A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Sanctification. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sanctification. Show all posts

December 1, 2021

God Is Watching!

God is taking particular interest in the affairs of our nation this week. Today, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in regards to a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks and is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. Furthermore, America awaits the Court's ruling on Texas Senate Bill 8, which bans abortion at the first sign of cardiac activity in a fetus, which is typically around six weeks. Both rulings will have significant impact on the future of this nation, as well as the spiritual consequences of these momentous decisions.

We are moving in the right direction, legally, but I'm not sure that is enough for our righteous God. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is an abortion in the United States every 37 seconds. But based on the statistics we have received over the last two years from this federal agency during the Covid crisis, I'm not sure that is an accurate number, but I digress. Anywhere near that frequency is an abomination to the Creator of each of those babies! 

Frankly, it amazes me just how much the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 has become lionized. It's only been 48 years since that iniquitous decision, yet it is seen as a bedrock verdict for the right of every woman "to choose an abortion before viability". And the real question centers around when does fetal viability begin? The clinical definition of viability is "the ability of a fetus to survive outside the uterus. Fetal viability is generally considered to begin at 24 weeks gestational age, since at this point in the pregnancy, most infants survive a preterm birth." If my calculations are correct, that is around the 6-month mark, which is right before the third trimester. A nation that would make it legal to end the life of a 6-month-old fetus has no claim to righteousness!

Anyone who has seen 3-D images of a fetus in utero knows that they are witnessing a human being on that ultrasound. And for those of us who believe in the sanctity of life, we know that from the moment of conception, the spirit of Life is present in those cells. And it is a great offense to the Creator of Life to suggest that life does not exist at that stage! Sadly, our fixation with a mother's right to murder her child has become "a right"; an entitlement, a privilege. Furthermore, it is a form of child sacrifice that has been practiced throughout the ages of the ancient world. There are those who would argue that the sacrifice of children was part of an act of worshiping pagan deities such as Molech and Baal, and belongs to the very distant past. They would also contend that that practice has no connection with the choices made by modern 21st Century women. 

But it is as much a ritual today as it was thousands of years ago. The Canaanites may have been paying tribute to fertility gods, or seeking favor from gods of the harvest, or even obtaining a blessing from a vow made in the name of a god -- but it was ultimately for the benefit of the adult's life; it was done to bring advantage to their existence. Nothing has changed. Abortion in today's world accomplishes the same thing. It benefits the life of the mother; whether it is done for convenience sake, to avoid poverty, or to eliminate the consequences of a horrendous sexual sin against the woman. I believe it is never an easy decision. And it shouldn't be. Life is a gift from the One who created each of us -- no matter the circumstances under which that divine light results in conception. 

But there is another aspect of abortion that my spirit grieves. I understand that we were created as spirit beings in the image of God, and I know that we were "chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him" (Ephesians 1:4). I believe that each of us is sent to this earth to represent His righteousness in the world, bringing the knowledge of Him and His character and nature to those who don't know who they were created to be... all for the glory of the One who created us. So, I think of the millions of spirits that were knit into wombs and never got the chance to discover and accept their identity, and instead were sacrificed to the lies that they were mere cells, and disposable and expendable.

So, the fact that it has only taken 48 years for this egregious act to become normalized in our society is the reason that the decisions made by the Supreme Court carry so much weight this week. It shows how far off track we are from God's will for humanity and for our nation. It is possible that these decisions will tell us if we survive the near future. We would do well to discern that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah's fall into idolatrous child sacrifice eventually became part of the reason God sent them into the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. King Solomon turned his heart to the pagan gods of his foreign wives; King Manasseh offered his own son as a sacrifice and so did King Ahaz. The bottom line is this: God hates the shedding of innocent blood. It is clear in Proverbs 6:17 ... There are six things that the Lord hates ... and among them is "hands that shed innocent blood". 

We are no different than the Israelites described in Psalms 106:38 ... They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters. By sacrificing them to the idols of Canaan, they polluted the land with murder. It is a fact that our land is polluted with the blood of innocent babies. And God is not only grieved, but filled with righteous anger. We have been a blessed nation for 245 years, and we are naive if we do not think God is watching how the Supreme Judges of our land rule, beginning today. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we all be praying today and that God hears our petitions to change the hearts and minds of the nine men and women who sit on the highest Court in the Land. Father, we fervently repent for the murder of millions of your children! We bow before You, humbly asking for forgiveness, and seeking Your guidance and wisdom to help turn this nation back to You. Do not forsake us, nor turn Your back on us! We hear the blood of these innocents crying out for justice, and we join our prayers with their righteous appeals! Deliver this nation from the abomination of abortion, in the Mighty Name of Jesus!

