Mark of Beast
Buying & Selling
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
This verse is perhaps one of the most encouraging in all the New Testament when you are up against something outside your comfort zone.
As children of God, the limits of this physical world no longer apply to us, yet often in the midst of a physical trial we forget this truth. Fear starts to creep in and our minds and emotions succumb to the world’s wisdom. We become defeated by the things that in truth have no more control over us.
As a young child, in my room was a door to the attic. My mind concocted all kinds of things that filled that attic and that would creep out in the middle of the night to get me. My imagination often sent me running into my parents’ bedroom.
Our childhood monsters filled our young minds with terrifying encounters that brought sleepless hours hidden under the covers, and often made us flee into the haven of our parents’ bedrooms. In reality they didn’t exist, but our minds gave them power and we responded to them. We weren’t mature enough to realize they weren’t real.
Our minds are powerful tools. What we believe and what we give power to creates our reality. Childhood monsters were very real and we reacted to them. In the same way if we believe a circumstance, person or weakness has dominion over us we will react accordingly. We will fear, cower, give up, and run away. However, once a child of God and no longer living without God in this world, our trying situations become powerless childhood monsters. Only our unbelief of who God is and who we are in Him makes them real stealing our freedom, peace, and life.
Two beliefs are essential to overcoming our monsters and moving outside our comfort zones; God is always by our side and who is with us is mightier than anything we will ever face. There isn’t a circumstance, person, or personal weakness that can defeat us because God works through us to overcome all – if we trust Him.
Trust is the key to unlocking the power of these beliefs in our lives. We trust God when we know Him. In all our relationships in order to trust someone we have to know them. The same is true with God. When we personally know God, then we trust and the natural result is faith, trust in action. We don’t have to grunt out a faithful response, it is what we do as we draw near to Him.
Psalm 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You.
How do we know God? By the combination of His Word and Spirit working in us. He gives us His Spirit and our part is to put His Word in our minds. If we neglect our part we will be defeated. Without knowledge of Him we aren’t able to trust to the extent that is required for victorious living. God wants to be known by us. This truth was His desire throughout the Old and New Testament because knowing Him leads to everything else. He is our portion, but how can we trust in what we don’t know?
When you know that the monsters aren’t real then you move ahead out of your comfort zone following God’s lead in your life. When we know God then anything we face holds victory. Knowing takes time but it is a journey that brings freedom and peace into our lives. If we seek Him, He will reveal Himself.
We all start out as babes in God’s presence with irrational fears, anxieties and discomforts. It is normal. If we deeply knew who was by our side nothing would shake us. We have much to learn, and it is to our travesty if we stay spiritual babes when we should be maturing into adults enjoying abundant life. In maturity we know, trust and act on the truth that we have all, all, all always.
Realize the monsters aren’t real and they are only powerful because you forgot who is by your side. Take what you know of Him today and believe it and continue to learn of Him that the victory may be yours.
God, I did it again – I was pushover and let others walk all over me. Why do I have to be so weak? What am I afraid of? Change me! I don’t want to do this anymore! It hurts me and others so why do I still struggle with this? Why, why, why?
Have you ever felt like this? Wondering why you continue to struggle with a certain part of you particularly when it hurts you and others? These unwanted aspects of us are of our flesh nature (our self-will in rebellion to God’s will). When we are born into this world we are spiritually dead because of sin that separates us from God. When God breathes eternal life into us, a new spirit is born in us. With a new heart, not a changed one, the flesh and spirit co-exist.
