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|Written by drk|
|Friday, 27 March 2009 13:35|
Dr. Kluane Spake
We’ve all had thoughts that wander where they shouldn’t -- 1 Peter 1:13 tells us to gird up the loins of our mind. Men in those days would “gird up” the back of their skirt and secure it into their belt, so that they could run fast. In the same way, you discipline your thinking and prepare your mind for battle by controlling the thoughts that hinder your speed. Some of the older translations remind us to have our minds ready for action. This implies a disciplined and non-intoxicated disposition.
è We’ll never accomplish God’s will if we run in vain (Gal.2:2), or if we are hindered when we run (Gal. 5:7). We should run with endurance (Heb. 12:1) toward the goal of the prize of the upward call (Phil. 3:14).
That means you don’t wake up one morning suddenly realizing, “Oops, I’m a prostitute.” “Oh, golly, I think I’m a bank robber.” It doesn’t happen like that. Deviant secret broodings grow into unrestrained thoughts that eventually exhibit in public life. That’s why the Bible says that to think unharnessed thought is sin. Therefore, we take those passing thoughts that could cause us to trip, and gird them (tie them up) before they become actions. Paul commands us to take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.
Many have written and spoken about renewing the mind. But rarely is there any answer -- renew to what? Gird up to run where? Pray tell, what’s the objective? Why? That’s where this out-look differs. You see, this sacrifice of transforming your mind means more than just living a sweet little wholesome life. It’s not just stopping smoking, or cussing. So just what are we supposed to be transformed into? By now, you know the answer. If not, start reading this book again from the beginning.
Acts 3:20-21 tells us that the return of Jesus awaits the restoration of all things. But what does He want to be restored? And how can we restore whatever it is, when we weren’t there at the start…we don’t know all the missing parts. For example, consider the problem of trying to restore a rare antique car, without half of the original pieces. There’s little doubt that without instructions or pictures, my assembly of this vehicle probably won’t resemble the original model. Genuine antique car collectors wouldn’t be interested in buying my personally designed re-built auto. Even though I might like it my way better, it has little value to a collector.
We must constantly return to our Map to find out what the original plan was supposed to be. Restoration means revitalizing what was lost in the garden. It means changing into the likeness of God, doing what you don’t want to do, going where you don’t like, not quitting when it gets tough. It means embracing the lifelong privilege of getting rid of selfishness.
Peter continues, (1:14) “As obedient children, not conforming yourself to former lusts as in your ignorance (1:15), but as He who called you as holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, (1:16) because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy.” No ifs, ands, or buts; God says, “Be holy.” You do it -- you be holy.
Only Almighty God can replace your old patterns -- and He’ll only do that if you want it. By repenting and changing your patterns and perceptions you can remold your soul. Change means that you must break the barriers of past enslaving thought patterns. Then, you determine to establish the lifelong commitment of enjoying the life-long process of change. Changed, you can change your world.
* This decision to change is your responsibility.
* By changing your patterns and perceptions, you will change your future.
* You may have to make some difficult choices.
* You must really want to change, and then do it
* You may have to change some old friends and favorite places.
* You can never change the behavior or nature of another; change yourself.
* Change is not change until it’s changed.
* Things don’t change, you do.
* Changed people can change their world.
* Change is a work of the Lord.
* Change is a process and a lifestyle that you choose to embrace in order to better function in the Kingdom of God.
* Change comes through obedience to the Word of God.
* After change is accomplished it can be seen (observed).
* You can change now.
* Don’t just respond; make change happen.
My past is over. The only way to change my behavior pattern is by changing my vantagepoint (the way I look at life). No longer do I look through my former life (which previously determined my mind-set), but now I look beyond the limits of my renewed and transformed heart. I’ve heard it said that I can’t drive forward very long only by looking through the rear-view mirror of the car. In the same way, I must realize that I can no longer look through my past and still live successfully in today. Somewhere along the line, I must start looking forward.
Now follow this progression of thought to the next level. Scripture says that out of your heart flow the issues of life. That word “issue” (towtsa’ah Strong’s 8444) means geographical boundary. It also says that Jesus was the issue out of God’s heart. The extent and boundary of God’s own heart was demonstrated through the Son.
Oh beloved, the condition of your heart determines the measure of your inheritance. How far you go depends upon your heart’s expectation. Imagine how dismal it would be to live within the boundaries of your human ability, or to confine your mind to the limits of what you already know. Your heart establishes the borders of your legacy. That’s why you need to break free from the limitations of your past.
Keep in mind that the Promised Land was legally Israel’s inheritance (positional), but nevertheless, they still had to take the Promise as theirs (experiential). The promise was given for as far as they could see – their expectation. But what could those hardhearted people SEE? It depended upon the geographical boundary of their mind-set. Positionally, you have a right to draw on your covenant inheritance. How far can you see? Obtaining this legacy hinges upon the “expectation” or scope and reach of your heart. Your entire future depends upon understanding this concept.
