Invited and Chosen

Preparing for a Banquet
Preparing for a Banquet (Photo credit: Rennett Stowe)

“Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out his slaves to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come. Again, he sent out other slaves, and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: Look, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the other seized his slaves, treated them outrageously and killed them. The king was enraged, so he sent out his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned down their city. Then he told his slaves, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’ So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.”—Matthew 22: 1-14

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” That verse has been coming to me a lot lately, since I wrote my previous post, Chosen. So I looked up the verse to see the context. The parable that precedes this verse really made me stop and think. The King (Yahweh) tells His slaves (believers) to tell the invited guests the feast was ready. The invited guests mistreated His slaves and ignored the invitation. The King sent his slaves out to invite everyone they could find for the wedding feast of His Son (Yeshua). And they did…both evil and good. (That’s our call to share the gospel with everyone…whether they listen or not.)

So, the guests arrived and the King came into the banquet and noticed a man that was not dressed in the proper attire. When He questioned the man, the man was “speechless”…without excuse. I wonder why the man came without the proper clothing. He knew he was going to a wedding…if he didn’t have the proper attire, I think he would have told that to the king…he didn’t have an excuse. Maybe he just thought he could go to the King on his own terms, and not the terms the King had set forth.

The invitation goes out to everyone (many are invited), after all, it is not the King’s will that any should perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But not everyone answers the call…and sometimes those that do accept the call aren’t willing to meet the King on His terms (few are chosen).

When the king threw the man into the outer darkness, it made me think of Yeshua’s words in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers.’

Are we willing answer the call and meet the King on His terms? Do we know Him? Does He know us?

A Tale of Two Houses

“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’ Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”—Matthew 7:13-27

I was thinking about the houses built on sand and on rock the other day, so I looked it up. I noticed that it started with the word therefore, which I have been told to back up and see what it is there for. I found it quite interesting how the verses fit together. One thing that really stuck out to me as I was reading and meditating on His Word is this: “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock.” “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” It clearly shows that there should be action involved…James 1:22-25 comes to mind. “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.”  If we take on the name of Yeshua, we are called to act like it, by keeping His commands, and walking as He walked (1 John 2:3-6).

Then I began thinking about the storm…”the rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded the house.” Is that the “storms of life”? That’s what I always thought, but I began to dig a little deeper and was led to Isaiah 28:16-17, “Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable. And I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the mason’s level. Hail will sweep away the false refuge, and water will flood your hiding place.”” And also, Ezekiel 13:10-13, “Since they have led My people astray saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, for when someone builds a wall they plaster it with whitewash, therefore, tell those who plaster it that it will fall. Torrential rain will come, and I will send hailstones plunging down, and a windstorm will be released. Now when the wall has fallen, will you not be asked, ‘Where is the coat of whitewash that you put on it?’ So this is what the Lord God says: I will release a windstorm in My wrath. Torrential rain will come in My anger, and hailstones will fall in destructive fury.” It sounds like the storm represents Yahweh’s judgment. And the person who hears and doesn’t act will not be able to stand in judgment; but the one who hears and acts on the Words of Yeshua will be able to withstand the time of judgment.

Now, about acting on the Words of Yeshua…”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”(John 1:1) “Yeshua is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God remains forever.” (Isaiah 40:8) “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18) When I look outside, I see the earth is still here…actually I found in the Word where the heaven and earth do pass away…hint…it’s not until the end…Revelation 21:1.

Here’s the point…”His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you.”—2 Peter 1:3-11

We have everything we need to pursue holiness. A paraphrase of something I read the other day…The cross is the beginning of our faith walk; not the place where we plant our chairs and remain until His return. Yeshua said, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24) We must make Yeshua our Lord, not just our Savior. Are we allowing Him be Lord of our lives? There is action required. Which foundation are we building our houses on? Are we sand dwellers or Rock dwellers?

Diminishing the Holiness of God

More and more I am seeing the holiness of the Most High God, Yahweh, being diminished in the eyes of people that profess to know Him. I am seeing and hearing things like you do not need to repent in order to be saved; and it doesn’t matter how we live our lives after we take on His name.

The Word of God clearly has something to say about these things. Let’s start with salvation and repentance. I’ve recently read, “We don’t need to preach about repentance. If we preach the goodness of God, people will repent.” There are some great men of God that had something to say about that.

