Exodus 19:12 (AV) — And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:
Highways have lines that guide us into the proper lane and any new driver soon finds out that driving can be hazardous if we are not careful to stay within the lines provided. Along with those painted white and yellow lines, many times rumble strips – or warning strips if you will – are placed just off to the side of the road. We tend to wake up a bit and pay closer attention when we hit those rumble strips. They jolt us to awareness when we drift, and help us to straighten up and get back on the right path again. In life we are given the freedom to move as we please, but without true guidance we can end up being destructive in other peoples’ lives as well as endangering our own. Freedom comes at the price of responsibility. We must accept our responsibility to use our freedom wisely and to the good of others. This is the case on the literal roadways, as well as in life’s ever winding metaphorical roads.
When God chose Israel as His special people He made sure they understood their purpose by setting certain spiritual guidelines to keep them moving in the right direction. God used Moses to set these guidelines and you would think that his connection with God would cause the people to accept him. But their rebellion proved otherwise and instead of recognizing his leadership as a blessing they chose to make life difficult for him every step of the journey. When we ignore the rumble strips that indicate we are moving in the wrong direction, we open the door for great tragedy; we grieve the heart of God and become dysfunctional and destructive in our behavior. This impacts our own lives and the lives of the people around us.
What are our spiritual “guidelines” that keep us going on the right track? Exodus 19 reveals three important guidelines that we must learn to follow.
Change your Identity
To prepare for the appearance of God, Israel was instructed to change their clothes and wash (Exodus 19:10-11, 14-15). Today we are accustomed to having soap and water readily available and extra clothes hanging in our closets, but people in Bible days didn’t enjoy such luxuries. They couldn’t take showers daily, and only the wealthy had stores of extra garments. That’s why bathing and changing clothes often marked a new beginning. Washing and changing clothes is the Old Testament equivalent of 1 John 1:9; If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and 2 Corinthians 7:1; Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. By repenting of our sins and walking not in the flesh but in the spirit, our identity is effectively changed and we are being led by the presence and the will of God.
Keep Your Wonder
Moses gave Israel strict instructions to keep a distance between them and God (Exodus 19:12–13, 20–25). Staying away from Mount Sinai was a matter of life or death, for the presence of God sanctified the mountain. Moses put up barriers to keep the people at a distance. He also posted guards with authority to kill from a distance anybody who broke through the barriers, and nobody was to touch the dead body. When the trumpet sounded, Moses ascended the mountain to meet God, but even then, God sent him back to warn the people not to get too close to Mount Sinai. In a dramatic way, God was teaching the people the distance between a holy God and sinful men and women, as well as the danger of presumptuously rushing into the presence of the Lord.
Later, Nadab and Abihu would forget this principle, and God would kill them, (Leviticus 10). This shows just how important it is to heed the warnings of God’s boundaries. The structure of Old Testament worship emphasized man’s sinfulness and God’s “otherness”: the fence around the tabernacle; the veil before the holy of holies; the fact that only the priests could minister in the tabernacle and only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, and that but once a year. The emphasis was always “Keep your distance!” But the New Testament emphasizes the nearness of God, for the Son of God became flesh and came to dwell on earth (John 1:14), and His name is “Immanuel—God with us” (Matthew 1:23). By His death and resurrection, Jesus opened a new and living way into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:1–25). The New Testament emphasis reads, “Let us draw near!” This doesn’t mean that we should get “chummy” with God and act like we’re His equals, but He is our Father and He welcomes our love. (See Hebrews 12:18–29.) He established a new set of boundaries, guiding us in closer relationship with Him.
Understand Your Storms
A storm was created when God appeared on the mountain (Exodus 19:16–19; 20:18–20). Sometimes when storms enter our life it is not the work of the enemy but the presence of the Lord. In Scripture, a storm can be a symbol of awesome presence and power of God (Psalm 18:1–15; 29; Habakkuk 3:1–16). The cloud and darkness, the thunder and lightning, and the earthquake and fire, all manifested the greatness of God (Deuteronomy 5:22–23, 27) and produced a holy fear in the hearts of the people. Even Moses trembled with fear and admitted it! (Hebrews 12:21; Deuteronomy 9:19) God was about to teach His people His law, and “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). The combination of washing themselves and changing their clothes, witnessing the storm, and keeping their distance from Sinai, couldn’t help but impress the people with their need to be changed in order to enter the presence of God.
Today, we are losing the need to be changed. Quint Studer, in a recent newspaper article said, “It’s time to change how we think about change.” Only as Israel obeyed God could they truly enjoy the privileges of being a kingdom of priests, God’s special treasure and His holy nation. Just as the people in the Old Testament needed to have a healthy dose of reverence to God’s greatness, resulting in obeying and listening to His commands and warnings, we need that same reverence today. We must recognize the warnings (convictions), and use every tool God has given us as a guide in our lives (His Word, His Spirit) in order to keep on the right path. As long as we remain obedient to His guidance, we are able to continue on in the will of God. Learn to realize the boundaries God has set before us, allow the awareness of the rumble strips to provide correction, and in doing so, may you stay in God’s lane.
