2017 Occupy and Defend [Part One]

The Purpose / Why?
 
For over a year I have been speaking on and preparing you for some-thing. Even without knowing what that some-thing was, with each passing day my heart was overjoyed and there was increased expectancy that something amazing was on the Horizon.
 
As our theme throughout 2016 was “Arise, Let us Build,” I’m hoping that we all took the messages and used them as building blocks to firm up and support our faith and develop greater Godly character in us.
 
Now we have reached a point in our lives, history and the Kingdom of God where we turned the corner and see the opportunities before us that we must embrace.
 
It’s been said the “The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity.” This is true in your life as we are all presented with opportunities every day. What many people do not realize is that opportunities often come cloaked in challenges we face that God uses to establish our lives and instill fortitude in us that will cause us to go on when we feel we have no strength and fight when it appears that we have been beaten.
 
It’s how we view the challenges to those opportunities that determine whether we begin… and it’s what we do after we begin that determines how we are going to finish and what we will accomplish.
 
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m impressed to share for as long as it’s on my heart, the fact that it’s time for the people of God to “Occupy and Defend” the things that God has given us as promises. I often say, faith is great but I’m convinced that at some point our “Faith must become sight.”
 
Many of us have been in:
  • defense mode, refusing to allow the devil to steal what is rightfully ours
  • some have been under attack as we fought to regain our health, strength and healing… often suffering in silence
  • there have been many times when we had no idea of how we were going to get out of the mess we found ourselves in, but we would hear the Voice of God behind us saying, “This is the way, walk [live] in it.”
 
Now God has moved us to the offensive and we have been emboldened to stand and declare what is rightfully ours and go forward to establish what God said our lives are supposed to be like.
 
In doing so, we must establish these Truth’s the way God said and not forget what we are commanded to do in relating to others. God never intends for us to build our own lives at the expense of other people.
 
With this said, as we reviewed these things last year, never forget that our battle is not against flesh and blood… Ephesians 6
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
 
The dilemma in our lives often come when we know what the Bible says and do not have any intention to do it. We have a tendency to take the easy way out and if something is challenging or is going to require us to change or give up some of our time, our money or the comforts of life that we have gained over the years, we would rather “switch than fight.”
 
But God has raised you up with a “warrior’s spirit” and we now go into our Jericho and take everything that God said was ours, starting with our minds, our families, our health, our money and our city. We’re going to be more determined that we have ever been and will not stop, will not surrender and we will not fail!
 
Here in Ephesians 6 you see that no matter how someone acts, there is a force behind the action that is invisible. This force is referred to as principalities and power, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.
 
You cannot overcome evil with evil, and neither can you defeat the entity that is controlling your flesh through fleshly means. You must overcome these things in God’s prescribed way if you are going to have lasting victory.
 
And what I see here is the fact that these are offensive armaments of war that deal more with bringing the child of God into alignment with God’s Character and nature than it does fighting an unseen entity.
 
Once we are settled on the Lord and have a limited understanding of the power of His might, we are positioned to stand against all the power of the enemy.
 
  • We put on righteousness… doing what is right when you feel like it and when you don’t
  • We walk in the peace of God knowing that even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil… because God is with you
  • We take up the shield of faith that gives you confidence in whatever situation you find yourself… This faith is not of your own goodness, but the measure that God dealt to each of us… so we can’t brag about it like we are the authors of this great gift
  • We must renew our minds with the Word of God as a helmet knowing that we are to no longer walk according to the pattern of this world, but renew our minds with the Word of God. Romans 12: says: “1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” We must make the Word of God our very Life and give it the prominence that it is supposed to have as the Sword that the Spirit wields. When you do, you go from a natural being to one that has spiritual priorities.
  • we must be people OF prayer and not just people that pray as prayer is our lifeline to God and allows us to be in constant fellowship with Him.
  • Lastly, we must learn what real perseverance is. We must press on when the entire world is against us because we know it’s the right thing to do. Patient endurance is the order of the day. Learning what it means to go on because God said it is the greatest thing we can do.
 
In addition, we must control the words of our mouth as Revelations says that “We overcome satan by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony.” Revelation 12
10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
 
We must “speak in agreement with the Word of God and stand firm” despite what we see. A fearless confidence must be developed in our hearts that will not even have a fear of death.
 
The Bible does not change and being such, we should not change what we say because we have not seen the change that we thought we should see in the timing that we felt it should take place.
 
When we understand the principles of the Word of God we are better able to continue without wavering until the things we are trusting God for changes and we embrace what has been promised.
 
These are some of the things we have gone over during our time of Rising and Building throughout 2016. As I said, it is now time to Occupy and Defend.
 
When it comes to occupying something the first thing we must do is come out of our complacency and get moving.
 
God gives us the example of an ant that knows what it means to get moving and never settle. You will not build if you look at the wind, the clouds the snow and the rain. Like Christ, we must be about our Father’s business
 
Proverbs 6
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler,
8 Provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.
9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.
 
God does not promote laziness but calls His people to be involved with Kingdom business. Doing such, we will find that God will not be a debtor to anyone… He has the release of His promises in the forefront of His heart and mind.
 
Hebrews 6
10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
 
Why we are occupying is because we cannot be in a building mode and never occupy the structure that has been built. This structure is part of God’s spiritual Kingdom and as it’s built it will take on a natural shape and we will be the recipients of the things God promised our patriarchal fore-fathers.
 
Pursuing the Promises
This brings us to our occupying force. The first thing God does is takes us from one place and brings us to another.
 
We cannot gain new ground in our lives by staying in a mode of protection or remain stagnant without preparing our hearts and positioning our lives for things that are greater than we are.
 
Therefore, our occupying force is “Forward Motion.” To occupy means “to move into something; to inhabit; live or dwell.” You can’t get to this other place without making up your mind to move or allowing circumstance to cause you to be evicted from the place where you are.
 
Using the children of Israel as our example, the things God said to them are just as relevant in the hour we live in ourselves. God still operates through seasons and the wise person understands these seasons and either prepares for them or moves with them.
 
We have been in a season of preparation that seemed to last longer than any season you were ever in. However, the longer the season of preparation, the more lasting the harvest will be.
 
Some of us thought we would not get out of the season we were in while others have thought that the season they endured will be their lot in life throughout their existence in the earth.
 
But God says, “Not So!” He has determined the times and season… not the minutes and hours or the days and years. This season of preparation for those that endured the way God intended has ended and the release of God’s bounty has come upon your life.
 
It’s now time to “break Camp and move on!”
Deuteronomy 1 NLT
6 “When we were at Mount Sinai, the Lord our God said to us, ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. 7 It is time to break camp and move on. Go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all the neighboring regions—the Jordan Valley, the hill country, the western foothills, the Negev, and the coastal plain. Go to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, and all the way to the great Euphrates River. 8 Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.’”
 
In our example here, God gets His people out of their comfort zones and tells them to get moving. The NKJV translates verse 7 saying “it’s time to journey…”
 
The word “journey” in the Hebrew text has the basic meaning of “moving something out, pulling it out, taking it away; causing something to move out: It describes pulling up a tent in order to move on; of being stirred up by God.
 
For you to occupy a different area, your heart must be stirred up. You must be enthusiastic, motivated, encouraged and stimulated to do something different than you have been doing.
 
When your heart is stirred you resist complacency and laziness at all costs and find ways to “grow” in the things of God. God’s mandate to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” becomes the journey into the land you will occupy. The Gospel is always the primary motivation for us and when it is, it produces the blessings that God intends.
 
As verse 8 says, the purpose for your journey is so you can occupy what has been promised to our forefathers.
 
Again, you cannot occupy anything from a stationary position… you must move you must be in motion.
8 Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants
 
You have positioned yourself and now God is fulfilling His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through you. But you must Go in and occupy!
 
The NKJV translates this as “possess.” To possess or occupy something means, that “You take up space that was previously filled by someone or something else.” To do this, again you move from the place where you are to the place where God wants you to be.
 
There are many ways to occupy something as you can occupy a home, a job, position or place in the community, state or nation. It’s in this place of occupancy that you find that your voice is the strongest and loudest and you make the greatest impact on those who are around you.
 
Occupying is the place where your life changes for the better; it’s the place where you realize that there’s more to life than you have embraced; it’s the place where you declare that you will leave this world a better place than it was when you entered it; the place where you realize that your fight is not for you, but for your children and grandchildren.
 
 
Scripturally occupying means “inheriting possessions and relates to the idea of conquering a land.”
 
You must understand that when you occupy, you are blessed with the possessions of those that previously inhabited where you are going. Their salary, becomes yours; their home becomes yours; their possessions becomes yours.
 
These are not spoken from the perspective of coveting your neighbor’s property or anything, but you must understand, “God increases your capacity to receive and through that increased capacity you become aware that what someone else has, God has also released capacity in you to receive similar grace, favor, resource and possessions to advance the Kingdom of God and enhance your life if that is a desire.
 
