Stepping out of the Crowd

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
(Luke 14:25-33 NKJV)

What am I forsaking? If I am not able to see much that following Jesus is costing me, it may be time to request an annual performance evaluation.

Ask The Spirit

Frequently, when I am asked for an opinion by someone who is making a decision, I don’t sense that I have been given the answer. I may still try to sense what is wisdom, but I don’t want to offer an answer that is not clearly from the Spirit without warning. My advice, when I don’t sense I have any answer at all, is “Ask the Spirit.”

Examine these two Scriptures:
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will explain everything to us.” “I am He,” Jesus told her, “the One speaking to you.” Just then His disciples arrived, and they were amazed that He was talking with a woman. Yet no one said, “What do You want?” or “Why are You talking with her?”
(John 4:25-27 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)
For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
(Mark 9:31-32 KJV)

His trainees were afraid to ask Him questions. Never be afraid to ask Him for explanation, or for deeper understanding, or for strength, or wisdom, or faith, or anything else. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. He wants you to succeed. He wants you to understand. He wants you to ask and seek and knock, so that all things become yours.

He is not afraid you will mishear and get it wrong. Even on the days when that is exactly what happens. Part of the process of learning to hear His voice is to also learn what His voice doesn’t sound like. Don’t be afraid to fail.

Praying for Figs

Unconverted human nature is much more likely than our new nature to provoke us to accusation than to intercession. Our new nature should be even more “more likely” to provoke us to intercession when we see failure than when we used to be accusers. Our behavior is not yet perfected, though…

In Luke 13:6-8, Jesus described a fruitless fig tree. “A man” in the story was the tree owner, who was annoyed that he had come to the tree for three years and been disappointed by a lack of fruit. His servant asked him for one more year of patience before cutting the tree down when he discovered that the man wanted it removed.

When your leaders are not producing fruit from God of good leadership, good teaching, and good examples of servanthood, the proper response may be to intercede that they would be led by His Spirit to bear much fruit, and that their fruit should remain (John 15:16).

The job of accuser has been filled. Many positions for intercessors are open. Apply within.

Avoid Perishing Likewise

At that time, some people came and reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And He responded to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were more sinful than all Galileans because they suffered these things? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well! Or those 18 that the tower in Siloam fell on and killed—do you think they were more sinful than all the people who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!”
(Luke 13:1-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

“At that time” in this Scripture is describing the surroundings as the same as Luke’s description in chapter 12 of the gathering of many thousands to listen to Jesus teach. Pilate had stolen some money from the Jewish temple treasury to build an aqueduct. When some Jews had gathered to protest it, he had them murdered. Some people in this crowd brought accusation to Jesus against Pilate about the deaths . Their motives in bringing it up were not mentioned by Luke.

This part of the teaching Jesus gave the crowd opens a window and lets in a little light on what Jesus meant when He instructed people to repent. It was not their sinfulness that caused the dead people to have been killed. Still, Jesus instructed the people that unless they repented, they would likewise perish. The dead had perished, some from murder, some from an accident.

Jesus implied that His listeners could avoid those ends by repenting. He made it clear that He was not connecting the deaths to sin. Remember that “repent” means to have a changed mind: I thought a certain way, something happened, and it changed the way I now think. Jesus was instructing the people to change the way they used their minds so that they could avoid murder and accidental death.

When we learn to listen to the King of the Kingdom of God, to think the way He leads us to think, with changed minds, we will be led into wisdom and delivered from error. We will be shown escape even before we see danger on days! Seeking His Kingdom includes seeking His authority over our lives and His direction for our steps.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths.
(Proverbs 3:5,6 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

Only God

Jude 24
Now, to the One who is able to guard you from stumbling and to place you before the presence of His glory faultless in great rejoicing, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might, and authority before all time, both now and forever. Amen.
(from The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest Copyright © 1961 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.)

Only our God can keep us from stumbling, and only He can make us able to stand in His glory.

Much praise and much glory and endless thanks to Him!

Love Your Neighbor

Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments:

You shall not commit adultery,
you shall not murder,
you shall not steal,
you shall not covet,

and if there is any other commandment—all are summed up by this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.

Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.
(Romans 13:8-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

Loving your neighbor is the fulfillment of the entire law that Yahweh gave through Moses to make Israel’s descendants a nation. Wake up and put on light as armor. It is an unbelievable fight to love each other and to love Yahweh as He expects us. His light is brighter than the sun at noon. Arm yourself and love!

Help From Artaxerxes

Artaxerxes was a title of a few Persian kings. It meant “ruler from truth.” One of these kings gave the Hebrew Ezra a letter that authorized him to resume the work of rebuilding the temple of Yahweh, which had been originally authorized by his predecessor Cyrus.

The work had been stopped because of the complaints of some rulers near Jerusalem who were jealous of the Jews, who were being blessed with freedom and provision to restore the temple. Artaxerxes authorized that continuation of the project would be funded by gifts from wealthy people in his kingdom and from his treasury.

Believers have had much confusion about whether to accept gifts or liberties from governments or from individuals who are unbelievers. Some of the confusion is sourced in the problems that have been created when people who ruled over the church attempted to rule over their governments, and when people who ruled in governments have attempted to rule over the church.

