Monthly Archives: December 2014

Are We Listening?

Pastor John Hagee said something yesterday that I loved.  He said “You will either embarrass sin or it will embarrass you.”  Joyce Meyer often speaks of “giving the devil a black eye”.   I’m not sure if this is right but often times that’s how I feel about temptation.  When the enemy tempts me, I don’t try to beat him with my own will because truth be know “I” will fail.  It’s only when I realize what Jesus has done for me and what the enemy is trying to get me to do, forsake what Jesus has done, that I have the strength to say no.  It’s kind of like choosing who you want to be “friends” with at that moment; the one who suffered and died for me and now sits at the right Hand of God who has all of the power, knowledge and wisdom to know what is best for me, Jesus Christ or the one who is out to steal, kill and destroy.  Most of us wouldn’t forsake our best friend to hang out with someone who hated us.  Why then would we forsake Jesus, who has done so much more for us?

Yesterday at church the pastor preached on the body, soul and spirit.  He gave the illustration of our body and soul being at odds with our spirit.  The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit, He is that still, small voice.  The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He does not push us to do something we don’t want to do.  It is our will, which is part of our soul, that enables us to decide what voice we want to hear.  Our will doesn’t become stronger once we are saved, it is what we do with our will, the choices we make and who we decide to listen to, that makes us stronger.  Either choice is going to make us stronger.  Either we will be stronger in God’s will or our will.  We will either have more of Him or less of Him, depending on the choice we make.  Becoming stronger in our will puts us at enmity with God.  When our carnal mind controls our will we are at enmity with God (Romans 8:7).  “…they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:8.   As a believer, we are empowered and led by the Holy Spirit when we choose to listen to His still small voice.  The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit, not our mind or our flesh.

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. ” Romans 8:13-14.  As I read, study and write, then open up my “study notes” to all on the worldwide web to see, I have found the scripture that explains my feelings when faced with temptation.  I have found the words to better sum up what I have been trying to say in my laymen’s terms.  “We are debtors”, yes, I (we) are indebted to the Lord for His work on the Cross.  I am indebted to Him for reconciling me with God, for enabling me to receive His grace daily and for  allowing me to know that every morning  when I awake, His grace is sufficient to see me through the day. 

In order for us to have the victorious life God has promised us, we must allow the Holy Spirit to be fully operational in our life.  As much as I try to be a willing vessel for the Lord to use, there are still things in my life that I try to handle through my self will.  I don’t mean just some time either, quite often this happens actually.  This is yet another reason why I am so thankful for God’s longsuffering.  His longsuffering is not only for the sinners but for the saints as well; the saints are not perfected yet either.  God knows our heart and we know our decision we have to make; the voice we are going to hear.

As debtors to Jesus, I pray we all hear what the Holy Spirit is witnessing to our spirit and choose His will.  I pray we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and understanding.  It is only through His empowerment that we will have strength to overcome.  By not allowing Him, the Holy Spirit, to be fully operational in our lives we are limiting Him.  Many times we fuss about churches quenching the Spirit due to time restraints, etc. but are we not quenching the Spirit in our own lives when we don’t listen to His still, small voice?  “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” John 10:27.  His voice will guide us and we follow Him.  The sheep don’t fight the wolf because the sheep would lose.  The Shepherd fights the wolf.  Listen to His voice, allow Him to beat the wolf; allow Him to embarrass the wolf.  Allow the Holy Spirit to be fully operational.  Don’t let our body and soul be so noisy we don’t hear what the Lord is saying to our spirit.  -Donna Warren

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All for Me

Thousands of years God declared war.  God knew in 1969 a baby girl would be born in a small town in Alabama.  He knew from the moment that baby girl was born, she had a powerful enemy.  An enemy that would try to destroy her.  That enemy never wanted her to know happiness; he never wanted her to know love.  In spite of what the enemy wanted, she did know love and happiness.  She was truly a blessed child.

That baby girl grew up and is now 45 years old.  For 45 years the enemy has tried to destroy this now “young” woman.  The devil tried to curse her but she never broke.  She often had moments of happiness and always temporal prosperity.  She was always chasing those temporal moments.  Worked hard then played hard but morning would always come.  As the temporary moments of happiness became further and further apart, desparation set in.  Work would become harder and the playing became less and less.

Finally, she realized she needed help…she realized she needed someone to save her.  No one could help her anymore.  The economy failed and all of her other “saviours”  were now fighting their own battles.  Then an amazing thing happened.

