Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ISSUES OF THE HEART - 4: The Spirit of Compromise

COMPROMISE:
   - To make liable to danger
- To reduce the quality, value or degree of something

Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, 
and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 
And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, 
and no one gave him anything. 
Luke 15:15-16

The prodigal young son had left home with his inheritance, spent it all and had nothing left. A severe famine in the land caused him to be even more destitute. He found himself at the lowest point ever….working for a pig farmer. This young man grew up in a Jewish household, and would have known what God had said about swine. Jews would not have raised pigs since they were unclean and not used for food.

Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud; you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses. Deuteronomy 14:8

One may argue that he had no choice, but is this true? Did he have to accept the job feeding pigs? The young man could have thought that his situation was so desperate that feeding swine was rational and acceptable. Here is where the spirit of compromise steps in.

God has instituted laws that we, His children, are to follow. These are not to prevent us from enjoying life, but rather, they are to guide us in the right direction and protect us from harm’s way. However, the enemy of our souls always comes with an alternative. The more mature you are as a Christian, the more subtle and divisive his tactics of compromise become. It started in the Garden of Eden.

The spirit of compromise begins with a subtle questioning of God’s will - introducing doubt concerning your particular situation.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 (emphasis mine)

The spirit of compromise never works alone. It is always accompanied by the spirit of carnal reasoning. Carnal reasoning operates through your senses – sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing – and works powerfully by manipulating your emotions.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. Genesis 3:6

Eve listened to the serpent, saw the forbidden fruit, touched it, and tasted it. (I'm sure that she smelled it too!) She reasoned that it was a good thing - something that would make her feel good - and she gave in to the spirit of compromise!

FAMINE
Famine is defined as a severe, drastic shortage of anything. Sometimes, in our own lives, we experience some sort of famine.

ECONOMIC FAMINE
We are in the midst of a global recession. This economic famine has affected the believer as well as the unbeliever. We, as the children of God, have a choice as to how we will respond to the crisis.

God doesn't need an economic stimulus plan. His law concerning finances is clear...we should return 10 percent of our earnings to Him, and we are expected to use the other 90 percent wisely (Malachi 3:10-11). He, in turn, promises to provide for us abundantly.

How easy it is to question the validity of God’s ordinance during hard times! How convenient it is to rationalize that you can’t afford to give your tithes! After all, the utility bills need to be paid, the children need clothes and food, the mortgage and car payment are due.

But God says...
Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all. But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. Matthew 6:31-33

MARITAL FAMINE
There are more separations and divorces today than ever before. The stresses of everyday life have put an enormous strain on even the best of marriages.

The enemy has launched an all-out attack on marriages, especially God-ordained, Christian marriages. He drives a wedge between husband and wife, using their own weaknesses against them.

It is tempting, during times like these, to consider separation by reason of "irreconcilable differences", emotional stress and downright lack of interest.

The enemy can then begin his bait with alternatives. Maybe life would be easier with someone else, and doing something else other than being married.

But God says...
Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. Mark 10:9

When God joined Adam and Eve - the first couple - He had a purpose for their union. It is the same for every marriage that has been sanctioned by the Father.


FAMINE OF THE WORD
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. Amos 8:11 (emphasis mine)

Today there is a great famine of the uncompromised Word of God. In many churches God’s ordinances are being manipulated, twisted or simply ignored to suit men’s carnal desires. Once again the question is now very subtly being asked, “Did God really say……?”

Many church leaders "reason" that the church must keep up with the times in order to be relevant and attract members. The culture of the world system has infiltrated the church.

Alternative lifestyles, secular music with "Christianese" lyrics, and programs that focus on improving personal comfort abound in places of worship. A righteous life that glorifies God and reflects the character of Christ is no longer the primary aim in many assemblies. Consequently there is a form of godliness without the authentic manifested power of God. The spirit of compromise has a stranglehold on too many of God's people!

FAMINE - MAN'S HEART
God never said that we should follow His rules only in good times, and adjust them to suit ourselves when things get rough. As a matter of fact, He uses those hard times to expose what was hidden within our hearts all along. The prodigal son's compromising mindset was unmasked during the famine.

There is a way that seems right to a man and appears straight before him, but at the end of it is the way of death. Proverbs 16:25

FAMINE - GOD'S HAND
He is a loving God, and history proves that in times of famine He always provides for His people who obey His commands.