Favorable blessings occur when your mind-set is transformed to the ideals and boundaries set by the Lord. WHY?
1. You not only relate to the world by your soul, you interpret what God says by your soul (mind, will, and emotions – your present mind-set).
2. You prophesy, exhort, move in the gifts of the Spirit, etc. according to what you ascertain from the spirit realm through your soul.
3. You pray, explain, and interpret the leading of God to others through thoughts, words, feelings, and understanding that occur in your soul.
4. You relate to other people through your soul.
a) Write why you need to transform your soul.
b) List some of the habitual expectations and mental patterns that restrict you. What makes you unhappy?
c) Does your happiness ever depend on circumstances?
d) Do you think that anyone is happy all the time? Did Mother Theresa ever wondered if she were unhappy?
e) Permit your mind to think about new ways to handle a current problem.
f) Memorize this scripture: “…It shall be done for you as you have believed….” Matt. 8:13.
Probably the most fraught word in Christendom -- like, “I don’t wanna’ do it!”
“But, you must be obedient...” everyone always insists, seemingly without reason. No wonder we continually make excuses about how we don’t want to be “forced” to feel guilty about not doing something.
Did you know that 99% of all disobedience is our deliberate choice – in order to do what we want? Listen, we can occasionally substitute more acceptable words like “doing the right thing.” But, let’s talk about exactly what it is that we need to do -- in order to make our journey on the Holiness highway beneficial and exciting.
The lack of obedience cripples so many Christians. Both young and old often go partway down the road and then park at a standstill, not willing to go past this place. Nonetheless, every believer must learn to be obedient. No one is exempt. And, it would be helpful for us to know -- obedient to what.
Jesus asks, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46 NKJV). Many regularly attending churchgoers call themselves Christians, without ever actually submitting to His Lordship. Surely you know that it’s impossible to follow God -- or even have a passing relationship, without responding to God’s Word. Still, lots of people choose to do some of what is expected and leave out the rest. Kinda’ cafeteria style, “I’ll take the cookies, but not the carrots.” Like, “I don’t believe that part of the Bible…” Deception lies concealed in the heart of anyone who says they love God, but won’t obey Him.
è Jesus was obedient even unto death (Phil. 2:7-8).
Obedience is the most misunderstood, yet mandatory component of Godly success and soul-realm prosperity. Look at it this way. The road called Holiness is being paved with love. We attempt to follow that road according to our map, the Bible. Obedience to the instructions on the map keeps our vehicle on the road and not in a ditch. Obedience is the consequence of an act of our will (a soul realm function); it could be described as our chauffeur or personal driver that responds by following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Without obedience we meander without direction—going our own way. Metaphors aside, there are certain principles that govern our lives that we must adhere to if we want successfulness in the spiritual domain.
We’ve all lost our way while driving from here to there. Once while vacationing in Bali, we tired of encircling the same unmarked blocks so many times, and finally admitted to being lost. Flagged by an older teenage boy sitting on his porch, I poked my head out of the car window asking, “Can we drive down this street this way?” He replied, “Oh, yes…but,” then he turned his eyes to follow me with his studious gaze, rubbed his stubbly chin, and politely pointed the opposite way, “yes… but it very, very dangerous -- everyone else goin’ that other way.”
Just goes to show that we can go the other way if we really want to, but why? We need to stop going our own way.
That reminds me of when my son David was small and he decided to surprise me! He was “working” for several hours in our garage spraying shiny gold paint onto the hubcaps of my brand new car! I mean, he gleefully knew that I would be extremely pleased. He knew that his dad would be delighted also. Sometimes we’re like that with God. We do what we want and figure God’s going to be impressed. But, God doesn’t always like it. “What have you done to my car?”
It’s automatic to want our own way. Remember when the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out to steady the holy ark of God? Well, he died. His was a natural reaction, but not what God commanded. We learn from this to no longer put forth a hand of flesh, nor try to do things in our own way. Our new carts of self-effort and synthetic religion only bring forth death.[vi] Like Susie, many times we try to please the Lord in our own way and God continues to insist that we respond in His way. To comply demands change -- on our part. God doesn’t change. We do. This adjustment requires an attitude of wanting to delight God, rather than pleasing ourselves.
One time in particular, I made a terrible choice. Eventually, after a series of miraculous events, the Lord rescued me. Afterwards, I couldn’t understand how deception had taken root. “God, how did this happen?” I wondered, “How did I make such a serious mistake?” God’s answer was instructive, and one I didn’t like, “Because you wanted to.” It’s difficult to confess that I wanted what was not good for me. Because it sounded wonderful and made me happy, I chased after it with all my might, and God let me choose.