In previous posts, Where to Focus – A Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Why Do Christians Seem Two-faced?, I’ve written about the spirit and flesh dynamic. I promised to talk about why we still battle the flesh, when we’ve been given a new spirit. So why does our old nature remain with a wicked heart? Why couldn’t all traces of our old life be gone forever now? Though the source of our old life is dead in Christ its lingering stench remains in our life, why? Galatians 5:24, Romans 7:15-20
There are several reasons. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul was pleading for his weakness to be removed, but God let it remain so that he would learn God’s grace is sufficient. That is one of many reasons. Here are a few more I’ve been thinking about:
Reason 1: God is Glorified
It is God’s purposeful design to have His Spirit in our fallen bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7 Living with this duality, God shows His power and mercy in the expression of the fruit of the spirit through our lives. God is to be glorified, not us. Aware of our fallen state, when we experience the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, it is truly a glorious thing. It is clearly not of us and to sense the power of God working in us is an amazing gift and testimony to others. Hence, God receives praise and honor for what He as done.
Reason 2: Magnitude of God’s Love
Despite our frame, God’s love is boundless to the extent of making us His children. Romans 5:8 The carnal mind can’t comprehend the things of God. We can only know God if we are born of the spirit. Our flesh remains once we have the spirit of truth so we can clearly see what we were in the flesh. Without the spirit of truth we are blinded to our own depravity. But when we see in the light our wretchedness, His love becomes overwhelming. He loved us so much that He wanted us to be a part of His family so we could spend eternity with Him. He loved us despite how we acted, thought, and rebelled. If we were only spirit we couldn’t understand the magnitude of His love that loves us despite who we were.
In addition, in plainly seeing our wretchedness, we learn His love isn’t based on our actions. His love is unconditional because that is who He is. This lesson is critical to learn in order to have an intimate relationship with Him. Otherwise we think His love is based on the extent of our goodness. With our flesh lingering which deserves no love, His love astounds us. We have never experience unconditional love like we do with Him.
Reason 3: Dependency on God
Without God we can do nothing, but with Him we are complete and perfect. John 15:5 As we live with the two lives in contradiction, we realize how much our flesh is helpless, destructive, and full of death. We start to see the lies we lived by and the death they brought to us and others. Our emptiness and lack becomes undeniable. Along with this new perspective of our old life, we begin to learn about the new life we have in Him; its purity, love, completeness, holiness, peace and joy. The contrast in our lives fills us with gratitude and praise for the tremendous gift He has given us. We begin to comprehend the extent of Christ’s sacrifice, its power and love to give undeserving broken souls beautiful new lives so they no longer have to live in the misery of the old.
Reason 4: Submission to His Lordship
We learn first hand anything that comes from our will leads to death, therefore with each new awareness of the depravity of our flesh we freely submit to His Lordship. With eyes wide open to the contrast of the flesh verses the spirit, each one of us experiences that His ways are better. Learning these truths in the presence of our fallen flesh moves us to choose to yield to His Lordship. God wants us to submit freely, not forced, because that is what true love does. The contrast draws us closer to God; loving Him more for all that He has done and given us. We have to understand the truth of who we are or aren’t and who He is so without reserve we will surrender to Him in love.
There is nothing good about the flesh, but it lingers to teach us many important lessons.
Bit of encouragement
Sometimes we succumb to the rule of our old nature because of spiritual immaturity. We don’t recognize the flesh for what it is, or we are taken off guard and a flesh mindset sets in and takes over. The good news is one we are covered in Christ’s righteousness every moment of every day and two God always provides a way out – prayer. He has given all we need to overcome the flesh – a new spirit, His Word, prayer, and His power. We need to nourish the new spirit, abide in His Word, learn to recognize the flesh, and use the power of prayer given to us in the moment the flesh starts to take over.
When the flesh starts to dominate, we can call upon God and He is faithful to deliver us from ourselves. Sometimes in these moments we might not feel like praying, because the flesh is in rebellion to it, but do it anyway. Prayer is very powerful because through prayer we shift to trusting in His power instead of our own. If we try to overcome our weakness by ourselves we’ll fight a losing battle. God always provides a way out of our temptations. We won’t find the strength in us, but we will in Him, every time.
When the purity of God’s truth invades our souls it exposes our true beliefs.