So, please join me and the millions of Christians who understand exactly how important today's oral arguments are, and that what this nation decides to do in the coming days to safeguard the lives of the unborn will have everything to do with whether America exists in the near future. But it is not for our safety that we pray; it is for the sacredness of Life and the right of every unborn child to live his or her divine destiny in the world. Please, Father, we pray for sanctified wisdom in our judicial branch of the government and that Your will be done today! Amen!

Ezekiel 20:31    For when you offer gifts to them and give your little children to be burned as sacrifices, you continue to pollute yourselves with idols to this day. Should I allow you to ask for a message from me, O people of Israel? As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will tell you nothing.





June 12, 2021

Will You Drink From The Cup The Father Has Given You?

I sense in my own spirit, and in the spirits of those who have great discernment, that our time of trial will soon be upon us. Maybe its because I'm re-reading John 17 and 18, and contemplating Jesus's High Priestly Prayer and the charges brought against Him by the Jewish Council and the Roman government. I sense the passion with which He prayed for those His Father had given Him, and I know that He continues those prayers for us in this time. He asks God to keep us in our Father's Name, just as He, Jesus, kept the Disciples who walked with Him.

Jesus knows that we will experience everything the Disciples endured in that day, and worse. The world will hate us, just as they hated Him and His Disciples 2000 years ago, because we are not of this world, just as He was not. He specifically says to His Father, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one ... Sanctify them in Your word, which is Truth." And then He goes on to request that the Disciples, and all who would come to believe in Him, "would be one, even as we are one". The Father sent Him on assignment, and here we are, in our lifetimes, at this time in history, and He is sending us out on our assignment!

As I listened in my spirit for the intentions of Jesus's heart in this prayer, I was overcome with a couple of immediate thoughts. Jesus emphasizes just how important it is to Him that we Believers "be one as He and the Father are one". This is not the only time He has expressed this desire. It is at the foundation of His ministry. We must understand that He and God, the Father, share the purpose for why He was sent to the world that they created. He is on assignment from Heaven, to re-establish the spiritual connection between the Creator and the created, and to offer Eternal Life to all who would receive it. And just as the Father sent His Son on assignment, the Son is sending each of us on our assignment. 
I couldn't help but think how difficult it has been for us to "be one". There are over 200 different denominations of Christianity in the U.S. alone, and over 45,000 globally, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. That many denominations has led to different traditions, rituals, and doctrines. That also includes differences in how we view what Christians will experience in these End Times. While most Christians understand that we have been given different responsibilities in the Kingdom, our souls often get cross-ways with each other over our perceptions of what we will experience. We are all familiar with the different eschatology positions -- premillennialism, for example, [in which Jesus returns prior to the 1,000 year reign of peace on the earth]; or the different dispensations of Biblical history, such as the Mosaic Age, versus the Church Age, versus the Millennial Kingdom. I guess it is our spirit of pride that compels man to determine the mind of God, which leads to squabbles over the question of whether Christians will be spared God's judgment of the world at the end of this Age. Are we to experience the Great Tribulation [as witnesses of God's love to an unsaved world] or be raptured out of here [and escape the Mark of the Beast and all that Satan brings against those that belong to Jesus]. Because of all these debated issues among the faithful, Satan has done a good job of keeping us at odds with one another.

But it is the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Judas brings the band of Roman soldiers, along with the religious officers of the Jews, that pierced my heart the most. Out of his love for Jesus, Peter is ready to defend Christ, and drawing his sword, cuts off the ear of the High Priest's guard. Jesus's response is both remarkable and inspiring ... Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given Me? Jesus is telling us that God has commissioned Him to go to the Cross to atone for the sins of all mankind. It is His assignment and "the cup" is the situation, condition, and circumstances He finds Himself in, and He will be obedient in carrying out His divine assignment.

Like Jesus, we are all here on this planet Earth because, as spirits created since the foundation of the world, we have been sent by Jesus to live in this human body [just as He was sent to live in a human body by God, the Father]. We, too, are here to fulfill our assignment. There are so many questions associated with that statement. Do we fully understand our assignment? Do we comprehend that it is the same assignment as Jesus's? If you don't know what that is, let me refer you to John 18:37. When questioned by Pilate whether He was a King or not, Jesus replied, For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world -- to bear witness to the truth. Here is what I believe is at the heart of Jesus's ministry, and our purpose here on earth ... Jesus came to be a witness about His Father [our God] and to glorify Him by accomplishing His assignment. By witnessing that God had sent Him, and going to the Cross in obedience, He is witnessing to the world that God so loved the world, He sent His Son [to die for us] so that all who believe in the Son will not perish forever, but have everlasting [eternal] life. He is inspiring and encouraging us to do the same -- declare this Truth, pick up our Cross and be willing to die as a martyr to this Truth. 

