God continues to work through us as long as we are receptive and obedient, though He never fails to leave the reluctant follower behind.
~ Lisa Blair
What is a reluctant follower? It is someone who hears God’s voice but does not respond with immediate vigor, instead examining the pros and cons of how it will affect one’s life.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,“Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,…They always go astray in their heart” Hebrews 3:7-9, NIV
I think we have all been there, and are learning that obedience is immediate, in the present, now, even if we don’t understand where God is leading us. God’s voice directs our walk and informs our thinking. When He says, ‘follow me’, it is not a request, it is a command. We are His children.
In Hebrews 3:8, the term today, refers to the present, and should not be delayed until tomorrow, the command refers to this moment. God gives no commands about the future, the action requested is in the moment. We are commanded not to worry about tomorrow, but to focus on the day. Therefore, it follows that His command is for the day and requires action in the day, or, today. Obedience to God’s commands should never be sidelined by reluctance.
A reluctant follower is one whose heart is hardened, meaning they have a stubborn heart, are self absorbed, and tend to procrastinate. Why do so many procrastinate? It could be that they are weighing the outcome because they do not know God’s voice, or they do know His voice but are slow to respond. Learning to identify God’s voice is important. Slow response is a form of reluctance.
Isaiah 30:21 NIV says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” The GW version says, “You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.”
God designed our path before we were born, He knows everything about us including when we will heed His voice and when we won’t. He gave us free-will to make decisions regarding our relationship with Him. He offers direction but allows us to choose to be obedient, reluctant, or non-responsive. The thing I have learned over time is that reluctance and non-responsiveness is our loss and we suffer the consequences of disobedience, later regretting not acting when God spoke. Failure produces a continual inner dialogue about failing to act, and a lost opportunity to follow God’s command. Reluctance also places you in situations where the lesson may need to be repeated. In short, you may find yourself in GPS mode where God redirects you to offer another opportunity to follow His Will.
We think we can camouflage our reluctance to respond to God’s command. But, the truth is, God knows everything, sees everything, and hears everything, and as soon as a thought enters our mind countering His command to act, we enter into conversation with Him. We open The dialogue with our thoughts.
Scriptures —biblegateway.com | References—Gotquestions.org; Blue letter bible.org. Sermon Notes for Hebrews 3:7-19. Chuck Smith; biblegateway.com, Commentaries, Hebrews 3:7-19 | Images—Google Images; LAB Photos
Why do we struggle to live what we believe is enough, until we reach rough terrain, or old age and realize, God is our strength and relying on self is futile?
~ Lisa Blair
God created a headstrong people and gave us free-will. Free-will is the option to choose to live a carnal life or a Godly life. God does not stand in our way, but instead allows us to make the decision to choose Him, and live a Godly, eternal life, or flail about on our own, destined to rot in hell.
As we hunger for true life, we begin to understand that only God can provide the comfort we seek. Once we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the comfort and strength we seek come through the Holy Spirit, who instantaneously takes up residence in us, and becomes our inner man.
It’s mind-boggling to think that even as Christians, who have surrendered our lives to Christ, still find it difficult to be obedient and dependent upon Him. If you are, or were, like me and so many others, we were raised to be independent, to forge ahead relying on our own decision-making abilities, and take the bull by the horns.
Hearts and Bodies Fail, Death is Inevitable
The truth is, our bodies and minds fail us time and time again. At some point, we become exhausted, and we search for strength and realize we must rely on God, who is our eternal strength. There is no other, especially self that can release the fear, and the weakness felt when our bodies and minds fail, in life and death.
2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalms 18:2 KJV
God is our Rock, in Him, and only Him, do we have strength. When we realize He has given us options, we also realize free-will truly means surrender and not persevering on our own. It means relying on His strength to see us through.
Again, I emphasize, free-will has two sides. God wants us to choose to either accept Him as our Lord and Savior, thus being in relationship with Him and being insured of eternal life/salvation, or remain where we are in sin moving forward blindly.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV
When we fully and completely surrender, there is clarity in understanding that it is attached to obedience and dependency upon God’s Word. What seems confusing to many is that surrender is two prong and relies on total obedience and dependence upon Him. It does not mean we should enter into a catatonic state and wait for God to move us like a chess piece, it means to go to Him in prayer and ask for guidance while planning. It means learning his Word through reading the Bible and strengthening your relationship with Him. Once we begin to move down His path, we understand that we should not stray to the left or the right but to listen to His quiet, strong voice and allow Him to inform our decision-making.
