First of all, I want to start out by saying that I have actively lived in the realm of, what has come to be mockingly called, “Charismania” for the last 35 years (before that I was in one of the “main-line” institutions of division, otherwise known as “Denominational Churches” - which have been also mocked as, “the ones who pride themselves on believing almost nothing”) Oy! Needless to say, the “Body of the Anointed One (Christ)” has “miles to go before she sleeps”! I point this out because I want readers to realize that I am speaking from a broad spectrum of spiritual and religious experience – and not just talking from a place of abject criticism. I am discussing “family matters”.
Being that I have lived in those realms where “The Blessing” of God is much discussed, expected and analyzed, I have made some observations. The first is that – to borrow a line from Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride - “I don't think it means what (most people) think it means!” The second is that there is a correlation, a prerequisite, if you will, to living in the Blessing that most of what is called “Christendom”, along with most of Judaism if I am paying attention, is largely missing! We, in Christendom, want to mix up the FREE grace of Salvation – which was wrought by someone, namely Yeshua, paying the ultimate price – with “The Blessing” of God – which was outlined for Abraham and which had very specific requirements attached! The Jewish brothers want to rely solely on fleshly obedience which is impossible – hence the coming of the Anointed One!
The Blessing was firmly connected to strict adherence – also known as “OBEDIENCE” to the instructions, which God gave at that time – but there was also a heart attitude which He was looking for in that obedience. Not prideful religious competition! And listen, the instructions I am referring to were given WAY before the actual written TORAH was given on Sinai, so don't go yelling “legalism” and shout me down while running for your very lives! The Blessing of God seems to be largely missing from most of our lives, most of the time – if one is to define that Blessing from what God promised Abraham – Health, abundant material resources, and victory over our enemies – that is. So we might need to reconsider our belief structures in the light of the Word, to discover why that is!
Again, for those who may be reading my writing for the first time, I am not a theologian, nor a Hebrew scholar – so yes – please DO check what I say against all you know, and if you have discernment this would be a great time to bring that into play! Just saying that this is my pondering and observation on the issue, and I am far from ready to claim that I have it all straight - yet, the Holy Spirit of God is working to teach us all.
But I want to focus for a few minutes on something that sort of jumped out of my daily Scripture reading today. I was reading along, aloud in Hebrews chapter twelve, when suddenly a correlation arrested my entire attention, and I jumped on here to write while “the light was on”!
The Scripture reads as follows; “See to it that no one – (1) comes short of the grace of God; (2) that no root of bitterness, springing up, causes trouble, and by it many be defiled: that (3) there be no immoral or godless person, like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even after-wards, when he desired to inherit the Blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it with tears.”
In reading this I was suddenly aware of some things, which I may have known intellectually, but which I obviously haven't grasped enough to change the reality of my existence yet – which is what the Word of God does for us, ultimately. I noticed that a command was being issued - “See to it....” That does NOT sound like there is any option. Continuing on, “....that NO ONE” - this is being written to the Hebrew believers in Yeshua, so he was obviously warning them of something....”comes short of the Grace of God”. How does one fall short of His Grace? Isn't it an all reaching, all tolerant, sort of mushy-squishy warm fuzzy bunch of nebulous feel goods? Apparently not! If it were so darn accommodating no one could possibly fall short of it! Is anyone following me?
He continues, “that NO ROOT OF BITTERNESS – springing up – (be allowed to) CAUSE TROUBLE – (because it will defile many). Ugh. Bitterness is some nasty poison, and it is obviously highly contagious! We are firmly instructed NOT to let it take root, lest it then spring up! Roots are undetected, but bitterness quickly bears its fruit! It is a premiere weed in our spiritual gardens – a life choking vine that strangles all who allow it to grow – which we dare not cultivate, nor tolerate – if this exhortation is to be believed and heeded!
And then he refers to Esau, and calls him a godless man because - “he sold his birth-right for a single meal...”, that is to say that he sold something of eternal value to satisfy a temporal need. Just let that sink in for a minute. He is saying that catering to the demands of the lower nature will alienate you from God! Well, there are simply scads of Scriptural references that either state that plainly or imply it strongly!
So, my question is, how have we misconstrued The concept of “grace” so completely that we now believe how we live - what we do, what we believe and therefore act on, or even our inner motivations - makes no difference to God? I say that is what we believe because that is how we live! Largely heedless to the Word of God, fairly uninformed and unconcerned about what it actually says, and passively resistant to what we do know! And why do we have difficulty grasping the idea that a negligent attitude, a passive, disinterest toward the Word of God, and His plain instruction, should negatively impact the course of our lives? Why do we think that it should not affect the Blessing of God on our lives? Have we confused “Grace” and “Blessing”? I think it is high time we sought and found answers to these questions! And sorted these things out for ourselves. Obviously, if the lives of most church-going folk are anything to go by, we haven't a real clue! Apparently all the years of teaching have not filled in those blanks for us!
My theory on that is that we have bought into a religious system which may contain element of the real thing, but which, by and large is a precipitous fraud – governed by wolves in shepherd's clothing, who show up to fleece sheep, build themselves a kingdom and retire. But maybe that's just my experience. Any-who....back to the subject at hand.
The writer of the firm instruction goes on to say of Esau that, having sold the eternal to satisfy the temporal, fleshly, evil-urge (I am not saying that hunger is an evil urge – what I am saying is that how we resolve hunger can take on evil proportions – and can be driven by the evil urge to satisfy it) – but – after he had given way to that evil urge and had bribed his brother with his much coveted birth-right – thereby “despising it”, cheapening it, devaluing it – the Scriptures state that - when he came to his senses, when his dad was dying and he realized the full implications of his idiotic gesture – he was sorrowful to the point of tears – but there was no going back now!
