WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED (Part 1)

If we really trust God, and believe that nothing can happen without Him allowing it to happen, then why do we focus so much on our trials and tribulations instead of focusing on what God is trying to reveal to us about ourselves in this trial and tribulation?

Why do we dread trials and tribulations altogether?

For every Chosen one of God, there is always a conversion at the end of every trying experience.

We look at the goal of conversion to mean “I no longer do this, that, etc”.

That is not the goal of conversion. It is a byproduct of conversion. But not the goal.

A disciplined person can cease and desist from a wide variety of actions and behaviors. Not only can they do it, but they can preach it on a platform that will rival the self- righteousness of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The conversion of being a Christian refers not to the cessation of certain acts, but to the replacement of a ruling disposition, which causes the person to perform certain acts or cleave to certain behaviors and thought processes. “It is no longer I who live”…

The absolute danger of making the platform of our conversion to be the acts that we’ve stopped committing is that those resolves will be tried and tested. With fire. And when we fail (for if that is the foundation, we will surely fail), we become devastated and begin to question God.

As humans, we act in line with what we know and how we know it. The same goes for our virtues. They are built on our strengths. This is why temptation is directed toward our weaknesses. Because we know this, we then, with respect to our weaknesses, are quick to pull out that umbrella of grace and pop it open with a quickness. “Well, God knows I’m not perfect…”, “I’ve always been this way”…

When we try and fail at “conversion”, meaning we have tried to desist but keep coming back, we somehow make peace with those ‘weaknesses’, shrug our shoulders and say “God knows my heart”.

It is true that God knows our heart. He also knows that this heart is ground zero for every evil imagination that man is capable of. So, saying “God knows my heart should not be a platform on which we should sit comfortably. It is a platform on which we should be terrified.

Because the evil things that we are capable of, that even we are not aware of, God is aware of them all!

Mark 7:21-23 says: For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Jeremiah 17:9 says: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Therefore, we can never effectively process our conversion.

Luke 22: 31-34 says: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

When Peter made the statement of being ready to go into prison and as far as death for Jesus, he spoke from his love. He spoke from his zeal. He spoke from the conscious part of his mind and heart. Yet, there he was, a short time later, in the midst of cursing and swearing, denying the very Christ whom he had, but a short time prior, sworn to die for.

Peter didn’t lie. He simply did not know what he was capable of.

But, Christ knew. And that was why He prayed for Peter.

Jesus prayed for Peter because the platform of his conversion had nothing to do with what he did, said or thought. The platform of Peter’s conversion was the breaking of everything Peter did by power, might, zeal, and conviction.

God does not want us to stop stealing, lying, etc. So that we can say we don’t lie or steal. God does not ask us to go through our database and recognize the “things” that we should stop doing.

He wants us to recognize that our whole system of recognizing, identifying and choosing of our “vices” is flawed. It flawed because WE govern it. And anything that is governed by the sinful nature of man is FLAWED!

What God does not need us to do is come before Him saying “I want to stop stealing, or I want to do more…”

He wants us to come before Him and say “I recognize that I am totally and completely wretched! Not the parts of me that I recognize, but ALL OF ME!”

If we are unable to come before God in our totality, and in broken, gut-wrenching, remorse, confess our total, and complete wretchedness before Him, then, we are NOT ready for conversion.

As long as we are adamant that we are partially good; that we have attained a righteous status- especially in part- then we are NOT ready to be converted.

Christ cannot convert us partially. He can only TOTALLY convert us.

His Spirit cannot partially guide us. We can only invite Him to take over all of us. A total possession. Which can only result in a total conversion.

Here’s the truth. If the Spirit of Christ rules in us, then it is Christ Himself who rules in us. If Christ rules in us, then, we cannot do, or be, anything or anyone that is contrary to Him.

If we are still struggling with outward manifestations that are contrary to Christ, then the inward “ruling” can NOT be Christ. It is impossible. The Spirit of God cannot work against the Word of God or the nature of God.

Hebrews 12:1 says: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the SIN WHICH DOTH SO EASILY BESET US, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

So, does struggling mean we are removed from Christ?

Absolutely not!

The indication of a “struggle” is the evidence that the Lord is making us aware of something. A discomfort with a norm has now set in. If we are truly children of God, and there is a way about us that is not pleasing to God, rest assured that He will cause that thing to cause you great discomfort until you, with your own mouth, tell Him that you wish it taken away from you.

But when we get this prompting, brethren, it is important to note:

1. If you accept it; embrace it and say “speak Lord your servant is listening”, He will take you deep within yourself. To reveal to you dark, ugly places that you didn’t know were there.

