“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do, and he will do even greater things than these because I go to the Father. And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son. [Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM]. If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.” (John 14:12-15 AMPC)
“Samuel said, Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and terpahim (household good luck images).” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 AMPC)
There is a call going forth these days to the Bride of Christ; to all Christ-followers to put God as THE PRIORITY of our lives and not just a part of our lives. The days of punching the spiritual time clock are over if we want to be ready to meet Him in the air at the last trump. God is preparing to pour out His Spirit on all flesh as is prophesied in Joel 2:28, “And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and upon the maidservants in those days will I pour out My Spirit.” This last day’s outpouring is the last thing before our catching away to meet Jesus Christ. I know this topic is hotly debated but this is my belief and since this is my blog, I’m going to state my beliefs; popular or not.
This call is being answered by many in the Body of Christ. We see lots of meetings where the Spirit of God is moving in powerful ways. People are entering their Secret Places to meet with God in their everyday lives. It’s awesome to see the hunger coming forth from people; to see prodigals coming home to God. I’m glad to be counted in this number of hungry people, and as much as I am doing everything I can to establish an even deeper relationship with Him, He brought these truths to me just this week and wants me to share what He has challenged me with.
We all know the first part of this scripture in John where “if we ask anything in My Name, I will do it.” This is a real faith-builder! But attached to this awesome promise is a caveat. Yes, it’s the “IF” word. IF YOU OBEY MY COMMANDS.” The victories in our everyday walk with God; the signs and wonders all come with the “IF” word. It’s the dreaded command of OBEDIENCE. What exactly does obedience entail? First is our obedience to follow the commandments of the Bible such as the ten commandments (don’t steal, don’t kill, honor your parents, etc.). Then there are the two commandments of the New Covenant to love God first as a priority and second to love others as yourself as Jesus commanded us to. Also in the Bible are the teachings of Jesus such as the sermon on the mount as well as the anointed words of the Apostles. To keep these commandments, it’s imperative that we stay diligently in the Bible by reading and studying it daily. It’s literally our spiritual food.
As part of the first commandment to make God a priority, we are commanded to establish a personal, intimate relationship with Him in the Secret Place of the Most High. It is in this relationship where He begins to speak to us specifically about our purpose, assignments, and instructions. In all of these areas of commandments, we are required by Jesus Christ to obey or give heed to them. Obedience is an action word. It requires us to actually do something. When we treat His instructions as optional, this is disobedience. If we habitually ignore His instructions it becomes rebellion. This is a dangerous path.
Disobedience blocks us from operating in the power of God and it hinders the answers to our prayers. How is this so? Satan, who is the accuser of the brethren, watches our disobedience and when we begin to pray for help or engage in spiritual warfare, He can legally block it because we are in the sin of disobedience. God is just and totally righteous. He will objectively look at our lives and if Satan has legal ground, He WILL grant it to him.
When disobedience moves into the realm of rebellion, then it becomes “as the sin of witchcraft” and “idolatry.” What does this do? Witchcraft and idolatry are sitting squarely in Satan’s kingdom and we are outside the blessing realm of God’s kingdom and subject to Satan’s attacks. The only way back is through REPENTANCE. Many would say “but I repented of my sins when I got saved 50 years ago.” Sorry, but sin requires repentance and I don’t know anyone who has successfully lived their whole life since salvation without sinning in word, thought, or deed. If we mess up, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. Think of repentance as taking a spiritual shower. It feels so good to get out of a hot shower nice and clean! When our sin is covered by Jesus’ blood, we are squeaky clean in the Father’s sight.
As the Lord challenged me with my disobedience, which in light of some things seems small, but remember, it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine. Yes, I go to church faithfully, I go to the prayer meetings, I attend all the services, I pray daily to Him, and I read the word regularly. On the surface, I seem to be doing ok right? But in the Secret Place, He has given me specific instructions for my life that I have been ignoring because my flesh doesn’t want to do it. In several areas of my life, I have not been faithful to obey Him.
What has this done to my relationship with Him? Well, my songs of worship don’t cut it; my giving doesn’t cut it either. Obedience is better than sacrifice, Samuel said. When Jesus spoke the words “IF you love Me, you’ll obey Me.” This is the measuring stick He uses to measure our love. Gulp!
Think about it this way; suppose your spouse goes on and on about how much they love you; buys flowers and candy for you; writes beautiful cards and letters to you but in their everyday time with you they prove faithless. They flirt with others, you ask them to pick up dinner and they don’t even come home that night, etc. How much value would you put on their professions of love? It’s all just a bunch of fluff with no substance. That is what our disobedience tells Jesus. It’s just a bunch of fluff.
The Bible tells us to examine our hearts for any wicked ways hiding there. Let’s look at a few scriptures:
“Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways and set your mind on what has come to you. You have sown much, but you have reaped little; you eat, but you do not have enough; you drink, but you do not have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm, and he who earns wages has earned them to put them in a bag with holes in it. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways (your previous and present conduct) and how you have fared.” (Haggai 1:5-7 AMPC)
“Let us test and examine our ways, and let us return to the Lord!” (Lamentations 3:40 AMPC)
“But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor.” (Galatians 6:4 AMPC)
There are many love songs to Jesus that we sing in our churches and in our Secret Places with Him, but the true love song to Jesus is our obedience to His instructions and His Word. If we truly love and value Him as the priority of our lives, then we must not take His instructions lightly. They really aren’t optional IF we want to please Him, IF we want to glorify the Father through the Son; IF we want our worship to bless Him. I encourage you, as I continue to do, to thoroughly examine your hearts; your motives, or actions, and even your words against the Bible’s commandments. Has He asked you to talk to someone about Him? Has He asked to lose weight for your health? Has He asked you to pray for someone’s salvation as an assignment? Have you been obedient to do these things? These are important questions and until we can answer “yes” to them, we will not be able to enjoy the fullness of our relationship with Him.
Since we are at the start of a new year, make the choice to walk in obedience to Jesus Christ if you are named as one of His. If you aren’t one of His, that’s an easy fix; just repent and ask Him to come into your heart today and begin to walk with Him every day. Don’t let your life be a bunch of fluff. Let us sing to Jesus His favorite song: the song of obedience. It is truly the only love song He loves to hear!
“If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, interventional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody). Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 AMPC)
“But if anyone builds upon the Foundation, whether it be with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, the work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day of Christ will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done. If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives [this test], he will get his reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss [of it all, losing his reward], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through the fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15 AMPC)
“Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be (truly) wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I [tenderly and dearly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude].” (Revelation 3:18-19 AMPC)
“For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]. Therefore, being conscious of fearing the Lord with respect and reverence, we seek to win people over [to persuade them]. But what sort of persons we are is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood by God, and I hope that it is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood also by your consciences (your inborn discernment).” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11) AMPC
“Look to yourselves (take care) that you may not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you] win and receive back a perfect reward [in full].” (2 John 8 AMPC)
God has a plan and purpose for every human being. Some people fulfill His plans and others don’t. This is a message to those who are in the process of fulfilling His plan for their life. I’m talking to Christ-followers who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and have surrendered their lives to His Lordship and are following Him, His teachings, and His ways. This narrows down the audience quite a bit, but it’s important to consider this message.
