Saturday, June 25, 2016

Will You Be Goin' Round The Mountain When He Comes?

Deuteronomy 2:3
“Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward. (KJV)”

If we look closely at this passage in Deuteronomy we can see that God provides us with some training for times when we find ourselves wandering in the “wilderness.” The supposition here is that God knows that our tendency is to fall or slip into a state of wandering.  We all get to places where it seems that we move without vision, without passion, and without purpose.  One of the dangers we face as Christians is that of becoming religious, where our routine is often substituted for relationship, and we trade rituals for power.

2 Timothy 3:5
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

One of the worst things that can happen to a child of God is to fall into this lifestyle of making allowances for the wrong attitudes and appetites of our flesh, but continuing on just as though we have fully dealt with it. The children of Israel turned an eleven-day journey into a 40-year death march because they were more comfortable with the form than the power. They would rather go through the motions than to submit themselves to God.

Just before entering their promised land, God brought them to a place called Gilgal, which means “rolled away.” It was here that God would take away the reproach of Egypt from them. This place represented all of their wilderness wanderings, their endless circles, their ceaseless activity, their religious ceremonies void of God’s power.

Joshua 5:2
“Make thee sharp knives and circumcise again the children of Israel.”

Our Gilgal is where God delivers us from the carnal cycles, or the excessive flesh that is keeping us from experiencing real power, transforming power in our lives.  In the book of Hebrews, it says that the Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword.  Don’t hide your flesh from the Word, do not protect your flesh from the sword of the Spirit. I can confidently tell you from my own experience: that which you spare from the sword will continue to enslave you and keep you from true freedom and the victory over the flesh that Christ died to give you, until it is cut away.

It says that they tarried in the camps till they were whole. Listen to what God is showing us here, the pure Word of God will cut, and sometimes it cuts deep. It will force us to let the Holy Ghost cut away the layers of flesh that keep us from His power. It won’t always be minor surgery and it often involves pain, but ultimately it produces wholeness, healing, and power. Only God can make us whole and he does it by delivering us from the flesh by His Word, and filling us with the Holy Ghost.

Many people know just enough of the Word to make them argumentative, but not enough to make them change. They have studied enough to make them religious, but not enough to make them hunger for righteousness. They have memorized enough to make them seem happy, but not hidden enough in their hearts to make them pursue holiness.  They are “stuck in the rut” of carnal cycles. They are continually moving but never growing, always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. The great danger that faces everyone who continues in this condition: they mistake activity for progress.  They convince themselves that being busy for the Lord is equivalent to growing in the Lord. They deceive themselves!

They are stuck in a carnal cycle and they continue to “compass” the mountain over and over; year after year. The mountain represents those things in your life that you never seem to be able to get victory over: a habit, a critical spirit, unforgiveness, gossip, cussing, losing your temper, over eating, lust, jealousy, or hate. Compassing the mountain means that every time you are faced with these sins, you react according to the flesh and not the spirit. It seems like a never ending cycle, a carnal cycle in which you abuse the grace of God time and time again; you react according to the flesh, you feel guilty, you repent, and then you feel better. At least until the next time you experience similar conditions and it seems the cycle starts over again. 

Compassing the mountain means that you never deal with the real issue, you skirt the issue, you put on your spiritual blinders and then continue on religiously as though the problem doesn’t exist. It’s the cycle of responding to the pressures of life, pressures which are common to all, by surrendering to the temptations of the flesh. Some surrender to sexual immorality, others to drugs and alcohol, many over eat, lose their temper, lie, hold a grudge, sulk and pout, draw into themselves, or get moody and unpredictable. It’s what the Word of God refers to as “being conformed to the patterns of this world.”

In every situation you have a choice whether you will respond according to the flesh or according to the Word of God. If you respond according to the flesh, it’s one more time around the mountain.
Are you fed up with circling your mountain? Have you compassed this mountain long enough? Then allow the sharp edge of the Word of God to have its way in your life and identify those attitudes and characteristics that are of the flesh, and allow the Holy Ghost to cut it away and crucify your flesh once and for all!

This means that we have to surrender to the operation of the Holy Spirit as he addresses those secret places in our lives, and we submit to God as our deliverer and our healer. It means that we pray through until the Holy Ghost makes our heart His dwelling place. Only then can we continue into our promise land and start enjoying the inheritance of being God’s children.

Galatians 5:19-25
“19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Are You On The Right Road?

Jeremiah 6:16
“Thus saith the LORD, stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein.”

In this passage God is speaking to a nation that has lost its way, though these words were spoken from the mouth of God to the nation of Israel, they are easily applicable to much of His church today.

