The Cost of Living

busted (2)

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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Love, Pure From the Source

cloud heart

My first Love and most intimate friend is Yeshua, the Savior and Redeemer. No one that I know or has ever known can compete with the  love he has shown me. He never ever tires of me. Every time I reach out to Him, He is eager to engage me. Every detail of my life is significant to Him, no matter how small. He never entertains accusations brought against me, not even for a second. He is my greatest advocate. His responses to me are always based on what is best for me, no matter what the cost is to Him.

Just from the characteristics of His love I have mentioned so far, no one I know can approach the fervency of His love. This is not to diminish the love from my wife or my family or friends, but it is to show the strength, depth, and excellency of my Savior’s love for me, and there is still more. His love is not stifled by the ugliest of my flaws. In full view of who I am, His love has had the same intensity for me, for every moment of my existence. He pursues me relentlessly. He prepares a heavenly banquet of blessings for me every day of my life, regardless of how much I leave on the table due to my evolving earthly palate. He is Love and He is faithful and true to himself regardless of me.

If you are looking to anyone else or anything else to fill the boundless cup of your soul, you will never be truly satisfied. I am a grateful benefactor of Yeshua’s boundless grace and mercy and I just want to give the greatest lover of my soul a shout out during this Valentine’s weekend. After the roses have wilted, the candy has been eaten, and the candles are all burnt out, there is one still willing to celebrate the most intimate love with you every day, GOD. The best lovers are those that learn from the best, Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).  Never settle for less.

Beware Of The Kool Aid

Angry Kool Aid

Back in the 70’s and early 80’s during children programing it was very common to see advertisements for Kool-Aid brand drink mix, promoted as a great refreshment for thirsty children. To prepare the drink mix you combined 2 quarts of water and plenty of sugar, at least one whole cup, with a package of the fruit flavored powdered Kool-Aid, which was a fraction of an ounce, then stirred it until all the sugar dissolved and Voila!
This beverage was hardly suitable for children to consume at all not to mention as replenishment for children that had been at play.  When you think of it, Kool-Aid on its own merit has earned the negative connotation as a lethal mind altering toxin. OK…that’s a bit harsh but it is no coincidence that the Jim Jones association found a symmetry that has lasted for over a decade. Somehow “Tang” and “Hawaiian Punch” dodged that bullet.
The Kool-Aid of our day is propaganda. A lethal concoction consisting of plenty of political interest, mixed with plenty of charisma and less than an ounce of real human concern. This is the drink poured out from the powers that be all around the world and it is very intoxicating. The bible defines the origin of this Kool-Aid as a golden cup in the hands of a great harlot. Here is Revelation 17:4-5,
The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.
In verse two of the same chapter the bible says the Kings of the earth have committed fornication with the whore and that the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. This fornication is the opening up and receiving of many different ideas, doctrines, and philosophies all in support of feeding the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life to the detriment of truth, righteousness, and real peace. This wine is served in the fruity flavor of “tolerance,” for the sake of world peace.  If you are filled with the whore’s abominable toxins, which make all things relative, you will not be grounded enough to stand against the lying deceits of the devil and he will destroy you. In order to stand against the wiles of the devil, you need to be grounded in God’s absolute and universal truth.  This alone will keep you from being swept away by the flood from his mouth (see Revelations 12).
Though whole world is being seduced into drunkenness, we have to remain sober and vigilantly aware. The key to staying sober is through adamantly rejecting the wine of the whore. We have to be in the world but not allow the world to be in us. We have to hold on to the truth of the gospel by faith and except the persecution and alienation that comes from not conforming to this world. When we refuse to conform to the ways and ideals of the world we break uniformity which creates contrast, as a light shining out in darkness, and the Glory of God with in us is revealed. Don’t take it personal and get offended or hurt, instead rejoice because if we share in His sufferings we will also share His glory.
Romans 8:16-18,
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Only God Is Good

Crown in the sky

The truth that only God is good does not disqualify the goodness we could have inside as some purport. The truth that God is good defines the source of all goodness. We don’t have to be bread in order to share bread with someone who is hungry, we just need to have bread. We don’t have to be water to share water with someone who thirst, we just need to have water. We don’t have to be God to share goodness with another soul, we just need to have God in us.

There are many situation we encounter in life that calls for the goodness of God, however what is often applied in those situations is a counterfeit of good. This counterfeit is what we have been oriented through our senses to believe is good. There is a humanitarian spirit in the world that has an intent to do good but instead of looking to God it draws from an imagination  based in human feeling. In application, humanitarian efforts feel good but afterwards we find the power of the spirit unto life was not imparted. You can give someone bread and water so that there stomach is full but there soul can still be famished in what it needs  because life is of the spirit. Our flesh does need bread and water to be nourished but our souls needs the goodness that comes from the spirit of God to be nourished.

