The Cost of Living

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It takes the same energy to run to life as it does to run from death. I say this because I have often heard people say, “It doesn’t take all of that,” in regards to living spiritually. On the other hand, I have seen the results of living carnally: baby mama drama, divorce, stress, poor health, financial duress, being bound to destructive cycles, and I have had the same thought…jeeez, it doesn’t take all of that! It is better to run to life without the stress of death snapping at your heels. The majority of people don’t develop a zeal for life until the reality of death cast a cloud on their horizon. Hardship is just a part of our sojourn here on earth. It can be hardships experienced in climbing against earth’s gravity toward new horizons or it can be hardships experienced in giving in to earth’s gravity and tumbling towards darkness. Living spiritually is the climb, while living carnally is the fall. Either way, it will involve some struggle and hardship. The rewards of climbing are eternal while the rewards giving in to the downward pull are temporal. In climbing, living spiritually, there is the tendency to lift others up as well. In falling, living carnally, there is the tendency to pull others down as well.

Thing is, the cost of living spiritually is a lot less than the cost of living carnally when you look at the total cost in the end. Carnal living is like the deception of a deferred payment plan where the high interest starts immediately on what you owe. When the bill arrives later, the debt is more than you can pay, then more debt is created by an act to cover the debt at hand and eventually every thing becomes due with no more extensions. Spiritual living is about paying the cost up front, as more of an investment in your life, with dividends that start showing up before you expect it and a great return in the end.

Through the light of Yeshua, I am sharing some principles of life that I hope will motivate you either to begin or to continue a struggle towards Life. The beauty of the journey to life is that Life actually loves you. Life calls to us through the person of Yeshua the Messiah who himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Yeshua has shortened the distance we need to travel because He ascended from Heaven to earth and brought Life within our reach. The distance we have remaining is the short distance to our knees where we surrender our efforts to sustain our own lives to the one who created life in the first place. Christ pays our debts and invites us to get rid of our struggles through exchanging our death for His life. That is a deal no one should pass up!

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Open to Promotion

Are you currently or have you ever been in a relationship that seemed to sputter out or that reached a point of complacency, still well but obviously lacking a zest that was once present? This is often due to the lack of promotion. Promotion is the process of transitioning closer to God’s ideal’s for us. Promotion comes from testing, which happens through adversity, which is the born out of conflict, and conflict is necessary for change because the “new” has to confront the “old”. The carnal nature is more in favor of complacency because change can often come with the cost of work and pain, heated with a degree of uncertainty. Is promotion worth the trouble? Can we even arrive at God’s best for us? We must firmly believe that whatever God has planned for us is worth the effort it takes to realize it and we must firmly believe that God has made His promises obtainable. We have to keep hold on God’s vision for our lives.

 

As uncomfortable as it can be at times, we must bring all things pertaining to our lives into the light of Truth and look at them soberly after the spirit with a willingness to strive for whatever changes are needed to bring us closer to God’s will.

 

God is merciful in that He gives us liberty to work out our change based on His guidelines.  The Lord compels us through scripture to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Salvation is the process by which we are changed from our current state to a place where we are in the likeness of God. We should be employing all that we know of God to methodically bring every aspect of our lives in to submission to God so that He can transform it. I am not saying we should be focused on what is wrong but that we should be pursuing what we know to be right whole heartedly, without reservation. In relationships, this means asking the tough questions when we have reason to ask them, also revealing the things that have been hid in darkness. It means exposure. The tendency to want to hide can be traced all the way back to the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden, but by the grace of God we have to overcome the shame and fear and be bathed in light. Relationships sputter because the truth that ignites change is seldom sparked in conversation. The tendency to avoid conflict keeps us from the tough talks that create the adversity which leads to testing and promotion.  We have to live and love courageously. It is written that we should love one another “fervently” with a “pure heart”. Love on fire and in truth!

There is a thirst in the soul that will only be satisfied by waters purified through the fire of Holy adversity. Jesus didn’t sugar coat it. We enter the kingdom through much tribulation. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy. God wants to bring our entire lives into His Kingdom. If we will have righteousness, peace, and joy in our relationships then we must subject them to tribulation; tribulation born from suffering the old to be transformed into the new. The “new” is the things God has resurrected in our lives from those things we have sacrificed to Him by faith. Let us move forward in full acceptance of the fact that we will have suffering in this life but let us make sure it is the suffering that Jesus is referring to which comes from bringing forth new life and not the suffering that comes from the afflictions of fear or the stagnancy of complacency. Let’s take the promise land in full confidence knowing that an enemy will not arise that we can’t conquer with the Lord that fight’s for us.

