Thursday, July 13, 2017

Killing Jesus

In Mark 15, we read of where Jesus was taken prisoner because of what the people said, ‘His claim to be God.’  He was presented before Pilate and although, Pilate was warned by his wife through a dream, Pilate chose instead to have Jesus crucified.

What led Pilate to his decision was his concession, his compromising, his desire, to give in to the people.  Verse 15 says, “Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”  Jesus was killed because Pilate gave in to the people.  And this is what happens when you give in to the people.

When we compromise, concede, make room for, give in to what the people want; what we do, what we have done is killed Jesus.  We’ve killed His spirit living inside of us.  We’ve killed His will for our lives in that given situation, in order to appease the desire of someone else’s.

Religion, churches, spiritual leaders all over the world are giving into the people. Some are not preaching the Word God spoke for fear that the people won’t get excited.   Some are not correcting congregants for fear they might leave the church.   Some are allowing people to be in ministry, when they themselves are in no position to minister to themselves, carrying unforgiveness, harboring bitterness and the like, and leaving a trail of my way or no way wherever they go.

There is no power in the church these days and we find ourselves wondering why.   People are not being saved, lives are not being transformed, they are not being conformed, miracles are not taking place, healing is sporadic, because Jesus is being killed.  The spirit of the living God is being hindered.  God’s way of doing things, whether people like it or not, has been given second place to the opinions, to the feelings and thoughts of man.   There is no real power in many churches because God’s will has been killed.  Why would He abide in a place He is not obeyed?  Why would He manifest Himself when the desires of the people are what matters first?

But it’s not just happening in the church.  It is happening our homes.  In our personal lives.  We find ourselves lost, discouraged at not receiving the promises of God, because somewhere along the way we have given in.  To people.  Instead of studying our Word, praying, or seeking God’s face, we have chosen to  seek the face (or something else) OF someone else.  Instead of attending Sunday services and corporate church empowerment gatherings, we have elected to spend it at some other social setting, in the name of “spending quality time together.”  Anything that takes you away from God is not quality.   It’s distraction. Especially if that is what you used to do.  You have conceded, you have compromised and you have quenched the spirit of the living God leading you and guiding you into Truth.  All Truth.  Even thsst we refuse to see.

Instead of spending our morning singing songs of praise, we have elected to sing the praises of someone we want the attention of, albeit perhaps of a boss.  Instead of spending spare time sitting in the presence of God, we have chosen to sit in the presence of a computer or phone screen.   Ouch!! We are the “people” too, we give in to.

Instead of doing what we know to do is right, continuing to stand on the principles we have learned and was taught, like forgiveness, honesty and truth, we are satisfying the fleshly need of someone else, giving in instead to their warped feelings of injustice.   Instead of giving like we used to, we’ve began to give in to the cries of a loved one or even worse, our bills.  Chasing the dollar instead of attracting it.  The spirit of the living God has even been killed when it comes to our finances.  God said He would show us how to prosper.  It is Him who shows us how to get wealth. But it's in the spending time with Him, that is where and how we will learn.

Jesus is being killed.  Again and again.  Look at the state of the world.  Look at the politics, especially in this nation.  Uh-oh.  Leaders gave in to what the people wanted. They wanted a king.  Someone to save them from their problems.  Did he?  Or were more presented?  How many lives have been destroyed? How many families have been torn apart?  And how much more will come forth?   What has happened to the integrity of the office?  The integrity of this great nation, we call the United States.  Surely it has  become the “Divided” States of America.  Because someone gave in to the people.

Going forward, we cannot allow people to dictate what must be done or what we will do, especially when it comes to serving the living God.  We cannot compromise, concede or give in to the will of people.  It must be God’s will be done.  It must be God above all else.  Jesus first.  Otherwise, we will become guilty of exactly what Pilate was guilty of…  wishing to satisfy the crowd.  And killing Jesus.

Because God is real, I remain,

A servant of the Lord,
Sis. E
Copyright 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Questions, Anyone?

In our walk with God, if we’re honest, we can admit that we have our moments (albeit long sometimes) where we have questions.  We were believing God for something, waiting for a promise, expecting justice, and even found ourselves at a loss at unexpected turns.  I certainly have experienced them all, especially the one of late, with the loss of my son, Joseph and asked God a bunch of questions.  Still do in fact.

We present our questions to God, why this, how long, what now, and seemingly we do not get an answer (and definitely not the one we want).  In fact, often times God leaves us with a question.  In particular I am reminded of the many He asked of Job, starting with “Where were you when I created when I created the earth?” (Job 38).

But things don’t pan out the way we think they should and we ask our questions.  We act foolishly, we pout (naturally and spiritually), and throw our spiritual tantrums. Then we host a pity party, inviting God and anyone else who will listen to us complain.

And God in His sovereignty comforts us and allows to groan and moan for a time, but then He shows us the error of our ways.  And when we still don’t quite seem to get it, He simply leaves us with a question, just as He did with Job, and even more so as He did with Jonah.