What if we could visually picture the grace and blessings that are poured out on us in every moment? What an awesome view that would be! Rooms with a view are always more costly but worth it to those who understand that outlook can oftentimes affect outcome.
We all know that when it rains so hard we cannot see two feet in front of our face it can slow us to a snail’s pace and at worst, it can stop us dead in our tracks. But what if our eyes were suddenly opened to see God’s abundance all around us and that God was there all the time? Talk about an awakening; it would put us in the moment and we would focus on what God is doing now and learn to appreciate what’s right in front of us.
Yet, many times in our anguish, pain and emotional upheaval we can become so upset at the rain that we miss the water that brings the blessing of life into our lives.
A perfect example of this is when Hagar was faced with the rejection of Sarah and her ultimate dismissal from Abraham’s tent. At first, she had difficulty responding correctly to her adversity, but eventually corrected her way and later was given a unique blessing from the Lord that is still in effect today. Haven’t we all responded in the wrong way?
We cannot fix or enjoy what we cannot see. When Hagar first faced the mistreatment of Sarah, she did what most people do; she ran away. Too many are living in denial, running from their place because of pain, and consequently missing the blessing. An angel appeared to her and told her to return to Sarah. Hagar returned and submitted. We find out that no matter the difficulty, even in the face of injustice, we can still grow if we learn not to escape.
We must stop running away and learn to obey.
We never experience the rain unless we are positioned correctly and respond positively to God’s voice. Trying to escape difficulty is pointless and fruitless. Hagar had a unique character flaw that many of us portray when we are faced with adversity.
After Ishmael was born Hagar allowed her pride to get the best of her and taunted Sarah, in turn causing Ishmael to follow her example, which ended badly with both of them being expelled from Abraham’s camp.
When her son needed her the most Hagar left him under a tree and did not attempt to console him because she couldn’t bear the pain. The scripture recounts that when the water of the skin was consumed, she cast off the boy beneath one of the trees. She went and sat herself down at a distance away and said, ‘Let me not see the death of the child”. However, Hagar experienced another visitation and grace fell like rain.
We must stop blaming others and start accepting responsibility.
Ben Zoma taught in the Talmud that all happiness comes from within (Pirkei Avos 4:1). He said:
Who is wise? He who learns from every person.
Who is strong? He who conquers his desires.
Who is rich? He who is satisfied with what he’s got.
Who is honored? He who honors others.
External factors are not important; what is happening within you makes the difference. If you can learn to see the problem in the right perspective and understand God never reveals a problem to condemn you, you will see that through Him, you will have life more abundantly.
If we start depending on Jesus, we can begin to not only see the problem but receive the solution to the problem. Once we are free from the blame game we are free to become wise, strong and honorable.
Remember to first see the problem. Own it and set a path to overcome it.
Most ailing organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects. They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems, but because they cannot see their problems.
Learn to think differently. Stop self-medicating and entertaining yourself to death. Learn to listen carefully to the still small voice because God’s voice has the power to alter our perspective and give us the right view. Yes, it may be raining but the water is life.
The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
We must stop quitting and learn to start again when we fail.
Sometimes in our panic we quit. Our emotions cloud our judgment and we react rather than responding correctly. Notice that Hagar had abandoned her son and fled, saying that she could not bear to see him die of thirst. God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water (Genesis 21:19). God did not create a well where none had existed, but “opened her eyes” so that she could see an already-existing well, which she had not seen because of her state of panic.
Many opportunities may be right before our eyes but if in our anguish we panic, we may fail to see them and the result may be a misfortune that could have been averted.
Hagar almost lost Ishmael, not because there was no water, but because she could not see it. What was necessary was not a miracle, but a correct perception of reality.
God’s word can teach us and provide guidance that can assist in avoiding distortions of reality.
Today, make up in your mind to avoid panic and any other emotion that clouds the ability to see what is truly before you.
Just like God opened Hagar’s eyes to a well of water that had been there all the time, He can open your eyes too. Ask yourself this question, “What is right before me that I am not seeing?” What grace is invisible yet working to save you? Remember what God did for Hagar. He changed her name to Keturah (beautiful as incense). The same blessing God gave to Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Simon Peter, He gave to Hagar by changing her name. You may have called yourself, “worthless, useless, clueless, and beyond hope.” But now you drink from another well, and the water is not the poison of the past but hope for the future.
Genesis 21:17–20 (AV) — 17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. 19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. 20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
When invisible grace is made visible, things change. The Rabbis teach that Hagar (or Keturah) never remarried even though she was cast out. She remained faithful. There is just no substitute for faithfulness. She was blessed. Let’s not escape our pain but turn to God in prayer, and let’s grow and improve. The rain is never designed to destroy, but to lead us closer to Jesus. Hagar obeyed and the grace like rain blessed her and it will do the same for you.
And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be (Deut. 33:24).
If you had inherited $6 million, would you claim that inheritance? Let me ask you that question again. If someone wanted to give you $6 million because it was rightfully and legally yours, would you take the money?
