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Purity Publications


by Patricia Backora

Chapter 2 - Real Eternal Security


by Patricia Backora

Part 2 - Real Eternal Security

Abide in Me

Proverbs 15:23; Matt. 5:13-16; John 15:1-17; Luke 6:44-45; Gal. 3:3; 5:22-23

In churches which are not securely rooted in My grace, there is much misunderstanding about what a person must do in order to be secure in My Love. This causes deep anxiety in new converts, who desperately want to please Me and show themselves deserving of My salvation, although it is an unmerited gift which cannot be earned through good works.

Pastors of churches which downplay My grace often exert extreme pressure on its members to witness to the lost. Even baby Christians are put under such duress. These have not yet attained to sufficient maturity and wisdom to know how to present the Gospel to total strangers in the streets. Many new converts have, in times past, been badly burned by people, and are hardly in a condition to endure this kind of browbeating. These need to be ministered to themselves. My Church is to be a place of healing and teaching, not just an evangelistic center. Beware of heaping condemnation upon such wounded people. You just might drive them back out into the world, to seek healing in "alternative therapies" which I have not endorsed. I want My broken and bruised ones to stay under the care of the Great Physician.

Without sensitivity and discretion, people tend to do things haphazardly. Too aggressive evangelization can cause offense, and many saints have been hurt and disillusioned when nothing good comes of it. Saints go forth without having prayed for the anointing, and without having been taught the proper way to approach strangers. Such people may resent having their private space invaded at all, while others might throw up defenses. In many cases a few carefully chosen words of wisdom are more effective in reaching people than a long, loud sermon. Those who go forth in fear, like a slave, will tend to scare away more fish than they catch, because even lost sinners are sensitive to their uneasiness.

Luke 13:6-9 is often misapplied by preachers who teach their flock that the price of staying united to Me is to struggle to win as many souls as possible. A tragic misunderstanding of this passage has caused so much anxiety in Christians, both old and young. In this parable, the master of the vineyard comes to his servant and asks him why, after three years, there is still no fruit on a certain fig tree. It ought to be cut down, for it is taking up valuable space.

The servant pleads for an extra year of reprieve for the unfruitful tree. He promises to apply extra fertilizer to the roots, and see if that will help. Nevertheless, the tree is in danger of destruction.

Consider the context. When Jesus spoke this parable, He was addressing a group of fellow Jews. The fig tree is symbolic of My nation of Israel. My Son was rejected by His own nation. I remember how He wept tears over the City of Jerusalem, where He would shortly be betrayed into the hands of Gentiles who would crucify Him. He so longed to shield His own people like a hen gathers her brood under her wing for protection. At that time in history, God the Son walked among His own people, but they did not acknowledge Him as the Promised One. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. Why? Because rather than coming to destroy their Roman oppressors Christ had come to save any and all who would repent.

Christís enemies manipulated Pilate, saying that they were even willing for His Blood to be laid upon them and their children, if only he would acquiesce to their demands for Christís death. What a terrible curse to invoke upon themselves and their posterity! Not long after Jesusí crucifixion, their city was levelled by the Roman general Titus. I was heartbroken by their suffering, for I still loved these descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Through their rejection of the Prince of Peace, they had cut themselves off from My Peace. It was their choice, not Mine.

In Matthew 3:7-12, as he was preparing the Jews for the appearance of Christ, John the Baptist told them that the tree must bear good fruit, or be cast into the fire. He was not only warning individuals to repent, but was warning the entire nation to be ready for Christís appearance among them. They were, on the whole, not ready. John was not saying: "Look, you get out there on the streets and convert everyone you see, or you go to hell." Rather, John told them to humble their hearts before Me, repent of every known sin, and begin to prove the sincerity of their repentance by being kind to one another. A new way of life is the fruit of true repentance, and its taste is pleasant indeed.

It is true that I also look for good fruit in the lives of individual Christians. The lovely traits of My Son which are to be cultivated in the believer are the fruits of My Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Meekness, Self-control, and Faithfulness, as listed in Galatians 5:22. A tree never bears fruit by worrying that it wonít. It is natural for a healthy fruit tree to bear fruit. If years have passed and the believer has not allowed Me to bring forth good fruits in his life, he will be of little use to Me, and will not desire a closer walk with Me. It saddens Me when one does not abide in Me. What more can I do for someone hardened in such an attitude? Free choice remains, even after conversion. You began with Me by faith, and by faith your process of sanctification continues until the glad day of your glorification, when you shall be totally liberated from the very presence of the Adamic sin nature.

I am grieved when a believer grows indifferent towards his own sanctification, and he allows evil fruits of sin to crop up like weeds in his life. This happens as a result of neglect or carelessness, much as in cultivating an earthly garden. My children should diligently examine their own hearts, and come to Me for forgiveness and cleansing. If you walk in the Light, you are rightly related to Me and to one another, and My Blood cleanses you from all sin. The fruits of the fallen Adamic nature are listed in Galatians 5:19-21. All these ugly things are diametrically opposed to My Spiritís Law of Love, and are only overcome by daily sanctification through the Power of the Blood of Christ.

You cannot draw others unto Me unless they behold My light shining in your life, producing the fruitful works of godliness. And unless you reach out to others in love, rather than conveying to them the impression that you feel forced to do it, it will profit neither you nor them. Warm the hearts of others with the care and concern I have toward them. Be that well of living water which refreshes the thirsty. Don't hide your light of love under a bushel basket, but be available to speak a word in good season to that one who is weary or discouraged. Tell others about the joy and peace which Christ has brought into your own life. Help to lift the burdens of the discouraged and the weary. These are the fruits of godliness which will avail to draw others unto Myself, and which will forever remain in My sight as a precious legacy and eternal testimony of your life in this earth.

Live According to MY Nature

Galatians 5:16-18; James 2:8

Before Pentecost My people were under the Law. The Law spelled out for them in minutest detail how to perform the Royal Law: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There was to be no theft, covetousness of other peopleís possessions, murder, slander or adultery. Why? You wouldnít want someone else to commit those heinous sins against you, so you ought never sin against others in those ways.

But now My Spirit-filled believers know instinctively what constitutes a wrong act against another, because My Spirit dwells within them and teaches them My ways, vindicating My written Word as true and bringing it to life in their lives. He gives them the love and concern to want to treat others lovingly and considerately, and seek the best good for them rather than merely refrain from hurting them. It is the difference between ordering your life according to the highest common denominator and the lowest. But when a believer apostazes and turns against Me, it is then he ceases to care for the welfare of others and begins to walk once more in the ways of his former father satan, that evil serpent who has once again taken him captive.

There is a big difference between trying to live righteously by forcing yourself to observe the commandments, rather than of allowing Me to live out My righteousness through the power of My Spirit within you. It is like trying to regulate your own breathing every second of every day. All you need do to fail to keep yourself alive would be to forget to order your brain to order your lungs to suck in air just for a short time. You would die if you had to consciously regulate every minute detail of respiration yourself. Every human being, with the exception of My dear Son Jesus, has committed at least one sin or mistake in their lifetime, and was subject to death because of sin.

But when My Spirit dwells within you by faith and you walk in My Spirit of Love you will know not to steal, kill, blaspheme or commit adultery. You will even feel it is wrong to join in a reproach against your neighbor, even if satan is trying to persuade you "it is only harmless fun". Through the wisdom of My Spirit you will be able to steer clear of slippery slopes leading downward to destruction.

Walk in the Spirit, My beloved, and ye shall not gratify the downward cravings of fallen flesh.

Condemnation: A Cost too High

Matt. 11:28-30; Luke 10: 38-42; 14:28-30

My Father-heart goes out to My dear children who are laboring under a spirit of condemnation. Some of My people possess many great natural talents. The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30 is seen by some to be a threat: "Be all you can possibly be, or God will punish you." The truth is, I meant this parable to be a gentle exhortation to My disciples not to bury the ministry anointing within them, but to use it to be profitable in the things of the Kingdom of God.

Some believers are capable of becoming and doing many impressive things because of they possess good people skills, creativity, and talent for innovation. Such saints are so good-hearted they want to be all things to bless all people. But when they fail to sit down to count the cost of what they want to do, they tend to overcommit to the work of the ministry. When the limitations of time and strength overcome these overachievers, they are forced to fail the very ones they sought to bless. It is then I take these dear saints up in My arms and remind them: "You are not a slave, but a son. My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Martha was close to nervous exhaustion, just over the production of one meal. She worried that there wouldnít be enough for all My hungry men, and that the food wouldnít be done to perfection. She worried that I would find fault with her and others might criticize her for being an imperfect hostess. She flew by in a blur, shouting orders to servants and carrying dishes. On that occasion I was in her home but could not truly visit with her. How I wanted her to slow down long enough to look into her eyes and tell her how dearly I loved her.

It was then I had to remind her that only one thing was needful: Letting Me first serve her own need.

Seeking Me Early

Psalms 63:1; Matthew 8:23-27

Ofttimes my weaker children have condemnation heaped upon them because they fail to adhere to a long list of doís and doníts, which in and of themselves, seem to be very spiritual, especially because in the observance of them, theyíre so rough on the flesh.

One example is the area of sleep. Those who are able to get up early and storm the gates of heaven in prayer sometimes feel superior to those who simply cannot do this for various reasons. I have seen saints in sunrise prayer meetings struggling to keep up with their more virtuous brothers and sisters at the altar. But though theyíd do their best, theyíd find themselves slumping, nodding off and snoozing before they knew what hit them. They thought it must be the devil.

More often, such an individual had had to stay up very late the night tending to necessary duties, and was simply exhausted. Guilt would set in, and they would worry about the quality of their relationship with me. After all, it would be very rude to fall asleep in the presence of an earthly sovereign!

I have many precious children whose health simply wonít permit early rising to pray, at least on a regular basis. To a man working the night shift, six p.m. might feel like your six a.m. A new mother feels just as drained at noon as you might at midnight.

Never be hasty to judge one another or engage in oneupmanship. Instead, seek Me for the grace to remain humble, especially when you are excelling in any challenging area of Christian discipleship.The devil can even use your personal victories to plot your downfall if you donít steer clear of spiritual pride. Pray for each other to be strong in the Lord and not to become discouraged.

It is seemingly irresponsible to be sleeping when there are so many crises in the world which need to be battled in prayer. But remember, even Jesus needed periodic rest to refresh His own physical body. Remember the nap He took while the disciplesí boat was tossing in a storm and filling with water?

The spirit of seeking Me early lies not so much in the hour you do it as in the fact that you put your relationship with Me first, so that when I beckon you into your prayer closet, you donít put Me off while you go tend to less important matters first.

It is a very good idea to pray when you first wake up to start a new day, before you set foot out the door to go to your school or job. In that way you will receive extra strength and wisdom from Me to resist the downward pull of a world which doesnít seek after Me at all.

Remember, I am looking for those Who seek after Me with their whole heart, who put Me first and are constantly in communion with Me; those who earnestly desire not to be wanting when I call them to stand before Me to give account of their lives before My Judgment Seat. Live in this attitude of heart not because you have to, or because you feel yourself under the scrutiny of other saints, but because I mean everything to you. If you will walk with Me in this manner, you will be found faithful when you stand before Me someday.

The Price Is Already Paid

John 6:28-29; 17;4; 19:30; Matthew 8:21-23; Ephesians 2:8-10; Hebrews 12:2

Frenetic street evangelism is not the price you must pay for your admission into heaven. Rejoice, for I have already finished paying for your salvation!. The price of your redemption is beyond any price you could ever pay. This was settled at Calvary, when I hung on the Cross and shouted: "It is finished!" It is even possible to exhaust yourself doing good deeds in My Name and still lose out, if your faith is not in what I have already done to redeem you.

One day Jesus was asked: "What must we do to perform the works of God?" He replied, "This is the work of God, that you believe on Him Whom He has sent." If you truly have faith in My Son, His good works will be manifested through your life.

Jesus said, "Not everyone who calls Me Lord will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father." Immediately His listeners assumed that My primary concern was that miracles and other wonderful works take place, not knowing that I value only those works done through My leading in the Name of Jesus, and because of the love of Him.

In the same discourse He speaks of the many who will appear before Him on the Day of Judgment, begging to be let into Paradise on the merits of their prophesying, performing of miracles, and casting out of demons. If ever there was a busy bunch, this was it. But Jesus knows the hearts of all men. My Son will not find their names written in the Book of Life and He will have to say to them: "I Never knew you! Depart from Me, you who work wickedness." They will not have performed these wonders in the Power of His Spirit, and their motivations will be judged as evil.

The most important thing is to know me, to partake daily of My Life, and to let Me nourish you and keep you alive spiritually. Only then can good fruit appear on your branches. You will be like a tree planted by the Rivers of Living Water, and you will be fruitful unto My Glory.

The Flesh Profits Nothing

John 6:63

It is human nature to be impressed by numbers, just for their own sake. My priorities are far higher, for I do not see as man sees. I see so many fearful people being told that "The fruit of a Christian is another Christian", and theyíd better get busy and win the lost, or theyíll lose their salvation. Such service is motivated by fear, not by faith. You ought to serve Me just because You love Me, just as My own Son did. Many approach Me as if they were cringing slaves living in fear of punishment, rather than as My beloved children. Your gratitude for what I have done for you should motivate you to want to please Me, not an unfounded fear of rejection. The conditional love which sinners and backsliders have for one another is rooted in such fear. I donít operate that way.

O My child, donít you realize that theyíre putting the cart before the horse? Good works do not produce holiness; rather, good works spring from a life which is totally immersed in My love. I said in My Word, Without Me you can do nothing! Before I can use you, I must first heal many broken areas in your life and restore your soul. I must first give to you, or you will have nothing to give, for the strivings of the flesh profit nothing. I must make My Word bear fruit in you, before your own service unto Me can bear fruit. Donít you realize that the primary responsibility lies with Me?

You Are Purged BY THE BLOOD

Exodus 12:13; Leviticus 17:11; Luke 23:39-43; John 19:30; Romans Chapter 5; II Cor. 5:6-8; Hebrews 9:13-14

My written Word must always have the final say where it concerns matters of doctrine. Where in the Bible do you read that I consign my born-again children to a place called Purgatory to be punished for human flaws and sins before I admit them into heaven?

This devilish doctrine is based upon the erroneous assumption that in order to complete your salvation, your own personal suffering is needed to supplement Christís sacrifice of Himself on Calvary. This presupposes that My Atonement on the Cross failed to finish all that was necessary to keep you from going to hell. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Some people argue that I could never allow anybody into heaven who has not lived long enough to accomplish a state of sinless perfection through their own efforts, or had not made amends for every offense theyíd ever committed. What, in your opinion, constitutes a state of total sinlessness? Every unkind thought, every failure to obey Me is sin. In the days of Moses, a man could be stoned to death just for gathering sticks on the Sabbath Day. How many modern religious people would define that as sin!

Take the thief on the cross who was crucified alongside Christ. He was being executed for crimes recently committed and fresh in his memory. If Purgatory were a real place, he would surely have qualified for going there, for he had no opportunity to do penance for his sins or make restitution for what he stole. He had no chance to accumulate a few saintly good deeds before his demise. No, when he hung on that cross, he knew the only thing in his favor was the willingness of My Son to forgive him and give him a chance for a brand new, clean life in the world to come!

