I awoke on a Saturday morning with an “urgency” upon my heart. To give you a little background information; I'm must first tell you that the prior month had been rather difficult, as the ministry was facing many challenges. It's at this time that the great deceiver tried to whisper in my ears; to make me believe that I truly was a failure and that the ministry had no impact. I have to admit that I felt somewhat beaten down, but the Lord would have none of this, and He began to speak to my heart.
The Lord filled my heart with joy as I heard the words; “Rejoice, Jesus Christ is coming!” These words began to fill my thoughts and soon were vocalized from my lips. A strong desire came over me to take this message and shout it to the world; which is exactly what I was able to do through the various platforms available to the ministry.
Throughout the day, the Lord began to give me the message that was to be delivered to our local congregation and broadcasted to the radio audience. As the Lord was teaching me; He reminded me of the lessons that I had learned over the past four weeks. He began to take the message and make it very easy to understand, through a simplistic analogy; that being the a “garden hose.” This is something that I will share with you in this section.
The following text contains excerpts of the message that I delivered to both the congregation and radio audience. I hope that you are blessed by this message as it truly was a blessing to me. I ask that you continue to pray about what you read in this book and allow the Spirit to guide you.
Who Will You Serve?
“Rejoice, Christ is coming!” These are the words that the Lord put on my heart that Saturday, and they are the words in which I used as I began to deliver His message. As I said these words, I was reminded that we are truly living in amazing times, in which this generation may be present during the coming of the Lord. The knowledge of that fact was something that greatly excited me. For we have been chosen to live in this present age. How wonderful is our God.
As I started the message, the Lord reminded me that this present time is most certainly a time of mercy. I say this because God is giving His people the opportunity to “be ready.” If you have even a basic understanding of this ministry, you have come to understand that the “be ready” message is something we share on a daily basis. The Lord has given us a vision of His heart for all those who are not understanding the signs of the time; because they are not under the ownership of Jesus Christ.
To further explain this “time of mercy;” it is one in which the Lord is giving all of us an opportunity to get right with our God. It's a time to get our homes in order and preach the Good News of Jesus Christ for all to hear. We have to live each day as if the Lord is coming. We are not to take anything for granted and live with the “tomorrow is another day” mentality. Now is the time to come under the lordship of Jesus Christ; for there is no tomorrow.
I want you to ask yourself the following two part question. Who are you going to serve? Is it God or Man? I ask that question, because we can't serve two masters and pretend to be obedient to one. Unfortunately, this is a characteristic or trait that seems to be dominant among “believers” in today's American church. What one seems to find are people who outwardly appear to be obedient while inwardly they are rebellious in their own hearts.
So what does God's word have to say about this rather disturbing trend in the church? God's word says; “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” - John 6:24
No man can serve two masters whose directions are directly contrary to one another. Such is the case for those who are serving God and the world. Jesus Christ overcame this fallen and sinful world. He came to the world to give us the perfect example of how we are to live our lives. Everything that Christ did was done after first taking it to the Father. He didn't confirm to this world or make a compromise to the flesh. To say that one can live for both is bold faced lie and unsanctioned by the Bible.
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by
the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation
unto all them that obey.
- Hebrews 5:8-9
As we continue on with this message, I have to say to your that I can't express enough the urgency that is upon my heart to “be ready.” Now is the time to take a stand and turn your life over to Jesus Christ. He is the blessed hope for all of us. It's never to late to get right with God. He desires to have an intimate relationship with you.
God is going to use everything He has available to get the message of hope; which is Jesus Christ, to every corner of the world. And that includes each and every one of you! So my question now is rather direct and straight forward, “Will you be that vessel of honour to be used by our Heavenly Father?”
2 Timothy 2:20-26
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil,who are taken captive by him at his will.
Now is the time to be like David and run towards your Goliath. We are not to run from this war but to be active participants who God will use to slay the giant. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is? Do you believe that the word of God is true and applies to your life? If you do, “how is your faith?” I say this because the wheat is being separated from the tare. And we will soon begin to see the great falling away; which consists of those who are not walking in the Spirit.
Impression versus Impact
How are we to live in these amazing times? A better question would be: “How should we as Christians be living our lives at this time?” I want you to first pray about those two questions before moving on in this section.
This message, like so many others, is one where I had to be put into the fire, and thrust into rather difficult situations. At first I didn't understand why this was happening, and misdirected my questioning towards the Lord. But as I would soon find out, the Lord was simply sharing with me a vision of His heart for those who say that they will follow Him, but failed to keep their promises. Those individuals stood before the Lord and make a commitment with their mouths, but not with their hearts.
The anguish that I feel is for the American church; whose failure to remain true to the word of God has contributed to the problems we are now facing in this nation. The Church is full of many talkers who may make an impression; but they don't make an impact. “Impression versus Impact;” there's a major difference.
