Nov 3rd – Righteous Reign
Matthew 25:6 And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’
Matthew 25:6 And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’
Luke 17:20-21 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
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1 Corinthians 3:13-14 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
The Day of the Lord (span of time and testing of Christ; the Word of God, The Day) will reveal each one’s work by fire. Though each one will experience the testing “fire” of this Day, it will turn out very differently depending on what type of “work” each one has engaged in.
What is the work? It’s what you have built your faith on and trust in. It’s what you’ve established your hope in. We all have faith, it’s a matter of what or whom it’s in. Our actions and decisions show what we truly trust.
The enduring work is establishing a life built on faith on the everlasting God of truth and love. Only God is life and eternal. If our lives are built upon Him and His truths, they will endure. John 6:28-29
The work that doesn’t endure is our faith in anything else of this world; worldly wisdom, our resources, our personal ability and strength, idols of our own making, elements of this physical existence, religious rituals, whatever we are trusting in other than the One true God. Ezekiel 14:4
The “fires” or trials used to test each one’s trust are many and varied. They can take on just about any form. They are what challenge our faith, test the sources of our trust, and push us to the edge of ourselves exposing the truth of our hearts and minds. As the trials come to us to test our faith, our responses will show who or what we honestly trust in, it will reveal the type of work we’ve been engaged in during our lives.
For those who have cultivated a trust in God and whose work endures, though the fires of testing may look daunting, they will be as a small flickering flame, with no power and easily extinguished.
Their stories will resemble that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in Daniel 3. They have built up a faith in God through their life experiences and knowledge. Thus when it comes to the ultimate test, they are able to stand strong and refuse to bow down and serve (look to anything for deliverance but God) any god but the God. Thus the fire will have no power in their lives. They know their God and their actions show their trust in His power.
Daniel 3:27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
These are those who will endure and receive the rewards of those who diligently seek God. Hebrews 11:6. Those who deeply trust God will continue to trust in the midst of the greatest challenges of their faith and will come out unscathed. Though the fires seem to be at their door, God goes before them and completely protects them. These will be kept from experiencing the Great Tribulation in their lives, for the fire has no power. Rev 3:10
How are they able to stand in the midst of the fire? Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, they have a life of seeking, knowing and cultivating trust in God and are able to stand at the greatest challenges. These were the ones buying the gold refined by fire from Christ. They are His disciples learning His truths directly from Him, and those truths refine their corrupted spirits to be vessels of light to hold the Spirit of God. Rev 3:18
1 Corinthians 13:14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward
For those who trust in themselves and other idols and whose works are burned, the fires will be daunting. The fire of testing of the Day of the Lord will cause great grief as what they’ve trusted in comes to nothing. Fear will grip them as what they’ve relied on is threatened and consumed. These are the ones who experience the great tribulation. However, though all the elements that led them from the truth will be burned and they will suffer loss, they will be saved through the fire.
1 Corinthians 3:15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Unlike the ones who bought gold refined from Christ, these did not. They bought their treasures from what isn’t truly life but death, this world’s wisdom and its lies and deception. Rev 13:17 Thus when their faith is tested it reveals their work – building up trust in entities other than God. They lived by their own will, followed what they deemed was good, and didn’t FIRST seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Matthew 6:33
What will your work reveal in the Day of the Lord? What is your hope in … truly?
Revelation 22:12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
Psalm 146:5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
There is a sad epidemic in our nation, the “Christian” image. It’s one of the greatest distractions/deceptions to prohibiting people from truly seeking God as He is. For those on the outside, they see the masquerade and turn away not only from it but from God as well. For those on the inside and a part of it, they think it’s life (as they have been taught), yet fail to enter into the kingdom of God. Thus, many are living a deprived and unfilled life and believe that is the life Christ came to give them. They’ve never entered into the true kingdom because they believe what they’ve been told; that they’ve already entered.