I have found in my own life when I have faced the depravity of man, there are times when my mind conjures a solution that would feel good to all but in the end would only serve as a sedative and not address the underlying need for the spirit of life that comes from God through His goodness. There are times when people need to feel the pain of a bad decision so that they will learn to change their thinking however when they are simply bailed out by the humanitarian spirit the learning is aborted. Often times the goodness of God does not appeal to the senses therefore it is not attractive and that is where faith is needed. We have to trust in the goodness of God even when we can’t sense the good. We have to learn to walk in the spirit by abasing the carnal and worldly instincts.

The mandates of Love for human behavior exceeds the rudimentary acts of being humane.  Loving involves complying with universal spiritual laws which is a lot different from just doing what you feel or just fulfilling basic human needs. It has somehow been forgotten that we are sojourners here in these bodies of flesh and that we are spiritual in origin. God is the source of all life, so if we are going to have life in order to minister life to others then God has to be our source. As good can be the enemy of the best, so is the good imagined by man often opposed to the goodness of God. The good ordained of God through His Word is best.

In Book of Matthew Chapter 19, there is an account of a man running up to Jesus calling him “Good Master” and inquiring what good he could do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good, for there is none good but one, that is God.”  Jesus instructed the man to keep the commandments to inherit eternal life. The man stated that he had kept the commandments from his youth and wanted to know if there was more he should do. Jesus replied, if you will be perfect (spiritually mature) go and sell all that you have and give the money to the poor and then come follow me. The scriptures tell us the man went away grieved because he had many possessions.  The man failed to see the “good” in what the “Good master” had advised. It is evident that the man had some preconceived notions about “good” that got checked.  We need to humble ourselves in order to source our solutions from the spirit of God which is one with His word. You can always check your “good” by how it lines up with Holy scripture inspired by the spirit of God.  

Here is 2 Timothy 3:16-18,

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

God is love, so everything He does is an expression of love but God’s love is not always received or acknowledged by man. Man is often like a rebellious child despising the standards, guidance, and correction handed down by their parents. If we truly want to be good and virtuous to benefit those we have affection and concern for then we have to lay our intent in the hands of God and except His love and guidance.

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.

The KISS of Salvation

HersheysKiss_2

We definitely have a part in our salvation. One of the main evidences of this is that all men will not be saved. The scripture is clear that God would have all men to be saved as in the Book of 1 Timothy 2:1-6. What keeps all men from being saved is the fact that the Lord gives us a choice and some men opt out. God has ordained that we enter life (Jesus Christ) through the surrender of our will. If you think about it, it is the only way we can be saved. God is LIFE and we have to be willing to follow the ways of life in order to live. If we refuse to follow the ways of life then what is the alternative…..Death. It really is that simple. The beauty is that as we surrender our will to God He empowers us to live in His ways. He empowers us through the spirit in the word we submit too through obedience. The Lord says His word is spirit. So our part is to daily surrender our will in obedience to the leading of the spirit expressed through written word, audible word, inner witness, signs and examples through creation; however the Lord chooses to influence us toward life. When the Lord causes light to shine in your darkness it is your part to surrender to it.

 

Now some men would argue that we have no power to choose that which is good because we are totally evil or dead in sin. It is apparent that the expressions of God to us have enough power to pierce our darkness and penetrate dead ears to give us acknowledgement of truth. The reprobate mind is one that rejects truth after it has been presented several times. It cracks me up sometimes to see how the intellectual mind can perplex things due to too much contemplation and not enough doing or simply trusting. We are warned in 2 Timothy about the effects of too much dialogue through the reasoning of men versus studying word of truth.

 

2 Timothy 2: 15-26

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.

21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

 

The word of truth is the word of God. We need to be patient and temperate and allow God to give us proper understanding instead of immersing ourselves in the mental babbling of men trying to force understanding, moving ahead of the wonderful counselor. Always being able to give a reason for the hope you have to anyone that asks is not referring to being able to explain everything you believe. The reason for your hope should be that you are convinced of God’s indestructible love for you because He died for you while you were His enemy, so you know all the more now that you are seeking Him He will facilitate your salvation and redemption. God has won our hearts through Christ so we follow Him even in that which is unreasonable. The mind has to be renewed but the heart is already on fire and convinced that is if you have heard Him speak of His amazing love. What I am talking about is nicely captured in Hebrews 13.

 

Hebrew 13:9

Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

 

We have to fight the natural man’s tendency of reaching for the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil or wanting to lean on our own understanding versus just trusting the Lord as dear children. By the grace of God let us K-I-S-S (Keep It Simple Saints).