Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely reject and disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own, as you continually surrender to my ways. For if you choose self-sacrifice and lose your lives for my glory, you will continually discover true life. But if you choose to keep your lives for yourselves, you will forfeit what you try to keep. For even if you were to gain all the wealth and power of this world with everything it could offer you—at the cost of your own life—what good would that be? And what could be more valuable to you than your own soul? Matthew 16:24-26 The Passion Translation
THE HOLY REBEL SPEAKS
With all the unrest and chaos surrounding us, believers are to fully lean into what the Lord is saying in this hour lest we fall into a trap. He doesn’t want us to wander in the tall grass; He doesn’t want us to be in a cave listening to our own opinions, desires, and wants. He’s looking for those who really want to mature in this hour. Please consider reading “HOLY REBEL” (http://frontline-ministries.org/holy-rebel/) as a pre-req for this writing.
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49 NASB
HEAR AND ACT
We are to hear Jesus’ words and act on them. We want a well-built house. Building our lives without the firm resolve to acquire this solid and eternally focused foundation by digging deep and laying this foundation on the Rock is unwise. The foundation is designed by the Master Builder Himself. He’s the Architect and Builder. As believers build their houses on opinion, fear of man, logic, selfish ambition, and incorrect theology of the nature of our Heavenly Father, the deceiver receives free reign to attack. Bursting torrents in life will come to devastate and ruin what was intended to be fruitful and lasting. A torrent is defined as “a strong and fast-moving stream of water or other liquid.” It is compared to a “sudden, violent, and copious outpouring of something, typically words or feelings”. Of course, if torrents continue to rage in our lives (which they will), if there are cracks in our foundations due to sin, unbelief, and fear, there will be a crumbling and ultimate collapse of our house under pressure. It will not be pretty. And the enemy will laugh heartily.
Since we are in a continual and intentional spiritual battle once we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are to be fully armed and dangerous so the enemy clearly knows we will stop him in his tracks. The enemy pursues us, longing for cracks in our foundation to cause such weakening that he is easily able to bulldoze our mind, will, and emotions. Being unaware of his tactics facilitates his cover as the deceiver. He infects our minds and hopes we will not notice. He is the author of confusion, division, and strife, and wants to use God’s children to become the ones who hold the bow and shoot the flaming arrows of discord that interrupt the progress and process of maturity in our lives and the lives of others. Interesting to note, the archer receives the same burning arrows inside of himself, a reverse attack. The enemy hits all parties. His initially subtle ways will lure us into deep pride so we become blinded to the truth. We will become dependent on our own logic rather than the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” If we are babies in the Spirit, we will not do very well (in this area) without total submission to our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Babies in the Spirit are still warriors for Jesus and must be nurtured in the milk of the Word so they can properly grow and achieve proper alignment for their lives. If the Word falls on stony ground, it will be choked, resulting in foundational cracks.
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” 1 Peter 2:2
MATURITY OR IMMATURITY
To understand and live in righteousness is God’s mandate for us. He wants us to strive to do so. “Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your (spiritual) hearing and sluggish (even slothful in achieving spiritual insight). For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food. For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant (not able to talk yet). But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.” Hebrews 5:11-14 AMPC
This is a very convicting Scripture text. As believers submit to God with this perspective in mind, there will be a greater desire for full repentance to flow through their being. The repentance that brings true and lasting freedom, with the refreshing that follows, becomes a continual desire for their lives. Easy obedience to the Lord is blocked without full repentance. Full repentance involves a change of mind/thinking, resulting in a 180 degree change of direction; turning away from the original idea, action, decision, or opinion. The Lord loves to turn our world upside down so He can have His way.
Repentance is an action word, not just a nice idea. To admit to the Lord that there could be dullness in spiritual hearing and that we could be sluggish, even slothful, in achieving spiritual insight, takes humility. Immaturity screams for approval, acceptance, and accolades. It likes to be seen and celebrated. It thrives on performance. It has a very difficult time receiving correction and rebuke leading to Biblical repentance. It can be easily deceived. It can’t easily submit to leaders. It refuses to believe there could be cracks in their foundation or do anything about it. Pride rises to persuade baby believers to believe that they are not spiritually immature when they are. Those believers who believe they are maturing, yet are still easily distracted, ignore leaders, and refuse correction and rebuke are in a very dangerous place. Deeper pride and religious thinking erupts. The enemy loves to blindside people, convincing them they are fine. He will take as long as it takes to get them to the place of a perfect storm, and laughs. This is a problem. Without humility, there will seem to be no need for deep repentance. According to Acts 3:19-21 AMPC believers are encouraged to seek God in this way so they can enjoy the refreshing that comes from Him: “So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return (to God) that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heart, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord; And that He may send (to you) the Christ (the Messiah), Who before was designated and appointed for you-even Jesus, Whom heaven must receive (and retain) until the time for the complete restoration of all that God spoke by the mouth of all His holy prophets for ages past (from the most ancient time in the memory of man).”