As Christ-followers, each one of us has a certain “work” or “ministry” or “assignment” we are to complete that will finish our race. For the Apostle Paul, he was to establish the gentile church around the world, or at least the known world at that time. He did complete his race. Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior completed His work when He cried “It is finished” on the cross. He plainly told us to “take up our cross and follow Him.” We must deny ourselves and take on His character to display to the world around us so that the lost will see the Savior in us–in our words and our actions.
After our surrender to Jesus, as we seek Him for our assignment, He will give it to us at the appointed time. Sometimes we don’t come into it for years. Rather we are in training to prepare us for the assignment. Wherever we are in this process, we need to be faithful to it. It is in the preparation phase of our walk with Jesus, that we learn how to operate in the Agape love of God as laid out in 1 Corinthians 13 and also in 1, 2, and 3 John. The new covenant that Jesus instituted for His Church has only two commandments. The first is to love God with all our hearts, mind, and strength, and the second is to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is the foundation of what I call “the love walk” that every Christ-follower must establish as the foundation of their Christianity. Without it, everything we do is futile, a noisy gong, fruitless, useless, and of no value.
You can go on any social media site and see the shocking lack of agape love displayed by Christians against other Christians. All kinds of bullying and vitriol as well as even a form of cancel culture one towards another. These things should not be named among the brethren. I have to confess that I have been guilty of these very things. Getting offended over a difference of opinion, unfriending over stupid things. But something changed in my life this year. I began a deep search and examination of my heart. I gave Jesus the master keys to all the rooms in my heart and what He uncovered was hard to take. My love walk wasn’t good. I needed an overhaul. I made the decision to settle all accounts with God before the start of the new year. As I began this process, He brought to my attention different people that were offended at me or that I had hurt in some way. It was hard but I reached out to them and tried to make peace because the Bible says that we should try and make peace with those we know are offended at us, if at all possible.
I reached out to the first one and they responded and forgave me and our fellowship is now restored. I reached out to the next one and so far I have not received a response. I re-sent friend requests, which one was deleted and the others aren’t that active so they probably haven’t seen it. The last thing God asked me to do was to send Christmas cards and bless the ministries with a small offering. The one received it and was thankful and gracious, the other I haven’t heard from yet. Why am I saying this? I’m saying that at some point we have to swallow our pride and try to make peace with other believers because the love walk is that important to God. It doesn’t matter if they respond or not. We are responsible to obey the law of love.
As I was pondering on all this, I thought about the Judgment Seat of Christ at which we must all stand and give an account of not only our actions but our words as well. That is a very sobering thought to me! I want Jesus to say to me “well done, good and faithful servant.” I don’t want to stand ashamed because my rewards were burnt up as wood, hay, and stubble because I didn’t stay in the agape love of God towards other Christians. Likewise, I don’t want anyone else to miss out on anything the Lord has for them because their love walk is out of wack!
Think about the work or ministry you are doing for God. All the hours of labor and prayer you put into it. The energy, the money, and time; are all to advance God’s kingdom. Imagine standing before the judgment seat of Christ and your books are opened and your words and actions are judged for good or evil. If you didn’t operate in the agape love of God, then ALL your hard work is futile. It’s nothing. It will be burned up as so much wood, hay, and stubble. You are saved, and you will live in eternity, but you’ll lose the rewards God had wanted to give you because you failed to walk in God’s love toward your neighbor.
What does this entail? Holding grudges, refusing to forgive even after an apology was issued, refusing to forgive wrongs, judging others because their theology is different, the list could go on and on. Some of these may even keep you out of the kingdom.
The message is this: make the decision now to get with God about the state of your heart towards Him and towards your neighbor. Don’t wait or ignore it. Time is short and once you leave this earth, your books are closed and completed. The things that aren’t under the Blood of Jesus WILL BE JUDGED.
Remember, the blood of Jesus Christ completely eradicates our sins. We must repent of lovelessness as well as all other sins. I know a lot of people say that grace covers it so we don’t have to worry about it. I disagree. When we are born again our sinful nature is changed and we become a new creature, but I don’t know anyone who gets born-again and never sins in words, thoughts, or actions for the rest of their lives! I’d like to meet him or her and find out how they do it. Repentance is what it means to keep short accounts with God. It’s what it means to examine our hearts for sinful attitudes and motives. Keeping short accounts with God is crucial at this time. We should make every effort to examine our hearts every day to see how our ways are aligned with His. Lack of love is not allowed in the Kingdom of God. It’s that simple. What sets Christians apart from the world is this: “they shall know we are Christians because of our love one for another.” If we can’t love one another, then what good is our faith? 1 Corinthians says “we are useless nobodies.”
I resisted God in doing this blog post because it’s not warm and fuzzy. It’s not a feel-good message. But I have a fire shut up in my bones about it and I have to get it out, so I’m willing to let the chips fall where they may. I may get bullied, or canceled but I’d rather that than hear Jesus’ question why I didn’t give the message He told me to give. Somebody, somewhere will take this and change their lives. That’s all that matters…
“That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or blemish, or any such thing [that she might be holy and faultless].” (Ephesians 5:27 AMPC)
“So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him [at His coming] without spot or blemish and at peace [in serene confidence, free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts].” (2 Peter 3:14 AMPC)
These two scriptures are pretty intimidating to me since I’m a flawed human being. It seems such a daunting task to get my life without spots, wrinkles, or blemishes. Nonetheless, Jesus Christ IS COMING for a bride that is without spot or wrinkle or blemish. I want to be named among that number and I will do whatever it takes to do it.
What is a “spot?” The Greek definition of the word spot is “spilos,” which means a defect or a disgrace. Since nobody is perfect, how can we ever hope to achieve being spotless? All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and we are flesh, which is a whole other issue. Bear with me as I think this through because this blog post is for me as much as it is for you. If Jesus Christ requires us to be spotless, then there is more to these “spots” than meets the eye. Spots happen on our clothes as we live life. How many of us have made the mistake of eating spaghetti and meatballs wearing a white shirt? Believe me, you will get red spots on that white shirt! So spots are going to be something we have to deal with pretty regularly.
What does this mean for us as believers? It means that we need to keep short accounts with God to stay on top of this. For example, our goal with our credit cards should always be to pay them off at the end of the month. This is hard to do, but it’s our goal. Similarly, we need to daily examine our hearts to see if we have any bad attitudes, unforgiveness, or offenses creating “spots” in our spiritual life.
“Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected. But I hope you will recognize and know that we are not disapproved on trial and rejected.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6 AMPC)
How does this fit into our everyday lives? For example, let’s say that you are going along and your boss calls you on the carpet in front of the entire office. That’s a major hurt and embarrassment for anyone to take. It’s only natural to get angry and offended at this. So here is a big “spot” that’s been thrown at you. How are you going to handle this? For a Christian who is trying to live fully for Jesus Christ, they will take it immediately to Him in prayer. They will deal with the fiery dart and forgive those who inflicted it. This response will erase the spot immediately. But what about the injustice of it? Shouldn’t we stand up for ourselves and push back? The way of the world is to do that. What does 1 Corinthians 13 say?
“…Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way for it is not self-seeking;…) (1 Corinthians 13:5 AMPC)
By releasing the injustice and hurt to God like this, it removes YOU from the picture and puts the whole issue between them and God. They will have to answer for that at the judgment at the end of all things. By letting love cover it, it helps you to move on to what God has for your future. It’s just not worth getting all embroiled in strife over offenses like this.
So the “spots” to me are the issues that life throws at us to keep us offended or with bad attitudes, which in turn, distances us from God’s plan and purpose for us. We must keep short accounts with God on a daily basis through self-examination of our hearts!
What is a “wrinkle”? The Greek word is “ethutis,” which means a fold, like on the face. As we age, our skin begins to lose its elasticity and the skin begins to overlap and cause lines and wrinkles. It also means to “lay hold on,” which could mean something like a bad habit or besetting sin that will cause us to spiritually wrinkle.
Let’s think about a bride. A bride is going to do her best to be perfect for her wedding day. She is horrified if she has a line or a pimple on her face on her wedding day! A wrinkle can indicate dryness and the best thing to do is to apply moisturizer or better yet, oil. It takes time to minimize a wrinkle, and, with regular care, it can be minimized.
A spiritual “wrinkle” is something that happens over time. It’s a compromise or disobedience in certain areas that cause us to wrinkle. Think about it, you can tell by a person’s face, the kind of life they have lived. A hard-lived life will show on the face in wrinkles and deep furrows. These compromises or disobediences eventually turn into a rebellious lifestyle if not put under the blood of Jesus Christ. That is the key. Repentance is the key that turns this back into smoothness before God. Again it goes back to keeping short accounts with God.
Another analogy is the spiritual dryness we all go through periodically. How many times have we been in the wilderness of a dry and barren place? Dry skin will wrinkle and shrivel up because of a lack of moisture. The Word of God is compared to water; to moisture. Don’t neglect the Word, and I’m preaching to myself here. The key is to be diligent and to put God as a priority in your daily schedule. If you are being diligent to spend daily time with God in prayer and in His Word, then any besetting sins or compromises are going to be dealt with. It’s inevitable!
“So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water of the Word.” (Ephesians 5:26 AMPC)
Notice in this scripture that Jesus is the One who does the cleansing. The purpose is sanctification, which means to “set apart.” What is our responsibility? To get into the Bible and let Him have His way in this process. Unlike natural wrinkle creams, Jesus Christ has the ability to completely eradicate every spiritual wrinkle you have!
What is a blemish? The Greek word is “amomos,” which means “at fault,” “guilty,” and “subject to blame.” A blemish on the skin is also known as a pimple. Pimples are temporary in nature with certain kinds of protocols to deal with them. Pimples that are not properly dealt with can leave unsightly scars. We are starting out in our Christian walk full of blemishes as well as spots and wrinkles. Thank God for Jesus!
“Say to Aaron, Any one of your sons in their successive generations who has any blemish, let him not come near to offer the bread of his God.” (Leviticus 21:17 AMPC)
According to this, blemishes keep us separated from God’s presence. Blemishes are serious but with proper care can be eradicated. What is that proper care for us spiritually? The blood of Jesus Christ being applied will eradicate it. This is done through repentance.
Blemishes are sin. Sin is done through our actions, our attitudes, and our words. Sin is dealt with through repentance and the blood of Jesus Christ because He is the sinless, perfect Lamb of God who paid the price to make us blemish-free!
“But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:19 AMPC)
Does this give us a license to willfully sin? NO! We are required to live holy and sanctified lives and be ready to meet the Lord when He comes at all times. Failure to obey Him will cost you dearly, I’m telling you the truth.
Blemishes are unrepentant sins, attitudes, unforgiveness, sins of the flesh, etc. that keep us out of His presence. What does this mean for us? Unrepentant sins keep us outside of kingdom blessings of healing, prosperity, peace, etc. Obedience and repentance are key to our ability to enjoy the abundant life Jesus purchased for us.
Again, it comes back around to our keeping short accounts with God and self-examination of our hearts daily. This process is also known as crucifying the flesh.
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.” (Galatians 5:24 AMPC)
Yes, the grace of God is here for us because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, but we have a responsibility to live for Him wholeheartedly and this requires us to be diligent about our attitudes, actions, and words.
Let’s begin today this process of self-examination to ensure that we are always ready to meet the Lord should He come today. If we are not ready to meet Him, we will be left behind to face the wrath to come. We are living in perilous times and His return is nearer than we think. Don’t wait to begin this process of surrender, self-examination, and repentance. He is coming for a bride without spot, or wrinkle, or blemish. He wouldn’t require this of us if it was impossible to do. It is possible; it just takes a made-up mind and diligence to achieve it!
“If I can speak in the tongues of men and even of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for us and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging symbol, and if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing ( a useless nobody). Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy, fretful, or resentful; if takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes and is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].
As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away (it will lose its value and be superseded by truth]. For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect). But when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded).
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside. For now, we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma, but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].
And so faith, hope, and love abide [faith–conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope–joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love–true affection of God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 AMP)
This is the entire thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians; aka “the love chapter.” Every Christ-follower should have a thorough understanding of this chapter and obey it because our ability to love other people as much as we love God is what shows the lost people around us God’s love for them. If we fail to walk in the Agape love of God towards other people, especially other Christians, then everything we do is useless. We gain nothing. It becomes wood, hay, and stubble and will be burnt up at the judgment seat of Christ that we will all face in eternity.
I watch a lot of Youtube video channels on many different topics. There are a lot of Christian people who share information on their channels and talk about the Lord, and that is a great way to spread the Gospel. Unfortunately, I’ve seen at different times, displays of the opposite of love as described in 1 Corinthians 13. It’s sad because such a public platform should be a great way to display the love of God and show the world what love really looks like. All too often though, we see Christians failing to keep this standard on public platforms. Walking in true Agape love is hard because it demands humility when we are wrong and when people can’t or won’t do the right thing it grieves the Holy Spirit.