I think most of us would respond with an emphatic “Yes!” However, I can tell you that there is one man who would not. That man is Tomás Martínez, a 67-year-old from Chile who not only did not accept his lawful inheritance of $6 million but also fled from the authorities who tried to give it to him and was never seen again.
Let me explain. Forty years earlier, Tomás and his wife had separated after only a few months of marriage.
To escape prosecution for writing some bad checks, Tomás fled to Bolivia where he became an alcoholic and drug addict, known for begging in the streets.
Meanwhile, his wife continued living a quiet life in Chile. Though they had been a middle-class couple, she inherited a huge fortune a couple of years before she passed away. The two of them never divorced, and she never remarried. Since they had no children, Tomás Martínez was her rightful heir.
When detectives were hired to locate him, they tracked him to a bar that he often visited. Tomás realized the men were looking for him and thought they had come to arrest him for the bad checks he had written years ago. He slipped away moments before they could identify him and hasn’t been seen since.
Now let me ask you, can you imagine someone living as a homeless beggar when they could be rich? What kind of convoluted thinking would keep a man trapped in the petty mistakes of his past when he could claim an inheritance worth millions? That is a tragic story if ever there was one.
But here’s the thing, friends. Many of you are living right now like Tomás Martínez. You have been granted an inheritance by your heavenly father that is worth far more than millions of dollars. It is a blessing of abundance and favor and wealth and security and strength. It is a blessing, an inheritance that is yours to claim right now.
The Blessing of Asher is your right and your inheritance, and you can claim it tonight.
And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.
To Claim Your Inheritance, Break Free from the Past.
You must break free from your past. The tragic thing about the story of Tomás Martínez is the way he allowed the mistakes of his past to dominate his life. He missed out on an inheritance worth millions because he was stuck in the past. That’s a mistake we often make. We allow old patterns of thought, old habits, and old mistakes to keep us tied to a negative way of life.
One of the first things I noticed about the blessing that Moses pronounced on the people is that he was determined to break that pattern.
The Israelites were poised to enter the Promised Land.
The long career of Moses was at an end. The new generation of Israelites had risen up to replace those who had died in the wilderness. It was time to move into the future. And to ensure that the people could do so, Moses gave them a little history lesson. His point? Don’t get stuck in the past.
They needed to learn from the past if they were to move into the future. You must do the same. If you are to receive God’s blessing in the future, you must be sure that you won’t repeat the mistakes of your past.
When were the times that you didn’t trust God, preferring to remain stuck over the risk of following the Lord?
Where are your weak spots, the places at which you are especially vulnerable to temptation?
How have you failed—the Lord, others, yourself?
What have your learned from those mistakes? How will you guard against them in the future?
If you want to inherit $6 million, you must quit writing those bad checks.
Learn from your past.
Another lesson Moses taught the people was that they need a new identity. If they were going to inherit the Promised Land, they would have to break old patterns of thought. That older generation all died in the wilderness because they had the wrong mind-set. They had come from the bondage of Egypt, and they could never quite get accustomed to thinking in terms of freedom.
As soon as they faced the least hardship, they begged to go back to Egypt. They saw themselves as slaves, and they could never break that old way of thinking. They allowed themselves to be defined by the process not by the mission. They could see the struggle but not the victory.
Moses knew that the present generation needed a new identity. To think like an overcomer, you must stop comparing yourself to other people and pay attention to what God says about you. You are an overcomer (1 John 5:4), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a conqueror (Romans 8:37). The way you see yourself will largely determine how you see the world and how you view the challenges you face.
Find your true identity in what God says about you. Let that positive, optimistic vision guide you into the future. Moses wanted the people to break free from the past, and he wanted them to accept their new identity as overcomers. If they did not, they would never inherit the Promised Land.
The same is true for you. What are the mistakes and failures that are holding you back?
What are the small ways of thinking about yourself that are blocking your faith?
Move up, move forward, and claim the inheritance that is rightfully yours.
To Claim Your Inheritance, You Must Believe It Is Your Right.
The second point I want to make is that to claim your inheritance, you must believe it is your right. Moses had prepared the people to receive God’s blessing. It’s likely that people in biblical times had a better understanding of what a blessing is than we do.
A blessing is not simply a brief prayer before meals or a polite thing to say when someone sneezes. A blessing is a future already decided. A blessing is a gift from God, made available for you to receive by faith. The Bible is filled with descriptions of God’s blessing, and we’re about to review the Blessing of Asher.
Before we review the details of that blessing, I want you to understand why this blessing is yours to claim.
First, a blessing is irrevocable. A blessing cannot be altered because it is the Word of God. Once you are blessed, you are blessed. We see that principle illustrated in the passing of the Abrahamic blessing from Abraham’s son Isaac to Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob swindled his brother Esau out of his birthright. Jacob tricked his father into pronouncing the blessing upon him rather than upon Esau. But once it was declared, the blessing could not be altered, even though Esau pleaded with tears. A blessing is irrevocable.