We have allowed a religious mindset to dictate to us so long that we are not supposed to have that when we are blessed, we find ourselves making excuses for that increase. We discount our wants and desires without even waging war over the promises God made to us.
 
The Bible is clear that we are to “Delight ourselves also in the Lord and He shall give us the desires of our heart.” I understand that as we mature in the things of God, our desires become more Kingdom focused and therefore God releases those things in the earth as he gives us the desire to see things done or accomplished.
 
But your desires, if they are not selfish so you consume them on your lusts and they are not sinful, which will cause you to head down a path of possibly no return; are to be part of your life and lifestyle if you are will to go in and occupy.
 
There is another very important piece of this promise of occupancy that bears your consideration and attention.
 
When you look at all the people that went before us and all the mistakes they made, you draw the conclusion that “No one is good enough to receiver what God promised.”
 
The answer is that you are 100% right and God does not expect perfection from us, He expects obedience and maturity.
You must remember that verse 8 says that God “swore” to our forefathers. These are not forefather by blood… they are forefathers by Covenant and it’s within the structure of this Covenant that we see the promises released and the Covenant fulfilled.
 
This Covenant was so precious to God that He did not entrust fallible man with such amazing promises from an infallible God. So, God ratified the Covenant He made with Abraham by putting Him to sleep and passing through the sacrifices that Abraham prepared Himself.
 
In a bit of context, Hebrews 6 NLT
10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
13 For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: 14 “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.”
15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.
16 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie.
 
Verse 13 says in the NKJV, that “God SWORE BY HIMSELF!”
 
There are two things that will never be changed revealed here that will benefit us throughout our lifetime… Verse 18, God’s OATH and God’s PROMISE.
 
When God made a promise, the Tyndale dictionary states that a promise is: “A declaration by one person [in this case, God] to another [Abraham and his descendants] that something will or will not be done, giving the person to whom it is made the right to expect the performance of whatever has been specified.”
 
The oath is also very important as it is a “Solemn vow or promise to fulfill a pledge.”
 
The Truth that we must grasp is that God made promises to His people that He would bless them with land, livestock which was symbols of prosperity in their day and descendants through which He would be able to perpetuate His promise.
 
Not making idle promises, God swore with an “oath, vow or actually a “Covenant” that He will never go back on. God took this “Binding agreement” very seriously and has every intention of fulfilling it in our day.
 
Many people have stated that this Covenant was ratified under the Old Testament Law and Covenant. However, the Covenant God made with Abraham was more than that. It was a Covenant that was made before the “Law was given to Moses.” Therefore it was not subjected to the Old Testament moral, ceremonial and judicial aspects of the Law.
 
A similar agreement is the Covenant God made with the earth after the flood remains in effect through this day. God declared that He would not destroy the earth again by water, and although there have been floods, tsunami’s and great rain storms, they have not wiped the entirety of mankind off the earth. It is so!
 
This Covenantal Truth is the same for the Abrahamic Covenant that God ratified by Himself because He could find no one greater than Himself.
 
The reason these will never change is because [and we must never forget] that it is IMPOSSIBLE for God to lie!
 
The initial Agreement in Genesis 15 NKJV
15 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
7 Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”
8 And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?”
9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
 
This passing through the sacrifices of the smoking oven and burning torch was God who at that moment ratified the Covenant.
 
After this Covenant, God allowed His people to go under Egyptian bondage as he told Abram and delivered them with a “Strong Hand and Outstretched Arm.” He proceeded to give them the Ten Commandments that became their standard for holiness and righteous living.
 
Contained within these Commandments were an additional 677 Commands that they had to keep and if they broke one Law they were guilty of the entire Law. This is an impossibility by anyone’s standard.
 
Therefore, God had to ratify Abraham’s Covenant [Abrahamic Covenant] by Himself and God proceeded to send Christ into the earth and gave Him the Name “Jesus” for He would save His people from their sins.
 
What is revealed in Genesis 15:6 when it says Abraham “…believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” is brought out clearer as Romans chapter 4 goes into a bit greater detail.
 
With this explanation, we see God’s greater intent of Abraham being made righteous including those in our generation. Romans 4 NLT
16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.
18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
 
 
When we look at the faith that Abraham displayed before God, it was not that it was flawless. If it were, God would not have had to ratify the covenant we saw in Genesis 15 by Himself. 
 
What made Abraham’s faith unique was the fact that really did “believe God,” and it was that system of belief that he cultivated over time that God honored.
 
It is so with us as our faith is progressively getting stronger every day as we move with God and we allow Him to establish our lives on what He wrote in His Word.
 
Often as the people of God, we allow what has already been dealt with to keep us from believing what God promised us. We reason that before we got saved, we committed unforgivable acts of sin and after we got saved we messed up and have disqualified ourselves from receiving anything good that God says in His Word.
 
The Bible says, “My people perish [or are destroyed] for lack of knowledge” and this holds true when it comes to the principle of forgiveness of sins. 
 
First the lifestyle of sin was dealt with on Calvary and when Christ becomes our Savior and Lord, our soul is cleansed from the conscience of sin… but we must press into God through obedience to His Word, Prayer; and through fellowship with Him and His people.
 
When we get saved we cannot sit on our salvation and think that we will be able to pick and choose what part of God we will embrace. Our responsibility is to “believe God” and in doing so, adjust how we live in this earth so that He is pleased with us as He was with Abraham.
 
Secondly, after we get saved we commit acts of sin. We must never allow the guilt and condemnation of the devil for our past lifestyle of sin or recent act of sin to keep us from pressing into God.
 
God never condemns His people; the Holy Ghost “convicts us of sin” which leads us to repent and through that repentance, we go and sin no more.
 
What often blocks the people of God from embracing and realizing the blessings associated with our covenant is a wrong perception of what sin is and how God views it. Because of that they carry the weight of sin with them.
 
We must first know that after we receive Christ and our sins are forgiven that we then have the responsibility to deal with each sin we commit daily and deal with them in a Biblical manner.
 
As Chapter 1 verse 9 states,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
 
In the Old Testament, the sins committed by the people of God had to be brought to the priest once a year and the priests would kill an animal and make an “atonement” for their own sins and then the sins of the people.
 
Hebrews 10:3 says that those sacrifices were a reminder of the sins that the people committed.
3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
 
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness, however the price was paid by Christ “once and for all. Hebrews 9:22
22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
 
However, when Christ died on the cross, His death fulfilled the eternal mandate of a “blood sacrifice” and no longer do we have to shed blood but we look back at the blood that was shed. Hebrews 9
11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
 
This eternal Truth gives us access to the Father daily and keeps our minds free from the guilt associated with Law that serves to remind us that we are sinners. Some people have used the guilt associated with Law to serve as a reminder that we are all “sinners” and leave no room for the Grace of God to work in our lives.
 
The “Gospel” declares that we were sinners and have been saved by the grace of God and we are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We now live in accordance to the “person” that God said we are, not the sinner we used to be.
 
Our sins have been forgiven and we no longer have to be guilt-ridden because of what we used to do.
 
Paul knew this and didn’t use his past lifestyle to justify his actions. He knew that whatever he faced, he could overcome by the power of Christ that resides in him.
 
This is a Truth for us as well. We can overcome anything, if we will put God and His Word first. This means we do what God says, when He tells us and in the manner He tells us to do it.
 
We must be careful to not allow our perception of righteous living usurp the way God told us to live. We can make ourselves look righteous in our own eyes and justify our actions.
 
Proverbs 5
23 Death is the reward of an undisciplined life, your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.
 
Proverbs 14:12 Message Bible
12 There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell.
 
New Living Translation
12 There is a path before each person that seems right,
      but it ends in death.
 
The way the world lives is not always the way that is right. This is more evident as our perception of right and wrong drifts further from the Commands of God revealed in the Word of God.
 
As our nation loses sight of God the people begin to establish their own morality and justify actions that are anti-God and anti-Christ yet have the appearance of good.
 
However, God calls us to live and do things the way He wants. The challenge is that we lived in a manner that is contrary to God for so long that we have a hard time making the distinction between what is Biblically right and what the world has determined is right.
 
We get saved and have a sincere desire to follow the commands of God, yet our flesh wars against the Spirit and the Spirit wars against the flesh. It is only those that are submitted to Christ that will win the battle. This battle is only won by Christ’s power and faith in Christ.
Galatians 2 NKJV
17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
 
The main responsibility of the Believer is understanding that just because they are saved that all their decisions are not necessarily godly and all their thoughts [no matter how noble] do not come from God. Again, Proverbs 5:12 “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”
 
Knowledge of these things and obedience to the Word of God going forward, frees us to believe and receive the blessings that God said are ours without vacillating because of previous lifestyle or recent act of sin.
 