God let Israel have their own way -- “In those days there was no king in Israel,” Judges 17:6 says, “but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Their stubborn grumbling caused them to forget the miracles and turned to worship Baal and Ashtoreth. When they served God, they prospered and were blessed. But, when they wandered, they were defeated. God lets you have your way, too. Selfishness keeps us from obedience.
The Amalekites typify the evil attitude of prideful selfishness. They were descendants of Esau, the man who had everything including the birthright (just like we do). The double portion was in his hand, but Esau sold his inheritance for a pot of stew -- just so he could have his own way rather than the destiny that God had planned. That’s the same choice we make every day. The independent Amalekite demands, “I want my own way, and I want it now.”
è Do you want God’s way in your life, or do you want your own desire (pot of soup)?
Exodus 17 tells an important story about this attitude. Moses remained high on the mountain, while Joshua fought the Amalekites in the valley of Rephidim. Now, when Aaron and Hur let down Moses’ arms, the Amalekites would win, and when they lifted his arms, Israel would win (God’s plan). Where’s the battle won? On the hill -- in heavenly places near God.[vii] This story depicts how most of us live and work amidst the battle of our own selfishness, in the discordant wilderness valley of life -- only to find it temporal and earthly. Sometimes we become battle weary, fatigued, alone, and discouraged, until we can’t even see the hill -- let alone climb the mountain and win the fight.
è What happens in the valley represents the circumstances we rise above.
This conflict continues today, “...The Lord … will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (vs. 16). We’re still having war with this same selfish, self-willed spirit. It only can be defeated upon Zion, (the church, and the mountain of the Lord).
Exodus 17:15 tells us that after the battle victory in the valley, Moses built an altar on the mount Zion and called it “Jehovah-Nissi,” (The Lord-Is-My-Banner). This name could also mean the “God-Who-Fights-Until-I-Win.” That’s the God we love to serve -- the God of Gods. Moses defeated the Amalekite “my way” spirit at the summit and then, over the years, returned several times upon the mountain.
1. To receive the law;
2. To fight the battles;
3. To get the plan for the tabernacle.
Even though Israel delighted with every exciting miracle moment, they would soon stray away from the thundering, smoking mountain (Ex. 20:18). Once again, alone, Moses re-climbed into the “thick darkness where God was” (20:21) and spoke with the Almighty at the summit. When Moses descended, everyone knew that he had been with the Lord -- because upon his face gleamed a glorious phosphorescence. Even though Israel saw his totally transformed countenance, they all still refused to go up to hear the sound of God’s voice for themselves.[viii] This lawless and selfish desire to have their way is based in disobedience.
Moses returned to the mountain, again unaccompanied.
Because of one mistake, the striking of the rock twice, Moses never entered the Promise. Yet, he didn’t complain – he just kept on climbing and shining. Surely, our modern church lacks this glowing reflection of God’s image. We glibly say we have it, but we don’t -- those qualities of likeness can only be obtained within our innermost person and never understood with our intellect. It takes effort to be like Moses and climb a mountain.[ix] Unlike hardhearted Israel, the sum of our lives should affect the world from the radiance of being in God’s presence.
Moses did eventually enter into the Promised Land – he found himself once again on a mountain -- with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
“…Purify (make holy) your heart, you double-minded”.[x]
James explains that a double-minded man vacillates, “For being as he is (a man of two minds, hesitating, dubious, irresolute, he is unstable, unreliable, and uncertain about everything he thinks, feels, and decides” (AMP James 1:8).
Sometimes we just don’t know what we want! First it’s one thing and then the other. Double-minded literally means double souled, of two minds, self-souled, halfhearted – vacillating back to the way it use to be. I like this definition: Compromise and double-mindedness is what you did yesterday that the Lord dealt with you about to quit -- that you continue to do today.
Oftentimes, our preconceived belief system (the futility of our natural mind, or dualism) blinds us from our actual position in Christ. However, no man can serve two masters, or go in two directions at the same time. Double-mindedness confuses our own reason, (i.e. we’re grasshoppers in their eyes).
1. Nothing holds more power over your future than the present beliefs of your mind.
2. That present belief (your perception of who you are, the way things seem) was a learned phenomenon dictated to by past experiences.
3. You hear, learn, and respond (both in the natural and the spiritual) as a human soul.
4. That old belief system rules until you decide to abolish it.
5. Inadequacy lasts as long as you allow it.
Sometimes we’re like Peter, who thought with human passion that wasn’t necessarily evil -- but his thinking wasn’t correct – was it? Jesus addressed double-mindedness when He reprimanded Peter’s carnal thinking, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matt. 16:23). Peter failed several times. Eventually, he put away double-mindedness and became single-eyed. Once his understanding and attitude changed, then his competence increased and the Lord trusted him with more.
