do that, fine, but giving as Christ calls His people is far beyond that. I hear all the time, “I saw a beggar and I didn’t give him anything because…” 

  1. They should get a job
  2. They’ll use the money for booze or drugs
  3. I have my money set aside to give to my local church
  4. I don’t want to
  5. I hate beggars
  6. They’re lazy
  7. They’re undeserving
  8. They won’t pay it back
  9. They’ll rob me
  10. I prayed for them already
  11. They’re ungrateful
  12. I don’t like them
  13. They smell badly
  14. They look scary

There are many other reasons, but these seem to be the most frequently used. Luke 6:30 begins with the words, “Give to everyone who asks you…” That alone debunks all excuses pertaining to not giving. It further states, “If they steal from you, give more.” That dethrones the remaining excuses used to not give. If we want to go further, read James 2 where we see praying, alone, is insufficient. Faith has legs and hands and feet and money. Faith in Christ will cause us to give, not just prayer, but physically meeting the needs of others.

If we’re still wondering when, how much, and to whom we should give, I John 3:17 clarifies with, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” If we have the means and someone is in need, give. It’s that simple. In the early church, those who had plenty sold their goods so that no one was without. Selfishness was not an option. When they sold their possessions so as to give, it didn’t leave them penniless, it merely allowed everyone to have and no one was in need.

Why aren’t God’s people giving in such a fashion? It’s because we’ve become calloused, greedy, and hard-hearted. It is time to thaw our frozen, stingy hearts and begin to love one another with prayer, time, energy, and money.

***

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him (I John 3:17, NAS)?”

If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that (James 2:15-16, NAS)?”

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back…Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you give, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:30, 38, NIV).”

Additional texts: Deuteronomy 15:10, 16:17; Proverbs 21:26, 3:27, 11:24-25, 22:9, 28:27; I Chronicles 29:9; Matthew 6:3-4; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 3:11, 6:30, 38; II Corinthians 9:6-10; John 3:16; Acts 20:35; Romans 12:8

Philadelphia: A Kingdom Call to Brotherly Love

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Chapter 10: As Unto Yahweh

There are countless good deeds done within the world whether by those in Christ or out. Hollywood is known for splashing about their good deeds helping the needy as much as the church, if not more so. The problem lies not in the giving, but in the heart of their giving. We can’t expect the world to give as unto God but, within the body, we should always expect such giving. Giving should be effortless when it is coming from the direction of Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, and I’ve written this numerous times, the majority of people with good intentions give for all the wrong reasons: 

  • begrudgingly out of duty
  • because it makes self or others feel good
  • it’s expected
  • profit
  • social advancement
  • religious advancement
  • relational advancement
  • pretense

These are just a few, but do we recognize what’s missing? The “as unto the Lord” element is missing, the most vital of reasons to do good toward others. The body of Christ is never to do anything as “unto anyone” but always as “unto God.” Of course, when God is leading, it may cause us or the recipient feelings of personal satisfaction, but that should not be the driving force. Here’s the problem: when we do something kind as unto a person and they don’t respond as well as we’d like or expect, we get mad and/or sad. When our actions are based on emotion or selfish reasons, it will produce an emotional response, good or bad, depending on the outcome.

Nothing we do for the Kingdom of God should be based on emotions but on obedience to the One who gave us life out of death. When we do, we place no expectation on the recipient but on God who returns good for good. For instance, I know a fellow who is a recovering addict. I allowed him to come into my home so as to lay tile and some other odd jobs. As it so happened, he was on drugs while working in my home and he made an enormous mess of most projects. Before I could confront him, he was arrested.

While incarcerated at our local jail, I reached out to him. I helped him with various needs upon the prompting of Holy Spirit. He promised that, once he was released from rehab, he would within two weeks come repair my floor he incorrectly laid. Upon his release, he called begging me to pick him up at the bus station because he had no one else; I obliged. Weeks rolled by and I heard nothing. A friend said, “After all you did for him, that’s what you get?” I replied, “What I did for him, I did as unto God; therefore, he owes me nothing. All I expect of him is to fix that for which I paid him.” When I did “extra” for him, I did it as unto God, not in expectation of him doing something in return. This kept the anger and resentment at bay, though I felt the initial pangs of it. This is how one can effectively accomplish God’s command to “be angry but sin not.”

He never fixed my floor. In fact, he hasn’t spoken a word to me, yet I choose to forgive him. That’s how the Kingdom of God works and I must function under the umbrella of the Kingdom Constitution, which are the Bible and the Spirit thereof.

***

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (Colossians 3:23, KJV).”

“With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, (Ephesians 6:7, NAS).”

“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism (James 2:1, NAS).”

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me (Matthew 25:40, NAS).’”

 

 

When All My Strength Has Failed

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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!

