“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 16:24-25)
Some crosses are hardly a blip on the radar screen of our lives. Some come for season, and like winter in March, they seem to overstay their welcome. Others seem to take up permanent residence and become like the Ghost of Marley, haunting our past, present, and foreseeable future. Somehow, by Grace alone, in the midst of this tribulation of sanctifying proportions – remember, the interests of God are being achieved in us and around us – His very seed – for His great Glory! This, dear one, is a cross worth bearing!
God’s faithfulness extends well beyond what we might imagine. For God will avenge every iota (for which we leave room) of word or deed that the wicked spew towards the righteous, while emphatically not wasting a single one for both the sanctifying good of His righteous one’s, and the glory of God the Father.
So rest assured son or daughter of God – nothing is wasted, nothing is ignored. No unrepented deed of evil towards His child be will be left unavenged.
“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “ Vengeance is Mine , I will repay ,” says the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:19
Remember, no trial, suffering, or adversity, will cease in the life of a child of God until the full goodness for which God has intended for his child has been achieved – and every ounce of glory that God has intended for Himself shall be received!
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Know Saint, that the freedom we have received “In Christ”, is not just forgiveness of Sin, and freedom from its penalty – but freedom to walk in the Spirit; freedom from the power of sin; freedom from bondage to sin.
The temptation of our enemy(ies) (Satan, the Flesh, and the World) – is not to run back to the fullness of the vomit which we were once enslaved to (though many have), but rather, to allow just a little ‘poop in our brownie mix’.
This has been my wife’s famous “a little leaven” analogy. I ask you, if I am making you a nice pan of hot fudge brownies, how much poop in the mix is ‘too much’? An absurd question you say?!? But I am talking about just a little poop… you know, like: a little cussing in the TV show; or a brief sex scene with no frontal nudity in a movie; or “it’s just weed – it’s not hard drugs”; or, “we’re just friends, it’s not like we are having an affair”; or any other seemingly innocent, seemingly justified action, that is guaranteed to be a slippery slope that ends in disaster.
How little of a gamble is too much? How close to the edge can I get? How long is too long to you with sin?
Flee! Flee I say!
How could the Grace that saved you from a life of sin, be the same grace that allows you to participate in that same sin again??
We were, by nature, born as slaves to sin. We had no choice in the matter. But born again, all things have become new! We are now Saints, free from that slavery to sin, and now heirs of the righteousness of Christ our Lord & King. We must live like it.
So what temptation to allow ‘just a little poop’ in your brownies are you facing? Is there an area in your life were you have already allowed (or even, become accustomed to), that is nothing less than poop in your diet? What behaviors are you finding pleasure in that are opposed to the Spirit of God?
Let us ask together… what behaviors, attitudes, and language, have we embraced, that is able to rob us of our inheritance of the Kingdom of God?
This seems a cute enough phase, sure to garner some “LOL”, some thumbs up “likes”, and a few “I feel ya” responses.
I am certain the vast majority of people – Christians included – see this, and other similar statements as benign. I’ve seen “All I need is a little Wine, and a whole lotta Jesus”, and a variety of Cross-shaped words with Starbucks, Dallas Cowboys, Kentucky Wildcats, and others in the “little need” position.
I recently also saw on a T-Shirt: “fueled by Jesus and coffee” (at least Jesus made the #1 position on this one).
Some of the rarer – or more unique ones I have discovered – include Dr. Pepper, Hot Chocolate (yum), and even “Quilting” as a little necessity – to a happy (?), successful (?), enjoyable (?) … life with, of course, a lot of Jesus.
What are we saying about our faith?? What is the message to ourselves, and to those who read these “innocent” t-shirt, coffee mug, or wall hanging words? Words that have generated Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest responses ranging from heart emojis to “Amen”, “Truth”, & “Preach it” comments.
At face value this seems lighthearted and harmless – but I would challenge that thinking I would submit to you that as Christ-followers, embracing such statements is an indicator of a deeper issue reverberating in the midst of a subtle tsunami of pro-modern compromise flooding our churches, bible studies, and Sunday school classes.
Things Jesus Didn’t Say
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, with a little bit of coffee.”
Or, to be more exact: “Man shall not live by Jesus alone, but by Jesus and a little bit of hot chocolate.”
It is not the coffee, the hot chocolate, not even the wine that I am taking issue with here. Rather, it is this philosophy that is causing us to live believing – though ever so subtlety – that Jesus isn’t enough. The sad truth is that most of us are there in our daily lives. The reality is that – whether coffee or cola – football or wine – quilting or cruising – Dr Pepper or Bud Light (yes, I saw that one too) – we live life as though Jesus just isn’t quite enough. I am guilty!