Pride is one of the oldest mind-sets and probably one of the greatest reasons for disobedience. Because of selfish pride, the serpent was cast out of heaven. He poisoned the first couple on earth with his lies. Jesus spoke about that same attitude, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory...” (Jn. 7:18). Our feeble denials only make it worse – because if we remain unchanged, we eventually become dysfunctional.
Samuel Johnson defined pride as, “corruption that seems almost originally engrafted in our nature, it exerts itself in our first years…and influences our last.” Pride mingles with our other vices and also with our virtues. People who overvalue themselves will undervalue others, and that fancied superiority causes oppression.[xi]
The ultimate outworking of pride appears as Cain, refusing to adjust his offering to a pleasing sacrifice, allowed offense to captivate his emotions. “Why are you angry,” God asked, “and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gen. 4:6,7).
I’m fascinated with the phrase, “Cain’s face fell” -- just three short words that distill the essence of the ruination of a life. They tell a lot about our own prideful reactions. I’ll never see a person pouting again without remembering this example of Cain. Because of his attitude, the Lord said that sin crouched at the door waiting to captivate him. Well, that’s what happened. Cain neglected to master that prideful sin, and ended up killing his brother.
Obadiah explained “Behold, I will make you small among the nations, you shall be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you” (2:3). Pride poisons and destroys the soul. Pride is an abomination that a holy God will not tolerate. God resists the proud and sets Himself against the haughty.[xii] We must choose to master the sin that wants to master us.
Our pride problem must be recognized. When arrogance rules our choices, we show little remorse for wrongdoing and become men seekers and not God seekers. Feelings of haughtiness, sarcasm, impatience, disdain, and unteachableness must be faced as sin. Laying down our pride must be accomplished in such a way that we don’t hesitate to admit that we might be wrong in our actions or convictions.
Proud people often focus critically on the failures of others; they crave success and self-advancement. They drive hard to be recognized and expect to be served. They are self-conscious, defensive, and unapproach-able. Proud people are overconfident and have a difficult time apologizing. They don’t want anyone to find out that they have sinned.
Pride lurks as the besetting sin that prevents us from seeing the Lord’s face, and causes Him to not hear our prayers (Is. 59:2). Do we speak with unction? Do people get saved in our company? That fragile eggshell disguise must crumble; all pretense and presumption must finally give way to His nature. We must accept the responsibility for our actions in order to obtain the fresh start we need. The tragedy would be not to realize our shortcomings! Grace shows us that our spiritual success isn’t a place of arrogance, but a holy seed growing in a pure heart.
To live a consecrated life is to be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the quality of life He desires for us, never defending our fleshly nature with prideful resistance but always receiving humbly the word
which God wants to plant in us
James 1:21 AMP.
Because our own natural accomplishments are “...wretched, miserable, poor, and blind and naked,” the most holy Jesus entreats us, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.”[xiii] True humility stills our compulsive and clamorous desires. Ps. 25:9 says, “The meek will He guide in judgment; the meek will He teach His way.” Jesus sacrificially presents the pattern of service and dominion. Paul makes no bones about it with his instructions, “As your spiritual teacher, I... give this advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have the sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.”[xiv]
è Pride and presumption have ruled since the fall. However, the ending of this self-nature will mark the end of time. All will be humbled.
Andrew (not his real name) came to our church for several years, but he wouldn’t even stand up to sing. He listened as we studied all the words for praise, explaining how we can’t praise God in our mind. Still, he rigidly sat there, draining us with his expressionless face. One day I confronted him, “Andrew, why do you bother coming to church, if you won’t enter in?” His emotionless face spoke, “I don’t want to, and I don’t have to. And… I don’t care what God thinks.” You know what? The Lord allowed him to go his own way… as long as he wanted.
The point is, praise and worship aren’t based on our feelings. Why, lots of times I don’t feel a thing. It’s true, but we learn to DO what delights God. We can’t afford to stay immature and self-willed while floating around on heavenly clouds singing, “In the Sweet By and By.” What’s the point?
In the past, I was always proud of being right – after all, I was right! -- But in reality, my attitude was still wrong. It was a pride thing… because you see, God isn’t after me being right—and He doesn’t care if you’re right either. Proverbs 12:15 says that only a fool thinks he is right in his own mind. Even the story about Jonah, the rebellious prophet, shows that God observes our demeanor. Correspondingly, God requires that our onion-like layered attitudes be removed. He takes off one overlay, only to reveal another foul-smelling layer hiding beneath our smooth exterior.
God relentlessly requires that haughty spirit, that anger, and those bad habits. We can keep ‘em and lose out, or give ‘em away and find God. And by the way, anyone can be right! Many intelligent people know all the answers, and still don’t have His character envelop them. Beyond that, a significant gifting may be unnoticed by others because of a lack of developed character. Remember that Godly character doesn’t depend on how much we know. Far more important than being right, is responding correctly.