Anyone can make an impression, as an impression appeals to a person's intellect or feelings. One's words, actions or deeds, when viewed by others, can cause fleshly feelings to be stirred up or passion born out of worldly knowledge to be inflamed. However, it must be noted that impressions are not long lasting. Although the experience may leave a vague remembrance, it generally is void of any long-lasting effect. And that is what we are seeing in today's churches.
As I look at the state of affairs regarding the church in America; I see a Church that has been heavily impacted by the world, rather than making an impact on it. Music, entertainment and world view appears to be shaping the messages from the pulpit and the worship from the people. This is a very dangerous and destructive means of feeding the people. Although there is some truth being “preached,” when mixed in with the lies, the message becomes a false gospel.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you,and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again,if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
- Galatians 1:6-9
The words of man may cause the peoples hands to raise in the air with shouts of “hallelujah” and “amen.” But the feelings that are experienced by the congregation are not out of a movement of the Holy Ghost. These experiences will have no effect and will soon fade away. Why? Because an impression based message is just an experience recognized by the flesh and it is truly void of the Spirit.
When I was a a young boy, I would go to church every Sunday with my parents and siblings. My parents were very faithful to this “practice,” as it was their obligation. At that time I was Catholic, and I didn't understand that precious relationship with Jesus. For me, He was just the man who I saw hanging on a cross behind the altar. Church was just something I had to do.
I can vividly remember the somewhat drama-filled scene from the church parking lot of my childhood. After the people had “praised” and “worshipped” God, they would curse one another as they struggled to leave packed the parking lot, in an effort to get quickly to their next destination. As a child, this greatly confused me. Only moments before I had seen those individuals holding hands with one another, but now their fists were shaking in anger. What I have come to understand was Sunday was an impression based ritual, and made no impact.
I did not shared this story to point a finger of conviction at any religious body or organization. Rather, I shared this memory as a to means of presenting a picture of the impression-based church; which seems to lack any power or authority in this present age. It's rather amazing that as a young child the impact the church made upon me was one rooted in division and hypocrisy, which was demonstrated through actions. Now is the time for each of us to address the various problems and issues that are destroying many church communities. And this problem needs to be first addressed at the pulpits.
Walk in the Spirit
Do you desire to be a vessel of “honour” for the Father's use; one that makes an IMPACT? If this is your desire, then it is essential to walk in the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit is to live in the Spirit, be led by Spirit, and be filled by the Spirit. Unfortunately, this is something that many, many people in the church are lacking. That brings me to the overall point of this message; that we must “walk in the Spirit.”
Walk in the Spirit is the language used by the apostle Paul in his writings to those Christians in Galatia. And thats where I would like to begin in this section, with specific focus on verses 16-18. However, before we begin studying those verses, I want to first explore verses 1-12. I have included the King James Version of those verses for you to read.
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
In verses 1 - 12 Paul begins by strongly urging or exhorting that we are to stand fast in the liberty of the Gospel; because it is Christ who has made us free from the bondage of this fallen world. In verse 1 Paul states, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” The liberty or freedom that he is talking about is meant for all Christians, for we are children of God and heirs to the inheritances from the Father (Romans 8:17). He then warns about entangling or yoking ourselves to the world, which is fallen. Paul's rather emphatic appeal to the Galatians is essentially a call to us all, to recognize the freedom that we have by God's grace. And this message is as relevant now as it was in the time of the Galatian church.
I would venture to guess that the majority of the church fails to heed the warnings and direction that Paul is exhorting in this message. As I read the verses in this section over and over again, I envisioned Paul speaking to us today. The very nature of his appeal to the Galatians is relevant in our current circumstances; as is all of God's Word. What he was expressing was the critical situation that they were facing; the freedom of God's grace or bondage of religion and its traditions.
Are we not facing a rather critical situation in this present day, as it relates to the American church? If we fail to live in God's grace, we shall fall victim to a religious system that is heavily influenced by the world, and that will essentially place us into bondage.
It is important that we meditate and pray on the words that Paul has put forth in his message. As we continue on in our study of this message, we find that the warning in verses 1 – 6 are meant for all of us. The “tough love” nature and tone that he used was to make the point that Christ is the Saviour ONLY to those who are surrendered and owned by Him, because He is the Lord of their lives.
True followers of Jesus Christ are led and taught by the Holy Spirit, with Jesus Christ being the glorious hope for their lives and the world. To be engaged in the religious traditions of man is not an option, as it is destructive to the faith. Rather, true Christians hold fast to the doctrine and the liberty of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not upon their own wisdom, understanding or ways.
