Secure Your Life By Securing Your Heart

 

Heart-shaped_lockThe kind of life you live is determined by what you value. Your values are determined by what you treasure. The scripture says in Matt 6:21,

“Where a man’s treasure is there his heart will be also.”

A man will set his aspirations, his affections, and his focus around that which he treasures. Your heart becomes filled with what you focus on and that consequently affects everything that comes out of it. Proverbs 4:23 says keep your heart with all diligence, because out it flows the issues of life. What this looks like lived out is making every effort to ensure that the things you set your heart on add “real” value to your life.

Would you agree that having peace of mind and good health adds extra value to anything you can experience in life? I think so. Peace of mind comes from living harmoniously with the one that governs all things. This means seeking the knowledge of GOD to understand your purpose, the provisions He has made for you to live, and what He expects of you, as well as what you can expect from Him. Here is what Proverbs 8:11 says about the wisdom of GOD:

“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.”

This knowledge should be your treasure and primary focus. The book of Matthew chapter 6 speaks to this when it concludes that we should seek the kingdom of GOD and His righteousness first and foremost and everything else we need will flow into our lives.

If we will make our treasure the knowledge and wisdom of GOD, then our hearts will be focused on that which is truly valuable. This heavenly focus will enable our hearts to produce many blessings in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

For all of this to make since, we first have to realize that we are living souls placed in vessels of flesh. Just as these physical vessels have needs, so does our eternal souls. Most people live focused on the needs of the flesh while their eternal soul languishes. Since the true longing of the soul isn’t satisfied through carnal pleasures, the tendency is to seek carnal pleasures even more intensely. This disconnect from understanding the source of the true longing causes many to treasure the physical things of the world more than the spiritual things. The strongest and deepest longings come from the thirst of the soul. The soul has an innate thirst for righteousness, peace, and joy. This thirst can only be filled by the love of GOD.

So keeping our hearts with all diligence means making sure our focus and values stay aligned with the kingdom of GOD instead of being subverted to the things of this world. The treasures of this world tend to be temporal, unstable, corruptible, and destructible. If your heart is set on worldly things, consequently you will have little peace in your life and unstable rest. There will always be the nagging feeling of there has to be more.

Yeshua speaks to the dissatisfied and weary soul in Matthew 11:27-29:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Don’t become enslaved to this by the deceitfulness of riches. Follow the guidance of Yeshua in John 10:10 and live well.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

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Love Prevails Over Leviathan

Bossmonster_Leviathan1

When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid;
Because of his crashings they are beside themselves.
Though the sword reaches him, it cannot avail;
Nor does spear, dart, or javelin.
He regards iron as straw,
And bronze as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee;
Slingstones become like stubble to him.
Darts are regarded as straw;
He laughs at the threat of javelins.
His undersides are like sharp potsherds;
He spreads pointed marks in the mire.
He makes the deep boil like a pot;
He makes the sea like a pot of ointment.
He leaves a shining wake behind him;
One would think the deep had white hair.
On earth there is nothing like him,
Which is made without fear.

(Job 41:25-33)

As you read the description of this creature, you get the picture of a monster that is indestructible to man and indeed it is. The creature is Leviathan and there are more descriptions of him in Job 41, like his sharp teeth and impenetrable scales. Leviathan’s rule over man would be absolute without divine intervention. In the book of Job, Leviathan is called the king of all the children of pride. Leviathan rules like the pharaoh that contended with God to keep the Hebrews enslaved. Just as Yahweh sent Moses to deliver the Hebrew slaves from the tyranny of pharaoh, so has He sent Yeshua to deliver all of man from the tyranny of Leviathan. The Hebrew slaves, under the tyranny of pharaoh, were not free to worship God according to His will and had to be delivered. A person dominated by a spirit of pride and selfishness, under the rule Leviathan, also needs to be delivered in order to do God’s will.

Leviathan’s domination is evident in what is known as the first law of nature; Self-preservation. The focus on self is the signature of egotistical pride. Compare being ruled by the first law of carnal nature, to the two greatest laws in Yahweh’s kingdom, which also reflects His nature;

  1. Love the lord your God with all of your heart, mind and strength.

  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

The only mention of self is in reference to how one cares for another. The nature of God’s kingdom is Love, versus the nature of those ruled by Leviathan, which is selfishness. You will be ruled by selfishness of pride until you are set free by Yeshua the Savior.