Understand that the blessings God has given are still there.They’re still good, still in effect. God’s Word cannot be broken. Any blessing, once given, is secure.Also, you must realize that blessings grow greater with time. When God created the world, he pronounced a blessing on the first human pair, Adam and Eve.
“God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
This was a blessing of abundance, dominion, and multiplication. The blessing, however, did not go away.
It was later repeated and expanded when given to Abraham. God said to Abraham, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2–3), “Thou shalt be a father of many nations. . . And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. . . And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:4–8).
Notice that in addition to abundance, dominion, and multiplication, God added that Abraham would in turn bless the world.
The blessing was enlarged. This blessing that God pronounced first to Adam, then to Abraham, was expanded again through Christ to include freedom from sin. The writer of Hebrews states God’s promise this way: “ I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah . . . For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:8, 12).
All that God had promised remains available, and to those promises were added others. As Hebrews puts it, “The new covenant is established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6, niv).
Blessings grow greater with time.
And now we come to the most important point about blessings. This blessing of Adam, of Abraham, and of Christ—this blessing is also available to you right now.
It is your lawful inheritance.
Paul states that the descendants of Abraham are not the literal offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—that is, not just the Jewish people. For by faith in Christ, all who believe are Abraham’s children. Paul writes: “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.” Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:7–9, niv).
So what’s the result? Paul puts it this way: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29, niv). Translation: All of the promises God made to Abraham belong to you too. You can trust the promises of God. They are irrevocable. They grow greater with time. And they are available to you right now. You are an heir to the blessings of God. Believe it.
You Can Claim Your Inheritance by Faith Today.
You can claim your inheritance of blessing today, if you will act in faith. For the blessing that Moses pronounced on Asher can be your inheritance today.
Let’s take a look at the five parts of this pronouncement and see how you can claim what is rightfully yours.
The first blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of abundance.
Moses declared, “Let Asher be blessed with children” (Deuteronomy 33:24). The blessing of children was especially meaningful in biblical times when families depended on their offspring for agricultural work and to care for them in their old age. The birth of Asher himself represented the end of a struggle to bring forth children. The blessing of children symbolizes the abundant harvest. So this blessing, that Asher would be blessed with children, is a blessing of ample provision. Asher was to be blessed with abundance.
That this blessing is available today should be beyond dispute. Jesus himself promised that God will provide our food and clothing (Matthew 6:25–26), and Paul writes, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). From Elijah’s multiplication of the widow’s oil, to the feeding of the five thousand, to the miraculous catch of fish, the Bible is replete with stories designed to show the blessing of abundance. God will provide for his children not at a subsistence level only, but in abundance.
Remember that we are blessed to be a blessing.
When we freely give, we freely receive. By faith, adopt an abundance mentality, and you will begin to see the full measure of God’s provision.
The second blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of favor.
Moses declared, “Let him be acceptable to his brethren” (Deuteronomy 33:24). The role of the tribe of Asher was to produce oil for the sanctuary. This service was a benefit to all of Israel. Because of this selfless provision, Asher would enjoy the favor of other tribes. The people of Asher weren’t simply looking out for themselves; they helped move the whole kingdom forward. They taught their daughters to marry into the priesthood, ignoring the risk to their own tribe’s identity. By faith, adopt a mind-set of generosity. Put others ahead of yourself, and you will be blessed with favor.
The third blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of wealth. Moses declared, “And let him dip his foot in oil” (Deuteronomy 33:24).
Oil was a valuable commodity in biblical times, as it is today. Because Asher produced oil for the temple and the benefit of the priests, God blessed them with an abundance of oil—so much so that they could bathe their feet in it. Think of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointing Jesus’ feet with pure nard (Matthew 26:6–13). What an extravagant act! Asher was blessed with oil to spare.
Jesus, too, promised this blessing. “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38). To claim the blessing of wealth, you must abandon the notion to hoard it. Freely give, and you will freely receive.
The fourth blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of security.
Moses declared, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass” (Deuteronomy 33:25). The reference to shoes of brass denotes peace or dominion. The person shod with brass is wearing steel-toed boots: nothing can harm him. That person will be secure, having nothing to fear. Once again, this blessing is guaranteed also by Jesus for his servants.
When sending out the seventy disciples on the first-ever short-term mission trip, he told them, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19). Paul writes: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
The fifth blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of strength. Moses declared, “And as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).
What a beautiful promise! The natural way of things is that we grow weaker with each passing day.
We have come to expect that as we age. We’ll lose a little bit of ability. We won’t be quite as effective as we once were. But the blessing of Asher establishes a spiritual law that countermands the natural one. As your days increase, your strength will also. Impossible? Not for Moses, who didn’t begin his real work of liberating the Israelites until he was eighty years of age. Not for Sarah who bore a child in her old age.
Not for Caleb, one of the faith-filled spies who believed it was possible to conquer the land.
Years later, at the age of eighty-five, Caleb told Joshua: “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. . . . the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” (Joshua 14:11–12).
To claim the blessing of strength, you must have a mind-set of purpose and possibility. Do not surrender an inch of ground to the devil, who wants to render you useless. Work while the Lord gives you strength.