What did My dear Son say to that man, who to all appearances, was nothing but a dirty scoundrel getting just what he deserved? Jesus said: "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Christ did not tell this redeemed criminal that he must first undergo a stint in Purgatory before he could come home to Paradise.

The Corinthian saints were all at different levels of spiritual growth. Some were far more pious in their habits than others, and more easily achieved victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. Others had a much harder struggle of it. More than a few reprobates attended their gatherings, but all of the sincere believers in the Corinthian church genuinely hungered and thirsted after righteousness, even in their weaker moments. Their faith was in the Christ Who redeemed them and was able to make them stand by faith and grow in the knowledge of their Lord. Not only were they forgiven through the shedding of His Holy Blood, they were saved by His righteous life. They knew they were all joined together in the Spirit of Christ by faith and were made one spirit with Him. That means if you must go to Purgatory, Christ must go there too!

Paul wrote the Corinthian epistles to the whole Corinthian church, those who were standing on the firm bedrock of faith in Christ; the Savior Who cried: "It is finished!" when He hung on the Cross of Calvary. Paul tells the Corinthian Christians: "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."

Notice, Paul does not say: "To be absent from the body is to be present in Purgatory, except for the most pious of parishioners."

It is the Blood of Christ which purges from sin, not some fictional prison called Purgatory!

Where the Guilt Truly Lies

Numbers 23:21; Romans 4:7-8; Rev. 12:10

The devil is like a broken record the way he rehashes the same old sins over and over, even though I forgave those sins and washed them away years ago in My own Blood. Heíll bring them back to your mind over and over again, and when he canít think of anything wrong with your present life, heíll even throw them back in My face. He is the accuser of the Brethren and will stop at nothing to try to rob you of the assurance of your salvation. And he licks his chops at the prospect of persuading Me to punish you for something, for he delights in the sufferings of My children. He just canít stand seeing you happy and enjoying My blessings. But rest assured, beloved, I do not pleasure the enemy. I remind him of the Blood of the Covenant, shed to make you righteous before Me. And if any guilt is left over after I wash your guilt away, it lies upon the head of the enemy of your soul who tempted and tormented you. I made no provision for the washing away of his sins and he knows it. The devil knows he exists in dreadful expectation of the outpouring of My just wrath upon him and his demons. He is a miserable prisoner sitting on death row who only wants you to share in his misery.

Satanís accusations against you are mere lies. He is the father of lies. Stand fast in Christ Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. By faith cling to Him as your only Righteousness, the only Righteousness you need.

The Faithfulness of Noah

Matthew 7:14; I Peter 3:19-20; II Peter 2:5

If numbers were truly the basis upon which the fruitfulness of a ministry should be gauged, Noah would, at first glance, have been judged an abysmal failure. Even as he and his sons built the Ark, Noah faithfully proclaimed the message of My impending judgment. For many decades he warned all who approached him of their imminent peril.

How do you think they responded? It had never before rained on the earth, for up to then the ground had been watered by dew. These people had never experienced rain; yet Noah was warning them that I was about to inundate the entire earth and destroy every living thing. His listeners laughed at him, but he did not stop preaching to them. They mocked him, threw stones at him, and told him he was crazy. He was the laughingstock of the neighborhood. The partially finished Ark was treated like a tourist attraction. People came from far and wide to stare at "Noahís Folly", not realizing that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. Still, Noah was undeterred. He was even willing to endure reproach for My Nameís sake.

Those wicked people were so engrossed in enjoying their sins that they refused to believe in Me. They traded in their spouses for new ones when they tired of them, just like sinners do today. They ridiculed Noah and his sons for their fidelity to their own wives. That same spirit of wickedness is at work in this unbelieving generation, despite the widespread proclamation of the Gospel. I said in My Word: The way to life is NARROW, and few there are who find it.

After tirelessly preaching to multitudes for so many years, how many people went aboard the Ark with Noah? Only seven. His own brothers, sisters, and extended family dismissed him as a crank, and found his zeal a bit embarrassing. They also drowned in the Flood.

Was his preaching in vain? No. I still remember various people floating on debris in the water or clinging to tree branches as they awaited the end. Others spent their final moments on the highest hilltops, as water swirled about their ankles and sheets of rain furiously tore at their clothing. They had resigned themselves to the fact that they had been disobedient to My exhortation to repent, and would lose their earthly lives. There were many last-minute repentances among those who had grudgingly seen the sense of Noahís preaching, but, fearful of losing their so-called friends, had not embraced his message by faith. These had vacillated and decided they did not want to give up their accustomed life-styles for My sake. They had lived out their long lives in rebellion against Me, but wanted to at least make their peace with Me before dying. Thousands of years later, My Son preached the glad story of redemption to these souls in Abrahamís Bosom, the abode of the righteous dead. After He paid the ransom for their sins on Calvary, He led these captives upward to the Heavenly City. My mercy toward men is unspeakably great.

Following the Rapture of the Church, there will be many conversions among those who remember the testimony of their friends or family who were taken. The harvest is sometimes delayed, but it comes nonetheless.

Reaching the End of Yourself

I Samuel Chapter 1; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27

Peninnah was so proud of her prodigious offspring. Surely she had earned her husbandís love many times over, and all her neighbors respected her for her natural fecundity. Her children, especially her fine-looking sons, were her passport to respectability.

Her husbandís other wife couldnít say the same for herself. Hannah, her love rival, had been married to Elkanah for quite some time, but she had not yet given him a single son, not so much as a daughter. Yet her husband seemed to worship her. Just what could that man possibly see in a woman who couldnít even bear a son? And Peninnah never lost an opportunity to needle Hannah about that. "It canít be his fault youíre barren," sheíd say with a barbed smile. "Heís given me less attention than you, and just look at the children Iíve got!" There were caustic insinuations that if Hannah didnít get busy and bear a little fruit, sheíd be sent packing, and Peninnah would finally have Elkanah all to herself.

Every year when Elkanah took his family to the Tabernacle at Shiloh to offer the yearly sacrifice it was the same. When they all sat down for the family worship meal, Peninnah would make Hannah feel like a fifth wheel, and say: "This is a family meal, you know. Why did you bother to come along anyway? Why donít you get lost?" This would cause Hannah to weep and feel as if she had no right to be in that scenario of family worship. To help compensate, Elkanah would be especially attentive to her. But the pain would not leave Hannahís heart.

On one visit to the Tabernacle, she realized that she must step outside the realm of natural possibility and into the supernatural place of My power. Many of you have felt inadequate in either the earthly sphere of life, or as soul-winners. Within yourself, you see only inability and weakness. While others in church have held their heads high over their own achievements, youíve ducked yours in shame. Now is the time to say: "Lord, Iíve come to the end of my own resources. I refuse to depend on ME any longer. If I am ever to be victorious and fruitful, it must be through Christ in me, the Hope of Glory."

Hannah cast herself upon My mercy. Unable to eat, she rose from the table and drew aside to pray. She had reached a decision. The first male child I gave her would be returned to Me to live out his life in My service. Peace finally came over her. Now cheerful, she was able to sit back down and finish her meal.

The name "Hannah" means "grace". She had shown long grace and patience toward her adversary Peninah, whose name means "coral", a rocky, sharp, cutting substance found in nature. Naturally the sharp-tongued Peninah could have lots of kids. But through My grace and My power, Hannah was finally able to conceive and bear a son, who became the Prophet Samuel. Far from being grieved that she had to give him back to me, she composed a lovely anointed song of praise to commemorate the great victory I had given her. I rewarded her faithfulness by giving her five more beautiful children.

It is those who are aware of their own weakness who can best avail themselves of My great strength.

Flesh Versus Faith

Genesis chapters 16 and 17; 18:9-15; 21:1-21; Galatians 5:21-31; Hebrews 11:11

The Patriarch Abram had waited many years for Me to fulfill My promise to give him a son. But now he was 85 years old, and knew that he and his wife were getting no younger. Indeed, it was no longer humanly possible for her to bear a child, for she was in her seventies. In those days, it was considered a great disgrace to remain childless, and the value of a barren wife was often questioned.

Although Abram had treated her kindly, Sarai was very embarrassed about the situation. So she decided to follow the custom of the time and give her slave girl to her husband to produce offspring through her. Abram reluctantly agreed; for at that moment, the reasonings of his natural mind prevailed over his faith in My miracle-working power. If any story proves that the old adage "God helps those who help themselves" is not in My Word, this one surely does. Abram reasoned that if I were ever to keep My promise, I must have his active cooperation. So he took Hagar the Egyptian as a concubine. Surely this plan was foolproof. The girl was young and healthy. Naturally she could easily bear Abraham a son.

Within a short time of their union, Hagar conceived. At first, Abram and Sarai rejoiced. I was finally fulfilling My promise to give Abram a son, they thought. But Abram had taken Hagar without first consulting Me about it. Heíd just assumed it must be My will. After all, it seemed to be a good tradition to follow, and surely traditions must be respected, especially when all other options seem to have failed.

Always ask Me first before making a major decision which could alter the course of your life! It will save you a lot of tears and setbacks in your walk of faith. Pray first. If I disapprove of what you are planing to do or where you intend to go, you will feel quite uneasy about it. When that happens, donít try to argue your way out of following My will. I always know what is best, for I can see things down the road that you cannot see. I inhabit Eternity, and know the beginning from the end.

Saraiís elation was short-lived. It was bad enough that she had to share Abram with another woman, but by now the demeanor of her slave-girl toward her had completely changed. Hagar became arrogant. Formerly, she had always known her place. Now she felt she had the leverage she needed to play a power game with her mistress. She hoped Sarai would never bear a son, and that her son would be Abrahamís eventual heir, inheriting everything he had. Perhaps, she insinuated to Sarai, she might even supplant her as the favorite wife. Sarai was stung by such insolence. She pinned the blame on Abram for heeding her advice to take Hagar in the first place.

Already that deed done in the flesh was giving rise to problems far worse than childlessness. Sarai was angry and Abram was bewildered. She had always been such a pleasant companion, he thought. Abraham gave Sarai his permission to punish the slave girl as she saw fit. Hagar was dealt with so severely she fled the camp in tears.

Once she paused beside a well to refresh herself, bitterness flared up in her heart. Slaves had very little control over their own destiny. Hagar felt used and bruised in body and soul, although her unborn child was her consolation. In her lowly estate I succored this poor woman. Trusting Me, she obeyed My angelís admonition to return to her mistress and submit herself.

There was a temporary truce between Hagar and Sarai. The two were even able to rejoice together over the birth of little Ishmael. The three adults involved would try to live together as harmoniously as possible for the sake of the child. All three had a stake in his welfare.

Abram reconciled himself to having produced this one son by a slave-girl. God can use even Ishmael to fulfill his promise to make me the father of innumerable descendants, he reasoned. And Abram was relieved that his neighbors could no longer reproach him for being sonless. Now he had offspring, just like they did.

As the lad grew, Abram increasingly felt it would take a miracle for this child to become a man of faith. He had a wild streak in his nature, and he was not particularly devout. But surely I could still make My promise come true in spite of Ishmaelís contrariness. What other option was open to Me?

To Abramís great surprise, I appeared to him and made Myself quite clear: He and Sarai would, in their old age, have a son together. He would be the Child of Faith, conceived through My power. I gave the couple new names: Abram became "Abraham", the father of many nations. Sarai became "Sarah", a princess, the mother of kings.

In due time Sarah gave birth to Isaac, whose name means "laughter". You can be so thrilled with the wonderful things I do that it makes you laugh with joy.

Strife arose between the two boys when Ishmael was in his teens. The son born of the flesh could not live together peaceably with the son born by My power. The two had to go their separate ways. Discord between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac has persisted for 4,000 years. I joyfully anticipate the day when this bitter enmity will be forever healed. I love and care for both peoples. Descendants of Ishmael, as well as Israel, are destined to have a place of honor in My Millennial Kingdom.

Charmed to Church?

Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 16:15b; Romans 7:18a

"Conversions" made in the energy of the flesh are fleeting. Many self-reliant believers are glad they are endowed with a personality which is naturally garrulous and charming. Iíve even heard some smooth-talking saints boast of the numbers theyíve brought into the church, attributing their success to their natural salesmanship skills. Some have boasted of how easy it was for them to "sell Jesus", of how it was so easy for them to wear down the resistance of skeptics. Saints with more reticent personalities are sometimes despised as being less "fruitful" because they donít know how to "charm" sinners into being born again.

If a multitude joins your church because they are bribed with free food, camaraderie, concerts and movies, how genuine is their commitment to Me? And even if an individual really has become a new convert to Christ, how absurd to lay the law down on this spiritual infant and tell him that he must produce many spurious "new births" before he can show himself worthy of My salvation!

Many souls have only come to Me only after years of tears and ceaseless prayers offered up by loved ones who plead with Me to draw sinners unto Myself. Sometimes a sinner is even so utterly hardened in rebellion he will die in his sins, regardless of how much love has been showered upon him by saints. If My kindness is not enough to make a stubborn sinner enter into My Kingdom, then it is a certainty that all the cunning charm of a "natural" salesman cannot sell him on salvation.

Treating "the Barren" Evilly

Job 24:21

Back in Bible days reproduction was considered to be THE main purpose of a womanís existence. Unmarried girls or wives who could not bear children sorrowed night and day over the fact, wondering if I was punishing them for some sin. These poor women were sometimes ostracised by kindred and neighbors for the "crime" of being without offspring.

I hear the same line preached from thousands of pulpits around the world: "Some of you have never won one single soul to the Lord Jesus." Oh, the hurt and misunderstanding which results.

How do judgmental preachers know their intimidated listeners will be found wanting when they stand before Me at the Bema Judgment Seat? Only I know the countless tears shed in private by supposedly barren witnesses for Christ, as they pray for Me to overcome the stubborn resistance of unbelievers they try to win for Christ.

And just what is a hard taskmasterís measure of success? I recall "Brad", a zealous young believer who truly wanted to please his pastor by bringing in as many souls as possible. His was such a magnetic personality that many other young people "prayed" along with him just to please him. Brad was so eager to succeed he ignored a Voice of Caution warning him that not all his "converts" were prepared to give their all to Christ.

What happened to "Bud", one of many scalps on Bradís burgeoning belt? Little by little Bud lost interest in church activities. Legalistic Brad thought that so long as "converts" kept all the taboos of the church they would be okay. One day Brad caught Bud shooting pool in an arcade with some worldly friends. He said: "Bud, you shouldnít be in a place like this." And there were countless other times Brad reproached Bud for going to the movies or for his choice of music. Even his spiked hairdo was a turn-off.

It wasnít long Bud got tired of being Bradís trophy and broke free of his belt.

Quit giving "fruitless" Christians such a hard time. Rather, minister to them what they need to cultivate the Fruits of the Spirit in their lives, that they might attract others with the sweet fragrance of the Life of Christ. True converts cling only to Christ. They donít dangle from anybodyís belt.

