Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Test

Many times the aggravation we go through is because we know what the Word says and with all of the prayers, scripture reading, and as much as we believe it just seems like nothing is getting done or worse yet it looks like the situation is going in the opposite direction from which we were desiring. This includes looking at certain people who don't have nearly the same conviction in the faith as you have and they receive blessing upon blessing. This also includes the sinner who has no intention of being a Christian then there is a man in the moon. Yes, and still through it all God sees you and expects for you to maintain the faith (2 Corinthians 4:16 KJV). Its enough to make a grown man roll into a fetal position and cry. That is the best way I can describe frustration.

I enjoy the Word. I love learning the mysteries of God. When the discovery of revelation knowledge is feeding my Spirit, all I can do is sit in a quiet place and just soak all of the goodness in. Its just wonderful when you get something that you didn't know before, especially when you use it, have expectation, and watch it come to pass. It is just phenomenal! And then there are those times where when you receive the knowledge where the basis in receiving it is to wait for it to come to pass... we almost forget what we were waiting for. Then God reminds us after we have received it and has moved onto something else. It is the reason why we give thanks for all things just so that when life continues, we not take His blessings and the answers to our prayers for granted.

Worship and praise is so important in Kingdom Living for a myriad of reasons. One being it takes up some of that time in waiting and consumes those anxious feelings of reacting impulsively. Bishop T.D. Jakes taught that a part of our worship is doing the things that we are called to do. Those are acts of obedience as well. Praise squashes those thoughts of distraction that keep you from God's blessing. It is just necessary to do. He is more than worth our praise and worship.

With all of this in mind, it solidifies the new information received from God. It makes more sense for the things we go through and life is full of joy again. That necessary ingredient for Kingdom Living (Romans 14:17 KJV). So then why would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus in the wilderness to be tempted of the devil? Why would it be necessary? For years that scripture perturbed me. The Holy Spirit is our Comfort. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. It just made no sense to me and then that revelation knowledge came.

I don't like to be tested, especially those surprise pop quizzes. I really didn't like it on dates when the guy thought he was trying to see how I coped with problems and how I dealt with arguments. Yet when it is God, His purpose is for our good. It is for us to use what we have learned and not to forget. It is the strengthening of our armor and muscle building to wield the sword. It is why when the enemy came to Jesus, He used the Word in spite of being tempted with food when on a 40 day fast. How well do we fare with tests? Have we passed them all or do we go through the same quizzes again and again until we finally say those common words, "forget it, I give up. I'm too tired to keep doing this." Galatians 6:9 KJV

I was watching this Public Television program on how farmers and their vineyards produce wine. It was fascinating how these companies knew that they had so much opposition in order to develop a good crop to use in getting the end result. In fact, one farmer said unless it is in you to farm this particular crop - don't waste your time. He continued that because of the weather conditions, all that a farmer must do to protect the fruit, to know when it is the right time to harvest and the possibility of losing more than half of the product, a farmer doesn't really get any sort of profit for 3-5 years. I was amazed at what the workers were willing to do to check each and every cluster of grapes. Pesticides couldn't be used because they knew the end product wouldn't be at its best. There were some bugs they tolerated for a little while. They covered the fruit at certain times of the day so when the sun came up in the morning, it was good but for the remainder of the day, its heat was too much. They welcomed rain, but not too much. Too much rain took away the sugar in the fruit which was needed for the best wine. Frost was the enemy and was dealt with using torches and walking up and down each narrow path for the fruit to maintain. And just when you think it is all going well, each cluster is checked again. The farmer expects for the fruit to all be one size. If the fruit doesn't have the size, shape, and color that the farmer expects, it is pruned and thrown away.

At the end of the program, I cried (you will see why in a moment). I could see the Word and what God tells us all. I was afraid for a moment about my maturity in Christ and wondered if I had done (am doing) what is expected of me. I had to rebuke any fear for my children, because there comes a time where all that you tried to do as a parent must stand - just as what God does with us (Hebrews 12:5 AMP).

He is the farmer. He checks the crop seeing how well we are faring through the environment by which we live. The weather conditions change as with the seasons. He prunes back some of us so that we can be a stronger crop the next season. Fighting it isn't smart. Being stubborn because you couldn't get this or that only takes you from the blessing. You know what I mean. "You didn't do this for me, so I am not going to church anymore (or be nice to this person, or go back to the old life, or blame someone else, or reasoning for doing wrong). It is as if you refused the morning sun or drank too much of the rain and when the farmer came to check to see his crop knowing that if it isn't right, it has to go (Ephesians 3:13 KJV).