2. You must embrace this “Refining”. Every gritty, lonely, humiliating, painful, enlightening, uplifting, inch of it. Because we have to come face to face with that which is within us. That keeps us from being in oneness with Christ.

Prayer Points:

* Ask the Holy Ghost to take control of your conversion.

* Ask the Lord to tear down every known and unknown resistance in and around you.

* Ask the Lord to shut down every intellect/intelligence/carnal wisdom that tries to insert itself into your spiritual conversion.

* As Christ prayed for Peter “that his faith fail not”, ask Christ to pray for you, that your faith fail not”. So that when we are converted, we, too, may strengthen our brethren.

Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet.

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THE WISE AND THE FOOLISH    

If someone asked you today what you think is the most urgent message in Christianity?What would your answer be?

Considering the rise in atrocities that currently exist in the world: terrorism, mass shootings, violence, lawlessness, perverseness, etc. One can say it is a clear sign that the end times are indeed near. Therefore, the message should be to repent and receive Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.

Another, in line with the first, would be to prepare for Rapture. Gird one’s loins, so to speak. For the coming of Christ is near.

Both of these messages are relevant, and urgent.

There’s another message that I find to be very urgent at this time.

STRIVE TO BECOME COMPLETELY FOOLISH!

Yes! It is of a great urgency, and a high priority, that we Christians should beg God to make us fools!

Christians/Believers need to come before the Throne of Grace, and ask the Lord to wipe away every shred of wisdom and intelligence that we have acquired about Him that is not from Him, and that is not focused SOLELY on Him! We are to earnestly ask Jesus to rid us, remove from us, totally empty us of any, and all knowledge, wisdom, learnedness, intelligence, savvy, pomp, and absolute certainty of any and everything that we have come to believe/trust/place our faith in. Erase it all. Then, replace it with HIM and ONLY HIM.

Not the knowledge of Christ. Christ Himself. His very nature. His very disposition.

This is a prayer that we should be screaming, whispering, groaning, weeping, pleading, begging, fasting, worshipping 24/7. It is that urgent!

If you question is “What is the difference between the knowledge of Christ, and Christ Himself, the answer can be found in John 5: 39-40

 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

The Jews, had read the scriptures. They had a knowledge of who their Messiah was, and how he was supposed to come. Based on their interpretation of the scriptures. Yet, here was the Messiah standing in their midst, and they RECOGNIZED him not. They ‘believed’ that they had a knowledge of Christ. However, they were full of their own vision. Their own understanding. Which had nothing to do with Christ Himself or what He represented.

Twenty people can read the same bible passage and have twenty different interpretations. Especially when it comes to the aspect of the Christian. How is that possible if there is only one Christ? Christ did not misrepresent Himself in the bible. That means it is we who are misrepresenting Him. Because we interpret the scripture according to our understanding. Therefore, if we are interested in being Christians, do we not want Christ to be the one revealing Himself to us? Not our belief of Him (which could be influenced), not our understanding of Him (which is subjective), not our knowledge of Him (which could be flawed). But, we want Him. His nature; His Disposition; His Spirit; dwelling in us, and guiding us.

In 1 Corinthians 3, the Apostle Paul is reprimanding the Corinthians over the disputes that he has heard were prevalent amongst the people. These disputes were over the teaching of Paul versus the teaching of Apollos. It was causing a huge divide amongst the Christians. This was happening because people were adding to their ‘belief’ elements and interpretations that had nothing to do with Christ, but based on their association with the preaching of one preacher versus the other. So, Paul, quite displeased said:

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Paul was urging the people to stay away from the deviation that carnality causes. What is this carnality? “Our” way. “Our” wisdom, “Our” associations, “Our” preferences, “Our” rationalization, “Our” understanding, “Our” experiences, “Our” creeds, “Our” doctrines…

Everything that is “authoritatively us”, and nothing that is the Spirit of Christ.

The Apostle then goes farther to warn them of the dangers of this “building”, this “adding”. This placing as the “Essence of Redemption” things that are not! The externals, the disciplines, the personal “valuables” of our understanding and misinterpretation of scripture.

He says:

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

The foundation is Jesus Christ. The “Essence of Redemption” is Jesus Christ crucified.  The Atonement. The Propitiation. (Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.)

 It is only the Spirit of Christ who can bring us into that Essence. We don’t learn it, we become it. We become one with Christ when His nature replaces our nature.

Paul said if we add anything to this and make that our belief, we should be warned that this belief will be tested! It is this testing that will reveal to the Believers whether we have stayed in line, or where we have erred. I specified “Believers” because verse 15 says “ If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” A true Believer will never be lost ( All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. John 6:37-39) But, we WILL be refined until we are brought into perfect alignment with Jesus Christ.