God’s Will and His Way
Quite often, His plans for our lives are different than ours. How many of you have had wealth, prestige, and career opportunities that in your carnal world were exciting and clearly placed you on the path of success? Likewise, how many of you also heard God’s quiet voice saying, ‘stay with me, this is not your path’? God is the source of our happiness, not wealth, not public acclaim, not the clamor of friends, but relationship with Him. Knowing God is your strength is knowing that He alone is your supreme joy and that He is your friend and portion, now and forever.
If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. John 7:17 ESV
Only God can give strength and comfort in the present and on our deathbed. Our flesh will always fail, but God is the strength of our soul and gifts us with eternal salvation. In health and in weakness, we should always attempt to persevere to walk in His Will and His Way, not our own. Without God, our life is only a self-inflicted burden without direction or cause. Without God in life and in death, we remain orphans, naked-without His covering, unprotected, and subject to eternal death. We remain portionless forever.
The world is in major upheaval and we are caught in it if we are part of the crooked generation. The only escape is through Christ; break away and free yourself from this crooked generation.
~ Lisa Blair
Many times in history we have found the world in upheaval, this generation is no different. During these times our Christianity is being called into question, collectively and individually. In Acts 2, Peter urges over 3000 people to save themselves and join others who believe in Christ. The Call is relevant today.
The NLT says, Save yourselves from this crooked generation. The NIV refers to the times as the corrupt generation. And, the NKJV refers to the times as the perverse generation. Crooked, corrupt, ad perverse all refer to the acts of the Evil One, Satan.
Satan’s goal is to separate and destroy us through perversion, corruption, and dishonesty. His intent is to keep us separated and in disbelief. He wears us down polluting our ears through the media and social media that becomes the topic of conversation of the day, none of these outlets focus on the good accomplished throughout the world everyday. It does not focus on nature’s beauty, the strength and resiliency of people, or the attributes Jesus wants us to live by defined in Galatians 5—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When we choose to live a carnal life, we are rushing along on our own, down the crooked path.
There’s a Christian song, Not In A Hurry by Will Regan & United Pursuit—Tell All My Friends, the opening lyrics are: Lord, I don’t wanna rush on ahead in my own strength when you’re right here. It is focused in Acts 2:40. Luke wrote about Peter urging us to relinquish pride that is fed by the things of this earth, created by Satan to debilitate and imprison us.
Part of saving ourselves from the crooked generation is to join the faith, or renew our faith, if you are a back slider, and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Peter preached,“Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38 NLT
When we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, we no longer want to rush ahead in our own strength, instead we seek community, brothers and sisters in the faith. We seek to conform to His image (Romans 8:29), to be like Christ. Conformity requires that we learn to be obedient, and dependent upon Christ.
John 15:9-10, NIV, Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
It is only through The Father’s love that can we be freed from this crooked, corrupt, perverse generation. To return to the lyrics of the song, As the lyrics of the song, we find that once we receive Him, we want to enter in prayer and hear His voice, we relinquish our own pride and choose dependence and hence become obedient.
When it comes to Your spirit When it comes to Your presence When it comes to Your voice
I’m learning to listen Just to rest in Your nearness I’m starting to notice You are speaking
Lord I want to love like You I want to feel what You feel I want to see what You see Open my eyes, I want to see You more clearly Open my ears, I want to hear You speak
It is through God’s grace that we are saved. We cannot save ourselves from being a part of the crooked generation, our sin nature confines us to the cycle of sin, however, because Christ died on the cross, we believers receive salvation. Only our relationship with Christ can save us. The Lord is always with us. We cannot be shaken, he is right beside us. He shows us the way, and fills us with the joy of His presence (Acts 2:25 paraphrased); through Him we escape the crooked generation, our inner being is secure, quiet and protected.
Psalms 91 puts it this way,
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:1-16 NIV
The world is crazy, social media is inundating our minds with vile things. There is little to keep us from questioning our sin nature. Life for many is only a finger tip away, everything is online and one click away. This is a wake up call, the only person that can separate us from this crooked generation is Christ. Everyone who calls upon His Name is saved and covered in His blood. Christ will keep you from veering to the left or right and create in you a clean heart, no longer a member of this crooked, corrupt, perverse generation.
I am reposting this message as a reminder that God has provided the armor to protect us against the wiles of the enemy, as we march forward spreading His Word through our actions and deeds. It is time to ‘armor up’!