As it turns out, this little girl in an adults body found out this war God started on Christmas Day thousands of years ago was for her!   Yep, it’s true!  Can you believe it?  God knew this enemy named satan would come to kill, steal and destroy her from day one.  Knowing this He sent His only begotten Son that Christmas morning.  God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, that morning to defeat evil once and for all.  Jesus came to represent her in this battle against all of the evil.  The eternal and prosperous life she had been seeking was impossible on her own accord.  While she thought she was fighting the world, she was really busy fighting the enemy.  Doomed to failure, Jesus came to save her.  God didn’t want her sacrifices, all He wanted was her love. He wanted to save her before He would have to judge her.  Without her love, she wouldn’t know Him; she wouldn’t know His ways, only the ways of the world.  The enemies ways were the only way of the world.

Jesus came to sacrifice His life for her, so she could finally have the prosperity and eternal life she had always seeked.  The only difference is He didn’t have to sacrifice bulls and goats because of His sin.  Jesus never sinned, He was and is perfect.  Even though He never sinned, He still sacrificed for her so she could win this battle against the enemy.  He sacrificed His life for that little girl.  He hung on the Cross and died a brutal death.  It doesn’t stop there though.  When Jesus died, He took the keys to hell away from satan and at that moment satan lost his power.  Jesus’ work was finished and He now sits at the right hand of God.  ALL of this, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, for that one little girl that was born in small town, Alabama 45 years ago.  ALL of this in hopes she would hear about Him and believe.  So she would know and believe this enemy that she was fighting had already been defeated.  ALL of this just so He could save her.

This is my Christmas story but it’s not about me at all.  Turns out this world doesn’t revolve around this little girl’s battles but around the war God declared those thousands of years ago when Jesus was born.  Turns out that war was for every child ever born.  Turns out Jesus did this for the sinners and the saints in hopes we would all believe.  Yes, God knows how our story will end.  He already knows if we will choose to believe in Jesus Christ.  He has made a plan to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11) if we believe.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. I finally found a Saviour who would not fail. I finally found peace and happiness during the storms. His name is Jesus Christ. His birthday we celebrate every Christmas. It was on that day God declared war. Jesus paid the price so I could reap the benefits with Him.

If you are reading this He paid the price for you too. You may already know this or maybe you’ve just heard about Him, in either case, He did this for you too. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christmas day is His birthday. Happy birtday Jesus. Thank you. I love you too. – Donna Warren

Our Road to Damascus

It seems to me there are many on the road to Damascus these days.  Acts 9 tells the story of the apostle Paul’s journey to Damascus to persecute Christians.  Along the way God showed up.  Along the way Paul was instantly converted by the presence of the Lord.  A touch from God causes vigor and hatred to turn frail in His presence.   With all of the violence going on in the world today; racial lines being drawn among close friends and religious lines are being blurred among other worldly religions, is the enemy not using this rage as a road to Damascus?  Is satan not dividing our house in order to persecute?  After all, a house divided will not stand, right?  (Mark 3:25)  Are the violent ones not being used by satan as puppets?

Yesterday morning at church we had communion.   Communion is always a special occasion but there was something even more poignant about this service.  After the pastor’s sermon on peace, God gave him the boldness to speak about the racial division in our country today.  I say boldness, because when he started speaking I must admit a spark of fear crept up my spine, I feared that someone may get offended.  I quickly regained myself and realized Donna’s not in control but the Lord is in control of this service as it was a very anointed service.  I feel like this is what happens many times in church, “we” try to control the service instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way.  As the communion began the congregation was in tears.  As we all looked around at the many different races and ethnicities and the reality of Jesus’ body being broken for all of us, the kingdom of Heaven rained down in the sanctuary.  We were all, in every sense of the word, united in the Body of Christ.

Then we go home.  We turn on the news, get on our computers, peruse through Facebook and we see Damascus Road.  We see all the “Paul’s” before his conversion.  The reality is people are dying.  People are dying everyday and the devil is claiming many of the souls that our Lord Jesus paid for on the Cross.  The reality is many are lost forever on Damascus Road.  You see, the line that is truly being drawn is between good and evil.   We often say there are good and bad on both sides of the line.  This could not be further from the truth.  There is only good on one side and evil on the other.  The color of one’s skin has not a thing to do with the division.  I don’t care how we mix up the color of who killed who; evil kills both the evil and the good.  Evil doesn’t recognize the line…until they see good.  Darkness doesn’t see the light until the light is revealed.

