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Monday, December 16, 2013
Before Yeshua came on the scene, the soil was being prepped for planting by the message of John the Immerser. What did John come preaching? Did he preach the message we hear today? Did he say, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life if you just say this prayer, you will be saved and go to heaven"? No. He didn't say that. He simply preached a message of repentance for the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. (Matt 3:2, Luke 3:2-9) He in fact said some pretty drastic things to the crowd such as "Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire". Let me try to paraphrase this. What I believe John was saying was this..."you can call yourself a lover of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the proof of whether or not that is true is in the way you live your life". What would happen if preachers in congregations across the land would preach that message? Where's the fruit? We need to do what the Scriptures say and examine ourselves to see whether we are really in the faith! James says clearly that faith without works is dead faith. Faith is NOT assenting that something is true, it is an OUTWARD expression of in INWARD belief.
Why was the Kingdom at hand? Because Yeshua, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was on the scene! You can't have a Kingdom without a King! You can't live in that Kingdom without obeying the rules of the Kingdom.
Yet what I see happening in the preaching of the gospel is only half the gospel. Yes, God loves you and He desires none to perish. But Yeshua came preaching the same message John preached...one of repentance and counting the cost of following Him. Often He managed to talk people OUT of following Him. You don't see that much in churches...but the opposite...giving people what they want to hear so that they will sit in a pew. Messiah Yeshua wasn't concerned about numbers of how many were following Him. He wanted true disciples who understood the cost of following Him.
We have glorified the cross. We have polished the image of the cross and hung them around our necks as an image of beauty...but the cross is really an image of death and torture! What Yeshua said is "take up your electric chair/guillotine/instrument of torture and follow me!" Wow. That is radical. I don't see many people hanging those images around their necks. Now I understand the beauty of the cross in the way that is represents Yahweh's love for me. But if I am to walk the road of dying to my flesh....it just ain't a pretty picture. I mean, let's be real honest here. Those of you who are walking that road with me can certainly say AMEN to this. It's messy. It involves anguish and tears. Laying down MY will, MY desires, MY wants in exchange for HIS will, HIS desires, HIS wants. Well, that sounds lopsided like I am giving up all this stuff in exchange for what?
How many times does Yahweh lay it all out in the Word for all to see...that the key to a victorious life is obedience to His Word. Plain and simple. Really not complicated at all if we have eyes to see and ears to hear what He is saying. You want to live a victorious, abundant life? Then you have to lay yours down and walk in obedience. This is a major theme throughout the Word from Genesis to Revelation, but let me give you just one passage from Psalm 81:13-14 where Yahweh is pleading with His people to walk in obedience and heed His voice, "Oh, that MY PEOPLE would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes." Can you hear His heart?
I am involved in several outreaches in the community where there is much suffering. Lack of food, poverty, disease, unhealthy and ungodly relationships, etc. What I think many don't realize is that some of this suffering comes because of a lack of repentance and just a result of natural consequences that come from a life of walking contrary to the Word of God. What grieves me is that often the message that is preached in outreaches is just the love of God. Yes, we need to know the depth of His love for us, but the depth of His love reaches so much farther than we realize. There is incredible blessing when we come under His wings of authority as our true Lord and master and do things His way...that is when blessings really flow and where He is able to show us the love He really wants to shower on us. He won't ever force us to come under that protection that He is longing to provide, but He yearns to do that for us and He waits for us to submit to His Lordship in every area of our lives so we can experience His joy and pleasure of walking in His perfect will.
All sin leads to death in body, mind or spirit. When we walk contrary to God's Word, we are walking in sin. There is protection from our enemies and particularly the enemy of our souls, hasatan, when we come under His wings. Yeshua said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" (Matt 23:37-38). This is the cry of an anguished Father wanting desperately to protect His children from the storms of life but finding His children unwilling to come under the authority of His covering and protection. One of the saddest Scriptures in the entire Word to me.
If my child comes to me and says, "I love you Mom!" But I see that this child is constantly ignoring my words, not doing their chores and generally disobedient, am I going to believe the child really loves me? Or will his actions prove/disprove his words? 1 John 5:3 tells us the proof that we really love God is in the keeping of His commandments and that keeping them is not burdensome. Wow. I think some who see what I do by eating only clean food (no pork, shellfish, etc), keeping a 7th day Sabbath and keeping the Feasts of Yahweh in Lev 23 would say that it sounds burdensome to them. But it isn't burdensome to me! "For everyone who has been born of God OVERCOMES the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith." (1 John 5:4).
In a Kingdom there are rules of the house and the King has a right to make those rules. My job isn't to question that, but to have faith in His Word and simply obey. Noah obeyed and everyone mocked him and laughed at him and thought he was nuts. But his act of obedience, born out of faith in Yahweh's word, saved his family! Yeshua said it will be like the days of Noah at the end. I wonder if part of what he meant is the criticism and mocking I have endured for being obedient to Scriptures most believers say I can now ignore? Being radically obedient will bring persecution by others. That is nothing new.
When I walk in obedience to His commands, the blessings flow and I see victory over my enemies. That is the gospel of repentance and faith that Yeshua calls His followers to preach and teach and make disciples of...commanding them to walk as the Torah observant Yeshua did, not as a lawless one who just "believes" God loves him and now can ignore the commands in the Bible. Did Yeshua suffer and die so we could now ignore His Word and walk contrary to it? Does that make sense? It may sound agreeable...this kind of feel-good-gospel message, but it really is just fashioning a god into our own image of who we want him to be and isn't the true gospel message of salvation.
True salvation, blessing and victory are only found in obedience to His Word.
Revelation says repeatedly in the letters to the seven congregations that those in the congregations that overcome or are conquerers (these are believers who are radical in their walk of faith and obedience to His Word)...they are the ones that will eat of the tree of life, not be hurt by the second death, be given hidden manna and a white stone with a new name, be given authority over the nations to rule with Messiah, be clothed in white garments and never be blotted out of the book of life, be a pillar in the temple of God in which the name of God, the city of God and Messiah's own new name is written, and sit with Messiah on His throne.
Are you an overcomer? Are you awake and responding to the true gospel message and walking in obedience? May He find us faithful.