After spending a couple years of consistent time one-one-one with God in His Word, I had a life/spirit changing awareness about myself. I realized most of what I believed about Christianity was based on other’s words. Therefore the source of my trust was in others not God, which meant my confidence was in them. Up to that point I assumed I trusted God, but when prompted to take a closer look by God’s Spirit searching in my soul I found a different reality.
As I examined where my truth came from, who and where I went to hear and know truth, it was all centered around others and their words. True their words were supposedly based on God’s truth, but it was still their interpretations and opinions about God’s Word. Along with the multitude of warnings in the Bible about not trusting in others, but God, at that moment I set out to seek God and His truth from Him. Over the years, God has been an incredible and faithful Teacher about Himself. It seems I talk a lot about trust in my blogs, but who we really trust is the core of our faith. It affects everything.
I’ve been reading through Jeremiah and Revelations, some heavy books to say the least, yet amazingly rich. The verses below jumped off the page reminding of this awakening I had some time ago about my belief system, and reminding me to daily examine my beliefs in light of His truth because other’s philosophies can easily creep in unnoticed. 2 Corinthians 10:5
Jeremiah 48:13b “As the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel (house of God), their confidence.”
Jeremiah 48:7 “For because you have trusted in your works and your treasures, You also shall be taken. And Chemosh shall go forth into captivity, His priests and his princes together.”
Verses like these are what compelled me to a paradigm shift in my beliefs – seeking truth directly from God. If we take time to pause, these verses prod each one of us into a deep self-examination, Who do you trust REALLY?
Who do you trust for spiritual protection? Church, or God Psalm 18:30
Who is your shepherd? Church, or God. Ezekiel 34:23
Where/Who do you go to be fed (spiritual nourishment)? Church or God 1 John 2:27
Where do you learn about God? Church or God Jeremiah 31:33
Where do you learn about truth? Church or God 2 Peter 3:16-18
If we chose the first option – our trust and confidence is in the wrong place.
Many of us need to take an honest look at our spiritual lives – is the source of trust the church and others or God? And if it is the church (Bethel or House of God), then one day, as Jeremiah says, we will experience great shame for that trust, because we should have been trusting God. If it is God then we will stand with Him glorifying Him with our lives.
We all trust ourselves, the wisdom of the world and others in areas where we should be trusting God, but the question is – are we seeking God and spending time with Him so that our trust will be in Him alone? One reason for the multitude of denominations is that people are really following a multitude of different teachers and not the Teacher – one area of great misplaced trust. Matthew 23:10, 2 Timothy 4:3 A teacher’s role is to teach us to learn of God from God. I see very few actually giving this type of instruction. Most of them are spoon feeding us what they call truth, but it is their point of view from where they are on their spiritual journey. It may or may not be truth, and according to the vast warnings in God’s Word most aren’t teaching truth. Fellowship is great for sharing insights but the source of our truth, our Teacher is to be God.
God is to be the source of our trust. When He is it means we go to Him directly, to the Bible which is His words, to Him in prayer, to Him in stillness to hear His voice. He calls us to come to Him one-on-one with the Spirit as our mediator not man. Jesus came not to bring another religion but a relationship – an intimate personal relationship with our Father where we commune with Him one-on-one. So many have neglected cultivating this intimacy and will fall for it. Most have lost or never had a love for the truth, and will be lead astray. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 If you love the truth – you want to dwell in it daily, seek out its mysteries, live by it, and dedicate time to abiding in it.
Don’t give your life, your beliefs over to another. Don’t be one of those who stands ashamed at the end because you looked to others when God was calling you to Him and waiting to open up His magnificent kingdom to you. Listen to others this week – listen to yourself – where are you getting your truth – are you saying he said, she said or God said?
Hosea 11:7 My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, None at all exalt Him.