A Shemittah Lesson

I was recently counseled by the Holy Spirit on some emotions I was holding. I broke my leg a couple of months back and have been on crutches and quite honestly I have been needy. I have been needy, not only physically but emotionally as well. I had begun to feel somewhat let down by the lack of engagement from those I considered close friends, as well as those I considered just friends. As dejection began to creep in, the Spirit of Truth began to stir inside of me to repel this darkness. I was reminded that God alone is my source of strength, joy, comfort, and peace. So, even as He alone is my source, then I should only rely on Him. How can I count it debt to anyone else, if they were never ordained to be the source in the first place? Behind this correction of the Spirit, I began to analyze my attitudes towards people and friends throughout recent years. I realized that I have at times put undue expectations on people. So I began to consciously release people of perceived debts, calling their names as I went along…I release such-and-so, and such-and-so…who ever I had some feelings of letdown from. As I set them free, my spirit of heaviness began to lift and liberty renewed.

As I went through this process, I was also reminded that this is the year of “Shemttah”. This is a Sabbatical year, also known as “Shemittah,” which is Hebrew for release. On the Jewish calendar, it runs from Sept. 25, 2014, through Sept. 13, 2015. I have learned to tune into the Jewish calendar with its feast and observances, as a good Hebrew should. You can look in the Book of Deuteronomy chapter 15 for a scriptural reference. During this year of “release”, I would encourage all to lighten their hearts by forgiving and releasing those whom you may have debts for. It will lighten your load, bring liberty, and give you a greater capacity to receive from God. I say a greater capacity to receive from God because that is where our focus should always be for the things we need in life…PERIOD.

There are seasons of sanctification that the Lord brings into our lives, when He sets us apart from the usual circles or comfort zones, to impart something into our lives that might be hindered otherwise. It can seem lonely until you realize what is going on, then at once your focus shifts to the Lord, and He pours into you all that you need, and you are changed for the better, and you find His work of redemption has taken more ground in your soul. After this time of sanctification, you are better suited to freely love those the Lord has placed in your path.

There will be no “Shemittah” in your soul if you are not willing to trust God’s ability to provide EVERYTHING you need. If you ever want to be truly free, you really don’t have a choice, because people and other things will continue to fail you, because only God alone can sustain our strength, peace, joy, hope, faith…Life. Until we learn to look steadily to Him, the debts and weights will accumulate.

Are You Watching

What does it mean to watch as the Lord commands in Matthew 24:42?
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
We are cautioned to watch so that the coming of the Lord does not take us as a thief in the night. It says in scripture that no man knows the day or the hour that the Lord will return but it is given to those who watch to know the season. If you know the season then you can be like the 5 wise virgins of Matthew chapter 25 that had their lamps trimmed and filled with oil and found their way into the marriage supper when they heard the cry. Now the night is symbolic of dark times when evil pervades, not the middle of the night, and the marriage supper is the catching away of Christ’s bride, the church, and the cry is when the Archangel will ascend from heaven with a trump.
The book of Matthew chapter 24 gives a good account of Christ teaching about His eventual return and the rapture of the church. Since Christ teaches this, it is clear that it is something that we should be mindful of however, He also teaches that we should take up our cross daily and follow Him which ensures that whenever He calls for us we will be ready. In fact, many have and will continue to be called home before He returns. So it is imperative that we “watch” every day so that we are ready if we are called together with the rest of the saints or if we are called individually.
In the book of Genesis our Lord tells us that He created the lights in heaven that separates day and night (the sun and the moon) for signs, seasons and times. So we are not to ignore the blood moons and eclipses and holy days because the Lord does use all of these to communicate to us. I do believe that we are living in the culmination of the church age however nothing takes precedence over the sign of waking up in the morning and realizing we have been blessed with the present of the current day. So while I am excited about the signs of heaven I am most occupied with the moment at hand and what the Holy Spirit is saying about right now. So here in is the secret of watching for the Lord.
To watch for the Lord means to stay alert, living consciously in the reality that the Lord is always WATCHING US. So we should always be about doing the things we are appointed to do that whenever we meet Him we can have our conscious clear knowing we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. Awake in comparison to unconscious. Unconscious, living as though God is not watching us always with an intent to hold us accountable to our actions. Asleep, in the dreamland of over indulgence: too much TV, movies, sports, video games, eating, sexual pleasures, wealth seeking. Walking as one drunken from the intoxicating effect of sensory overload in carnal pleasures to the extent that you are numb to the prodding and convicting of the spirit. As a drunk person unable to walk on a straight path stumbling often from the path of righteousness or just lights out unconscious.