When the Bible tells us that God will make foolish the wisdom of the wise, we like to think He is talking to the pagans and unbelievers. Though this does apply to them in a general sense, this instance in 1 Corinthians 3 was not being addressed to the unbelievers. Paul was speaking to the Believers. The Christians! Who were now applying carnal wisdom and intelligence to matters of the Redemption.

This is what Satan does. He injects the right amount of deceit, in the right measure, at the right time, under the right circumstances amongst the right set of people, who by the time they are fully entrenched in vain disagreements over every irrelevant thing, will be fully convinced that they are debating matters of Christ. When in reality, they have drifted miles away. The whole time, never even realizing when they strayed from the path.

 He isn’t called the Deceiver for nothing, brethren.

“ Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;  and again,“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” 1 Cor. 3:18-23.

 

So, if your indignation rose when I said earlier that it was urgent for Christians to strive for foolishness, hopefully you will now climb back down, and lead your brethren to the foot of the cross.

That we may surrender our way for His Way. Our will for His Will.

That we may come, and ask, and receive, His Spirit, that He has promised to give to us.

 If only we would desire it.

 If only we would ask.

Now to Him who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet
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I WILL FOLLOW CHRIST

If the question “Why are you a Christian”? is asked, the answers will include, but will not be limited to:

Because Jesus Christ died for my sins.

Because He called me. “No one can come to the Father unless he is called”.

Because I’m grateful for all that He has done for me.

Because He saved me, and I want to go to be with Him in eternity.

Now, if asked “What identifies you as a Christian”?

What will you say?

What is your identifier?

Would it be:

That you believe (affirm and not deny) in Christ, meaning, that He is the Son of God?

That you don’t engage in certain activities?

That you speak a certain way?

That you attend church?

That you pray to God?

That you perform certain acts?

This is a reflective question, by the way. So, you really have to honestly ask yourself.

We have come to accept the definition of a Christian as “A follower of Christ”.

The word I’d like us to focus on here is the word “Follower”.

Matthew 16:24:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

John 10:27:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 12:26:

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

Now, let us examine this passage:

John 6:

And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Here we have Followers exhibiting: acts of recognition, acknowledgement, listening to His word, following Him, and even being a disciple.

Yet, according to verse 66 – Many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.

What had Jesus said prior to their turning back?

He didn’t condemn them. He didn’t call them sinners. They has also recently witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

So, why did they turn back?

John 5:

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

This is what Jesus had just finished saying.

To which the bible tells us that the response was:

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

Now, we know that the Word of God says:

65 And he said, Therefore, said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

But in that same chapter, Jesus also said:

70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Now back to our original focus: What makes you a “Follower” of Christ?

What identifies “You” as a Christian?

Attending church alone doesn’t do it – Judas Iscariot was in Christ’s entourage.

Outward disciplines alone don’t do it (Don’t do this, and don’t do that; do this, and do that) – Those can also be a byproduct of nature, and a strong will.

Believing in who Jesus is alone doesn’t do it – Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)

So, brethren, what is the measure? What is the bench mark? What separates us from devils, disciplined/upright/moral/well behaved/refined, do gooders, and those fascinated by the miracle working man of God?

Matthew 11:

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Isaiah 53:

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

We all want “to be like Christ”. Yet, none of us are ready to IDENTIFY WITH CHRIST.

With his humility. The true Humility. King of Kings, coming down to earth. To suffer. To be ridiculed. To be treated worse than a murderous robber. Spat upon. Jeered at. Flogged. Shamed.

Having the power to call down a legion of Angels to rescue Him.

Yet, He did not. He uttered not one word in protest, vindication, or self-defense.

He took it. He did it. In obedience.

Obedience to His father.

The requirement for our salvation was death and bloodshed, by virtue of our transgressions.

It was not the price for Christ’s salvation. It was the price for our salvation.

Jesus, died and shed His blood. For us. That was the requirement.

He obeyed.

His focus was strictly on what God asked Him to do.

John 4:

34Jesus said unto them, “My meat is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work”.

The requirement for we who are “Followers of Christ” is no different.

We are called to Obey.

But, obey what?

What exactly are we being called to obey?

Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23 all say the same thing:

“If anyone will come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF, take up his cross, and follow me”.

It’s as simple as that brethren.

It can’t just be taking up the cross.

It can’t just be following Him.

We MUST deny ourselves.

The very personality of Christ is embodied in Holiness and Power, becoming sin and shame, that His Father in Heaven may be glorified.