Jeremiah 6:13-14 - “For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. 14 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”

This exhortation is given to redirect Gods people, to wake them up to their personal responsibility to take a stand, to see, to ask for, and to walk in the “old paths.”

Many of Israel’s prophets and even the priests had lost their fear of God and their love for God, they had become greedy and materialistic. They were performing their services out of covetousness. Instead of proclaiming the truth of God, they were telling the people what they wanted to hear. By their actions they had helped to produce a spiritual cancer that was destroying Gods people.

I see it happening in the church today.  I grew up in a denomination that used to preach standards of holiness.  There were dress codes for men and women, standards by which we were to live that were considered “holy.”  The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that we must make every effort to be holy and that without holiness no man shall see God (Hebrews 12:14)  While I personally believe that holiness is a work that God performs on the inside of a man, it is direct result of obedience to His Word, There are certain steps that we must take, standards by which we must live, so that the world can see the internal work and recognize that God is changing us.  Paul proclaimed that if a man be in Christ he is a new creation, the old is passed away, behold all things have become new.  Today I do not recognize the denomination of my youth. They have “progressed” along with the changes in our society and they have abandoned their standards of holiness.

Yet the Word clearly warns us not to conform to the patterns of the world, and not to allow ourselves to be led captive through hollow and deceptive philosophies which are based on human tradition rather than on Christ.  The word is clear on these matters, we are not to follow after the patterns of the world, period.  It doesn’t matter if “society” is okay with things today that were not okay 50 years ago, that does not make it okay.  God’s Word must be obeyed!

The way that we dress is just a small example of what I am talking about, but it is the most visible example. Men were created by God to be men, and women were created by God to be women. 100 years ago it wasn’t okay for women to wear pants, today society says that it is.  And now we see women wearing pants and we accept it as normal. Why? Because society says it’s normal.  20 years ago it wasn’t okay for men to wear dresses, but today Bruce Jenner wants you to think it’s normal, even heroic. How long before we see men in the church wearing dresses? Absurd?  Well so was ordaining homosexuals just a short time ago, now it is accepted in many churches today.

It is very easy to get caught up in a gospel that is a gospel of convenience and comfort, a gospel without a cross, and a gospel that permits you to think, say, or do anything you want. A gospel that denies the grace of God, and exalts self to a status of godhood, so that anything self chooses is considered right and acceptable.

Proverbs 14:12 – “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Proverbs 16:25 – “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Any time the bible says something 2 times word for word this close together it is vitally important.
Paul said: Galatians 1:8 – “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

Today as never before we must heed this admonition to stand in the “old ways.” We need see, consider, and compare how we are living today versus how our elders lived.  Can you still see the cross from where you are standing? Do you see the blood from where you are living? Do you see the son of God dying for your sins? Do you see him raising from the dead? Do you see him coming to live in his children through the person of the Holy Spirit?

Are you crucified with Christ? Is the life you are now living, lived by faith in the Son of God who died for you, or by the standards of a society that is killing your spirit by driving a wedge between you and the holiness that God says is required for anyone that wishes to see Him?

We must look for the familiar landmarks in our walk: Is there an altar? Is there repentance for sin? Is there baptism in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues?  Is there salvation, healing, and deliverance? These are all familiar landmarks, sign posts that mark the old paths. If you can’t see them, you may have taken a wrong turn, you may be on the wrong path, you may be lost and you may not arrive at the destination you are expecting to reach.

I have great news for you, God allows U-turns!

2 Chronicles 7:14

“14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Saturday, June 11, 2016

We Need to Get Plugged In

Acts 3:1-10
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

During the course of a week there were probably hundreds of new believers that passed by this lame beggar.  After all, it says in Acts 2 that over 3 thousand were added to their number on the day of Pentecost and I’m convinced that Peter and John were not the only believers that went to the temple to pray.  It is likely that most them had a testimony of what God had done for them, and the difference Jesus had made in their lives.

I bet if I were to ask all of you to comment and give an example of how Jesus had worked in your life, I would be busy for days reading your testimonies.  Some of you have walked away from accidents where no one should have survived it, but here you are.  Some of you have survived addictions; you should be dead, or worse, strung out in some mental hospital, and yet here you are saved sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost.  Someone else might share how God restored your marriage.  And I am positive that some would tell me how the doctors had done everything they could do and finally gave up, and then Jesus, the Great Physician, took your case and did a miracle.

It doesn’t matter how long you have been a Christian, if you have been set free from the bondage of sin, wrestled out of the hands of Satan, and washed in the blood of Jesus, then you have a testimony of God’s power!