In order to be part of the body of Christ, you have to see and care for others as your self, you must have the ability to Love. You can never truly be unified with anyone else without Love. Marriage, families, and communities, fall apart without Love. This is why the Salvation of Christ begins with putting SELF on the cross; renouncing the law of self-preservation through entrusting the preserving of your life to Yeshua. Surrendering your life, by taking up the cross, makes way for divine Love to be birthed into your life. As Love delivers us from the oppressive phobias of selfishness, we are free to experience life as never before. He whom the son makes free, is free indeed!

Once you start to experience true freedom, you realize your were not free to even enjoy free things until you were freed your self. It’s true, only free people can really enjoy free things. People in bondage to selfishness through pride turn free things into more bondage. You see this manifested through hording, gluttony, and greed. Sometimes you can’t even give a selfish person a free gift, because they are to concerned about the hidden cost that the phobias of selfishness are projecting. This is why the free gift of Salvation through Christ is often left on the table, that is until we become broken and there is no more confidence in self. They that seek their life will lose it, and they that lose their life will find it. Through embracing the Cross of Christ you find true love, true freedom, and true Life.

(The image of Leviathan was found at BuddyJiang’s Portfolio: http://hokiboshi.net/portfolio/leviathan/)

Embracing the Path

rugged

Jesus taught that we enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation, so the portal to the kingdom of God is suffering and hardship. Upon hearing this, the fleshly nature goes right into survival mode and starts searching for ways to disqualify the statement. However, someone with a great deal more knowledge, wisdom,…Hold on,correction…He that IS knowledge, wisdom, and understanding has designed it this way. If you have ever seen a butterfly struggle to get out of a cocoon, or a hatchling struggle from a shell, or a plant pushing through earth to reach the light, then you have a reference for what it takes for godliness to come out of the flesh. You have a reference for the birth process of the spiritual person you were created to be, getting delivered from the bondage of the rebellious, prideful, and selfish orientation of carnal life. To the human, there are times when God seems inhumane, but the scale of humanity is insufficient to begin to weigh the body of God’s work for the eternity of man.
You will never understand the things of the spirit as long as you hold life in the flesh more dear. Paths that require suffering in the flesh will always seem unreasonable to the carnal mind. In the journey of life, trusting God will require you to accept somethings beyond your reasoning, which makes perfect sense because man does not understand half of what God has created in the physical, so to approach the spiritual is going to take faith. After you learn to value spiritual things higher than physical things, like the Apostles Paul you will count all things but loss for the more excellent things of the spirit. We can become the enemy of salvation by disqualifying suffering as a path to deliverance.
Mark chapter 8:31-38
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
To walk with Jesus, we have to crucify the flesh, which is to mortify carnal reasoning and to stand against the dominance of sensual compulsion. So the next time you or someone else is going through a rough place in life, stop and prayerfully consider it; maybe that rough place is putting a finish on you as sandpaper does, maybe that pressurized situation is correcting your form, maybe that fiery trial is purifying your heart, maybe you are in the hands of a great potter and you are being made into a masterpiece  and he is using all of these circumstances as his tools. Look for instruction, counsel, and truth in every circumstance in life and when they are to hard find, ask God to reveal his hand at work. I hope you are able to find peace in just knowing his hand is at work, whether you can see it or not, this again takes faith.

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.

Fulfilling His Joy

In America, most people would consider me to be a black man or an African-American man. Take notice that in both instances race or ethnicity comes first, then man. Most people even see themselves as either a black person or a white person and so on. This I believe is a true reflection of how most people think. Most people see race or national origin before they see another human. This is a natural response and really not a problem unless along with that first observation there come also preconceived ideas about that person’s likes and dislikes, aptitude and capabilities. At that point you enter into prejudices and biases that form divisive barriers. Even though people may be physically different, we must be able to connect with them first as being an equal fellow human. If we see it differently than this we are deceived and there is darkness in us.

Those are some thoughts about the general populace. Now let’s consider “The Church,” and I mean “The” Church because there is only one body of Christ. Is the Church anymore unified than the world? Amongst the majority of those confessing to be Christian, I would have to say NO. Most worldly people actually have a lot in common and merely think they are different, however the religious bodies are divided based on actual differences of thought, belief, and practices of living. Just like different races of people, we now have Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Protestant, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, AME, and it goes on. It’s not enough just to be identified as Christian. This is why I don’t subscribe to any denomination. Our God is not divided, so what is the problem with those that supposedly represent Him. There is a disconnect between the body and the head it would seem, because the head (meaning Christ, the only head of the true church) desires for the body to be unified, working together in harmony.