It is all done, so that our Father in Heaven, may be glorified.

It is in the total denial of SELF, that we completely identify with CHRIST.

We are quick to recognize that everything in this world is temporary, and will pass away. Yet, we spend every waking moment, and every decibel of prayer, fighting for these very things.

Wealth, health, spouse, love, children, promotion, respect, advancement, affirmation, validation, admiration.

Our enemy is no longer Satan, but the people we don’t like. The ones who don’t like us. The ones who offended us; who hurt us; who scorn or shame us. Who don’t give us what we believe we deserve, or are entitled to. Who take what we believe belongs to us.

The world, and everything in it, that we acknowledge to be fleeting, is the world, that every moment that shapes or makes us, is based on. We validate God not on simply being God, but by what God gives us through these temporal things!

When we have, we’re happy. When we don’t have, we’re sad.

Matthew 10:

37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Luke 9:

58And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

62And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

If the only way that Salvation could be wrought for us was for Jesus Christ to deny Himself; and the formula for being saved, or receiving eternal life is to die to self, and live in Christ, then, the only way that we can live in Christ is to deny our own self, as He denied Himself.

John 20:

21 Then said Jesus to them again, “Peace be unto you. As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you” 22And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them “Receive ye the Holy Ghost”.

John 15:

20 The servant is no greater than his Lord.

Brethren, let us let go of everything that we believe that we are entitled to. By whatever virtue, fact or grace that causes us to have them.

Let us not be driven by the cares of this world( Mark 4:19). The blessings; the hardships; the joys; the sorrows; the things we have; the things we desire; the things we wish to be rid of.

Let us stop making them our idols.

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Yet, He remains God!

Fact: We do not have the power to make, unmake, do, undo, have, not have, ANYTHING in this world, unless the Lord allows it. No matter how strong our faith; No matter how fervent our prayer.

Fact: He is still God. He Remains Creator, and Ruler of all!

Jesus asks us to learn from Him. We can only learn from Him by identifying with Him. We can only identify with Him if we surrender to Him.

By surrendering our self for His Self; our will, for His will.

Now unto Him who is able, to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy. To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, both now, and forever. Amen.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His feet.

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WALK IN THE WAY OF CHRIST

“The characteristic of sin is to destroy the capacity to know that we sin”.
The characteristic of Christians is to admit our flaws on the basis of our humanity, but deny that they are part of a sinful nature.

A Christian is one who claims to believe in the teachings of Christ, and a disciple is one who ‘follows’ the way of Christ, how do we call ourselves Christians and disciples, and worshippers, when we consistently do the things that are contrary to the way of Christ?

It’s easy to point out people who steal; who cheat; who kill; who commit adultery; who drink or do drugs. Especially if those are things that we don’t do. But, what about we who get angry to the point of rage; who talk about other people, and say negative things about them; who are impatient;  intolerant;  bitter; cruel; insensitive; inconsiderate; selfish; malicious; never admit when we are wrong; who are unforgiving;  who want everything done our way; who hold grudges and keep malice; who are so good at pointing out other people’s flaws/errors/mistakes/inadequacies; who are vengeful;  spiteful; vindictive; who take credit for our achievements;  who step on people when they are down; who turn people against others, and each other, etc.

Why do we behave this way, and see nothing wrong with it?
Why do we not see those things as being “the opposite of Christ-like behavior”.
Why do we not consider it sinful?
They are not of Christ! They are not like Christ. Which means that they are of Satan.
Anything that is contrary to Christ, if of Satan. But what Satan convinces us is that it is “our way”, therfore,  it’s ok.
It is not ok!

We have to start becoming aware of our sinful nature of “self”, and how far this nature has drawn us away from the way of Christ.

We have to stop being “us”; stop insisting on being “ourselves”; and desire to be more like Jesus.

We have to confess that we are indeed broken. In so many ways. And ask the Lord to forgive us, and to fix us.

Satan uses us. Our mind. Our intellect. Our wisom. Our understanding; to turn us away from the way of Christ. He convinces us that it is not wrong. After all, it’s part of who we are; how we are. But the truth is that if “HOW WE ARE” is not in line with the way of Christ, then, it is in the way of Satan.

“The characteristic of sin is to destroy the capacity to know that we sin”.

Let us submit our hearts, as well as our intellect, to Christ. Let us ask Him to rid us of “our way”, and point us in “His way”.