As part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke to His followers these prophetic blessings:“How enriched you are when you crave righteousness! For you will be surrounded with fruitfulness. Your lives light up the world. Let others see your light from a distance, for how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop? And who would light a lamp and then hide it in an obscure place? Instead, it’s placed where everyone in the house can benefit from its light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:6, 14-15 TPT
The Word of God is given to both the spiritually immature and those who are mature. Both are fully held to accountability in all areas. As all Christians truly see that, they will humbly realize that they need to put themselves on the altar daily, inviting the Lord to burn up any fleshly desire, thought, or opinion. This will enhance the maturing process. Revelation from Heaven will come as the Word is put in it’s proper place in our pursuit of God, breathing life into our inner most being as seen in Ephesians 3:16: “That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
Through this humble pursuit of Him, desiring full and ongoing repentance at the deepest level, the Lord will release the Spirit of wisdom, revelation, knowledge, power, strength, and might (according to Ephesians 1:17-23 AMPC). As our hearts are enlightened, we will know the hope of His calling. This results in the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. Remember, it’s all about Him not us. We live for Jesus; we are His inheritance.
“(For I always pray to) the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation (of insight into mysteries and secrets) in the (deep and intimate) knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), and (so that you can know and understand) what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His (own) right hand in the heavenly (places), far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named (above every title that can be conferred), not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come. And He has put all things under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church (a headship exercised throughout the church), which is His body the fullness of Him Who fills all in all (for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself).” Ephesians 1:17-23 AMPC
FLOODED WITH LIGHT
The eyes of our hearts are to be flooded with light. This will usher us into greater maturity so we can reach the measure of the fullness of Christ determined for us. We will manifest His spiritual completeness and exercise our spiritual gifts in unity, becoming more like Him. To reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, we have to humble ourselves and repent as we search the Word: “Until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, (growing spiritually) to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ (manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity). So that we are no longer children (spiritually immature), tossed back and forth (like ships on a stormy sea) and carried about by every wind of (shifting) doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of (unscrupulous) men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything (for personal profit). But speaking the truth in love (in all things – both our speech and our lives expressing His truth), let us grow up in all things into Him (following His example) who is the Head-Christ. From Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in (unselfish) love. Ephesians 4:13-16 AMP
Revelation is the revealing or disclosing of truth or knowledge through communication with God. Psalm 16:11 The Passion Translation reads: “For You bring me a continual revelation of resurrection life, the path to the bliss that brings me face-to-face with You.” How can I receive revelation knowledge from the Lord? According to 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 The Passion Translation: “For we did not receive the spirit of this world system but the Spirit of God, that we might come to understand and experience all that grace has lavished upon us. And we articulate these realities with the words imparted to us by the Spirit and not with the words taught by human wisdom. We join together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-revealed words. Someone living on an entirely human level rejects the revelations of God’s Spirit, for they make no sense to him. He can’t understand the revelations of the Spirit because they are only discovered by the illumination of the Spirit.”
OBEY SPIRITUAL AUTHORITIES
“Obey” and “submit” are difficult words for people unless they are resolved to obey and submit to God, then it’s easy. Jesus submitted to and obeyed the Father. To really know and follow the real voice of the Father we must not pick and choose what Scriptures we want to embrace. This is part of maturity. A spiritual baby won’t easily see this, but is still called to live the life of sacrifice found in Matthew 16:24-26 TPT, which leads to real freedom.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely reject and disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own, as you continually surrender to my ways. For if you choose self-sacrifice and lose your lives for my glory, you will continually discover true life. But if you choose to keep your lives for yourselves, you will forfeit what you try to keep. For even if you were to gain all the wealth and power of this world with everything it could offer you-at the cost of your own life-what good would that be? And what could be more valuable to you than your own soul?”’ Matthew 16:24-26 TPT
In the days we are in (COVID-19, civil unrest, all the pressures surrounding that), it’s critical that we don’t resist authority. Governmental authority is the same, unless we are not free to exercise our obligation to freely worship the Lord, fulfill the Great Commission, and fulfill the 1st and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.” Matthew 22:27 The Passion Translation expands this: “Jesus answered him, “Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.” Attached to loving God with every passion, all energy, and every thought is obedience to spiritual authorities. Resistance to that is rebellion and not the Lord. “Obey your (spiritual) leaders and submit to them (recognizing their authority over you), for they are keeping watch over your souls and continually guarding your spiritual welfare as those who will give an account (of their stewardship of you). Let them do this with joy and not with grief and groans, for this would be of not benefit (unprofitable) to you.” Hebrews 13:17 AMP
God has His order in the Church and we are wise to submit to its authority structure as we are reminded in Ephesians 4:11-12 AMP: “And (His gifts to the church were varied and) He Himself appointed some as apostles (special messengers, representatives), some as prophets (who speak a new message from God to the people), some as evangelists (who spread the good news of salvation), and some as pastors and teachers (to shepherd and guide and instruct), (and He did this) to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ (the church); until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, (growing spiritually) to become a mature believer, reaching to the mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ (manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity).”