Calling upon God is easy. Exalting Him isn’t. Exalting Him means we truly believe and act on the truth that He is God, sovereign in all situations, loves us deeply and passionately, and has power and might in all our circumstances. That He is Almighty God, Creator, Deliver, Protector, Provider, and Comforter. That He is our everything. That His Word is true and we show our belief by living and speaking it with conviction.
How many of us truly live by these truths? How many of us truly believe He is who He says He is to us? What do our actions show? Who are we attributing power, strength and influence to in our lives? Who are we truly honoring? Whose truth are we living by? Whatever or whoever is the answer to these questions is who we exalt.
We exalt God when we look to His wisdom and not the world’s. Whether our health, job, finances, relationships, or anything else in our lives, there is a way and wisdom of the world and there is His. Whichever we seek and trust is what we exalt.
Giving into worry, living in fear, succumbing to discouragement and despair, dwelling in anger and resentment, and taking a passive stance in life are a few of the signs that we aren’t exalting God. Though some more than others, we all experience these emotions. We experience them because we don’t trust Him and we don’t trust Him because we lack a deep intimate knowing of Him.
Therefore the path to exalting God with our lives is one of drawing near. When we cultivate an intimate relationship with God in truth, then our faith grows and these symptoms, which arise out of a lack of faith, start to dissipate. It isn’t instant, but a process over years as He takes center stage in every area and in every way. Our part is to constantly draw close to Him. Learn about Him and His ways. Listen to Him. When we do the natural outcome is trust – and when we trust we exalt.
Examine your own life. What or who are you honestly exalting in the various areas of your life?
It is a constant temptation for all of us, battling the world’s pull on our beliefs and trust. The world bangs at our door calling out to us to trust in its schemes and philosophies about what leads to a good life. True life on every level is found in God.
I want to exalt God with my entire life. So I am going to continue to draw near to Him in truth, in His Word so that my confidence will grow in Him. And I chose to dwell and meditate on His truth not this world’s philosophies. Freedom and power flood our lives when we trust Him. I have tasted these gifts in my life and it compels me to keep pushing into a deeper union with Him; a union where He is exalted above all else.
Psalm 21:13 Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power
Worry, a child of fear, is a rancid thief to life. It robs us of the abundant life God desires to give us because we are focusing on a fearful future and missing out on all that what we have right now. Most all of us get caught in worry’s snare. But when you stop to consider it, worry is completely irrational for a child of God.
Our lives change moment to moment. What happens in this moment affects the next. This week I got a cold. Needless to say many of my plans got cancelled yet on the other hand other things like rest, which is always needed, filled my week. Before I got a cold, I was a bit concerned (nice phrasing for worry) about getting all done that I needed to. That worry was a waste of time, because my cold changed everything – and of course it all worked out and I learned some good lessons along the way. These moment to moment changes happen all day long. So how can we worry about a future that we have no idea what will be because we don’t know what each moment will bring?
Because God is in control of our lives and loves us more than we can fathom and wants the very best for us, worry is a waste of time for a child of God. When I lay out my heavy concerns before God, the answer never comes as I expect. Sometimes, it seems I am moving further from it being answered or not moving at all. However, when look back on what I have laid at His feet; He started answering that prayer the day I asked. But the string of events to the answer was not only ones I never had predicated but also they brought a complete and perfect answer. His answer was what I truly wanted and much more. We forget that God loves us and truly wants our best so we get concern, anxious, and worrisome. Yet, every time, He gives me much more than I even knew to ask for. In addition, each step that He lead me through to the answer served a significant role – like teaching me things I needed to learn and bringing me closer to Him.
Each moment puts us in a different place. Everything that happens changes the future and leads us to where God wants us to be and where we truly want to be. He may be putting challenges or issues in our lives because those are the very things take us where we truly desire.
Because what happens in the next moment changes the next and so on, worrying about the future that we in no way can predict because we aren’t in control and we don’t know what each moment will bring is irrational. We have to put our expectations aside and be in the moments listening and trusting His guidance in our lives. Not trying to predict our future, which we can’t.
