Fistless, Footless and Toothless
Are you ready to fight for yourself and others? You need to be. A great evangelist, and ex-major league baseball player said, “I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless, and footless, and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!” When it comes to the spirit-realm, none of us should be pacifists. Peace at all costs means we will live under tyrants, bow, when we should stand, roll over and play dead, when we should be rising up and courageously living as God intended. We were made to conquer, not cower.
Just Say the Name, Jesus
A prisoner on Death Row, named Rusty Woomer, sat on the floor of his cell without moving, letting dozens of roach’s crawl all over him. Completely depressed, he wouldn’t even flick them off. Rusty was a 35-year-old murderer of four innocent people. Facing the electric chair, he’d sank into hopelessness. One day, a Christian man from Prison Fellowship pleaded with him: “Rusty, just say the name, Jesus!” Though nearly comatose, slowly, painfully, Rusty whispered “Jesus”. Eventually, after further encouragements, Rusty prayed to receive Jesus. A week later, Rusty’s cell was spotless. Gone were the dirt, the roaches, the porn magazines. The walls were scrubbed, the bed was made, the scent of disinfectant was in the air.’ Rusty was smiling and joyful. Are you hopeless? Ask Jesus to help you.
Work is Not Part of the Curse
Did you know that work is not a part of the curse? We will be working throughout eternity. Not with the sweat of our brow, but with diligence and commitment. We live in an age where there are many jobs, that people are just not willing to do. And yet, until we discipline our soul to do what is inconvenient, and perhaps unattractive, we’ll never become the man or woman God has created us to be. No dad or mom finds fulfillment in changing a poopy diaper. It’s just a dirty job that needs to be done. How serious is God about hard work, the Bible says, “if anyone is unwilling to work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Diligence: it’s what we need, in order to have the dinner God wants us to have.
Eight Ways to Be Blessed
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, chapter 5, Jesus describes eight ways for us to be blessed. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Sounds like perfect advice, in order to be blessed. (Matthew 5:3-10, NLT)
Should We Care What People Think?
Do we care what people think? We should! Rick Warren shares that, “Over and over again the Bible says that Jesus knew their thoughts. This demonstrates the importance of finding common ground with those we are ministering to. What are their needs, their problems, stresses and challenges? What are their hurts? Everybody’s hurting somewhere, about something. What are they freaking out about? And what are their interests?” Sure, we should never dwell on other people’s judgments and criticalness of us, but if we want to reach them, we will need insights from God about what they are thinking. The Bible says, “…Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29, NLT)
Only Jesus Satisfies
People, typically, won’t open their heart to Jesus because they’re afraid of dying tomorrow. Openness comes when they see their desperate need to learn how to live today. The Bible says, it’s God’s kindness that leads us to turn away from sin. (Romans 2:4) Running away from something never inspires us to become a different person, we all long to run toward something: something good for us, that fulfills us, that strengthens us. At the end of the day, there’s only one Person who can satisfy our greatest needs: and that’s Jesus. He alone said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29, NLT)
Three Levels of Conviction
I’ve found there are three levels of conviction. The lowest rung is being embarrassed. We’re embarrassed we said or did something. It means our conscience is alive and in action. The next level of conviction I call, “fed up”. It means we are at least listening to the Holy Spirit. But, it does not guarantee that a change in our behavior is forthcoming. In order for that to happen we need to go to a further level of conviction. We have to become “desperate” in order to obey whatever the Spirit of God asks. So, the next time we face conviction from the Holy Spirit, may we not wallow in “embarrassment”, may we not stop at merely being “fed up”, but may we be “desperate” enough to change, whatever the cost.
Dependency is a Necessity!
One of the ways we know we are in right relationship with God is we are increasing in our dependency upon Him. Attitudes of independence are often just subtle forms of rebellion. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” He wasn’t exaggerating. Without complete dependence on Jesus we can accomplish nothing of lasting value. Dependency is a necessity! Partial reliance upon God merely provides an out for us to eventually do what we want, and not what God wants. It is a subtle trap! A leak that will drain away the fullness of the Spirit in our lives. “Jesus, without You I can do nothing!”
Knowing the Future
Recently, while reflecting on my future, I said to someone, “I really don’t need to know what’s ahead.” When I said it, I was a bit stunned by the absoluteness of my comment. Adding to my surprise I experienced an immediate surge in my spirit that by making the assertion, “I really don’t need to know what’s ahead”, I was connecting with God in a faith-filled way. The fact is, I don’t have to know the future if I am fully trusting the One who does. Though I endeavor to remain fully conscious while I patiently wait on God to reveal His will, I want to do this with complete confidence in God’s future for my life. God is trust-worthy, and His will is worth trusting. So, let me say to you, “You really don’t need to know the future, if you’re trusting the only Person who does.
Eating Off Someone Else’s Plate
What would you think, if when you sat down to have a meal with someone, they consistently reached over and ate from your plate? Even if they were a toddler, I’m sure you would find it completely unacceptable behavior. It would demonstrate that something was indeed wrong with the person. But that’s exactly what we do when we are jealous. We ignore what we have been given and begin to covet what has been given to someone else. As absurd as it would be in the natural, physical world, so it is absurd in the supernatural spiritual world as well. What God has given to each of us is all we need to become who He created us to be. Bloom where you are planted, and you’ll live a full and fulfilled life.
Chasing the Illusion
Are you looking to man for your approval? If so, you will never be satisfied. Only Jesus knows why we were created. Only He can satisfy the longing in our souls. People exhaust themselves trying to get the attention, approval, and acceptance of others. What an absolute waste of time! We are each living for an audience of One. The only One who can fulfill us! We were created for His pleasure, and only Jesus can give us the lasting pleasures we seek. In His presence, and His presence alone, is there joy overflowing, and eternal pleasures that bring peace and not regret. (Psalm 16:11) Be done with chasing the world’s illusions. We are complete in Jesus, and Jesus alone. (Colossians 2:10)
God’s Magnificent Intention
The fact that we don’t see our sin clearly is one of the obvious indications we are still walking in darkness. Our first acknowledgement of sin is merely the tip of the iceberg. Infinitely bigger realities are beneath the surface. But the choice is always ours. Will we respond to the first inklings of the Spirit’s conviction, or will we deny what time cannot heal, and only God can make right. The closer we get to light, what is faint becomes clearer. General sins get undeniably specific. The Holy Spirit is never vague. He is always precise! A Father on a mission: to rescue His children, even if they are initially unable to understand His magnificent intention, and resist His best for them.