It would be wise to stop and ponder these Scriptures at this point with a willingness for the Lord to reveal to your heart what you might not have seen before and then take action. Rebellion in one area of life seriously affects your entire life. “What bliss you experience when your heart is pure! For then your eyes will open and see more and more of God.” Matthew 5:8 TPT
LIVING FOR ETERNITY
We only live once. This is not a dress rehearsal. There is a book in Heaven that has your name in it. It is filled with all the Lord has prepared in advance for you to do and accomplish. Psalm 139:16 NLT reads: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Father wrote a book about you! Yes, this was before you were born. Can you imagine that our lives were mapped out by God before we were born?
Revelation 3:5 indicates that Jesus Christ knows each name in the Book of Life, a book of remembrance. “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
We will all give an account to Him on judgment day when has asks us about this. So is that it? Are we to have a “check – did that” mentality as we do good works for our King? No. Rather, it’s all tied into the sweeping away by our King as we are His Bride. We are called to love Him above all else as our “First Love.” Yet works are fully tied into that. As we are personally communing with Him, intimate with Him, we will be propelled to take the Gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth as part of our undying love for Him. We’re all wired to see that happen and be part of it. That’s what He died for. We are to lead people into their betrothal to the King. That’s what we are all created for! If we don’t have that connection, that’s where we start. As we spend time with Him and get to know Him more, in His Presence, we long for our Bridegroom. We long to see Him, be with Him, to prepare for the big wedding as the Bride of Christ, and to receive the inheritance as a brand new age is ushered in. The fullness of the intimate connection will be realized. Everyone on the planet needs to know this and receive Him as Bridegroom King. Real love works this way. We are compelled to share this by telling others, leading them into this connection with God.
Revelation 19:7-10 states: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. ‘And He said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that, I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who holds the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”’
There are eternal consequences for those who reject following Christ as seen in Revelation 20:15: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Also, we are exhorted in Revelation 21:27 to soberly remember: “And nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” NASB. Also, in The Message Translation: “Nothing dirty or defiled will get into the City (Heaven), and no one who defiles or deceives. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will get in.” This is why our mission hearts need to be awakened! This is an urgent season as Jesus, our Bridegroom King is returning soon. We have a duty and calling to share this knowledge as seen in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” We must be baptized in the Holy Spirit and receive His baptism of Fire to effectively accomplish this mandate.
Most of us have had tough times in this world and the Lord knows what path we will each take. Jesus said that we will have adversity in our lives and tribulation, but the Lord provides the paths of escape and ways in which we can triumph as “overcomers.” We can certainly get detoured by wrong choices which seem to derail our lives. But nothing is impossible with God! Full repentance will get the ship back on course. Fear and regret will be eradicated, and hope will be restored. God is bigger than your circumstances.
If rough things have happened that were not due to our choices, does God author that? No, there is evil in the world. He does provide all we need to ultimately become triumphant, though. Surrendering to and following Him is the answer. My life has a trail of tsunami-like events. I’ve been radically changed. During the darkest moments, God was always there. He never left me and always held me up, but I had to obey Him with my whole heart to see Him as I saw Him. He revealed Himself to me in ways that I’ll never forget. He was my anchor then, during the varying years of trials, and still is today. He is so Mighty, so Kind, and so Faithful. When our hearts are fixed on Him, leading a repentant lifestyle will keep us moving forward as Hebrews 12:1 exhorts us to run the race with endurance and relentless perseverance, so we can finish our race well.
There is eternal life after we leave this earth, and we won’t be sitting around singing “Kumbaya.” We will meet our Bridegroom King, living and reigning with Him forever as His kingdom sons and daughters. In this life, we are to prepare to meet Him in eternity. I believe most people don’t bother to really follow Jesus because they don’t realize that our entire life is to be devoted to Jesus, preparing for the next life. This is kindergarten. Our faithfulness to Him now will not only impact our lives here and in eternity, but the lives of our families and all others we are called to influence in this world. If we have disregarded the moments with our spouses and children (if married), let this be a wake-up message. It’s time to rise and take our place now. Don’t waste another moment. Your legacy is at stake. This is your only opportunity.
The Message clearly lays out what we are to do to stay on course as seen in Hebrews 12:1-17: “Do you see what this means-all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running-and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it.
Because He never lost sight of where he was headed-that exhilarating finish in and with God-He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
In this all-out battle against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through-all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
‘My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child He loves that He disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects.’
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment. It’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!
Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well now how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessings-but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.”
There are many other articles to read (http://frontline-ministries.org/our-hearts/) that will encourage you to fully embrace “JESUS IS ESSENTIAL”. We’ve all read what the government thinks is essential. Let’s embrace the ESSENTIAL ONE and watch what happens with COVID-19, all the unrest, and every other situation we are facing. Living a supernatural life with Him will change all things. Wisdom to stand, fight, move, hold fast, bow low, love with abandon, and more can be found in these writings. Seize the moment and go after Jesus with everything you are. It’s essential.