In short, Jesus came to be a witness of this Eternal Truth, and to send others out to be witnesses and martyrs to this same Truth - through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, who will guide us to all truth, as we need it, to fulfill our assignment. That glorifies His Kingdom and the power of the witnesses of that Kingdom; a Kingdom which is not of this world. The Kingdom to which we belong is not a world system, but a realm of power. We don't just write about it or speak about it. We experience it and live it. This is "the cup" we have been given to drink. It is a serious mission we have been sent to accomplish. At the end of it is victory and celebration because we have glorified our Father in Heaven, by glorifying His Son during our time on this earth. 

But between now and then, we must remain committed to witnessing to the world about the Truth that everyone who lives and believes in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will never die. The cup we have been given will be bitter to some and difficult to swallow. Pray that we can abide in the power and authority transferred to us by our Savior, and grow into His very image, joyfully drinking from the cups of Sanctification, Redemption, Grace, Power, and Victory in the Lord. Let us be a light in this dark world, pointing everyone we encounter to the way to Eternal Life. And let us willingly drink of the cup handed to us, saying, "Yahweh, You alone are my inheritance. You are my prize, my pleasure, and my portion. You hold my destiny and its timing in Your hands. Thank you for trusting me to drink of the cup You have given me. Holy Spirit, guide me and empower me to finish my assignment, glorifying my Lord, who has sent me. And Lord, Jesus, I praise Your Mighty Name! You are my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer. You will be my Shield in times of trouble, and You are the Power behind my Salvation. You will be my Stronghold. And I will praise Your Name because You are worthy to be praised, and I will be saved from my Enemies". Glorifying You IS my cup!

Psalm 23:5    You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of Your Holy Spirit; You give me all I can drink of You until my cup overflows. (The Passion Translation)

May 11, 2021

From Justification to Sanctification to Glorification: Do You Understand The Process?


I do not ask the question posed in this blog title to be sarcastic or mocking. I truly mean it as a legitimate question. If we, as the Body of Christ, do not rightly understand the process we can be in serious jeopardy of missing out on our inheritance in Heaven because we did not achieve the fullness of our salvation experience. I know that is a controversial statement to many Christians, but allow me to amplify what I am trying to say...

Those words .... justification, sanctification, and glorification .... are biblical doctrines that are important to our understanding of God's plan of redemption for man. But I would hazard a guess that if you asked Christians to explain their significance, only a handful would be able to give us a concise definition. And how many would truly understand how these doctrines are manifested in a believer's journey? I will be honest and tell you that for the longest time when I was a new Christian, I never heard anyone in my church adequately explain these terms. They got preached in sermons, and Sunday School teachers certainly used them a lot, but usually in the accepted abbreviated definitions: God sees me "just as if" I'd never sinned (justification); I am "set apart for a purpose" unto God (sanctification); and "Giving honor and praise to God" and "the final removal of our sin at the Rapture" (glorification). But none of it told me about the process of how I was to live my life once I "got saved".

The entirety of the Bible, from Exodus to Revelation, presents us with many examples of these important principles of our faith. But do we see them as the ingredients, if you will, that result in the fullness of our salvation, which is the intention of their existence? I believe God wants us to see the "big picture" of who He is, who we are meant to be, and the journey this life must take us on to achieve what was written in our Book of Life from the foundation of the world. 

If I may, I'd like to try to begin expanding our understanding of these fundamental concepts by giving you an illustration of them, and then I'll build on that. Before we can be justified, we must answer the call of God on our life. So, for example, in the Old Testament, the 12 tribes of Israel had continuously rebelled against their God and their sins culminated in bondage and slavery. We can see justification as the calling of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, the coming under the blood of the Passover lamb, and passing through the Red Sea [as a type of baptism]. This transaction between God and the nation of Israel resulted because Israel trusted God to deliver them into the Promised Land. Their agreement to trust and follow YHWH made them acceptable in His sight. We, in the New Covenant, engage in a spiritual transaction where God declares that those who trust in Christ and what He has done for them on the Cross are counted as acceptable before Him.

Glorification would be the picture of the Israelites finally passing through the Jordan River and Moses receiving the instruction to allot the land to the tribes as their inheritance. "And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to you for a heritage: I am the Lord" (Exodus 6:8). They received the promise that God pledged to them. Our glorification will be realized when we receive our inheritance in the Millennial Kingdom; after finishing our life on earth, we will stand before the Lord and receive our rewards for how we represented Him, and what we did in His Name; all during our sanctification journey and the process of our salvation.