There is something else my pastor said that really jumped out at me.  It was at the end of the service while praying.  To be honest, I’m not sure this is exactly what he said or if it is just what I heard.  While praying He asked for people to make peace with God so they will know His peace.  Fireworks began to explode in my spirit.  In our pride, rebellion and self will we are not a peace with God.  This is our carnal mind being at war with God.  War with God is not a peaceful place.  Only through submission to Him are we given His peace.

As Paul journeyed to Damascus “…suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ ” Acts 9:3-4.  The Lord’s presence changed Paul.  “You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14.  The mere fact that a “spark of fear” crept up my spine when my pastor began speaking on the racial tensions in America today speaks volumes about me attempting to hide my light.  Instead of shining the light of Jesus into a dark situation, I was trying to hide it in the closet.  There is plenty of hatred and strife already.   Not only are we battling terrorist nations, we are battling each other…we are divided.  We need God to shine His light on our nation.  However, we must also remember, when the Lord shines His light, It will bring us to our knees.

The Lord is bringing up a generation of Christians to be His light when He brings evil to their knees.  God’s light will soften or harden the hearts on the road to Damascus.  This generation understands the war is between good and evil.  As we begin to shine our light, God’s light, on the hill top we must not be ensnared by strife which is another bait of the enemy.  “Blessed are the peacemakers.  For they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9.

I pray for all of us on the road to Damascus.  We are all on that road for one reason or another.  I pray for all of us who do have the light of Jesus in our lives to have the strength and boldness to shine It brightly on the hilltop.   I pray for the others, who do not know His light, who are bent on hatred and violence are humbled by His goodness in the face of their evil.  Their evil has already been defeated by His goodness on the Cross of Jesus.  I pray they realize it is not a matter of “winning” because their souls are lost.  I pray they realize, we too as Christians, want them to have true victory.  Victory that can only come through Jesus and His finished work on the Cross.  I pray for God to shine His light upon them and use them in a mighty way to turn others to Christ.   I pray we don’t limit God by not believing He’s able to change their hearts.  I pray they realize on what side they are really fighting.  It has nothing to do with the color of skin but everything to do with the true condition of their heart.   Souls are at stake in this battle of good and evil.  The Lord paid in full the price for their soul as well.   My heart is burdened for the haters.  The haters are on the road to Damascus.  I pray they see His light.  – Donna Warren

Assessing our Representation

Within the past year I have heard and been a party in an offense.  There are four cases in particular on my mind.  Three involved a Christian and an unbeliever and the other involved two Christians (my case).  In my case I had someone saying very ugly things about me and my family.  The Bible says we are to pray blessings on our offender.  So I did pray for them.  I must admit I didn’t want to bless them.  I actually wanted to strangle them to be honest.  However, I, and God knows my heart, did not want to offend the Lord.  As much as Jesus did for me on the Cross, I didn’t want to drink from the devil’s cup by choosing to be offended.  That’s how I looked at the situation and God blessed me with His peace.  By handing the situation over to the Lord, He was able to handle it for me and the results was none of my business.  It was between that person and God, not me and that person.  As long as I was fighting the battle, God couldn’t help either one of us.

The other situations are a little different.  These situations involved people close to God and others far away from Him.  These situations it is easy to “judge” the others because they are not Christians.  Many of us have been offended by gossip and just down right evil doings by unbelievers.  It doesn’t have to be about Christianity per say but about anything.  The mere fact though that one person is a Christian and the other is not draws another line.  The “good two shoes” factor comes into play from the enemy which makes us appear to the unbeliever to be judgmental.  Did you know that in Jude 1:9 the Archangel Michael, out of his humility, did not even accuse satan.  The bottom line is this, satan is the accuser of men and God is the judge of all.  A Christians commandment is to love one another.  “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. ” John 15:12….and that commandment is written in red!

Sometimes I think it is easier to pray blessings on an unbelieving foe is in fact easier.  There is a fine line there however between self righteousness and sincerity.  We have to assess our heart to determine which side of that line we are on.  Recently I had someone ask me to pray for a family member who was under attack.  It was my understanding this person had backslidden but had come back to God (praise the Lord!) but the enemy was using others to attack them, spreading nasty rumors, etc.  When I mentioned we need to pray for their offenders also, someone asked what do we pray for them?