Christ made known His desire for believers to be united as one, just like the unity shared between Him and the Father. John 17:20-23:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

The division amongst the body of believers today is carnal and devilish and until the cross is truly applied to the agendas of men so that the will of God maybe manifest, it will remain divided. It is my hope that in the near future all of those professing to love Christ will be able to share His love for the truth and then allow that truth to unite them in thought and belief. Our objective must not merely be to be right; our objective should be to be right with God. In a lot of religious communities they have become right with each other but they are misaligned with God. Jesus spent a lot of time in the earth disputing with religious leaders regarding their focus on serving their own sense of righteousness instead of truly being right with God. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness….” is what the scripture says.

Do you seek to be dominated by God? Are you seeking to give God increasing power over you…your thoughts, behavior, and aspirations? That is what it means to seek the Kingdom of God and that is what it means to take up the cross of Christ….”not my will but yours be done.” The idea of allowing someone to dominate us or calling someone master meets immediate resistance in our minds due to the fact that the evils of man has diminished our ability to trust. On the other hand, if we are sick and need surgery, we will surrender to a surgeon and get put to sleep allowing total dominance over us. Is anyone more worthy of our trust than God? He wants to bring healing to us and we likewise have to surrender. Jesus proved himself worthy of our trust when He gave His life as a ransom for us. Few men have done that for another so I understand the apprehension, but Christ is truly worthy. Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt 16:24-25)

You are not living until you dedicate your life to His purposes instead of your own. A body does not function properly until all its members are correctly processing messages from its head. The Catholic Church says its head is the Pope. I have met Protestants that said the head of their church was pastor such and such or bishop such and such. The bible teaches that the only head of the Church is Jesus Christ.

When believers form alliances with each other based on compatibility, we end up with all these factions of religion. On the other hand if believers focus on transformation through submitting to God’s will, then we have true unity with God and with one another. The commands of God do not vary person to person. We are all commanded to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength. Likewise we are all commanded to love one another as we would like to be loved. The love spoken of here is not abstract or subjective love but love according to the word of God.

When the body of Christ unites in the spirit of truth, the Church will be glorious and powerful. Denominations will lose their significance as we all come in unity of faith and belief as written in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” The bible tell us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. Now through the abundant gratefulness we all have for the deliverance brought to us by the cross of Jesus, we now need to fulfill His joy by taking up our own crosses in laying down our individual preferences for the corporate interest of the body of Christ. When the bride (the Church) comes forth in her glory, the groom (Jesus) will rejoice and be filled with gladness. Colossians 1:9-18;

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

 

 

Love Supreme

What do you think of when you think of your first love? Do you think of your first serious crush or perhaps the first person you gave yourself to. Now think…does that love still inspire you, fulfill you, strengthen you, protect you, give you peace, give you joy, give you life. Jesus says, if you drink of the water He offers you will thirst no more, as a matter of fact He says His love will be as living waters springing up inside of you. This is the message He gave to a woman who met Him while she was trying to draw water from a well. She had several husbands and obviously was still searching, still thirsting, for true love. We all have a thirst for love, a deep desire to be truly known yet still accepted, appreciated, and valued. If you have never been totally open and honest in a relationship then you have never been truly open to receive love in its fullness. The fact that Jesus gave His life for you while knowing all that you are capable of, the good as well the bad, is a testimony of His enduring love. Truth is, until you have experienced the love of Jesus you are yet to have your first love. I pray that you will open your heart to Jesus, that you might receive peace that surpasses understanding, joy unspeakable, and love that gives life abundantly. A Love supreme!

The Crossing

Time races like a raging river, moving from east to west, from sunrise to sunset, dragging everything in its grasp along its course,

However in this mighty river there are monuments as great stones that stand immovable,

Stones that stand as memorials in time of momentous events that were life changing,

When we learn from those life changing events, we are able to build structures on these monuments that transcend time,

Through wise counsel we can connect these structures across this mighty river from its southern side to its northern banks,

This structure can serve as a transport that carries us and generations after us to our higher purposes for living,

So that we are not just lost drifts in the river, drug to our sunsets without fulfilling the purposes for our day in life,

Let us learn from the past and be open to wise counsel, endeavoring always to move toward our higher purposes for living,

Then time will no longer dominate us but instead serve as a reminder to stay on our own God given course.