I still don't like tests; even with the better understanding of them in Christ. However, I know that when in college, tests came easy for me when I studied for them. When I formed the habit of going over the lecture notes and the notes I wrote from the text book on a daily basis, the tests were so easy. They were a lot easier when listening to the lecturer and hearing the emphasis in his/her voice. One of the subjects I detested was Philosophy. It made no sense to me. But as long as I was trying to make sense of it, I couldn't achieve anything higher then a C. As soon as I started to write the way the teacher was speaking, (jibberish - really), I got the A I was looking for. She even wrote on one of my compositions, "now you are getting it!" She has no idea that she didn't change my thinking, I just did what I needed to, to get the grade I was looking for.

But in life you can't just do the minimum to get the grade. God sees your heart. The test is continual so you can speak like Him, walk like Him, be more like Him. While the teacher was trying to do the same thing with me in Philosophy, I had no intention to speak and think like that. With God, I chose life. In doing so, I meant to  make that decision to do and have what He says I can have. Some Christians go through the motions and are well rehearsed with scripture but their lives are much like what I was doing in Philosophy class - just what it looks like and not what it actually is. Don't keep pretending - God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7 KJV). He does gather the wheat and will do away with the tares (Matthew 13:36-44 KJV). He can decipher the lambs from the goats (Matthew 25:32-46 KJV) and if the branch doesn't produce, it will be pruned. Now you know why I cried (Luke 10:2 KJV).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Skipping Steps

I was having this discussions with one of the residents living in the community from which I am employed. We were discussing the process that most things have to go through in order for success to be obtained. Although his hopes were that I didn't see the fact that he was making excuses for procrastinating, it nevertheless made a good topic for Kingdom Living and the spiritual growth of us all who believe.

I had wrote a blog a few months earlier about skipping steps coming from a sermon I heard a well known minister speak about. He specifically spoke about what God is able to do if you are willing to yield your will over to His. I wondered about it as members of the church and certainly visitors took the message, became excited, and started jumping, yelling, and running around the building with the information. I watched the television and contemplated on why God would do such a thing.

When using hormones to speed the process of producing beef, is the meat as healthy as it would be if the animal was allowed to go through the process? Because the business industry has this microwave mentality and has found ways to produce bigger products for less and charge more, is it a better product? Steps were skipped there too. Look at it from a natural perspective. Go to a staircase and skip three steps at a time to get to the top of the stairs. How easy was that? If we follow Jesus, His burden is easy and yoke is light (Matthew 11:30 KJV).

The discussion I had with this elderly man was about the venue he was going into. He was interested in taking a music score that was already produced and mix nature sounds into it. Then present it as a new piece of work to recording artists and executives. I had no desire to squash his dream even though one of the things I really detest is hearing or seeing the remake of something that didn't need any renovations. Once a classic has been created and everyone willing to hear it was more than satisfied with its outcome, why then 20 years later make it again as if the new spin is going to make it even better? Movies that have been laid to rest and every once in awhile take it out to see how people lived in those black and white versions and their plights back then, is refreshing. To change the story line to make it relevant for today's society, is just plain lazy. God is not out of witty inventions and ideas for believers to get something new. Still, I listened to him and even used the analogy of the seed growing in the ground. The seed doesn't immediately move to fruit, there is a process the seed has to go through in relationship with the soil and the environment from which the seed was planted (James 5:7 KJV). This is true for ever aspect in life (Matthew 13:1-7 KJV). It is why I believe the Lord has it in the bible so many times (Luke 8:1-15 AMP).

Knowing that the Lord would never go against His Word, why then would there be a sermon about skipping steps in a process by which we would have to use patience in order for anything to produce? I believe(now, as opposed to then) each person is different. Much like someone who was wrongfully convicted and had to do prison time for murder when in actuality he/she was there at the time of the crime but didn't report it. The prison time should have been an accessory to murder or obstruction. Both of those crimes would have a lesser sentence then murder. Yet because of the conviction this person spent 15 years of a 40 year sentence of their life. At a retrial, there is new evidence produced and the wrongfully accused receives a sentence of 3 years as opposed to the 40. Because of the 15 years served, the person is acquitted of all charges. So then how can he/she be compensated for the additional 12 years taken? In those 12 years he/she could have had a family, a career, a house, a business, had changed other lives, had an invention, discovered the cure to an incurable disease, and so forth and so on. Who can make amends for the time taken (Luke 18:27 NIV)? Who can make that wrong right?

This is where steps can be skipped. This is where our belief in God can take a a rag and make it useful. This is where a diamond can be found in a condemned house. This is where money is given for no other reason then hearing the voice of God. This is where doors are opened and opportunities are given unexpectedly to make those advances that only one can make by skipping steps. So when the time comes for the wilderness season (Matthew 4:1 AMP), the valley of the shadow of death camp (Psalm 23:4 KJV),and storms out of no where (Matthew 14:22-31 KJV) comes to an end be ready and willing to move. God will do the rest to get you over the hurdle that others are struggling to do.