Did Jacob reject him, and disinherit him utterly? No! He remained a “son”. Which is where “Grace” comes in. We can stupidly jerk around with the Spiritual privileges we are given, but we may lose our Blessing – which in this case represented a place of Authority in the family and the biggest share of material goods, plus, sort of a hand-up in the relationship to God. Not a bad deal. But he sold it all for a bowl of beans, rather than dress and cook his own kill. Perhaps this night he has no kill – but still, he was a hunter! And back at the family home place there were plenty of livestock. So one is forced to ponder, what was that really about? Who knows? Laziness? Taunting? I suspect he was flaunting his inheritance in his brother's face, never intending to actually part with it! But it all backfired on him, and it cost him big time!
But whatever the details of his decision, this is a clear picture of the difference between “being saved”, or simply born into the family of God, and “being Blessed” - given authority and power to rule over the family. It is a clear picture of the difference between religious coherence and a true spiritual connection with God. And let me add here that all who have taken authority on themselves in the institution called “Church”, who strut about lording it over those not bearing such a label – are not necessarily there because God placed them there. Dictatorship is NOT authority, it is illegitimate power – usually gained by questionable or objectionable means! It is no different in the spiritual realm. Men, led by pride, which is fueled by the enemy of God, frequently jump into places of authority without the sanction of God. And eventually everyone suffers. All that is called authority is NOT created equal! God must exalt one to a place of Authority, and He always produces the character through hardship first! But back to our two contentious brothers...Did Jacob do it all right? Heck no! He was a devious little weasel! But what he sent around came around as well! He got a bait and switch wedding, a lousy, manipulative, deceitful, dishonest, back-stabbing father-in-law, whom he indentured himself to for fourteen years! I'd say that was sufficient come-comeuppance for his skullduggery!
Folks. If we take nothing else away, can we all get a reality check that our decisions matter? They produce stuff (“faith is the substance of things hoped for”, or one could say, “believed for” - and how we live reflects what we believe) – whether the stuff is good or bad depends on the decisions we make, which stem from what we really believe – and the resulting action – or lack thereof. Most faith failures which I have observed have more to do with negligence of the Word, with sins of “omission”, what someone did NOT do right in a situation – more often than blatant, obvious rebellion. It has been more a matter of ignorance than insolence! But the question I must ponder is how can there be such rampant spiritual ignorance in the supposedly most “enlightened” generation ever? I think we are experiencing some confusion as to what constitutes “light”. Knowledge is not enough, if it is not managed by God's wisdom it leads to prideful independence from God which has always separated people from Him, and always will!
Humility is the key to wisdom, salvation, faith! We can't possibly put all our rocks in another's basket if we think we are the top of the heap! We won't trust anyone else if we have allowed ourselves to become totally self-reliant! That is just the way it is. Esau's biggest mistake was probably that he thought he could use something so vital to hornswaggle his brother. He learned that there are some things you just don't play with – but by the time he learned it, it was too late to really fix it. He wasn't booted to the curb to starve. He just didn't get to step into the place of authority which had been reserved for him. Sad. But how many of God's people are living an Esau kind of life. Always taking the way of least resistance, always letting their stupid flesh panic, and make decisions for them, not realizing that often they are selling eternal things – like trust and integrity – for temporal things – like food, gas, nicer “stuff”, flattery or even a surface “respect” - also known as “status”, or “peer approval”! They do not realize that they are selling things they may never get back for things that can never last!
Thankfully, because of the miraculous Grace of our Savior there is a way back – IF – we REPENT! We still find repentance – if we don't sin it away – and obviously we can do that (so much for some of the well loved doctrines out there). But we must humble ourselves first and TURN FROM the things we are doing that are ANTI-ANOINTING, Disobedient, Word-Neglecting or Word-Opposing, Spirit Grieving, Etc. Etc. And Make Teshuvah – that is Actively RETURN to God's Way of doing and being right – by a choice of our will! But you don't have to take MY word for it! I am including at the end another excellent devotional piece from today's entry of “My Utmost for His Highest”, my daily prod! As usual Brother Chambers nails it down – short, sweet, and to the point! One day I will learn this gift! But now it would behoove us to examine our lives in the light of these questions - “Am I Living in the Blessing?”; “Is the Anointing, the Power of Yeshua accessible in my life?”; “If not, why not?” And diligently seek God's face until we know why not, and what to do about it! We can not go on pedaling empty milk cartons in the name of Jesus! We must be about our Father's business, and that necessitates being bearers of The Blessing! Blessed to be a Blessing! That is our mission if we choose to accept it!
I now send you, to open their eyes . . . that they may receive forgiveness of sins . . . —Acts 26:17-18
This verse is the greatest example of the true essence of the message of a disciple of Jesus Christ in all of the New Testament.
God’s first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words, “. . . that they may receive forgiveness of sins . . . .” When a person fails in his personal Christian life, it is usually because he has never received anything. The only sign that a person is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ.
Our job as workers for God is to open people’s eyes so that they may turn themselves from darkness to light. But that is not salvation; it is conversion-only the effort of an awakened human being. I do not think it is too broad a statement to say that the majority of so-called Christians are like this. Their eyes are open, but they have received nothing.
Conversion is not regeneration. This is a neglected fact in our preaching today. When a person is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People may make vows and promises, and may be determined to follow through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, namely, forgiveness of sins.
This is followed by God’s second mighty work of grace: “. . . an inheritance among those who are sanctified . . . .” In sanctification, the one who has been born again deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s ministry to others.
Ahhh. Truth and Light! As I said, right to the point! Can I get an amen, somebody!
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