Salvation is not obtained by walking and living in the way that we believe is right. Salvation is obtained by dying to ourselves and walking /living in the way of Christ.
It is of an urgency, now more than ever, that we re-focus on exactly who we are following as we “walk through life”. We will surprised by how far we have strayed from the course of Christ.
John 14:5-6 ” Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

It is not enough to be aware of the way. Salvation is only obtained by “Walking in the way”!
So, let us walk in the way of Christ, brethren. The only way we can know His way, is to know Him. And we get to know Him by diligently, sincerely seeking Him.

Time is against us. We need to return to Christ today.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.

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DO YOU KNOW YOU?

V

A quote by the late Dr. Maya Angelou reads “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

Ever since I started applying that quote to how I deal with the people around me; specifically, people whose actions hurt, injure or anger me in some way, I found that I am more able to understand that the intent of the action is not always to hurt, injure, or anger. However, in those times that it is, notwithstanding, the understanding has become that a person, rather, a Christian, will only deliberately, hurt another Christian intentionally if they simply do not know of a better way to solve the issue that they may have with that person.

So, an interesting thing happened when I was in church on Sunday. I’d come before the throne of grace once, again. Crying. Begging God to remove the things that I struggle with. Those innate traits and time perfected practices of mine that are contrary to His love. The ways that I so desperately want not to be. Then, in the midst of my plea, the voice said to me, “ The way that I’m teaching you to be patient with those around you, be patient with yourself. You’re doing the best you can. When you know better, you’ll do better.”

Do we know ourselves?

Are we truly honest with the type of person we are? Or, how ‘we’ present to others in different situations?

Can we take our innate tendencies, and be honest with ourselves that they are in fact our innate tendencies?

The truth is that many of us can’t. More accurately, many of us don’t. Sometimes, it is through no fault of our own. We simply can’t see ourselves. Others see us. Because ‘who we are’ always affects others. Positively, or adversely. But, many of us can’t see ourselves.

There is a danger in us not seeing ourselves. By that I mean, there is a danger in us not being honest about ‘how’ we truly are.

I believe that the reason that many of us run from this self confrontation is we are afraid that it will reveal to us how flawed we really are. The admission of a flaw, for most of us means that there is something not so good in us. Such an admission petrifies us. Especially when it has to do with an innate or time perfected trait, as I mentioned earlier.
We want to see ourselves as good. As good as our brethren, or even better than them. But, never worse than. Yeah, we proudly say things like “I’m not perfect.” Such a safe term, that. It gives just enough room to admit that we don’t do things as best as they should be done, yet, it also gives enough room to not confront and confess what it is that we are doing wrong.

The danger in not honestly seeing ourselves as we are is that it prevents us from asking for the help to change that who, or deal with that who.

I was listening to a sermon, and the preacher said something that moved me to my core. It moved me because I identified with it. I see it in myself; I see it in others in how they deal with what they consider their problems and challenges. The preacher said

“God cannot heal who you pretend to be.”

Until we admit who we are to God, then God’s breakthrough can never manifest in our lives.

If we keep deceiving ourselves that the problems in our marriages are solely because of what our spouse is doing; the reason we lose our temper or are rude is because people keep annoying us; the reason we cheat on our taxes, and commit fraud is because God knows we need the money; the reason we insult someone is because they insulted us first; the reason we keep malice is because the other person intentionally offended us; the reason we lie is because we don’t want to get into trouble; the reason we condemn is because God has given us a keen eye to point out the flaws of others and beat them over the head with it; the reason we gossip and assasinate people’s character is because they deserve it, or the brought it upon themselves; the reason we are insenitive to the feelings of other is that we are trying to protect ourselves…

The list goes on.

The truth is that Christian marriages struggle because BOTH partners are not following the selfless attributes of God’s love; we get angry because we are prone to quick and or explosive tempers and have not mastered how to control it; we are rude to others becaus we don’t apply empathy in those instances and consider how we would feel if it was done to us; we are quick to insult because we are rash with our toungues, are impatient, have a need to inflict injury; we keep malice because it is still easy for us to hate, judge, and condemn others; we lie because it is easier for us to do that than to near the consequence of the truth, or simply because we’re afraid; we condemn others, or deem ourselves higher and better because we suffer from self- righteousness and pride; that is also the reason we gossip and slander with ease; and we act with insensitivity because we do not act in love.

This list too, goes on.

Here is the point of this blog:

The beauty of coming into the knowledge of our flaws is that by doing so, we simultaneously come into contact with our blessing.

What is this blessing?

The blessing is that we can specifically commit those flaws to God and as a result, He rids us of them. However, if He wills that we continue to struggle with these flaws, that too is a beautiful thing. Because that struggle is a constant reminder of how dependent we are on Him.

There’s beauty in that!