~ Lisa Blair
The Bible offers everything we need to be active Christian Warriors. It gives us spiritual authority and is our manual for living a Godly life. While in prayer this morning, something came to light. Many of us may read parts of the Bible from time to time, but we do not study what we have read. We understand what we read intellectually, but there is so much more. To understand the spiritual intent, we have to study what was read. When reading Ephesians 6:10-18, we understand we should clothe ourselves in the armor, but do not necessarily understand why we should do so, or what each piece represents. This Post will explain the what and the why. The most important point is that we are naked and vulnerable without the armor. As the adage says, ‘don’t leave home without it.’
In reading the Book of Ephesians, particularly chapter 6, we see Paul wrote to Ephesus alerting them that the enemy is always near and ready to attack. In Ephesians 6: 12, 13 NASB, he warned:
“our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”
There is no question that our struggle continues to be a war against the rulers of darkness. We can see it in our daily lives, on the news, and social media. The evil forces are in play, we see violence and hate in every aspect of life. We are in the midst of an invisible war, one that works through people. We struggle with uncertainty, fears, and doubts. Scripture makes it clear that much of our self-doubt, our difficulty in keeping healthy relationships, and many of our fears are rooted in the efforts of those same ‘spiritual forces of evil’ that plagued the Ephesians. Paul warned that we cannot be passive Christians. We cannot use the term ‘Christians’ without acting Christ-like. Christians have to exude Christ-like behavior through our actions. We must actively change our position and become Christian Warriors because we live in a time of full engagement against the evil forces of darkness. The evil one is present and works through people, he will not back down and neither can we. We are in the war, like it or not, there are no deferments. God calls for peace, and the evil one calls for chaos in all that we do. We cannot go quietly in the night, we have to rage against the evil forces that try to debilitate, paralyze and destroy us.
‘The evil one continually tries to infect us through our wounds inflicted by sinful words and actions that warp and twist our self-image’. He tells us we are unlovable, useless, hopeless, frail, weak, not good enough, and failures. He intentionally places difficulties, trouble, and chaos in our paths. He tries to destroy our inner peace and distort our harmony that should exist in our relationships with others and our surroundings.
Always be alert. It is important to recognize that we are prey to the evil forces of darkness and as in other parts of our daily living, must protect ourselves, and put on the Amor of God. The Armor of God is our invisible clothing Each morning when dressing for the day, putting on our visible clothing, is the perfect time to also put on our invisible clothing. In fact, we should begin the day with prayer and put on the Armor before getting out of bed.
The Helmet of Salvation covers your head, mind, and eyes.
The helmet is our invisible filter and keeps evil out of our mind. It helps our focus on the Lords will and not on sin. It helps ward off and reject harmful words and actions directed at us by others. It protects us from evil. It deflects hurtful things people say and do to us. It protects us while we live out our ‘true identity in Christ’.
The Breastplate of Righteousness protects your heart.
Righteousness is the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit that lives in us; it is a gift from God, and cannot be earned. Righteousness is much like a filter that strains out unGodly things and reinforces our desire to be honest, trustworthy, kind, good-hearted, loving, and joyful. (Fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23). It guards our mind and emotions.
The Belt of Truth holds us together.
It keeps all the armor in place. It is like a belt or a girdle-like support strap. It supports our core. It helps keep our heart and mind focused on Christ. Without the belt of truth, we are not prepared to stand and fight. The belt represents living a life of honesty and integrity. It supports our total commitment and devotion to God Almighty.
The Sandals of the Gospel of Peace (the Good News) weaponry covers our feet.
Everywhere we walk, we walk in peace. Our footwear keeps us from hurting our feet. The gospel of peace is the Word of God that we share with others as we walk in His Word. Without the Gospel of Peace, we are barefoot and cannot walk without fear. The footwear brings ‘inner and interpersonal peace when we commit to living by God’s Word, which means forgiving those who may have harmed us.
The Shield of Faith protects us from the weaponry of the enemy.
God gave is faith to protect ourselves from the things we cannot see and may not understand. It enables us to advance, despite adverse circumstance.
The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.
Gives us boldness to reject and attack misinformation. We can use it to defend ourselves from things we may or may not know are wrong. The sword cuts through everything the enemy can send our way. It is the only defensive weapon we have. Everything else wards off the offensives of the evil one. The sword is the way, the truth, and the light. It is the Word of God. This sword is able to cut through every defense our enemy can raise. When wielded by us, nothing can withstand its ability to cut straight to the core and uncover the truth.
We are naked when we do not wear the Armor of God. Never go out without it. We put on a coat to protect us from the cold and our armor to protect us from the evil one.