I have been pondering on this issue for a day or so and I went back to study 1 Corinthians 13 again. This chapter is such a toe-stomper because we all struggle to keep this standard of love in a world where everyone gets offended so easily. For example, I was thinking about a friend of mine on social media and went to their page, and low and behold they had unfriended me! It was like a dagger entered my heart because I couldn’t understand what I had done to this person to warrant being unfriended. I have to admit I was hurt by it because I thought we were friends. We’re both Christians and now we aren’t friends? How is that possible in the Kingdom of God where love is the glue that binds us together? I must admit that it has taken me a week or so to work through the rejection of this. But 1 Corinthians 13 gives me the answer on how to handle this: love pays no attention to a suffered wrong; love bears up under anything and everything. How do you handle the rejection of other believers? I went straight to the Lord Jesus Christ and forgave the person and asked to be healed of this fiery dart. I cast this care into His hands and today, I feel much better about it. Jesus said, “in the world, you will have tribulations and trials, but I have overcome the world.” It’s a given that sometimes we will be rejected by others, we will be canceled by others and yes, sometimes they will also be Christians. However, we are responsible only for our response to these fiery darts. Go to 1 Corinthians 13 when you get hit.
Imagine for a moment, if for one day, everyone who claims to be a Christian would actually obey 1 Corinthians 13. There would be no divisive arguments on issues that have no eternal value; people would overlook wrongs done to them; love would cover a multitude of sins. Imagine how a day like this would impact the world around us! The best way to change a culture is to let it begin with you and me as individuals. If we make the decision every morning to actually obey 1 Corinthians 13, we can and will change the world around us and see people come into God’s kingdom realm.
Today, I can start with me. I choose to not be offended by the rejection of others. I can choose to love and pray for their benefit. Today, when I see fellow believers embroiled in strife, I will not join in and give my opinion, I will pray for their eyes to be opened and that they would be restored to fellowship. Today, I can take stock of the people in my realm of influence and see if I need to mend relationships by apologizing or doing something kind for them. As Christians, we must walk humbly before God. This ability is a powerful weapon to overcome evil because love has the ability to overcome evil with good.
If you are in a situation where you have been rejected or offended by someone, take some time today to meditate on 1 Corinthians 13 and meet with the Lord to forgive and be set free from any offense. Remember, true Agape love, covers a multitude of sins. On the flip side, if you know you have offended or hurt someone else, humble yourself and go try to make peace with that person. It really does help you, in the long run, to do everything you can to pursue peace with all people. God takes note of it. Even if they don’t respond or reject it, you have fulfilled all righteousness and God will be very pleased with you. Imagine what you can do today to fulfill 1 Corinthians 13…
“Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consumes and destroys, and where thieves do not break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 AMPC)
Every time I’ve read this passage from Jesus’ sermon on the mount, I’ve wondered what the treasures are that we gather in the heavenly bank account. This begs the question: what is important to God in our lives? Here are a few “treasures” I believe can increase our heavenly bank balance:
Giving Financially into the Kingdom of God
“Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38 AMPC)
“Let each one [give] as he had made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves [He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].” (2 Corinthians 9:7 AMPC)
Let’s face it, people cannot make it in this world without money. It is a necessity of life that can be a matter of life and death. For example, the widow woman that gave her last amount of bread to the prophet Elijah received oil and meal supernaturally throughout the remainder of the famine in that land (I Kings 17:7-16). We can’t forget the widow who gave her last mite to God’s Kingdom and Jesus commended her to this day that one small act lives on to inspire us to do the same (Luke 21:1-4). Each one of these women made deposits in their heavenly bank account by being willing to give that last they had to God’s Kingdom.
I went through a time of great lack for two or three years, even now it’s tight a portion of each month, but not near as tough as in those days. I adopted what I call “widow woman economics.” I would give every last bit of money I had in my wallet into God’s Kingdom every time the offering plate passed me by. My heart wanted to give a lot more but I just didn’t have it, so I gave everything I did have. He never failed to provide and help me in the desperate time I was in. Eventually, He brought income streams to me that are sustaining me to this day. He is so faithful!
It’s the HEART of giving that the Lord is looking for, not the amount you give. In the Old Covenant, it’s ten percent, in the New Covenant, it’s one hundred percent. The heart of giving is being willing to give it all. I remember getting a gift from a relative for $100. I was so excited! As I was looking at the check, I was thinking about what I could buy with it, then the Lord said to give it to your sister. My attitude was right because I was happy to do that. I obeyed His request and shortly thereafter, I began to get regular gifts over what I was currently making. I learned through this that God is always after our HEARTS. Everything in God’s Kingdom is about the HEART.
Forgiveness and Graciousness
“Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times? Jesus answered him, but seventy times seven! (Matthew 18:21-22 AMPC)
“Therefore the Kingdom of heaven is like a human king who wished to settle accounts with his attendants. When he began the accounting, one was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents [probably about $10 million], and because he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and everything he possessed, and payment be made. So the attendant fell on his knees, begging him, “have patience with me and I will pay you everything.” And his master’s heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him [canceling] the debt. But that same attendant, as he went out, found one of his fellow attendants who owed him a hundred denarii [about twenty dollars]; and he caught him by the throat and said, “pay me what you owe!”
So his fellow attendant fell down and begged him earnestly, “give me time, and I will pay you all!” But he was unwilling, and he went out and had him put in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow attendants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and told everything that had taken place to their master. Then his master called him and said to him, “you contemptible and wicked attendant! I forgave and canceled all that [great] debt of yours because you begged me to. And should you not have had pity and mercy on your fellow attendant, as I had pity and mercy on you? And in wrath, his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay all that he owed. So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.” (Matthew 18:23-35 AMPC)
We are all human and are going to make mistakes and hurt other people sometimes. However, there are people who like treating people badly. These scriptures are talking about fellow servants. Christians treating other Christians wrongly. Whether it is someone who doesn’t know Jesus or another Christian, our attitude should be one of forgiveness and grace. So many times it is the people closest to us that hurt us. But God requires us to forgive them anyway over and over again. The treasure you can gain in your heavenly bank account with a heart willing to forgive wrongs over and over again is immeasurable.
I’ve had times when I was ripped off in business agreements and I knew it was just gone and not coming back, so I had to forgive those debts from my heart and trust God to help me with the problems. He was absolutely faithful to help me. I learned through forgiveness and releasing offenses that God loves to help with an attitude like that. On the flip side, I’ve been guilty of hurting someone and no amount of apologizing was going to heal the relationships. The Bible says we are to go and try and make amends and if they refuse, then that is all we can do (Matthew 5:24).