There’s beauty in knowing that I am broken.
There’s beauty in knowing where and how I am broken.
There’s beauty in knowing that it is only God that can fix me, and being confident that He will see me through my constant struggle.

Let us stop being afraid of struggling to walk right before God.
Let us stop being afraid of admitting that we struggle with aspects of our nature that are flawed. God is right there in that struggle with us! He expects us to cling to Him! He expects us to demand that He help us!

Genesis 32: 24-26 tell us:
 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Jacob had spent a good portion of his life deceiving, being deceived, scheming, being the victim of schemes, and living in fear of how his actions were going to come back and bite him. Yet, through it all, God was with him. Not because God approved of his actions, but because God approved of his heart. Jacob was obedient. To his mother; to his father, to the voice and instruction of God when he heard it. Inspite of all the favor that God bestowed on Jacob, he still had a major hurdle to cross: Himself. His nature: His tendencies.

When Jacob wrestled with the Spirit of God, there was only one thing that God wanted revealed to Jacob: Who Jacob was. He needed Jacob to come face to face with who Jacob was.

Everything that had brought Jacob to the exact point that he was had been as a result of his deceiving ways, and other people’s deceit perpetrated on Him.

Now, He was alone. A short time away from meeting his brother whom he cheated out of his birthright and his blessing, and had run from many years before. He was afraid.

My spirit tells me that Jacob sought the Lord that night, and sought His help concerning the meeting with Esau. I believe he confessed the wrongs that he had done. I also believe he said something like “I didn’t mean to hurt him. I just couldn’t help myself.”

The beauty of it is that after the confession, he demanded a blessing. The spirit was departing as daybreak was approaching, and it would soon be time to wake up. Jacob must have said, “I can’t do this without you, Lord! I need you to bless me. I need to be assured that you are with me through all of this. I can’t fix me, but you can. Please, don’t let me lose everything I have because of who I am. Please, help me!”

Jacob didn’t just ask for this blessing, he fought for this blessing! He was not going to let this opportunity for healing and redemption pass him by. HE FOUGHT! To the point that the Spirit had to push his hip out of socket. Which was a confirmation to Jacob of what had taken place, and a future reminder that God was ever present with him when any struggle arose.

The spirit then asked what his name was. To which he replied “Jacob”. “Deceiver” “Supplanter”. This, Jacob confessed, “is who I am. It’s what I am. That is why if I am to make it, I need you to bless me.”

So, Jacob was blessed.

But, before he was blessed, the Spirit of God said “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Jacob was renamed not because he was made perfect, but because he struggled, and overcame the struggle.

Jacob found God in the midst of his struggle.

We are to seek God in the midst of our struggle. We are to fight for His blessing! When we do, we, too, will find Him there. Then, we too, will be named Israel.

Remember that God remains the God of Abraham, Isaac and JACOB. Not Abraham, Isaac and ISRAEL. Israel is the name of his victory. In God’s eyes, he was victorious because he entrusted “Jacob” to God! Jacob is the name of his humanity. The one who seeks God because it is he who needs God.

God is not looking to be the God of the perfect man/woman, but the God of the struggling man/woman who serves Him with a dedicated heart. Who fights for His blessing.

May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless the “Jacob” in us all.

As always, share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet.

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Lift Not Thy Heel

feet

As I was driving home from church this evening, a song played on the radio.

I’ve probable heard this song a hundred times before. Today, however, for the first time, I listened to the lyrics of the chorus which said:

“I try to be so tough
But I’m just not strong enough
I can’t do this alone, God I need You to hold on to me
I try to be good enough
But I’m nothing without Your love
Savior, please keep saving me”.

Instantly, I was transported to a passage in John that I’ve been meditating on for the past 2 days, and the Lord revealed an amazing message to me.

Christians are currently observing Passion Week. This is the commemoration of the life of Jesus from Palm Sunday, when he rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, and the people received him with joy, while waving palm fronds as they shouted “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Until Good Friday, or the day of Christ’s Crucifixion.

It is a week of sober reflection. When Christians reflect on the messages of the Washing of the feet; The Last Supper: Christ’s Betrayal; Christ being presented before Pilate; Christ’s condemnation at the hands of those who demanded His crucifixion; Christ’s scourging; Christ’s journey, with His cross on His back to Golgotha; Christ’s Crucifixion.

The passage that the message of this song took me to is one that concerning the Ceremony of the Washing of the Disciple’s feet.

John 13:3-10

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.”

There is a very spiritual significance to the ceremony that we need to be aware of.

In Genesis 3: 14-15, when God laid out the curses to the serpent, Eve and Adam, something very pivotal happened.