And that brings me to the heart of of this blog. I think it is very crucial that we understand the part sanctification plays between justification and our ultimate glorification. Think of it this way: Israel did not immediately go into the Promised Land and receive their inheritance after escaping slavery and crossing the Red Sea. It took them 40 long years of being coached and disciplined by God, with a lot of episodes of back-sliding. The concept of sanctification unto salvation did not exist in the Old Testament as it does in our New Testament covenant. Yes, Israel was, and still is, God's Chosen people; called to lead the rest of the world to Him. But God did not send the Holy Spirit to live in them so that they could be convicted of their sin and be forgiven for eternity. Instead, their experiences are left to us as a record in the Bible, so that we might understand the purpose of God, be humbled to learn from their mistakes, and come to understand the need for Jesus to come as the Son of God, to offer permanent salvation by His blood, not the blood of animal sacrifices. NOTE: Please understand that there will be a remnant of that ancient Israel, gathered from the four corners of the earth in these End Times, who will be the ones to declare praise and honor and glory for YHWH to the world. They will be justified, sanctified, and glorified; receiving their eternal inheritance in the Millennial Kingdom! Praise, Jesus!

Here is what I want to present to you for your consideration: There is a lot that needs to happen between that time we profess faith in Jesus as our Savior, and we die and go to Heaven. Yes, we are pronounced "Saved", but can you discern that Salvation is not a "one and done"? Salvation is a journey and a destination. There is a process that is meant to yield a fullness in our salvation experience. It begins with answering the call on your life, and professing with your mouth that Jesus is your Savior. That's the first step in your salvation process. Then we receive the Holy Spirit and the sanctification process begins -- we are now to look different from the world; and that involves us setting ourselves apart by learning what God desires of us in order to see His will done in our lives, and on the earth. So, that means discerning His Truth -- not the world's, and not our own. To do that we must earnestly study HIM, and that comes from studying His Word. We must all begin our walk of growing into the image of God in order to correctly discern what He desires of us. 

Remember, the Israelites spent 40 years on their walk of trying to be what God wanted them to be. For me, I believe the process of my sanctified walk will continue until I am face-to-face with Jesus. Each of our walks will look different as Jesus and Holy Spirit guide us. Some will back-slide like the Israelites, but regain their path. Others will grasp God's Truth and see His plan for their lives quicker and with more clarity than I do. But as long as we stay committed and obedient to doing God's will, we will cross the finish line at our appointed time. 

We should all endeavor to be like the Wise Virgins in the Parable, keeping filled with the Holy Spirit and being prepared for Jesus's return at any moment. It was the Wise Virgins who got to experience the fullness of their sanctification-to-salvation journey and enter the Wedding Feast. It's not that the Foolish Virgins weren't saved. They were part of the wedding party, invited to enjoy all of the festivities, but they missed out on the full experience of partying with the Bridegroom and His bride. They were at the wedding [as Saved guests], but there was more to experience and they did not receive the fullness of all that their salvation journey afforded them.

So, what is required of us to receive this "fullness" that I keep emphasizing? It is really simple. In the Bible, Jesus says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of Truth" (John 14:15-16). Every commandment written in the Bible is meant for us to obey. If we choose to obey only the ones that are easy, or the ones that suit our personality, or the ones our Church tells us are "the really important ones", then Jesus won't ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to guide us and show us the Truth of those commandments we chose to ignore. We won't understand the command and will miss out on valuable Truth. Our walk will suffer. We are still "born again" and "Saved", but it will be more difficult to look like Jesus, who obeyed every commandment of His Father. We will still be part of God's Family and enter the Kingdom at Jesus's return. But our walk of sanctification will determine our standing in the Kingdom, as we move from sanctification to glorification. That is the substance of what sanctification is all about.

Every Christian should be aware that when Jesus returns, He is bringing rewards with Him. And our chances of receiving rewards depends on our walk during the sanctification process. Did we grow and mature into the image of Christ? Were we willing to die unto self in order to live in Him? Were we willing to give up everything in this world [including earthly possessions and relationships] to gain everything in the next world? You know those verses about "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth"? They don't always mean "hell". That will be the state of those who stand before Jesus and realize they lost rewards in the Millennial Kingdom because they could have done more in their sanctification walk. There will be disappointment that others are given roles of authority to rule and reign with Christ. Who won't want to be part of the saints who are closest to the Lord? 