When there was a severe famine in Egypt God had strategically put Joseph in place to manage and distribute the resources of the land. As a result his father Jacob and his family were fed. When there was severe famine in Elijah’s day, God instructed the prophet to go to the Brook Cherith, and then to the widow of Zarephath so that he would not hunger or thirst.

Whatever the famine is - financial, relational, spiritual etc. - God has a solution for you that lines up with His will.

Are you experiencing a famine in your life today? Examine your decisions, attitudes and actions.  Make sure that you have not reasoned yourself into yielding to the spirit of compromise.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, 
giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 
speaking lies in hypocrisy, 
having their own conscience seared with a hot iron… 
1 Timothy 4:1, 2

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ISSUES OF THE HEART - 3: It's Mine


Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 
The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ 
So he divided his property between them. 
Luke 15: 11-12 (NIV)

The younger son was in essence saying to his father, “It’s mine!” Many of us today have the same mindset. However, we all need to take a reality check.

This world's system teaches that things in our possession belong to us. That idea of ownership instills a subtle message of entitlement in our minds, giving us the false sense that we have ultimate control. As a result we often jealously (and nervously) guard these possessions.

The Kingdom of God, however, is counter-cultural to this world’s system.

Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.”

Clearly we see here that it is the Lord who owns everything and everyone who lives on this planet.

David acknowledged the awesome truth of God’s ownership as he prayed during the dedication of the temple. It is recorded in 1 Chronicles 29:11

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all.


STEWARDS, NOT OWNERS
God has made us stewards of what He owns. According to the Blue Letter Bible, a steward is one “to whom the head of the house or proprietor has entrusted...
  1. the management of his affairs, 
  2. the care of receipts and expenditures, 
  3. the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant 
  4. and even to the children not yet of age.”
As a steward you cannot merely have great skills and gifts, yet lack the required close relationship with your Owner. The decisions you make must be based on your knowledge of your Master’s desires concerning His possessions. Keeping that in mind, let us do an assessment.

A SHORT INVENTORY
Let's look at some things that we often think of as ours.

'YOUR' BODY

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, 
and you are not your own? 
1 Corinthians 6:19

Do you keep a clean 'temple', inside and out? Are you feeding God’s body the proper foods, and giving it enough exercise? Are you clothing God’s body in a way that reflects His glory and beauty as well as His purity? How well are you maintaining the body that God has entrusted you with - the body that belongs to Him?

'YOUR' CHILDREN
The child that you brought into this world is not yours. He/she belongs to God. You are a steward, commissioned to ""train up a child in the way he should go" - Proverbs 22:6. The way that that child should go is determined by the One who created him for a specific purpose, not by your personal preferences.

'YOUR' MONEY
The money you have in your possession and in your accounts is not yours. It’s God’s….all of it. He graciously has made a covenant with you to receive 10 percent of it back to Himself, while He expects you to use the remaining 90 percent wisely, according to His statutes, plans and desires.
"'The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,' says the Lord of Hosts." Haggai 2:8

How well are you managing and using God’s money, especially during this Christmas season when extravagant spending is the norm? How would God evaluate your stewardship concerning receipts and expenditures?

 'YOUR' CAREER
When you go to work, remember that the One that you’re ultimately working for is God. Yes, He also owns your job! He is Head over all, including your boss and your boss’ boss. Knowing that you have been placed as a steward in that position should encourage you to do your work as unto the Lord. You are not merely working for your earthly supervisors. They also are stewards, whether they realize it or not.
"...there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." Romans 13:1b

'YOUR' MATERIAL POSSESSIONS
The car you drive, the home you live in, even the clothes you wear all ultimately belong to God. You bought them with His money, and He holds you accountable for the way you use them.

Is the vehicle you drive used to bless others, or is it your trophy? Is the home you live in cluttered with items that you don’t need, but someone else could use? Is that clothes closet overflowing from hoarding? (See #3 under the definition of a steward). Are your material possessions reflective of Christ's desires and plans for their use?

'YOUR' MINISTRY
Even those in ministry can become very possessive and territorial about the position they have been chosen to serve in. This mindset is especially dangerous since God Himself says, "My glory I will not give to another." - Isaiah 42:8. God is the Chief Shepherd of that ministry, and He will never abdicate His position. Does your stewardship in this area reflect His vision?

