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Bible study, prayer, going to church, accountability groups, singing praises, book studies, witnessing, giving, serving, and on-and-on.
All good things? Perhaps. But the “good” part of the tree of knowledge was still death. So, all these things can be death? Yep, for sure. Practically all religions have these same “good” things in their “to do lists”. The pharisees were masters of the scriptures and strict religious practices, but they chose their “good” over the Life that was before them, and also hung Life on a cross in order to protect their “good” religiousness.
So could it be wrong to encourage bros “to do” these things, when they’re seeking advice or counsel? Yes, it could be wrong, bcs just doing these good things could actually lead to death.
Jesus said “eat my flesh and drink my blood”, and that “rivers of living water will flow from those that drink of Him”. And that *knowing* (a deeply intimate word) IS eternal life. He also said that many folks who “do” a lot of things “in His name” will hear “away from me, I never *knew* you”.
So if we do all these “good” things, and encourage others to as well, for the sake of amassing spiritual/biblical knowledge and refining our religious practices so as to appear more holy than everyone around us, then we are destined for weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It feels good to be able to tell another brother what he should be doing. But is it really leading to Life to just constantly advise bros to read their bibles and pray? Probably not. If doing those things really worked, then there we be a whole lot more victory in the camp, and way less problems & struggles.
I pray we all learn how to give each other Christ. Christ is the difference. He is life, victory, healing, wisdom, inspiration, transformation, deliverance…everything. Those “good” things can perhaps serve as plates on which to serve/eat Christ, but if He’s not the substance of food on the plate, then the nourishment is actually death instead of life.
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*. [Col 1:18 NKJV]
God’s plan for each of us includes premeditated & strategically designed trials. Pits, prisons, enslavement, mistreatment, betrayal, slander, theft, abuse, wilderness seasons, loneliness, service-to-the-ungodly, and on and on. The key is turning from trying to get out of them, and learning to respond to them in faith & the Spirit. In this, we are transformed from depressed whiners and complainers into overcomers.
God’s not raising spoiled brats, but mighty sons to send as ambassadors into the world to take dominion in Jesus’ name and for His glory.
[Jas 1:2-4 NKJV] 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
[1Pe 1:6-7 NKJV] 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, [being] much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
Problem solving: a wrench or a flow.
Many times, we prefer to reach for a “wrench” when we “need to ‘fix’ something”. The wrench makes us feel in-control, and gain a sense of accomplishment, if it works. Even though the wrench-fix may just be a temporary fix. And wrenches can be good tools for small fixes. But for really big problems, I think we need a flow.
Years ago the Lord gave me a vision of His version fixing big problems. I saw a river that hadn’t seen any rain in a very long time. It was flowing, but quite shallow; and there was a lot of exposed banks. Lodged all in the banks were dead tree trunks, rocks, all kinds of trash & debris; and even some big stuff like chunks of barns and old cars. The amount of junk lodged in the banks was overwhelming. Wrenching each huge thing out one-by-one would be a lifetime endeavor, even with a crew to help.
But then the rains came, and a flash-flood overwhelmed the river. The soil in the banks loosened up, and the debris became less and less stuck, and eventually just washed downstream by the dump-truck load.
So, the lesson to me was when I’m facing big problems, to resist the urge to reach for the wrench, and fast and pray until the big rain-of-His-Spirit
1. Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of kings. 2. Rise up, O men of God! The kingdom tarries long. Bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong. 3. Rise up, O men of God! The church for you doth wait, her strength unequal to her task; rise up, and make her great! 4. Lift high the cross of Christ! Tread where his feet have trod. As brothers of the Son of Man, rise up, O men of God!
Text: William P. Merrill, 1867-1954
Music: William H. Walter, 1825-1893
Tune: FESTAL SONG, Meter: SM
- John 10:7-10 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 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.
- Door – A portal or entrance. Gate.
- Jesus Christ IS the door of faith, by acceptance of the gospel [Acts 14:27]; the door of “openings” for preaching and teaching the Word of God [1 Cor 16:9, 2 Cor 2:12, Col 4:3, Rev 3:8]; the door of “entrance” into the Kingdom of God [Matt 25:10, Luke 13:24-25]; the door of Christ’s “entrance” into a repentant believer’s heart [Rev 3:20]; the door of the nearness of Christ’s returning [Matt 24:33, Mark 13:29, James 5:9]; the door of “access” to behold visions relative to the purposes of God [Rev 4:1].
- Son or daughter of our Father, do you want something from God? Do you need something from God? Then KNOCK! [Luke 11:7, Matt 7:7] But realize, that the door upon which you knock is not an impersonal, thick piece of wood or iron gate. The door is a person, who knows you and loves you, and waits joyfully for the impressions of your faith-knuckles on His chest. Knock and keep on knocking…and the Door will open. He has promised.
- So many in the world are knocking at the door of the Doctor’s office, the banker’s office, the pastor’s office, the therapist’s office, daddy or mommy’s office, spouse’s office, children’s office, a friend’s office, the movie theater, the sports center, and on and on. Brother or sister, YOU are a doorkeeper in His kingdom. Boldly proclaim that Jesus IS the door, and teach them to knock on Him!
- Romans 11:26 – …The deliverer will come from Zion…
- Deliverer – One who draws out for himself. A rescuer. One who sets free. One who saves another from certain peril or doom.
- There are numerous examples of David being delivered from destruction due to Saul’s relentless pursuit of him in the books of Samuel, Kings, and Psalms. But the quintessential example is when Israel was trapped on the shores of the Red Sea. After 400 years of crying out to God to save them from the cruel slavery building Pharaoh’s monuments to his ego, God sends Moses. Moses wrestles God’s children away from Pharaoh and begins leading them towards the land of milk and honey by following the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, but ends up trapped on the banks of the Red Sea. Pharaoh, in an insane fury, has sent his entire army raging after Israel, who is sitting like an animal with its leg caught in a trap. A bloody slaughter is imminent. But with a glorious display of His delivering power, Jesus parts the Red Sea whereby Israel walks across on dry ground. Jesus even punctuates the deliverance by having the sea drown the enemy in the same stroke.
- Chosen and blessed child of God, it was Jesus who wrote the script for the Red Sea drama; and He is the one who is writing the script for the pressures, captivities, and bondages that you are facing. All because He wants to display to-you and through-you, and to everyone who is watching your life; His magnificent glory and power. Are you “stuck” in some way? Raise your hands and cry out to Jesus “SAVE ME FROM …”, and don’t stop until the waters part.
- Has Jesus already delivered you from some insurmountable peril in your life? Then this is your area of ministry. Be on the lookout for people who Jesus shepherds across your path who seem to be struggling for freedom. Let His loving compassion well-up from within you, move towards them with empathy, and boldly testify to what Jesus did for you when He delivered you. Encourage them to believe Him, and to keep on believing Him until, like the woman with the issue of blood, virtue flows and everything is different…forever.
Do you fear the force of the wind,
The slash of the rain?
Go face them and fight him,
Be savage again.
Go hungry and cold like the wolf,
Go wade like the crane.
The palms of your hands will thicken,
The skin of your four head tan –
You’ll be ragged and swarthy and weary
But – you’ll walk like a man.