However, it's not just our inheritance that depends on our walk of sanctification. As we end that journey, we enter into the full magnitude of our salvation experience; our glorification as we are resurrected into a new immortal body. We will stand together, praising and worshiping our Great God, in bodies that look like Jesus's glorified body. Our glorification, in turn, glorifies Elohim! How much we reflect the righteousness of Christ in our physical lives will be in direct proportion to the level of glory and inheritance we receive in the Kingdom -- and it is all the result of our sanctification process as we reach towards the fullness of our salvation experience. That is our hope of eternal glory, and a goal that every Christian should be working towards. 

Yes, I said "work towards".  And, yes, Salvation is not earned, but our faith in the justification, sanctification, and glorification precepts of Salvation [which result in inheritance, rewards, and greater measures of glory] depend on the work we do for the Kingdom while in this life. It is at that point that we will truly realize the fullness of all that our Salvation provides us. It is almost more than I can imagine or hope for! What opportunities are afforded to us as children of God!

Ephesians 3:19    ... and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].


March 4, 2021

Gates and Paths; Narrow and Wide


Earlier in the week, I took part in a discussion on the portions of the Human Spirit, and at one point, the conversation centered on the narrow gate and wide gate mentioned in Matthew 7:13-14. The seventh Chapter of Matthew is full of nuggets to live by, according to God's moral and legal standards. And we, in the 21st Century Western Church often forget those characteristics of our Father in Heaven. We don't like to think of God as legalistic. We will say we are under His Grace and Mercy and no longer under the Law. But we forget that He is a legalist. He sets standards, guidelines, and codes of honor, morals, principles and ethics to live by. There are requirements to being considered righteous, and it's not a sliding scale! 

That brings me back to Matthew 7:13-14, Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it. 

I would also venture to say that, from our modern perspective, we tend to see those that enter the wide gate as non-Believers. It's just taken for granted that we, who are Saved, are those referred to as entering the narrow gate on the way to everlasting life. If you believe in Jesus, then you are perceived as automatically going through the narrow gate. Have you ever thought that? I know that's how I interpreted it for years. I think this avenue of thought comes from our lack of understanding about the significance of "gates". 

In the Old Testament a gate [like today] was an entry point into an enclosed area; a door or opening. But unlike today, gates were the place where local courts convened, and justice was executed. Similarly, the New Testament asserts that gates stood for those who held government and administered justice there. And metaphorically speaking, according to Matthew 7:13-14, God has placed gates at the entrances of the ways [paths] that lead to either life or destruction; heaven or hell. A gate can be as thin as a curtain, such as in Matthew 27:51 when the veil in the Temple is torn at Jesus's Resurrection. It opened the way for man to once again have access to God. Or a gate can be synonymous with great power, as in Matthew 16:18 when Jesus refers to the "gates of Hades"; the power of death. So, you can see that the narrow gate has great significance and whether you enter into it or not, has great consequences.

Soooo... what if it's not as simple as all those destined to go to Heaven will go through the narrow gate, and all those going to Hell will seek the path to the wide gate? I agree that this particular scenario is absolutely relevant. But note that Scripture says the path to the narrow gate is difficult to travel, while the path to destruction and death is broad and easy to travel. Could it be that a choice between both paths could be possible for Christians? Here's why I ask that question ...

We know it is the desire of God's heart that all men be Saved. But, in His Sovereignty, He gave us Free will; we have to make a choice -- accept Him or reject Him. There is no middle ground. On top of that, we must accept ALL of Him! Again, there is no middle ground -- there is no area of His righteousness in which He is willing to compromise. He will never relax the rules of His moral law. Yet, look at the state of the Church and Body of Christ today. We have compromised with the world and accepted no-contest divorce, and gay marriage (even in our church leaders)! We have stood by and watched abortion, transgenderism, lawlessness in the streets, and the righteousness of our God mocked across our land. It has been a difficult path to walk in this culture and nation for a Christian! Satan has made sure the path has been wide and easy to travel for us. "Just stay silent; don't rock the boat," he whispers. "Did you see the loss of business that Christian baker suffered when he held to God's principles and refused to cater a gay wedding? It's okay to go to Church on Sunday and pray for the baker. You don't have to really stand up and proclaim God's Truth! He understands how difficult that would be for you and the trouble it would cause you. That's right, just keep praying that He do something about it!"

