By: Martin Cisneros
Scripture teaches that the easily offended are not good candidates for the fruit of the Word of God(Mark 4) and that where there is strife there's confusion and every evil work (James 3). The contrast placed on the devilish pseudo-wisdom of this age with the wisdom that is from above is remarkably striking in several respects. In James chapter 3 the wisdom that is from above is held in contrast to the wisdom of this present evil age and empire in that the wisdom that is from above is peaceable, meaning that it works against strife and for peace. A major need of the sons of God is not only to work for peace but to work against strife. The wisdom that is from above is easy to be entreated; it's without partiality and without hypocrisy. Therefore, the wisdom of God will ultimately triumph over every heart as we're assured in Scripture that our faith is the victory that actually overcomes the world and subjects it to Christ. The wisdom of God, which is the love of God that proceeds from the worship of the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ is easy to be entreated. It'll work for whoever will set their affections on the things that are above rather than on the things of this earth and of this age.
The issue is not so much with being aware of and partaking of the things of this age, but the deceitfulness of riches is very simply the deceitfulness of this age, being in harmony with this age and being at enmity with the higher purposes of God of crucifying the flesh and reconciling the heart and mind with God through the Blood of Christ and through the revelation of the Word of God, which is Jesus, which is primarily revealed to us through the Bible during this age.
Bottomline: Strife is one of the most costly sins that you can cultivate because it is generally rooted in pride, in pain, and in fear.
Anything that yields to the fears of this age is yielding to the spirit of this present age and world system. If you practice strife because you are the type of person that always has to have the last word or worse, then you are someone who will not enjoy the fullness of the kingdom and you may very well lose your inheritance as Esau did for one morsel of what this present age is cooking up for your flesh.
The warnings in the New Testament about being separated from the darkness of this age are not warnings that are to be taken lightly. To walk in the Word of God means to stop smiting with the fist of wickedness, to stop speaking words that are contrary to the reign of Christ in your present situation, to yield up your ego as a living sacrifice before God, and to refuse to indulge the appetites of your ego. Your ego needs to be starved before God far more than your body needs to be starved before God!
Strife is one of the most costly things to the age-enduring life(style) of New Testament believers of anything that you can participate in. It cost the Church of Corinth valuable spiritual time and influence in their community and very nearly brought the wrath of both our Lord and of His apostle upon that Church. As you read through the issues that faced the Corinthian Church in the New Testament, over and over again there's a rebuke of their pride, strife, and of their fears. The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament claims that contention is only born of pride and then goes on to speak of the destruction that always accompanies pride.
Strife is a minister of fear and of death. It only thrives on the bending of the will, opinion, and money (when possible) of others to it's particular opinions. It becomes increasingly frustrated when what it says isn't the final word for the situation. Strife IS self-aggrandizement rather than confidently resting in the hope that God will not allow your flesh to see corruption (i.e. in this life) because of the intercessions of Christ. Walking in the light is not walking in strife. Walking in strife promotes darkness rather than light.
The blessings of the kingdom of God are only promised to overtake those who humbly seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. The kingdom of God is the reign of Christ over every heart and the manifestation of His judgments over all of the matters of life as progressively unfolded and understood through the efficacy of His Blood. Walking in strife is seeking first your own kingdom and your own righteousness totally apart from and idolized against the intercessions and purposes of Christ. Strife is an attempt at setting up your own kingdom in the hearts of everyone you are in strife with. It only produces a dynamic division within the creation. You can't have creation continuing to divide around you because of your strife and expect for things to come together for you in your life!
To walk in love in it's fullness is to walk in peace. To walk in strife in it's fullness is to walk the path of death. God will redeem you from death, without a doubt. And God will redeem all out of their destructions, eventually, but the [ultimate] pain to yourself and the immediate pain to God and those that you're in strife with is more of a cost than you're willing to pay, no matter how large of an ego that you have. You're more loving than you let on. And you're more moved by the pain that you've caused than you want to admit a lot of times. Stop the cycle of inflicting pain on yourself and you'll be more ready to stop the cycle of inflicting pain on others.
Pick up your Bible today and hide yourself in the embrace of Christ. Make up in your mind that nothing else matters today besides the mercy of Christ being revealed to you, in you, and through you. Abide in the habitation of His love and intercessions. Stay where you can hear the flow of His Blood breathing life into creation. That may mean more active participation in your Church/Fellowship, or that may mean hiding out for a few weeks reading nothing but Colossians and 1John until all of the pain and loneliness breaks away from you in view of the finished sacrificial death of Christ. Take the time to let God love you today. Listen to all of His thoughts concerning you rather than the limitations of your own thoughts regarding the finished work of Christ.