I know there is a lot of pain and suffering in this world but we have to stop self-medicating with the spirit dulling drugs of this world. We have to seek the comfort given by God through the Holy Spirit that strengthens us to endure the pain in soberness of mind. When we suffer in the flesh righteously, it generates spiritual life.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reads,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The Holy Spirit comforts us through giving us assurance in the knowledge of truth which gives us hope and inspiration to endure these temporal sufferings as we look forward to the rewards to come. Watching means we are focused on the eternal as we live through the temporal. To watch is to maintain a vigilance over our lives to ensure we are living our faith out in a real and tangible way evidenced through what we do each day. By the grace of God, if we live in this way we can be confident that whenever we meet the Lord it will be an anticipated and joyous occasion.

Staying Connected

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Many of us have experienced power outages due to in-climate weather like ice storms or severe thunder storms. In today’s 24 by 7 world pace these power outages can be very disruptive. Nowadays businesses and homeowners have been purchasing Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems to mitigate the disruptive effects of losing power. Most of these UPS systems provide backup power for less than 1 hour. It would be ideal if we could plug into a power supply that never got disrupted or depleted.
There are other storms that we have to endure that have nothing to do with the weather outside. The kinds of storms I am referring to are the relationship, finance, and health storms that pop up threatening to disrupt our lives like the fallout from character flaw surfacing, loss of wages, or a debilitating health issue. As with most storms these demand our attention and focus. The storms of life are guaranteed and during these storms it is often required of us to operate at the same output level, actually in life storms we need higher output than in times of peace and calm.  During these life storms we can experience a loss of power to be at peace, to be joyful, to be patient, to be responsive, to be hopeful. Is there a UPS for the soul in times of life storms? YES!
We have to remember at all cost to stay plugged into the Almighty God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is that extension cord that allows you to remain connected even when you move too far from the source. We stay connected through maintaining a humble mind set. We should always be mindful to acknowledge our dependency on God as our power source. We acknowledge our dependency through seeking God daily through prayer, reading the scriptures, staying connected to others that lead us to God through their own devoted lives.
This is what the scripture means when it says , “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” If your source of strength is another human, wealth, status, beauty, or any other temporal source you will find, if you have not already, that these power sources can be depleted by the storms of life.
The error most people make is waiting until the low charge indicators start flashing until they plug in. Stress, frustration, depression, fear, worry, and bitterness are all low charge indicators. Through maintaining a constant connection with God you can avoid these low charge indicators through constant awareness of His loving counsel, His perspective of your life, His declaration of your value, His daily provisions for you, and His most comforting presence. In the shelter of this divine awareness you will find power and safe refuge through all of life’s storms.

Peace.

 

The Birds and the Bees

As we start our climb toward the climax of spring we see the reproduction process of nature intensify evidenced by the proliferation of pollen everywhere. As pollen gets all over your clothes, your car, even in our bodies triggering allergies for some, do you ever stop and think that during this time we are caught in the middle of a massive plant orgy. My mind is not merely in the gutter as some might think; it is actually the fact of the matter.

Back in the day when there were references of teaching one about sex they would say, “Haven’t your parents talked with you about the birds and the bees?” This reference was about the cross-pollination of plant life or in other words plant reproduction. This was a great segue into a conversation about human reproduction and sex because it used nature as a basis for understanding normal sexual behavior.

It is evident that parents have stopped teaching their children about sex as it relates to nature because the practices of sex in our society has strayed from what is natural to what is even against nature. This is nothing new amongst those who are unprincipled as indicated in scripture, take Romans 1:26-27;

“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Things that go against natural order are unsustainable and the end of it is in the practice of it. When the human race acts out against the designs of the Creator they doom themselves. It is really sad because people will fight you for their own doom and condemn anyone for speaking out against what is plainly perversion. Perverse in that it is against natural order and the principles of creation.

As I witness the beauty of blossoming flowers as they open up to spread their pollen it reminds me of the beauty of sex and reproduction the way the Creator intended. Nature shows us the benefit of following the Creators plans bringing us abundant life, rich green foliage on trees producing oxygen, delicious fruit feeding millions, also breath-taking beauty to uplift the soul. We can still learn a lot from the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees.

Romans 1:20-21,

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”