But this should be something that as Christ-followers we shun – something we are ashamed, or convicted of. It should not be something we are willing to proudly display on our garments or kitchen walls. It should not be a confession that brings LOL’s or Amen’s (meaning: so be it).
The Apostle Paul wrote in the Scriptures that Christ is our sufficiency in all things – Period (2 Corinthians 3:5, 9:8, 12:9). Moreover, the Word of God says that:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
No mention there of Coffee, Wine, Dr. Pepper, College Football, photography, even Bud Light.
Also in Philippians, Paul writes:
“and my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.”
How many needs? All! This is the people of God we are to become: Holy – set apart – needing nothing outside of Himself; knowing nothing but Christ, and Christ alone.
Drink you coffee. Enjoy you Dr Pepper. Get the most out of your cruise, and shout for your favorite college team! But know beyond a shadow of a doubt – you do not need those things as a Born Again, regenerated, and redeemed Follower of Christ!
All you need; All I need; Is Christ alone!!!
In what has been arguably the most bizarre presidential campaign in modern history, tomorrow, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be POTUS Elect #45, and the future of the US, and even the world, is facing a dramatic turn of events. But, thank God, that in His sovereignty, the Elect of the Lord, have no need to fear, or panic – for it is our Lord who appoints His Divine choice as the leader of this country (and all others).
Now, in the midst of this day we are living – with a large amount of “Christiandom” wallowing in the permissiveness of carnality, or blatantly living in a love affair with the world; and, with a substantial amount thoroughly distracted by an unhealthy allegiance to patriotism that is dangerously close to spiritual adultery – we, as Christians, need to pause for a moment, in the midst of this political climate of division and distention, and ask the question: Are we ready for the days ahead?
Regardless the outcome, we face a potential firestorm of assault from both sides when their candidate loses… this will likely bring a tumultuous period from November 9th, til January 20th. But then, once Inauguration Day – and The First 100 days – arrives, something significant will take place. Either way, I am concerned for the American Church. There are urgent – even overdue – questions that each member, individually, and corporately, must come to terms with.
I submit to you the following concerns: if Hillary wins, the Church in America will face a time of tribulation like has never been seen in our young 240 years. I do not believe that most are ready for the judgement, and the persecution that this will bring. Alternately, if Trump should somehow pull out a victory, it is likely, for the most part, that the Church will rejoice, and quickly return to our worldly slumber, embracing our freedoms and liberties.
You see, it is time for the Church to step up. We – as aliens, sojourners, even ambassadors from another realm – are the moral compass for whatever nation we reside in. Martin Luther King Jr said in 1963:
“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
We need to reevaluate our roles, obligations, and loyalties to any worldly systems of government or rule. We must come to terms with the very real truth that, as born-again children of the most high God, we are ambassadors sent from the Kingdom of Heaven, wherein is our eternal citizenship, to live as sojourners in this land called America. And, as ambassadors, we must grasp the depth of responsibility that we have to take our direction in all things – including our democratic progress – from our source of Life, that is: “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (See my blog on faith, hearing, and *rhema*)
17-20 months ago I was among a contingent of men of God who began to speak out a strong message of conviction that “a storm is coming, and we must be prepared.” Could the days ahead be this storm?? Are we ready for dark days?
I am greatly disturbed by the multiplicity of yard signs I see in my area that state: “America Needs Jesus” – Really? That type of thinking seems to shortcut Our Lord’s method, which was to “The Church”and commands us to “Go and make disciples.” Seems to me that what the signs need to proclaim is a change if thought-process to Christians, stating: “America needs the Church” … (it’s the Church that needs Jesus!)
If you’ve stuck with me this far, you may be asking “but how?” Dr Michael Brown recently said:
“What ultimately decides the state of the country, is the state of the Church. What ultimately decides the direction of the country, is the direction of the Church. [Therefore] are we going to devote ourselves to prayer, Scripture, making disciples, holy living, and reaching the lost?”
What is our “state” (or condition) – what is or direction? What are our priorities; what do we value greatly? These are hard questions we must prayerfully ask! We must address them from our pulpits (while we still can). We must seek Scriptural answers, answers that are “every Word that proceeds from The Mouth of God”, not with logic, rational, or careful human calculation.
If we ever expect to fulfill God’s commission to us as His Church, living by faith, pleasing Him, and impacting the world for His Glory – we must learn to hear His Voice, and His Voice alone, and by Grace, obey.
So Church, if Hillary is God’s choice for POTUS #45, then we will find ourselves neck deep in an anti-Christian environment like we have only read about in books! She will make all-out war on babies in the wound, and make criminals out of anyone who is not in agreement with her demonic and abominable assault on biblical marriage. She will spew her ungodly, liberal ideology from the rooftops, and make it the law of the land. So I ask: are you dressed in readiness? Don’t think for a minutes that our all-powerful and glorious God would not do such a thing – for He has before, and will again – if not now, then one day soon.