Nothing you can ever do can ever separate you from His love. You may take a flying leap out of His tender side and discover HIS POWER to crucify your flesh, but though the wrath of God comes upon you to the uttermost, you'll never leave the sight of His love that'll be pulling you towards repentance unto life and repentance unto the kingdom. He'll never depart from His determined purpose to destroy your sins and ravish you in His love and potential. No matter what it takes, when Christ, who is our life, appears, you also will appear in His glory.
The greatest healing power that's been revealed by God to mankind is the power of forgiveness! To forgive, be forgiven, and to know that one is forgiven is a precious gift that should neither be taken lightly nor withheld from those to whom it is due. Jesus plainly taught that during our season of unforgiveness that we are, in effect, on our own, as prodigal as they come. Jesus said that if you do not forgive then neither can your Father which is in heaven forgive you, according to Mark 11:25-26. True forgiveness is an act of obedience to the Word of God and is not either originally, nor initially, a feeling. You can't simply depend on the fact that you will forgive someone when you feel like it because actions produce feelings when one is walking in the spirit. Only when one is walking in the flesh do feelings produce actions. There's a major difference between being led by the compassion of God and being led by the whims of your constantly changing emotions. Your emotions are probably little different from anyone else's in that they change with the changing of the winds of space and time so that while some people have better control over their feelings, no one is permanently motivated in a consistent direction of righteousness in their life by their feelings. At least, not during this age...
To walk by faith and not by sight is the highest calling in the kingdom of God. To walk by faith and not by sight is the highest calling to the kingdom of God, as well. And to walk by faith and not by sight, you are going to have to learn how to forgive others as you want to be forgiven. When you forgive, you can not make the issue forgiven your issue of conversation with anyone for the next couple of years and truly call it something you've forgiven!
The written Word of God must become the highest authority that you live by, greater than all visions, intuitions, voices, and counsels from the elders in your life. Peter called the written Word of God a more sure Word from God than even an audible voice from heaven in 2Peter chapter 1. We also must let this same mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus Who when faced with adversity, persecution, needs, sorrows, distresses, and needs for answers -- in the light of every pressing need, desire, pain, and yearning, the written Word of God was first and foremost the wisdom of God to Him. It says in Luke 2:51-52 that Jesus was subject to His parents AND growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. The Word of God must be first and foremost in our daily relationships and for it to be so, you're going to have to forgive others who have sinned against you, whether that sin was a matter of a breakage of one of the commandments of God that relate to how we are to relate to one another or whether it was merely any area of insensitivity towards your interests and feelings.
The way you forgive is through maintaining an appreciation for all that God has done for you AND FOR THEM. Christ died for them as surely as He was the ransom for you from your sins! Therefore, it's impossible to both honor the finished work of Christ as the precious gift of God and to hold unforgiveness towards anyone AT THE SAME TIME. You're going to do one or the other! Hebrews chapter 12 says to keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and developer of your faith Who for that joy that was set before Him endured the cross so that He could sit at the right hand of God. He ever-liveth to make intercession for you is declared earlier in the book of Hebrews. He also ever lives to make intercession in the behalf of this person whom you think has mistreated you. They may have or they may not have deliberately done so. Don't treat as malice against you what can easily be interpreted as and explained by carelessness, insensitivity, and total stupidity, ok?
You can't continue to make excuses for your unforgiveness, because those same excuses will be measured against you in God's dealings with you. "The way you measure it is the way it will be measured back to you" is very clearly a constant theme of the teachings of Jesus. Note especially the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. Have they continued over and over and over again in their stupidity and incompetence? And who among us is totally 1000% free of stupidity and incompetence before the God of all flesh with Whom nothing is impossible(Jeremiah 32:27)? Unforgiveness is easily in the top 5 reasons for why people get sick and remain under a curse inspite of the best laid plans of church mice and gospel men to bring them into a wealthy place in Christ. The power of reconciling all things belongs with God alone.
Forgiveness is NOT:
an admission of defeat;
any kind of acknowledgment that perhaps you were wrong and they were right;
a sign of weakness;
an emotional feeling of release nor any release of tension. While forgiveness may produce these things, you can't depend on your really bad memory as evidence that you've forgiven anything or anyone at any time in your entire life time! Unforgiveness can still be growing inside of you towards a crop that you WILL harvest, and probably not in the way you would want, nor towards the relationship you would want to direct it at.
someone else's responsibility to come and ask you to forgive them
Unforgiveness is NOT:
something that will allow you to continue to be wise and prosperous while maintaining;
healthy, restful, and replenishing;
the key to a successful relationship with God;
an option, according to Jesus;
the highest way of acknowledging someone else's stupidity, incompetence, nor meanness of spirit. Only forgiveness takes into account and acknowledges [in a healthy way] someone else's inadequacies towards you.