Be Wary While Witnessing

Proverbs 23:9; Matt. 7:6; 8:4; 12:14-19; 17:9; Mark 3:11-12; 5:43; I Peter 5:8

So many saints have been informed by over-zealous drill sergeants that itís strictly up to them whether or not sinners choose to come into My Kingdom, and if they die and go to hell Christians are always to blame. These poor harassed saints are strongly urged to finely hone their powers of persuasion, and "brush up on their people skills". Some begin to think their basic personalities are liabilities to their personal ministry to the lost. This leads to groundless guilt feelings. Some have been told they ought to pray for deliverance from being the unique person I created them to be. Some evangelistic leaders say I am ashamed of saints who are too shy to go up to just any stranger who happens along and ask if he knows Jesus. The quiet, reflective introvert is urged to pray that I will miraculously change him into a talkative extrovert overnight, one who never hesitates to tell everybody he sees on the street everything he knows about Me. But there were times Jesus urged discretion in testifying to others, even when it had to do with miracles Heíd just performed. It would have meant casting pearls before swine, hardened mockers hungry for opportunity to cast scorn on My wonderful works.

If you go up to a gang of drunks at the door of a bar and try to share the wondrous treasures of My Word with a profane lout who blasphemes My Name and mocks holy things, you only give that loudmouth extra ammunition. It also brings reproach on My Holy Name in the eyes of those who witness his mockery of your testimony. The same principle applies to someone who jokes about the things of Christ, a subtler but equally evil form of hostility to the Gospel.

Your ultimate goal is to bring glory to your God, not to outstrip others as a salvation salesman.

Stubborn as a Mule

John 5:40; Rev. 22:17

I was meditating on the issue of "whosoever will" vs. "free will", where it concerns persuading an unbeliever to partake freely of the Fountain of Living Water. The Lord showed me a vision of a very determined man, sweating and straining and digging in his heels, tugging at the reins of a very stubborn mule. Now stubbornness is part of a mule's nature, but today the mule was acting even more bizarre because he had been grazing on loco weed. So he didnít have sense enough to know when he was thirsty. The owner feared his animal would die of dehydration if he didnít have a drink of water.

The mule reared and bucked, nearly knocking the poor man down. But the man persisted. Finally the mule gave in because the strain on his bit was making his mouth sore. The man began to sing and rejoice because it seemed like the mule was meekly following him to the watering hole, head bowed in submission. But the mule was steaming with resentment on the inside because he had been overpowered by a smaller creature.

Finally they reached the edge of the pond. "Youíd better take advantage of this refreshment," said the man. "Itíll be a long way before we see fresh water again."

The mule didnít want to give his owner the satisfaction. Stiffly he raised his head, mouth tightly closed. He brayed in defiance.

"Being stubborn again, eh?" his owner grumbled. "Well, Iím gonna break you of that right here and now. Iím not gonna be beaten by any dumb mule. Youíre gonna drink this water if it kills you!"

With all his might the man tugged at the mule, trying to get him to move. Still he brayed and snorted defiance. The man jumped in the water, still holding the reins. "About time you had a good bath, too," he said. "Címon in."

The mule stood his ground at the bank of the pond. But the man did manage to force the muleís muzzle into the water and hold it beneath the surface. "Ah," said the man, "youíre drinking now. Iíve won."

No, he didnít win. The stubborn mule drowned because the water went down the wrong pipe.

Sinners who have been feasting on this worldís loco weed donít always know whatís best for them. The Water of Life only benefits those who partake of it willingly.

Jonah: Unwilling Winner of Souls

Book of Jonah

Let all those who feel inadequate as personal evangelists take heart: The salvation of a soul ultimately depends upon My grace, not the zeal of the evangelist! The Prophet Jonah got souls saved in spite of the fact he didnít even love those souls, didnít really want them saved, and didnít even want to preach to them in the first place!

Jonah knew that in the future, I would use the Kingdom of Assyria to punish My people Israel for her idolatry. The City of Nineveh was the capital city of that mighty empire. I told Jonah to go warn the Ninevites that their entire city was about to be destroyed because of their sin.

Jonah was in a quandary. If he obeyed Me and went to deliver My warning to the Ninevites, there was an outside chance they could repent. If their repentance was genuine, I might even spare their lives. Jonah knew My loving nature, that I was gracious and merciful, as well as just. He felt that if he was instrumental in their reprieve from destruction, he would be betraying his fellow Israelites. He faced a difficult choice.

He decided to flee in the opposite direction, and sail west to Spain instead of going northeast to Nineveh to preach My warning to Israelís foes. He hadnít been at sea long before his ship got caught in a terrible tempest, and was about to sink.

The captain urged every man to call upon his gods for deliverance. Jonah was down in the hold, fast asleep, while the heathens watched and prayed to their false gods. Jonah was roused and urged to get busy and pray, or they might sink.

Still, the wind blew ever harder, and the waves grew higher and more turbulent. The sailors tossed out as much cargo as they could to lighten the ship, but to no avail. In utter desperation, the sailors drew lots to find out who was to blame for the storm. Jonah won the draw. He told them He was an Israelite, confessed his guilt, and told them the only way to stop the storm would be to throw him overboard.

They obliged him, though they cried out to Me not to lay his death to their account. A whale swallowed Jonah at once. The disobedient prophet thought for sure I was executing him by feeding him to a fish.

The heathens on board the ship were amazed at how calm the sea became once Jonah was gone. They swore theyíd never again offer sacrifices to any other god; only to the Lord God of Israel, Jonahís God. I had brought good even out of Jonahís disobedience. I have the power to do that. Jonah had been an unwitting partner in My work, merely by being where he wasnít supposed to be in the first place and getting thrown overboard!

To Jonahís surprise, he remained in the stomach of the great whale without being digested. For three days and three nights he sat there in abject misery, praying for Me to

spare his life so he could go and do what Iíd ordered him to do in the first place. His prayer was inspired by the Psalms.

Finally, the whale spit him out on the beach. Jonah hardly stopped moving till he got to Nineveh. Although he was deeply repentant and thankful for My mercy, he still didnít relish the task set before him, giving Israelís arch-enemy a chance to repent.

His was a simple, no-frills style: No special music to set the mood, no freebies, no vocal theatrics, no help from acoustics and lighting technicians, no tears, no prolonged, impassioned altar pleas, no melodramatic organ music to sway emotions, no pledge cards to fill out, no glossy literature, not even any follow-up ministry to monitor the spiritual growth of his new converts. Just a detached monotone voice preaching the same, short lethargic sermon over and over: "In forty days Nineveh will be destroyed."

Jonah shed plenty of tears in the whaleís belly, but none for the Ninevites. And he wasnít too thrilled by the successful outcome of his mission. To his utter shock, the King listened to his laconic sermon and the holy fear of God struck him. He ordered the whole city to repent, and to express their sorrow with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. I was glad for them, and spared that generation of Ninevites.

Hoping their gesture might be too little, too late, Jonah went outside the city to tarry awhile to see what would become of it. The evangelistís "follow-up" was a death watch! Notice that he didnít deal with new converts the way Christ, the One greater than Jonah, would do. Jonah didnít spend his remaining time in the area ministering My love to those people, and teaching them My ways so they and their descendants could get to know Me better and resist temptation in the future. The converts were left unchruched.

That brief season of repentance was eventually forgotten and the Ninevites did return to their old wicked ways. There was no love between the two nations. Israel would, in time, be brutally conquered by the Assyrians. They, in turn, would suffer divine retribution, and Nineveh would finally be destroyed.

Jonah finally realized that the Ninevites had been spared My judgment. He grew very despondent over the huge success of his mission, and the salvation of all those souls.

The sun grew hotter, and beat down on the head of the dispirited prophet. He made himself a crude shelter, but I made him an even better one by causing a shade plant to spring up for him. He was so happy to get that relief from the heat. One common cliche among Christians is: "God wonít ever do anything for you if you donít put some feet (self-effort) to your faith." But I canít be reduced to a set of theological rules. I am far too great for that, and My wisdom and goodness are immeasurable. I provided the extra shade for Jonah to show that I still loved him, and to provide him a very necessary object lesson on love.

Much to Jonahís dismay, I caused a worm to attack the plant the next morning, so that it withered and died. Jonahís first reaction was fury, then severe depression. His death wish persisted. He just didnít want to go back to Israel, knowing heíd aided and abetted the enemy. Heíd forgotten that I had ordained the Nation of Israel to be a Light to the Gentiles, to show them My great salvation and love.

My, how sad Jonah was. First, the salvation of all those heathens, and now this. But I told him that I had created those precious souls, and didnít want to see any of them destroyed. And yet here he was, mourning the death of a mere plant which had quickly sprung up, only to wither away the next morning.

Jonah himself had abundantly received My mercy. Iíd granted him a second chance to do My will. That is an act of My unmerited favor. There have been many who never did get second chances to obey Me. And, Jonah had been saved from drowning in the sea. Miraculously I had suspended the creatureís digestive processes. That whale was an obedient creature. It carried out my orders to transport Jonah back to the Holy Land and spit him out on the shore. One major motivation in sharing the Gospel with the lost is: Remember what the Lord did for you, and be grateful enough to want others to receive the blessings of His merciful grace.

Christians are wisely taught that the true evangelist is willing to sacrifice even his own physical comfort and well-being to go to the foreign mission field, so souls can be saved from the greater discomfort of hell. But Jonahís deliverance from the hot sun meant more to him than the deliverance of his enemies from My wrath. Jonah didnít meet many of the criteria for a good soul winner. Still, My will overruled Jonahís initial unwillingness and those souls were won.

It is My Spirit of Grace Who brings men to repentance, in spite of balking believers.

Mushrooms and Oak Trees

Jeremiah 17:7-8; II Timothy 2:20-21

My people are often impatient with each other when it comes to assessing the rate of somebody elseís spiritual growth. But theyíre really being impatient with Me.

I donít always stick to your time schedule. I am a Master Artist, shaping and molding you and your brothers and sisters in Christ into the image of My Son. There are flaws and defects in lives which need smoothing out, and it is a painstaking job to get it done. Not only do I create a vessel fitting for my use, but I beautify it and adorn it.

A mushroom springs up in mere hours. But a stately oak tree takes hundreds of years.

The Houseplant

Isaiah 27:3

It was such a scraggly little plant, not much more than a twig sticking up out of the potting soil. But faithfully it was watered and kept in the window to receive what little sunlight was available. Its owner wondered if it might be dead, for it didnít seem to be growing.

Then came the springtime. Before long, buds formed on the little plant, then secondary branches.

All it took to see it through wintertime was a little loving care.

Others might say you are failing to grow, and stagnating in the Life of Christ. But I am well able to see you through your long, grey winters, and bring you into the abundant glory of spiritual springtime.

The Tumbleweed

Matthew 11:7, Ephesians 4:14-15

There are those who receive Christ gladly, then seem to grow at a rapidclip rate. Everyone lauds them for their progress, for they see only the top of the plant. But it is the unseen part, the roots, which provide the plant with stability in times of stress and storm. If such a one has not been diligent to root his life deeply in the soil of My Word, he will become a tumbleweed driven about by every breeze.

Spiritual Winter

When my people are most in need of tender compassion, Ofttimes they receive only cutting criticism from brothers and sisters in Christ who are obsessed with "fruitfulness" . Most always they mean success in ministry to reach lost souls, rather than the quiet workings of my Spirit in a personís life.

Instead of a vital, soul-seeking, go-getter for Christ, critics see only a shrinking violet slacker who refuses to do his share to advance the Kingdom of God. When such a saint is assailed by troubles and forced to concentrate more on his own needs, he is rebuked for being a unfruitful tree without even leaves to serve as promissory notes of future fruitfulness.

Every healthy tree has its seasons. A deciduous tree reaches its peak of green leafiness in summer. In autumn, it is a riot of blazing colors, and a delight to the eye. It seems to be in its prime. To all appearances, those branches are teeming with lots of glorious living leaves.

Not so. Those beautiful leaves are actually dead. Undiscerning saints are always impressed by flashy display.

Then comes winter, and even the appearance of life is gone. Stark bare branches speak of a stripping away of earthly glory, a time of humbling. The life is still within the tree, but all its resources are now spent on mere survival until spring comes once again to renew it with fresh buds of life.

Giving One Another Space to Grow

Matt. 7:15-20; Luke 3:9; 13:6-9

How impatient My children can be with one another, and how lenient with themselves. The feel-good promises of My Word they reserve for themselves and for those they cherish as friends. But they seize upon frightening Scriptures to bully those they donít particularly like and barely tolerate.

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree is one of the hypocriteís favorite weapons to use to cut somebody else down In this story the landowner sends his servants to check to see if a habitually barren tree has produced any fruit yet. To his annoyance, he learns that it has grown only leaves. The landowner gives the tree an ultimatum: If, after one more year of careful cultivation it fails to produce fruit, it will be chopped down. And it will be cast into the fire, good for nothing but firewood for the burning.

Christians conveniently forget that the tree in question had grown far beyond the sapling stage. Baby believers are spiritual saplings who must be fed and cherished with the Love of Christ, not condemned. The best fruit comes from a mature tree which has had time to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit in its life.

Many suppose fruitfulness refers primarily to winning souls, and thus being a spiritual parent, without whom the convert could not have possibly been born again. But do not flatter yourself. I could have chosen some other means to reach that soul. And remember, it is impossible for any human to change someone elseís heart. You are My witnesses on earth, but the Holy Spirit is the Interior Witness Who deals with the soul of a sinner, pleading with him or her to forsake their evil ways and be converted. You cannot do this. And it is not you giving birth to the born-again soul. At most your testimony serves as the midwife to help bring a new conversion about. You are My fellow laborer in the Gospel, but your role is a supportive, secondary one, not the primary one.

What pride has been engendered by countless spurious "conversions" which took place because some young person felt obligated to please his best friend by repeating the sinnerís prayer! How many have gone away from Me because My Word was not given time to take root in the hearts of those double-minded people and produce the sweet fruits of the nature of Christ Jesus!

Donít ever use My Word to beat your brother or sister on the head with, just because your personality seems to be at odds with theirs and you donít take an easy liking to them. I would have been perfectly justified in refusing to like you because of your past sins. Learn to love with My perfect Love. And give one another space to grow!

Learn to Forgive Yourself

My, how the devil loves to dredge up your past mistakes, to distract you from the magnitude of My grace and mercy toward you. I speak most especially to My more mature saints, who have lived a long life and often pause to reflect on the many things Iíve brought them through.

If you made mistakes as a young parent, it is easy to look back and browbeat yourself for them, even if your child has blossomed into a wholesome, loving adult. That is satan attacking you! He hates the great progress youíve made in the Life of Faith, and the work Iíve done in your soul to perfect you into My glorious image. So he fights dirty by poking around in your past and saying: "You could have done so much better, ought to have been more patient, loving or attentive toward your child(ren), husband or wife, etc.

Now that youíre a bit more mature and the pace of your life is a bit slower, forgive the tired young parent or spouse you once were. Youíve gained the wisdom of hindsight, but this blessing never comes without the price of painful experience! This kind of wisdom helps make wonderful grandparents and pleasant companions in later life.

If you once were were poorer financially, and beset with countless pressures, you might have been less cheerful about giving to the needy or showing unexpected hospitality, especially on a big scale. I brought you through that difficult phase of your life, even though your attitudes and emotions werenít always the noblest. Now that your schedule isnít quite so jam-packed, forgive the harried, high- pressured, poor person you once were.

If your life was once so fast-paced and backlogged that you hardly had time to devote yourself to the things of My Kingdom, forgive yourself for what the enemy tells you were wasted years. Even then, I was daily with you and teaching you about My great faithfulness. Those years were definitely not wasted!

Maybe you made some clumsy mistakes in personal relationships many years ago. Forgive that immature young person with the raging hormones! All of My dear children trip and fall as they learn to walk.