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter Fifteen: Strength for the Weary

 

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

It is the enemy who tries to make you wallow in self-pity when you make a mistake. He wants you permanently derailed. God says that, if you get off track, get back on. If you sin, repent and stop sinning. If it was an honest mistake, repent and correct it. If it was blatant rebellion, do the same. God is not going to remove His Spirit from you because you missed a step unless you will not relent. So many find themselves in a frightful state thinking God will leave them abandoned. That too is a lie. His promise to the believer is, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” When doubt tries to enter, take the authority over your own mind and pull down those imaginations and strongholds which try to take you captive. Quote the Word to yourself; it will not return to Him void.

In chapter 5, verse 7 of Nehemiah, when Nehemiah set out to rebuild the city wall, he “consulted with himself”. David encouraged himself in the wilderness. At your weakest, most vulnerable condition, if you have no one to encourage you and remind you of the promises of God, remind yourself. Pick up the Word and start quoting Scripture until you believe it again or for the first time. Allow God’s Spirit and truth to comfort and encourage you in weakness no matter in what form it presents.

There is a Holy Bible full of examples of God’s anointed missing the mark a time or two. Adam missed it. So did David, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Elijah, all the disciples, and many more in between. Get up and dust yourself off! Bind away a spirit of fear, doubt, depression, unworthiness, and anything else not of Holy Spirit and move on with God. Take up the authority Jesus Christ gave you at the cross and command all evil spirits to leave. Take up the mind of Christ. Take up the armor of God and press forward. You have a Kingdom destiny which only you are called to fulfill. Don’t let weak flesh have a foothold. Abdicate the flesh and all soulish emotions that quench Holy Spirit. A tragic weakness is in not knowing the power God has given you, or worse, refusing to use it. 

***

“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:7-9, NAS).”

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear), but of power, love and a sound mind (self-discipline) (II Timothy 1:7, NAS).”

***

When All My Strength Has Failed

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140918131138-leicester-skeletons-1-horizontal-large-galleray (2)Chapter 14: It’s All About Refinement

If I have heard once, I have heard a thousand times, “They were such a good person until thus and so happened; then they really changed for the worse.” With all my being, I believe trials and tests do not change a person, they simply bring to light who the person is at their center. It was definitely true in Job’s case as well as my own. Neither of us knew what was wicked within until the disasters came.

Adam lived in utopia and it was true for him. The worst comes out of people in dyer situations because the love of Christ is not in effect. Sure, they may be saved from hell but a person led by Holy Spirit would be able to recognize what God was allowing to happen and even why, instead of tail-spinning out of control and losing sight of God’s reality. Just because one is led by Holy Spirit for a long time does not mean that, in an instant, they can’t revert back to the flesh. Satan is crouching at the door waiting for an opportunity to stumble you. You and I must daily die, which is merely a result of having been transformed into the image of God.

When my first husband left with a note on the coffee table, I fell apart. I began cursing, ranting and raving. Why? It was because I had no grounding in an intimate relationship with God. I had never once said, “Father, show me everything that is wrong within me. Lead me into righteousness.” I had received salvation at the age of six and went on my way “getting people saved” as I was taught. I didn’t drink, curse, sleep around or do drugs. I was basically a “good” kid. However, in reality, it was all a lie because there is no one good but God.

I failed to hear from God, receive warnings, admonition, or anything of the kind. If I had, I would not have married two wrong men. I knew nothing of God except being able to quote a few Scriptures. In my mind, making a profession of faith was equated to “an intimate relationship” when it was nothing more than the beginning of what should have developed into an intimate relationship. I was weak in Christ on my best days and was so because I thought myself spiritually strong and mature.

A terrible weakness in God’s people is the feeling of unworthiness, yet we call it humility. When you focus on your own unworthiness, you are focused on self. Although it certainly appears humble and righteous on the surface, contrary to popular belief, this is another lie from Satan. It is actually false humility, self-abasement, and self-righteousness.

False Humility: “I am unworthy to walk in the shoes of Jesus, so I won’t. I’ll sit here quietly in my recliner of do-nothing. Praise God, one day I’m going up yonder in the sweet by and by. I’ll wait here ‘til I get to Heaven to throw my crowns at His precious feet. Who am I to walk in authority and speak with boldness? I’m too humble to do that.”

True Humility: “I am unworthy and I know it. However, with that knowledge, I (the unworthy one) choose to surrender and live only unto Christ (the worthy One). I choose His worth and allow Him to speak, think and operate through my mortal body. I choose to walk boldly and courageously in the authority and power He projects through me. I give God all praise, honor and glory for all accomplished.”

I pray every believer will get this imbedded in their spirit, heart, and mind. God is not asking for your perfection or power since you have none to offer. He is asking for your willingness to allow Him to move through your weak mortal body as you are merged with Him as one entity. Allow refinement when the hard times hit let you be overtaken by the evil one through despair. God is the perfection in the weakest places of life. Yoked together Christ is the only hope for strength and a sound mind.

 ***

“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:7, NAS).”

 “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it (Genesis 4:7, NAS).”