a commandment of God under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, consequently, it's something that pleases God;
an act of the will based upon a sound intellect that acknowledges it's own proper place in the creation of God;
a major key to the miraculous as both a supernatural force in it's own right and as a covenant-agreement with God that because of our obedience, He MUST intervene to protect, deliver, prosper, heal, and reconcile(though any type of reconciliation is in God's timing, whether it takes place now or in a future age). Jesus said that unforgiveness was what delivered you over to the tormenters, so consequently, forgiveness would HAVE TO have the opposite effect and deliver you over to the Comforter.
the only way to have personal freedom from the offenses of others, their limitations and over-all incompetency of spirit, vocabulary, and actions;
the training ground for your [world overcoming] faith;
your acknowledgement of having surrendered the situation to God, His mercy, and His judgment
THE WAY, according to Jesus, to be delivered over to tormenters -- whether physically or spiritually speaking -- all of it will erode the soundness of your mind, will, emotions, finances, and social life in all of it's facets and faculties until you FORGIVE.
a covenant with Satan, with Death, Hell, and the Grave that will separate you from God for at least the balance of the age, and perhaps for the succeeding ages to come. YES, I'm most emphatically calling unforgiveness witchcraft! At the very minimum it's fearful and unbelieving and therefore can only lead to the lake of fire and brimstone, according to the book of Revelation.
a major key to YOUR OWN destruction;
war against YOUR OWN soul;
a fruit of the flesh and not a fruit of the spirit.
Forgiveness is the only way to bare the fruit that you want to bare, the only way to your own personal freedom from that person that's hurt you through no intelligence nor competence of their own! Forgiveness is an act of sacrificial worship to God in acknowledgment and thanksgiving for all He's gone through to forgive you and bring you at least as far as He's brought you. Forgiveness is something that's going to require ongoing maintenance, provision, and protection just as your diet, sleep cycles, and personal hygiene. Forgiveness IS spiritual and mental hygiene. So, when you don't forgive, you'll inevitably come to the place of stinking to all of the people around you! Since none of us likes to be the source of a foul odor in the room, whether physically or spiritually, forgiveness consequently is one of the biggest issues we face for the wholeness of all of our relationships and our own personal freedom from all of the fears and cares of life. As forgiveness sweetens every relationship we have, unforgiveness can not help but create bitterness in very relationship we have. There is only one genuine choice that will promote our own personal soundness, peace, and recovery into all of the plans of God for our lives and that's the way of forgiveness. It's as much a path as any highway that any of us drive over. On the highway of forgiveness we must avoid the temptation towards having road rage and when someone experiences a flat tire on the road to forgiveness, it's the responsibility of all of us to lend some road-side assistance, KNOWING that each of us will probably need a helping hand in the near future as we all face the inadequacies of others, their issues, stupidity, and general incompetence as they suck their thumbs over their own pains, distresses, and all that motivates them to continue to lack the wholeness they inevitably repel from themselves by their choices that are governed by a lack of revelation of the love of God for themselves. May each of us share the love of God with SOMEONE today!
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
We are assured by Jesus that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. Is this an eternal filling or a moment by moment filling with the wisdom and kindnesses of our God? I want to suggest to you that there's nothing remotely virtuous about being hungry! Much of mainstream Christianity and particularly those with Pentecostal backgrounds and areas of emphasis have preached multitudes of sermons on the hungry life, as if that were the only place of humility and as if that were "righteousness" in and of itself.
When one is left to their hunger and thirst for excessively long periods of time, one becomes agitated, irritable, frustrated, and a cloud of hopelessness can try to form over one's emotions. However, when one becomes hungry and thirsty and is able to satisfy such hunger and thirst within a reasonable amount of time, then that is where comfort and assurance in one's Heavenly Father lies. But, just because hunger and thirst are met with their daily necessities does not in any way suppose that hunger and thirst have thereby been abolished forever! But the righteousness isn't in the hungering and thirsting, but in the partaking of Christ that one becomes both righteous and whole.
Satisfaction is as fleeting a thing in the kingdom of God as it is in the prodigal world. This is not to indict the kingdom of God nor to cut off the world from all hope in God, but merely to point out the fact that we must rid ourselves of this romantic notion of satisfaction being something that's attainable by any mortal once and for all, for their own sake, in this life. Being a trillionaire isn't going to give you satisfaction without end, because then comes the frightful warnings of scripture of neglecting to be rich towards God and your soul being required by your possessions. When you become a trillionaire is when the real pressure of making sure that you're listening to God for His wisdom will really come in. Life doesn't consist in the abundance of things and pleasures but in knowing God. Satisfaction is as fleeting as pleasure and pain because God has greater wonders that have yet to be shown and there are higher things for your heart to see, through the Holy Spirit, of His abundant grace (i.e. sufficiency). While it is true that we're joint heirs of Christ, we'll each know satisfaction only on the same terms that Christ came to know it(Isaiah chapters 53 and 58) and that is through the travail of our own souls! We are told in the book of Hebrews to look unto Jesus as the author and the developer of our faith who for the strength set before Him endured hostility from sinners and sat down at the right hand of God. I don't see how we would be told to look unto Jesus as the pattern of entering into the satisfaction of His soul, unless He were, in fact, the actual pattern for us to persue in our own lives until we know that deep joy of the Holy Spirit as joint-heirs with Christ Jesus.