And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

The reference to the heel of man in Genesis, when enimity between man and Satan was established; is not an arbitrary coincidence to Christ’s statement about Judas Iscariot’s betrayal in John 13:18 when He said:

 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.

Satan’s goal for man in the Garden of Eden is no different from Satan’s goal for man today.

Satan wants to use man to offend God.

Satan caused Adam and Eve to disobey God in the Garden.
Satan entered Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus to the High Priests.

That is why Jesus did not say “Judas lifted his hand against me.” He said “he has lifted his heel against me”.

The same heel that God referenced in the curse that Satan will forever seek an opportunity to bruise.

The struggle: Satan bruising our heel, and we bruising his head: is a life long struggle.
It is the struggle of we desiring to follow Christ, and Satan strategizibg to cause us to turn from Him.

When Satan succeeds in bruising our heel, it is in that moment; in those instances that we – ALL OF US- raise our heel against Jesus Christ.

It is then, that we act in ways that are contrary to Christ; His teaching; His love.
It is in those moments that our hearts are turned from Christ.

When we don’t act in God’s love, when we act, think, speak in ways that are contrary to GOD’S LOVE, we lift our heel against Christ.

But Praise be to God! Christ brought us Hope!!!

In that ceremony of the washing of the disciples feet that He washes the bruise of Satan from our heels! He told Peter, in verse 8 of John 13 “ Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”

In Love, the Messiah; the King of Kings humbled Himself, took a basin of water, and washed the feet of His disciples.

It was an act of love; of caring; of protection, of selflessness.

It was required. It is required. Because the curse is life long; the struggle is life long; therefore, the deliverance must also be life long. That is why Jesus instructed in John 13:14-17

 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

For those who think that being a Christian; being saved; “knowing Christ” automatically does this, the scripture begs to differ. For Christ said in verse 10 of John 13, after Peter asked Him to wash not only his feet but his head and hands also:

Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.

Meaning: He that lives in Christ is already washed in the Blood that washes us clean. However, since Satan and man are at enimity, he will always be on the attack. He will always look for an opportunity to cause us to offend God. To offend Christ. Therefore, we, as fellow disciples; as sojourners of the same cross; we must love one another. Because in love, we are unified. Hence, there is no opportunity for Satan to come in and use any one of us against each other in any way because we are actively keeping each other with and in the Love of God.

When we offend each other, we do not act in love.
When we do not act in love, we offend Christ.
When we offend Christ, we offend God.

It’s really that simple.

So, Christ instructs us to love one another. As brethren, love one another.

Not the false love of Judas Iscariot, where he was in the company of Christ, yet he betrayed him with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver.

Instead, with the love that is not self-seeking.
Love that is patient.
Love that does not repay evil for evil.
Love that forgives the worst of offenses.
Love that doesn’t abuse, ridicule or put down it’s neighbor.
Love that shows mercy when it isn’t deserved.
Love that takes insult, when one doesn’t deserve it.
Love that thinks of others more highly than itself.
Love that is compassionate to the suffering of another.
Love that encourages another at the needed time.
Love that corrects with kindness, not cruelty.
Love that is not easily angered.
Love that does not feed malice.
Love that loves peace.
Love that is it’s brethren’s keeper.

Love that exemplifies the love that Jesus showed to His disciples.

The entire message is as message of Love. Because God is Love. Because Love covers a multitude of sins.

As the song that I referenced earlier stated, “ I’m not tough enough; I’m not strong enough; I’m not good enough. I can’t do it on my own.”

The “Wall of Will” can never defeat the manipulations of Satan. Things that we are not susceptible to; things that are not out weakness; have a very small likelihood of causing us to slip. However, the things that are our weaknesses, it is there that the enemy attacks. Believe this: our “will” is no match for the schemes of Satan. The greatest deceiver and schemer of all time! He will prowl around like a lion until we are at our weakest and/or are distracted by other things like life’s distractions and focusing on our “will”. Then, he will pounce.The sooner we understand this, the faster we can focus on what we need to focus on. Also, when we make it about our will and our resolve alone to “do it right”, many of the actions that are birthed by that focus on will and resolve, will fail at the attributes of Love.

Jesus did not instruct us – followers of Christ – to wash our own feet. He instructed us to wash one another’s feet. For one reason, and it is the only reason that matters:

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

In addition, to this new commandment, He further reminds:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

He was referring to the commandment of Love.

Resolve and will alone can be broken. However, Love; God’s Love, lasts forever.

Our resolve and will should be to grow, live, and walk in God’s Love.

May the blessings and deliverance of this Holy week mold us for Christ’s use. Amen

As always, share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His feet.