And what if “The Donald” should put in a change of address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Will we collectively sigh a breath of relief, whipping our brow and declaring: “that was a close one”? Will we kick back, relax, and return to our safe, comfortable, quite, church-going lifestyle, wherein nothing changes about our allegiance, loyalties, devotions, or priorities towards God, because it doesn’t have to change – cause “we really dodged a bullet this election”? Again I ask: are we ready? Or have we wasted so much time, effort, and energy, being distracted by an agenda towards life, liberty, and the pursue of happiness, that we are actually laboring in our own strength to avoid the very things that Jesus promised His Followers: judgement (for refinement and purification), tribulation, and persecution. Is my lamp lit?
It is time to get ready. Time to give my time, energy, effort, and attention to the hearing of our Heavenly Father’s voice, and obedience to what we hear. It is found in abiding, and living by His life, not our own.
A storm is coming, I tell you! A storm like we have never seen in the west. Are we dressed in readiness with our lamps lit? Do we have the oil that we need to keep our lamps burning? Or will we be caught like a thief in the night unprepared, and naked – like a sheep to be slaughtered. The time is now, Saints of God. The time is now to prepare. If we are not wrapped in His Grace, and Abiding in His word, His righteousness, His love, His glory, and His very life, we are doomed. We must take shelter in the Secret Place, that we might thereby abide in the Shadow of the Almighty. It matters not who is POTUS #45 – what matters is our readiness. There is no other way.
May you find rest and peace in the confidence that our Lord and King is fully in control – for our Good, and His Glory.
Thursday, May 5, 2016 is the 65th National Day of Prayer. People will gather all across this land petitioning God for variety of things, most of which, will sound a lot like “Please make America great again”, by asking for His blessings upon everything from the President, to our economy.
However, I submit to you, that before anything great can happen in a nation, it must happen in a society. And before it can happen in a society, it must happen in our communities. And before it can happen in our communities, it has to happen in our homes. And before it happens in our homes, it must happen in our individual hearts.
As we approach this year’s National Day of prayer, I challenge you, if you believe in the power of God, and you have a longing to see His glory displayed, then read that often quoted passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14. However, this time, think not about a nation, nor a society, not a culture, not even our communities or our neighborhoods, but think about our hearts – your heart, and my heart.
Ask Him, if you dare, to humble you, to cause you to seek His face, to reveal to you your wicked ways, to give you courage to turn from that wickedness. And imagine if you will, that the land that needs healing is not America, nor your state, or even Washington, DC, but rather, the land that needs healing is my wicked, deceitful, self-centered heart.
If we “Christians” – this National Day of Prayer pursue a feverish passion towards humility, repentance, and a renouncing of our wickedness – we can be assured of GREAT change by the 66th National Day of Prayer, in 2017. ~ Gary E Kienel
Adulterous Allegiances: Friendships With The World
“…you adulteresses… do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God?”(1)
Scripture in the book of James calls the people of God “Adulteresses”, because of our friendship with “the world”. We, even the very called out and anointed ones of God, have aligned ourselves with worldly matters, lusts, and idols – qualifying us as active participates in an adulterous lifestyle.
We have many lovers, but should only have One!
We justify this disgrace by our claim that Jesus is our ‘First Love’. But is being first of many, acceptable? Kyle Idleman, in his book “Not A Fan” writes: “Jesus is not interested in being first of many; He must be your one and only.” (2) Idleman goes on to say that “Jesus doesn’t want followers who have split allegiances.” (3)
Christ-Follower: I implore you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the difficult truths of an adulterous split allegiance with the world.
Some may be obvious: Money – Education – Career – Success – Status – Control – Pleasure – Sex – Possessions…
Some not so obvious: Denominational Affiliation – Political Affiliation – Leisure – Security…
While others are hailed as respectable or honorable: Patriotism – Family – Marriage – Savings – Retirement …
Undoubtedly, there are other things that could be on these lists. Perhaps there were some items listed that caused you a twinge of anger at the mere suggestion that it might be an “adulterous allegiance” before a holy, almighty, and jealous God, however, remember:
“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (4)
“The Gate is small, and the way is narrow, that leads to life, and few are those who find it…” (5)
“Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many [of the few who find it] will seek to enter and not be able.” (6)
What allegiances are you – knowingly or unknowingly – tightly holding on to, that are preventing you from entering the narrow door? Indeed many adulteresses stand outside the door, having found “the way”- having confessed that Jesus is Lord – yet the baggage of their “many” friendships with the world are preventing them from passing through. Don’t let this be you!
