Not by works –
Unmasking performance orientation…
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Not of works, yet created unto good works, Hm!
Well, fasten your seat belts folks, here we go.
In my old time evangelistic preaching, I used to proclaim, Jesus, is the way, the truth and the life, and He wants a personal relationship with you. You can know Him, and He will forgive you, and grant you not only eternal life, but life and life more abundantly, here and now.
Religion has always been man’s works, his rules and regulations, where you work, and work, and work, trying to earn the acceptance and approval of God.
Jesus, is God’s way to reach man.
None of us can ever earn a way into heaven, no matter how hard we work, salvation is a free gift, granted to us by God upon the cross, and our job is to simply receive it.
John 1:12 (AKJV)
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Jesus, God the Son, came, not to make bad people good, nor good people better, rather to make dead people alive!
We who know Him, are unlike any other species on planet earth, we have literally become new creations in Him, God lives in our hearts, our bodies have become His temple.
It is the stewardship and obedience to this life we have received that is the sole focus of heaven!
Neither, can we work, and earn any particular grace or blessing from God, because we have earned it!
First, we must believe we receive something, according to either the written or revealed Word, of God, and then, our works of faith will keep in step with the specific leadings and promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Here is the problem:
God loves us, individually, more than the work we do.
He is a jealous God, and desires intimacy with us.
We are designed to be loved, and from the overflow of the love we receive, we love, and work to create a better world.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
The problem is, most of the earthly love we have ever received, that is human love, is conditional.
If you do this, then I will love and reward you. If you do not, I will reject you, and turn my back upon you.
When a baby is born, how much can it do to protect itself? Provide for itself? Feed itself? Care for itself?
Yet, that baby is designed to receive love, care, provision, protection…
What happens, is because of this messed up world, we live in, most children are not loved well.
So, the child grows up, and learns, that in order to be loved and accepted, they have to perform, often like a circus dog, jumping through death defying feats, hoops of fire, and incredible hardship, just to get that treat and pat on the head from its master.
God is not that way!
God is a loving Father, and we He created us, He did it because He wanted a family, He wants children, to love, care for, protect, provide for, that will love Him back. He longs for relationship, and from that relationship of love, He creates wonderful works for us to walk in, works specifically and individually designed, for our unique and individual personalities, gifts, and characters.
Are we going to be provided for? YES!
When He gives us into the earth, He created, for our life, provision for it!
Yet, we are taught, that we must work for that provision.
This is a half a truth, and the problem with half of a truth, is you are not quite sure which half you got.
Yes, there are principals and laws of seedtime and harvest in the earth, that people have operated by, and become wealthy. Yet, working WITH the Lord in His blessing and grace, will bring increase and prosperity:
They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them
Yet, I am dealing with a specific heart condition here.
Wealthy, does not equal Godly prosperity.
Prosperity, God’s way, means having the love, presence, and provision of God, to meet any human need.
I have met wealthy Christians, prospered by God’s own hand.
In general, they are people of integrity, honor, wisdom, and great love and strength.
I have also met wealthy people, who either were godless, or worse yet, religious.
These folks, are mean, or often depraved.
What do I mean by depraved?
Well, all that money will do, is make more of YOU.
If you like wine, women and song, well, more money, will simply produce more wine, more women, and more music and sound systems.
Whatever you like, money will make more of. I have been in homes with exquisite Media rooms, watched wealthy doctors do a line of cocaine upon entry into their homes, or immediately mix a whiskey on the rocks to start the evening. Others, on their second or third marriage, are in bondage to lust, pornography, sex, literally looking for love in all the wrong places.
What if though, you love Jesus?
What if you honestly love people, and seek to better the human condition?
More money for you, is going to build strong churches, Bible schools, orphanages, food to the poor, evangelism, prison outreaches, clothing and humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and works of compassion into the earth.
Here is what the Lord is really dealing with me, Mr. type ‘A’ mover and shaker dude.
Seems that much of what I used to do, was based upon my own initiatives, desires, and motivations.
As the owner of a construction company, I’ve been a ‘getter done’ kind of guy.
Most men are.