You see, Satan has been witness to the power and the authority in the Believer, and if he can convince us to stay silent or inactive in the Word, then he knows that he's got the edge in this spiritual battle on earth and in the heavens. We can no longer afford to say we love the Lord, yet remain rebellious towards His Word. That makes us a liar according to John 14:23-24, If anyone [really] loves Me, he will keep [obey] My word. That doesn't mean just the commandments that are easy to follow, or that we like and agree with. It means even those hard statutes and moral laws that make us unpopular with just about everyone in our compromised culture. James 4:4 makes it pretty clear that friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God. So how many Christians today will find themselves caught up in the surge of people being shoved down that broad path to the wide gate because they didn't anchor themselves on that difficult path to the narrow gate; they allowed themselves to make concessions to please the world and chose to take the easy route than to persevere on the road towards holiness? 

I'm not saying the path to the narrow gate will be a breeze. Your faith will be tested, and you will be persecuted. Just get that in your head now! But that narrow path is the only way to access the Father and His Kingdom! And it's going to cost us. We won't be able to arrive at that narrow gate by "pretending" to act like a Christian. Jesus makes that clear in Matthew 7:21-23. Although followers prophesied in His Name and cast out demons in His Name, Jesus told them He didn't know them! What if that narrow path is found within the boundaries of the wide path? Would it be possible to think you're on the right path to the narrow gate, while being seduced by the culture of to embrace the wide path that is all around you? I see it all the time .... professed Christians who embezzle money; self-proclaimed Believers who are still steeped in the iniquities of their family bloodlines; and people who I know love Jesus, but are lying to their spouses about secret addictions. 

It is hard to be holy! And speaking for myself, I have to rely on Jesus for every ounce of righteousness I possess! But Father is strict about entrance into that narrow gate! That gate is the doorway into His sanctified Kingdom in Heaven. Jesus tells us in John 3:1-5 that Salvation is the first necessary step to get into that narrow gate. We can't see or perceive the Kingdom without being Saved; and we certainly can't enter the narrow gate into the Kingdom unless we're Saved. But everyone and everything in the Kingdom of God in Heaven is up to His standards. I believe that Salvation alone does not guarantee that much-desired entrance. Jesus wants to see a changed life! He wants to see evidence that you are seeking the Kingdom first [having a heart that has been circumcised and cleansed] and also seeking righteousness! We can't play at being a Christian, while continuing in our sin. His blood was too costly to be sold at a reduced rate. So take some time and contemplate where you are on your path. Are you focused on staying on the narrow, more difficult path -- or are you prone to wander out into the masses who are on the more easily traveled wide path? The Body of Christ needs to become convicted of the importance of entering the right gate ... the narrow gate that leads to eternal life in the Kingdom of God in Heaven. Anything less could lead to an unwanted and unplanned detour. It might make your journey more comfortable in the short run, but will it be worth sacrificing your eternity with Jesus?

Isaiah 35:8     A highway will be there, and a roadway; And it will be called the Holy Way. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for those who walk on the way [the redeemed]; And fools will not wander on it. 