As I read Paul's words, I take heed to the totality of the message. Christians are to live by faith as we wait for the glorious coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our hope is in Jesus Christ because He has overcome the world by His work on the rugged cross. He spilled His precious blood for us, to give us a future; that everlasting relationship with Him. He gave to us a new covenant, in which the law was put into our hearts by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; who shall teach us and guide us in these amazing times.
It is not by our works but by faith in Jesus that we are saved. It is not enough to call oneself a Christian, for professing who we are does not make it so. Starting with verse 7, Paul makes reference to the life of a Christian as being a race. In order to receive the prize, we must “run well” by living up to that which we profess, and this profession must not just be made by our lips but from our hearts. We are not to mix law with faith as a means to justification, or necessary for our salvation. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many “structured” religious denominations, who promote a doctrine of error, which causes those who 'follow' these practices to be led down a path to destruction.
It is only through Jesus Christ that we are made into a new man. And as such, we are to be fully surrendered to the Lord and desire to stand boldly for His word. Faith is then demonstrated by our unfailing love for God and our love for our fellow man. The love of Jesus within the believer shines brightly thru His faithful servants for all the world to see. Without faith working through love, the love of Jesus, it's just works and means nothing; it's useless because it has no power or authority.
In the New Testament, just as we see here in Paul's writings to the Galatians (verses 16-18), great significance is being place on the Spirit.
16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18: But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer is to provide us the help that we need. The Spirit teaches us, provides us with discernment and guides us in our daily lives. Romans 8:9 states, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Did you hear what was being said? We are not to live by the flesh or by the traditions of man. We are to rely upon the Lord because there is only one way, Jesus Christ. And Christ will be the Saviour only to those who call Him Lord.
We can't expect to have it both ways; living for the world and living for God. There's no neutral stance. Although, the world would have you to believe that there is neutrality, this is a lie. The Bible teaches us that we walk in either darkness or light. Acts 26:18 makes this point very clear as it states, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” We are either with God or against Him. Matthew 12:30 - “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” The life of a true Christian is transformed, not by any thing that we can do or have done, but by the working and power of the Holy Spirit.
In Galatians 3:2 Paul states: “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? How many of us, when we are in hard times, “run” back to the things we have learned from the world? I know that I have done this at times, and for that I repent to the Lord. What Paul is portraying here is that we are to hold on because the Spirit is working in us. We are being taught many valuable lessons, even in the times of struggle. There's always suffering for the message, for the testimony, and this is something I will discuss further in the coming chapters. Paul asks poses a very important question in this verse; “Are ye so foolish?” Only someone who is foolish would turn back to the world, for the answer always has been and always will be Jesus Christ.
We are to be led by the Spirit. And we are to live in the Spirit. In Galatians 5:25 we find these words: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Therefore, the Holy Spirit must be obeyed. The Holy Spirit reveals to the Christian the way that he or she must walk. 1 Corinthians 2:13- “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
How many “Christians” today are consumed by what man is saying or teaching, failing to understand the great teacher within? If you have ever gone into a Christian bookstore or watched any Christian television, you understand what I'm writing about. Unfortunately, when one looks to man before God, deceiving spirits are allowed to enter in (i.e. spirit of confusion, fear, oppression, etc.). A good example of this are those individuals who have become obsessed with the end times prophecy movement. No please don't misunderstand what I am trying to say. Is this movement relevant to warning the people? Yes. However, there is a danger with being overly entrenched in this movement. One danger is that this becomes one's focus, rather then the Lord. We must remain focused on Him at this time and have the beautiful relationship with Him; in fellowship and communion. I found that when individuals allow themselves to be captivated by this, they know more about the anti-christ then they do about Jesus. Priorities. That's what it is all about.
If you are one of those people whom I'm writing about, who know more about the anti-christ than about God, you are going in the wrong direction. If you find yourself sitting behind a computer late at night listening to doom and gloom, and then wake up with a new cause to fight, you are in the wrong direction. It must be understood that the Holy Spirit dwells within you, to guide you, and to GET YOU READY. John 14:26 - “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 16:13 - “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” Our life must be one in which the Spirit leads us. We are not to walk in the flesh, for doing so will result in works of the flesh, and lead us to a place of destruction.
To walk in the Spirit is to enjoy the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” That is walk of the Christian as taught by the Holy Spirit.
Finally, I want to finish Paul's message to Galatia by focusing on the last 3 verses of Galatians 5; because we need to hear this. “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Let me remind you that Christ is the Savior to those who are surrendered, who embrace the work He did on the cross, and seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We must walk in newness of life, not looking back to the old man, for the victory of the cross has washed away our sin. We are to be owned by the Lord and cease with the pursuits of a fleshly heart; which seeks earthly pleasures and pursues sinful ways. By seeking God and His righteousness, the fruits of the Spirit shall be revealed through God's creation.