However, we must to be totally free we must do so from the perspective of having knowledge of the Word and applying it to our lives and not by an act of our will only. Any significant change must be done by adherence to the Word of the Lord and by anchoring our faith on what He said we are supposed to be and do.
 
In verse 18, you see Paul referring to his previous life of a Pharisee and the persecuting of “Jewish” Christians who chose to follow the mandate of grace through Christ, instead of continuing in the “letter” of the Law of Moses.
 
His mandate was to destroy the Believers’ and in doing so, he was met on the Road to Damascus by Christ… Saul. Saul, why do you persecute me?” Who are you Lord, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.”
 
By harassing and oppressing the Church, his intent was to as verse 18 says,
“destroy” what Christ said about His Church in Matthew 16:18, He was going to build and the “…gates of hell would not prevail against it.”
 
In verse 18 Paul said:
For if I build again those things which I destroyed [referencing the Law], I make myself a transgressor.  
 
If he chose to go back to the way he used to live after receiving the grace of God, Paul was [by those actions] making himself to be a transgressor of the very thing that he was trying to uphold.
 
This is brought out when he uses the word “make” which means “to show in your conduct.” He says, “By my conduct, I am a transgressor of the Law I am trying to uphold!
 
A transgressor is a “Law breaker, sinner, wrong doer and a criminal. In the Greek text, this transgressor is a “violator of the law; used regarding someone who disregards the Law and purposely turns from the truth.
 
The Law that Paul held dear to his heart and performed to the letter, was laid to rest in his heart as he was converted to Christianity and was no longer obligated to follow that “letter” of the Law.
 
However, the ‘spirit” of the Law [which was love and grace] while loving “the Lord His God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself” was now his purpose for following Christ, as ours is.
 
This concept and Truth has to do with how we see our relationship with Christ today. Without realizing it, we knew right from wrong before we read what right and wrong was in the Bible. That was the Law written on our hearts.
 
That very Law revealed what it was designed to. It revealed to our hearts that our “acts of sin, our disobedience and our rebellion towards God” was wrong, but didn’t tell us how we could get out. It convicted us of sin and to deaden the voice, we committed more acts of sin. We drank more, did more drugs, lied, cheated, stole and caroused more and more. But instead of relieving the conviction of God, it magnified it.
 
We needed someone to share the Word of God with us, to bring light in those dark areas and free us from that sinful nature through the power of the Spirit.
 
This happened when we got Born Again and was freed from the Law that was keeping us bound. We entered a “Covenant of Grace” that deals with the Spirit of the Law not the letter of the Law.
 
The love we have for God because He freed us from sin and its consequences causes us to live in a way that pleases Him and we reciprocate His love by obeying His Word.
 
Therefore, Paul says he “…died to the Law.” Verse 19, “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.”
 
When Paul says “he died to the Law,” it means “he ceased to have any relation to it, so it has no control over him.” It is Law as legalistic statutes that he died to.
 
This one Truth freed him to be and do everything God called him to. He no longer had to feel sorry or unworthy because he messed up before. Having this same mentality sets us up to be blessed by God in the manner God said we can be.
 
Faith in Christ was the way Paul broke away from the Law. This same principle of faith in Christ, gets us free and keeps us free.
 
The Lord Jesus lived under the Law; fully obeyed that Law; and He took on the guilt and penalty that we should have suffered when we lived in disobedience to the Law.
 
Then Jesus died under the Law, satisfying its requirements. No other created being could have done this as they had a sinful nature.
 
By faith in Christ, Paul passed from the place where Law had control over Him to where he “lived by faith” in what Jesus did FOR him. Because of this, he understood why “The just shall live by faith.”
 
In the same way, we are identified with Christ in His Atoning Death and Resurrection, and have passed from the control of Law. The Law’s demands were satisfied by Jesus and therefore have no hold on us. This one fact positions us to be blessed in the manner God said we are to be blessed.
 
Like Paul, we associate our new life “with Christ” and we view our old life as having been “crucified with Christ.”
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
 
Being crucified with Christ means we die to our own self. The selfish desires of our flesh and the nature of sin was crucified when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. This is the one thing the enemy tries to bring up time and again.
 
The old person is gone for good… even if I make a mistake and commit an act of sin. When Paul died with Christ, it was the Pharisee Saul who died. What he was and did up to that time no longer affected him as it was viewed as having “passed away.”
 
As far as he was concerned Saul died, was buried along with the old life he lived and then he was resurrected in newness of life. The dominating control of the Adamic nature had its power over him broken once and for all. However, being in ignorance to this causes us to live under guilt and condemnation that God never intended.
 
That guilt causes us to develop a mentality that fosters unworthiness and a sense that we don’t deserve what God said we deserve. This mentality must be dealt with, defeated and our hearts must be open to God’s greater plan of grace and blessing instead of law and curses.
 
Although he was crucified with Christ, he said, “Nevertheless, I live.” And he continues, “Yet I’m not the one that’s living, but Christ now lives in me.” Saul the self-righteous Pharisee, died, but Paul the great apostle, lived. It is no longer a self-centered life that he lived, but a Christ-centered one.
 
His new life is a Person - the Lord Jesus - living in a person - Paul. And through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the life, character and nature of the Lord Jesus is manifested in his life.
 
In the same manner, our new life is not a doing, but a Being. It is The Christ living His life through us that is to control us through His Word.
 
The new life is no longer like the former one, depending on the weak efforts of man attempting to draw near to God in his own righteousness. The new life is “a Person [Christ] within a person [me], living out His Life in that person.” Kenneth Wuest
 
First John 2 reveals God’s greater intent in Christ dying on Calvary’s Cross.
Message Bible:
2 When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s.
 
New Living Translation:
He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
 
Living by Covenant
 
Embracing the promises of God there are three things that we must understand and put into practice if we are going to see the promises through to fulfillment.
 
These three things are in addition to the Biblical precepts of having faith and patience, but includes both.
 
  • You must first know what the promises are as I said so many times. Here the Bible is clear in revealing many more promises than financial and health reward’s. You must be a student of the Word and search out what is yours because without knowledge of what they are it’s like having someone give you a million dollars but you don’t know it’s in the bank and all you have to do is sign.
  • You must know why you are a recipient of those promises. You must know it’s because of your association with Christ and because of the Covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  • Then there are two “how’s” that you must know.
    • You must know how to access your Heavenly Bank account so you can live the abundant life Jesus came to give you.
    • You must know “how” these things were secured for you so you were positioned for the blessings of God. I believe that it’s because of a lack of knowledge in this area that many Believer’s give up before the full promise is manifested.
 
In Occupying and Defending, these are the things we have been and will be explaining so they can be a reality in your life.
 
How these things were secured for us is what I have been sharing over the past few weeks. How Jesus secured these things and gained back what Adam turned over to satan in the Garden of Eden and restored humanity back to the position of “ruler” as God initially intended.
 
It is vital for us to understand that Jesus didn’t “just” die on a cross as a historic event, but in that death, “He was our substitutionary sacrifice as an Eternal fact!” He died in our place by “becoming” the very essence of sin so we could exchange our unrighteous life for the life He lived in an impeccable manner.
 
The Bible says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5:21, NKJV
 
Jesus the Christ, Who never committed an act of sin in his entire 33 years in the earth, became my sin so I can be right in the eyes of God.
 
Hebrews 4 NLT states:
15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
 
The New Testament sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the “sinless” Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, makes the Covenant of Grace superior to the Old Testament Covenant of Blood that was imbedded in an unfulfilled Law, until Jesus Christ came into the earth to fulfill it. He stated:
 
Matthew 5: 17 
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
 
As Jesus fulfilled the Law, He didn’t make it null and void. He “satisfied, justified, accomplished and achieved” in His Own Body, what the sacrifice of animals could never do.
 
By accepting His atoning sacrifice by faith, as New Testament Believers, we can live as if we never sinned ourselves because the Blood that He presented before the Father was done once and for all.
 
Christ came to fulfill what the Old Covenant of Blood could not do. Because of that, we no longer have to present blood to appease our own conscience or cover our sins in approaching the Father. By placing faith in The Blood He presented before the Father, the reality of that one act of Blood Sacrifice keeps us free in our minds.
 
This gives us the ability to live without a guilty conscience. If we have a guilty conscience, it’s difficult to believe God because we are faced with thoughts of inadequacy and unworthiness. Hebrews 9
12 With His Own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity.
14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the Living God…
15 …For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
 
The penalty of unrepented sin is eternal separation from God. And “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
 
Not realizing it, we were getting paid little by little, what our actions deserved. That wage [or our pay] was the “pleasure we got from committing that sin” of which God said that Moses chose to turn his back on.
Hebrews 11: King James Version
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
 
If God had not saved us, when we put in enough time [as it were] we would have eventually gotten paid for, or received our wages for what those actions deserved which would have been eternal death or eternal separation from God.
 