This is just one of many situations I have heard about.  The more I write, the more I think of similar instances.  When we as Christians go into battle ourselves with others, especially unbelievers, we are leaving God out of the mix.  We are taking it upon ourselves to accuse and judge.  We too are in direct conflict with God…not a good position for anyone.  When we seek to get even, get the last word or give “our” judgment, our offender’s heart will not be changed.  The only one that can change a person’s heart, and we know this because ours has been changed, is the Lord.  We pray for God to bless them so they can see His goodness to them, even as sinners.  We are representatives of Jesus in this world and by inducing our own wrath we fail miserably as His representative.  The Lord may be wanting to use YOU in that situation to bring them closer to Him.  On judgment day we will all give account.  When asked why we didn’t show that person His love, what will we say?  When asked why we didn’t allow Him to use us in that situation and now He has lost that person because no one would ever show them His love and forgiveness, even though they did not deserve our forgiveness, what will our answer be?  We do not deserve the Lord’s forgiveness but we get it time after time after time.  What will our answer be?

What if we do pray for God to touch their heart and they do not respond to His conviction?  What if they continue in their gossip?  We have done our part, we have tried to represent the Lord, showed them His love but they reject us?  What then?  We wipe the dust off of our feet and let God be God.  We don’t walk in fear of their wrath.  “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7.  We do our part and allow God to do His part.  God will either soften their hearts or harden their hearts, depending on the condition of their heart.  No matter the case, when our ways pleases the Lord  “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.” Romans 8:28. 

This all goes back to our faith in the finished work of Jesus; our faith in Jesus and His defeat over the enemy.   We can’t pick and choose the convenient parts of the Bible.  We can’t trust the Lord in some things and try handle the others.  We trust Him in all things….we truly represent Him in this dark world.  Let us all assess our representation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Are our ways pleasing to Him when we are offended by others actions?  Who are we representing when offense strikes our lives?  – Donna Warren

Faith Derailed

After my post yesterday about sowing seeds my husband jokingly reminded me of how he use to pray for crop failure because of all of the bad seeds he had sewn.  Many of us have planted “bad seeds” in our life, myself included.  However, the Bible says God will cast our sins into the sea of forgetfulness to be remembered no more (Micah 7:19).  Our God delights in mercy, not anger.  That is not to say the path the Lord will lead us on once we repent of those sins will be necessarily easy, but it does mean He will walk us through each step and will make all things good if we just remain in our faith.   When Jesus died on the Cross, all who believe died with Him.  OUR sins are buried with Him; Jesus had no sin.   The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead means He defeated sin and death.  Because of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of the enemy, we too have power over the sin nature which leads to death.  We too live because of God and for God (Romans 6:10).  This is why our faith remains in Jesus and His finished work on the Cross.  This is why we have and the only way we have power over our sin nature.  We still have a sin nature, but because of Jesus, we have power over it.

So how then does a Christian’s faith get derailed?  Why then do so many Christians still struggle?  When we receive Christ as our Saviour we are freed from bondage; we lay aside weights and sins and look solely to the Lord.  That does not mean the enemy is going to give up.  As we follow the path of righteousness the Holy Spirit begins to lead us on, the enemy still throws out snares to trap us.  Snares of old strongholds, new strongholds and deceit are all part of the enemy’s ammunition.  Although this can sound quite overbearing to the saved and unsaved, it is really quite simple.  It is as simple as going back to the cross daily and remembering we have power over the enemy and why we have power over him – Jesus Christ.  Jesus went to the Cross one time, we go daily.

The importance of keeping our faith in Jesus is what allows the Holy Spirit to operate within us.  God can only respond to our faith in Jesus.  Does He bless us when our faith gets derailed? Absolutely.  He blessed us even as sinners.  However, to have true victory over our sin nature we must keep our faith focused on Jesus and His finished work on the Cross.   We are not called to fight sin but to “Fight the good fight of faith,” 1 Timothy 6:12; faith in the One who has already defeated the sin nature on our behalf – Jesus Christ.

“For I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Cor. 11:3.  The hardest battle for many Christians is understanding the Cross of Jesus.  Even though we know The Lord’s finished work, we still try to work for our salvation.  Our work then becomes the object of our faith through the power of our self will which ultimately results in the destruction of our faith and inevitably self righteousness.  When our focus remains on Jesus and our faith in His finished work, the Holy Spirit guides us into victory and our inheritance as a child of God.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12.  Yes, our sins are thrown into the sea of forgetfulness when we are saved.  We do not have to pray for “crop failure” when we are saved.  The crop failure is the reason we need a Saviour.  It only seems right to our carnal mind that we must work for our salvation but it’s not in God’s plan for us to work for it.  God’s plan for our salvation is faith in Jesus.  Anything else leads to spiritual death.

