THE WALK OF THE CROSS II
I think about spiritual things throughout every day but I cannot seem to “brand” the awareness of His presence into my mind. I realize it takes a strong determination to stay focused on Him but my mind automatically pushes Him out and replaces Him with things of no value. Do you feel that your mind is being attacked lately with worry and fear? I have always been interested in God’s miracle power and the realm of the Spirit and I am always ready to discuss the Bible and the spiritual mysteries that are exciting and hopeful. However, the more that time goes on, the less people seem interested in these areas. In fact, just because a considerable percentage attends church, it does not mean they enjoy thinking about God or even talking about Him. Recently it is estimated that up to seventy percent of church members have never been truly born-again. It is sad to think of such a tragedy. This explains the lack of interest and spiritual blindness that seems to be everywhere. What else can it be? How long can a saved person ignore the calling of God? Year after year, some Christians do not feel the need to pray or study the Word. If you start talking about the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus, they roll their eyes and say they do not want to discuss it or that all theological ideas are subject to personal interpretation. Thank God, you are not like that! (?)
I have been told lately to my face that I really need to start practicing what I preach. I do feel the “sting” of this suggestion but I can take it because I know it is true. I admit that I have a long way to go and it does seem the more we learn and get excited about – the more challenges and opportunities we will have to “demonstrate” our newfound revelation. The devil quietly listens when we are praising God for His blessings and revealing His revelations. However, do not think for a moment that Satan is not also waiting for the perfect moment when he can at least “test the waters” to see if we really “get it”. If we succeed we can give God all the glory for moving through us but if we blow it, we can know that it was our fault and that we need to repent and go back to the drawing board. I have known people that constantly preached physical healing and would be the first in line to lay hands on the sick, nevertheless, when they were struck down with a physical infirmity they had no faith and gave up all hope. Why? The truth was in their spirit but their mind betrayed them. This is how we all are to some extent. Our spirit man ONLY accepts divine truth from God because that is the way we are spiritually wired. The “sheep” listening to the Shepherd is our spirit – but just because our spirit knows perfect truth and will only respond to God’s voice, it does not mean that we cannot totally mess everything up! This is because our MIND and SPIRIT can work “independently” (but is supposed to work in unity). For example, how many people who live by faith falter when stricken by saying, “Please Lord let me die”, instead of praying, “Lord please heal me!” This reminds me of so many people who ask constantly, “Lord, rapture me tonight that I might escape what is to come”, instead of praying, “Father, give me strength to do what you need me to do in these last days”. Selah. Let me say this again and I will use myself as an example, if I speak the truth of God and yet I cannot live it – it is not God that is failing in me – it is MY DOUBT and SIN that is NOT obeying Him and my lack of determination to obey His Word! If I make so many mistakes that I ruin my life, it does not mean that what I BELIEVED and SPOKE was not true. If the person who preached healing for 30 years dies of cancer, it does not mean that God does not heal! Amen? It just means there were several possibilities that happened within that particular circumstance that had a direct influence on the outcome. His Word is true whether we can live it or not! Praise God! If an alcoholic preacher delivers God’s Word, the divine power is in the Word – NOT the broken vessel. What we all need to do is start putting less faith in humans and more time in our prayer closets so that God can change us into what He has called us to be. People spend more time watching others stumble than they do examining their own heart. Selah.
Actually, the fact of not being able to live what we know is not a new problem. The Apostle Paul, a very knowledgeable and spiritual man of the time reveals his frustration in Romans chapter eight. He’s trying to live out what he knows is right and to stop doing what he knows is wrong. Allow me to use the Living Translation to make it easier for us to follow. “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I DON’T want to do – what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my old conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But, I can’t help myself, because I am no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.” (Verses: 15-17) I know we are to have more willpower and discipline. I know we are to go and sin no more, but this is why the CROSS is so important in our battle with sin. As you have noticed, the influence of our flesh is strong and we must embrace His cross in order to harness its control. This includes even the smallest details of our thinking. If we cannot resist our urges in the tiny things, how can we be a spiritual overcomer that will cast out demons or lay hands on the sick? If we cannot fight the temptation to eat a cupcake, how will we ever become a faithful frontline warrior? Let us go deeper and look at this scripture. “I AM crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ who lives in me: and the life which I now live in the FLESH I live by the FAITH of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Here it appears that we have been redeemed by His grace and are secure with HIS righteousness that was activated by our faith within His BLOOD covenant. In this light, when Father sees us – He sees the righteousness of Jesus! He does not see our righteousness because even in our good times, our goodness is not good enough! Does this excuse us when we fail? Of course not! We are still accountable to Him when we sin and are required to be transformed into His image as our highest priority, but that is what HIS forgiveness is all about! Thank you Jesus! Yes, sanctification is a conscious, determined effort to be holy and is not to be ignored but our salvation does not fluctuate from moment to moment. The grace of the cross does not excuse our lack of effort as God knows our heart and mind, and if we are trying to get away with something behind His back, we are just fooling ourselves. But this is the beauty of His love in that we are not saved by how good we can LIVE – because if that were true, salvation would be based on a list of laws, which in turn would “turn the tables” making us worthy and DESERVING. Everything would boil down to how good we lived and would fall into the mindset of the self-righteous Pharisee. We are not playing a game to see who has the highest batting average. Yes, we are to pray, fast, study and be determined to WALK in His Divine Reality with all of our mind and strength but also to remember that His GRACE opened the door of opportunity for us to KNOW HIM! The thought finishes in the next verse, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the LAW – then Christ is dead in vain.”
I have been listening to many different opinions about politics and social issues lately. Some are saying that we must choose what is best for our families or the lesser of the many evils. Some are saying that morals do not trump the practical everyday life challenges of surviving with things like providing and making a living. It seems the more social subjects are brought into law, the more “numb” the masses become because all they are really wanting is money to be able to buy what they need. I believe when it is “boiled down” that most people do not really care about what is right or wrong because they do not live for God that much anyway. The only people who are truly offended with laws that endorse sin are the ones who have the revelation that God is holy and they in turn try to live holy also. As our laws continue to embrace humanism it is clear the anti-christ will continue dangling the carrot of money in front of the mule as he allows everyone to keep “enjoying their toys”. This will include participating in the mark of the beast and being counted within the New World Order. This will not fly with the remnant of God that is being prepared to face whatever persecution is on the horizon. I believe taking up our cross includes standing up for God’s truth no matter what the cost. If Christians are afraid of the consequences of being exposed as followers of Jesus, this reveals they need more faith that God will take care of them. If Christians are afraid of being persecuted this means they need to devote more time in spiritual fellowship with Him to build their confidence in Him.
Our life should be filled with wisdom and doing all that we can but at the same time we do NOT compromise or bargain with the devil in anything. Most people visit God on Sunday and try to figure out how to live on their own the rest of the week. This is NOT taking up our cross! Do HIS WILL and you will not have time to worry about the difficulties. If we OBEY His voice – He will provide the miracle power! Those that allow themselves to be deceived with the “fluffy” gospel will not want to fast and pray because their flesh knows that what God has to say is difficult and it would “interrupt” their carnal lifestyle. They will refuse to confess and meditate on God’s Word because they are so busy with their plans, ideas, and distractions of their own making. These are the ones who will be deceived. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they will turn away their ears from the truth, and will be turned unto fables.” (II Timothy 4:3-4) Father we cry out to you, we need you desperately. Help us prioritize and “screen” everything we are involved in – through your CROSS. It is time for us to let go of things that have no meaning. It is time to put away our toys. Today is the day to KNOW YOU and your WORD and to TRUST you completely. In Jesus Name, amen.