However, for you and me our Covenant does not have the sin factor attached as it has been dealt with. Our issue is walking in righteousness like it was with Abraham in genesis 15:6.
 
As the children of Israel were given a Covenant by Moses with rules and regulations that required a sacrifice of the blood of bulls, goats and animals, they could never be free from sin. This is referred to as a “Covenant of Blood” or Blood Covenant because the Blood was sacrificed every year and served as a reminder of the sins they committed.
 
However, our New Testament Covenant is a “Covenant of Grace” that was ratified in the Blood Jesus shed on Calvary’s cross. He offered His Blood “once and for all” so we could be free from the guilt and shame of a lifestyle of sin and have our hearts settled on the eternity of life to be spent with Him and the Father.
 
The Covenant of Blood that had to offered time and again, reminded us of           our sin. The Covenant of Grace removes the sin from our lives even though we may at times commit an act of sin.
 
The Covenant of Grace also has the power to keep us in right standing with God if our hearts are quick to repent and we “Go and sin no more.”`
 
 
 
The question may be asked, “Why has Pastor spent so much time on this one topic of sin, when all I want is to ‘possess’ the promises of God for me that the Scriptures speak of?”
 
Although for the New Testament Believer, “sin of itself does not necessarily separate us from God because of our relationship with Him through Christ, it does open the door for the enemy of our souls to block what God has promised and desires to bless us with.”
 
Living in sin that is unrepented of without any regard for the Lord of the entire Universe, nullifies the promises. Living a life that agrees with the Bible aligns us with what God said. It therefore positions us for the blessing. Although the enemy cannot “curse’ what God has blessed, living in disobedience causes us to live below what God desires.
 
Looking at this principle, in the Book of Numbers chapter 23, we have where a wicked king tried to get the prophet to curse the people of God. The king offered him money to do so as we will see, however the purposes of God shall stand for His people.
 
A pre-cursor to this encounter was the time when the prophets donkey spoke to him because he saw an angel standing before them with his sword drawn and refused to move even though the prophet was beating him.
Numbers 22 NLT
31 Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him.
32 “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the LORD demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. 33 Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.”
34 Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.”
 
From this encounter, the prophet Balaam, was given orders to go and speak with the king, but only say what God told him to say.
 
The intention of the king remained in which he proceeded to have the prophet curse God’s people.
 
But like the children of Israel in the Old Testament, we are God’s people in our day and age and what others have tried to use to bring curses, God has no intention of relinquishing His blessing your life to the whim of people without a covenant with Him.
 
You must understand that God does not intend to relinquish the blessing He promised to our forefathers to give us; we forfeit them by open disobedience to what the Bible says and purposefully living in sin.
 
With this said, being under God’s Covenant of Grace, you are positioned to be blessed even though the intention of others is to curse you.
 
They may have said you will not make it; use negatives in place of positives; and possibly use outright spells, incantations and curses to try to put or keep you in bondage to the things that God said are yours. But we must be firmly planted on God’s Word and allow the faith God gave us to usurp the contrary negatives that the world may use to curse us.
 
Numbers 23 NLT
5 The LORD gave Balaam a message for King Balak. Then He said, “Go back to Balak and give him My message.”
6 So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. 7 This was the message Balaam delivered: “Balak summoned me to come from Aram; the king of Moab brought me from the eastern hills. ‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me! Come and announce Israel’s doom.’
But how can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I condemn those whom the LORD has not condemned?
 
11 Then King Balak demanded of Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies. Instead, you have blessed them!”
12 But Balaam replied, “I will speak only the message that the LORD puts in my mouth.”
13 Then King Balak told him, “Come with me to another place. There you will see another part of the nation of Israel, but not all of them. Curse at least that many!”
14 So Balak took Balaam to the plateau of Zophim on Pisgah Peak. He built seven altars there and offered a young bull and a ram on each altar.
15 Then Balaam said to the king, “Stand here by your burnt offerings while I go over there to meet the LORD.”
16 And the LORD met Balaam and gave him a message. Then He said, “Go back to Balak and give him My message.”
17 So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. “What did the LORD say?” Balak asked eagerly.
18 This was the message Balaam delivered: “Rise up, Balak, and listen!
Hear me, son of Zippor. 19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
20 Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
21 No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob; no trouble is in store for Israel. For the LORD their God is with them; He has been proclaimed their King.
22 God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox.
23 No curse can touch Jacob; no magic has any power against Israel. For now it will be said of Jacob, ‘What wonders God has done for Israel!’
24 These people rise up like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself. They refuse to rest until they have feasted on prey, drinking the blood of the slaughtered!”
25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Fine, but if you won’t curse them, at least don’t bless them!”
26 But Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you that I can do only what the LORD tells me?”
 
The blessing that God has reserved for you, has not been recalled. It shall stand and as God gave the command for you to be blessed in the Scriptures, you shall receive what the Father has declared.
 
 
REVERSING THE CURSE
You must realize that as much as people may like you, there are some that may speak curses over your life. However, in the midst of that God will still bless you and reverse the curse the enemy intends to destroy you and your family with.
 
There are two things that are evident here. 1] The king wanted the people to be cursed, but 2] God pronounced a blessing on their lives.
 
To be cursed in a Biblical sense does not mean that people used profanity or as we say, a swear word.
 
In ancient times [and some people still practice this type of witchcraft today whereas] “They invoke the ‘spirits of man-made gods’ to cause harm and calamity in someone’s life.”
 
In our Covenant, there are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience which we will see before we’re done with this series. However, the curse attached to dis-obedience is not being invoked by someone that means to do you harm.
 
Under the Old Covenant, God pronounced the curse to ensure that His purposes prevail and that righteous judgment occurs. God is God of Grace, peace, love and righteousness; but He’s also the God Who judges fairly, equitably and without partiality.
 
Most often we discount the importance of the part that we play in receiving God’s greatest blessings. Instead we deem it sufficient to pray and confess something without any changes to how we live and serve God. Avoiding the curses that God tells us is just as important as expecting the blessings.
 
However, when men curse you, your Covenant with God undermines any human or demonic curse the enemy intends to use to destroy you.
 
A curse that is made against you cannot stand unless
  • you fear the person making the curse
  • believe the deity whose name the curse is given in has more power than God
  • in ignorance, you don’t realize that the curse has no power over you
  • You live in open disobedience to God’s Commands to you
 
God assures us that unless we position ourselves to receive His blessing through obedience to His Word, we may open ourselves up to be cursed instead of being blessed.
 
If you are doing what you are commanded by God to do, you must come under the blessing of God in your life. Yet this is something that you will most likely have to fight for.
 
Proverbs 26:2 NLT
2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.
Message Bible Translation
2 You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow.
 
If God curses someone, that curse is deserved because it is the result of something that was done in disobedience to what He said. However, if we are cursed because we are following God and desire to please Him, “that curse cannot stand.”
 
The question I pose to you is, “If you are not cursed, then what are you? BLESSED!” This is the position that we are to live our Christian lives from. However, as we see in Proverbs the curse can come because of what we allow into our lives.
 
To reverse a curse that has plagued your life and your family line, you must know how God operates. This is where you must know God’s “ways” and not live to see what He does. This is the beginning of our fight. After decades and centuries of familial bondage to sin, we cannot assume that we can say a prayer, half-heartedly follow God and everything is going to fall into place. The fight has just begun when we know God’s ways.
 
The mistake of the children of Israel as God delivered them out of Egyptian bondage was they held onto the old way of thinking and living.
 
Hebrews 3 [Message Bible]
7 That’s why the Holy Spirit says, today, please listen; 8 don’t turn a deaf ear as in “the bitter uprising,” that time of wilderness testing!
9 Even though they watched me at work for forty years, your ancestors refused to let me do it my way; over and over they tried my patience.
10 And I was provoked, oh, so provoked! I said, “They’ll never keep their minds on God; they refuse to walk down my road.”
11 Exasperated [infuriated, annoyed], I vowed, “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.”
12 So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God.
13 For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. 14 If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul. These words keep ringing in our ears: Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.
 
When we become children of God, “we must change the way we think; we must change the way we live; we must change the way we talk.” Change is never change because you “want” to change. It is only change when through the process of time, we repeatedly do what is right and necessary. Change is not change until we are changed!
 
You can’t do this through religious means. One of the problems with Israel was they reduced God to what they wanted Him to be.
  • They sacrificed what they wanted to sacrifice [even their children]
  • worshiped what they wanted to worship [the golden calf]
  • and they prayed to who they wanted to pray to [even the sex goddess]
 
The problem they had is “They forsook the Commands of God for the praises of men” and this caused them to veer off course and on a path of destruction… while still having a religious façade or a religious look to what they did. Therefore, there must be a constant “conscious” cultivation of your relationship with God.
 