If you find that your life is very rich and fulfilling, though not nearly so burdened and high-pressured as it used to be, then count your many blessings. During those years you felt overwhelmed by lifeís incessant demands, you found it much harder to stop and smell the roses I made, or admire the beauty of the lilies. So many things crowded your field of vision you couldnít see the forest for all the trees whizzing by.

But now that Iíve brought you out into a pleasant meadow, look back with thanksgiving for all I did to sustain you during those difficult years. Thatís the right way to reminisce.

Christ, Your Mighty Refuge

Psalms 9:9; 32:7; 103:12; 143: 9; Isaiah 38:17; 43:25; Romans 8:1; I Cor. 6:17; II Cor. 10:3:5; Hebrews 6:18-20

One of the devilís dirtiest tricks is to heap condemnation on your head for sins committed in the distant past, things done even before conversion and long after I have blotted them off your record and washed them away. Some of you, at the time of that sin or disgraceful condition, might even have been under extreme demonic oppression or suffered varying degrees of demonic possession which seemed to come and go unexpectedly. Thus the devil may have had far more to do with the reason for that terrible problem in your life than you yourself did.

By faith proclaim that everything that concerns you, past present or future, is under the cleansing Blood of Christ; so that when the devil is minded to dredge up his favorite incidents to torment you he is confronted with the Lord of Glory Who defeated him at Calvary, and his boldness to attack you in that way fades in the face of My power. It is only when you forget Me and resort to fleshly "mind over matter" to fight traumatic thoughts that you can be defeated.

When satan tries to overwhelm you with a sense of horror of any kind, either for an incident in the past or for a sense of present inadequacy to face the uncertainties of life, by faith flee into your Refuge Christ Jesus and know that He Himself is your Hiding Place and your all-suficiency. Jesus Himself has accepted you into His own Body the Church, which comprises all who have accepted Him as Savior and Lord. As a believer in Christ, you are joined to Him through the power of the Holy Spirit, and you are even made one spirit with Him. Furthermore, I, the Great Judge of all the earth, have cast thy sins behind My back, not before My face. Your sins have been cast away from My sight as far as East is from West, and thatís a mighty long way!

So when satan tries to dredge up all that old garbage I have washed away say: "Devil, go away. I am one spirit with Christ Jesus, and you can no more heap that guilt on me than you can heap it on Him."

Peterís Example

Luke 21:31-32; I Peter 3:8

Did you know I am able to redeem even your past mistakes for good? The Apostle Peter denied he knew Me, not once, but three times. How crushed his cowardice made him feel afterwards!

But because he went through that Vale of Humiliation, he was able to have compassion on younger saints who were beset by temptation or weakness of any kind . Because heíd always had to lean on Christ to be his strength, Peter "the rock" had much more of a tender heart than he could otherwise have had, and his ministry was made even more effective. Troubled individuals listened to what he had to say because heíd once walked in their shoes himself.

Peter could honestly say: "I know how you feel, Brother or Sister. Believe me, dear one, Iíve been there."

Misplaced Devotion

Deut.18:11; I Sam.28:5-19; Psalms 14: 1-3; Psalms 69:8; Isaiah 53: 6; 64:6; Luke 1:47; Rom. 1:7; 3:10,23; Hebrews 5:14-16; 7: 20-28

So what do I think of the practice of venerating the saints as an aid to the devotional life?

Spiritual deception usually comes decked out in impressive religious garb. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden it is oh, so beautiful, but a lying, deadly snare. It takes faith to believe that the atonement of My dear Son is sufficient to make you righteous and acceptable before a holy God, without any contribution on your part. Many have the silly notion that My Son is so overwhelmed by pleas for help from earthly saints that it is necessary (even required) that they call on departed heavenly saints for help with their problems. Sometimes people feel so unworthy and tainted by their own faults that they are ashamed to come boldly before My Throne for help. So they beg some holy man or woman from the distant past to intercede on their behalf.

That is all wrong. King Saul got into deep trouble when he tried to contact the recently deceased Prophet Samuel for help. Because of stubborn rebellion in his life Saul felt unworthy to approach Me, for he sensed My wrath against unrepented sin in his life. He hoped the intervention of this holy man might smooth the way for his petition and dispel My displeasure with him enough to assure him of victory on the battlefield the following day.

I know that some of My children are far more consecrated than others, and devote much more of their time to serving the interests of My Kingdom than do others. But even if you rigorously carried out every spiritual devotion you felt necessary to please Me and gave all your goods to the poor, and even did all this on a daily basis, I would still see your own righteousness as a spotty, dingy travesty of the perfect righteousness of My own Son. It would be unacceptable in My sight and would fall far short of the standard needed to get you into heaven.

When you are truly converted, I see you as being in Christ and joined to Him by faith. Every person who truly loves Christ as Lord and Savior and abides in Him by faith is a saint.

If you were to approach even My own earthly mother and bow down to worship her, she would rebuke you for it and let you know that she herself had stood in need of a Savior Who redeemed her from the curse of sin inherited from Adam; a bondage common to all mankind. Even Maryís own children misunderstood Me and refused for a long time to accept Me as their promised Redeemer. Thus they had to be delivered from unbelief. I have testified of human nature: All have sinned, and there is none righteous, no, not one.

The great saints of old were ordinary people who desired Me above all else, and eagerly received all I had provided for them through My death, burial and resurrection.

Their eyes were fixed by faith upon their Great High Priest in heaven Who ever lives to make intercession for those who are beset by the infirmities of the flesh.

Lean on Me

I Corinthians 1:24-29; II Corinthians 12:9-10

Do you often get impatient with yourself for making the same old mistakes over and over, although you thought youíd finally conquered them for good? Most likely satan takes advantage of this and whispers: "Surely God can never use you again. Your life contradicts everything you profess to believe in."

How like the enemy to blow your faults all out of proportion to the greatness of My grace, to call your sins unforgivable, then resort to his dirtiest tactics to blind you to My goodness. How he strives to get you to focus entirely on your own natural positive attributes, instead of relying on the power of the perfect Life of My Son within you. Daily I am helping you to grow in the manifestation of His Life. This is what satan fears most.

Take comfort in the very fact you are weak, for that is a sure sign I have chosen you to bring glory to My Name. Even Paul could say he gloried in his weaknesses, because when he was weak My power could rest upon him in an even mightier way.

I have not chosen the self-sufficient, popular, proud individual, but that one who knows he or she is and has nothing apart from Christ. You need to rely on Me continually to uphold you and train you in the use of spiritual weapons, that you might effectively resist every effort of satan to tear you down whenever you stumble and need to ask My forgiveness.

Grace: A Free Gift to Those Willing to Receive It

Eph. 2:8-10; Matt. 12:24-32; Mark 3:22-30; Rev. 22:17

The self-righteous Pharisees took My Son to task for consorting with tax gatherers and prostitutes. Christ did not approve of their sins, of course, but He gladly helped them with their troubles. He forgave them and bestowed new dignity upon them as human beings. He was their dearest Friend. Christ conversed unashamedly with prostitutes, many of whom had histories of abuse, near-starvation, or rejection by their own families as just another mouth to feed. Among poor peasant families it was a common practice to feed all the males of the household first and if nothing was left the women and girls went without.

Sons were usually cherished much more than daughters, especially in poverty-stricken households. Once a girl was deemed old enough to survive on the streets, she might be turned out by a heartless, faithless father because of unwillingness or inability to support her. This was especially so if she were so plain her ungodly father could not sell her to some man to be his wife. Bereft of other resources, such a girl would likely paint her face and resort to prostitution in order to make money to survive in a cruel, uncaring community knowledgeable of My Law but blind to My Love.

Christ ministered forgiveness and life to these wretched women, and they became daughters of God. They followed Him and became His devoted servants for life.

Mary Magdalene was a woman whom Christ had freed from demonic oppression. She was the first of His followers to greet Him after His Resurrection.

Jesus was grieved to behold so many sheep lost in darkness, driven away by the very ones who claimed to represent Me, the Shepherd of Israel. These men added countless ordinances to the Law Iíd given Moses on Mount Sinai, then despised those who were unable to keep them all.

They thought they were the ones who kept the Law perfectly, the ones who "deserved" My lovingkindness above all others. These men were real hair-splitters when it came to interpreting minor points of their oral law. They put on properly religious airs, wore beautiful vestments, gave alms with studied ceremony, and made sad faces when they fasted. Surely I could require no more of them, and I was indebted to them for their "holiness".

My Son plainly told them that it is not healthy folks who need a physician, but the sick. He had not come to save perfect people, just sinners. Occasionally He dined with Pharisees. Most of them were hard-hearted, like sun-baked earth which would not absorb the Living Water He had come to share. They had a very poor concept of the unfathomable nature of My own Perfection. They did not accept that I am Love, and I would rather have acts of mercy than outward ritual. Some of them KNEW inside that My Son was the chosen One, but were far too proud to acknowledge that they needed what He alone could give. They refused to admit they were powerless to attain to My salvation through their own merits. Instead, they insulted the very Spirit within Christ, saying He had a demon. The vilest of these spiritual leaders did not do this in ignorance, but with full knowledge that they were rejecting the image of God in Christ. This is the sin against the Holy Spirit, and satan often uses the dread of having committed this terrible sin to frighten My dear children, so he can bring them under his worst spiritual oppression and keep them in bondage to a spirit of fear. This often happens after one of his imps whispers a bad thought into the mind of a saint, which is one of the devilís fiery darts. When a Christian worries that he may have committed the unpardonable sin, that fear is usually groundless, for those who truly love Me would rather die than commit it. The very fact they are walking in godly reverence before Me proves they are not guilty of it. Those guilty of committing the sin against the Holy Ghost are so hardened they wouldnít even worry even if they knew theyíd done it. But Christ pronounced woe upon the religious leaders who had insulted the Holy Spirit dwelling within Him. Most of Christís religious enemies died in their sins, because their own so-called righteousness could not be accepted by a Holy God.

Where it concerns My grace, there is no room for boasting, except to glory in Me. You rob Me of glory when you insinuate that you could ever deserve the unspeakably great Sacrifice of My only-begotten Son. That is the very worst presumption. If I gave each person what he deserved according to the life lived in the power of the flesh, every one of you would perish, including this writer! The definition of "grace" is "unmerited favor".

Tradition Cannot Save

Matthew 13:10-17; 15:8-9, 13-14; I Peter 1:18-25

Christís most vehement adversaries supposed that by faithfully adhering to vain traditions handed down from their forebears, they could somehow merit My favor. The sheer number of extra ordinances meticulously observed by the ultra-pious might have caused them inconvenience, but it also filled them with pride of achievement. Those poor souls were so blind! My son walked among them and showed them the true nature of My love and holiness, but those self-obsessed men did not want to see My revelation of Myself. They had carefully built up their own cozy little kingdom, and My Kingdom of Love was at odds with their own selfish motivations. I said in My word, every plant which My Heavenly Father has not planted, shall be uprooted.

I see many diverse religious groups in the world today, all with their arbitrary criteria for judging right and wrong. Some believe that by being a faithful follower of their familyís religious tradition, they can escape hell and earn a place among the redeemed in heaven. That is not true! One tenet of "political correctness" is that I must excuse anyone who does what he sincerely believes to be right. But remember, some of Christís religious foes sincerely thought they were doing Me a favor by killing Him. Demon-driven Nazis convinced themselves that it was OK to annihilate millions of Jews during the Holocaust. Being sincerely wrong is destructive. It never saved a single soul.

I have given My Word for the enlightenment of those who seek My Truth, even through the mouths of prophets, apostles, and My own dear Son, Who is the Living Revelation of the Father. Where the clear light of Scripture conflicts with traditional practice, it is far better to be true to Me and disavow false tradition than to cleave to it and reject the Light which shows you the true path to heaven.

Spiritual Israelites

Exodus 19:5-6; Romans 2:28-29; Titus 2:14; Ephesians 2:11-14; I Peter 2:5-10

There is a widespread heresy that love alone is sufficient to cover sins, and that belief in a blood atonement is no longer necessary in these "enlightened times." That is but one example of the abominable measures man has taken to try to make My gospel more palatable to modern tastes. Many sincerely misled people are being led down the path to perdition, for My Truth does not change to keep in step with the whims of fallen mankind.

Many diverse peoples with varying customs and practices existed in Biblical days, but Israel alone was My Chosen People, and My unique treasure. Why? Not because they were physically more attractive or more intelligent than other races, but it was a calling of My grace and election. I blessed Abraham who believed in My promises, and his faith was accounted unto him for righteousness. I commanded him to offer up certain types of animal sacrifices at set times in the right way, and in locations of My choosing. He always followed My instructions diligently. By faith he looked forward to that One Sacrifice whose blood would remove sins from My sight forever. In the days of his descendant Moses, a fuller revelation of divine ordinance for temporary animal expiations was instituted. While the priestly tribe of Levi faithfully carried out My directives in offering sacrifices for themselves and for the congregation, there were countless tribes in the earth which scoffed at the notion that blood sacrifice was necessary to atone for sin. Many peoples contemporary with the ancient Israelites wanted to do things their way, not My way, so I left them to their own stubbornness. Those Gentiles who did sacrifice to their false gods had only a distorted concept of how to offer sacrifice for sin, just like Cain before them. Many heathen nations even sacrificed infants and small children, and participated in orgies in honor of the demons who were the real powers represented by their idols of wood and stone. I had not entrusted My Word of faith to them, only to believing Israel.

Many present-day believers in Christ are descended from peoples who dwelt in spiritual darkness. But I see them not as Gentiles, but as spiritual Jews. In My eyes they have become one spirit with Christ, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. My Body of believers is a Chosen Nation, and a Royal Priesthood. These are appointed to offer up spiritual sacrifices unto Me; the sweet incense of praise and prayer, the offering of intercessory prayers for transgressors, and the ministry of proclaim to sinners the efficacy of My atoning Blood. I could not have bestowed a greater honor upon My people. Those redeemed ones who honor My Son as Lord are accounted as the true children of Abraham, the Father of Faith.


Romans 6:15-16; Jude 4; II Peter 2:20-22

There are those who sorely try My patience, for their whole attitude toward My grace is evil. There was a certain young man who was very zealous for his Savior. Bumper stickers on his car boldly proclaimed his faith, and he shouted My praises more loudly than anyone else in the congregation. Merrily he danced before Me. He was MY child, and had tasted of the good things of My Spirit. He prophesied in My congregation, shared the Word, witnessed to the lost, fasted and prayed, and exhorted the other saints to be on fire for Me.

By and by he married one of My most devout daughters. At first he was thankful to have obtained a wife of such rare spirituality as she possessed. At first he cherished her, and was content with the simple pleasures of married life. He reaped the benefits of her homemaking skills. She bore him three wonderful children.

With the passage of time he grew colder toward Me. A spirit of error crept into his church, and it was eventually disbanded. He was so disillusioned by the imperfections of Christian leaders that he drifted away from Me, and no longer walked in My ways.

The precarious doctrine of once-saved-always-saved-no-matter-what gave him an excuse to play games with Me. As he progressed toward middle age, he grew restless and tired of My restraints on his behavior. Like a wild ass, he chomped at the bit and decided to put Me to the test.