For years, I lived this image. However, bound in the deception of it, I didn’t know I was living the image. I thought I was the real deal. So I didn’t seek any further. Yet, my life was a miserable mud-pit (of which I had no idea the extent of until I started experiencing true life). In my deception, I actually thought my mud-pit was pretty good. See how Satan keeps us in bondage?
On the outside, I looked like a follower of God, but I was a follower of self. Even in regards to my “religion”. I did and trusted what I had been taught by religious leaders, not God. Therefore, I couldn’t trust God because I never spent time with God to really know Him to trust Him. I spent time with religious people. I knew them and what they taught, so it was in them that I trusted – in the name of God. I didn’t realize this was the case until I was taught by God and “saw” the difference. It’s a HUGE difference, creating a HUGE chasm between living an image and true life in Christ. Mark 7:6-7
Spirit teaches spirit. It’s through revelation of the Holy Spirit that we gain truth and learn who God is so we can trust Him. When Peter said Jesus was the Christ, Jesus told him that he didn’t learn this from a person but the Holy Spirit. It was by this method of revelation that Christ would build His true Church. Matthew 16:17-18 We truly come to know God by being taught about God from the Holy Spirit. It’s not by flesh and blood that we learn. That is why it’s impossible to explain spiritual truths to someone without the spirit. They’ll never get it. But when you talk to someone who has also been taught by God they get it.
We learn about God from God because it fosters intimacy and love as God desires; just as you learn most about your spouse from your spouse. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, is given to us to teach us all things, especially about Him. We only know God when we seek Him one-on-one being grounded in the Bible and taught by the Holy Spirit. Those bound by this “image” have never diligently sought God trusting the Holy Spirit to reveal and teach them the truth of God and His ways. Instead they’ve relied on a person to show them.
So, what does this Christian image entail … well a lot of things, like going to church, tithing to the church, not saying certain things because you shouldn’t, being under the “authority” of your church leaders, living a certain “lifestyle” in accordance to the church, speaking the church lingo, helping out at the church, helping the church system to prosper, and leading others to come to church. When you really look at this… it is all about the church, not God.
Finally, as I mentioned in a previous post, one of the defining elements of this image is that there is no real need to seek God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength because you’ve already arrived. Sure, you can always learn more, but no big deal, leave that up to the pastors to learn then regurgitate back to you. Luke 16:14-15 (This belief often isn’t said blatantly, but it’s said clearly.) Yet, this seeking is the one thing that leads you to truly trust, surrender and move into the abundant life Christ came to give.
This “image” is one of the most deceptive works out there because once you think you’ve found you stop seeking. People come to a church say “the sinner’s prayer” and are “encouraged” by others to get involved in all kings of activities. When people are busy doing these “wonderful” acts and receiving praise for them, they feel good about themselves and think something has changed, when it has all been self induced.
Now this message may seem “tough” to some of you. But this image is spoken of throughout the Bible. Psalm 50:21, Revelation 13, Matthew 23:27, Isaiah 29:13 People are living one way claiming they are of God, but in their hearts they are still lord. Their trust is in what they think is best and that is being a good Christian. They don’t diligently seek God’s will daily to follow His voice, not some person’s. Here is the catch; you won’t see this masquerade in your own life because you are in deception until you seek God and the light of truth floods your soul. So you may think this isn’t you as I did; but if you truly seek and you will find. So bottom line regardless, is seek God in truth trusting the Holy Spirit to teach you all things. God wants us to be real with Him and in a real relationship. He has so much to give us if we will draw near in TRUTH and SPIRIT.
So what does a true Christian look like?
There is no image. And eventually you lose all labels, and you are who you are as a child of God, of which we all are. This realization comes as we seek God and all He is with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and are taught by Him. John 6:45 When we have a single focus to do the will of God, not the will of man in the name of God. Matthew 21:31 Therefore we can look like a lot of things because God’s ways aren’t our ways.
Crumble up that piece of paper with your New Year’s goals and resolutions. We’re starting over, unless this word above is at the top of your list as the building blocks of your life.