Whichever side of this issue we are on, it is the attitude of our heart that determines God’s pleasure in us. By forgiving those who hurt us or wrong us, we store up treasures. By repenting and seeking forgiveness for wrongs we have done, God is pleased when we humble ourselves. Humility is a treasure in heaven. What I have learned is that we should ask God to let us see everyone through His eyes. When we do this, it helps us to stay unoffended by anyone. Mercy and compassion are our companions with this attitude.
Cultivating the Fruit of Spirit
“But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence without accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things, there is no law [that can bring a charge]” (Galatians 5:22-23 AMPC).
The fruit of the Spirit on full display in a Christian’s life does more to win the lost than all the preaching in the world. The very process of cultivating this fruit stores up treasures in heaven. The fruit of the Spirit is the building blocks of you as the temple of the Holy Spirit. The foundation is the Agape love of God, joy comes with just knowing Jesus and being filled with His Spirit; the peace of God that passes all understanding and is found nowhere else but in God. A person who exhibits this peace remains calm in the fieriest of trials. With peace in place, we can easily cultivate patience with others no matter how mean they are to us. When we are patient we can be kind to others in the face of their rudeness. Out of kindness, good deeds follow. Jesus said to “do good to those who despitefully use you.” (Matthew 5:44). At this point, you understand how to be faithful to do what you are called to do, are required to do, and fulfill promises you have made. Finally, the fruit of self-control is a culmination of all the fruits cultivated. A person who is self-controlled isn’t hot-headed, doesn’t let abuse change their self-confidence or identity, and can resist the fiercest temptations of the enemy. They are able to love their enemies and do kind things for them. They never let their tongue speak anything but life-giving words.
Can you see what a mountain of treasures is found in the fruit of the Spirit? I don’t know anyone who has ‘arrived’ at the pinnacle of this but I’m sure they are out there. I haven’t yet but it is always my goal to achieve this level of Christ-likeness.
Demonstrating the Agape Love of God
The Agape love of God is what defines His very character. As we are created in His image, He expects us to let this love fill us up and flow out of us to the world around us. This is much easier said than done, especially these days. I believe that if we can successfully cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, then Agape love will naturally flow out of us almost effortlessly! Why is this so important? Because God wants to LOVE people. All people. He has proven His love by sending Jesus Christ to die for us and pay for our sins. (Romans 5:8). Now He is expecting His people to let His great love flow through us to the people in our realm of influence. Can you imagine what kind of changes could be done in the world if Christians would do this?
Every act of Agape love we do is a treasure in our heavenly bank account. What are the characteristics of Agape love? I Corinthians lays it out plain for us. “Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy, fretful, or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes and is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].” (I Corinthians 13:4-8 AMPC).
You can see how important love is in the Kingdom of God. The very foundation of the fruit of the Spirit is this love. Without God’s love, we cannot love people into the Kingdom. We cannot represent Jesus properly to those around us. The more we pursue this love, the more God can use us to help people, and the more treasures we store up in our heavenly bank account.
Faithfulness in Prayer and in His Word
Prayer and Word times are times spent with God building an intimate relationship. It begins here. But it has to be consistent to build to higher levels. God says in James 4:8 “Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery].” When we take a step towards Him doing these two simple things, God WILL move us into a deeper relationship.
There have been so many times when life has beaten me down and my faith could not be found. I couldn’t bring myself to pray and even open my Bible at times. That was where the answers to my problems were yet I was so spiritually weak I couldn’t do it. But God is FAITHFUL to never leave us or forsake us. He is aware that we are but flesh and have struggles. For me it started with getting up, getting my coffee, and sitting on my bed saying “thank You Lord for a good night’s sleep.” Thank You, Lord….and I just thanked Him. I would read one verse out of the Bible wherever I landed in it and then closed it. But this led to a growing hunger for more of His presence and more of His Word. Sometimes we just have to start over and start small. As we build faithfulness into our times with God, we are building more than a relationship. Treasures are being stored up as well!
Keeping Your Commitments and Promises
“Lord, who shall dwell [temporarily] in Your tabernacle? Who shall dwell [permanently] on Your holy hill? He who walks and lives uprightly and blamelessly, who works rightness and justice and speaks and thinks the truth in his heart. He who does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord (who revere and worship Him); who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” (Psalm 15:1-5 AMPC).
“He who swears to his own hurt” is key here. When we tell someone we are going to do something, we need to be faithful to do it. Keeping your promises not only enriches your heavenly bank account, but it speaks volumes to the lost around you. The rest of the world breaks their promises all the time. Our word should be kept to show the character of God in us; otherwise, the salt has lost its savor and is good for nothing.
There have been times when I said I was going to do something or go somewhere with someone and they were depending on me. It was hard, but I kept my word and I know that God was pleased with me during those times. On the flip side, I have been guilty of NOT keeping my word or commitments and I have missed out on rewards I’m sure. We are human and don’t always do what we are supposed to do but when we recognize that, we just repent, get up and keep moving forward and purpose in our heart to be true to our word next time we have the opportunity.
Bridle Your Tongue
“And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell.” (James 3:6 AMPC)
But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison. With it, we bless the Lord and Father, and with it, we curse men who were made in God’s likeness! Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.” (James 3:8-10 AMPC)
Probably the biggest challenge every human being on the planet has is letting our tongue be used to hurt others. It can happen so subtlely. It’s so easy to slip into gossip and slander. As we saw in the fruits of the Spirit and the Agape love, taming the tongue is possible through God. In ourselves, we have no power to tame it; only by obeying the Word to love and obey Him can we hope to speak life into the lives of others.
A person who can reach the place where they are full of the fruit of the Spirit and flowing in Agape love is fully capable of taming the tongue and putting it under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus said that ALL things are possible to him who believes! Speaking life into a person’s life or a situation stores up treasures in heaven because we are obeying His Word to speak positive things over people and situations.
Unfortunately, I have not arrived here yet because I have areas that are still too “fleshy.” But I’m getting there slowly but surely. What do we do when we sin with our mouths? We first of all repent and ask the Father to forgive us and cleanse us from the sin. Second, we need to go and make amends if necessary. We must be humble enough to admit we have sinned in this way and to go and apologize to anyone who has been hurt by our words. What if they don’t accept it? That is between them and God. As long as we do our part, that is all God requires of us. We aren’t responsible for them accepting it or not.
Not long ago I was offended at a couple of people and did not deal with it well. I sinned with my mouth and hurt them. I felt terrible! I reached out and apologized to them and one of them accepted my apology and the other one ignored it completely. Sometimes when we offend others, the relationship is destroyed and fellowship is severed. Maybe for a season or maybe for life. It is so important that we stay unoffended because offense WILL ignite strife if we aren’t diligent to deal with it properly.
God values a humble heart willing to apologize and seek peace. It is a treasure that we store up. He gives grace and favor when we are obedient to properly deal with the messes we make with our mouths. There is an old saying that says “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” which applies here.