By faith, you can claim this inheritance of strength.
Romans 12:10-11 (The Message) “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.”
Have you ever walked back into the house from the cold outdoors looking forward to warming yourself by the roaring fire but instead found glowing embers? Left alone for too long, that blazing inferno you left in the fireplace has died down to smoldering embers. You get down on your knees, and steadily blow a stream of air watching as the red hot glow comes alive. Low and behold, they burst into flame again! Now you can stir up those coals, add some more wood and feed the fire. Although many have witnessed this very thing in the physical, the same thing can happen to us in our spiritual walk. Of course we must first be filled with the fire of God’s spirit. That infilling of fire will keep us for a time and creates in our spirit a bed of coals formed from the alter of personal devotion, church prayer and services, and daily Bible reading. We must be careful that we don’t get so smothered by life that we forget the Lord and allow our fire to burn out! We need to maintain the Spiritual glow—how? Blow the coals!
It takes three element to make fire burn:
Oxygen= Holy Ghost
Ignition= Word of God
We may all be at different places in our spiritual walk, but many of us need to recover our spiritual passion. You could exchange the word passion for words like: fervor, desire, and zeal. I don’t care what we call it…I just know that we need it. When I say passion, I’m not talking about becoming spiritually hyper-active. I’m not calling for more religious motion. I know that we all lead busy lives where the demands are endless: family, work, church, and other obligations crowd our schedules. Romans 12:11 admonishes us to be “fervent in spirit”. This word fervent means to boil. A chemical reaction takes place when water boils and its very nature is changed from a liquid to a gas as steam rises. Energy is released.
Many of us have seen those who have had their passion evaporate into thin air. How does it happen? Place an open pan on the stove, fill it with water and turn the heat on high. The water warms, boils and then evaporates. It boils away. But, now, take the same heat…the same water…and put it inside the boiler of a steam engine. The power of the steam causes motion that can transport that engine around the country. The problem then is not the passion. The problem is the control. We need to be passionate under the control of the Spirit of Christ. The person who maintains their spiritual passion has a boiling on the inside that is released as energy on the outside.
So, how do we build our passion? First, everything you do, do unto the Lord. Don’t just work in the kingdom out of “duty” but let everything you do be for the glory of Christ Jesus. Although there may be some, accolades aren’t usually poured out on those who work in the church. Whether we are appreciated or not, we must learn to do our best for our brothers and sisters, loving them without jealousy. Jealousy kills passion. Second, we need to follow the example of Jesus. In John 2:17 it says of him, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” Jesus was a kind gentle shepherd yet He was consumed with a passion for His father’s business. We see that same passion in His first disciples. They burned with a steady, inward fire. When the religious rulers told them to stop preaching, their response was, “we cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard”. They had that fervent spirit and energy was released witnessed by all around.
We also need to have that same passion for the things of God and I have found the secret to accomplish it. We should cultivate a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship generates spiritual fervor and zeal. We don’t need to live our lives interpreting passivity and lack of emotion as maturity. There is a place for that, but we must also fan the flames of revival in our own lives and ignite the passion it will take to reach the lost of this world. As Tony Campolo said, “Instead of praying, ‘If I should die before I wake,’ we should pray, ‘Lord wake me up before I die!”. Oh, God, make us people of passion!
Esther 8:11, 14- “Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey…So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.”
Luke 16:16- “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”
Philippians 3:14- “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
What do you do when life isn’t turning out the way you thought? What do you do when dark clouds gather and the sun seems hidden from sight for days? YOU PRESS ON! Our enemy has a carefully crafted strategy to disconnect us from our source of strength and life. We read in Esther an example of one of our enemy’s attempts when the decree was set for the Jews to be destroyed. Although that command was irreversible, the king set forth a second decree that the Jewish people would be allowed to fight back against their adversary. The messengers went forth immediately to put out posts that informed the Jews of this new decree…the message was urgent so they did not stop…they pressed on until all the land was up-to-date. Jesus has empowered us with that same command. When Satan fights against us we are not supposed to give in! We have been given power and authority to resist him. Even in the darkest night, the gospel will give you the strength to keep going. This truth, that God is for you and His Word is true, has to be settled in your heart.
As Christians, we can look at the headlines in our world and see the urgency of the hour. There are battles raging on all fronts and if we are not careful it can cause an emotional deficit in our spirit. We must learn to gain a spirit of urgency without fretting. There has to be balance. Yes, the battle is on, but we have such a HUGE advantage because the Lord is on our side! We need to learn to focus our sight from a Godly perspective. Just like the servants of Elisha had their eyes opened to the angel army surrounding them in Dothan, we need to have our eyes opened. Storms will come into our lives, but we have to change the way we think about them. It is in those moments when we are backed up against a wall that we see the power of God come to light in our lives. Chaos has never hindered Jesus from operating in the midst of His Church.