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THE GUEST OF HONOR

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John 12:1-8 reads:
“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then said one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him. Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”

This story from the bible is a very popular one. It has been used in many sermons, bible studies, Sunday School classes, Retreat themes and Christian songs. It has great meaning, and symbolism. I call it one of those gifts of God that keeps on giving. A flower that continues to blossom. By that, I mean, it is one of those passages that you can get a profound lesson from every time.

Mary was the sister of Lazarus and Martha. She’s the same Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus in Luke 10:38-42, when her sister complained that she would not help with the meal preparations for Jesus. She’s also the same Mary, who, according to John 11:5, Jesus loved. Along with her brother Lazarus and sister Martha. The same Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead.

It suffices to say that the account of the passage above; the account of Martha, Mary, and the meal preparations; the account of Lazarus, his illness, his death, and his being brought back to life; one can infer that Mary was quite in awe of this man called Jesus.
She revered Him in a way that the others didn’t.
Her spirit was very inclined to His in a way that even her siblings were not.
She acknowledged who He was in a way that the others, even His disciples, did not.
Visualize the scenario for a moment.

Jesus is a guest in this house. The guest of honor. All His disciples were there. There were others there as well. From the text, we can infer that Martha and Mary were the only women there. The text also says that Martha, as in the passage from Luke 10, was the only one serving the guests.

So, imagine Mary. Imagine what was in her heart. Imagine what was upon her spirit. To – in the midst of all the people in that were present – take an ointment that was obviously of great value, get on her knees, wash the feet of Jesus with her tears.
Imagine where those tears came from. Tears from a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart; tears of gratitude; tears of relief; tears of love and adoration.
Then, she used her hair; her crown of glory; and wiped his feet. It was a gesture of humility. It was a gesture of complete self abnegation. It was a gesture of honor.
Then, she took the expensive oil. Oil that was worth 1 year’s wages, and anointed His feet.
Not only did she do all these things, she did them in a room full of people, without even noticing a single one of them.

The scripture tells us that Judas murmured about how wasteful she was. The oil should have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. Knowing that he cared nothing for the poor. Jesus did respond for Mary. Honoring her for her gesture.
Mary heard nothing. She did not even falter. For all she knew, it was just she and Jesus in that room. Her spirit was focused on the only guest that mattered that day. The Messiah. Jesus.

There were many guests in that house that day. Martha knew that. Thats why she was busy serving. But, there was only one Guest of Honor. For all the honor that was given Christ by way of the attention, the best seat in the house that He must have been given, the food and drink that He must have been served, only one person honored Him spiritually during that gathering.

Only one person worshipped Him that day.
As out of place as she was.
As unothrodox as her actions were.
In spite of all the stares, disapproval, and criticism.
Oblivious to the judges and condemners.
Oblivious to the chatter.
Oblivious to the expectations of others.
Oblivious to the running around and the noise.
Mary worshipped Jesus. She Honored her Guest of Honor.

Not one request escaped her lips that day. She asked for no miracle; not one favor. It was a spiritual connection. She simply wanted to honor Him. For who He was. For what He was to her.

The tears from a broken and bound soul that had now been set free, her hair, a woman’s source of pride, used to wipe feet that were dirtied from much travel, and her most prized possession; an expensive jar of ointment. All used in a gesture of honor and gratitude that no words could ever express. In a setting far from ideal, but as impromptu, genuine and overwhelming, as can only be the case when the Spirit of Christ connects with our spirit. This was the Honor fit for a Savior. The Savior that was in their midst. That only this broken, saved, sinner, recognized.

Who is Jesus to you? What has He become to you?
Do you simply believe that He’s in your midst, or do you ‘See’ Him?
When He’s in your presence, when you’re in His presence, are you busying yourself with catering to Him, and to the crowds?

Does the criticism from the crowds about how you worship dissuade you?

Do their opinions affect your worship? Your focus? Your connection to Him?

The Spirit of Christ moved Mary, because she chose to focus on Him.

Are you ready to focus on Him? In the midst of the crowd of your enemies? Your brethren? Your busy life? Your needs? Your wants? Your struggles? Your doubts? Your sins?
Are you ready to come on bended knee to wash His feet with the tears of your repentance and contrition?

Are you ready to wipe them with the hair of your dignity, intelligence, pride, self affirming knowledge?

Are you ready to anoint them with your praise, your confessions, your adoration, your substance?

Are you ready to silence everything and everyone else in the room, and wholly acknowledge Him?

If you are, then, why are you still standing?

Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all the ages. World without end, Amen.

As always, share your thoughts, that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet.

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