But not worrying isn’t easy, because fear is one of our greatest enemies. How do we not to worry? Remember it is irrational. But more importantly, trust that God is attending to each concern. Trust God to work in the moments to lead us where we want to be, because that is what He is doing. Trust His path and not what we think it should be. Trust that He truly loves us and wants our best like He says He does. Trust Him that He won’t let us screw things up.
How do you get this ability to trust? From abiding in His Word and cultivating an intimate relationship with Him. Yes, this trust takes time. But instead of giving precious moments of our lives to worry, give those moments to Him by drawing close, to know and trust Him.
Who do you trust: John McCain, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Joe Biden, the government, religious intuitions, the media, the financial system, or big business? Trust in any man or system is building on a foundation of sand. Who knows when the wind will come and stir them up, tear them down, and wipe them out?
Times like these put our trust to the test. Once again we are being tossed about in a huge wind tunnel, this time a failing economy, to see who will trust what. The choice is between trust in people and institutions whose bottom line is profits or trust in God whose bottom line is love. If we chose the former then our sandcastles will fall because the wind is upon us. For further explanation read the Three Little Pigs .
When we trust God we don’t fear man or his ignorant ways but we fear God because He controls everything including money. And for His true flock they have nothing to fear. When the Lord is your portion, you have everything, He is on your side, He fights for you and He is your hope. Think about that for a moment.
Psalm 118:6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
Lamentations 3:24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”
In these times and all times I chose to trust God, the One to controls the wind. That way any interaction I have with others and institutions, which it is unavoidable living in this world, I will be encased in the protection, love and the sovereignty of God. Otherwise, my life will be at the whim of the world. Ephesians 2:12
Psalm 91:2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
Trusting is Hard
However, trust in God is easy to say and hard to do with sincerity and conviction. It is difficult and it takes time. It is difficult because God’s ways aren’t our ways. It takes time because trust is the fruit of cultivating a personal relationship with the God.
The majority of us lack authentic trust because most have neglected to nurture a genuine relationship built on knowledge. God is God we can’t change Him to fit our preferences though that is what we try to do. It is personal battle to trust God, because we are facing the truth that we aren’t in control. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us prefer a god that we can bribe, influence and control to some extent – in other words for us to be God. It is a battle we all face but it is worth the struggle to come to a point of surrendering to His sovereignity, because that is the only solid ground there is.
Yet, most don’t bother to really engage God and they lack a personal relationship built on knowledge as a result. They trust in a two dimensional god-like image created by their minds and when times like this come that vaporware trust is worthless. Their trust is like clothes in the story The Emperor’s New Clothes. An artificial relationship with God creating false trust can’t protect, defend, or provide. It can only leave them naked and vulnerable. Therefore their trust is in vain.
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
I don’t know about you, but I want a solid trust in the True God because this world in all areas has been screaming lately – YOU CAN’T TRUST ME! Going through the trials of putting self aside is nothing compared to the reward of a real relationship with our Creator. I am fighting my fear and lack of trust in Him, how about you?
Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
How to Gain Trust
How do we cultivate authentic trust? We abide in the words that God gave us about Himself. Like a spouse, we listen, cherish and long to spend time with Him in intimate conversations in His Word. Trust comes from knowing.
God is calling us to come to Him in truth and spirit. Are we listening? Do we really care what He has to say in ALL 66 books? Do we really want a relationship with Him or just to be bailed out? Christ came to give us a personal a relationship. He won’t settle for less. As Kay Arthur stated last night at a gathering of the Women in Christian Media, “the Word of God is lost in the House of God.” We have pushed the Word of God aside and put everything else above our first love including laundry. We have neglected Him and acted in self-righteous arrogance. But if we humble ourselves and come back to Him, not our images of Him, in His Word and put it as THE priority in our lives, then He will be our first love, the object of our trust and we will be safe in His hands.
Psalm 91:14-15 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.
Psalm 37:40 And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”