Why not? he thought. I can always go back to God if I want to. Iíll just have my fun first, then Heíll forgive Me as usual. What do I care so long as I sneak into heaven by the skin of my teeth? Why not sample the best of both worlds?

With reckless abandon he committed adultery against his long-suffering wife, leaving this godly woman wounded with a broken heart. He neglected to provide for his family after his marriage ended. While she prayed, he played.

In like manner many men of ancient Israel dealt treacherously with their wives. Their attitude was: I can do as I like. Moses made even made provision in the Law for me to divorce her if I grow tired of her. After all, sheís only a woman, hardly human. And even if sin is involved in my betrayal I can appease God with my sin offering once Iíve enjoyed myself.

No, I wonít forgive this rebel as usual. Without sincere repentance and a forsaking of sin, there can be no cleansing of My Blood. Let such a backslider know that a dog returning to his own vomit is in grave danger of hellfire. Rebellion, especially prolonged rebellion, is an insidious poison which hardens the heart toward the sweet drawings of My Spirit of Grace.

Eternal security is only possessed by a true believer whose heart is tender and responsive toward Me. Such a one will desire to remain in the faith of Christ Jesus and be kept by Him, desire to be purged of every sin, and desire My grace to help in time of weakness. I am not mocked, saith the Lord.

Convenient Salvation: A Dangerous Myth

John 16:8; Acts 24: 24-26; 26:27-28; II Corinthians 6:2; II Timothy 2:25; Hebrews 3:7-8; 12:17

A lot of foolhardy sinners have heard My Gospel Message more than once, and even agreed within themselves that it was genuine, that I was I Who was pleading with them to accept My Love. But their problem is this: They love the things of this world far too much to surrender to My Lordship. The enemy has them convinced that it is they who initiate the salvation process, and any time they get ready they can accept salvation, just for the free fire insurance it affords.

The stubborn sinner resorts to this excuse: "If the Thief on the Cross got saved at the very last possible moment, why canít I?"

To begin with, the Thief on the Cross received an unspeakably great mercy from Me, in saving his soul from hell just before he breathed his last. This man had wasted his life by skirting the edge of the law and stealing from others for profit. He had never before had a close encounter with My Son, or with any of His disciples. He had resented the Law of Moses as an intolerably hard burden to bear, and had never before fully realized his need for redemption. The utter Holiness of My Son brought swift conviction to his soul, and he finally believed the sporadic reports he had heard about this Nazarene Carpenterís claim to be the Promised Deliverer of Israel.

Those who have toyed with Me for so many years, thinking that I will never tire of reaching out to them with My offer of salvation, are playing an extremely dangerous game. There have been cases where people had intended to repent before death, but could not! It is necessary for My Holy Spirit to be present to actively convince a person of personal sin before salvation can take place! So many lost souls have finally alienated My Spirit, and He is no longer there to do that divine work in their heart. I must grant repentance to a personís heart before he can even reach out to Me! This truth was neglected by two public officials who heard Paulís preaching, and spoke personally with him. Felix, Governor of Caesarea, thought Paul was a fine speaker, but said: "Go your way, Paul. At a more convenient time, Iíll send for you again." And King Agrippa told Paul: "Almost you persuade me to become a Christian." Both of these vacillating men died in their sins. Many souls are in hell today because they would not heed the Masterís call as He passed by, and put Me off till a more convenient time.

I have seen souls writhing at the altar rail, knowing they should feel sorry for their sins, knowing they should be able to call upon Me for salvation, but feeling that they are no better than animals, that a vital part of them has died. Oh, the anguish upon their faces when they realize they have rebuffed Me one time too many, and no longer have the ability to repent!

Some have even refused to pray for forgiveness when they were in the final stages of cancer, fearing that if I saved their souls, I would also heal their bodies, and expect their extended lives to be lived out to the end for My glory. They simply did not want to take the chance that a part of their life could not be devoted to a life of sin. In them, sin has done its final dirty work of setting their evil hearts like cement.

I am merciful and loving, but I am also inexpressibly Holy. When My Spirit approaches you to deal with you about sin, He is to be held in highest reverence and heeded immediately with a tender, yielded heart.

Backsliding: A Detour to Hell

John 15:6; I Corinthians 5:3-5; Hebrews 10:26-31; verses 38-39; James 5:19-20; I John 5:16

Many well-meaning church denominations and preachers have taught the dangerous doctrine of unconditional eternal security, saying that no matter what a person does or says after conversion, even if he tramples his own salvation underfoot and never repents again, he can never be lost again! Some even claim that a backsliderís salvation is so secure that at the time of the Rapture, he could even be lifted up from a bed of adultery to join Me in the air! What a loathsome heresy! He has been taught that since the Righteousness of Christ has been imputed to his account in heaven, he can do just as he likes without fear of going to hell. Everything will be OK, just as long as he, at some point in his miserable lifetime, has recited the sinnerís prayer! What blasphemous presumption on My goodness! This profane doctrine has been used to broaden the Narrow Way to Life, and pack church buildings.

There are ever-worsening degrees of backsliding. A believer can decide heís tired of the Life of Faith, and become a backslider. At first, a believer loses interest in prayer and reading My Word. He might become so involved with worldly friends that he begins to perceive his beliefs as unsophisticated and unworthy of his fine intellect. What remains of his relationship with Me is aloof and cold. Little remains of his prayer life, unless he finds himself in a big jam he needs Me to get him out of. Or, if his conscience is nagging him beyond endurance, heíll usually offer a perfunctory prayer for forgiveness to make himself feel better. Unless he realizes the terrible danger heís in, his conscience will harden like iron, till nothing bothers him anymore. This usually deals a death blow to his prayer life. Unless there is a way I can penetrate the thick wall heís built around himself , heíll only harden in rebellion. A dog can return to its own vomit, and a sow to her wallowing in the mire, as Peter illustrates in II Peter 2:20-22. When that happens and there is not immediate genuine repentance, I, in My Love, discipline My rebellious child in an effort to recover his soul from death. Fellow believers should not finish off that one who has strayed from the truth and is experiencing My chastisement; rather, they should do all they can to help their lost brother or sister make peace with Me before it is everlastingly too late.

No sane person navigating a narrow mountain road would steer himself away from the only safe path, step on the gas and go sailing off the shoulder of the road into a deep ravine. But thatís just what backsliders do; forsake Me for the road to hell! They may have been taught the bedrock truths of My Word; yet they deliberately spurn My warnings, and persist in following the Path to Destruction onto which they have strayed.

In the terminal stage of backsliding, a hardened rebel finally falls headlong off that precipice heís flirted with for so long. Rather than repenting because he has been chastised, that person develops a bitter, hard attitude toward Me for punishing him. He might decide heís had enough of Me, and wants nothing except the freedom to go do as he pleases. He discards Christ like a toy heís grown tired of! Thus he ceases altogether to walk in the Holy Faith, and no longer desires to abide in Christ, the Living Vine. Even as a consecrated Christian will daily declare his dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the hopeless apostate declares his independence from the Lord Who bought him, and tramples underfoot the Holy Blood wherewith he was sanctified! He has even rejected the ministry of Christ, the heavenly High Priest Who presents the profession of My peopleís faith to Me, that Merciful One Who sprinkles His own Blood on the Mercy Seat to maintain their souls in salvation!

This is the stage at which My Holy Spirit must cease to deal with that rebel. This is absolutely the most heinous sin which can be committed by a person who once knew Me! It is a sin unto death, even against My Spirit of Love in Christ Jesus! How horrible will be the fate of such an infidel! Do not be deceived, My people! Truly, it would be better for that one if he had never known the Way of Salvation, than to have requited the lovingkindness of his Lord in such an evil way! He might put Me out of his mind by partying all night with his debauched friends and indulging his flesh to the limits of carnal pleasure. But he will meet with fearful judgment after he breathes his last. His end will be a most fearful one, far worse than that of a sinner who has never heard of My Message of Redemption.

A Garment or An Undergarment?

Isaiah 61:10; Matt. 5:16;10: 32-33; Mark 8:38; Luke 12:8-9; Rev. 3:15-16

Some politicians attain to high public office by preaching what religious conservatives want to hear, whether they have any intention of fulfilling their promises after election or not. In a SUBTLE way, theyíll lead others to think they are born again believers in Christ and let the rumor spread far and wide. That may or may not be true.

Religious people in the top echelons of society strive to balance their need for sincerity in belief against their desire to be all things to all those they feel they must answer to. They got to the top by playing by the rules, and they know they can fall from the graces of their peers if they fail to keep their so-called friends happy.

I see more than one world leader on the stage acting out a farce. Their "faith" is scarcely ever mentioned in polite society or in the execution of their office. And if someone does bring the subject up, however delicately, they spin and equivocate to save face with colleagues dead in trespasses and sins.

I have said you are to put on the Garment of Salvation. But these people are treating my precious salvation like "unmentionables".

Precious Jewels vs. Glass Diamonds

Psalms 41:17; Malachi 3:16-17; Luke 2:19; I Corinthians 3:11-15

You have often worried that I would compare you unfavorably with others when you stand before Me at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ. Whether you ponder the achievements of a supersaint, or a believer with a genuinely Christlike heart, you, at times, have felt overshadowed by these people

Be encouraged in Me, saith the Lord. I keep faithful records of every expression of the Life of Christ which has shone forth through your life. The names of My loved ones are recorded in My Book of Remembrance, and they shall never die, but live eternally with Me. You who love Me above all else are surely included in My "Whoís Who" Book of the Faithful.

Never disparage your own worth. An unspeakable price was paid for your redemption, and you are very valuable to Me. Many think the main evidence of My anointing on someoneís ministry is that heís "made it"; that is, heís out there in the world making a big splash, and basking in the limelight.

My life is not a very noteworthy one, you think. Iím not out there in the limelight preaching or singing from a podium. I am a person of little consequence in this world, and my life will soon pass away like a mist. No one pays me any mind, or listens much to what I have to say. My life is a fleeting shadow, which shall soon pass from the world scene and be remembered no more.

The angel Gabriel did not appear to a woman of the aristocracy, but to a self-effacing woman of humble birth. Yet the Virgin Mary knew she served a great God. With Him, all things were possible.

No one else in her village had ever seen an angel, much less received a special commission from one. Yet she did not let that divine visitation, or her special calling, go to her head. In her situation, notoriety was the last thing she wanted. Instead, she quietly continued to be faithful in the business of everyday living. Every wonderful secret I shared with Mary was laid up in the treasury of her meek and gentle heart. Quiet, everyday faithfulness impresses Me the most. I have not called you to be a superstar. That is the worldís definition of success, not Mine. My Son was faithful in the humbler things of life, not just in performing miracles.

In Jesusí time, there were religious leaders who tooted their own horn, thinking that if they didnít get other people to notice their virtues, I wouldnít either. So they put on carefully contrived displays of piety, hoping to pry a bit of praise out of their captive audiences. They affected the glitter of precious stones, but they were really glass diamonds of little spiritual worth.

An Insufferable Burden

Matthew 6: 13; Ephesians 6:10-12; I Peter 5:8-9; Hebrews 7:25;9:12-14

Religious piety often appears in a darker guise. Some of My dearest children are under the severest oppression of religious spirits masquerading as divine inspiration. One tactic of satan is to get My saints so obsessed with the doctrine of redemptive suffering (their OWN), that they forget it is the Blood of Christ which sanctifies from sin and makes them fit to enter into My Presence.

These misguided souls actually feel guilty when things are going well in their lives and I am blessing their outward circumstances. They think they ought to stay in a perpetual state of trial and difficulty, so as to be "refined in the furnace" to get impurities out of their lives to make them fit to stand before Me. Every day they welcome with open arms each and every miserable thing which assails their lives, no matter how horrible it is. They even reach the point they feel guilty for being driven to pray that Iíll deliver them from the trial and protect them from evil, even though My Son taught His own disciples to pray this way.

Satan has wrecked the lives and ministries of many well-meaning but deluded souls who genuinely wanted to serve me to the utmost of their ability, but were hindered repeatedly by severe setbacks because they would not resist him steadfastly in prayer. The devil tricked them into thinking theyíd be resisting Me if they came against the works of the devil in their health or other circumstances!

Satan encounters little or no resistance from such saints. My hands are effectively tied when they refuse to pray earnestly for Me to deliver them from evil. Instead, they thank me for each and every ugly attack of satan, mistaking passivity for piety. How can I heal someone of cancer if the sufferer considers it a heaven-sent blessing and offers up a prayer of thanks for his condition? Some are wrongly taught that to give thanks in all things dictates that they must also give thanks for all things, even for the ruin the devil is wreaking upon their homes, marriages, and bodies! Such satanic assaults are the works of the devil! My Son came to destroy satanís evil works, not sanctify them on the altar! Such ugly things are not divine favors youíre supposed to thank Me for sending. Otherwise, would Christ not have been opposing My will by coming to destroy them? I would, rather, have every saint to acknowledge and give thanks for every good and perfect gift in his life, both spiritual and material, even as he rejects the works of a devil who hates him.

The suffering-obsessed saint is susceptible to the false teaching that no offering is ever acceptable to Me unless it is given sacrificially, at great cost to himself. He actually fears that if he doesnít continually impose great hardship upon himself and his loved ones, he is no disciple of Mine, and I might even disown him for failing to mortify his flesh enough.

What a demonic, destructive doctrine, this perverse idea that I cannot be pleased with My saints unless they are suffering!

Glutted on Pride

I Kings 18:28; Daniel 10:2-3; Matt. 11: 28-30; Chapter 23; Luke 7:33-34; 18:9-14; Rom. 14:3-6

Donít parade your goodness before men to seek praise and admiration from them. It was the haughty Pharisee who pointed at his chest with pride and prayed thus from his darkened heart: "Lord, I thank thee that I am better than other men. Not only do I abstain from evil deeds, I fast twice a week. You owe me a great deal of thanks for that. I bet this sinner standing next to me is a real glutton and drunkard."

Jesus said that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, you could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This saying has filled many with fear that if they donít fast twice weekly or more, they arenít exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees. But the key truth is this: Did I Myself require twice-weekly fasting, or did the Pharisees impose that burden upon themselves? "It is written" ought to be the guide for the definition of righteousness, not man-made traditions added to the Scroll of the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Even under the Old Law, fasting was required only on the Day of Atonement. Extra fast days were later added to the Jewish liturgical calendar by commandment of men. The religious legalism I see in My church is like a rancher who asks his hired hand to go brand his prize bull. But the cowpoke goes the extra mile for his boss, reasoning that his boss is paying him well for making the animal miserable. So he inflicts even more pain on the bull by castrating it. Proud of himself, he goes to collect a windfall paycheck for doing more than it was his duty to do. But all he gets from his boss is a chewing out and his walking papers, not money. Why? Because the rancher required obedience and faithfulness of the cowpoke, not the infliction of needless pain. The Pharisees were little better than the priests of Baal who slashed their own flesh with knives to impress their demon god with their suffering.

