I could write this as a factual devotion and move on. That would be easy for me or for any of us who are submerged in God’s Word. But God doesn’t let me get away with that; whatever He gives me to write about, I also must experience it again. There are actually two distinct areas in which the Holy Spirit is speaking to me in this devotional. The first area I reference is on our individual walks with the Lord, or lack thereof. The second area concerns the apostasy in our churches today. Both are intertwined and each of them are distinctly different. We can’t blame our lack of relationship on the pastor of the church because we are given freewill to choose obedience and holiness, or to be disobedient to Jesus’ teaching to what a life looks like when one is reborn. So let’s begin.
Read again the scripture at the top of the page, “who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, BUT OF GOD". God is intentional and doesn’t do anything randomly, so this is a very serious matter. Have you ever seriously considered the calling on your life? God was serious when He spoke these words: ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11) God was not, and is not telling us we will have utopia on earth, nor is He saying that we are going to be sheltered from difficult times and circumstances. He, God alone, knows our future. And He alone knows the training that we need in order to reach that future He has planned for us. I think you will have a much deeper understanding of this verse by the time we finish.
One of the biggest deceptions weaving itself into mainstream evangelical churches is that there are many ways into heaven even though Jesus was very clear when He stated, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) A survey in 2008 showed that 57% of American Christians believed there were more than one way to heaven! I can’t imagine the percentage today because it has pretty much become mainstream!
As I read the words in our opening scripture, over and over again I keep thinking how clear they are, they are straight to the point. We can’t “decide” to believe in Jesus. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44)
This is the very foundation of the Christian faith. Nothing can be done unless it is initiated by our Father in heaven. We can share Christ with others, and we are called to do so, but it is only by the Spirit of God which draws and convicts them of their need for a Savior can they truly be reborn. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;” (John 16:8)
This passage fills me with great joy and love for the Father. Why? There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING I can do to earn God’s love! For some people, however, that may not be good news because it is easier to do “good” works and gain awards. For them, the power of control what they do, who they serve and when they do it, is actually more of the motivating power in their lives than the actual service they perform. Therein lies the defining line. Man cannot choose God and go to heaven.
And there is the defining line in the sand. This is where I fall on my face in wonder of a loving God and Father who would draw me to Him out of a heart that is pure love. There are no hidden agendas, there are no hidden surprises to harm me. Actually it is the exact opposite, it is an invitation to enter His family and be loved beyond reason, exalted over as a precious jewel, loved like a treasured possession and never be afraid of being harmed or rejected. Yes, we will be stretched beyond reason (if we are surrendered) and need to go through the refiner’s fire, but it is all for His glory! He never leaves us or forsakes us during these times of trying tribulations. (Psalm 94:14, Hebrews 13:5)
Without the Father’s call, the Holy Spirit can’t be heard. When we hear the Holy Spirit calling us, convicting us of the sin in our lives, there is only one way to respond and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
What would Jesus say to those who are leading the body of Christ astray in their teachings? (i.e. there are many ways to heaven, grace without holiness, etc.) Please see Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,”. Many will teach verse 11 without verse 12. We all love grace, but it does come with a cost. We need to have the whole taught.
“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:1) “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28) “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16)
What was Jesus saying? Jesus clearly tells us EXACTLY what He was saying so there is no misunderstanding! “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32) If you are truly His disciple you will desire to study God’s word on how to live your life. This truth will be your foundation to guide you through the trials and tribulations that you will face. You will be more noble like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11) who searched the scriptures daily for truth, not for knowledge, but in order to live the separated life in Christ! We who believe, like the Bereans, are searching for the truth in the scriptures and through the Holy Spirit, and how to live it out in holiness before the Lord. We are to be sanctified, set apart for God as His testimony, that He will be seen in us.
This is the problem for those of the world (both believers and unbelievers), acting in worldly wisdom is foolishness in the eyes of God. God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14-15; Luke 1:26-35), that those who believes in Him (John 3:16) would have eternal life.