 “They will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy law.” –Charles Spurgeon

 “Before I preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, law, and judgment.” –John Wesley

 While finding these quotes was quite interesting, I really wanted to know exactly what the Word of God itself had to say about the subject. So here goes…

 “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” –2 Chronicles 7:14

“The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.”—Proverbs 28:17

“If a wicked person turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live because of this.”—Ezekiel 33:19

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the Wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”—Matthew 3:1-2

“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!”—Luke 13:3 (Yeshua speaking)

“”Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”—Acts 2:38

“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent.” –Acts 17:30

“Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”—Romans 2:4

“Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.”—2 Corinthians 7:9-10

“For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance, though he sought it with tears.”—Hebrews 12:17

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”—James 4:8-10

“The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.”—2 Peter 3:9

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9

“As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent.”—Revelation 3:19

It seems that repentance is certainly a theme throughout scripture. There are many more verses where those came from. Read the word for yourselves!! While still on the subject of salvation without repentance…what seemed to come through in the article that I was reading was that we just need to believe Yeshua is the Son of God and we will be saved…which is true…in part. However, I have come to realize that the type of belief that is talked about is not just mental assent…after all even the demons believe Yeshua is the Son of God (James 2:19)…are they saved? Do all dogs go to heaven?

Now, how are we to live our lives after we take on the Name of Yeshua? Can we live any old way we want to? Well…we can…but should we? The bible has some clear commands and warnings about this.

Let’s start in Exodus 20:7…yeah you know, part of the big 10! “Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name.” I used to think that just meant cursing. But think about it…we have taken on His name. We represent Him…we are His ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20). If we represent Him…and others are supposed to be able to see Him through us…and we are not setting a Godly example…wouldn’t that be misusing His name? Misrepresenting our Savior?

Some “Christians” seem to think we have no duty or responsibility to set a Godly example and walk as Yeshua walked. However, a couple of verses sprang into my mind when I read that. In Luke 17:7-10, Yeshua is speaking to His apostles about being a slave and meeting our obligation. Verse 10 says, “In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, “We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.” Are we not slaves to Christ? (Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:24; 1 Peter 2:16). Another verse that came to me was Romans 12:1, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your reasonable service.”  Hmm…our reasonable service? What about working out our salvation with fear and trembling? (Philippians 2:12) What does God’s word have to say about trampling the blood of Yeshua? Hebrews 10:29 is quite clear. “How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” Clearly, we need to regard the blood of Yeshua as holy.

Now, before you get all up in arms, I am in no way implying that we are saved by the works that we do. We are saved because Yeshua has given us His righteousness. However, if we truly believe something…shouldn’t our actions line up with our beliefs? Here’s where our belief becomes more than the belief of the demons.

While we are on the subject of salvation, why did you want to be saved? Is it because you don’t want to go to hell? Is it your fire insurance card? Is it because you want God’s blessings? Or is it just maybe because He is the holy, just, and righteous God who sent His Son to die for us because He deserves the reward for His sacrifice…because He is worthy? Because He is holy?

 “For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this: “I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.”—Isaiah 57:15

 “Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created.”—Revelation 4:11

Ten Shekels and a Shirt

I listened to an amazing sermon today. What a timely message!

How Ten Shekels and a Shirt Came to be

By Paris Reidhead

 In over fifty years of Bible teaching and preaching “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” is the only message that I feel constrained to explain how it came to be preached.

During a Bethany Fellowship Summer Conference in the mid sixties I was preparing to speak at the Tuesday morning Bible hour. Upon returning to my room after breakfast to meditate and pray about the message for that morning hour, I felt strangely impressed that I could not deliver the message that had been prepared for the session. Instead, I felt that there was some other message that was needed which I was to bring.

After prayer, the message that came to mind was one which I had begun preparation for the ministry at the church in New York City of which I was pastor at that time. My notes were not with me, but were in a file folder in my study. An empty envelope was on the desk in my room, on the back of which I wrote the scripture texts to be used and one or two ideas that came to mind. With the envelope in my Bible marking Judges, Chapter 17, and my self utterly cast upon the Lord, I went to the auditorium where between four and five hundred people waited to hear from the Lord through me.

I remember praying, “This morning I am utterly cast upon You because I am not really prepared.” In my heart I seemed to hear His response, “Well is that so bad, already” (being from New York City it was given in a idiom I would understand.)

I delivered the message and gave an invitation. Shortly the altar across the front of the auditorium was filled with broken people seeking God.

The summer conference was soon over and I returned to New York City and the ministry there.

About ten years later, one of the Bethany Fellowship staff was in Washington, D.C., where we had moved and from where we still minister. His word was, “Paris, I want to tell you that God has repeatedly used your messages, but the exact message itself was preached only that once.

A week or two later Harry Conn from Rockford, Illinois was in Washington. He invited me to have dinner with him. In the course of the meal he said, “I buy that message of yours ‘Ten Shekels and a Shirt’ by the dozen to give people. God is really using it in lives.” My response was that if you have a copy, I would like to have it sent to me so that I can find out what it is I have said. In a few days the cassette arrived.