When we are hurt by other people’s words, we should go straight to God and forgive and release them. This will diffuse our tongue. Instead, we should pray for them, speak words of life and blessing over them like Jesus told us to. This is such a treasure to Him to see grace and mercy flow from us!
Winning the Lost and Making Disciples
“Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so be it).” (Matthew 28:18-20 AMPC)
The great commission is our mandate to win the lost and teach them the ways of God. Some people have the gift of boldly proclaiming to others and the charisma to reach them effectively while others have other just as effective ways of winning the lost. Everyone has a gift and a talent to reach certain types of people. We just need to tap into it. However we do it and whenever we do it, we are making big deposits into our heavenly bank accounts! The Bible says that all of heaven erupts in celebration when one lost soul enters the Kingdom. Some people are destined to win thousands and even millions such as Billy Graham or Rinehardt Bonke while others may be here to reach just one person that would otherwise be lost. God is all about the one. He is an individual God and everyone is equally important to Him; no matter how vile the world regards them.
One thing I’ve learned is that soul-winning and making disciples is not a one-size-fits-all effort. We should not compare ourselves to others in any way because God doesn’t have cookie-cutter people. We are ALL one-of-a-kind masterpieces created by God for a specific purpose only we can do for Him. When we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others it leads to insecurity and despair that we won’t measure up to God’s standards when in reality, He’s just crazy about us just as we are! Understanding our value to God is so important in overcoming life’s obstacles and pitfalls. So whatever your gift is, use it faithfully and that is all you need to do.
Living a Holy and Obedient Lifestyle
“So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing: then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor, and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 AMPC)
“[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirement of the Gospel]. But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 AMPC)
The Word is very clear about this. Our lives SHOULD reflect His holiness. Holy means “set apart” for God’s purposes. That is our new lifestyle. If we profess Jesus Christ as our Savior yet our lives have not changed and we still live like we always have, then it begs the question: are you really surrendered to Jesus? The Bible says that we shall “know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)
Our lifestyle should reflect the holiness of God. Period. If it doesn’t we have a problem. We cannot effectively witness or help the lost into God’s Kingdom if we are living like they do. We are not salt and light to them. It’s that simple.
Jesus said this as a warning to us all:
“Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]. (Matthew 7:22-23 AMPC)
Notice that these were people who should know better since they were prophesying and casting out demons. What about all the others who are living with no change in their lifestyle? They too will hear these words. I know it’s a tough pill to swallow, but in this season, we ALL need to examine our hearts seriously and get accounts settled with Jesus–if we claim to be His.
A life that is devoted to Him is a valuable treasure to God because He can flow through that person without hindrances of the flesh. What does it mean to live a life like this? It’s simply this: Make your life orbit around GOD and not yourself. Let Him actually run your life and not just be a part of your life. When you hand Him the wheel it’s a great lifestyle! Is it free of problems? No, it’s not, but with God at the helm, you always have the solution to any problem. He is the faithful One to bring the answer!
As you can see there are many ways to store up treasures in heaven! The bottom line is this: make God a priority and when you do, then you begin a life that is so fulfilling and full of the blessings of God, even in the face of trials, tribulations, and hardships!
“Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel in Samaria. He is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to possess it. Say to him: Thus says the Lord! Have you killed and also taken possession? Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your blood, even yours. And Ahab said to Elijah, Have you found me, O my enemy? And he answered I have found you because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord.
See [says the Lord], I will bring evil on you and utterly sweep away and cut off from Ahab every male bond and free. And I will make your household like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the household of Baasha son of Ahijah; for the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger and made Israel sin. Also, the Lord said of Jezebel: The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. Any belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and any who dies in the fields the birds of the air shall eat. For there was no one who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord as did Ahab, incited by his wife Jezebel. He did very abominably in going after idols, as had the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the Israelites.
When Ahab heard those words of Elijah, he tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his flesh, fasted, lay in sackcloth, and went quietly.
And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying; Do you see how Ahab humbles himself before Me? Because he humbles himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his lifetime, but in his son’s day I will bring the evil upon his house.” (I Kings 21:18-29 AMPC)
“Who is a God like You; Who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retains not His anger forever; because He delights in mercy and lovingkindness.” (Micah 7:18 AMPC)
When I read this story from my One Year Bible reading, I had never seen this before! It really spoke to me how much God delights in showing mercy to people no matter how wicked they have been in the past. I know I have been so blessed by His mercy in my life.
King Ahab is most well-known as the husband of his infamous wife Jezebel who was so evil. She was the daughter of a heathen king of Sidonia and was a devotee of Baal and was well-versed in the dark arts of witchcraft and manipulation. Ahab was putty in her hands.
Ahab was already walking in the rebelliousness of sin when he married Jezebel. Her influence incited him to go even further into evil. He went so far as to sell his soul to do evil the Bible says. The idolatry he instituted in the northern kingdom included all sorts of sexual vice as well as sacrifices of children. He made a firm choice in his youth to reject the God of his fathers and worship the Baals and Asherah goddesses.
“And Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all before him. As if it had been a light thing for Ahab to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took for a wife Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah [idolatrous symbol of the goddess Asherah]. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel before him.” (I Kings 16:30-33 AMPC“
And yet, not long before his death, God spoke to him through His prophet Elijah and totally reprimanded him. The words were so terrifying to Ahab that he finally lost his will to rebel and he fasted and put on a sackcloth and even laid down before God in the sackcloth. Sackcloth represents repentance and humbling before God. God’s fury abated at his humility and He instantly showed mercy to Ahab. A man who sold his soul to do evil and when he humbled himself in repentance, God’s hand of mercy was there to lift him up. God’s Word still stood over Ahab’s household but in His mercy, He didn’t let Ahab see it in his lifetime.
I’m sure all of us have cringeworthy sins we want God to forgive and show mercy for. I know I do! This story gives me confidence that there is nothing too bad for God to forgive except blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Today, if you are reading this and feel like you have gone too far and even God can’t find you–you are wrong. He is literally a whisper of repentance away and more than willing to show YOU mercy because it is literally His great delight to show mercy and lovingkindness to those who call on His name.
“He told them many things in parables, saying, “Listen carefully: a sower went out to sow [seed in his field]; and as he sowed, some seed fell on rocky ground,, where they did not have much soil; and at once they sprang up because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and thorns came up and choked them out.Other seed fell on good soil and yielded grain, some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words.”(Matthew 13:3-9 AMP)
“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much and some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23 AMP)
I’ve often wondered about the hundred-, sixty- and thirty-fold returns on the seed that was sown. It’s the same seed. It came from the same bag. It was sown equally in the field. Why the variance in yields? It is the quality of the soil that makes the difference. I’m not talking about the rocky soil or the thorny ground. That was just scatter, it wasn’t purposefully sown there. Why would someone purposefully sow on the ground they KNOW won’t bear fruit? The soil must be prepared and ready to accept the seed before any produce can come from it.