Those Pharisees were not accounted as righteous because they added extra requirements to My Law. I never gave them the authority to sit in Moses seat, so as to lay grievous burdens upon My people. They seized Mosesí seat by force because it appeared to be vacant, and SOMEBODY had to keep My people under a heavy yoke! I see the same thing going on today, religious legalists sitting in Mosesí seat and legislating new laws about standards for the observance of "ouchy" areas such as fasting, giving, and sacrifices of all sorts. A modern misconception is this: Those Pharisees were so holy and blameless it would be near-impossible to exceed their righteousness. Donít deceive yourselves, My people! If the Pharisees were so holy, why did Christ give them a verbal thrashing about their wicked pride, their hypocrisy, and their inner uncleanness painted over by supposed good works? What kind of holy person devours widowsí houses and makes a convert twice the son of hell as themselves? No, you canít exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees in your own strength, even if the righteousness of the Pharisees was just a farce. In My sight, all of humankind is equally worthy of hell apart from the saving Grace of My Son, the Lord Jesus.

But the legacy of the self-righteous Pharisee lives on and on, even in this Age of Grace. There are saints spare of flesh but bloated with pride that they have trained their own bodies not to need daily bread. A few are so "spiritual" that they forego eating regular meals and fast most days. They look disdainfully at others and say: "If you really loved Jesus and cared about the Kingdom of God youíd lay down your fork and lift up your cross." My, how My kids love to lay guilt trips on each other!

John the Baptist would have been considered an ascetic saint. He shunned most human contact, except what was needful for My service. Like Daniel did for three weeks, he "ate no pleasant bread". But John ate in this austere way all the time, even on non-fasting days. Never would you spot John at a wedding feast or other festive occasion. John had no use for insincere ceremony. He kept his distance from a Temple "beautified" by King Herod with Hellenistic designs. He steered clear of the corrupt Temple priesthood. Scorned by other Jews for being bizarre and "having a devil", John eschewed all the legitimate pleasures of life, mourning for an Israel gone astray from their God. His consecrated life was a rebuke to the hypocrites of Israel who depended on outward ritual to make them acceptable to Me. In order to hear My Voice more clearly, John ate little and cloistered himself in the wilderness, away from societyís corrupting influence.

But Jesus served Me by mixing freely in society to reach out to others. He was even accused of being a winebibber and a glutton, just because He would often dine with sinners who needed his help. Whether the food was rich or plain, He would partake of it with a clear conscience after giving Me thanks for My provision before all assembled at the table.

There were occasions when Jesus fasted, but unlike John the Baptist, eating meals was the norm rather than the exception. Yet I accepted both men as My righteous servants; Jesus because He is My spotless devoted Son, and John, because He acknowledged his own need to be made righteous by Christ. How tragic, the way My children form splinter groups and reject each other over points of practice irrelevant to personal salvation! I donít expect everyone to be each otherís mirror image in all aspects. Let each Christian accept that each saint has his own particular calling from Me. Let My people learn to love, not just tolerate, one another in the Bond of the Spirit, so long as key doctrines pertaining to salvation and personal holiness are faithfully observed.

Fasting for Favor

I Kings 21:9; Isaiah Chapter 58; Acts 23:12; Rom.14:17; I Cor.8:8

Many of My precious children are struggling to earn favors from Me through self-denial and fasting. And if their life circumstances become more to their liking following the self-denial, they will tell everyone what fasting has done for them. See, fasting makes me healthier, see, fasting makes me trimmer, see, I have won favor with God through fasting.

And in the process My Son and His benefits, hard-won on of the Cross of Calvary, are relegated to the background of consciousness. Rather than seeing fasting as just one of many tools to get a job done, fasting is exalted to the primary means of softening My heart to persuade Me to give a person's prayers top priority on My "to do" list.

I have seen saints, both slender and plump, pinch and pound their flesh into submission, promising Me that they would eliminate even more of it through fasting. They reason that because the flesh nature is evil, therefore the material body is evil and abhorrent unto the Lord But this is a lie of satan. Your body should not be treated as a nuisance which distracts you from more spiritual pursuits. You need your body and your body is the Temple of My Spirit, a gift from Me to be treated as such, properly cared for and nourished. In this world the physical body is a blessing, and a means of operating in this earth to carry out My will. It is written that the body is not meant for unlawful pleasure but for the Lord. And if your body is My Temple, then how dare you regard it as evil?

Adam's sin did not lie in the act of eating, as such. Before the Fall, Adam was free to eat all the fruit he wanted from every other tree of the Garden except the forbidden one. The root of Adam's sin was rebellion and lust for power, not a yearning to kill hunger pangs. It was a mind of rebellion, not a hungry stomach, which induced Adam to partake of the forbidden fruit. Many saints are at war with their own bodies, thinking that the material of their body is evil and responsible for the original sin committed by Adam. But the sin proceeded from Adam's heart, not his stomach. Even the arm which reached for the fruit, the hand that took it, and the mouth which ate it were controlled by a wicked heart of rebellion which orchestrated all the steps of committing his sin against Me. It is circumcision of the heart which pleases Me, not the buffeting of the body.

I am so tired of guilt being heaped on people who eat instead of fast. My own Son "came eating and drinking", though in time of crisis or necessity He did fast. Not once in My Word do the New Testament Apostles command My people to fast at all, but they allowed the saints to settle that issue between Me and themselves. My people are commanded to pray without ceasing, to rejoice evermore, and be filled with the Spirit, but the apostles do not lay upon their hearers the burden of systematic, obligatory fasting.

It is not My will for church leaders to impose fasting on My Body. That is irresponsible and risky. Some of My people have already done without good things in their lives because of satan's attacks, and they feel too emotionally fragile to endure the additional emptiness of a lengthy fast. Unless My anointing is upon their abstinence, they might suffer severe depression or even panic attacks if they stop eating for too long. Others may be on medication which requires them to eat. Some might be diabetic. Others might have metabolic disorders or be recovering from eating disorders. Some of My people are too ill to fast and must eat to keep their blood sugar from plunging. Many of my people eat restricted diets anyway and would find total abstinence harmful. There are a few people who are anemic, chronically malnourished or underweight and find fasting distressing or dangerous. Am I going to tell these people that if they don't fill their personal fasting quota I won't hear and answer their prayer? Even the priests of Baal tried to buy their own god's favor through suffering.

What stinks to high heaven is the superior attitude of some of My thin people who are puffed up with pride about the fasting days they log. They imagine Me keeping meticulous records of all the treats they gave up for special seasons of self-denial, and all the times they sat round the dinner table nursing a glass of water, looking glum and full of self-pity while their families stuffed themselves. The sweet treat they get for their self-denial is to go brag about it to the other saints. Truly I say unto you, they already have their reward! Necessary fasting, like giving money, is to be done discreetly, without boasting about it. I know when you feel like your back is up against the wall and you must forget lesser priorities in order to shut yourself in your prayer closet with Me. And after a long, hard battle with satan is won, it is very offensive to Me when people tell the prayer warrior, "If only you had been fasting regularly all along, you wouldn't have had to be so desperate about it right now." But has it ever occurred to such a judgmental hypocrite that the vast majority of the time, that dear one has a merry song in his or her heart because they can sense the love of their Bridegroom caressing them? How, then, could it be appropriate for that one to mourn in fasting? Unless it were an emergency situation where I instructed them to do it, would a just-married couple fast on their honeymoon, or would they feast joyfully together?

What and if such a person is so spiritually discerning that he or she can already see by faith the Bridegroom coming just over the horizon of time? If you can see your loved one coming toward you, how can you be sad enough to go round with a mournful face and afflict your happy soul?

The most dangerous thing about fasting error is to lay the law down upon yourself or others. Goals are fine so long as you feel led by Me to make a goal of this or that. But where goal-setting verges into legalism it's quite a different matter. To say "I shall never again eat on Wednesday" is to open the door for satan to lay a snare of condemnation for you. What if I lead you to witness to someone over lunch on a particular Wednesday? Are you going to tremble in fear of My retribution if you violate what has become a law and eat on Wednesday? Even if you were to say "Every December 31 I shall fast without fail" the principle of legalism still holds true. Discipline in key areas is often needful, but beware of making a legalistic religion out of self-imposed suffering.

Don't try to add your own contribution to My finished work on the Cross. You are saved by grace through faith in My Blood, period. If you fast, give alms, sing in the choir, or knit socks to try to earn or keep My approval, it is dangerous territory you're on. You have fallen from grace and have strayed back into the bondage of imperfect law-keeping and reliance upon self, not the Savior. So the very "self" you are so anxious to "crucify" is where you look for faithful performance to gain power with Me, and that is a hazardous trap of certain self-condemnation.

Beware of the spirit of anorexia masquerading as something holy. It is a wasting obsession, which saps a saint's joy and vitality. So many of My saints feel so superior as they fast frequently and watch their own flesh fall away and the scale numbers drop. Even their once-joyful countenance becomes a sour, shrunken mask of painful piety. It is then that they have lost the joy of their Lord and the sweet savor of the Bride's perfume of ecstasy has turned to the fetid stench of death and decay.

Fasting is a work, just like alms-giving, praying for others, meal preparation, singing in the choir, and countless other helpful ministries. BUT IN AND OF ITSELF, FASTING IS NOT HOLY. Fasting is not an end in itself. Properly used, it can be a means to a higher end than self-starvation. Fasting can also be used by evil people to smite with the fist of wickedness, as when Jezebel called a fast to railroad innocent Naboth to death by stoning. The enemies of Paul the apostle solemnly swore they wouldnít eat or drink again until they had killed him. Fasting can even be used as a weapon against the righteous. Multitudes of deluded hypocrites have fasted and prayed for me to chastise My other dear children because of some perceived fault in their life. But I ended up punishing them instead, for self-righteousness and failure to examine their own lives for hypocrisy and wickedness. FASTING DOES NOT GIVE YOU A HIGHER STANDING BEFORE ME THAN MY NON-FASTING CHILDREN, AND YOU CANNOT USE FASTING TO TWIST MY ARM TO DO WHAT YOU DESIRE!

There are those who fast to empower their prayers through humbling themselves, to the end of setting the oppressed free from satanís bondage. That is an act of self-sacrificing love, not vain religiosity. They shall receive a rich reward in glory. But if you depend on works to keep you in My favor, it is an insult to My Son's finished work on your behalf at Calvary. In adding works to grace as the object of your faith, you are saying that Christ lied when He said: "It is finished".

Render Thanks Unto Whom it is Due

Luke 11:11-13; 20:24-26; I John 3:8

My Son said: Render unto God the things that are Godís, and to Caesar the things that are Caesarís. If Caesarís image was stamped on the coin, it glorified Caesar, not God. It wasnít considered kosher, and was unfit to be offered to the Lord as a gift in the Temple. But if you are determined to give thanks for, not just in, each and every thing, be sure to render thanks unto the correct giver! If you have food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over your head, and health, you can properly thank Me for them. Why? Because I make it possible for you to get what you need, and had I permitted satan to do so, he could have robbed you of those blessings. Rather, I watched over you day and night and looked for ways to meet your basic needs. I even crown My dear children with the choicest spiriutal blessings that they might give Me honor and glory and praise for them. Next time something questionable comes your way, prayerfully consider this question: "Do I see Godís signature on it, or satanís?" Is the situation or thing a fish or a serpent? Is it an egg or a scorpion? Who would offer you evil, destructive, poisonous gifts, then try to convince you you have no right to resist them in the Name of Jesus? Who stands to lose the most when you fight to defend your inheritance as My dear child?

Donít ever insult Me by thanking Me that you are under the heel of the devil, or that you are defeated in any area of your life. Rather you should pray for My deliverance and thank Me in the situation because you expect Me to defend you and fight for you, and in that way I shall be glorified. In your determination to thank me "for all things" donít thank me for every vicious assault, murder, war, natural catastrophe and blasphemy on Planet Earth. Donít praise Me for the nukes which are about to decimate mankind because of the insanity of world leaders. Satan is the author of such ugly things. He inspires sinners to commit the basest acts of sin. He is busy rebuilding Sodom all over the earth, and you cannot give Me credit for that.

I am the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and it is only right that you should thank Me for all I have done to bless you. It is the ministry of satan to steal, kill, and destroy.

Destructive Suffering: The Devilís Cauldron

An unbalanced Blessedness of Suffering devotee is like a man who is thrown into a boiling cauldron by the devil. He feels the pain of the hot water and keeps trying to hop out before he turns to soup stock.

A well-meaning but unbalanced friend comes along to give him advice. "Trust me. Iíve walked with the Lord for X-number of years, and Iím a very wise Christian. The problem, my friend, is not with the hot water, itís your attitude toward the water."

"But it hurts!" the poor man wails, resisting his buddyís efforts to plunge him deeper into the boiling pot.

"Letís take it one step at a time, then. Can you at least give God thanks in the hot water, if you canít give Him thanks for the hot water youíre in?"

"O Lord," the unfortunate man prays, "I give You thanks that youíre able to get me out of this predicament."

Cool as a cucumber, his buddy rebukes him: "What a self-centered prayer, prayed out of a heart full of fear, not faith! If you were any kind of a decent believer at all, youíd not only thank God for being in the hot water, youíd even be willing to stay in it forever, and youíd offer up thanks for the hot water as well."

"I canít do that!" the man groaned, still struggling to get out.

"The reason you canít give thanks for the hot water, friend, is your lack of vision," says his self-righteous critic. "All you see is youíre being boiled alive. You ought to give God thanks for all things, even this soothing bath the devil has drawn for you."

Seek Deliverance From the Furnace

Daniel 3:24-28; Rom. 16:20; Eph. 2:4-7

Some even pray: "O Lord, keep me in that furnace and turn it up full blast so others can see I am able to stand faithful in spite of all my suffering."

Did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego pray like that when the wicked king (who typifies satan the oppressor) threw them into a furnace heated to seven times its normal temperature? No, they eventually got out of that furnace, without even the smell of smoke on their garments. Even after declaring that they were willing to die for their faith. This contradicts the false teaching that I am displeased with those of My children who donít bear deep wounds and scars from their conflict with satan. The young men who escaped the fiery furnace were not appointed to endless suffering, but to rule on thrones of authority during their mortal lifetimes.

Notwithstanding, some have died as faithful martyrs to My cause, and these precious, courageous saints shall inherit thrones far more glorious than any in this present evil world.

Suffering is sometimes necessary, but pride in all its insidious guises must be guarded against. While you are engrossed in what miseries you are able to endure to show people what a good Christian you are, your eyes are set upon your own progress instead of the perfection of my spotless Son. Some have even had to fight against a temptation to feel proud that they suffered a longer life of vexations Christ Himself had to!

Many believers have been hindered from sitting with Me in heavenly places and seeing the Serpent bruised beneath their feet because satan keeps them under his feet. Satan deceives them that the most precious ministry they can give others is to languish on a bed of affliction until death. His victims bear it patiently, to the extent they feel it would be an act of selfishness to pray to be raised up from it. Thus they are duped out of their own deliverance by a devil who sells them a hideous lie by playing on their feelings of guilt and shame! Satan has these poor people thinking a sea of souls will be forever lost if they live in health and peace, so I simply canít afford to raise them up from their sickbed!

Wily Satan has robbed them of the stamina to go forth and perform any other "ministry"! They have been duped by a lying religious spirit who has come to rob My children of their inheritance in Christ Jesus with another gospel, the lie that you redeem your own worth as a Christian by abiding forever in a state of suffering, and I am happiest with my children whenever they are most miserable!

Even My own dear Son came down from His cross once My purpose for Him being on it was completed. Like a two-edged sword, Christís glorious resurrection was just as important a factor in your salvation as His crucifixion! And every bit as important in achieving His eternal victory over death, satan, hell and the grave!

