I promised at the end of my last posting, "The Overcomer" that the next essay would be about the rewards, but before I post that, there is a subject I want to touch on that is great revelation!! Or it is to me, and it came while ministering to my youngest daughter ( 27 ) who has been harassed by a spirit of fear and anxiety for several weeks now. These are tough to conquer because they're very effective, and a great weapon against people who are not given to sin and are pursuing their faith. In the gospels, Jesus admonishes his disciples, in situations where anybody with any good sense would be terrified, to quit being afraid! After speaking to the woman who had been healed from her bleeding disorder, He spoke to the synagogue leader whose only daughter had just died according to a messenger who had approached them at that moment, and said " Do not be seized with fear and alarm!" That's precisely what this spirit does; it seizes a person with fear while the mind is flooded with the possibility of doom and disaster! It's a great tool of the enemy and I've watched it work and heard testimony ( Rod Parsley, for one!) from tough, strong leaders in the faith who have dealt with it! The good news is that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil! There has to be deliverance, but then there's a subsequent battle of the mind that all Christians, if they are to be Overcomers, must fight!
She is ordinarily a bright, funny, witty and not afraid to be goofy, beautiful young lady and it's painful to watch her go through this. She'll come to us and say, " I pray, and read my Bible and these books you've given me and I'm still anxious and thinking what if..." and she can really be slapped around by the what ifs. I told her, "You're going about this like ' I'll do some good things and then the Lord will put a stop to this and I can go back to the way I was!' but God has given you the weapons to defeat this; you have to believe there's an enemy doing these things, and that your weapons- speaking the Word and believing what God has said- His Word- are mighty unto victory!! You're waiting for God to reward you for you doing some religious things; He's waiting for you to push back and defeat the enemy whose works Jesus came to destroy!" And then- and I really hate when the Lord does this- I felt that divine stare. I just finished delivering some killer spiritual instruction, and then it's as if He's looking at me as if to say,"That was really good; why aren't you doing it?" Out of our own mouths comes our own correction!
Do you find yourself in your prayer time begging God, bemoaning the lack of reward after all your spiritual sacrifice? Are you sounding a little like a broken record? Now even as I write that, I can refute the suggestion that if you are begging and being repetitive, you're not doing right. It says in Hebrews that in the days of his flesh (while He was on earth), Jesus petitioned the Father with tears! ( Heb 5:7) Well that sounds a little like "begging", right? And Jesus Himself urges us to be persistent in our prayers; to knock and keep on knocking etc, and He told the story of the judge who feared neither God nor man and yet granted the woman her request only for her persistence(Luke 18: 2-6)! That's true, but let's rightly divide the Word here. And this is part and parcel of being an Overcomer; allowing the process of maturity to have its way. You must be ready to give up an understanding to receive a better understanding. If you read on this website habitually, then you're probably a recipient of the Holy Spirit, and someone who embraces the supernatural and the possibility of miracles. If that's the case, then you've been disappointed in not receiving a miracle having believed for one. You've struggled with that, wondering if your faith is lacking, or the Word of God lacks power, or because of past sin, you're disqualified from receiving your miracle. You were fine until you dared to believe! And that's when your understanding is put to the test. The disciples had left their lives; their businesses, their families, their way of thinking, their religious communities, to embrace this Messiah who did miracles of deliverance and then gave them authority to do the same! Wow! But then they came upon the child- while Jesus was being transfigured in front of Peter, James, and John- whose demon they could not cast out! So after Jesus comes on the scene and casts out the demon, they are perplexed and maybe feeling a little betrayed, maybe a little humiliated, maybe even a little resentful towards Jesus for putting them in that position! They had an understanding, but now they needed a new one. "Why couldn't we cast that demon out? You're the One who drew us from our way of life, and You're the One who even caused us to believe that this stuff was possible and then it was You who said I give you authority to do these things and now we fail publicly- Why? "
And we all know because of their little faith! Jesus repeatedly advised them that their faith was not as His faith and that growth was important and that for them- the disciples- to do all that He did, their faith must grow. I don't know how easy that was to receive! I'm sure they thought they should have been rewarded with all power having given up all and forsaken all to follow Jesus. But Jesus is saying " I've told you before, to you it is given to know the secrets of the kingdom because you're not slaves, but friends and I want you to mature to be sons-"