As I always say, there MUST be a priority placed 1] on the “application of what’s written in the Scriptures; 2] your prayer life must grow to where you “pray without ceasing;” and your fellowship with other Christians is just as important as the previous two.
 
You MUST pray, you MUST read and you MUST fellowship with others. You MUST not forsake the assembly of yourselves with other Believer’s as the habit of some Christians are.
 
You MUST have a passion for the House of the Lord. As the Bible says:
  • I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord
  • I would rather be a door keeper in God’s House than dwell in the tents of iniquity
  • And as prophesied about Christ, “The zeal for my Father’s House has consumed me.”
 
You must never forget that “If God is not first, then something less important to you reaching your desired goal has usurped His Authority in your life.” Either God is in control or He’s not… there’s no middle ground.
As Hebrews 3 said:
9 Even though they watched me at work for forty years, your ancestors refused to let me do it my way; over and over they tried my patience.
10 And I was provoked, oh, so provoked! I said, “They’ll never keep their minds on God; they refuse to walk down my road.”
 
We go through many things because we allow the mindset of the past, the experiences we went through and the negative family behaviors to continue without confronting and destroying them.
 
Because of our attachment to our family history, we tend to think that we are going to experience the blessing of God because our close relatives did the same thing and they turned out okay. As a matter of fact, they may have lived totally contrary to Biblical precepts and were successful with a nice home, nice car, mate, family, health and job. They must be doing something right.
 
However, the Scriptures are clear stating that all prosperity is not “blessed” by God. Malachi 3
13 “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the Lord, yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’
14 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts?
15 So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up; they even tempt God and go free.’ 
 
This caution is for those that have obeyed God in bringing their tithes and offerings into the House of the Lord. It’s easy to look at others that are seemingly prospering and think they have it better without giving God anything or giving Him a minimal amount and not even giving it another thought.
 
As we read in the Book of Numbers chapter 23, God is not a man that He should lie, neither a man that He should repent. Has He not declared it and will He not bring it to pass?
 
18 This was the message Balaam delivered: “Rise up, Balak, and listen!
Hear me, son of Zippor. 19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
20 Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
 
What did God say specifically to us? We must know it and never forget it. Malachi 3
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the LORD of hosts;
12 And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts.
 
You have obeyed what God said in this area and He is going to ensure that His promise to you becomes a reality. Don’t give up when the promised blessing is at hand. You just don’t know when it will come or where it will come from… But God promised that it will come!
 
This command of God was never intended to only be an Old Testament principle as it separates us from the love of the things in the earth and allows us to remain focused on where our blessings come from… God Himself.
 
Jesus warned the hypocrites and religious leaders of the Law in His day to be an example of wholehearted devotion to God when He said in Matthew chapter 23
23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
 
The teaching is living a balanced life and ensuring that God’s purposes prevail in our daily decisions.
 
We must never have a mindset that believes that “natural possessions or prosperity is God’s greatest sign of approval and blessing.” The Bible is clear revealing how we are to live and how we are to view others that may appear to be more blessed than we are.
 
There are some people that do not follow God and has earthly riches, but their hearts are far from Him. They are not our example… God is!
 
Your time will come and you will have everything you need and more. But you cannot operate as the world does and expect God’s eternal blessing to replace temporal blessings that were gained through deception and dishonesty or even natural earthly means.
 
There is earthly wisdom that will produce results that are based on “principles of increase” whereas when they are applied, they will bear fruit for your life. But this does not mean that God has done it.
 
Psalm 37 NKJV
1 Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.
6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret [worry, fuss or agonize] because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
 
The New Living Translation says:
7 Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.  Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.
9 For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.
 
The focus of our hearts, remain the gauge that God uses to bless and keep His people even during times of trouble.
 
 
The purposes of God are realized when we determine to do things God’s way. When we understand that we make our plans, but God’s purposes have the pre-eminence, these purposes make our plans much better.
 
Where many Believer’s miss this is they put a stranglehold on what they want and allow no room for God. Because they are regimented in their approach to life, living and the Word of God, the leading of God cannot happen as He wants. Proverbs 19 NIV
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
Message Bible
21 We humans keep brainstorming options and plan, but GOD’s purpose prevails.
 
In submitting our plans to the purposes of God for our life, we must find the balance as the Bible is clear in stating we are to have plans.
 
Proverbs 15:22 NLT
Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.
Message Bible
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
 
Balance is key to getting the most out of your life. And the greatest balance we can have is what God reveals in His Word and whole-heartedly following it.
 
This was true with the people of God as they had to follow God’s commands and do things God’s way. They could not do their own thing and declare that the possessions they had were blessed and from God.
  • Achan found this out as he kept back the things that were supposed to be devoted to God in their conquest of Jericho in the Book of Joshua.
  • The children of Israel found this out as they took the gold they received from Egypt and built a golden calf in the Book of Exodus.
  • Cain found this out when he became angry because his offering was not accepted by God but his brother Abel’s was, in the Book of Genesis
 
This is also true in our generation. Like the Psalmist we must have one focus and not allow anything or anyone get us off track, even those closest to us.
 
Psalm 27
4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.
5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
 
This ONE THING [to dwell in the House of the Lord] becomes the focus of our hearts and the motivator for us obeying everything God said to us.
 
Remaining focused means, we must turn away from everything else that is a distraction. Some things that are obvious distractions, but others are less apparent. In living to please God, it’s not so much that we turn from something, but we must turn to the right thing in our case the right Person… Jesus.
 
Hebrews 12 [Amplified Bible]
Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,
2 Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
 
The Subtlety of the Curse
 
Without realizing it, we often allow curses to continue or invite curses into our lives and family lines by thinking there’s nothing wrong with a “little” sin or a little disobedience… God knows my heart is what we often reason. Yet if we really understood the heart we would place more emphasis on obeying God’s Word than we would relying on our heart.
 
Jeremiah 17 tells us the human heart is deceitfully wicked…
9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
 
We often justify our actions by following what we feel in our heart. But being deceitful, our hearts cannot be fully trusted.
 
Not realizing this fact some of us have invited hurt, pain and calamity that could have been avoided. We must choose to live by the Word of God no matter how much we mature in the things of God. The Word has the preeminence and you will always be safe when you rest in the Word.
 
I’ve found that one mindset many people have does not produce the greatest results for them. They have subconsciously reasoned that they have been saved a long time and try to live based on what they “learned.” They do not realize that the longer they are saved, the more they must rely on God and His Word. This is why we guard what we let into it.
 
Proverbs 4:23
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
 
A little sin is a whole sin; like a little disobedience is still disobedience and a little lie is a whole lie. We must get rid of our excuses so we can have a clear conscience and not allow anything to undermine the exercising of our faith in God for the manifested blessing.
 
Something that is subtle is less obvious to us often because we have become familiar with it.
 
We can do some things for so long that we see nothing wrong with it. We can justify our words, thoughts and actions and make excuses for un-godly character and behavior because we are comfortable being “who we were” instead of learning who we are supposed to be.
 
Neglecting to mature in the things of God while having the intention of following God causes the blessings to be elusive. We don’t realize that we have opened our lives to come under the curse while going to church, praying and singing.
 
This does not mean that you have gone to the “dark side” and there’s no way you will ever come back. I’m saying that the deception of the devil is to make us think we are being blessed while we are operating outside of God’s will for us.
 
Because we have the “material” benefits of our nation we reason that I’m living and doing better than many of my counterparts. The reality that we must come to grips with is that our possessions and lot in life does not define what we are spiritually. Luke 12 NKJV
15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
 
The Message Bible
15 Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”
 
You will not possess or “occupy” what God has for you if you hold onto what you have gained while you go through this earth or by worldly means.
 
You Must Settle What Truth Is
Paul’s admonition to the Church in Galatia which we will see later, becomes the starting point for us aligning our lives with New Testament Truth. The thing about Truth is it always “Challenges our perception of what truth is.”
 
This is a Truth that most people never come to grips with. Because they don’t, they hold to their previous thought patterns whereas God is trying to get them to embrace “His” thought patterns.
 
When the light of “God’s Truth” comes, even the “facts” that we have relied on fights against the Truth. Our intelligence is challenged; our education is challenged; our social behaviors are challenged; our political views are challenged; and our very existence is challenged.
 
In John 17, Jesus lets us see “what” Truth is and He sets the standard for all “facts” that challenges God’s Truth.
 
As He was praying for His followers in this chapter, He identifies what Truth is and does not try to explain how or why He came at this conclusion.
17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
 
Unless you approach the Word of the Lord as Truth, it will always be subjected to the facts of life. Therefore, the Bible tells us “we walk by faith and not by sight.” We walk by what God said and not by what we see as being right or something that’s factual and the world perceives as truth.
 