July 24, 2019

Being Sanctified and Spiritually Worthy

     I recently ran across this quote by noted theologian A.W. Tozer: "The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it." I spent a lot of time contemplating those wise words and trying to listen to God about how they applied to me.  I would imagine that each of you reading this have the same thoughts yourself. While I want to share where the Lord took me, I understand that what He is doing in each of our lives may look different, but I believe His ultimate objective is the same -- that we submit to what we are called to, allowing our Father to sanctify us before we "get up and go" to fulfill our purpose.
     So, I find myself asking, "Am I spiritually worthy to carry out my assignment?" Along with that question, comes the awareness that my sanctification -- my being set apart for this purpose/assignment -- is an ongoing process. What it looked like at the beginning, is not what it looks like now; nor do I expect that it will look the same at the end of my life. Sanctification is a personal and continuous experience.
     In fact, I am so blessed that my husband and I received our sanctification as a team. Mark clearly heard from the Lord one night in his sleep, and the exact same message was confirmed, word for word, the next night. He was told that he was to sanctify us and our property unto the Lord, with exactly how to do it with oil [that was prayed over and blessed to be made holy for the Lord's will].  No word as to what exactly we were to be sanctified for, but we just stepped out in obedience and waited; choosing to dive into the Bible until God's plan for us was revealed. 
     Somehow, instinctively, we knew that God was the Source of whatever we were being called to, and to step out without Him or clear direction from Him, would be doing something in our own power. I will tell you that this period of time in which we were being sanctified was among the most rewarding [and exhilarating] of my life. I witnessed our spirits come alive as God worked in us to release the chains of bondage that had held us back from seeking why we are here on this earth. We were fed and nourished by the Lord as we hungered for more knowledge and revelation of His Word. We were being cleansed and purged of wrong thoughts, wrong living, and wrong theology. We were "being made ready". And as our assignment(s) grow and change, God will continue to make us ready.
     That brings me back to A.W. Tozer's statement. Is it really not our purpose -- mine and yours, and the corporate Body of Christ -- to spread/share the gospel "to the uttermost parts of the earth?" After all, doesn't Matthew 24:14 say, And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come? As I read this sentence over and over, I began to change my perspective. Was this meant to be read as a command ... or as a prophecy? Of course, I immediately recalled the clear command of Jesus to the twelve disciples in Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We know this is directed at the Disciples, what their assignment is, and how it will come about. The same is not true of Matthew 24:14. We only know that it will be done. Only God knows how He will arrange for this prophecy to be fulfilled.
     So that perspective made me focus more on my obligation to the Father. If we know that we have been called out of the world to serve Him, it is not as important to know where He is going to take us, as it is to allow Him to take the time to sanctify us and make us ready. We don't know when the prophecy of Matthew 24:14 will take place, or when the end will come. While I still believe we are to proclaim the gospel ... for as Paul says in Romans 10:14, And how shall they hear without one who proclaims Him? ... it is important to submit to God so that we are "spiritually worthy" to carry out the work He has planned for us, while still proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. 
     I think part of that process of being sanctified, made ready, and becoming spiritually worthy, is the process of maturing. If we are not willing to let God take His appointed time to grow us and equip us, then we may step out too early, causing harm to ourselves, others, and ultimately, to God's plan. Submission to God is the first step. We must prepare and be prepared spiritually before we can physically go. I personally am concerned when I see someone step out ahead of God in their calling. My husband is so good at reminding me [in my calling] to always look where Jehovah Nissi is [the Lord is my banner]. He goes before us when He calls us, and if I see that I've marched ahead of Him, I instantly know I am on unstable ground.  Jesus knew He could do nothing on His own, so He was always under the direction of His Father [doing only what He had heard the Father instruct Him, or seeing what the Father showed Him]. 
     We should rejoice in knowing that when the time comes, Matthew 24:14 will be fulfilled, just as God ordains it.  We shouldn't worry about making that our end goal. Instead we should rejoice that He has chosen us, is sanctifying us, and preparing us spiritually for specific good works and assignments, "which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). We must allow Him to set us apart, to prepare us spiritually, and to mature us in our walk. It is then that we are the most effective for the Lord, and we can produce the most fruit for the Kingdom.

1 Thessalonians 2:12      We exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.


August 30, 2018

The Interplay Between Our Soul, Spirit, and Heart

     I am almost ashamed to tell you that it has taken me 32 years of my faith life to begin to get a grasp on how my soul and spirit interact with my heart. I'm talking about really knowing how God designed me to work, and understanding how I can frustrate the process of sanctification that He began when I accepted Jesus as my Savior.
     First of all, it hasn't been that long that I have come to realize that my soul and my spirit are two different parts of me. In fact, there are two different words in the Hebrew Bible that represent soul (nephesh) and spirit (ruwach). And I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of Christians who still don't make that distinction. But now I am fully aware that my soul is comprised of my human mind, my human emotions, and my human will. I also have come to know that my spirit is that part of me that is the breath of God in me (Job 32:8) and the part of me that is made in the image of God. When we die, our physical bodies return to the dust of the ground, and our spirit returns to God, who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).  Simply put, the soul is the human part of us; the life that we exist in -- and the spirit is the God part of us; the life-force, the "spark" of life at our creation. But they both interact with our heart.
     Now, what about the heart? Well, we all know that our heart is a part of our physical being; it is the organ that pumps blood throughout the body via the circulatory system, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and removing carbon dioxide and other wastes. But there is a spiritual component to our heart, too. It is actually where our belief system is seated; and how we relate to Jesus is determined by how our soul and spirit [independently] influence our heart. Let me show you how important this understanding is to the Christian life, and why it is paramount that those ministering in Inner Healing and Deliverance comprehend this "spiritual mechanic" in the lives of Christians.
     It is certain, from Scripture, that the state of our hearts is very important to God. We cannot come to faith without the involvement of our heart: For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God] ... (Romans 10:10). 
     Furthermore, whatever we allow in our heart will ultimately create the reality of what we experience in our life: So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life; [the original and bountiful Source of our life] (Proverbs 4:23). And of course, there is the verse that says, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7)