Even Christ rose from the dead, and death has no more power over Him. So why should you feel that you are not a good Christian if you donít relish spending an entire lifetime in the devilís fiery furnace?

A Dying Snake

Gen. 3:14-15; John 12:31; Rev. 12:10-12; 20:10

You often wonder why , if satan is truly a defeated foe, heís still causing so much heartache and chaos in this world.

At the Cross satan received a mortal head wound from My Son. Although My Son also was mortally wounded in the conflict He was raised back up to everlasting life. The devil was not likewise healed. All these many centuries he has been in the process of dying. In My eyes even the passage of centuries is but a short time, for I Am from everlasting. The devil is like a rattlesnake thatís just been shot. He does a dance in the air, twitching wildly and appearing as scary as ever.

In My eyes satan is already dead, though he still appears in heaven rattling off the sins of the saints who are covered by the Holy Blood of Christ, hoping to strike further blows against the Body of Christ and hurt My children. The full manifestation of satanís death will happen when he is cast alive into the Lake of Fire, never again to interfere in the life of My universe. If I annihilated him out of existence, that would be way too merciful. He would not be around to receive his just due for all the misery and pain he has caused you and Me. Like the human sinners he lured into hell, he must reap the evil he has sown. Endlessly.

Even a rattler in his death throes is still full of venom and able to kill you if you get too close to it. The devil is still dangerous to any brash believer who disregards My cautions and oversteps the orders of his supreme general in this conflict of the ages. There are times you need to rebuke satan roundly, but do not call upon his name to taunt or provoke him needlessly, just to flex your spiritual muscles. Many immature saints have had to come home prematurely because of a reckless, fleshly display of bravado toward the kingdom of darkness.

I will lead you into battle against satan many times, but never needlessly and never without the assurance that the anointing of the Holy Spirit is upon you to tread upon serpents and scorpions in My Name. I have called you, not to establish your own victory, but to enforce the victory I have already won through My death, burial and resurrection. You are called to conquer valiantly in My Name and to occupy till I come, saith the Lord of Hosts Who has called you by name.

Little By Little

Isaiah 41:10; Hebrews 10:35-36

In times of persistent illness or other trouble, it is easy to gradually grow cynical, to slack off in prayer because you do not wholeheartedly expect any definitive answer from Me.

Iíve seen it happen so many times. Sickness robs you of peace and strength. Any wearisome vexation or problem saps your vitality, consumes your energy, diverts you from time you could spend praying for Me to help others. You grow irritable and self-absorbed because the state of the body affects the soul, and vice versa. When sickness comes, you often feel too drained even to persist in prayer for its healing.

Days pass. You feel like your half-hearted prayers are only bouncing off the ceiling, and it takes a sheer act of your will just to maintain your relationship with Me. Satan puts in his two centsí worth too. He whispers that if I really loved you, youíd be healed immediately, or that pressing problem wouldnít still be there to make your life a misery. Or maybe Iím punishing you for some terrible sin. Perhaps Iíve even rejected you outright!

Contrary to how you feel, fiery trials are not forever. They only serve to purge out the dross of the carnal nature, to make a vessel fit for the Masterís use. Even in the midst of the trial, turn to Me when you feel your love for Me is waning, and your faith is fading away. I am able to replenish your Well of Joy, even in your most desolate wilderness.

If you donít depend on Me, the enemy can chip away at your spiritual condition little by little, till you at last find you are but a shadow of the man or woman of God you once were. Satan is a devouring lion, but sometimes he chooses to nibble away at his prey so gradually that his victim scarcely realizes heís under demonic attack, and just attributes his malaise of soul to "nerves", or exhaustion. After all, you reason, itís hard to feel sunny on such a dismal day. And perhaps, youíre tempted to think, I am way too busy to concern Myself with your puny affairs.

I am infuriated by those slurs satan has made upon My character in the midst of your harsh circumstances. He has mocked and belittled your precious faith in Me. He has boasted of easy victories over you, telling you youíre getting plowed under by trials, and your prayers are useless hot air. Worst of all, he has striven to plant doubts in your heart about the power of My Sonís Atoning Sacrifice, and the integrity of the Spirit of God within you! Do you think Iím going to stand idly by and ignore satanís vile innuendoes against My Kingdom? I am at war with Him, but the victory is already Mine, saith the Lord.

The devil has not cast aspersions upon you, My beloved, but upon the Holy One of Israel, the Sovereign Who commands innumerable hosts of angels. It is as if he took off his glove and flipped it in My face, challenging Me to a duel. If he wants a fight heíll get one for sure. I will pull out all the stops to fight on your behalf. It will bring Me great joy to rout your enemy, and lay the spoils of victory at your feet.

Your day of deliverance is at hand. You WILL get out of that deep Valley of Sorrow. Indeed, it is only by my power that you will be lifted out, and made to triumph again. The glorious day will come when you WILL pull down those strongholds which have impeded your progress in the Life of Faith. You WILL break forth on the right hand and on the left, and this time it will be the devil who will be running scared! I will anoint you to go forth in the strength of the Lord your God, and empower you to strike a devastating blow against the Kingdom of Darkness; such a blow that the Old Serpent will be sent reeling, and the cocky grin will be wiped off his face forever. He will rue the day he ever went out of his way to vex you and cause you to need to cry out to Me for deliverance.

My embattled Body the Church Militant, shall emerge as the Church Triumphant. I will restore the Glory to My New Covenant People, the saints who are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb.

I Keep the Contrite in Heart

Psalms 34:18; John 10:28; Galatians 3:3; Philippians 1:6; I Peter 1:5; Jude 24

My child, it is I who maintain you in salvation. You who believe in Me are kept secure through My power, for the enemy of your soul would snatch your soul back for himself if he could. The same God Who upholds the celestial bodies in their orbits and sustains all life in the universe is able to uphold you.

Having begun your walk with Me by faith, are you now dependent on the strength of the flesh to make you perfect? Your life in Me is a faith-walk. Never grow arrogant toward outsiders who do not know Me. Never develop a superior, self-assured attitude. I saved you because I chose to show mercy toward you, not because you werenít as bad a sinner as other people. I brought about the set of circumstances which resulted in your conversion to Christ. I even made your heart tender so you could be receptive to My dealing with you about the need for repentance, I cared for you so much. I want you to know that so long as you walk before Me in a meek, contrite attitude of heart and WANT to remain united to Me, there is nothing satan can do to sever you from Me.

Religion - Love and Grace = Death

Luke 11:42; John 5:42; 14:15, 23-24; Cor.13:1-3; II Cor. 3:6; Eph. 2:12

I see so many congregations who miss out on the blessed rest which comes from faith in My keeping power. These people have been poorly taught by church leaders who choose not to accept the doctrine of salvation through grace alone. And why donít they want to accept a doctrine which would set My people free?

There is a belief among some leaders that were they to proclaim the glad message of My grace, moral standards in the church would deteriorate, or the saints would get lazy about working for Me. Just the opposite is true, where it concerns a person who truly loves Me. I said, If you love Me keep My commandments, and: If a man loves Me, he will keep My Words. If a person is spiritually healthy, he will not want to use My grace as an excuse to sin or neglect the duties of a believer in Christ.

I have seen churches condemn members who are victims, not sinners. There was a case where a womanís husband ran away from her and their children so he could commit adultery with other women. She did not initiate the ensuing divorce; he did, because he "wanted his freedom". At the time she needed emotional support from other believers the most, she received only scathing criticism for letting him go, and was stigmatized for being a divorcee. Nevertheless, she was afraid to sever ties with this unloving church, for fear she would go to hell for it. All this heartache resulted from a churchianity devoid of love and grace.

There are times when church discipline of wayward members is necessary. But beware that you do not condemn the innocent, shutting him out of your prayers and affections. In fact, you are not to condemn at all, but to operate only through My guidance and Love. Remember the dark pit of hopelessness from which you yourself have been pulled.

So many so-called prayers have been prayed, and "prayer requests" shared which are only thinly veiled gossip. I have better ways to spend My time than listening to backsliders filling Me in on the details of the sordid sins of other saints. That is called "being an accuser of the brethren", and is satanís job. Be very careful about naming names, even to Me, unless you are commending that person to Me or petitioning Me to bless him. If the situation directly concerns you and is causing you or a loved one anguish, then rest content that I already know the name of the problem-causing individual and will take steps to sort things out. Even David was careful about how he offered up prayers. When he prayed about his enemy King Saul, he would ask Me to judge fairly between him and "that one who lays in wait for me to slay me". I knew full well it was Saul and his army causing David distress. David used neither his faith nor his divine calling as an excuse to rid himself of Saul.

My Son was betrayed to the Romans by religious leaders. These evil men had religion in abundance. They wore the proper vestments, they wore approved hairstyles, and they kept every outward form of ceremony decreed by written Law or tradition. They were zealous in pressuring poor widows to contribute to the Temple treasury. But they spurned the Spirit of Grace in the most vile way, and ended up in hell.

Do not depend on religious observance to save you. Only I can do that.

Satan: The Robber of Peace

Isaiah 10:27; 32:18; 43:25; II Corinthians 5:17; Hebrews 8:12

One of satanís ugliest tactics to defeat My children is to dredge up memories of sins they committed long ago; things Iíve forgiven and forgotten. When you sincerely repent of your sins, they are washed away in My blood, and separated from you as far as East is from West. It is written: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away, and all things have become new.

In reality, the devil is envious of you. He loves to throw his weight around and try to rob you of My peace, because he knows I made no provision for his redemption and he will never know the blessedness of peace with God. He is utterly corrupt and hopelessly hardened in his rebellion against Me, and he could not repent in any case.

You might have committed a terrible sin when you were in your teens, or even older. No matter how old you are now, or how much youíve matured in the life of Christ, the enemy will confront you with that vile memory. When that happens, you wonder what triggered the recollection. It is a fiery dart of the enemy, designed to make you forget that you are a New Creation, not the same being who committed that sin. If satan can get you to doubt the integrity of My Word, he can entangle you in a bondage of tormented fear.

He attacks many of My children in the night, when their conscious defenses are relaxed. If you sense that accusing voice when you are trying to take rest in sleep, immediately begin to pray in the Spirit, Whose mind is fully aware of the nature of satanís attack and the remedial measures which must be taken to fend off the enemy. Victory comes through the anointing of the Holy Ghost. Believe that I dispatch My angels to do battle for you in the invisible realm, and that you are victorious through the power of the blood of Christ. I will even strengthen you in your innermost being to KNOW that you are a new creation, and My holy child who is counted as righteous in the Beloved.

I Am With You Always

II Chronicles 6:12-42; 7: 1-3; Matthew 28:20

My, but the devil loves to tell new converts that if their good feelings fade away, theyíve lost their salvation and I no longer want them. Many worry needlessly that I have abandoned them because their exuberance diminishes once they go down from the mountaintop of conversion, back into the daily grind of living amongst unbelieving friends or co-workers. But the devil is a liar who recycles and rehashes the same old tricks over and over, trying to discourage every new lamb who enters my fold.

Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. There are times you sense a glorious radiance permeating your whole being. That is similar to how My Glory filled the entire Temple after King Solomon prayed his wonderful prayer of dedication. But even when the Glory Light within you is subtler, I remain with you and in you, even as My Presence remained in the Holy of Holies in the Temple.

The Joy of Salvation

Nehemiah 8:10; Psalms 45:7; Isaiah 12:3 Jeremiah 32:12-13

Although you are to trust the promises of My Word rather than your feelings, be glad for the Joy of the Lord that is yours as a New Creation in Christ. It is a healing balm to any wounded soul who has come to Me for restoration. It gives you the courage to endure trials and adversities, knowing that in heaven you have a great reward. The Joy of the Lord is indeed your strength. If you temporarily lose your joy because of unbelief or rebellion, you make yourself more vulnerable to satanís attacks. That can make you feel like your emotional undercarriage is dropping out from beneath you. It is I alone who buoy you up above the waters of adversity, and give you the wisdom and strength to resist the lies of the devil.

My wonderful Joy is a foretaste of the Glory Life of heaven. In it you feel unutterable relief that the old estrangement between us is no more, and we are loving friends at last. It is a clean sensation, akin to the sweet spring sunshine chasing away the musty gloom of winter. Regardless of how old you are, My Joy keeps your soul feeling young and fresh. This is a sign that one day you will be changed to blessed immortality which will always remain in the springtime of joyful youthfulness.

Whenever you feel down, just ask Me to anoint you with the Oil of Joy.

Head Belief Vs. Heart Faith

I said in My Word, without Me you can do nothing. True faith is not mere intellectual assent to My Word. Faith comes when I breathe life into a Scripture which meets your need and strengthen your heart to embrace it as true.

Clarifying the Vision

Matt. 4:13-17; 11:2-5, 11; John 1:15-34; I Thes. 5:21

John the Baptist was cited by Jesus as the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. He was the one who introduced My Son to penitent Israelites down by the River Jordan as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. John, although filled with the Spirit from his motherís womb and mightily anointed to preach repentance, acknowledged My Son as greater than himself. He could hardly believe that Jesus, the sinless One, had come to be baptized by him.

When John was thrown into prison by wicked King Herod he was feeling very low and wondered if he had been right to proclaim My Son as the Deliverer of Israel. I had compassion on My afllicted prophet and reassured him by reminding him of the wonderful works of redemption done by My Son.

Next time some supersaint rebukes you for questioning something affecting your life, remember John. It is wrong to accuse another believer of having an evil heart of unbellief when all that one wants is total clarity and certainty that he has indeed heard from Me. I am certainly not offended when those who still "see through a glass darkly" in their mortal lifetime seek additional confirmation to bolster their faith.

My Spirit Activates My Word

John 6:63; II Corinthians 3:6

I would even have the truths of My Word to become revelation knowledge deep in your spirit. It is even My Spirit Who empowers you to know beyond any shadow of a doubt that you abide secure in Me, as you trust in the soul-cleansing power of My blood. It is the anointing of the Spirit which breaks the yoke of bondage and releases the prisoners of satan. A stick of dynamite contains much potential power. Only when it comes into contact with fire is its awesome power released. My Word contains much latent power; yet it is My Spirit Who imparts life to it, so it can accomplish My purposes in the life of a believer, and make him strong in faith.

Truly it is satan who would imprison you in a state of anxiety about My ability to keep you secure in My salvation. If you walk before Me softly and tenderly, in an attitude of repentant faith, you are beyond any danger of falling from My grace. Always turn to Me whenever you sense yourself struggling with bad attitudes which could hinder you from repenting of sin. I work wonders in the hidden recesses of a heart which turns to Me in childlike trust.

The Unpardonable Sin

Eph. 6:16; Mark 3:22-30

Another of satanís worst weapons to use in stealing the peace of My children is to tell them theyíve committed the unpardonable sin. Satan says: "Sure, Heís forgiven you countless times in the past, but now youíve gone too far. You have used up that measure of grace allocated to you, and there is no further forgiveness for you." Or, one of his imps will whisper a foul thought in the ear of the saint, and the devil will accuse My child of deliberately thinking that ugly thought and make him think heís the one to blame and he deserves to go to hell for it.

This vicious type of attack has often left you in a state of panic and made you fearful of approaching Me. Then I calmed you down and made you realize who the source of that ugly thought was. I heard your cry when you pleaded that it was the devilís doing, which I most assuredly knew it was. Then My peace returned to you. The devil cannot stand in the face of Truth, for he can only live in the darkness. He deals in lies and deceit.