Jesus did not say that the Word of God is “a” truth, meaning there are others out there; He said definitively that the Father’s Word IS TRUTH. The “Bible,” being God’s Word is the Truth Jesus is referring to.
 
This Truth is also Personified, where as it is a Person. When we approach the Word of the Lord, we have two portions… the written Word [Logos] and the revealed Word, [Rhema].
 
The written Word is what you have in your hand, on your phone or your tablet, referred to as the Bible. The Revealed Word is what is placed in your heart and becomes “revelation” to you. This is the Word that is “…alive, active and sharper than any two-edged sword.”
 
You need both, fellowship with The Person Who reveals the Word and the written Word if you are going to know and continue in the Truth.
John 14
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
 
John 8 NKJV
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in [continue or hold] My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Message Bible
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. 32       Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”
 
What makes both vital to you understanding and walking in Truth is that neither will change. Jesus Christ, the Person, being God does not change
 
Malachi 3:6
“For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
 
Hebrews 6 reveals that the Word that God gave us also is steadfast.
Message Bible
18 God can’t break His Word. And because His Word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable.
 
God cannot be separated from what He says. He is unchanging, His Word is unchanging and therefore His Truth is also unchanging.
 
However, for something to be truth, it must be from a “source” that identifies what Truth is and supports that Truth with actions that can be depended on.
 
A simple fact that has challenged God’s Truth over the years is “Darwin’s theory of evolution.” It’s a fact that this is a concept that is taught in school, but to determine whether that fact is “Truth” it must be supported by the Word of God.
 
Jesus said, “Your Word is Truth” and God’s Word states that we were made from the dust of the ground and that God “created man in His own image, in the image of God Created He them, male and female.”
 
Genesis 2
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
 
21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
 
As a Christian, this Truth settles the fact about where we come from, no matter how credible the source, how much education they may have, how many college degrees they have or how much money they have. God’s Word settles this for me and my only response to someone trying to get me to believe this is… “I’m settled in my heart about my existence… Next.”
 
What God said in the Bible is a sure thing even when it is being challenged by situations in life we may face.
 
We have been embracing Numbers 23:19 recently and if our approach to the Word of God is “What God said, settles all arguments” then I must believe that no matter what I face, God’s ultimate intention is that blessings are attached to my life in some way.
 
The prophet Balaam said: NLT…
19 God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change his mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?
20 Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
 
Is this a Truth that we have come to believe will settle all arguments? Is it a Truth that will settle all contradictory situations and circumstances? Do we really believe it?
 
We often live based on feelings and what our physical senses tells us, but we are referred to a “New creation” of a new species that never existed before. First Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
 
In explaining this Scripture, what makes a Born Again Christian special is that we are the only creation in the earth that has authority in the spiritual and physical realms at the same time.
 
We’re admonished to live as spiritual beings and not fulfill our carnal appetites with what brings temporary satisfaction to our flesh. This is true even if we have done something our entire life.
 
God’s Word is Truth and therefore unchanging and we must align how we live with His will or we risk bringing our lives under the curse associated with the Law.
 
Looking at some of the things that open us up to a life that is lived below God’s intended standard is revealed in Galatians 5
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
 
God reveals what I mentioned previously as we are in a fight. But our fight is not a natural one. It does not have a physical enemy and will not require you get in a ring with someone to prove a point.
 
In a previous teaching, I dealt with our battle revealed in Ephesians 6 being against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in the heavenly realm.
 
I mentioned that the first thing we must overcome before we deal with “demon forces” is our own flesh. Our flesh is our carnal appetites and desires that go against God’s Truth. Again, to be able to determine how this affects us, we must be able to see both sides of this coin as the positives will far outweigh the negatives.
 
Before we move forward, I want to pause and look at the less obvious of these sins. Before I do, we must not look at these as a “comprehensive” list of Kingdom disqualifiers as verse 21 says, “…and the like” meaning things that are similar in nature to those that are listed.
 
In verse 20, we have two things that I believe many Christians open the door to that is holding them back and keeping them from becoming all God wants them to be.
 
We often speak of sexual sins; speaking to others with respect; treating people right; being certain that we don’t participate in the drug scene or be overcome with drunkenness [revelry.]
 
However, Christians that come against other Believer’s who may practice these things have found their lives caught in a web of deception through the occult. Not identifying what the occult is, they openly practice it not realizing their lives are under the curse.
 
Verse 20 refers to “idolatry and sorcery.” When we look at both, they are part of a “family” of terms that describe witchcraft. There is sorcery, wizardry, magic, the occult and others that come in more obscured forms so they will gain greater acceptance. These are wrong and must be avoided.
 
What must be understood is these refer to those who practice as a lifestyle these things. God wants you free so you come under the blessing and what we don’t realize is a “little sin, leavens the whole loaf.”
 
First Corinthians 5 NLT
6 Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. 8 So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.
 
The NKJV translated yeast as leaven and says a little leaven leavens the whole loaf. Most often in Scripture, the Greek word  for leaven or yeast “zúmē” represents evil, including Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:21, if properly understood.
 
The real significance of leaven is shown in First Cor. 5:7 as being destructive and symbolizes what does not belong to our life, namely, sin. It is sin troubling your daily life that you are unknowingly opening yourself up to as you avail yourself to these things.
 
The practice of witchcraft and sorcery involves spells and incantations.  It does not include events that are “understood to occur by natural law.” Meaning there is a Greek definition that describes sorcery [which is the practice of witchcraft that is not sin.
 
Examples of this is a Greek word that describes sorcery is “Pharmakeia” and refers to drugs. However, doctors prescribe drugs everyday for millions of people around the world.
 
Physicians may use drugs or treatments to assist in a persons healing. The intent of the drug is to “use natural laws to benefit the body” (whether or not we understand the law).
 
Another example is using “magic” as sleight of hand tricks done for social entertainment. These involve illusions and techniques completely within the realm of natural law, if we only understood the trick.
 
Those who practice this know it’s a natural skill they learned by practice (like playing a musical instrument, making a hoop on the basketball court or swinging a bat and hitting a ball).
 
This is not “witchcraft or occultist,” because these are efforts to produce results that we do not understand; these are done by the power of natural law.
 
Witchcraft may include these supernatural powers whether done for helpful [white magic] or harmful [black magic] goals. The “source of where the power comes from” determines the evil intent.
 
To understand these, we must look at both from a Scriptural perspective as our generation has clothed them in worldwide “acceptance” and makes us think that it is okay.
 
For the sake of time, you must view witchcraft, sorcery, the occult and idolatry as “evil” and God is never in it. God “cannot tempt us with evil” and does not need any help from the devil or demon forces to validate His plan for our lives.
 
Some people think a “witch” is an older person who rides a broomstick with a black cat on Halloween, casting spells, or sticking pins in voodoo dolls. That is witchcraft, but there is much more.
 
Witches may be men [warlock = male witch] or women, pretty or ugly. They may distinguish “white magic” from “black magic.”
 
Black magic means spells, incantations, curses, etc., intended to bring harm to someone. This is viewed as bad, even by some witches.
 
White magic uses spells, incantations and curses, etc., to try to bring good fortune, such as producing rain, finding some lost object, bringing success in war or business, producing a good crop.
 
Some would tell us that white magic is good because it helps people, but only black magic is wrong because it harms people. The fact is that all sorcery and occult practices are wrong, because they come from the wrong source. The source of the power is what makes them inherently evil, regardless of the intended goal.
 
This is why we must also be careful of horoscopes, fortune telling, following the stars or the signs in the Zodiac. The “source” of these is what makes them evil and they are “satans substitute for following God’s Prophetic Word or following the Son instead of the stars.”
 
When we view idolatry, it is one of the “ten” commandments that God gave us in the Book of Exodus.
 
We know the children of Israel built a calf made of gold when they were in the wilderness and most often we reduce our perception of idolatry to this or a similar object.
 
But serving “anything or anyone other than the True and Living God” is the main issue when it comes to idolatry. It is the spiritual worship of an idol and the Book of First Samuel takes it one step further as it has greater spiritual significance. First Samuel 15
22 So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
 
Here Saul the king stepped into a role he was not supposed to operate in and God viewed his act of stubbornness and rebellion as witchcraft and idolatry. The fact is we must become good at obeying God and allowing the Word of God to be the leading Source in our lives.
 
Galatians 3
5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
 
This is our responsibility as we are positioned to move into the place of blessing.
 
The Blessing is Before You
 
As we look at the concept of blessing, we must know that it encompasses much more than money or something that can be seen or experienced in the natural.
 
The Blessing that God intends for us first of all is spiritual and being such, the greatest blessing we have is eternal life. Because we cannot grasp eternity it is not something that we place a premium on. We often tend to stay away from the things that we don’t understand.
 