In case you are not familiar with the story of Jonah, Jonah was a prophet of God who was told to go to the people of Ninevah and declare the Word of the Lord, that if they repent, they will be saved.  But Jonah did not think that the people were worthy of being saved.  Let me stop here.  Some of us have the same attitude.  God has delivered us and saved us from some things, bad habits that we had, bad attitudes that we had, the wrong way of thinking and doing things, SINFUL acts and we were considered to be unworthy, too.   And here is a news flash, we still are, IN and OF ourselves.  For it is by grace we are saved, not of works, lest any man shall boast.  That means in spite of us and who we thought we were, God yet saw fit to count us as worthy.  Worth saving.  Hallelujah!  But, like Jonah, we have this way of hanging condemnation over other people’s heads, becoming JUDGE and JURY to what they have done or are doing and making them feel as though they are not worthy to be saved.  Wrong!  God saved you.  He saved me, (the wretched one that I was), surely He can save someone else.

Okay, moving right along... This is where Jonah was.  He believed that the people were unworthy of God’s deliverance.  So instead of doing what God told him to do, Jonah figured he’d run.  And so he ran, right into a storm, which landed him smack dab in the belly of a fish.

But let me stop there for a minute also, because Jonah ran away from what God told him to do.  The Bible says when Jonah was instructed to go to Ninevah, he paid his fare on a boat that was on its way to Tarshish, the opposite direction.   And twice the Bible says, ‘to flee the presence of the Lord.’  Jonah must have thought that Tarshish was a place where God does not dwell.  In doing research about this, it was believed by some scholars that the spirit of prophecy was evident in the city of Nineveh because God had a work to do there, so when Jonah decided to flee, he thought he would be fleeing from the spirit of God breathing upon him to go and preach the Word.  But if God tells us to do something, it doesn’t matter where it is, God will be there.

We can’t run from God’s spirit.  The psalmist David said, “Where can I flee from your spirit? Even if I make my bed in Sheoul you are there.  You are everywhere.”  Side note.  Sheoul is a dark place.  It is considered to be hell.  That place where evil resides, where evil is practiced.  On earth, that place where you do your dirt.  God sees it.  He sees you.  From the minute details of lying, bitterness and anger to the acts of lust, fornication, unforgiveness and murder (whose spirit did you kill with those judgmental words or gossip?) There is no hiding from God.  He will ALWAYS find you. Don’t forget HE SEEKS and saves those who are lost (or even in this case, hiding).

Anyway, back to our issue at hand.  Being the forgiving God He is, God delivered Jonah and gave him a second chance to go and make it right.  “Declare My Word to the people,” God said, “that they may be delivered.”  This time Jonah obeyed and delivered the Word, a Word of warning to the people that their city shall be overtaken.  And after hearing the Word, the Bible says, “the people fasted and repented.”  We have tob stop here, too… what do we do when we receive a cautionary word from the man of God (or woman God sends), do we turn around or do we turn against?  Around (change our ways) or against (them), talking about them every chance we get.  Do we just get it right or leave the church?  I'll just leave that one right there.  That's between you and God.  But God already knows...

Anyway, when God saw that the people turned away from their sins, He delivered them and after He had done so, Jonah had an attitude.  With God. The Bible says in Jonah 4:1-3, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

Then God shows him an object lesson.  God is always about teaching us and causing us to see things from His perspective, molding us to be more like Jesus.  As Jonah sat pouting, and angry at God for saving the people, God allows a tree to grow to keep Jonah from the heat.  In the midst of our spiritual tantrums, God is YET merciful, as He is with Jonah.  And then God allows a worm to eat away the tree.  And Jonah is once again upset and expresses it.  So God simply asked him a question and left Jonah alone, “Should I not have pity on them, as I have had on you.”  Hear the Word of the Lord:  “Until you can answer God’s question, He will not answer yours.”  For there the book of Jonah ends.

Many of us, myself included, have asked God many questions.  We have our whys, hows, whats, ifs, ands, buts.  Excuses on top of reasons and reasons on top of excuses why we can’t, or why we won’t do something.  And God being the merciful God He is, does for us, anyway.  Provides shelter from the storm, makes a way of escape, delivers us, provides for us.  And too often that is just not good enough for us.  Oh, it serves us for a time.  But we have short memories.  Things don’t go our way and we forget. There really is Truth in the Scripture, “forget not all thy benefits.”  For if we remembered them we wouldn't ask our questions. But we do, so I will say it again, until you are ready to answer God’s question, He will not answer yours.

Have a question, ask it, but be prepared to answer, FIRST.

But God is real.

A servant of the Lord,
Sis. E

Copyright 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Too Much to Bear or Not?