Since I don’t have a tape player in my office, I put the tape into the Sony dictating machine on my desk and listened through the little playback on the hand-held microphone. The element of distance in terms of time, and the distorted sound through the miniature speaker, let me listen to the message with no real awareness of who was speaking. From time to time I felt like exclaiming, “That’s right! I wish I had said that!”

Then it dawned on me that it was my voice, but God was speaking through me. I realized that on a Tuesday morning during a summer conference, God had been able to get His message across because of my utter and complete helplessness. Here it is, just as the Lord gave it.

Paris Reidhead                                                                    ©2013 Bible Teaching Ministries Inc.


Bible, Psalm 119
Bible, Psalm 119 (Photo credit: jason2917)

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;”—Deuteronomy 30:15-19

What freedom to realize that we don’t have to follow God’s commandment, we get to follow them! We have a choice. We are privileged to be able to follow God’s ways…his commandments, statutes, and judgments.

How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the Lord.
 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.
They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.
You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.
Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!
Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.
I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly! –Psalm 119:1-8

Spiritual growth comes through obedience to God’s ways…Hebrews 5:8-9 says, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”  Obeying God’s laws should be our delight (Psalm 1:2, Psalm 19: 7-11, Psalm 40:8, Psalm 119, Romans 7:22, 1 John 5:3). If we truly love God, we will keep His commandments, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” –1 John 2:3-6

We have choices…we will also bear the consequences of our choices…eternal choices and eternal consequences. Life…death; blessings…curses; good…evil.

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”—Joshua 24:15

The choice is ours.

Truth, Tradition, and Trespass

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” — Isaiah 29:13-14

 Have you ever questioned why you believe what you believe? Why you do the things you do for God? Why you follow certain rites, rituals, traditions, and celebrations? For me, this concept of questioning has taken me on quite the journey; not an easy one, but a necessary one. It has cost me…family, friends, comfort, and so much more. When I questioned and then allowed myself to be open to the fact that what I had had been taught in church might not be what the word of God says…my world turned upside down. Is it worth the cost? Absolutely…there is no turning back. In my questioning and my bible reading, and my prayer, and my researching I have discovered things in the modern church that are not supported by scripture; things like what day the Sabbath is on…I had always heard that it didn’t matter what day we choose, as long as we choose a day. Did you know the bible says in Genesis 2:3 that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. The funny thing is, I always assumed Sunday was the seventh day…however in researching I discovered that in fact Saturday is the seventh day (that’s why our calendar is the way it is!) Not only is Saturday the seventh day and therefore the Sabbath, but there are also certain things we should and should not do on the Sabbath that are very clearly outlined in Scripture. Who knew?!!!

And then there are the holidays that we celebrate…Christmas…Easter…all well meaning, but still steeped in pagan traditions that we have “Christianized”. And considering that God says in several places in scripture not to worship Him the way the pagans worship their gods…not to take on pagan practices…does this make it alright? Just because “that’s not what it means to me” comes from our lips doesn’t make it right…Isn’t it more important to consider what it means to God?

For years I blindly followed what everyone else in church was doing…until I came to the realization that blind faith is really no faith at all…what “god” was I following? The more I dig into His word, the more I realize what an amazing, awesome God I serve. 1 Chronicles 28:9 says “…serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, he will reject you forever.” When I came across that verse the other day, the words “willing mind” jumped out at me…we must be willing to do what He asks us to do, go where he tells us to go, be who He says we are to be.

As I was watching a video the other day, this quote from the Barna Group really hit home. “The problem of the Christian Church is not that people lack a complete set of beliefs; the problem is that they have a full slate of beliefs in mind, which they think are consistent with biblical teachings, and they are neither open to being proven wrong or learning new insights. It may well be that spiritual evaluation is so uncommon because people fear that the results might suggest the need for different growth strategies or for more aggressive engagement in the growth process. No matter what the underlying reason is, the bottom line among both the clergy and laity was indifference toward their acknowledged lack of evaluation.”

So the question is…Are we willing to sacrifice our man-made traditions and the things we’ve been taught in exchange for His truth…His ways? Or are we like the people in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” Or are we like the people in Mark 7:7-8, “But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

Ladies and gentlemen it is time to “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) It is time to, “Obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) It is time to, “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Here is a link to a blog that I think does a wonderful job explaining the origins of Christmas.

Belief and Trembling?

You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. (James 2:19) What makes us any different than the demons? As a matter of fact…even the demons who are destined to be tortured in Hell know enough to shudder at the belief in the Most High God. So, how do we know that our belief is a belief that leads to salvation? How are we different than the demons? How can we be saved from being burned in the fire of Hell? The “church” today paints a “wide gate” picture of salvation…that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will be saved. They believe that no matter what people do, if they believe in Jesus, they will go to Heaven…They pervert the Scripture of Romans  10:10, “For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Don’t the demons meet those requirements as well? We know from James 2:19 they believe. Don’t they confess that Jesus is Lord…Mark 5:7, “and shouting with a loud voice, he said , “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God, do not torment me!” So if this is what we are basing our salvation on…that gives us faith that is equal to that of the demons…who are still going to Hell…….so what is the difference?