However, eternity is in the heart of every created being. The word of the Lord says we will either spend eternity with God or eternity in the Lake of Fire where there will be crying, weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 
Because we are natural Beings and operate in the realm of the senses, we have a perception of blessing that gravitates towards things that alleviate our pain, struggle and challenges. With this mindset…
  • we feel that money will take care of all our problems
  • we think a new vitamin or pill will help with the aches we sometimes have as we age
  • we think that another mate will fix the problems we went through in a previous relationship
 
The reality is no matter how long we live in the earth, it is still temporal and we will eventually see that the only thing that matter is what happens in the realm outside of time referred to as eternity.
 
Understanding eternity, we must know that it is happening simultaneously with the realm we are currently living in that has minutes, seconds, hours, days, weeks, months and years attached to it.
 
Being a “tri-part” or three part being composed of spirit, soul and body each aspect of our makeup has been created eternal. The spirit, the soul and the body.
 
Although each are created eternal, each aspect of our genetic makeup is also subject to death. Death as we say is not annihilation whereas something ceases to exist, but separation from the very thing that intends to give it life.
 
The body is subjected to physical death because of the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden. Had Adam not given authority to satan, allowing the sin of disobedience to reign, there would be no physical death or separation of the body from this natural atmosphere to this day. Death is a result of sin.
 
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, becoming a curse for us and has redeemed us back to the Father. This gives us hope in Eternity with Him and the Father. This is the greatest blessing that God gives humanity and is offered to everyone that accepts Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross.
 
Although, this is a “spiritual” blessing that will translate into life eternal, natural blessings are also part of our heritage and Covenant. As we have been seeing, we must be firmly fixed on our Lord who has stated through the prophet that what He said will happen as He has decreed. Numbers 23
18 This was the message Balaam delivered: “Rise up, Balak, and listen! Hear me, son of Zippor.
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
20 Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
 
The start of recognizing God’s blessing is knowing what they are. I say this often because it is the only way you will determine whether God is blessing you to draw you closer to Him, or these are things that you are bringing into your own life that will push you away from what God intends.
 
God will never bless you with anything that will separate you from Him and the fellowship He joined you to.
  • He will not give you a car and tell you to stay away from church and drive it
  • He won’t give you a house and have you stay home from church and clean it
  • He won’t give you a mate, and send you out to dinner when you should be in church
  • He won’t give you a boat and send you fishing on His time
  • He won’t Heal you and keep you away from church
  • He won’t give you money and send you to the mall when you should be in church
The blessing of God is tied to your obedience in your personal life and in the local assembly.
 
Being blessed by God does not mean you will not face challenges. Often the opposite is true as the Word of the Lord is tested and will be tested in your life. Speaking of Joseph… Psalm 105
17 He sent a man before them— Joseph—who was sold as a slave.
18 They hurt his feet with fetters, he was laid in irons.
19 Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.
20 The king sent and released him, the ruler of the people let him go free.
21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions,
22 To bind his princes at his pleasure, and teach his elders wisdom.
 
When God blesses someone, He does so even when we’re in the midst of those challenges and provides a way out if we will focus on the answer and not the problem.
 
It’s the lessons we learn as His Word is tested while we stand on that Word that sets us up for trans-generational blessings. Our children and grandchildren are now blessed!
 
Often, we cannot see past our problems because we are so focused on what we are going through. Without the Word of God firmly embedded in our hearts, we are at a disadvantage in recognizing God moving through our temptations, tests and trials.
 
The Bible refers to those tests as “Light and momentary” which tells us that they are temporary and subject to change. Nothing in this realm lasts forever.
Second Corinthians 4 NKJV
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 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.
 
New Living Translation
17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
 
Knowing that anything we face in this life will soon be gone, we must fix our eyes on what we cannot see with our physical senses, and look to that which God has said in His Word which is eternal.
 
Many of us are void of the Word which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and therefore we are not operating in the Power of God. Some have been fed a lie by the enemy that a relationship with God begins with accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and is sustained as we attend services on Sunday morning.
 
As important as church services are, the fact is “change and maturity will only happen as we apply what we are learning to our life every day.”
 
The walk we have embarked upon is a lifestyle that God called us into of which we are commanded to sustain it every day and become both learners and followers of Jesus. Some think that following Jesus is knowing Christian language that allows us to fit in with the religious crowd. But, what God has for us is not found in the circle of the masses.
 
Your purpose is found in your private times with God and as you sit in study of the Scriptures with your leaders. This latter part is discounted for a plethora of reasons and because of that, we revert to what we committed to our memory either before or when we first got saved. Doing this, we live on past information and not present revelation which has the power to bring our lives to the level God chooses.
 
Your walk is progressive and you should be learning more about God every day and if God is the Lord, you should find and make the time to sit and learn. The original Church in the Book of Acts met daily in the Temple and from house to house. They flowed in the true power of God and had no needs that were unmet.  
 
I believe that there is what I’m going to refer to as “a crowd factor” that has secretly crept into our minds where we reason that “If there is no crowd, then it must not be effective.
 
The natural thinking person goes into an assembly looking for the crowd and “wow” factor of a ministry. However, effective ministry first takes place where there is a pre-eminence given to the Word of God. It’s up to the people in any given ministry to recognize and utilize their God-given gifts properly to advance any ministry so that it reaches its greatest potential.
 
People are important to the fulfillment of vision, however the Word is not “more” effective where there are more people… It’s effective because it’s the Word of the Lord.
 
Jesus preached to the crowds but He taught those that were serious with Him. The crowds numbered into the thousands, but the disciples at times were, 70 [sent out 2 by 2], 12 [who became apostles], 3 [Peter James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration] and even 1 [John who rested on Jesus’ chest].
 
The Lord was never deterred by the number of people that listened and even shared more essential information with them.
 
This same principle holds true with us as your pastors. We labor throughout the week to bring you a Word from God… through the Word of God, that will assist you in your spiritual growth.
 
The Importance of the Prayer Closet
Numbers 23
18 This was the message Balaam delivered: “Rise up, Balak, and listen! Hear me, son of Zippor.
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
 20 Listen, I received a command to bless; God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
 
The greatest blessings of God are revealed in the intimate times you spend with Him. If you will treasure time alone with God or times when there are a few people around, God will increase your revelation of Him and bring you to the place where you mature.
 
As revelation increases, you will recognize the blessing, and will also experience the blessing in God’s proper timing. Often the blessing is not recognized because you first need spiritual eyes to discern them when the natural is telling you things contrary to what you expect God to do that’s backed up with His Word.
 
If you allow what you see to dictate what you believe, you will find it difficult to keep a level of faith that will sustain your life and vision during times of testing. Most of us don’t realize that things happen in the “spirit” realm first; then the natural as your faith in God causes the things in your spirit to materialize.
 
Because of a lack of understanding, many Christian live based on their physical senses and have no perception that God is working all things together for their good. Many times we say we believe, we say we trust, we say we have faith, but our actions tell another story.
  • If you believe it, you will live like it…
  • If you believe it, you will talk like it; if you believe it, you will act like it.
  • If you believe it, you will not allow negative situations to keep you from being steadfast or unwavering without becoming frazzled with an evil report.
The person that believes God, believes what He says in the Bible. They will become so focused on what God says that negative reports will not have an affect on them
 
Proverbs 3:25 NKJV
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; 26 For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.
NLT
25 You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, 26 for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.
 
Revelation is God’s “unveiling, revealing or disclosure of things that are hidden from sight.” You must know that everything you need and everything you desire “already” exists.
 
Because of the goodness of God, He does not want us to be ignorant [unaware or uninformed] concerning anything that will be beneficial to us. However, if we neglect to see this as a life-changing precept and principle, we will miss many of the important things that God wants to manifest in our lives.
 
In Second Corinthians 4, we have one of those things that are hidden from our sight [revelation] revealed in plain sight.
 
Message Bible
15 Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!
16 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.
17 These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.
18 There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
 
As verse 18 states, there are “things” that we can’t see now. This means they exist but are currently hidden from sight.
 
If they already exist, they exist somewhere. Its obvious that they exist in what we refer to as the spirit realm.
 
An example of the three-part nature of man can be explained as each of these [spirit, soul and body] playing a specific role in our present and eternal existence.
 
Just as mankind is spirit and soul and body;
  • your spirit connects you to the spirit realm where God dwells and operates.
  • The body is the part that allows you to operate in this physical realm accomplishing the purpose for which you were born
  • Yet the soul is the part of our makeup that links the two together.
The thing about the soul [your mental faculties] is that it gives information to the spirit and body based on what you feed it. The part that has the most nourishment will dictate how you will act on a daily basis… either spiritually or carnally...
 
If you feed your body with information that satisfies its carnal appetite, you will be as Paul says, “Body ruled.” You will do whatever makes your flesh feel good even to your own hurt.
 