Jesus is talking specifically to the fertile soil on how much fruit is born. Notice it’s not any kind of condemnation for the differences. It’s all gathered into the Sower’s barns. It is handled the same way. No difference in appreciation either. The Sower is glad to have so much return on his investment. What makes the ground produce thirty, sixty, and a hundred-fold?
It is the richness of the soil that makes the difference. Soils that are depleted aren’t going to yield as much as the richer soils. Soils that are enriched with fertilizer each year will produce more than the depleted soils. Yet, there is a soil that is so enriched it yields a hundred-fold every time…this soil is volcanic soil. This soil is born out of destruction, chaos, and devastation and the result is the most fertile soil around.
The soil represents the heart as Jesus said and we know about the rocky heart and the thorny heart, but let’s differentiate the fertile soil heart. What heart condition brings a hundred-fold harvest? The answer is this: the closer your relationship with the LORD is, the more fruit you are going to bear. The richer the “soil” of your heart will be because of this close relationship. Rich soil MUST have at its core an intimate relationship with God. No matter the yield: thirty or sixty or a hundred—the soil of the heart must be fastened to Jesus wholeheartedly.
The heart with “volcanic” soil is the richest and most fertile because the closer we walk with God, the more obedient we will be, and the more Satan is going to attack with various things. Sold-out for God people have a huge target on their back and they are buffeted by the enemy everywhere they turn. God is always looking for obedient hearts and those who are willing to do whatever He asks them to do. It is these people whose lives tell a story of many sacrifices for the Kingdom of God. They are hugely profitable to God, but that doesn’t mean the sixty-fold and the thirty-fold aren’t just as valued. Isn’t God good? He’s perfectly happy with those who are at that level. Let’s look at a few people from the Bible whose lives were the most fertile soil for God to do great exploits through.
Enoch ~ The Bible says that Enoch “walked habitually with God.” He made God the number one priority of his life. The book of Jasher tells more details about Enoch’s life and it says that he “ministered to the LORD” year after year in his secret place. He completely let go of the cares of the world and the pride of life to pursue a face-to-face relationship with Yahweh, the Creator God. The Book of Jasher says that Enoch “withdrew from the sons of men.” It could be that because of the wickedness in the pre-flood era, that he was persecuted and not able to make a difference in their society. He didn’t know God well enough to make a difference. He made the decision to pursue God wholeheartedly and after many years, Jasher tells us that God poured Wisdom into Enoch and then had him go back out to teach men righteousness. Finally, he was bearing much fruit for God because kings from everywhere came to hear Enoch teach about God’s righteousness.
Moses ~ The Bible says that God spoke to Moses face-to-face like a man speaks to his friend. But Moses was born in adversity. He was slated for death as an infant and God saved him. He was driven into the wilderness for forty years and God met him there and called him to free the Israelites from bondage. He demonstrated God’s power to the Egyptians and led a rebellious people forty years in the wilderness. He faced insurrections, rejections, and rebellions during this time and all the while he got closer and closer to God to the point where God’s glory made his face shine and was too bright for the people to bear. Yet for all that, he was denied entry into the promised land for one act of disobedience. He knew pain. He was familiar with hardships and loneliness and yet Yahweh’s presence was always there with him. Moses gave Israel the Law. Moses led them straight to the Jordan river at the appointed time. Moses passed the mantle of leadership to Joshua obediently. His heart soil was rich indeed and God did so much through him. Moses was called My servant, by God. A true honor in God’s kingdom because it is the SERVANTS who are the greatest according to Jesus. Moses was so beloved by God that He Himself buried him. What an honor.
David ~ David’s life is marked by one mistake and bad decision after another, yet his heart was after God’s own. This was stated by God Himself about David. David was a worshipper. He loved God; he trusted God and he was determined to fulfill God’s will for his life. That is some rich soil right there. David’s life was marked by war and blood. He was always fighting giants and the enemies of God all throughout his reign as king of Israel. He spoiled his children and they turned on him. Absalom even slept with his ten concubines in the sight of all Israel. How humiliating was that? He lost children to death, his friends turned on him and wanted to kill him. His employer wanted to kill him. The list of David’s adversities is well documented. Yet through all his tribulations, he never lost sight of God. He never got mad and walked away from his purpose. He remained faithful until the very end of his life. God used David’s adversities to accomplish what He wanted in the nation of Israel. He even formed an everlasting covenant with David that his throne would have the Messiah Jesus Christ sitting on it forever. What a life!
The Apostle Paul ~ Paul who entered the Bible as a persecutor of Jesus Christ, became His most fervent servant. Everywhere Paul went he was persecuted, beaten with rods, left for dead and on and on. His life was one volcanic eruption after another because of how big Jesus lived on the inside of him. The soil of his heart was so rich that he even was allowed to see the third heaven even though he couldn’t divulge any details of what he saw and heard there. He won entire nations to the Kingdom of God, he was consumed with God’s purpose for his life and literally nothing else compared to it in his heart. THAT is the level of intimacy that makes for the most fertile soil.
Jesus Christ ~ Last but certainly not least is our Lord Jesus Christ. The Son of Man. The Word of God. The Wonderful Counselor. His life is the supreme example of the most fertile soil of the heart. Where God is supremely number ONE. His entire life was utterly devoted to His Father. He was a humble Servant. He was the epitome of love itself. He was obedient unto His death. From the outset of His earthly ministry Satan was after Him. In the wilderness, every Pharisee, scribe, or Sadducee He came across wanted to kill Him. To silence Him. To destroy Him from the face of the earth. He was hounded from town to town because the more He spoke the Truth of the Word and God’s Kingdom realm the more hated He became. There isn’t any difference today from then until now. When we begin to live like Jesus did, we too shall encounter the same adversities, but we can know that through it all, our hearts’ soil will be the most fertile soil of all…
I would like to wish all of you a wonderful, peaceful, and harmonious Thanksgiving this week! We should always be thankful to Jesus every day but it is a great day when everyone can come together and celebrate the goodness of God with our loved ones once a year.
While we are out and about preparing for this Thursday, let’s look for opportunities to bless those who don’t have as much as we do. There are lots of opportunities at grocery stores and churches that are collecting Thanksgiving baskets for people who are struggling right now.
I pray you all enjoy to the full your families and loved ones this Thanksgiving! I pray for traveling mercies for those who are traveling to be with loved ones as well as those braving the Black Friday crowds on Friday! May you find everything you need at the best prices!