Faith, Hope, Love, Dependency, and Obedience Synopsis
Finally, our March theme is affirmed by this Post. To be Christian Warriors we must have faith, hope, and love. When we are in a relationship with a loved one, we have faith in them, love them, are in a dependent relationship with them and are obedient to the values and intent of the relationship. Putting on the Armor of God is a faith move by which we are dependent upon the fact that it works to protect us. We are obedient in that we put the Armor on every day. We have hope that our armor will hold up and invite others to live as Christian Warriors, and for non-Christians, to receive the Lord’s salvation and join our family. Love, the most important of these, operates in faith and dependence upon the Word of God and his relationship with us.
Books: The Full Armor of God, Larry Richards Waging Prophetic War, Jennifer Claire
Websites: The Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness. Bible.org, Mar. 3, 2018 The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Freebiblestudyguides.org, Mar. 3, 2018 Helping Children Put On Their Armor Through Prayer, Lisa Blair, Youngchristianwarriors.com
Images – Google Images Scripture-Biblegateway.com
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1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Note: This study is focused on the green pastures, still waters and our restoration.)
The 23rd Psalm says that God will make you lie down in green pastures, and lead you to still waters. He does this because He wants to restore our souls and guides us in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Why does our Father look out for us day and night, week after week, year after year until we leave this earth? He is our parent. He sees our weaknesses as well as our strengths. We watches us run to and fro all day long, every day. When we are still, our minds are still racing. When we sleep, we seldom experience REM sleep (deep sleep). Our thoughts are in constant flux. God sees us and knows that it is different to nurture a relationship with us if we cannot be still and focused for more than a moment. He seeks us in the quiet space, a place of peace.
Jesus is our Shepard, He keeps us from want. He protects us and restores us when we feel empty and lost. The beauty is that Jesus is here for us when we experience success, and love life, as well as when we are in the valley.
When you read then phrase green pastures, what do you envision? My green pasture has green trees surrounding it, and flowers all around. The grass is green and tall enough to blow in the breeze. There is quiet, yet the sound of nature, the breeze, birds chirping, and bees buzzing permeates the pasture. It is a peaceful place. The sun shines down on it, and when you lay in the grass, you feel it’s warm rays and the coolness of the soft grass.
The Lord’s pasture is not myopically designed, it can exist in rural communities and in urban environments. The pastures blanket all parts of the world. In other instances, people may define a pasture to fit their setting. Parks equate to green space and are rightfully fields, reminiscent of pastures; you see these people laying in the grass in parks. Green space exists as part of oases in some parts of the world as well as mountainous plateaus. We can define our own pasture, as the place the Lord instructs us to experience calm. But why must we lay down or envision ourselves laying down you may ask because it is part of Gods prescription for us to unwind, slow down, and experience Him. This is a place where He restores our soul and gives us fresh air to breathe in and exhale to slow our heartbeat and gentle anxieties. It is a place of peace, where time is not the governor of your next move.
Jesus also leads us beside still waters. Still, waters can be interpreted as a pond, a lake, or a tributary, and when I was young, a flooded part of the park after rainfall or melting snow, part of the seasonal change. We are led to still waters that are, like pastures, defined by the terrain around us. When I experience still waters, my mind clears and the activity of the day cease to exist, it refreshes me. It is a place to escape our normal daily activities. It’s the place you hear birds chirping, small animals drinking at the water’s edge, and is the most comfortable environment we can lavish in and recognize that God created it for our benefit.
As adults, we are (generally) not afforded the time during the day to visit a pasture or still waters, we are, however, provided with the image of both. During breaks at work, or home in the midst of chores, we are able to escape in prayer and meditation, imagine laying in our pasture/field/green space, near still waters, exhaling and spending time with our Lord as he restores our soul.
The scripture continues with, He restores my soul. It is during these restoration moments that we can discard the chaotic energy and listen for our Lord’s voice. It is the time when we can hold a conversation that would translate into more than 140 characters. As our soul is restored, we become stronger and intentionally more dependent upon our Lord. It is through these experiences that we begin to understand that we cannot go it alone and be present with the Lord. Relationship success is determined in part by proximity. Our soul is restored when we are in close relationship with the Lord, only He can heal our soul. It is our responsibility to maintain and cherish the relationship. God is always waiting for us to call upon and spend time with Him. Through His righteousness, we are saved. through His righteousness, we receive the benefit of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
Images – Psalm 23, Dust Off the Bible; B. Blair; LAB Photos Scripture – BibleStudyTools.com Resources – Psalm 23, Hayford’s Bible Handbook; The Twenty-third Psalm, Charles L. Allen; Nelson’s Quick Reference, Bible Commentary, Warren Wiersbe