Grace didn’t come to let me be right, or to have my way, or to do what I please. God didn’t give me grace so I could get away with anything I wanted. Rather, He said, “Go and sin no more. Grace changes me and enables me to achieve what He wants. Grace propels me into my inheritance. Jesus revises my desires, and now I don’t want those things I once wanted, but rather “The desire of all nations” (Hag. 2:7) has become the desire of my heart.
· Usually, we have -- whether wittingly or not -- developed an attitude to justify not doing what we should. John says, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar.”[xv] Only obedient “doing” changes us. Just do it –
The all powerful and all-knowing God could have robotically preprogrammed us to be obedient. But accurate unfeigned freedom demands willing obedience. Biblical freedom is not libertine license to do whatever feels good, but rather, a moral restraint to obey God’s Word and consequently receive Divine protection and blessing. After all, it’s through obedience that we discover true privilege. We cannot be truly obedient until we’re free (2 Cor. 3:17). Biblical freedom strengthens us to be able to say “no” to our habitual desires and gives us the personal responsibility of doing our part, and making a difference. It’s not obedience so that we all conform to a pre-selected exclusionary ideal. In an undeniable sense, God’s purpose yields as much diversity in our finality as a planetarium displays distant suns and limitless stars.
Let’s look at obedience another way. There are many levels of authority ranging from the government, to the dogcatcher. But even the government can be wrong, and we all know that the police sometimes make mistakes. God doesn’t make mistakes. There were in fact, instances in Acts where the disciples were allowed civil disobedience, because certain activities were against the will of God. But there’s never any rationalism for us to disobey the Bible. When in the squeeze between the vacillating dichotomy of what seems right, and what the Lord says, we must once and for all decide that the Bible is transcendent wisdom and that God does have the right to impose obligation on us.
It’s as simple as that.
Astonishingly, from century to century, from culture to culture, we humans have decided to reject what’s right and wrong, based on our personal perspectives. We want to reduce Truth to our own opinion. However, Biblical absolutes are not subject to our opinion, but are predetermined by God’s Word. We must decide: Either the Bible is wrong, and is superseded by more enlightened, sophisticated and literate society, or it is the divinely inspired source of all Truth.
The God-given mark of sold-out believers is that of a “bondservant,” one who willingly commits to a radical lifestyle of obedience to the Word of God.[xvi] Bondservants confidently trust the Word of God, and are sent out, fully knowing that some will voluntarily die for the cause of the Kingdom (Luke 11:49). It’s our free choice to be bondservants, but to commit to being a bondservant and then live for ourselves is hypocritical. This defiance of going our own way is called “presumption.”[xvii]
Israel presumed (arrogantly resisted and disobeyed by using human reason) against what they were told to do. They thought that because they were “Chosen people,” they could do anything they wanted. And they did. Israel committed willful idolatry that violated God’s instructions, making it impossible to receive their inheritance. They forgot the part that said, “Obey Me.” They had no problem receiving from God -- they just didn’t want that compliance part. Their “presumption” assumed that they could have all the blessings without any responsibility. Because of Israel’s unbelief (lack of response to God’s Word), they died. “But the person that does anything presumptuously with a proud hand... the same reproaches the Lord and that person shall be cast off from among the people” (Numb. 15:10 AMP).
Presumption has a form of Godliness, but denies the power thereof (1 Tim. 2:1-7). Nowadays, people assume that because they idly call themselves “Spirit filled” they can do whatever they want. Yet many are just superficially “spirit-frilled.” Tell me, what about you? Today, are you filled with the Holy Spirit? Or should you stop reading for awhile, and pray? Foolish presumption caresses the spirit of this age, jokes around as a form of defense, pretending to have power but unwilling to pay the cost of obedience.
What’s God saying to the church? YOU KNOW WHAT GOD IS SAYING! Obey me! “Be ye holy as I am holy.” Every other Biblical teaching rides upon this holy highway. The nowness of this truth exceeds all of man’s doctrines. Holiness is what God says in this last hour -- everything else connects to this keystone. We must be obedient to His word. As thousands fall away, some will become set apart and transformed by obedience to His will. Let’s say it again: Holiness is doing what God says.
We often daydream about the many wonderful things WE want to accomplish, but God never was very interested in a great deal of our endeavors. Never mind! As we relinquish our own will and surrender our lives to His holy plan, He perfects those things that concern us – surpassing anything that we could imagine or attain on our own.
Obedient believers cooperate with God to achieve His goal. In that context, Jesus called us friends -- but notice the prerequisite; “You are My friends, IF you do what I command you” (John 15:14 NASB). 1 John 3:22 says, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him.” What we ask, we receive. Why? You see, the promise is conditional, as we keep His commandments and do them. Holiness is neither a fluffy word, nor a passing fancy; it’s a commandment. Therefore we can conclude that obedience is true spiritual worship. That giving up of our selfishness demonstrates true unashamed adoration. Now our spirit-man gets involved.