Did Jesus hunger and thirst for righteousness during His time on this earth? We're assured that He did in Philippians 2 and in Hebrews 5. And yet, His was not a miserable life of hunger and thirst, right? He lived a life of fellowship with His heavenly Father and God saw to His righteousness being full, to His joy being full, and to His belly being full. But, at no time in His life on earth was His god His belly(Philippians 3:19)! His mind was not preoccupied with earthly things all of the days of His life, so He didn't partake of the destruction that's upon the world with it's condemnation.
The question would now seem to present itself as to how one may know that they're hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Any hunger to know God is a hunger for holiness, no matter however misguided the emotional and physical impulses of one's body may be. God, we are assured in Scripture, never changes and never lies, and though the creation is in a fallen state, it was originally created with an impulse towards holiness. Holiness and "wholeness" are related. Sovereignty is not an attribute of holiness, otherwise Scripture would be admonishing us to be as sovereign as God is when it begs us to live lives holy and acceptable unto God. Holiness and righteousness, however, are related in that Scripture tells us that without holiness, no man shall see the Lord, and we're also assured that no unrighteousness is permitted into the Holy City in the book of Revelation. Unrighteousness, we are assured throughout Scripture will never enter into kingdom fullness.
However, we are assured in Scripture that objects of wrath at one time may very well and very easily, through the Blood and through the Holy Spirit, become objects of mercy at another time! Thank God for the precious gift of repentance so we can know the fullness of life in this life!
A hunger and thirst for righteousness can only come about through God having Personally introduced Himself to the human conscience. No one is ever hungry for enchilladas who's never eaten Mexican food, right? Though hunger and thirst are a normal part of the human equation, to hunger and thirst for righteousness would indicate an introduction at least to the tiniest seed of righteousness. Hunger without knowing what one is hungry for is not something righteous. It's only tormenting!
So, step #1 for hungering and thirsting for righteousness is to at least be introduced to God. If you don't think you've ever been introduced to God, then say it out loud, right now, "Jesus Christ, please lead me to God, right now!" Jesus said that no one comes to Him unless the Holy Spirit draws him. Therefore, your very desire to pray is an indication that you already have God's undivided attention!
Next, you need to spend some time with people who [very evidently] know God. As you read through the Bible God will begin to show you the people that are truly growing in their time with God and in their relationship with God. It may be people that you already know, and/or, God may very well bring people into your life that have the heart, [and in a figurative sense,] the face of Jesus. That's not always going to be at the Church that's down at the corner of the street that you live on either!
Until you know enough about what the Bible teaches about living and walking by faith, there's nothing remotely wrong in begging God with everything within you, on a daily basis, to show you what to do. Never lose a hunger for the wisdom that only God can give you(Proverbs chapters 1 through 8). A hunger for the wisdom that only God can grant is a hunger for righteousness. How would you have the very wisdom of God, from God Himself, and not know rightousness, peace, and the glory of God? There's no way! The wisdom of God is THE principle thing, according to Proverbs 4:7 and 1Corinthians 1:30. Set up a daily routine of humbly crying out to God for His wisdom. For the next few days and weeks, don't even think about praying about anything else, ok? Let God guide you with what He shares with you into the other ways that are laid out in Scripture for how to best appropriate His wisdom. But, right now, you're way behind on what you should have known yesterday, but don't even know today, right? I've heard Benny Hinn say before to "get on your knees and stay there until God walks in!"
There are no shortcuts to being filled with righteousness, peace, wholeness, and joy. God has to be your all in all. He's forgiven you of so much. Why don't you forgive and seek after God rather than seeking emotional revenge by wasting your precious time and energy on imaginative things that you think that you should have said or done to put someone in their place? Life's too short to waste on drowning in thoughts of "I could have..." and "I should have..."
I dare you to be bigger than anyone that you know has ever expected you to be by forgiving and choosing to drown out all of the confusion of the world with many thanksgivings to God.
Judge others by their intentions rather than by what they did. Judge yourself by what you did rather than by your intentions. Then, most importantly, cast yourself on Christ's mercy purposefully forsaking all of your successes and failures and your opinions and judgments in sacrifice to His Father in heaven. Then be ready to watch what He'll show you! God knows how to both impress and leave a lasting impression...