As the New Year dawns, setting goals is a task that comes to many of our minds. We’re reminded of the goals we set last year, all the ones we didn’t accomplish (sigh) and the ones we did (yeah!) We reflect back on how life didn’t go as planned and wonder why we bother setting goals in the first place. Some of us resolve not to set goals so that we aren’t disappointed despite the proven fact that those who set goals accomplish far more than those who don’t.
As you are thinking about your priorities this next year, I want you to consider ONE very important goal. The most important goal you will every make because it affects all the others; a goal given to you by YOUR God. The first and most important activity you partake of in your life. Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.
Mark 12:30 ‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment
What do you do when you love someone? Think about the love of your life or the one you hope for. You can’t wait to see them. You make them a priority. You reorganize your days because of them. You are devoted. They consume your thoughts. You can’t get enough of their presence. You talk and listen, you hang on every word. You replay what they said in your head trying to figure out what they really meant. You share your inner most thoughts. You aren’t always hanging out with just their family and friends. You want to be alone and intimate.
This passionate engagement is how we should be with God. Drawing close to Him means abiding in His words and letting them permeate our lives in faith, stirring the deep. Just as we long to hear the thoughts, desires, will, and concerns of those we love, if we love God or want to grow in love with Him we will spend time with Him in His Word, listening, talking, sharing, and growing. And being with the family, other believers is wonderful, but it doesn’t and can’t replace alone time with Him.
Here is a little test for you. Who do you say God is to you? Do your actions match your words? Many say they love God, but their choices and how they spend their time tells a different story. Let yours tell the same story. Be authentic. Be real.
If God is YOUR God, don’t you want to know (deep personal knowing) Him, especially because He tells you to know Him? Wouldn’t you want to know the One you are trusting with your life? Isn’t it true that we actually can’t truly trust without knowing?
I challenge you in this New Year to make your actions match your words. Make God a priority, THE priority. Spend quality time with Him each day in prayer, reading the Bible, and listening to His counsel. Spend time with Him as you would with someone you love. Treat Him like YOUR God. Treat Him like YOUR first love.
If you didn’t set another goal but this one, it wouldn’t matter because this is the only one that truly matters and when you do this simple act it affects every other purpose and plan you have.
A good goal is SMART
Specific – Decide on a place and time each day to meet with God.
Measurable – Track the times you spend with Him.
Attainable – Chose a time that you’ll be able to be consistent. Consistency helps habits to form.
Realistic – Be realistic – like 40 minutes each day verses 2 hours.
Timely – There is no better time than now to make God THE priority in your life.
Over 10 years ago, I started seeking God and spending time with Him each day. It was the most impactful life-changing decision I’ve ever made. The ripple affect of spending time with God each day has been astounding touching every area of my life and every aspect of my soul. It’s the best discipline I’ve ever kept. It changed everything. I read Matthew 6:33 and did it. I didn’t worry about anything else; I just focused on seeking God. His Word is true – all else did follow as it should.
God made it simple – seek Him and live. Amos 5:4 He is the way to abundant life as He has planned for you. Don’t make it more complicated than it is. Seek Him. Put Him first. He’ll handle the rest.
If you are already spending time with God … perhaps try to take more time to being still and listening for His still small voice. With practice you can learn to tune into His voice more clearly to hear His perfect counsel and wisdom for you life. Also, try staying connected throughout the day. Pray before major tasks. Make additional time to be still and listen. Try to be more consciously connected to Him throughout the day so that you can pray without ceasing.
If you set any other goals make sure they are ones that allow you to spend time with God each day.
Start by writing TWO love letters to God; one reflecting where you are today and one reflecting where you want to be at the end of the year … that second letter is a reflection of where you are headed.
Happy New Year!
God will not reward foolishness.
No good father does.
We’ve all seen the scenario of a child acting up in the store and to assuage him the parent lets him have some M&Ms from the check out stand. What does that teach the child? Act up and get rewarded! Thus, the cycle begins. Can you imagine if God did that with us?