I know better than you do how much he would like to break you, to regain you for his kingdom, and to see you destroyed with him in the end. But My power to keep My beloved children is far greater than his power to take them from Me.

The unpardonable sin was committed by arrogant, self-serving Pharisees who had studied the Scriptures, and who KNEW from examining them that My Son was indeed the Promised Deliverer of Israel, the Son of the Most High God. But they wanted to protect what they considered their own turf. They wanted to remain the kingpins, and this young, penniless Carpenter from Nazareth must not be allowed to outshine them in the esteem of men. The populace must not be allowed to believe in Him, even though He fulfilled Scripture by performing healing miracles in the Power of the Spirit. They decided to resist the Spirit of Truth, and they did so in the most vicious, slanderous fashion. Their insults were aimed not at the Man who hailed from a humble peasant home, but at the sweet, gentle Spirit of Mercy Who indwelt Him and empowered Him to demonstrate My lovingkindness to My people Israel.

It is a dangerous thing to knowingly trample underfoot the Light of Salvation.

Mt. Calvary vs. Mt. Sinai

Exodus 19: 16; 20: 18-21; Nehemiah 8:9; Galatians Chapters 3 and 4; Hebrews 12:18-24

The Apostle Paul met much resistance from "Judaisers", false brethren who objected to the liberty of saints in Christ Jesus who were led by the Spirit of God, rather than being encumbered by the hundreds of ordinances in Old Testament ritual Law. They simply could not accept that the Old Law had been perfectly fulfilled in Christ, and the Law of Ordinances had been nailed to His Cross.

When Moses went up Mt. Sinai to receive the Law, the people were told to come no closer to Me than the foot of the mountain, on pain of death. I was angered by their lack of faith, and they, in their sinful state, could draw no closer to My holiness. The people quaked in fear. When Moses came down with the Law, most of them were already in deep trouble with Me for committing gross idolatry in his absence. Because of sin, they were too terrified to approach Me. After their sin in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve fell prey to the same fear.

Some were dismayed at the giving of the Law, and cried, afraid they could never satisfy its requirements. Centuries later, when Nehemiah read the words of the Law to the returned Babylonian captives, they also wept, for they knew they could never keep it perfectly.

What a joyous change was wrought with the introduction of the New Covenant. You who have surrendered at the Cross of Christ Jesus can appear joyfully in My Holy Presence as My dear children. You are not obliged to keep outward rites of the Old Covenant, such as circumcision, but only to be circumcised inwardly. You no longer need to perform ritual washings and make animal sacrifices for sin, for Christ has been offered once and for all to make one final atonement for your sins. As for washing, you, as a believer in Christ, have been washed in His Blood and baptized into His Body by the Spirit of God.

Many religious groups rigidly enforce strict rules about diet, dress, tithing, donations, and ceremonies of all kinds. These are nothing but manís foolish attempt to either obtain or maintain salvation through outward works of the flesh. Carnal ministers simply canít trust Me to do what I alone can do: keep My sheep.

Bondage vs. Freedom

Gal. 5:1; Phil. 4:13

Under the Law you were BOUND to do what is right, but still couldnít. Under Grace you are FREE to do what is right, and through Christ Jesus within you you can.

Donít Be Sucked into a Deep Pit of Error

Ezekiel 34:5-6; Matt. 11:28-30

Almost any tragic loss or lack in your life can create a dangerous vacuum. Even nature itself abhors a vacuum and will quickly fill it when the first opportunity presents itself. Hungry for love, deliverance from trial, or a feeling of empowerment, it is easy to fall for the first fad or charlatan that comes along.

Satan, coward that he is, prefers to pick off saints already weakened by the storms of life. Anxious to fill the void left by loneliness or loss, My weakest sheep will readily let anything fill the aching hole in their lives. Ofttimes that one will feel it is just as hard to avoid giving in to a sensational new movement as it would be for him to resist being sucked down by an undertow in a river. I am very compassionate and I know all your infirmities. Come unto Me if You feel youíve made a bad mistake in giving in to a devious devil of deceit and I will forgive and restore you.

At the first sign of feeling that aching vacuum in your life, come to Me and I will fill it with more of Myself.

Liberty of Conscience

John 16:13; 8:9; Romans 14:5b; Galatians 5:1; I Corinthians 7:23; I John 2:27; 3:21

Regardless of how intelligent, how scholarly, how holy, wise or insightful a teacher of the Word seems, you do not owe him unquestioning obedience! It is always wrong to let someone else suspend your liberties in Christ Jesus, especially your liberty of conscience.

Certain teachers have said that individual conscience must take a back seat to the collective conviction on all points of doctrine. How dangerous this subtle lie is! If you do not need an individual conscience, why does My Spirit dwell within each of you and guide you into all truth? You were not saved en masse, and you will all appear before Me as individuals to receive rewards for service rendered during your individual lives.

Many adults are maladjusted today because their parents were afraid to let Me guide them personally as disciplinarians. Rigorous beatings were meted out with hard implements or straps, often for the most minor misdemeanors or mistakes. The childrenís individual personalities were disparaged as "of the devil". This tragic physical, psychological and emotional abuse withered the childrenís psyches so much it handicapped them emotionally and psychologically for life. These precious little ones were told from their infancy on how sinful they really were, and I would let them into heaven only by the skin of their teeth.

I have had to heal many hurting souls of depression, guilt or pent-up anger, because they or their parents followed the leader to their own personal ruin. In the case of Spirit-filled individuals, this misguided loyalty was rendered to human leadership at the expense of the Spirit of Truth Who indwelt the individual believer and sought to shed light on that personís spiritual understanding of Scripture. My Spiritís gentle cautions and promptings have often been stifled by saints afraid to cross leaders who demand unconditional, unquestioning obedience!

But do I really invest such draconian authority in a mere fallible human being? If some religious tyrant is trying to stamp out your liberties in Christ Jesus, he or she is no better than a Communist dictator, who issues an official manifesto all are expected to submit to at any cost. Individual identity is frowned upon, and divinely imparted convictions of faith are dispensed with in the name of "unity".

Ye are bought with a price. Be not the servants of men.

The Argument

A certain man refused to take any advice from his wife whatsoever, for he prided himself on wearing the pants in the family. He hated hearing her grouse about how big a sinner he was, and where he might end up. Late one afternoon they decided to go visit relatives who lived in a remote mountain village. Being a manís man, he insisted on taking the scenic route along a deeply rutted road. His wife insisted it was far safer to keep to the paved road. She got out the map. "See?" she pointed at it. "The road you want to take terminates at the edge of a deep gorge they havenít built a bridge over yet. Weíd only go over the cliff. I know you arenít saved yet and arenít in that big of a hurry to go to hell."

"Listen you!" he scolded. "Stop nagging me about playing it safe, and quit preaching religion at me! Thatís for sissies! We donít come up here very often, and I want to go my own way! I bet you ten dollars that since they wrote that map, that bridge got put up. After all, thatís an old map youíre reading."

She looked incredulously at her skinflint husband. "Ten dollars? Youíre on. Thatíll buy me a new dress. If we drive up there and they havenít built a bridge over that gorge, I win! "Okay," he said, "we have a bet. Now if youíre too chicken to stay in the car with me, you can just get out and walk, but you wonít get the money."

"No way," said the imperfect Christian woman, overcome by covetousness. "Itís been ages since I got a new outfit. Letís go then."

To prove he was in charge, the man revved up the motor and bumped along the road as fast as he dared, singing as he went. A heavy fog descended, hampering their vision. The more the woman nagged her husband about the dangerous of the pitted road, he more determined he was to stay on it. Progress was excruciatingly slow. Night fell, and they were still miles from their destination.

A sharp stone blew out a tire and the man had to stop and get out. He went to fix to the flat tire on the other side of the car, but didnít make it all the way around the hood before his foot slipped on loose gravel. The unstable earth beneath him gave way, and he fell thousands of feet to his doom. The woman got out, screaming about how heíd been too stubborn to listen to sense, that heíd taken the money for her new dress down to hell with him, and what would she do now? It was then she noticed the End of Road sign overgrown with weeds, now even more invisible in the dark, foggy night.

The Bible might be an old road map, but itís still the only safe one to help you navigate a world which has gotten more, not less hazardous, in the treacherous night of the Last Days.

The New Car

There was a man who acquired a brand new car, a luxury model. But, alas, the man ignored the manufacturerís instructions and bought the cheapest grade of gas possible to fill its tank. He neglected to change the oil, and never cleaned its dirty engine parts.

It wasnít long his fancy new car was ready for the scrap heap.

If you donít consume the right spiritual food; if you neglect to stay full of MY Spirit; and if you neglect the cleanliness of your soul you wonít get very far in the Christian life.

The Divine Repairman

Humanity is broke; only the Manufacturer knows how to fix it properly. Everyone else is unqualified because of sin.

Footsteps of Faith

Psalms 37:31

The weather was bitterly cold. The woman dreaded having to step out on the icy pavement to go run her errands. The snow had frozen solid, and she feared she might fall.

Then she realized her precarious journey would be much easier if she would tread the footprints left along the way by other pedestrians.

Consider the example set for you by faithful pilgrims who went before you, people who were an inspiration to your walk with Christ. What course did they take when they were at your stage of spiritual development, and met with similar difficulties? Every time these dear ones sought My guidance I held them by the hand and provided light to guide them each step of the way.

Oh, My beloved, I am no respecter of persons. Even as I was faithful to bring these saints to the end of their journey safely, I will do the same for you.

You Are Accepted in the Beloved

Luke 15:10; Ephesians 1:6; Hebrews 1:14

When I adopted you as My child, it was for keeps. Donít ever let any lie of satan make you feel unfit to be in My Presence. So long as you walk before Me with a humble, contrite heart, trusting in the Blood of Jesus to cleanse you from every sin, you can approach My Throne with a holy boldness.

Even the angels of heaven love you and delight in you. They rejoiced at the moment of your salvation. They happily minister to you and watch over you for good, just as eagerly as if you were Christ Himself.

Why? You have been baptized into Christ Jesus your Lord, and now you are one Spirit with Him. In spite of all the resistance of the carnal nature, that perfect image of Jesus will one day be openly manifest in all its sinless perfection.

Just consider how a photographic image is developed from a negative to a positive image.

Confess Your Faults

I Peter 5:5; James 5:16

People of the world are driven by image-consciousness. This includes covering up their mistakes and sins instead of confessing them. To a carnal-minded person, it is even more humiliating to own up to faults when you occupy a position of prestige or power over others.

More than one pastor has hurt My sheep by judging them too harshly, then trying to forget their mistake when they find theyíve been wrong about whomever theyíve hurt. Theyíre afraid theyíll cast reproach upon the office of pastor, make the flock respect them less by admitting that theyíre human.

Wrong! It takes strength of character to confess your weaknesses and faults. It is far better to clear the air with humble confession before God and man than to let the fault fester in the conscience until it reemerges as something worse.

I have called the church leadership to lead by example, not by words only.

Check In With Me Frequently

II Corinthians 7:10-11; and 13:5; I John 1:7-10; and 2:1-2

Some believers wait till theyíre about to retire for the night before they take time to commune with their Heavenly Father. Though I would have you to pray frequently, that is a very good time to pray. Why? Because if there is any disharmony between us it will likely prevent you from resting properly. A troubled soul will so agitate your mind that you will feel very uneasy. Above all things, you need peace with God. If there are any sins you forgot to confess through the course of the day, clear that up with Me before you close your eyes in sleep.

The tendency of the Adamic flesh nature within you is to war against the Christ nature which has come into your heart through faith. Occasionally you will sin and make mistakes, but I will forgive them as you confess them to Me. When you feel you have sinned, it would be far better to confess the offense to Me immediately than if you suffered the nagging of a guilty conscience until bedtime, then tried to rid yourself of the burden. Unconfessed sin inflicts festering wounds in the soul which take My healing power to remedy. Ask Me if there is anything in your life which is offensive to Me, and I will clearly reveal such things to you. You will not find this experience pleasant, but it will be a great relief to get it out from under the rug and have Me deal with it.

It would be far better if you communed with Me at regular intervals throughout the day. The prophet Daniel was an extremely busy state official, but he met with Me three times a day, even more often if he faced a crisis. Send up a brief but earnest prayer in moments of need. Some of Jesusí greatest miracles were preceded by brief prayer utterances. Tell Me how you honestly feel. Share your happiness with Me. Thank Me for My blessings and tell Me how much I mean to you. If something is worrying or frightening you, or if satan is tempting you or attacking you in ways great or small, donít hesitate to pray, either silently or audibly. I can discern your thoughts from afar off. I hear your every sigh and know your every need even before you bring your petition to My Throne of Grace. I am ever willing and ready to answer your prayer. The answer may not always appear immediately or come in the form you expect, but it will always be for your highest good.

Keep your fellowship with Me constant. I am your very Life.

Digging up Dead Traditions

Gen. 4:3-7; Mark 7:1-13; Luke 18: 9-14; II Cor. 11:14; Gal. 5:1-3; Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 2:4-10; Jude 3

Yea, saith the Lord of the Harvest, a lot of stubborn weeds have been planted over the centuries by religious authorities unwilling to let My people walk in the liberty Christ died to provide for them. Traditions of men, no matter how deeply entrenched they may be, or how long they have been accepted as gospel truth in My Church, are unacceptable in My sight. They have the taint and the odor of fleshly works on them. Even as Cain disregarded My clear instructions on how to properly approach My presence, religious systems and traditions of men have discarded My original divine order for worship, fellowship and service and set about building structures of their own, to replace the foundations laid by the first apostles. Religious pharisees unwilling to accept My Word at face value and unwilling to believe that My Work on Calvary is totally complete, will preach a false formula of: Christís best efforts+lots of religious activities+observance of menís vain traditions+lots of money=salvation. How like the devil, to add flowery religious fibs to My Word. How very subtle he is about it. If tithing, enforced fasting, and frantic evangelizing to get people to sign pledge cards is essential to maintain your salvation, then My Work on the Cross is incomplete, and My intercessions for you in heaven as your High Priest are insufficient. Instead I shouted from the Cross: It is finished!

Some legalists try to control My people with perfumed guilt-inducing techniques, such as saying: "If you really loved Jesus, youíd do it anyway." But who are those self-appointed judges to tell anybody that any tradition of men must be observed, or their love for Me can be called into question! I said: "If ye love Me, keep My commandments. I DID NOT say: "If ye love Me, keep the traditions of men, so as not to rock the boat." "Unity at any price" is a flowery religious fib of satan, who goes about as an angel of light seeking whom he may devour. The devil is very very religious, and he often buries My truth under a big pile of misapplied Scripture. My people are not to be auctioned off back into legalistic slavery to the vain traditions of men, just to avoid troubling waters polluted by long-standing lies!

I feel like a farmer battling to dig up the enormous stumps of ancient trees deeply entrenched in hardened soil and stubborn to remove. The soil is clogged with dry, lifeless roots of vain tradition which impart no life; roots planted by pharaoh pharisees out to serve their own ends, who care not that they have tangled up the soil beneath their feet and turned it to shifting sand. I cannot sow My good seed in the hearts of My people unless I first clear the ground of the weeds of men so it can receive the life-giving Word of God to bring forth fruit into the Kingdom of God.

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