We need an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful for what you do have and don’t give into the fear of what you might lose. We are blessed with the Word of God at our fingertips! The material things in life will come and go; but the assurance of everlasting life, if we press on, should never be taken for granted and dismissed. We all have the choice to accentuate the positive or dwell on the negative reality, but choosing a grateful spirit will pay tremendous dividends in your spiritual investment. It will allow others around us to witness a Divine Optimism that is forged in the fire of hope.
Gratitude cannot be formed though unless we learn the art of selective hearing. We cannot deny the obvious. Bad news is inevitable and part of our present reality. We have to learn to unplug from negative voices that drain us of energy and press on, making the courageous decision to move forward through the adversity. As John Lubbock said, “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” I challenge everyone to join together as God gives us a great revival of truth! Yes, we recognize the difficulties of the times, but let us let the Word order our perspective. We need to understand the higher calling God has given us—and the opportune time we live in.
Just as individuals go through seasons, so do churches. There is a time of “seed planting” and a time of harvest. I believe that we have only tasted of what God has for us! We know God has more…and we want it! A harvest is coming and every hand must be on deck, every part of the body functioning properly, if we are to reap the “full harvest”. It will be worth whatever we must face to see the kingdom of God expand, and for us to experience the kind of revival that God has for us.
The final words: PRESS ON! Many times we maybe be tempted to quit. However, if you persevere we will be rewarded in the end with a Divine that will lift our Spirit and give us hope for the future. Persistence has always been rewarded by the King and today is no different for the King’s commandment has been given; now press your way into it!
1 Timothy 4:13-16, Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
In these verses of scripture, Paul is admonishing Timothy to discipline himself and perfect the behaviors needed to be an affective saint and leader. These five behaviors not only benefit the person doing them, but according to Paul, the benefits will reach others in your world also.
Let’s look at each of these comportments as they are listed:
Read to Exhort and know the Doctrine. Of course Timothy did not have the Bible as we have today, but he was probably privy to the Septuagint (Hebrew writings from the Old Testament) as well as letters from Paul. At the writing of this letter, Timothy had been a fellow traveler with Paul, starting churches, and tending to the needs of his mentor for about 10-15 years. This illustrates that even “seasoned” saints needs to continue in their studies of the Word.
Neglect not the Gift; Stir it within you. Paul teaches in Romans that we each have giftings in the Lord. When we become aware of those gifts within us we should work in them. Don’t neglect your gift and let it go stale in your life. Use it for the glory of God and the increase of His Kingdom.
Meditate upon the Word. There is a difference between studying the Word of God and meditating on it. When you meditate on the Word, read it purposefully and not just out of duty or to meet a goal. Take the time to read and re-read it, even to the point of memorization in some cases. Be quiet and listen for that still, small voice that will speak and teach you about that verse and how it fits into the rest of the Bible and into your personal life.
Examine Yourself. As you study the Word and hear it preached, you need to take a moment of reflection and see how you are measuring up. Be cautious when you consistently feel you are hearing messages preached to others around you; it may be time for some self-reflection. Pray that Jesus will open your eyes to those things that He would like you to change about yourself! Living this Christian life should not be stagnant, but a steady stream of growth as we become more and more like Him.
Continue in the Doctrine. From the beginning of the New Covenant the fundamental doctrine of salvation was established. On the day o Pentecost, when the apostles had just received the “promise” that Jesus said would come, that infilling of the Holy Spirit drew quite a crowd. When the others asked what they should do to be saved, Peter answered them authoritatively, ”Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Although the apostles where chosen, it was not an exclusive club that no one else could join! This promise was for the Jews of the time and spread on to the Gentiles, to the rest of the ancient world, and lives on today for us.
We have often heard that all growth is intentional; it is not automatic. This is true, albeit a painful truth. However, with a plan of action we can create an environment that will assist the growth process.
J T. Pugh, a great man and mentor, had a series of questions he asked himself in prayer at the beginning of each year.
1. How is my relationship with God?
2. How is my relationship with my family?
3. How is my relationship with my fellow ministers?
4. How are my personal finances?
5. How is my health?
I guess you could call this his rule of five because these areas of life were important to him and he knew that if he got these right, everything else would be right.
When we think that growth is automatic, or we begin to buy into the false assumption that busyness in the kingdom work means we are automatically growing, we are invariably creating a formula for disaster, because busyness is not growth. Only when you spend time in fellowship with the Master will you grow personally and begin to transform your life. You must have a plan if you are to grow.
Brother Pugh’s plan was evident in the way he assessed where he was, which expressed his desire of where he wanted to be. Therefore, he was intentional and so should you be.
If you are going to create a plan that works you need to assess your own spiritual climate and determine if you have these spiritual virtues working in your life. If not, take time with the Lord and his Word, and allow him to speak to you the truths that will change you. Beholding the glory of God in the mirror of His Word changes you into that image. This concept is found in 2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
You need Five Virtues
A Teachable Spirit
You must possess a teachable spirit. If you think you already know it all and there is nothing left to learn, you are kidding yourself. To learn new things, we must understand that we do not know everything. The objective is that God’s spirit will lead us into all truth. Being led by the spirit is vital to a growth atmosphere. This is clearly stated in Romans 8:14 (KJV), For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Growth takes time, so be patient. Anyone who wants to be victorious must learn to grow so keep on fueling the inner man, because you grow from the inside out.
