When no one is watching

Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty

“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with overeating, and drunkenness, and cares (distractions) in case that day come upon you unexpectantly. For as a snare shall it come upon all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth. WATCH therefore, and PRAY always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:34-35)
As always the flesh hates to listen to anything about discipline. Usually whenever discipline is being enforced it is in the light of training to win in a competition, to receive an award or to advance as the champion in victory. The concept remains the same in the context of spiritual warfare. Being an overcomer for Jesus Christ is not an option – our salvation has a calling and a destiny. Every child of God has been called to take all that Father has provided along with the responsibility to fulfill His will. The “overcoming” idea I am convinced, is as much about conquering our flesh – as it is about resisting the devil! Walking holy is not just a religious thought or phrase – it is a demand from God and a crucial determination within the heart of the disciple to follow and obey the voice of the shepherd.
God’s Word mentions about an exchange that is crucial concerning the beauty of Holy intimacy. It is the condition of the heart that measures how far or how deep we can follow Him. Selah. If we are “surface” Christians, we will only be interested in the basic blessings and eternal security that a Savior can provide. If we choose to be a disciple, we are committed to following Him into the depths of His presence as LORD no matter where they may lead. This exchange involves the tears of the servant and spiritual joy from God. “Weeping may endure for a night – but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) Do you know what the weeping represents? It represents a “breaking” of the heart. Sin has a subtle way of slowly creating a “film” of dirt which is a result of compromise. In our hurried life, we can ignore the calling of the Holy Spirit to come into the secret chambers and spend time with God. We can slowly allow our emotions and carnality to lead us and influence our thoughts with negativity and sin. This deception does not go “unnoticed” in the Spirit realm in fact it has definite consequences concerning our personal relationship with Him. Each day that we ignore our need to repent and restore our fellowship – the further away we drift into higher levels of lukewarmness. Our fire and the awareness of His presence fades away while our flesh enjoys the freedom to rule our body and mind. Our spirit cries abba Father, but cannot overrule our free-will. Our heart chooses what we do and “whom” we will serve. This condition builds until one day God intervenes by opening our eyes and revealing what we have done. Thus we are pierced with conviction in the deepest part of our being and as our heart breaks with sorrow and shame, we respond by weeping from within our soul. After we have asked Him to forgive us and cleanse us, we are refreshed and renewed in the beauty of His mercy, grace and love. This of course is where our heart is flooded with joy and happiness that we have now been restored into the security and good standing of His fellowship. When is the last time you have allowed Him to break your heart and cleanse your soul? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wild not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
There are many levels of maturity in the body of Christ. The masses usually love to hear about all the blessings God has for them or how wonderful they are. The problem with “nursing the bottle” of chocolate cake and rainbows all the time is that we can become unbalanced in our spiritual perception. As we keep repeating, I am not against being encouraged because we do need it, however we must see the big picture of not only the reality of the way God sees everything and everyone – but more personally how He sees us. This is where many immature believers need to leave because their mamma is calling! If you announced a weekly Bible study that was going to be about sanctification, I would guess that you would not need to put out very many chairs. To tell you the truth I am the same way and do not spend near enough time “deeply” examining my heart and this is because we all have the same common problem – our flesh wants to rule our life. I can do a general assessment and say a quick prayer and keep running along the path of the spiritual routines we all are a part of. But, let me say there will come “seasons” in all of God’s children, where we will come face to face with truth about ourselves that has the power to change who we are for the better. The amount that we progress and CHANGE into His image will depend directly on how convinced we are of our NEED to change. If we do not believe we need to change, as the scripture above declares we will NOT pursue the image of Christ and His glory which will result in us staying the same ALL of our life. In the routine that we have always followed, we want to live our spiritual life exactly as we have lived our physical life. We look in the mirror and see ourselves and decide what we will do and how everything will affect us. Our old state of mind will continue to lead us unless we receive the revelation of sanctification.