However, if you feed your mind a steady diet of the Word of God, prayer that never ceases, fellowship with other Christians and actions that depict the character of God, you will see that you will overcome your carnal appetites and desires and your life will be positioned for God to fulfill His Covenant through you.
 
We just did not spend time with God to allow Him to “show us” that these are reserved FOR those that press into their Covenant blessings. We spend time with God so He can manifest these things in our lives.
 
Knowledge of these things without corresponding actions only causes pride and a haughty spirit to dominate us. Pride comes before a fall and a haughty spirit comes before destruction. Proverbs 16:18 NKJV
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Message Bible
First pride, then the crash — the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
 
Isaiah 48 shows us that there are things available and awaiting a command that has lifestyle backing up what is being spoken. We must have words that are birthed out of a life that reflects the God we serve. NKJV
6 “You have heard; See all this. And will you not declare it? I have made you hear new things from this time, even hidden things, and you did not know them.
7 They are created now and not from the beginning; and before this day you have not heard them, lest you should say, ‘Of course I knew them.’
 
Message Bible
6 You have all this evidence confirmed by your own eyes and ears. Shouldn’t you be talking about it? And that was just the beginning. I have a lot more to tell you, things you never knew existed.
 
We must speak of the things that God reveals to us in our secret times with Him. The revelation of these things is encapsulated in our Covenant with God and realize that God has much more to tell us.
 
However, again what God reveals is not found in the crowd, it’s revealed in the closet.
  • in the prayer closet you find your strength,
  • in the prayer closet you find your joy
  • in the prayer closet you find your peace
  • and in the prayer closet you find your purpose
  • HOWEVER...
  • In the crowd, you display your meekness, which is strength under control;
  • in the crowd, you ascend in your spirit above the circumstance and live based on the joy of the Lord that’s not influenced by what you go through… that’s what people see
  • in the crowd, you display the peace OF God that you cultivated during time spent and He give you peace WITH God
  • in the crowd, your purpose is lived out and this is where they see Christ in us, the hope of glory.
It’s in the prayer closet where we gain courage to fight. It’s there that we see the possibilities of God and take our eyes off the impossibilities of man. In the prayer closet our faith rises and like Peter, we step out of our self imposed “boats” and attempt the impossible.
 
It’s in the prayer closet where we hear with our inner ears that “God is up to something and has included us” to accomplish His mandate through us. This is where the revelation of the Scriptures take root in us.
 
Isaiah 43 Message Bible
18 “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.
19 Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands [Desert].
 
To see what God is doing, you must know the revealing of the prayer closet. To see what Holy God is doing you must be where He chooses to reveal Himself.
 
He tells us in verse 19 that He’s about to do something “brand-new.” It’s bursting out, overflowing and filled to capacity and it cannot be contained by natural means. Then He asks us a question, “DON’T YOU SEE IT?”
 
In speaking to most people, Christian and non-Christian alike, they will tell you what they see… based on the facts of their life and current status. Because they have not cultivated a real relationship with God, they cannot see what God is doing.
  • They don’t see God making a way out of no way
  • They don’t see God working when He removes certain people from their lives
  • They don’t see God when they lost their job
  • They don’t see God when a certain loan is turned down
  • They don’t see God when the doctor tells them He identified a physical or mental issue
  • They don’t see God when their family appears to be estranged from Him and have no evidence of a person that will ever serve God  
We can no longer view our lives from the perspective of the problem. Our conversation with others cannot be about everything that’s wrong. We hear how the devil’s busy or say if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.
 
We hear people say that the devil stole my money; the devil broke up my family, the devil broke my car down; the devil kept me from a promotion; the devil put me in jail; the devil, the devil, the devil...
 
The question I pose to you is: “Is God doing anything in your life?” Is God healing your body, restoring your mind, bringing structure to your family, causing all things to work out for your good because you love God and have been called according to His purposes?
 
Can you still see God when there’s nothing in the natural that reveals the fact that He’s even there? Have you settled in your heart that He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you” and believe it enough to know that this too shall pass?
 
Isaiah 42 NLT
8 “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.
Everything I prophesied has come true, and now I will prophesy again. I will tell you the future before it happens.
 
Many Christians look to the world and occult to try to determine what tomorrow will bring. They neglect to understand that God has already decreed your future. He knows the end from the beginning and as Jeremiah 29:11 says, He…
“…knows the plans that He has for you, says the Lord, plans to do you good and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” NIV     
 
When you search the Scriptures, you see what God said has come true. The basics of your life have been taken care of. He said He would provide food… He has. He said He would give the basics of life… He has. He said He would give us hope for salvation through Jesus Christ His Son… He has.
 
As verse 9 says, because He has fulfilled the things He prophesied… He is now prophesying again, revealing what the future will look like even before one second is lived out in your life.
 
This is the part of our lives that we must live by the faith of God. This is the faith God gave to every one of us [the measure of faith] so we can accomplish His bidding.
 
Romans 12:3
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
 
You must use the faith God gave you to direct your life and future. “The person that does not know where he is going… never gets there. But the person that sees through spiritual eyes what God has revealed in the Bible will attain their destination.”
 
How is your faith to be used? It is to be used as God intended “to create a life that otherwise would not be lived; to create a hope, that otherwise would not be achieved; to create a future that otherwise would appear impossible.”
 
God demonstrates how faith is to be used in Hebrews 11, as He reveals what faith ids and then shows how He created what was visible out of what is invisible. NKJV
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
 
Greek Translation [Wuest]
3 By means of faith we perceive that the worlds were framed by God’s word, and it follows, therefore, that that which we see did not come into being out of that which is visible.
 
That which is visible did not produce everything that we see around us… everything came from that which is invisible or things not revealed to our physical senses.
 
This being the case, like our Heavenly Father, we are to take an inventory of our lives as they stand and determine whether they reflect how God intends for them to be.
 
In verse 3, it shows that “the visible universe was created by God,” and is a conviction of something that is not capable of being understood by the physical senses. This is how the world operates and how we are expected to make the promises of God a reality in our life.
 
When God speaks of understanding, the Greek word used, “noeo” means “to perceive with reflective intelligence.” Vincent says: “This is inward insight of the visible creation as the work of God, which follows the sight of the phenomena of nature.”
 
As much as we may not understand what faith really entails, it is a principle that you practice at until you get it right. You must see things in your heart through revelation so that what you see in the spirit realm can become the reality that God revealed to you that is also based on the Covenant of His Word.
 
What we must understand about God is that He wants us to become convinced of His promises to the point where we are certain that He will bring them to pass in our lives.
 
This is where we must seek God’s Face until we are settled in our hearts that what He promised us is a present reality to us. It is not something off in the distant future, or in eternity… I believe and therefore I speak.
 
The reality of our relationship with God is that it is never meant to be something where we go to Him with our hands out all the time. He want’s some “face time” with us. He wants time to establish a close friendship and the only way that can happen is when we spend time with Him.
 
King David, who was the author of the 27th Psalm knew the importance of pressing into God. He knew that it is most beneficial to come to God… because He is God than to come in a religious cloak asking for things to consume upon our lusts.
 
His hearts desire was to “seek the face of God” and in doing so, find solace in God and in God alone. This is where our trust in God and hope for this life cannot be disappointed.
 
King David was quick to respond to the voice of God and when God spoke, David obeyed. He pressed and gave an example of what it will take to secure an attitude of heart that will bring victory even when a battle may appear to be lost. Psalm 27 NKJV
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
9 Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me.
 
You may have said, I prayed and waited patiently upon the Lord and I didn’t hear Him. You may say, I spent time in my prayer closet and am not fully convinced that what God requires of me, I can do.
 
You must know that your victory is in your closet! You cannot rely upon your mother or father, your sister or your brother; your elders, deacons or your pastor to get you through. There are times that God is going to require you to go alone while everyone else sleeps.
 
Instead of fussing… go back again and pray. They may be sleep on you, but go back and pray. They may go to the mall on you, but go back and pray. This is a principle that will give you great rewards as you are strengthened more and more as you go back and pray.
 
The example we have here is Jesus prior to fulfilling the will of God for His life. He was born in the earth to accomplish the greatest feat than any man would ever do, however He had to do what some of us call, “pray through.”
 
There has been a teaching in some circles that say that God does not answer a prayer that is offered twice. They say that if you ask more than once, that you are in un-belief.
 
The reality is that God is not turned off by the prayers of His children and will not place restrictions on them or cause them to be disqualified BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T DO SOMETHING ACCORDING TO THE LETTER OF A “MAN’S LAW.”
 
Jesus prayed more than once, but when He go done, He was empowered to fulfill the purpose for which He was born.
 
This is our example. If we are going to accomplish anything significant or inconsequential, we must keep it before God until we are convinced that we can withstand whatever the enemy throws at us even if it means death. Matthew 26
36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away* unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”