     Again, I want to consider how this works in the Christian life. Let's look at the heart as a gate between our soul and our spirit. If our soul consists of our mind, will and emotions, what do you think happens to our heart when we have issues of self-rejection or anger? Let's say the thoughts in your mind are always centered around "I'm ugly" or "I'm a failure" -- or you're always feeling anger towards your father who abused you physically or psychologically. Then the soul will infiltrate your heart [through that gateway] with a negative identity of who you are in Christ -- actually dump that negative image into your heart. 
     On the other hand, your spirit also communicates with your heart. And if your spirit has the knowledge that there is a scroll in heaven with your name written on it, and your spirit knows that this scroll details all the wonderful things you are going to do to represent God on the earth, then your heart can be filled [once again, through that gateway that intersects with your spirit] with a sense of your power and authority and your identity as a son or daughter of the King.
    But here's our dilemma as humans. Both the soul and the spirit are capable of feeding information into our heart and developing a belief system that is specific to us. The heart will process all that information and then the question becomes this: Which is stronger? Our soul or our spirit? If the soul [of a Christian who has a negative identity] is stronger than their spirit, then a Christian can still take in massive amounts of Scripture, repeat it without analyzing or comprehending it, and still be locked in that broken thought life. They may also be dealing with anxiety that he/she will be unmasked, often resulting in a religiously rigid believer who has mind knowledge of Jesus, but no heart relationship because the spirit part of them has been silenced. They have broken souls that have not been healed by the finished work of Jesus Christ.
     But if the spirit of a Christian is stronger than their soul, then they are able to hear more clearly from Jesus that those negative thoughts or messages are wrong; that's not who they are in Christ, and they know that their human mind needs to be renewed and those negative thoughts transformed from the lies of the Enemy to the Truth of God. IF our spirits are stronger, then God can reprogram our heart [through our spirit] without the soul being damaged or even involved. 
     So, how does that happen? How does our heart get reprogrammed and hear from Jesus? See if this makes sense. A person hears the Word of God and is convicted that they are in need of a Savior and recognize that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and their personal Savior. We are convicted of our need for Jesus, confess our faith in Him, repent of our sins, and the Holy Spirit is sent to seal the God-sized hole in our heart with Himself. He sits in the Holy of Holies, if you will, [of our heart] where Jesus hopes to dwell. When that happens, our own spirit is strengthened with the presence of the Holy Spirit and Jesus in our heart.
      But here's the thing ... Jesus comes to dwell in our hearts by faith in order to transform all those lies and negative messages; those messed up belief systems and wrong identities that have filtered into our heart. But we need to realize that this takes a lifetime -- it's a journey involving an ongoing work of sanctification and we have to partner with Jesus to subjugate or surrender our entire heart to Him and His Kingdom. 
    When we realize that our heart is the gateway to our soul and our spirit, then we can see why it is so important to God. Jesus wants to occupy our whole heart as His territory; claim it for His Kingdom. But guess what? Satan wants to lay claim to it for his kingdom, too!
     And here's what we Christians need to come to terms with --- Many of us spend a lifetime believing that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and we get that hole in our heart sealed with the Holy Spirit. But we never take the journey throughout our lifetime to subjugate the rest of our heart. Some of us camp out in our religious belief system and never allow God to do the deep work in our heart. Our hearts will still contain the poisonous lies from the devil that produce wrong identities and false belief systems about who Christ is and what He can do in our lives. 
     But the saddest result of the un-surrendered heart? You can never fully comprehend the love of God. If your heart's territory is sharing space with the lies that come from your soul (mind, will, and emotions), then you are unable to receive the full measure of God's love. That's why Jesus says we are "to love the Lord your God with all your heart...". When our soul occupies more territory in our heart than our spirit, then there is less room for Jesus to dwell there and our connection with God is weaker. Your belief system becomes more carnal-based and less Spirit-led. Ultimately, the heart becomes a battleground, and it becomes more difficult to comprehend the very nature of God [and His love]. Even though a Christian has the Holy Spirit living in the Holy of Holies of his/her heart, it's as if the veil in the Old Testament Temple has never been rent, and there is still some form of separation -- that person's heart is not fully occupied by the Shekinah glory of the Father.
     None of us have that perfect "heart relationship" that Jesus enjoyed with the Father. But by becoming aware of the interplay of our soul and spirit with our heart, we can endeavor to come into a right relationship; one in which the overlay of our soul and spirit onto our heart results in a belief system that reflects our original design -- where our mind, will and emotions are focused on Christ's mind, will and emotions; and our spirit is engaged with Heaven and moving from glory to glory. This should be our goal of the highest priority: a lifetime of ongoing work towards sanctification of our heart ... a new heart, a clean heart, a pure heart that leads us into God's Holy Presence.

Psalm 84:5    How enriched are they who find their strength in the Lord; within their hearts are the highways of holiness!