Oh Heavenly Father. Have I made knowing you and loving you the first priority of many, rather than the only priority in my life? Only by your Grace, Father, I ask with a pure heart: may the Holy Spirit supernaturally reveal to me the adulteress allegiances in my life. I ask that you will grant me mercy and grace to renounce the whoredom of friendship with the world in all its forms. Grant me courage to see these lovers for what they are and to embrace the humility to confess and repent of them. Help me to see that these allegiances are battling for control of my mind, and ultimately, the throne of my heart. Through prayer and Your Word, may I restore Jesus to be, not only my first love, but my only love. Amen.
© 2016 Gary E Kienel ~ EDGE 1B.3
(1) James 4:4a; (2) “Not A Fan”, Kyle Idelman, © 2001, Pg 63-69; (3) abid; (4) Matthew 7:21; (5) Matthew 7:14; (6) Luke 13:24
In honor of the road that starts this evening in Iowa, and ends next January in Washington, DC…
This is a hard word, Christ-Follower… Can we hear it?
Election season is upon America. The question for the Child of God is not who do I vote for… Carson, Cruz, Huckabee, Rubio, Sanders, or even Clinton or Trump? No, the question is: “Heavenly Father – as a stranger, a sojourner, an alien, and an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven – wherein the new me – born of Your very Seed – alive by Your very Life – is a citizen of another realm: “Heaven” – am I to even cast a ballot (am I permitted an opinion in such matters)?”
If we hear a “yes” from our King (for He might indeed say “no” – for this is an affair of the very world which we have been called out of), then and only then, shall we ask of Him secondly: “As a new creature, commissioned as an Ambassador of Heaven, granted permission to cast a ballot in this human affair – which candidate would You, my King, have me to vote for?” (Does this sound extreme and even ridiculous?!? I told you it was a hard word.)
Remember, Scripture instructs us that the righteous walk by faith, and live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. And likewise: a soldier in active service does not entangle himself in the cares of civilian life, in order that he may please his commander. As a regenerated, born-again, child of God, we are to have dashed our life, our opinions, and even our very self, upon the rock that is Christ, thereby living out of His life alone, and expressing the only opinion that is left… His!
This is a hard word, many cannot hear it. But it is time we – the Church – grow up into the Sons and Daughters of God that we have been redeemed to be – revealing His Glory to all of creation!
So, for me, the question begins not with: “which candidate do I want to vote for that I believe will be the best, next, U.S. President?” but rather, “Father, am I to vote; and *if so*, for whom?”
Many will suggest this is unpatriotic; but it’s not about temporal patriotism, it’s about eternal allegiance.
“… And they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.'” (John 4:42)
Possibly the single greatest Truth of Christianity is found within this one verse in John.
Nearing the end of the telling of Jesus’ encounter with “The woman at the well”, we have the people of Samaria – whom the woman had returned and “witnessed” to – people who by their own confession had “believed in Jesus” – coming to see this Jesus (whom they had already “believed in”) for themselves.
Not content to believe just because of the word of another – the people whom she had talked to (I imagine only some of them) were driven to “see for themselves.” And it was because of that determination to go from “belief based on the words of another”, to “believing based on their own experience”, that they went from a mere intellectual belief in this Jesus (which is unable to save), to a intimate experiential saving knowledge of Jesus!
Look at their “confession”:
“…we have heard for ourselves and KNOW…”
The Greek word used here for “know” is “ginosko” which means “intimate experiential knowing, such as the intimacy of a husband lying with his wife”.
This is saving belief: experiential intimacy with Christ Jesus! Don’t settle for anything less – KNOW for yourself this One whom you profess you believe in.
God became Emmanuel in Jesus, so that we might “know for ourselves” that this Jesus is Christ, the Savior of the world.
Please take time this holiday season to search yourself to see if indeed you KNOW Jesus for yourself, or if you are just believing in Him based on the word of another.
This “question” has been posted, in various forms, quite a lot lately – and I think that, overall, we are missing the point. It is a very good and understandable question. Yet, as Followers of Jesus – true repentance demands that we change our thinking (perception) – in doing so, we look at this as the “Born-Again Bible-Believing Saints of the Most High God” that we are; not as just common ole “God, Guns & Guts American Christians”:
“You will be hated by all because of My name…” (Matt 10:22a; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17)
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21)
We “Americanized Christians” resist the very thing (persecution) that authenticates our Faith in our Lord Jesus:
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)
We curse and condemn that which is our mark of honor:
“…after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:40b-41)
And why? Because:
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
Persecution is the great fire that will separate the sheep from the goats. And persecution is coming – and has begun – here in the “good ole USA.” Are we ready for our Faith to be tested and proven? Are we dressed in readiness with our lamps lit? Is our house built upon the rock? The storm of persecution – a very fire of purification & refinement – from the very Hand of God – is knocking at the door of “western Christianity”… ARE YOU READY?!?
Matthew 13:40-43 teaches:
“So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Indeed, Saint, I beg you… “He who has ears, let him hear.”