A Giving Heart
You have to learn to give up the good in order to receive the best. Yes, you must sacrifice and learn to lose things that create what Dr. Henry Cloud calls, “necessary endings.” Certain relationships need to be put in balance; certain people’s voices need to lose influence and we need to learn to give of ourselves until we reach the goals of growth that God has called us to. Take responsibility for your own growth and determine to never quit until the day Jesus calls you home.
A Listening Ear
He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear. If you are listening to the wrong voices and receive wrong input, you are always going to be destructive because you are operating on false information. You will never gain authority over yourself until you learn to tune out the white noise of false data and tune in to the voice of your shepherd who wants lead you to the place he has secured for you through the cross. Ephesians 2:4-6 (KJV), But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: You can’t grow by working on just your weaknesses. You need to be aware of them but never obsessed with trying to fix them. Fine tune your strengths by feeding them and they will lift you above your weaknesses. This is a powerful principle.
A New Mind
If you only base your opinion on your feelings, you will always create the wrong picture. You need a fresh perspective – God’s viewpoint. You must see yourself as God sees you and fix your mind and prayers on that image – the one He wants and not the one you feel others have of you. Release your past and open the door for God to create a new creature, where the old things have passed away and all things become new. We did not design these principles but we can discover them, apply them and leverage them for our benefit. Growth is the process of discovery where you recognize the principles that God created and accept his design rather than the enemy’s design. God wants you to let go of old patterns and receive new inspiration to alter your course and eventually your destiny. All it is takes is one change. You are one step away from a new life and a new victory.
A Fresh Vision
Remember your purpose. Understand that if we designed our course we would eliminate all difficulties and crisis. But God in His wisdom understood the molding process is necessary; the resistance is necessary to create strength. Don’t allow insecurity to rob you of your growth initiative. If you fail, get back up and try again. As long as you don’t quit you are never a failure. You are as student enrolled in the school of Christ. Some tests we do well on; on others we fail or get a lesser grade, but we can pass the class with flying colors if we learn to hang in there. Once you embrace your purpose, power flows.
If you create a growth environment and use your crisis as an opportunity to go higher, God will give you courage to make the changes necessary to grow and you will become all that God has hoped for you.
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
As discussed last month, when we become a new creature in Christ there should be some transformations in both our thought processes and actions. So much so that others around us will notice that, “There’s just something different about him/her…” Let’s do a quick review of the first five from last month:
1 Be Humble.
2 Be Submitted to one Another.
3 Be Loving and Sincere.
4 Be Diligent.
5 Be Consistent Through Adversity.
Let us continue…
1 Be a Giver. True transformation in you will create a giving spirit in you; this attitude goes beyond just being giving to your spiritual brothers and sisters in the Lord, but spills over to non-believers as well. Romans 12:13, “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Paul shares this idea of hospitality with the Hebrew church as well when he reminds them to, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2.
2 Be Prayerful for your enemies. Wow! Not only are we supposed to be hospitable to those around us…we are to pray for our enemies. Those who have perhaps mistreated us or have done us wrong somehow! That is some real “fine tuning” of our attitudes. Romans 12:14 says, “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” This goes against our very nature and is truly an evidence of a transformed life. There are many scriptures in the Word about our attitude towards our enemies and we should learn to take heed to Paul’s teachings. Proverbs lets us know that when we rejoice in the downfall of our enemy, God turns His wrath from him (Proverbs 24:17-18). Job teaches us that to curse your enemy is sin (Job 31: 28-30). Obadiah also reveals in Obadiah 1:12-15 that your enemy’s downfall can be turned on you!
3 Be in Unity. Romans 12:15-16, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” We must learn to put others before us by setting our own victories/defeats aside and rejoicing/weeping with other members of the body.
4 Be Good to those who are Evil. We need to lean not only to “turn the other cheek”, but again, to bless those that curse you. Paul must have known that this act is so totally foreign to our human temperament that he felt he should address it twice! Romans 12:17-19, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.” Of course he knew this would be very difficult for some and put in that clause, “as much lieth in you…” In those cases where you can’t pull off being “peaceable”, learn to hold your tongue. As Bro. D.L. Welch used to say, “If I have nothing nice to say, the very least I can do is keep my mouth shut and not hurt them.”
5 Be a Blessing to Your Enemy. Paul quoted Solomon in Proverbs 25:21-22 when he finally tells us in Romans 12:20-21, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.“ Ouch! Don’t simply pray for your enemies, and don’t’ just speak a blessing over them… BE A BLESSING to them also!
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
As we draw closer to the Lord, it is our goal to be like Him in both our actions and deeds. A Christian should not just come to church each week dressed in their “Sunday Best” and then go about living as they did before they met Jesus the rest of the week. Those who are around us on a day to day basis should be able to recognize that we have changed after we have encountered the King. I have found 10 evidences of transformation taught by Paul as I read through the book of Romans that others should be able to recognize in you.