'YOUR' FUTURE
The world teaches that you must have short term and long term goals. Goals are good. However, plans made without the Master Planner are risky at best. There are also those who are anxious about the future and resort to consulting fortune tellers. Only God Himself knows what the future holds for you because He holds your future. Anyone else is counterfeit.

The young son in the parable probably had plans for his future when he took his inheritance. But because his father had no input in those plans he ended up in trouble. God’s Word is clear on this issue. All time belongs to God. Even your future doesn’t belong to you. It’s His.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11

Take a look at your life.
Everything in it, without exception, belongs to the Lord.
How would you evaluate your stewardship of the tangible and intangible things He has entrusted to your care?

Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
1 Corinthians 4:2

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

ISSUES OF THE HEART – 2: It’s About Time

 
And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together,
journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 
But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, 
and he began to be in want. 
Luke 15:13-14

I can imagine this young man leaving his father’s house with his inheritance in hand. He was probably exhilarated by his newly acquired independence. He could now chart his own course for his life. I would think that he thoroughly enjoyed his newly found popularity as he used up his gift to impress others. Fame, finances and freedom! This was the life!! He finally had it all…….or so he thought. A rude awakening awaited him.

While he was in his father’s care he had never experienced lack. When he ate, more food was provided for him….. by his father. When he needed clothes, those too, were given to him….. by his father. His father gave him provision, protection, guidance, and most importantly, love. The young son may have had to work, as his older brother did, but he would also have enjoyed all the benefits of being under his father’s covering.

But now he was out there on his own, and this young man was unprepared for the culture of the world system.

He didn’t realize that outside of his father's household he would now have to toil to acquire what he needed, toil to maintain it, toil to grow it and toil to protect it from predators.

In that world it was every man for himself. No one was there to love him just for who he was. To those who lived in that world he was simply a means to an end.

His father was no longer there to replenish his supply, and eventually his gift dwindled down to nothing. He was left alone and destitute, without the friends, without the finances.....and without his father.

Like the father in the parable, our Heavenly Father gives gifts and abilities to us all. Some are called to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and some teachers. There are other giftings within the Body of Christ also. Some are endowed with the ability to lead. Yet others are given the gift of giving, administration, hospitality or discerning of spirits. The gifts are numerous and varied and you can read about them in the following Scriptures:
  • Romans 12:3-9
  • Ephesians 4:7-13
  • 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
  • 1 Peter 4:10-11

Unfortunately, too many in the household of the Christian faith do just what the younger son did. They become convinced that their gift is not being recognized, that their leader(s) are impeding their progress and/or that the Father is taking too long. They decide to pursue their calling and launch out on their own, not waiting to be fully trained to handle the responsibility that comes with the gift. The results are usually just as disastrous as with the young man in the parable.

A gift used without the Father’s loving blessing, covering and guidance soon becomes corrupted, and its owner falls into spiritual bankruptcy.

Jesus Himself had to wait 30 years before He could launch out into ministry. Had He moved out on His own, ahead of His appointed time, you and I, and indeed the entire universe, would have suffered the consequences. Even after He began His ministry, Jesus always moved in cadence with the Father's timing. As a result He remained continually under the Father’s covering, and enjoyed the blessings of His Abba’s provision, protection and guidance.

The young son in this parable would have eventually received his inheritance……in the right time. But because he moved out of his father’s timing a terrible domino effect occurred.

God is a God of perfect timing. He is very deliberate and strategic in everything He does. He sees the big picture in each of our lives while we see only a portion.

What seems like delay or denial to you may be His way of preparing you for what the future holds. It could also be His way of showing you what your true motivation is.

In other words, do you have a true desire to build the Body of Christ, or are you just interested in using the gift to build a following and promote you into the limelight? Are you willing to wait for your appointed season, or are you impatient to get out there and show people how gifted and anointed you are? In the depths of your heart where no one but God sees, who do you really want to please.....God or yourself?

What gifts and/or abilities  has the Father given to you? 
Please make sure that you don’t use them until the Father says, 
“It’s time.”
Copyright © 2015 AudreyCharles. All rights reserved.