And many of these other believers may have stopped from time to time and shared an exciting testimony and personal experience with the lame man, but when the testimony was done they went on into the temple and left this man in the same condition he was when they found him.  Why?  Because their testimony was not enough. Our experiences are good and our testimony can be enough to remind us of what God has done so that we can overcome our hard times, but when it comes to touching someone else’s situation and bringing life to the lost, there has to be more than experience, there has to be some power!

Matthew 28:18 – “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”

Then one day Jesus said: I am going away, I have to leave you but when I go the power will go too, and I can’t expect you to do my work with no power.  So he tells them to Tarry in Jerusalem till ye be endued with POWER from on High.  Then he tells them in Acts 1:8 “Ye shall receive POWER after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. And you shall be my witnesses…”

When Peter and John came walking through that day they had just left the board meeting of heaven, where the power of the Holy Ghost came like cloven tongues of fire and rushing mighty wind and filled them with power.  They didn’t just have a testimony, they had a manifestation!  They were plugged into the power of God. To put it plainly, they didn’t just have a story to tell of what God had done for them in the past, they had a manifestation of the very power that raised Christ from the dead living inside of them, and they recognized it, so they manifested the power of God toward this cripple man.  They channeled Gods Power into that lame man's life.

What was the difference?  Why didn't any of the other Christians that most likely passed him by help him?  Most of the other believers, like the majority of the church today, knew that something had happened to them because of God’s power. They could remember their experience, they could even tell someone about it, but that was as far as their faith would take them.  But Peter and John had gone to another level: they were plugged into to God's power that was in them by the baptism in the Holy Ghost!

I know that there are some of you that are tired of the same old thing, you’re ready for a deeper experience of God’s power.  You’re sick and tired of the same old level in your walk, the same old level in your marriage, the same old level of the anointing, you’re want to go to another level. I want to make a prophetic declaration: God is getting ready to shift somebody, He's getting rready to plug you into His power!

Peter and John came on the scene and they were a positive looking for a negative to release Gods power.  They were a blessing looking for a place to Happen.  They understood what Jesus was telling them when He said go and make disciples.  He was saying, “Go make things happen, heal the sick, release those who are in bondage to sin, make dead marriages live again, and call the prodigals home!”

There are only three types of people in the Body of Christ: those that watch things happen, those that wonder what happened, and those that make things happen because they are plugged into God's power.  Which one are you?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Alive And Kicking

When I look back at my life and remember all the stupid things that I have done, I realize, statistically speaking that is, that I probably shouldn’t be here.  I understand that it is only because of the grace and mercy of a loving God that I am.  So many others that I associated with in the past are gone; dead or in prison.  Accidents, drug overdoses, suicides, and other circumstances have taken the lives of many who walked the same road that I traveled for many years. And I know that there are some of you reading this right now who know that if it wasn’t for God you too would have died or would be in prison.

Acts 27:10
10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.”

Paul tells them not to sail:  How many can say that they always listen to wise counsel?  I could have saved myself a lot of the grief if I had just listened to those who tried to teach me in my life.

Acts 27:11
11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.

Sounds like the men that were with Paul were a lot like me, they didn’t listen either and they sailed right into the biggest storm of their lives.

Acts 27:18-20
18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.  19 On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands.  20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

They tried get rid of all the excessive weight they had taken aboard by throwing it into the sea.  Let me tell you from experience, there’s nothing like a violent storm to cause you to start rethinking your priorities. Regardless of all their efforts the ship was still destroyed, but they made it to land, barely, on the broken pieces of the ship.

Years ago after deciding I was going to live life on my terms, do things my way, plot my own course and ignore the way that I had been brought up to follow, I found my life wrecked in the seas of sin.  Laying in a hospital bed with a broken back from a motorcycle accident, addicted to drugs and alcohol, no job, no home, and no hope: but then came Jesus.  Just like the day Lazarus lay dead in the tomb and all around was hopelessness and in despair: but then came Jesus!  God’s grace can reach us in the darkest tomb, in our moment of hopelessness, and bring us back from the storm not matter how much wreckage we have caused.  He can bring us ashore.  Thank you Jesus!

I can feel the Holy Ghost just washing over me right now!  Someone reading this ought to lift your hands to God right now and say, I’m coming ashore!  In the name of Jesus you’re going to make it!  You may be broken, but you’re going to make it! You may be wounded, but keep paddling!  You may be bleeding and crying, but keep swimming!  You may not understand what you’re going through, you might be confused and feeling rejected, but hold on, Jesus is coming!

Acts 27:44
44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

If you've been through the storm, you need to lift up your hands right now and thank God that He brought you through!  It should have killed you, but you made it!  For a lot us the storm was caused by our own choices, we had everything we needed to avoid it, but we ignored the forecast, we disregarded the obvious signs and the advice of wiser men, but God had mercy on us and we made it! We should have drowned, we shouldn’t be here, our poor choices should have destroyed us, but by the grace and mercy of the loving hand of God, we made it through the storm!