1. Be Humble. The first part of this passage admonishes us to not think more highly of yourself than you ought. The second part is to “think soberly”. This refers to us being of sound mind; the ability to exercise self-control and curb one’s passions.
2. Be Submitted to One Another. Part of being humble is the ability to make yourself accountable to each other. We need to recognize the value in our brothers and sisters and encourage them in their role. Do not mistake your role with your relationship. Just because your role changes it doesn’t mean that relationship with God has been changed. No matter the circumstances, a transformed life will speak blessing to those around you.
3. Be Loving and Sincere. Learn to love with reckless abandonment. The only way you can truly love without hypocrisy is to HATE evil and cling tenaciously to good. Love others more than you love yourself and learn to put their needs ahead of your own. That is the example that Jesus taught us on the cross.
4. Be Diligent. In this verse lies a three part lesson. First is diligence in business. The word “business here doesn’t mean what we may think it does. Most of us tend to immediately think of transactions between others when thinking of this word, but it actually means “diligence, or striving after anything”. Next is fervency in spirit. Boil with zeal for what is good and maintain your spiritual glow. Finally, serving the Lord. Serving here means to “be a slave, serve, do service.” We need to obey our Lord and yield our will to His in obedience.
5. Be Consistent Through Adversity. Part of being transformed is being able to live a victorious life even when the victory is nowhere in sight! Romans 12:12 teaches us how, Remain faithful to your rule of five, reading the word, and consistent prayer. This will give you the strength to carry on gracefully until the adversity lifts. The witness it will leave with those who are watching you is unmatched.
You are loved and valued,
Pastor Brian Kinsey
Deuteronomy 3:26-28 (MSG)
But GOD was still angry with me because of you. He wouldn’t listen. He said, “Enough of that. Not another word from you on this. 27 Climb to the top of Mount Pisgah and look around: look west, north, south, east. Take in the land with your own eyes. Take a good look because you’re not going to cross this Jordan. 28 “Then command Joshua: Give him courage. Give him strength. Single-handed he will lead this people across the river. Single-handed he’ll cause them to inherit the land at which you can only look.”
Sometimes you wonder if anything that is being said really matters. Does anyone get the message? The reason I say this is because we live in a culture that basically judges a message by how entertaining it is. The truth is, the best compliment you can give the word of the Lord is the testimony of a TRANSFORMED LIFE.
Booker T Washington said, “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” My desire is to PULL you UP and GIVE you MY STRENGTH so you can be a better saint, a better husband, a better parent – or simply better than you were before. It is important if you want to make a difference and a change for better in your life. How will you use your strength? Everybody has life skills, talents and abilities that matter. Nobody is bankrupt of strength and ability. You were born with certain gifts and if you have been saved you have acquired more gifts that are useful, powerful and significant.
We all have these things. No one is empty. Everyone has something to give.
Look how groups like Hamas and ISIS use their STRENGTH – to destroy, to kill and HURT as many people as they can. Some people want to frustrate and weaken the hands of God’s people who are trying to fulfill the purpose of God.
Ezra 4:4-5 (KJV)
Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
These people even brag about how they hinder and frustrate the Kingdom purpose.
Revelation 17:12-13 (KJV)
And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
While many of those who follow Islam give their strength to the beast, I choose to give my STRENGTH to the PROMISE. We must channel our strengths to a greater purpose. We live in an evil and violent world that thinks nothing of taking what does not belong to them and hurting you in the process.
I do not want to run in vain.
Philippians 2:16 (KJV)
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
How are you going to use the talents, skills and abilities that lie within you? How are you going to use your strengths? How do you plan to put your strengths into practice?
Samson was one of the strongest men in the Bible, but through 4 chapters and 96 verses, and in 40 years of judging Israel, he only prayed two prayers. He had miraculous strength but the only prayers he prayed were for God to get him out of predicaments he had gotten himself into. Samson illustrates the tragedy of a mismanaged life! Not once did he lead Israel to a greater expression of worship or adoration or faith to God. When they led him into the Temple of Dagon they heard the music playing and the people praising Dagon for delivering Samson into their hand. Samson took his strengths and used them in such a way that he made the Philistines more pagan than they already were.
We are not here to make things worse; we are here to make things better. I hope you will make up your mind to help your Pastor and your church become the best church it can be. We need people who want their pastor and their church to be the best thing in the city. Too many times we allow the enemy to deceive us into thinking that because of our flaws and failures we cannot be used by God. We come to church and are disappointed because we are operating on our weaknesses and expect people to cater to them rather than overcome them. We expect someone to do something to make us feel better about ourselves. We have no internal compass of truth that guides us to give our strength to the mission at hand.
I want to use my strength as Saul did before his name was changed to Paul. The Bible says, But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews . . . proving that this Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:22). Psychologist Sheldon Kopp says, “All of the significant battles are waged within the self.” That’s true. The greatest of the battles people wage is against their own flaws and failures. To have an opportunity to reach your potential, you must know who you are and face your flaws. You can reach your potential tomorrow if you dedicate yourself to growth today. Remember, to change your world, you must first change yourself.