Sowing Seeds

What do we, as Christians, do with that person whom you love and try to help but they won’t help themselves?  Many years ago before I became a Christian I knew someone who was on hard times.  Without going into great detail, I had many conversations about this person and often said they would have to hit their bottom before they realized they needed help.  This person died.  Death was their bottom.

So now I’m a Christian and I know of several situations that are very similar.  As a Christian we are to love everyone.  Shine the light of Jesus in the darkness is our appointment.  We try to help others because we sincerely care.  What about when they take advantage of generosity?  Continual supply will increase demand.  Do we not become their “god” for them when we keep them from failing completely?  Will they not ever have a reason to turn to God as long as we take care of their every need?  Are we not getting in God’s way when He is trying to get them to turn to Him but we step in and “try to help”?

All of these questions led me the parables of reaping and sowing.  Matthew 13:7-8 Jesus is speaking of sowing seeds, “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.  But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”  Keep in mind, I am speaking of nonbelievers who choose not to help themselves.  Are we not sewing our seeds on thorny ground?  The Gospel of Jesus divides; It separates good from evil, sheep from goats.  God will either harden or soften our hearts, depending on the condition of our heart.  The Lord gave us our own will to choose.  He is patient and faithful to us in hopes we will choose Him.  The Lord loves and blesses us even as sinners but the unredeemed do not see nor hear this.  Jesus is our Saviour today but one day He will be our Judge.

So what does God do to those who sow their seeds on thorny ground, the ones who don’t bear fruit?  Jesus says in John 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  Bear in mind, ONLY God can cut off these withered branches, not man.   “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4.  We are a branch off The Vine, the Lord Jesus.

Furthermore, I found in Matthew 13:24-25 “Another parable He put forth to them, say: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.’ ”  This parable is speaking of the enemy coming to sow poisonous seeds in the fields of those he wished to hurt.

Souls are at stake when we are sowing our seeds, including our own.  Our good intentions may be the very thing that is getting in the Lord’s way of helping them.  We, Christians, often say it is only the Lord that can help them.  In the mean time, we try to help them until God steps in.  God’s plan of salvation does not include us “saving” them.   Our continued prayers for His continued grace and mercy on them, our continued unconditional and nonjudgemental love for them is what God wants from us.  They must choose the Lord’s plan of salvation by accepting Jesus as their Saviour.  We cannot choose for them.  We trust whole heartedly the Lord with our lives, now we must also trust the Lord with their lives as well.  We have to let go of them, lay them at the foot of the Cross and allow and trust God with their souls.  We cannot save their souls, only the Lord can do this.  God runs and greets every prodigal son and daughter that comes home to Him.  The angels in Heaven rejoice every time a soul is saved.  The Lord’s ways are so much greater than our ways.  It is only the Holy Spirit’s conviction that will lead them to the Cross of Jesus.  We tell them the Gospel of Jesus, we glorify the Lord in our lives and allow Him to work through us.

As for me, I worry about the ones who are in this situation.  Today, I am laying them at the foot of the Cross and trusting God to give them the strength and wisdom they need to see the poisonous seeds in their fields.  Today, I am praying for the ones whose strength is being choked by the thorns.

As for the person I was speaking about earlier, I truly don’t know their situation with the Lord when they died, as I was far from the Lord myself.  There are somethings I do know for a fact though.  I know above all else, God wanted them to turn to Him for their salvation.  Whether they did or not, only God knows.  Furthermore, I also know one of these two things, as harsh as this may sound; they are either in hell praying for someone to let their loved ones know hell is for real and to choose Jesus (Luke 16:19-31) or they are in Heaven anxiously awaiting their loved ones arrival.  I pray this person will be waiting on me at the pearly gates of Heaven.  I pray they chose Jesus.  I pray you choose Jesus.   – Donna Warren

 

Resting in His Peace

I’m beginning to understand why it is so important to rest in God’s peace.  It is easy to do when things are going good but when the tides change, how do you find His peace?  We are all born with will power but it is not our will power that provides His peace.  Often we seek God and His promises and revert to our own will power to hold us out until we receives His promises.  Once we are saved our will power is not made stronger but our faith is “activated”.  It is up to us then to continually seek God’s will, not pray for our will and wonder why His promises are not realized.  This is the sanctification process where our faith is built by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Resting in God’s peace requires continued faith is Jesus’ finished work on the Cross.  For us not to rest in the Lord’s peace we are rebelling against His will.  Knowing, having faith, that the Lord wants us to have all good things and that He will and can make a way for His will to be done in our lives, no matter the circumstances or the tangibles that only we can see, is resting in God’s peace.  We must understand Jesus’ finished work on the Cross defeated the enemy – period.   We must understand Jesus’ did this out of His love for us, so we could lead a victorious life.  A victorious life does not necessarily constitute wealth as many may think, it is the ability to rest…to rest in God’s peace.