There’s a higher authority than your will, that you must obey.
è Your progress will never exceed your last place of disobedience -- go back and do it.
C.S. Lewis pointed out that once we get started on the wrong road, it never turns into the right one. The only way back to the right road is to go back to where we missed the turn. The Father doesn’t want us to end up back in the ways of the world (Egypt).
è Delayed obedience is disobedience.
è Obedience shortens the trip and keeps us from wandering.
è Truly loving God means to obey Him.
è Obedience protects us from trouble (Psalm 32:3-7).
è Obedience gives us a clear conscience (1 Tim. 1:19).
Remember in the story of the Samaritan woman, how the disciples complained about going all the way to the city to bring back food? Jesus demonstrated a singular commitment by saying that he had food to eat that they didn’t even know about. That hidden food was obedience to DO the will of His Father.
Jesus could SEE the Samaritan woman as the key to winning souls. He wanted the disciples to LOOK at the fields… not with human perspective (harvest in 3 months) but as “Now the fields are white.” Because they couldn’t SEE, they couldn’t believe. They wanted natural food; Jesus wanted obedience. Like them, obedience enables us to lift up our eyes and see.
We, the decisive generation that Scriptures foretold, are propelled into the final harvest at this propitious moment. Centuries of Christians have longed for the time in which we’re privileged to live. Let’s not be like the disciples who decided to go to the grocery store instead of being obedient. God’s trying to reach us in the realm of the spirit while we’re still walking in the flesh.
è Lift up (perceive) your eyes (what you see with) and see (see in the spirit) that the fields are already white for harvest, in your city and in mine.
This concept of obedience appears again in the story of the centurion who understood what it meant to be under (obedient to) authority. Jesus said He had never seen such faith (MT. 8). What does that mean? The centurion understood what it meant to be in authority, and be obedient to authority. He knew how to do what he was told to do. Jesus calls that quality FAITH. What does it mean to walk in faith like the Centurion? My definition: Faith is believing the Scriptures enough to do them!
Hebrews 11:6 tells us two imperative truths. First, that it’s impossible to please God without faith, and secondly, that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.
1. FAITH. Faith reveals itself through obedience. Faith isn’t a function of reason but a product of the renewed soul. We hear Scripture as a human soul, and we respond to God from that understanding as well. The Amplified Version of Hebrews 11 says that faith is the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality. That kind of faith perceives as real what is not revealed to the senses.
It’s not faith in what we want, but the faith to do what God says – to believe and push for His purposes to happen. To keep on walking. To believe what can’t be seen.
It’s possible to be eternally “saved” and not live in active faith. We can have tantrums, even plead, and beg -- but nothing will move God’s hand but faith. Jesus wants to find faith when he returns. Hebrews 12 tells us to come out from faith into faith.
We receive the revelation of God within our heart. Faith grows there. Romans 10:10 says that with the heart, man believes unto righteousness. It starts inside as a seed. Faith grasps the eternal purposes of God, then hope brings them to this earthly realm -- the eternal enters into our dimension – and the Kingdom comes.
The life-giving force of faith brings God’s will into our understanding so that we can be wholly saved, healed, delivered, set free, and empowered. As we come out of our measly and scrawny human faith, we find God’s faith growing His fruit inside of us.
2. REWARD. The greatest unalterable reward for our faith is knowing God. Ask yourself, “Do I earnestly expect the presence of God to arise within and reward me?”
a) Ask yourself, do I have a habit that seems okay to me and yet grieves others?
b) Do I care how my life influences others?
c) Do I hurt anyone by my attitudes? Am I a cynic?
d) Do I walk in the Spirit on a daily basis?
e) Do I approach life’s circumstances with faith?
It takes faith to unquestionably obey. Faith always involves action and cooperation. The answer to receiving comes from understanding God’s authority and being obedient to it. That’s why we can now say that your obedience reveals God to you.
1. He who keeps my commandments loves me.
2. He who loves me, is loved by the Father.
3. And I will manifest myself to Him.[xviii] We must allow God to manifest himself to us.
4. He who keeps God’s command abides in Him.[xix] We must know God’s Word and keep it.
5. If you abide, then you can ask and it will be done.[xx] We must spend time with God, receiving from Him.
6. Is. 1:19, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat of the good of the land”(AMP).
7. “And we receive from Him whatever we ask for, because we (watchfully) obey His orders -- observe His suggestions and injunctions, follow His plan for us -- and (habitually) practice what is pleasing to Him.”[xxi]
è Faith in what God says is observable by what we do.
Let me encourage you not to detour here, thinking that obedience is too much a horrid drudgery to keep on going. Really, it’s quite simple to listen to the voice of God and obey. Truth is, accurate hearing and joyous responses take you much further beyond where sheer willpower, clenched teeth, and grim determination ever did. Through it all the Holy Spirit patiently stands by to wonderfully lead you into His unending fellowship.