Jeremiah 6:16 says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.'” Jesus Himself tells us what we must do to become his disciple, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14:26-35) Our belief…our faith must move us to obedience and action. We must be willing to forsake all and count the cost to become true disciples of, not just travelers with our Lord and Savior. Godly faith requires action…Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being of itself. (James 2:17) Jesus died to give us a faith that works obedience in us (Romans 1:5). True faith begins and ends with obedience…obedience to God’s commands, carrying out God’s commands through His power, the way He tells us to do them. We must be willing to submit to God’s righteousness and forsake man’s “religious” ways. In Matthew 7:21-27, Jesus is speaking to believers when he says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness.’ Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.” 

I know that I for one, do not want to be one whom the Son of the Most High God declares that He never knew me. I want to be “diligent to present myself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) I want to be “diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless”. (2 Peter 2:14) I want to “diligently keep the commandments of the Lord my God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded me.” (Deuteronomy 6:17). I want to “diligently take heed to myself to love the Lord my God.” (Joshua 23:11). My prayer for you is that you will find the saving kind of faith…greater than the faith of the demons…faith that changes you, faith that makes you obedient to God’s ways. Faith that doesn’t change you, doesn’t change your destination.

Camouflaged Christians

The Waterfall Frog (Litoria nannotis) of Austr...

Have you seen them? Shhh…..Look very carefully. They are there, very well-blended into their surroundings…into the world…so well camouflaged in fact that no one can tell the difference. They are the “Camouflaged Christians”. God’s Word gives several warnings against blending in with the world and taking on their practices. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” This verse sounds like the world, but how much of this do we see in the church today, among believers…among people that profess to know and love God? Proverbs 4:14 admonishes us, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. James 4:4 should wake us all up to the fact that we shouldn’t be blended into the world…”Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?” The world and God are on opposite ends of a continuum. Chances are, if the world is embracing something, it is not godly. We are called to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 19:2, 1 Peter 1:16). We, as believers in the Most High God, are not to allow so much of the world into us and our lives that we begin to look like, sound like, feel like the world. We are the salt and light…we are supposed to be different, peculiar, set apart. We are supposed to make the world want what we have…but how can we do that if we are no different than the world…what do we have left to offer? We are known by our fruits…

So, how do we live our lives and not blend in with the world? The short answer is read the bible and do what it says; fear God, love God, and obey His Law. Some specific verses that have spoken to me about not living in the way of the world are these:

Ephesians 5:8-18, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light, Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, says “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Knowing that this world is a temporary thing and that my citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), I keep my focus on what is before me. I strive to live this life as an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)…I represent Him…therefore I cannot take on the values of the world…I can’t blend in. Faith that does not change you doesn’t change your destination. We need to stop immersing ourselves in what the world values and pursuing its worldly pleasures. We need to get down to business and start living our faith. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). We need to pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). We need to find the small gate and the narrow way and walk it out (Matthew 7:14). We need to stand up and be the people God has called us to be…holy, set apart, abhorring evil and clinging to what is good…we need to uncamouflage ourselves from the world.

Quilt Analogy…The Power of a Yielded Life

As I was in the process of making a quilt for my grandson, a thought struck me…an analogy between quilting and our lives. In quilting, we take whole pieces of fabric and cut them up into pieces only to sew the pieces back together again. And, in the end, we end up with something more beautiful than when we started.

So it is with Yeshua and our lives. As we yield ourselves to Him and give Him the pieces of our lives, He stitches it back together into something amazingly beautiful. He gives us beauty for our ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness so that we may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3) Praise Yahveh!

One thing that I have realized as I have been walking out my salvation is that I need to be willing to yield. I need to be willing to let Him do the work in me. There is action involved on my part…Yahveh is a gentleman, He won’t force Himself into the places that I am still clinging to. I will be the first to admit it is not always easy to yield…but as I forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead and I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14)…it becomes easier and easier to yield to Yahveh…to allow Him to transform me through His power…His righteousness…His will.

I believe God is calling each believer to come out, be separate, be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16) As we yield our lives to Him, piece by piece, He transforms us into His image. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” That is what the world is looking for…something real…something different than what the world has to offer…something so powerful and so appealing…they can’t help but to want what we have. They don’t want to see hypocrisy. They don’t want to hear our mouths say one thing and see our actions do another. They need to see genuine faith in the One who has the power to heal broken lives, to change us from the inside out, to recreate our life pieces into something beautiful.