 

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter Ten: Spirit of Power, Love and a Sound Mind

The King James Version of II Timothy 1 uses the words “sound mind” (which I prefer believing it makes the message clearer) instead of “discipline”. That being said, a sound mind produces self-discipline so I believe the words to be interchangeable here. There are scads of texts referencing the mind so, we can logically deduce the mind is of great importance. When we are weak in body and heart, if we keep our minds sharp as to the person, promises and love of God, we won’t so readily lose our minds, as is so commonly stated as a natural reaction to weakness in times of trouble.

We must keep our minds clear because the world and all its woes will readily overtake us if we allow. We must be vigilant, watchful and sober-minded lest we fall prey to the one who despises us without measure. God has, with great liberty, given us a spirit of power and love and discipline. We are created in His image; thusly, we have His nature. We generally, unfortunately, choose the nature of the flesh over the nature of God. When we allow Holy Spirit to overwhelm us, we will have no room in us to be overwhelmed by the flesh.

To say, “I love the Lord” and think yourself close to God just because you prayed an unbiblical “sinner’s prayer”, you’re faithful to church, and do good deeds, is insufficient so as to sustain you in this world of muck and mire. We must know the Lord on the most intimate level if we can expect to be sustained through life’s trials and tribulations.

We are instructed in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” In other words, dwell on God, His Kingdom, His righteousness, His love, His power, His authority, His comfort, His promises, and whatever is of the Kingdom of God. There is no way, in the midst of chaos and confusion, any of us can set our minds on these things if we are not locked in to God 24/7/365. It’s difficult enough when you are, so you can understand the difficulty of being able to reroute your mind when you’re only a Sunday church-goer or Christian by title and not in daily action.

Life can be grueling, no doubt. I know, for me, even though I know God and His Word intimately, how challenging it can be to “speak that which is not as though it already was” as did God Himself in Romans 4:17. We are to speak God’s promises, not the circumstances. Inevitably, when I get worn down, sometimes the circumstances come right through my lips without even thinking. That’s the nature of the flesh at hand. I have to immediately pull down the words (remove them) and replace them by speaking God’s promises. As with Sophia, though it appears she’ll never be better (circumstance), I speak, “I thank God she’s already healed, in Jesus’ name. We will soon witness the physical manifestation of God’s promise of her healing.” If I didn’t walk and talk with God every moment of every day, I would not have His strength to overpower my fleshly weaknesses.

Throughout the challenges with having had toxic black mold in our home causing the auto-immune issues of which Sophia and I have had to contend, God has been faithful so as to speak directly to my spirit reassuring me we are both healed. Believe me, there were times all I could see was the pain and suffering but, regardless, because I hold fast to His promise, I can see the end from the beginning. No one can survive (much less thrive) in this wicked world with merely some theology and a lot of church activities. Survival and thriving through this rough terrain requires knowing God in such a way that no one and nothing can steal your faith. Having a mind set on the heavenly (whatsoever is good, pure, etc.) instead of that of the earthly (whatsoever is horrible, bleak, tainted, etc.) is a matter of life and death.

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God (II Timothy 1:6-8, NAS).”

 

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter 9: Why Worry, part II

Circumstances are Irrelevant

“He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is upheld, he will not fear, until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries (Psalm 112:7-8, NAS).”

Your circumstances will no longer have effect on your walk with Christ. Your circumstances will no longer make you or break you. Your circumstances will no longer dictate how you conduct yourself. Once you realize in your heart and mind that,

  • His love is unfailing and His eye is on you always;
  • He has defeated the enemy;
  • everything the evil one does against you for evil, God has already turned around for your good;
  • the world is condemned and has no power over you;
  • the evil one has been overthrown and is acting on borrowed time;
  • you are more than a conqueror
  • Yahweh is a friend that sticks closer than a brother

 – you will begin your life of victory, strength, power, and love in Jesus!

Once I identified with Christ and related to Him on a personal level, I was able to come to a place that, when adversity comes, I literally laugh. As in Psalm 112 verses 7-8, I have no fear of bad news and neither should you. I know immediately that Satan cannot succeed against me or my family. I laugh even through tears knowing that whatever the situation, it has already worked in my favor. I could write a book merely on the blessings of God turning things around for my favor! Let’s stop giving Satan a foothold by worrying about everything that appears bad. Begin to praise His holy name that it, whatever “it” is, has already become a benefit to you and not a liability. Deny that old Adamic fleshly nature that Christ overcame on the cross.

 You are your own worst enemy when you do not fully know or understand who God has made you through the blood and the water. Peter refers to those in Christ as “aliens and strangers” because your origin has changed from the earthly to heavenly. Christ was a stranger on Earth, and, since He is your life, you too are a stranger. Do not act like the earthy man as through you are of this world.

Prayer: My Father, Husband and faithful Friend, I want to identify with You. I want to relate to You as You identify and relate to me, a mere human. As You chose to live as a man on Earth just to be able to identify with my plight and then die for me that I may live with You, I give my life to You. I hide myself in Thee, O Lord, so that all I know of my identity is that of Jesus Himself. Selah.