Application: Write or discuss each of the following:
1. Walking in holiness means being obedient to God’s Word.
2. I cannot worship without obedience; His TRUTH transcends every culture.
3. Holiness is not a doctrine; it’s a lifestyle of obediently walking the road that God has created for you.
4. Obedience mixed with faith brings down the walls of resistance (Josh. 6).
5. Disciples are those who are obediently under command.
As we’ve mentioned, the carnal believer goes to church and hears words, but never changes. He may even agree with what’s being said (mental assent), but the information never becomes a part of his nature. He continues to say and do whatever he wants. James called this type of Christian who does-whatever-he-wants, a “hearer only.” We notice the ironic similarity of how a newborn baby and a “hearer” both learn to use their emotions to be noticed. “Hearers” childishly squabble over doctrine and tradition, unable to comprehend any greater knowledge of the truth.
Hearers remain immature, striving to become important among people. They’re like teenagers wanting adult privilege, but unwilling to take any responsibility. They’re like little kids still smoking behind the woodshed, or sticking their tongues to a frozen metal flagpole. Hearers consent to lowering their standards in order to form a union with their flesh. Their own disobedience cuts them off from blessings. They claim, memorize, and demand that God will supply all their needs; but they haven’t the least idea what it means to be “IN CHRIST.” Still wandering in the wilderness, hearers grasp for what’s in God’s hand but fail to seek His face.
There’s no intimate relationship with the Lord without doing what He says. James 1:23 emphasized that if we just listen and don’t obey, then we’re “Like a man observing his natural face in the mirror.” The word natural means the Genesis face of the beginnings. A hearer momentarily sees “the face of the beginnings,“ that creation person he was meant to be -- in pre-fall dominion and authority. Except soon he nods off, and quickly forgets what he’s supposed to look like. The hearer walks away from looking into that mirror (the Word), unable to remember what was said. He never fully comprehends God’s initial intention for dominion rule.
Still unchanged and vulnerable, the hearer’s unprotected heart (ground, soul) readily receives those uncontrollable weeds. He feels sorry for himself and senses failure, rejection, disappointment, discouragement, abuse, and loneliness – and he loves to tell everyone about it! All a hearer can visualize (SEE) is that fallen unredeemed part. Therefore, the carnal hearer remains unchanged and weak.
Case in point: Susie’s depressed demeanor won’t improve until she actually becomes a doer. Then, gradually it will all change for her. Doing reduces her depression and gets her back on track. You may ask, “Is Susie an extraordinary example?” No, she’s a typical case, really. Most believers spend far too much time being unhappy. In order to breakout from this fruitless worry, they need to focus on the present moment of doing. Doing produces a pattern of change – tension reduces, confusion subsides, depression lifts, optimism, and hope increases. The very best mood lifter is doing.
James 1:21 says that the engrafted word is “able to save your soul.” Then, verse 22 starts with a but. “But (the condition of this statement to save your soul) be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving (wandering about in error) yourselves” (1:22). The Living Bible says, “Remember, this is a message to obey, not just to listen to, so don’t fool yourself.” Jesus warns, “Take heed... how you hear” (Luke 8:18 – don’t be a hearer only).
Since you’ve decided to be a Christian, then for goodness’ sake, don’t be a half-hearted and slip-shod one. Being a Christian without embracing the entire Gospel is as ludicrous as getting married without anticipating a lifetime companion. It makes no sense to say you are a believer and then have no intention of acting like one. The doer cooperates with God’s plan. Unless we obey “all that He commands,” we’re not acting like disciples.
Jesus made His feelings about obedience extremely clear when His family approached and the disciples announced that His mother and brothers were waiting. Jesus answered, “My brothers and my mother are those who hear the word of God, and do it.” Ah, the doer is the relative and heir. The actively obedient person is called the doer.
Salvation then, becomes an invitation into service. Your decision to change into a doer isn’t an emotional feeling, but a selfless resolve that frees you from reliance upon your own views. Your own maturity begins with the decision to apprehend His nature, rather than just what you want. Your productive life flows from the abundance of the belief of your heart.[xxii] When you begin to fulfill your purposes, then you become functional. Then, you’ll look beyond your own understanding, towards the One that promises to be your eternal Friend. As a new mature creation, your gorgeous Genesis image (the face of beginnings) looks beyond the veil, and emerges healed in the mind and soul. The “doer” realizes and activates who he/she is meant to be “in Christ.”