“Believes in Him” is an interesting statement and is often where many fall short of the glory of God. We can “believe” that something is true but not be surrendered or committed to it. Believe is an action word that requires continuous living it out on our part. First and foremost, we come into agreement with the Holy Spirit and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but is also One with the Father. Therefore, He is superior to us and we must acknowledge our sin, confess it, and repent (ask for forgiveness) and be willing to turn away from it and be transformed (be taught in the ways of God) (Romans 12:2). As we acknowledge our inability to make right choices, to choose right over wrong, immediately with godly sorrow repent of those sinful choices by acknowledging the emptiness in our lives as believers, we are asking for His hand to guide us, that is surrender! That is allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us and fill us with His wisdom from above. We will begin to experience rivers of living water flow through us! (John 7:38)
I have found many people trying to imitate the Holy Spirit to make it look like they are following God, but when difficulties come they aren’t able to deal with the circumstances because they are walking in the flesh. I believe this is the problem with the church today understanding the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 6 as to what a life of a believer looks like. (I encourage you to read the entire chapter even though I will highlight a few verses. The context of the entire passage is critical to our understanding!)
“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, (rendered powerless) so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;” (Romans 6:4-6) “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (Romans 6:10) “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:11-14)
In our culture today, to die to self and live in Christ to the life laid out for us is very difficult because we have become so comfortable to the ways of the world that we have chosen to ignore all parts of the scriptures which do not fit our lifestyles. But, in all truth, it has never been any different in any culture. If we aren’t able to choose Christ and live in Him when things are good, how much more difficult it will be when things are difficult because we will be ill-equipped to do the right thing!
I see it every day in people who think they are saved but have no fruit to show for it. Others who may have a little fruit but continuously relapse into old behavior or addictions. They will say to me that they love God but He isn’t answering their prayers. God won’t answer our prayers when we are consistently walking in sin, worshipping other gods, and living life for ourselves.
This is where God has taken me these last few weeks, to experience the heartbreak of seeing those whom He has called turn their backs on Him. I am not saying they lost their salvation, some may never have received it, but have been deceived because they do not believe there is a Jesus that can change their life. Another problem may be that they may never had surrendered their lives to Him to even be their Savior, let alone their Lord. And the sad news is that they believe they are “okay”, they believe they are going to heaven. To be truly born again the person must have experienced John 16:8 where the spirit convicts the lost one of their sin, the need of God’s righteousness, and knowing there is judgment coming. Unfortunately there are those who simply thought saying “I believe in Jesus as my Savior!” without the above convictions have been fooled in thinking they are saved! No amount of talking with them or sharing the scriptures with them will change them because they deny the power of God! (2 Timothy 3:5) Have you ever considered the seriousness of Hebrews 12:8? “But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers (all true believers), then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
Does that mean we give up sharing what Christ‘s real salvation is with them? I don’t believe so, but scripture tells us that there is a place where we are to stop ministering to them until they repent, (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14; Romans 16:17). I continue to pray for them because I know it is only through the drawing of the Holy Spirit they can hear and be changed.
So far we have looked at the following truths found in God’s Word: God alone draws man to Himself and the response a believer has toward receiving Jesus as their Savior and Lord and living so that others see Christ are are His witnesses. We’ve also recognized that there are consequences to sin!
The Apostle Paul also addresses the other reason for man’s rebellion in a letter to the church of Corinth. In this letter, Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit will give us a “cross perspective” or “eternal perspective” when evaluating situations in our lives or in the world. It has always been the truth, and Paul confronted it everywhere he went, but we learn about it clearly in Ephesus where the craftsman who made idols are wanting to kill him because he was exposing that Diana is not a goddess nor is the worshipping of idols profitable. If the citizens became believers, they would be out of work! They were not willing to accept “the truth” because they were more interested in protecting themselves...they were their own gods...they thought they knew better than God. This wasn’t just an economic situation, but like the Pharisees, this was a condition of the heart. But if we are grounded in scripture, we can more easily understand the situation and go to the Father in prayer for the answer to the root and not just the symptom. Remember the words of Jesus in Luke? “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! “But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;” (Luke 12:49-51) Are you gaining a different perspective? If our perspective is on the cross of Jesus Christ we can see and understand the eternal plan of God unfolding. The individual plan for daily living and the eternal plan which begins at the moment of salvation.