Hey Satan!  Guess what? I’m still here! I've got a testimony of the power of God!  I've been saved by His grace!  Baptized int eh name of Jesus into His death and given a new life!  I've received the resurrecting power through the infilling of the Holy Ghost and I’m coming to tear your kingdom down!

Acts 28:1-6
Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta.  2 And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.  3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.  4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.”  5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.  6 However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him.

There are people that are watching, that have known me for years and they probably don’t expect me to make it.  They are waiting for the serpent to latch on and kill me, they may even rejoice when they see me going through hardships and trials, so I say, 'keep watching'! The people on the shore were watching for Paul to swell up and fall out dead, they had seen it happen before.  He should have swollen or fallen down suddenly, but he did not!

Seven years ago I came around a corner on my motorcycle, drunk and stoned, going way to fast and I lost my lane and went head on into a minivan.  Medical science says I should be dead or paralyzed, every natural circumstance says I shouldn’t have made it, it should have killed me, maybe I should be in a mental institution or still strung out on drugs, mad at God and mad at the world, but I’m back in church, filled with the Holy Ghost, and I’m living for my Lord!

I want to tell somebody today, just keep swimming, and keep fighting the storm!  Regardless of what others may say, regardless of what the doctor says, or what the financial experts say, God will have the final say if you stay the course!  Keep swimming!  This is no place to throw your hands up and sink to the bottom.  Keep swimming and when God gets through blessing you, you won’t even look like you’ve been through a storm.

I can hear your doubt, “but you don’t understand, I’m going through hell with this marriage, with this job, this sickness, this financial struggle.”

Oh Lord I feel the Holy Ghost, you should be shouting right now!  You just spoke the words of your victory, “You’re going through!”  You just prophetically spoke your own victory!

David said, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Remember, you’re not the only one who has ever walked through the fire.  The bible tells us about three young Hebrew boys who walked through the fire, and when they came out the other side the only evidence that they had been through the fire was they were liberated from their bondage. Bondage is the things that the enemy puts on us, and in the fire they get burned off!

They came out of the fire unharmed, their clothes were not burnt, their hair was not singed, and there was not even the smell of smoke on them.  It should have killed them: Some have tried to say that God just took the heat out of the fire, well somebody should have told the soldiers that threw them in about that, because the bible says it killed them.  I’m telling you that God doesn’t always take the heat out of the fire, but he will walk with you through it.

I shouldn’t be here right now, if the devil had his way I’d be strung out on drugs, or in a mental institution or in some hospital room, or prison, but I’m here today and I’m telling you, If you’ll keep your faith in God, God is going to bring you ashore.

I’m working on my testimony, so that sometimes means that I’m in the middle of a test.

Now back to Paul, the Word says, that Paul shook off the beast. It wasn’t’ a gentle wave of his hand, he didn’t gently coax it and say, “Please get off of me, please remove your fangs from my skin.”  No! He shook it off into the fire!

There are some things that you can just pray about and ask God to take away, but there are some things that you must become violent, and aggressive against.  “: The Kingdom of God is at hand and the violent take it by force.”

Some things you have to shake loose, you must shake like your life depends on it, because it does!
Shake your fear loose, shake your depression loose, shake your addiction loose, shake that spirit of hopelessness and suicide loose, shake that spirit of lust and perversion loose, shake your sickness and shake your dead powerless religion loose. Shake it off for your family, shake for your health, shake for your mind, and shake for your ministry.

But shaking is not all there is to it, you need to be close to the fire. There are a lot of people who shake, they go through the motions of being a Christian, but they do not have the fire.  In fact many think that we’re old fashioned and out touch with reality if we talk about the Holy Ghost and fire, but I still believe that the only thing that can destroy the devil's power is the fire of God.

We still serve a God that answers by Fire.  Paul shook that viper off into the Fire.  You need to ask yourself, are you living close enough to the fire?  Is there fire in your church?  Is there fire in your home? It’s time to turn up the heat!  I don’t have time to try and fit in, I’m fighting for my life.  I’m fighting for my destiny, I’m fighting for my ministry, I’m fighting for my children and my grandchildren. 

I know what it feels like to be ship wrecked, and I know what it feels like to be bitten by the serpent, but I also know what it feels like to shake that snake off into the fire.

I want to say to someone right now, you know it could have killed you, you know if the devil had his way you’d be dead, you know if some people had been able to carry out their intentions you would have drowned, but you’re still here, and you’re still here because God has a plan for your life, and a destiny and it’s not too late to fulfill it.

I pray you keep swimming.  God Bless.