“And Gideon made an ephod [a sacred, high priest’s garment] of it, and put it in his city of Ophrah, and all Israel paid homage to it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family.” (Judges 8:27 AMP)
Gideon is an interesting character that demonstrates that God is willing to use the least of the least to accomplish great things. Gideon was from the poorest family in Manasseh and was the least in his father’s house. His father was an idolator. Gideon was fearful and full of unbelief yet the Lord spoke his destiny over his life:
“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of [fearless] courage.” (Judges 6:12 AMP)
We should all remember that God doesn’t look at how we are today, but He always looks at our destiny in Him. It is amazing how God can take the ones who are considered nobodies and the insignificant ones that people think won’t amount to a thing to do mighty works for Him! That was Gideon.
The entire story of Gideon is so rich in Truths that it is easy to get side-tracked from the point of this message. The backdrop of Gideon’s story is that the Israelites went back to their idolatries after the death of the last judge. They always went back to their old ways once God delivered them out of their messes. Isn’t that the way of man though? How many of us have begged God to help in the time of trouble and promised to be faithful only to fall back into our comfortable ways that don’t pursue Him wholeheartedly?
God made the decision to deliver Israel from their enemies, the Midianites who were robbing them and keeping them impoverished. He chose Gideon to be their next judge and deliverer. Even though Gideon was fearful and distrustful of God, He still chose to use him mightily. With three hundred men, that God chose, Gideon defeated the entire Midianite army and slew all their kings. He was the hero. He was on top of the hill. He was the man of the hour. And that is really a dangerous place to be spiritually. It is after a great battle that Satan can knock you down with a snare.
Gideon’s men stripped the gold from the Midianite kings and their camels and gave it to Gideon who then made an Ephod out of pagan gold. The Ephod was the sacred garment of the high priest who alone could go into the Holy of Holies to minister to Yahweh, the Creator God. The high priest was of the lineage of Aaron. No other lineage was permitted to be a priest, much less the high priest. And yet here was Gideon, taking that position by making an ephod from the gold of pagan kings and setting it up for the people in all Israel to pay homage to! It was totally out of order and it set Gideon and his family up for trouble down the road.
What is the take-away here? We all, as Christians, go through battles with Satan. It goes with the territory. If you aren’t being attacked and resisted by the devil, there is something not right because anyone who is impacting the kingdom of darkness is going to be attacked. We need to all check-in with God on our assignments to advance His kingdom and obey His instructions. Many times we come out victorious in a hard-fought battle and are reveling on the mountain top, not realizing that it is a vulnerable place to be and easy to let it go to our head.
Remember Elijah, who slew four hundred prophets of Baal and then ran in terror from Jezebel’s threats. He was ready to die and go home! We have to stay humble especially when we win a victory. Satan can set a snare that can affect us and our family line. What happened to Gideon’s family?
Right after Gideon died, the people forsook God immediately and went back to the Baals. They also didn’t show any kindness to Gideon’s family after his death. Unfortunately for Gideon’s family, he had many wives and concubines, which is not a wise thing to do. He had seventy sons from all these women. One of them, Abimelech, wanted to rule in Gideon’s stead, so for seventy pieces of silver, he went to Ophrah and killed all but one of the seventy sons of Gideon; his own brothers. He left the youngest, Jotham alive. Trouble followed the house of Gideon as seen in the pages of Judges.
We all go through mountain-tops and valleys all the days of our lives and we must remember the snare of the mountain top and stay humble before God. There is no power in us to do anything supernatural, it is ALL Him. Gideon could never have defeated his enemies without God doing it and neither can we. If you are going through a tough battle, let the Lord fight and win for you and be mindful that when you achieve victory, stay humble before God and avoid the snare of Gideon on the mountain-top.
“And the LORD said to Joshua “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you. So the name of the place is called Gilgal [rolling] to this day.” (Joshua 5:9 AMP)
Joshua is a fascinating character to me. He was the right-hand man of Moses and equally devoted to God. God supernaturally dried up the Jordan River so the Israelites could cross over. This miracle stunned and amazed the Caananites and the Amorites so much so, that they lost the will to fight them. They knew their God was too powerful for their idol gods.
It was here, in the promised land, they had just entered that God decided to re-establish the blood covenant He made with the Israelites. He told Joshua to circumcise every male that was born in the wilderness in the previous generation. The new generation had not been circumcised as their fathers and grandfathers had. They broke the covenant through their idolatry, rebellion and unbelief. They were locked outside the promised land as a result and forced to wander through the wilderness until they all died out. Only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter because they believed the report of the LORD.
Joshua 5:2 says “At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make knives of flint and circumcise the [new generation of] Israelites as before.” Joshua did as the LORD requested and they were all given time for their bodies to heal up. This is an interesting parallel in that it shows that just because their parents were in the covenant, didn’t mean they were automatically in it. They had to enter the covenant for themselves. Likewise today, our children must come to the Cross just the same as we did.
Joshua 5:6 says “For the Israelites walked forty years in the wilderness till all who were men of war who came out of Egypt perished because they did not hearken to the voice of the LORD; to them the LORD swore that He would not let them see the land which the LORD swore to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.” How many people never see the beautiful things God has for them because of unbelief, rebellion, or idolatry? We aren’t any different. Idols are simply people, places, activities that we put as the priority in our lives. Rebellion is refusing to do what He asks of us or not doing what He has asked us to do. Unbelief is refusing to accept His promises. The same result can happen to any of us. We won’t see the beautiful life God has planned for us.
So did God give up on His promise to Abraham and his descendants? No! He decided to use their uncircumcised children instead. He brought them into His covenant when they submitted to the circumcision, even though it was painful to endure. When we come to Jesus Christ and accept His blood sacrifice and surrender our lives over completely to His will, then we too, enter a blood covenant with the Creator God Himself.
After the covenant was cut with the new generation of Israelites, God spoke some very powerful words to Joshua. “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” What is the reproach of Egypt? Slavery, fear, abuse, sinful lifestyles, idolatry, and the list goes on. The reproach of their previous generations bound in unbelief and rebellion. God rolled it all up and threw it away. Just like He does with the blood of Jesus. It is forgotten by Him. It’s truly a clean slate! He is the God of the “do-over.” This time also marked the beginning of a new season. A season of intense warfare; a season of taking possession of the promises of God.
After they healed up, they celebrated Passover there in the promised land. They ate of the produce of the land and the Bible says “the manna ceased on the day after they ate.” They were in a season of maturity they had not known before. God always provided the manna every day for forty years. He never failed to feed them. Never. They are now ready to begin to take the land promised to them by God.
There is great beauty in Gilgal that we too can find when we come to Jesus and surrender our lives. Not say a prayer and get the ticket to heaven, but really surrender, take up your cross and follow Him. That is the covenant where our old way of living gets rolled away, completely eradicated by the blood of the Lamb. Gilgal is where our destiny is revealed, where we are prepared to take the promises of God and chase the vision He has given us. Are you ready for a new season? A clean slate? A fresh start? He is ready whenever you are….