The Scripture says in Exodus 13:17-18, when Pharaoh let the people of God go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was the shorter route.  For God said, if they face war they might change their minds and return to Egypt.  So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea.    God knew that if He had taken the Israelites the shorter journey they would have to “fight” and since He knew what was in them, He chose not to put them through that and them another way.

There is a Scripture that is often misquoted from the Bible, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (1 Corinthians 10:13a).  This Scripture is often used in the context that God knows how much we can bear, at that alone.  But if you take the whole Scripture, what it represents is God’s hand that is able to make a way of escape, because He knows our temptations.  He knows what will get us into trouble or a bad place, so He makes a way for us to get out of it, before we even get in it.  God knows how much we can bear, for sure.  He knows what we can handle without breaking. He knows how much we can take.  He knows how much He can turn up the flames in our lives or allow the enemy to do so, without us being destroyed.   And since He knows, He will not allow us to go through more than we can bear…. OURSELVES. 

In our own strength we are nothing.  We can do nothing. For the Scripture says nothing is possible without God.  Even those times when we feel as though it is more than we can bear, God says, “It's not more for Me.  It's not too much to bear for Me.”  So when He brings us to those times, God wants us to rely on Him.  To rely on His strength.
After our dear son, Joseph died, I was strong for a minute.  My children, my husband, my family, friends and others were looking at me for strength.  And it was all good for a little bit.  But there came a point where I had no more strength and I felt like dealing with the death of my son and trying to help others deal with it, was too much of a burden for me to bear.  And that is when I realized I could not do in my strength.  I had to rely on the strength of God to see me through this tragedy.  And once I did, peace flooded my soul, like a river.  Oh yes I still cry, nearly every day.  But I get through the day, relying on God.

If we're walking in our own strength, God in His sovereignty, knows when we won't be able to take anymore.  He knows that some of us will turn away from the faith, and call it quits.  That we will stop doing what we know to do is right and go according to the way that seems right.  And He knows that way is death.

God knows when enough is enough.  He sees our struggles.  He sees our pain.  He sees our suffering.  And in His still small voice, He says to us, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Just like the children of Israel, when their burden got to be too much, God will either redirect our steps or He will remind us that He is with us and all we need to do is to look to Him.  To look to the hills from whence cometh our help.  To look up and see the salvation of the Lord.  That is when He may continue to allow the burden, because then He knows we will turn to Him and seek His face.  We will spend more time with Him, acknowledging just how much we need Him.

God has to put on us more than we can bear.  And the Truth is He does, because it is the only way that He can stretch us sometimes.   It is only then that we can exercise our faith... the size of the mustard seed He has given us.  How else would we know that we are walking in faith if we never have to take a step of faith.  Right NOW, in your face faith, if we don't get a chance or something that challenges us to act in faith.  Looking to God, of course, as the Author and Finisher of our faith. 

Sometimes God puts on us more than we can bear, to see just how much we are going to trust Him.  To believe Him.  Will we rely on His strength to get us through or will we rely on our own?

God knows the answer and it is telling or a testimony against our faith, in what He does.  Will He allow the storm or will He redirect it?  He knows (and you should know) whether or not you have the faith to withstand it.

Like I said those are times when God does not put on us more than we can bear, because He knows our breaking point.   He knows when we think we are pushing the envelope.  He knows how to push the envelope.   He knows that some of us are not Job.   That we will do what someone suggests, like Job’s wife did, curse God and die.  Being like the Israelites, choosing instead to go back to the leeks, garlic and onions.

But He also knows this...  He knows who is His.  He knows who He can brag on (you might not know it).  He knows what you will do, and who you will become as a result of pushing the envelope, climbing that mountain.  A faith giant, just like Abraham and those written in the hall of faith.  

He knows who will look to Him and cry out and say, “Lord, I can't do this BUT I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.  I can't bear this load, but I'm looking to you as the One who can, who says to me, cast your cares upon Me, because I care for you.  Take of My yoke, because My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  God knows.  And all He wants us to do when we get to those breaking points is to look unto Him.  In all situations, look to Him.  Cry out to Him.  See Him at work.  By faith.

We can see Him challenging us.  We can also see Him holding something else back, knowing that things can be worse.  That's faith.  Giant faith.  And we must know that we can't put God in a box.  God does not always do things the same way.  His ultimate purpose is the same.  His divine will is the same. That we will be conformed to the image of His Son.  His permissive will might change.  What He allows or doesn't allow in a moment’s time, depends on who we are and what He wants us to learn.  We can never guess what God wants to do through any given situation.  But we do know that He wants us to operate in faith.  Always.  Without faith, it is impossible to please the Lord.

But we can ask, and come to know that whatever it is, it is for the good.  And one thing for certain, if it is more than we bear, it is not our load to carry.  So we need to rely on the only One who can.  For it is only when we can't bear the load, the strength of Christ can kick in and He becomes everything that we need and more.

God is real. And He is the real burden bearer.  

A servant of the Lord,

Sis. E