Although I have been a Christian, I would simply ‘throw one up there’ prayers in the morning, and then turn on the computer and the phone, and GO!
Used 6000 mins/month on my cell phone, and spent way too much money buying meals for clients, selling work, and making things happen.
Spending money on things I didn’t like, to impress people I sometimes didn’t like, and who often did not like me, because of my walk with the Lord.
While spirit led works are Biblical, flesh and soulical works, produce no eternal consequence.
In this life, and in the long run, these soulical generated works, will self-destruct.
God loves us, and wants a relationship!
When I have run, and run, and run, and worked and organized, agonized, managed, financed, pushed, and pressed with all of my might, and finally fall at His feet, exhausted, poured out, cored out, at a level of fatigue only another leader can truly understand: He will meet with me.
If I am wise: I will rest, allow Him to pour His Word, and teaching, and refreshment, and the love, strength, comfort, wisdom, and gentle grace that only He can give, and then gently arise, and walk with Him, in wonderful relationship, peace, love, and joy in Holy Spirit.
If I refuse,
Is 30:15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. 16 But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.
17 One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.
18 ¶ And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
Working in my own strength, my own way, only fulfills:
and your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.
I have learned, through much pain:
Isa 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
If mere hard work, organization, discipline, and zeal were all that was required, Hitler, Napoleon, Kublai Khan and Stalin would have succeeded in their quest to rule the world. Yet, they forgot God…
Here, where I live, the motto of the state of Oklahoma is ‘Labor omnia vincit’, which is Latin for “Hard work conquers all.”
Well, I am all for hard work.
Nothing so satisfying as your head hitting the pillow after a productive day, where you hit it, got it, and got it done!
This motto is a reference to the early pioneers of the Oklahoma territory.
Now, perhaps I am unique, (LOL!), but as God has grown and gifted me, I am prone to overdo some things.
Balance is not always one of my strongest qualities, I like to get stuff done.
I understand ‘make something happen’. I have loved faith teaching, that amplifies this thought by ‘grab hold of the promises, and go for it’.
I understand GO!
Yet, God is a very living God, and there are other commands He can give.
How about “STOP!”?
How about “Wait!”
How about “NO!”
How about “Sit down over there, and let me teach you a few things!”
Remember Mary and Martha?
I have seen more executives with high blood pressure, heart attacks, and various health conditions, because things got outta balance, or dare I say, away from God’s will for their lives, over into self will for their lives?
Most of you know my testimony, working some 14-16 hour days for years, without a day off for several years, until I found myself, blacked out at the wheel of my truck, in the median in the middle of Highway 75 coming up from Glenpool, having experienced a mini-stroke. When I finally got to emergency, seems my blood pressure was 200/150, and I had work to do, to regain my health. Took a couple of years, some radical life changes (exercise, diet, sleep, reduced hours at work, and yes, even a couple of vacations!)
Now, I am in a different type of press:
Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
What does this look like in my life?
Much more prayer, Bible study, journaling, and a firm determination to correctly hear accurately, what I believe God is saying to me, and then gently, quietly, letting Him open doors for my gift and calling, instead of my previous method of kicking down any doors that appeared closed.
Now, I have learned, that just because God speaks about some things HE clearly wants me to do, that perhaps, I might need to learn a few things, about how He wants them done.
Perhaps, so do you.
How many times do I hear of folks, experiencing brutal circumstances, or health conditions, that I believe, could have been averted completely, had they accurately heard and obeyed God.
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.
He loves you, He really does. You are not an orphan, and you do not need to work to receive His love.
Yet, Jesus sees past the ‘what’ you are doing, to the ‘why’, and I hear Him weeping for many of you today, as you, like a hamster on a treadmill, are running hard, but going nowhere.
One day of God’s favor, one instance of His power demonstrated, one glimpse of His glory, is greater that the sum total of all the work you have ever done, or will do.
Think about it for a second: He is the one who flung the stars into being, created the universe…
It is my prayer, that right now, wherever you are, you hear this word, and take a second to quietly look up into His face, and say hello. Simply because He told me to write this, He’s going to show up, and speak, reveal, and demonstrate to you, His great love for you, His child.