Psalms 95:11 “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’”  Rebellion came from the Israelites lack of faith in God’s promises of the promise land.  That generation of Israelites never found God’s rest and because of their lack of belief they perished in the wilderness.  However, because God so loved us (you and me), He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to reconcile us to Him – to redeem us from eternal hell.   Jesus’ paid, in full, the price for our  unbelief in hopes that we would believe.   He is our Sacrificial Lamb that the Israelites in the wilderness did not have.   Jesus is the reason we are given time to believe in God’s promises. 

“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:15.  When we do not believe in God’s promises because of lack of faith, we are rebelling.  Rebellion is caused by our carnal mind which is at war with God’s will for our lives (Romans 8:7).  Rebellion is a condition of the heart that God will either harden or humble.  The end result, either humbled or hardened, depends on whose will we submit to; our carnal mind which is at enmity with God (self will) or God’s will.  Submitting to God’s will causes our hearts to soften which in turn we are able to rest in His peace.

I had a lady pray for me once and as she was praying she was asking God to “give me the understanding”.  I did not understand what she wanted me to understand because I thought I had the understanding.  I did not understand resting in God’s peace.  Because of my self will to hold on to God’s promises, instead of my faith in Jesus’ finished work which enabled God to fulfill His promises to me, I was rebelling.   Today my faith lies solely on Jesus and His finished work on the Cross and I believe God’s Word…every single word of His Word, and I believe it for me and my life.  “Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.” Psalms 119:73….precept upon precept, line upon line, a little here and a little there.  Thank you Lord for giving me the understanding and allowing me to rest in Your peace! – Donna Warren

Carnal Mind’s War

There are many Spirit filled Christians who are not necessarily Spirit led.  This does not mean one’s love or zeal for the Lord is any less by any  means.  Often times I write about our faith must be based on the finished work of Jesus and the Cross.  Of course, right?  Jesus is our Saviour and His Cross is the means by which He saved us.  The Lord’s resurrection and glorification is evidence of His perfection.  Due to God’s righteousness, anyone less than perfect is unacceptable.  Jesus did not have to sacrifice lambs to atone for His sin because He was sinless.  The Lord was by all measure of the word – perfect.    Instead, He sacrificed Himself to atone for our sins, our imperfection.  What a gift we have been given!!

As a Christian our salvation came/comes through Jesus.  However, what I see happening many times is once we realize we need a Saviour -Jesus,  we then attempt to sanctify ourselves.  Keep in mind, we don’t do this intentionally but our carnal mind is responsible.   In our carnality we attempt to sanctify ourselves through our self will.  Our carnal mind is motivated by flattery words which are temporal and not spiritual.  Our carnal mind by its very nature is at war with God.

“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”  Romans 8:6-7.   Once we are saved, the Holy Spirit dwells within us.  It is only through the Holy Spirits guidance that life and peace is achieved.  Through the guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit the process of sanctification is begun; precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little there a little (Isaiah 28:10).

For example, even fasting can be carnal.  (Ouch, don’t pinch me yet!)  I know the beginning of the year is coming up and many churches will begin the 21 Day Daniel Fast.  This is a wonderful thing, it can be a form or way of obedience.  The question is though, obedience to who?  Has the Holy Spirit led you to fast?  What seems to happen is this, we are seeking an answer from God so we fast.  While fasting we have faith and believe that God will answer us after we fast or because of our fast.  Our faith has then been directed to “us fasting” or the fast itself.  Our carnal mind led us to fast, not the Holy Spirit.  PLEASE, don’t misunderstand this.  If the Holy Spirit leads us to fast, we fast.  On the other hand, if our carnal mind leads us to fast, our fast (our sacrifice) is in direct rebellion to God.  A quick example of Spirit led fasting – a couple of weeks ago I felt the need to fast.  I did not mention this because my carnal mind was not wanting to fast.  Within 30 minutes my husband mentioned we should fast.  I knew then, this was Spirit led.  Don’t misunderstand – I have done it the other way around also and without realizing my faith was actually in the fast and not the finished work of Jesus.  I was not Spirit led, but carnal minded.