A more knowledgeable parent or perhaps a more patient one doesn’t encourage bad behavior and neither does God. God won’t reward us for our foolishness, but for our obedience. Our foolishness hurts us and others so God won’t reinforce it. Instead, we experience the discomforts of our actions instead of reward. Yet, because of His mercy, God keeps us from the full onslaught of the consequences we’ve manifested. He allows as much discomfort as we need to get our attention for the areas He wants to address in our lives. Psalm 107:17, Psalm 119:71
The discomforts (like physical aliments, trying situations or relationships, physical hardships) are to get us to seek. When all is good, we don’t ask. It’s when things go wrong that we start looking for answers. Our discomforts are often a sign we are somehow out of line with God and His will for us.
We chose to be either rebellious children living in a world of affliction because we are not heeding His Word and instruction in our lives. Or to be children who seek to walk in accordance with God’s will because it’s a path of truth, freedom, and love. Obedience is our wills coming in line with God’s so that we start living in the fullness of abundant life He desires for us. As our wills align, we gain unity with God. We live as one with Him in truth, love and purpose. Proverbs 13
Obedience isn’t about forgiveness. We are already forgiven now and always in Christ.
Obedience isn’t about being “good”. No one is good but God. Obeying God’s commands is about walking in God’s will. The moment we focus on trying to be a good person, we act according to our expectations and assumptions about what good means. Because we think we know what good is, we cease to seek God’s will in all things. Instead, we are following our definition of good thus our will, which is limited and often different than God’s. The essence of religion is people trying to be good, according their definitions. It’s easier to follow a set of rules verses seeking and listening to know God’s will day to day, but following rules doesn’t bring abundant life – drawing near to God does. True Christianity is about being in unity with God’s will. Big difference. Obedience is about the heart. If you are in line with God’s will in your heart, the right actions will follow.
Obedience isn’t about US taking control and making things right. It’s about God working in us. For Him to work, we have to submit. For a doctor to do surgery we have to submit to his work. We can’t be running around the hospital. Once we know God’s will for us in a situation, then our focus changes from moving forward our way to His. Part of our submission comes through prayer. Our prayers start to align to His will, and that is when our prayers become powerful. John 15:7
When I have a discomfort like an affliction in my spirit or a physical aliment, I seek. I seek God’s instruction and He opens my eyes to see my error. God doesn’t want us in affliction. He rewards a seeking heart with enlightenment and truth. Usually, it’s something I’ve justified to such an extent that I don’t see it as going against God’s will. But as I seek because of the rising discomfort, the Spirit points it out so clearly that I can’t deny my error. As a child of God, I desire to walk in God’s way. So upon knowing my error, my heart is moved to walk in His truth.
Though I desire to walk in God’s will, it can be hard to obey. We do what we do for a reason; approval, fear, self-protection, or lack of trust. So God also has to deal with this aspect of our rebellion as well. He has to go the source of why we do what we do, not just the outward actions. If you don’t fix the source nothing is fixed. Thus, obedience is a process. It’s a deep work of the heart and that takes time.
Because it’s about the heart, and it’s God who changes our heart, our part is to seek God’s work in us. Our role is to be willing to submit our will to God. To lay down on the surgeons table; to take the small steps of obedience as He leads us; and to pray in line with His will. Because a changed heart isn’t easy, we will never be more dependent upon Him, His strength and mercy. We have to depend on God to carry us through. We have to depend because it’s His work, not ours.
One area for many of us is a change in heart toward another. Can we just change our heart? Have you tried? I find I can’t in my own strength, but I’m not meant to either. My duty is to come to God and desire to submit and pray. I pray before each encounter with that person. I pray for a new perspective about them. I pray for God’s love to abound in me. And above all I trust in His work in me and His grace to carry me through.