Don’t be a “hearer only.” Listen to the Bible to obey it completely. No matter what the cost.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”
The next time you study the Scriptures, try the following technique:
1. First, briefly find out why this particular Book was written, to whom, where, and why.
2. Then, skim the entire passage. The Bible isn’t just words; it’s the Lord’s directive.
3. Ask how you can understand or apply this Scripture.
4. After that, make two columns on a piece of paper list below. There’s always a doing (a responsive action). This doing should be our goal. Hear and do.
bedience, we’ve discovered, demands doing. Okay, so I know that you’ve heard this before, but what should you DO next? Start working on your confession of Truth. You must be absolutely scrupulous about what comes out of your mouth. Maybe you’ve just let your words slide a little bit. Yes, I know that no one likes to control their mouth, but why not enter into the good life right now?
Yet, a huge question bedevils nearly everyone who tries to speak correctly… “How can I say what hasn’t happened yet? Even a bird can be taught to “parrot” correct phrases. The answer is that effective words must come out from a believing heart.
Keep in mind that only two of the original crowd actually crossed over into the Promised Land. Why? Because the masses believed the deception of difficult circum-stances rather than the command of God. Israel's mandate was to conquer the giants of the land and of their mind. Instead, they murmured (let their thoughts be spoken) and died before they found the Promise. Their verbal report spoke of only what they could SEE in the natural realm of their limited abilities.
Like the ten doubtful spies who were faint with fear and unbelief, you may see the promise and still not possess it. All twelve spies saw the same situation, and the same giants. Yes, God promised the inheritance. This fact was positional, which means that the promise was actually given. Nevertheless, they still had to go to war, and fight giants (ongoing acquisition of the promise).
Unlike the other ten, Joshua and Caleb believed the promises. They didn’t murmur, instead they perceived the situation the way God did and saw themselves as winners. We can learn from them to shore up our areas of sagging strength. Perhaps similar unconquered areas prevent us from entering. How true the saying, “...Few are those who find it” (Matt. 7:14).
Millions died, but Joshua and Caleb had “another spirit.” They possessed the traits to eventually enter and occupy their inheritance. They said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numb. 13:30). As forerunners, they properly anticipated that God knew their future; they believed His instructions; then they stepped out into uncertainty and advanced ahead. They stood in the gap between two generations, ready to lead the people.[xxiv]
è Out of the abundance of our heart, the mouth speaks.
We could say that in another way. Our life’s journey to the Holy City is fueled by the words we speak. Let me tell you about the time a group of us rented a van in Italy. I drove from Rome to Pompeii and then had to get gas. Well, none of us could read the Italian instructions in the glove box -- and the gas attendant put regular gas in a diesel vehicle! Unknowingly, we drove to a nearby attraction for the day and when we were ready to leave, the van wouldn’t move out of the parking lot. It just smoked and made a whole lot of noise.
Several hours and lots of money later, we had the wrong gas pumped out and the right kind put in. Then I continued driving the van… it ran, but barely. We sputtered and jerked our way around Italy for two weeks, depending a lot on the momentum of hills to get us up to traffic speed. What an adventure! We should have wondered why that attendant strangely laughed at us when we pulled away.
 2 Cor. 12:15
 Ravenhill, David “Power of the Cross” Christ for the Nations May 96
 Katski, Pastor David “A Living Sacrifice” The Silver Trumpet Aug. 1996, Jacksonville, OR. 97530
 See this author’s booklet on “The Meaning of Head.”
[vi] Nee, Watchman, “God’s Work” Christian Fellowship Publishers, Inc.
[vii] It was in this place where circumstances attempt to control, that Moses raised a rod of authority. In that same way, when something bad is happening in your life, you have the authority that God has given you. The power was not within the staff itself, but in God.
[viii] Deut. 5:24-27
[ix] We establish our work upon on the mountain (Is. 2:2). Zion means “on high,” where God is, separated from the world. Look up to the hills, lift up your eyes. The battle is won on the mountain. Jeremiah 50 warns us that religion (false shepherds) attempt to bring Zion (the church) from the mountain to a hill, having forgotten their resting place (vs. 6). Religion always brings us down, to something that only resembles the place where God is. The Lord brings us up to Himself.
[x] Parentheses mine.
[xi] Johnson, Samuel, “An Eighteenth-century Exhortation by England’s Famous Man of Letters” Cornerstone, Volume 25, # 109, Chicago, Il.
[xii] Proverbs 16:15, and James 4:6.
[xiii] Matt. 11:29 KJV. Rev. 3:17
[xiv] Rom. 12:3 Phillips
[xv] Jn. 2:4
[xvi] Joyner, Rick The Morning Star, Nov. 1995 Exodus 21:5-6, Rev. 7:1-3
[xvii] Psalms 19:13-14
[xviii] Jn. 14:21
[xix] 1 Jn. 3:24
[xx] Jn. 15:7
[xxi] Jn. 3:22 AMP
[xxii] Romans 10:9
[xxiii] Cousins, Don & Poling, Judson, “Leader’s Guide 1,” Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1992, pg. 80
[xxiv] Damazio ibid. pg.3
|Last Updated on Sunday, 12 February 2012 12:09|