Now, what are you going to do about it?
Are you willing to let Him run your show?
Will you, like me, make a radical decision, that if He does not tell you personally, to do something, in His timing, that you will refuse to do it?
Or, are you gonna run some more?
Serving the tyranny of unfulfilled expectations from: your own passions and pride, those around you, your family?
Or will you, determine to discover the life you were born to live, the one created for you from before the foundation of the world?
As I think of the revival, now known as ‘The Toronto Blessing’, this was the message that changed my life, forever. That I have a Father in heaven, that loves me, and will meet with me, and love out my deepest pains, fears, and questions, and from this place of intimacy with Him, I actually get something to give, to a hurting world.
Ps 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord;
and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
If you willingly learn to allow Him to love you, He will change even the desires of your heart, giving you peace instead of tyranny…
Soaking up His love and presence like a sponge, I am one who has been, and who is still being changed, to become more like Jesus.
I study, I learn, I pray, I work, and I grow.
This commitment to intimacy and growth, I am learning, is the greatest thing I can do for God, and my fellow man…I hazard to guess, it’s yours too. The first commandment, to love God with ALL of our heart, mind, soul and strength, precedes the second – to love our neighbor as ourselves.
You see, when we truly love Him, He will reach back into us, into the deepest unmet hungers and emotional needs in our hearts, and meet them, with Himself. His passion, intimacy, and presence is like a drug from which there is no greater high. To this, I am an addict, and as I receive my daily ‘fix’, I am able to work with Him, to fix this broken Creation.
I am not you, and you are not me. You are unique, and your gift and calling is different than anyone else’s on the planet.
Yet, you will never find satisfaction in the Creation, until you intimately know Him, your Creator. There is a place of intimacy, He is calling you to….Now!
2 Corinthians 6:16 and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
I know, it seems weird, slowing down so that you can speed up. Schedule time where you sit at His feet. Maybe you can play the audio Bible like I do, and go into ‘soaking’ mode, allowing Holy Spirit to go deep inside your soul, and minister to your deepest hungers. Truly, the fate of the world rests upon it!
‘Father, meet with me. I need You, show me my need, my hungers, passions, longings, that You alone can satiate. Visit me, speak to me, reveal to me Your love, Your presence, Your passion, Your purpose for my life, for I come to Your throne, only by Your shed blood Lord Jesus, the way…Amen’
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Give in faith!
1 Corinthians 9:11 If we have sown [the seed of] spiritual good among you, [is it too] much if we reap from your material benefits?
1 Corinthians 9:14 [On the same principle] the Lord directed that those who publish the good news (the Gospel) should live (get their maintenance) by the Gospel.
Paul goes on to say, that he did not use his position as a minister of the gospel to take up offerings, rather he worked, making tents, to support himself. You might notice here, that Paul was not married, nor did he have children. Family responsibilities take time, and just as you bust a move on your job to provide for your family, I work every bit as hard, doing this, faithful to the Lord in prayer and the ministry of His Word, to you.
I will never charge for this: it my responsibility to God, my calling. Freely I have been given, now, I freely give…
As you give, hear Holy Spirit what to give, and honestly expect God to reward you for your giving.
Matt 10: 41 He who receives and welcomes and accepts a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives and welcomes and accepts a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones [in rank or influence] even a cup of cold water because he is My disciple, surely I declare to you, he shall not lose his reward.
I am a five-fold ministry gift and office – this is my life – I pray, I hear, I write, and wonderful things happen. You have your job description, I have mine – this is mine….
I have ‘see through’ faith for you, in this: Gal 3: 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
I believe I have a responsibility before God to be like Jesus, in every offering I receive. I receive it with thanksgiving, just like Jesus did the little boys lunch.
Then, because I walk and live by faith according to the blessing of Abraham, I believe that God will take your seed sown, and multiply it, according to what the blessing of Abraham promises:
Genesis 22:17 In blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed (Heir) will possess the gate of His enemies
It has been a joy to me, to see the hand of the living God act in the lives of those of you who have supported us this year!
Many have seen tremendous blessing come into your households, and for this we give thanks, and give Jesus all the glory!