Only recently has the idea begun to be recognized as normal in the Kingdom of God that neither of those arrangements is proper, but that what is proper is to have individual believers to whom God has assigned the authority and gifts to rule in the affairs of humans standing in places of earthly authority.

Many times in situations described in the Bible, provision has been given to the works of the Lord by unbelievers. In this case, Artaxerxes made his authorization clear that he imposed no requirements over priests or sacrifices or the process of building or maintaining the temple. He left the leadership to those chosen by Yahweh to do His work.

When there is the witchcraft of hoping to control the work by contributing to it, the assistance should be avoided, whether the contributor is a believer or not. Otherwise, receiving benefit from any source is proper.

Evangelistic Evangelicals

Can you be an Evangelical without being an Evangelist? Can you be an Evangelist without being Evangelical? Yes.

The “ev” part of both words means “good.” The next section, “angel,” means “angel.” That’s because “angel” means “messenger.” In a stretch, it really even means “message.” “Gospel” is an Old English word that is made of “good” or “god” smashed with “spell.” It means a good story. It was used frequently by the Old English experts who translated the Scriptures for King James as a word to represent the Greek “evangel.” Good message and/or good messenger.

“Eu” and “ev” were used interchangeably at times when the English were still arguing about the letters they would use to write their language. “Eulogy,” that bunch of nice things you hope people will say over you at your funeral, is a similar word. “Eu” means “good” just like it would have if they had spelled it “ev.” “Logy” means “word,” like “logos.” “Good word.”

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were called “the Evangelists” during the time of the Wesleys and Whitefield, so when people started calling those preachers “evangelists,” it was like saying they were so righteous they should be writing Scripture. It made religious people cringe and spit like they did 20 years ago when someone called themselves or someone else an apostle. “Evangelical” drafts its origin from these four “gospel” or “evangel” writers. Those books were called “the Evangels.” A proper Evangelical uses that title as a declaration that they consider their core doctrines to come from the teachings found in those four books. None of that Pentecostal foolishness Paul tried to mess things up with later…

An Evangelist is a messenger with a good message. An angel of good. Pentecostal or Evangelical alike make good Evangelists if they are preaching good news – “good spells.”

Problems

Problems are probably always related to people. Unclean spirits are frequently the sources of problems, but apart from people accepting or even hosting their activities, those spirits are like poverty-stricken orphans in a Charles Dickens story, peering in a bakery window at the warm pastries with no pennies to buy one.

John saw in the Revelation of Jesus that one day the ruler over unclean spirits would be bound by one angel and thrown in a pit that has no bottom. He will be locked there for 1000 years. One angel does it.

The dangers and torments that come against you from unclean things will find their ability to annoy or harm you through either your own agreement with them, or through another person. I have seen a demonized woman leave a workplace and two other people started acting just like her when she left.

How to fight a fight that is not against flesh and blood, but which, without the assistance of flesh and blood would not be a fight? Intercession (not accusation or condemnation) for the people to be free from the influence. Intercession that they would be empowered to life and righteousness and blessing. Standing against all the unclean spirits with the words the Spirit of Righteousness gives as words of war. Declarations of the promises of Yahweh.

Agape and faith.

9 Tithes

What should we be doing in terms of giving to the King’s work and blessing His servants by offering them financial assistance? First, consider that in a Kingdom, everything belongs to the King. If something is in someone else’s possession, it is because the King is entrusting it to them at that time. They are just stewards of it, and He will require of them a return on His investment in them.

This makes “the tithe belongs to the Lord,” a bit of a 90% understatement of the fact for us. “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof, the world, and they who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1) Everything is God’s. You have heard the old joke that no hearse is ever pulling a “U-haul” trailer. If every person on the earth died today, Who would still be around, owning everything?

Because He is a King, and we want to please Him in all our ways, we should ask Him, “What do You want me to do with the valuable things that You have put in my hands?” Jesus told His followers one day that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees, they would not enter the Kingdom. This does not mean that they would not go to Heaven. Their right to Heaven is not related to their being better people than the Pharisees were. It means that they would not be part of what the King is doing by ruling.

Just as He taught in chapters 5 and 6 of Matthew, it is in our hearts that we reveal our inclinations, and it is in our hearts where we are judged guilty or innocent. If our righteousness is based on our attempts to keep rules instead of being in love with the Ruler, we are not entitled to Heaven, because our righteousness is like dirty rags. If our righteousness is based on having a relationship with the King of Righteousness, we will shine like the sun at noon as we do the works He did and even greater things under His authority in the throne.

The path to God’s provision is found by seeking first His Kingdom, and His righteousness. His Kingdom is a place where saving your life will cause you to lose it. Keeping something for this life will cause you to lose it in the next. If you give with the purpose in your heart of receiving, you have never turned the gift loose, and cannot call it a gift. You have simply tried to give it to yourself, or to trade something small for something big.

If you give to those who cannot repay, with the intent of blessing Him and His people, you have given something away. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, not on the earth – in heaven, they do not rot or fade or end up missing due to theft as they do on earth. If you give with no expectation that you will ever see some gift again, He sees in your heart Kingdom giving, and rewards it bountifully. He will then be near enough for you to receive manna from His breath and life from His heart and light from His eyes.