Obedience is a process – an affliction or discomfort happens, we seek to understand, the Spirit reveals our error, we submit to God’s will, we pray according to that will, God works through our issues that cause such actions, and we start walking in His will. It’s a journey, but it’s the path to life. I’ve walked through this process in enough areas in my life to know it truly does lead to a more fulfilling, freeing, and loving existence.
Don’t ignore the discomforts or explain them away or think that is just life – seek. Deeply seek and listen as you spend time in God’s Word and prayer. Let God peel back the layers of your soul to expose the truth of your heart and actions because only then can your will start to align with His. As your will aligns with God it begins a sequence of events to bring on a change that will move you out of the discomfort and into the reward. Hebrews 11:6
How often do we hear – say the sinner’s prayer and be saved? I remember sitting in the church pew whispering the prayer at the invitation just in case God didn’t hear me the last seventeen times. I was terrified of not going to heaven; not realizing it is mostly about a state of soul.
I recited it over and over because I had the head-knowledge that Christ died for my sins and through Him I could be forgiven. I recognized my need and knew I needed deliverance and of course I didn’t want to go to hell (not realizing the churches understanding was bound in lies), who does? However, I remained in charge of my life (often the part of the gospel quickly overlooked as churches focus on the number of people walking down the aisle). Jesus wasn’t Lord of my life, I was. I split Christ in two; I wanted Him as my Savior but His Lordship was on the back burner – and according to most churches that was okay, but it wasn’t and deep down I knew something was off, just not exactly what. I figured I just needed to say the prayer with more passion.
With Christ it is all or nothing. He is Lord and Savior. My plea was in vain because what I was looking for was a quick fix to my guilt, fear and terror of “hell” instill in by the church. Nothing changed in my life because I didn’t want to let go because I didn’t take the time to seek Him so I could know Him so I could trust Him to be my Lord. When it comes to salvation many churches overlook the significance and meaning of Christ as our Lord, it is all about a prayer and Lordship is an option. And for many who profess Christ is Lord, He isn’t. Our actions tell the truth; who we listen to, who we trust, who is the source of our truth, really. Words are useless without action backing them up. James 2:20
I wanted to believe in the words of pastors telling me that if I just said a prayer all was okay, but the restless in my spirit remained. Despite how I felt, for years I continued to try to trust in their words that left me barren, empty and spiritually deprived because without Christ as Lord we’ve got nothing.
The sinner’s prayer isn’t a magic prayer that takes us on a carpet ride into His kingdom; it is only an acknowledgement that our way isn’t the way to go. Surrendering our lives, believing in Him, Him being our Lord and Savior, and Him becoming the love of our lives is a much longer process. It entails knowing, trusting and living out what we know. We gain knowledge, trust and faith by abiding in His Word and cultivating a relationship with Him. If we aren’t abiding in His truth we can’t personally know and trust Him as He calls us to. Believe is a loaded word. If we truly believe Christ is our Lord then what would our actions be?
Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.”
Telling people they are saved if they say a prayer presents a false security and denounces Christ’s Lordship, besides how do we know if they are saved or not? We don’t save others; we don’t save ourselves, only God saves thus eventually he will “save” all. It was never a question in the magnitude of his love. It puts us in the wrong position in their lives, a position that only God should hold. John 1:12-13 We have to be very careful not to be the surety or guarantee of someone’s salvation by telling them they are saved – only Christ can be their surety of new life.
Proverbs 17:18 “A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, And becomes surety for his friend.”
Proverbs 6:1-3 “son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, 2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. 3 So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend.”
Hebrews 7:22 “by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant”
A ticket to heaven and a prayer that is the be-all-end-all is a dishonor to God and to what Christ has done for us. He came to give us new life, to be our Lord and our Husband, for us to draw near to Him and abide with Him now not just when we die. Going to heaven is only the continuance of what we have done on earth – abiding with our Lord.
We are to point people to the One who saves, not give them a false pre-mature security by telling them they are saved. It only cripples their spiritual growth and we play God’s role as being their guarantee of new life.
1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”