The same thing can be said for many occasions of man made religious traditions.  (Please note I did NOT just say fasting was a man made religious tradition in any way!) When we allow our faith to be led astray from the finished work of Jesus and the Cross we are being deceived.  The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy.  What is he trying to destroy – our faith in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross.  The enemy doesn’t care where our faith lies as long as it’s not in Jesus Christ.  “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them (the enemy), triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:15.

Faith in Jesus’ and His work on the Cross is what allows the Holy Spirit’s work in us.  Once the Holy Spirit begins His work we must follow Him promptings.  Following the Holy Spirit is what allows our ongoing sanctification process.  Our sanctification process is what builds our faith in the Lord.  The Holy Spirit will never guide us to indirectly or mistakenly cause our faith to be in anything but the Lord.  Through our faith in Jesus the enemy is once again reminded he was made a public spectacle and still is a public spectacle to all who believe in Jesus Christ and His Cross.

Because of our faith in Jesus and His Cross, we are saved.  Through the guidance of His Holy Spirit we are continually sanctified; taking us from glory to glory.  In turn, our faith in Him is made stronger and stronger.  Our shield is made larger and larger.  For all of this to happen, we must not only be Spirit filled but Spirit led.  – Donna Warren

Grace Revealed is Sin Defeated

Sin, that is what I want to talk about today.  It seems that no one wants to talk about sin.  No one wants to be accountable for their sin.  Even Christians don’t like to talk about sin.  Our sin is covered by the Blood of Jesus, right?  “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.  You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19.  Please note the word “again”.   Jesus died once on the Cross for all of our sins – past, present and future. 

Jesus was the sacrifice for our sin.  Sometimes I think because the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)  is incomprehensible to us, we don’t realize the humanity of Jesus’ suffering for us.  Because of our in ability to overcome the sin nature on our own will, God sent His Son, God sent to us the only representative who could be the perfect sacrifice.  “…Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”  Hebrews 2:9.  God did not send His Son as a choice for reconciliation.  He sent His Son as the way for reconciliation.  As a matter of fact, before Christian’s were called a Christian they were called people of “The Way”.  Why would God do this?  Because of His love for us.  The Law was fulfilled through the works of Jesus on the Cross.  God did not want the sacrifice of lambs, He wanted US to love Him as He so loved/loves us.   God wanted us to recognize Him; to know Him as He knows us.  Instead, humanity, not being able to overcome the sin nature, chose to sin then sacrifice.  We did not recognize God’s mercy and love, we believed all He wanted was sacrifice.  God wanted us to be reconciled with Him but because of His righteousness and our sin this was not possible.  So He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, for the sole purpose of reconciling us with Him.  Until we recognize the fact that we are sinners who need a Saviour, we will never understand God’s mercy and grace.

Grace is Jesus’ finished work on the Cross which enabled us to be reconciled with God.  Grace is not a “pass” to sin but is “power” over sin…because Jesus’ defeated sin.  It is only through Him we are able to defeat our sin nature.  Jesus’ did not die on the Cross to save us “in” sin but “from” sin.  God loves us as sinners and sent His Son to help us over come our sin nature.

With all of this being said, if we do not acknowledge our sin, are we therefore not acknowledging Jesus’ work on the Cross.  Sin was not recognized as sin until the Law of the Old Testament.  The same way darkness doesn’t recognize light until the light is shown or vice versa.  Again, until we realize our inability to overcome our sin nature by self will, we do not realize our need for our Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Our sin nature is stronger than our will power but it is NOT stronger than Jesus.

To dig a little deeper we must talk a little more about grace.  To understand God’s grace, we must also understand the “hyper grace” movement as another form of law.  Yes, law.  How is hyper grace another form of law?  Well, first and foremost, it leads us down a path of destruction.  The law of grace is often misrepresented as the gospel of grace.  The law of grace teaches us that Jesus died for our sins – past, present and future, which is true indeed.  However, it also condemns us if we feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit to repent of our sins.  According to the law of grace, the Holy Spirit does not convict us of our sins.  Any conviction we may feel is represented as condemnation.   It ignores any guidance by the Holy Spirit to repent, therefore leading us to self will which always results in failure.  It in essence negates the power of the Cross of Jesus which is the ONLY way to defeat the sin nature.  To ignore our sins by claiming the finished work of the Cross of Jesus, seems the equivalent to continually sacrificing a lamb in order to sin.  The only difference is instead of slaughtering a lamb in order to sin, the law of grace slaughters the finished work of Jesus’ Cross by not calling us to repentance for our sin.