Yes, and you must expect division to come – some family members, some friends or business associates persecuting you because of your “narrow” mindedness concerning living a separated life. 2 Timothy 3:12 “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
IN LIGHT OF THE ABOVE, it is a great reminder to me that I am seated in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:6) at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34) and He has already overcome the world. (John 16:33) So like the Psalmist David, I too can praise the Lord with these words, “For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:3) Why? “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Praise You, Lord God Almighty! You and You alone are our strength! Even as a believer, a mature believer, we are at best weak in ourselves! Why? Because the Lord is to receive all the glory as we in our mortal weakness go to him and leave the problems we face in His hands alone! He then receives all the glory. Always keep in mind that we were made a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9) and that includes fallen angels, so they are stronger than us. But our Lord who lives in us defeated them – so that is why we immediately go to Him and take the attacks to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).
Today, especially in the United States, Christians are now the minority and the “wisdom of the world” (though a very small minority) has gained position as to throw biblical, godly morality out of our society. Christians are offended and assaulted and being prosecuted for their faith. How could this be? Satan hates the Jesus who lives in us. Let’s read a few passages to gain understanding, and I believe because we are now personally experiencing it, we will gain a much clearer understanding of the words in scripture. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, BUT TO US WHO ARE BEING SAVED IT IS THE POWER OF GOD.” (1 Corinthians 1:18) Here is part of the Lord’s prayer for you and me, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
In the next verse we begin to understand the events that are unfolding, For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” (1 Corinthians 1:19) Prophecy is being fulfilled today. “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, CHRIST THE POWER OF GOD AND THE WISDOM OF GOD.” (1 Corinthians 1:21-24)
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
The Apostle Paul sums up this portion with words that NEED TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. Our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption ONLY come through Jesus Christ. Let’s read them together: “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)
I’ve been noticing that while the believers are being attacked by the so called “wise of this world” (liberals who lack a moral and biblical foundation) the believers, unfortunately, are taking it as a personal attack and fighting back in the natural man as if fighting flesh and blood. What God is sharing is a bigger picture, He is sharing prophecy that must be worked out in our lives. And that is part of His plan for our lives for our future! Instead, of being offended and retaliating, we should be responding as He instructed through the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18! “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” HERE IS HOW IT IS ACCOMPLISHED: Ephesians 6:18, “PRAYING ALWAYS with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
No, we are not to lay down and allow the world to destroy us and kill us, but our first line of defense is to be of the same mind of Christ. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5) I don’t know about you, but can I honestly say along with Jesus, “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;” (John 14:30)? Honestly, no I cannot, but I desire to! I believe with all my heart this is why God wanted this devotional. We really need to ask “What would Jesus do?” And once we surrender our fleshly desires to the Father, the Holy Spirit can pour His peace in and through us. This is when we “stand firm”...stand firm in His love, not fearing what man can do to the flesh, but fearing God! “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; BUT RATHER FEAR HIM WHO IS ABLE TO DESTROY BOTH SOUL AND BODY IN HELL.” (Matthew 10:28)
My prayer is that these words today will touch your heart and remind each of us as to the calling of Jesus Christ upon each one who believes. Luke recorded these words of Jesus when He was sending out the disciples, they are a good reminder for us today to understand, And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. “Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” (Luke 10:2-3) In light of this commission, it will also give us understanding of the words recorded below in Revelations, “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16) You and I are placed here, at this very time, for a very specific reason, and that reason is to share Christ with the lost! For the first time in our lives, that may very well cost us dearly even dying because of Christ as believers in the middle east have been experiencing. Are we ready? Are you able to see with an eternal perspective? It is time for true believers to take their stated position in Christ Jesus and set our sights on Him and not on our personal comfort. “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13) “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14)
God is pure and holy. Nothing can stand before Him that is sinful. It is only through our surrender can we be sanctified. Surrender is our part, God has given us free will to set Him to be Lord of our lives. We can only do this through our love for Him. Love for God releases freedom in our lives. We are then able to say with King David:
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Therefore I have hope.
22 The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26 It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD.”