When the Bible speaks of adopted sons- Paul speaks about the spirit of adoption that causes us to cry Abba, Father!( Rom 8:15 ) it is not saying making an artificial son out of someone who is not genetically qualified; it is speaking of bringing an offspring into " the family business", involving offspring into the purpose and activity of the Father, using the tools of the Father. Jesus said, "I'm doing what I see the Father doing" meaning He was aware of, aligned with, and accomplishing the Father's intents and purposes. It required Jesus, the Son of Man, to speak and command the elements to conform to God's will. Jesus was a son, active in the family business. Now Jesus didn't resent those who approached Him for help, even complimenting them and commending them for their faith, but clearly he did not deal with them as he dealt with the disciples. The disciples were destined to sonship; to be in the family business! Now to contrast being a son in the family business with being an immature follower, because there were those who followed Jesus around, but never really subjected themselves to him, we'll examine the parable of the prodigal son. You know the story, the prodigal comes home broke and starving after spending his inheritance in debauchery, and because of the ridiculous generosity and compassion of the father, a big party is thrown for him; the prodigal is "rewarded" for his wanton behavior, but we can safely state that had not been active in the family business. The son involved in the family business is incredulous at the celebration, having withstood any temptation to strike out in sinful independence and instead living a life of submission and obedience for which he feels, at least in comparison to his knucklehead brother, either unrewarded or inadequately rewarded! He is baffled at the sight of his repentant brother being celebrated, while he, who has been working right alongside his father, completely obedient, had never had a party arranged for him by a father who surely feels a need to reward such a faithful son! Let's set the younger brother aside for a moment as he is the lost sheep, or the lost coin, whose salvation is worthy of celebration- this parable highlights that part of the father's nature; but there's a subtle insertion of a powerful truth in the conclusion of this story. The faithful son is resentful that his father has never demonstrated his love or appreciation for this son's faithfulness and obedience. I have a feeling this is a widespread sentiment, if we were all to be honest. The book of Deuteronomy declares that for the disobedient, all would go wrong and life would be disaster after deprivation. For the obedient, life would be success and abundance! Our modern day faith teachers have taught us because we have been saved by Jesus' blood from the curse meant for the disobedient, we are entitled to the blessings of the obedient, if we have faith to receive them! And yet, Jesus calls for us to overcome and endure , and all disciples, according to tradition, died martyr's deaths. So we're primed to be rewarded, and yet, like Job, it appears our faithfulness and obedience singles us out for disaster more so than the less spiritually inclined! So with that type resentment boiling to the surface, the obedient son calls out his father: " why have you not rewarded me for obedience and faithfulness with a lavishness you've shown towards a lost one that's been recovered?" The father's response is pregnant with the strategic mindset of the Father!
And the father said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. (Luke 15:31)
In other words,"you're waiting for me to give you something as a reward for your obedience, but your reward for faithfulness and obedience ( total commitment to the family business) is sonship! As I command all that I have, so can you. Gather the servants and have them kill as many fatted calves as you would like! Decorate as you see fit! It's all yours to command!"
So we need to spend less time petitioning God for solutions to our personal problems, and more time handling them as Jesus did, by speaking the Word in faith, and exercising the authority given to us. (BUT, notice He was usually exercising His authority on other people's behalf! Just sayin')
When Jesus was being harassed by Satan in the wilderness, He didn't whine to God to get this devil off His back! He pulled out the great offensive weapon given to all sons ( sons; male and female) and defeated the purposes of His adversary with God's Word!
I think sons and Overcomers are near equivalent terms here, as they both suggest one who forever surrenders himself to growth and maturation as structured by the Father. It's a process that you can walk away from; the rich young ruler had availed himself to the process for sometime- he was acquainted with God and His Word and had applied himself diligently to knowledge of and obedience to His statutes. He obviously had revelation of Jesus; he did not approach Him as healer or provider, but as guide and almost Lord! He felt a stirring at Jesus, and a conviction that there was yet something to know or to do to ascertain eternal life, and he sought out Jesus to find out what he lacked. He addressed Jesus as Good Sir, and I believe Jesus was teasing out the fullness of the revelation the rich ruler had received by pointing out that only one was good, and that was God- that it was divine instruction he was seeking and God had revealed to him Jesus' divinity( that's my theory, anyhow)!
The very divine Jesus gave The beloved young ruler a Word of wisdom; a personal rhema Word unto his maturation- " if you would be perfect, sell all you have, give the proceeds to the poor and follow Me". The wealthy young man, who had devoted himself to compliance to the law, who did not reject Jesus, but recognized His godliness and authority, and sought out His instruction, couldn't abandon his weath and his sovereignty to the Lordship of Jesus!
To summarize, Jesus came to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. Daniel referred to it as the kingdom of the saints, and indeed, the saints will rule with Jesus! But they will be mature sons who overcame and endured the process of maturation and crucified their carnality on the cross, who went beyond seeking the divine rewards for good behavior to the obedience that attracts the attention and destructive efforts of the adversary! They will have embraced spiritual warfare, and put their faith in the weapons mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. They will not have taken offense at Jesus, but will have persevered through times of growth and greater revelation. They will have become sons! Theo