There is not a single one of us who would trample on the Blood of Jesus by not acknowledging our sin when we understand why Jesus was sacrificed.  There is also not a single one of us who are without a sin nature.  For us to truly have victory over our sin nature, we must pick up our cross daily.  “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23  We meet Jesus at the Cross when we are saved because we realize we need a Saviour.  We realize our sins.  However, we must meet Him daily at the Cross.  We must realize we do have a sin nature and it is only through Him that our sin nature is defeated.  We must realize we need our Saviour everyday!  I’m not trying to preach the Law, condemnation or sin.  However, I don’t want others to be led astray.  I don’t want others to think that repentance is not necessary after we are saved.  We do have power over sin nature through Jesus!  “Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations,” Luke 24:46-47.  This is written in red.  We don’t need to be so sin conscious we live under condemnation by no means.  However, we also can’t use His grace as an excuse to sin.  We can’t be so grace conscious that we forget why we have been granted His grace.   When we finally realize His sacrifice we no longer look for an excuse to sin but understand His power over sin nature and live under His grace. – Donna Warren

Assessment of the Heart

“Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and who He wills He hardens.” Romans 9:18

This scripture, along with God hardening the heart of Pharoah, was the subject of conversation this weekend with a friend.  We were trying to understand why God would harden someone’s heart when the Bible tells us of His mercy.  Where is the mercy when He hardens someone’s heart?

We know God wants to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11).  We know the Lord “…has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7.  So do we now have to fear He may give us a hard heart?  Absolutely not!  The same sun that melts wax is the same sun that hardens clay.  The same God that softens a humble heart is the same God that hardens a stubborn, rebellious heart.  In other words, it has to do with the condition of the heart.  Accepting Jesus into our heart is what will soften our heart.  Refusing the Lord, His Gospel and the fact that it is His mercy that has allowed us the life we live today, will only harden our heart.   God will soften or harden our heart depending on the condition of our heart.  Is our heart like wax – humble?  Or is our heart like clay – stubborn?  It is our free will, that the Lord gave us, which determines the condition of heart.

The same applies to 2 Corinthians 2:16, “To the one we (ministers of the Gospel) are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to Life…”.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ saves the saints and condemns the sinners.  We all fall short of the glory of God and we all sin. However, for the ones who accept the Good News of the Gospel, Jesus Christ has saved us.  The Lord has reconciled us.  For the ones who reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are condemned by the god of this world, satan.  Jesus died for the sins off all, for the sinners and the saints, for the saved and unsaved.  The Gospel divides good from evil. “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.”  Luke 12:51. Christ is not the cause of division but rather the rebellion against the the event of the Gospel brings division.    Jesus Himself IS love perfected.  The acceptance or rejection of the Lord’s finished work on the Cross, the Gospel, is what softens or hardens our heart.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.  Until we repent of our stubbornness and rebellion, not accepting the promises of God only come through God’s plan of salvation – Jesus, we continue to walk in the dark.  As we walk further and further away from the light, the promises seem further and further away.  As the promises seem to fade and hope becomes despair, our hearts become hardened.  The smell of a Christian begins to stink.  Christians are perceived as the self righteous and judgemental.

So the final assessment is this – when you hear the Gospel of Jesus, how does your heart react?  Does your heart soften and you want more?  Or does your heart harden and you want to get away from the conversation as smoothly and quickly possible?  Think about this.  A Christian is always ready to talk about Jesus.  We can’t wait to testify of the Lord!  However, I remember before I was saved if someone brought up Jesus, I would begin to squirm.  I had knowledge of Jesus, but He was not in my heart yet.  I’m telling you I could not get away from a Christian fast enough when they were talking about Jesus.  Shameful but true.

The Gospel of Jesus assesses your heart.  Our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, will separate His sheep from the goats.  I ask you today to take a sincere look at your heart.  I pray we all keep a humble heart and not allow the self wills of our flesh to rebel.  I thank God for His patience with me.  I praise Him for melting my heart like wax once I understood my rebellion and stubbornness.  Is the Gospel of Jesus melting your heart or hardening your heart?  – Donna Warren