The concept of being made holy in the image of God can become a deception if we do not understand sanctification. If we depend on our “title” of Christian, to take the place of His refiner’s fire – we are living in a fantasy land. Just because we call ourselves a Christian does not mean that we are what God desires for us to be. Many believers are an embarrassment to God and to the world because they have never allowed themselves to be transformed by the renewing of their mind. It is true that we have been called to be “set-apart” but set apart from what? We have not just been separated from the world to keep from being contaminated or infected with sin, but we have been PURIFIED to be a holy witness of light to a world that stumbles in darkness. Where the crowds begin to slip out the back door, is when someone begins to reveal how much being purified is going to COST! Our carnality must be crushed and crucified just as the body of Jesus was nailed to the cross. In order for us to live the resurrected life of victory over sin, our old nature must die an agonizing death. Many will say that there is no suffering for the Christian because Jesus paid for everything. It is true that Christ paid for our sins with His blood but to eliminate the need for us to suffer as we deny our flesh to dominate us – is bad theology. The agony from sacrificing our carnality is crucial for our spiritual development and will flow directly in context with how much we have surrendered our will. If we have NOT allowed Jesus to be our Lord, (to be in control of our life) our carnal witness will prevent us from being sanctified and we will NOT be please Him as a faithful servant.
So, what makes the difference between those who desire to walk in sanctification and those who live carnal? It is either the lack of spiritual instruction – severe heart disease – or both. It is everyone’s personal responsibility to study and pray and listen to what God is telling them, but in many cases it seems that people just choose to not think about what God thinks about. Selah. I am not trying to appear to have arrived at walking in His Spirit because to confess openly, I have really been struggling lately. I realize that most of the time we are NOT concentrating on the mission at hand and I believe this comes from allowing our mind to be distracted with carnal matters. We may have a great time of intimacy one day but we spring a leak and the next day we are empty again. The vision should be for us to STAY in His presence but that will only come with the highest determination of discipline. It is God’s intention for us to develop a “constant” sensitive awareness to sin which will lead us into being holy; however this will only happen if we can begin to comprehend an awareness of Godly sorrow.
I had a person (that is close to me) make a comment about my ministry the other day. They said that in all of my songwriting and my article writing there seemed to be a consistent message. They said that God is saying the same thing over and over except in a hundreds of different ways and they all are about the condition and intention of our heart. The contents of the conscience is who we are, and reveals everything about us. I thought about this statement and I must agree that in the last 30 years, God in His graciousness and patience has been trying to tell me how much He wants ALL of my heart. Not just my heart – but all of your heart also. I know we wiggle and squirm because it is uncomfortable to think about laying down our secrets and the things we do that are not right. I mentioned Godly sorrow at the end of the last paragraph, and I wonder if we know what it is. As a Christian, have you ever done something or said something that after it was over, you felt convicted? Have you ever felt heaviness in your soul over a sin and you tried to shake it off but the misery just would not go away? This is a glimpse of the sorrow of sin. Godly sorrow is a blessing in disguise as it allows us to feel a little of what God feels. If we could feel how much it disappoints Him and how it hurts Him when we obey our flesh, it would definitely help us to be transformed into His image. We are a people of great needs and the one most lacking is humility. Pride allows us to sin and think it is ok. Pride hardens our conscience until we decide we do not need to commune with God. Pride presumes that all is well with our soul without ever considering the possibility of being deceived. It is in humility that we stop the madness and pull away from the chaos of Babylon and sincerely search into the depths of our heart. If we are willing to discern truth and not continue to sugarcoat our “rose-colored” image, we may discover that our conscience contains things we need to deal with. Father is doing a work in His people right now! He is preparing His children not just for a one way ticket to paradise – but so they might be able to do His work the way He wants it done. There are spots and wrinkles in our bridal garment and He is saying to come away and allow Him to “dry-clean” your mind and your heart so that we can walk the aisle as His beautiful and holy bride. Sanctification is turning away from being like the world and turning our eyes on Jesus.

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