Covetousness – Rampant!

As a songwriter with a mandate to create songs which present godly truths, I was in wonder by the ominous assignment God gave me.  His words?  “I want you to warn the Body of Christ of a Gross Sin in My Eyes that is NOT being warned about from church pulpits, and is NOT being considered SERIOUSLY by my people…but that is RAMPANT in My Church.  This sin is COVETOUSNESS!”

Rampant means, “in full sway; prevailing or unchecked“!

Listeners, If God says it’s so, it is so! I felt an urgency in my spirit at the time of receiving this mandate…as if He was awaiting Our Response!

covet intro

I did my part to research The Word…And observed and pondered covetousness’ effect upon society (and in my own life too, bringing about a repentant heart)… YET was most surprised of what the Spirit revealed of how the The Kingdom of God was experiencing a devastating blow “to its advancement” due to this sin being rampant among ignorant or deceived Believers! God, for sure, needs to discipline us and turn us!  I truly believe it is due to the unrelenting onslaught of The Enemy, in this area, that many of us have fallen prey to this particular sin. (I’ll talk more of this later…) 

I want you, my readers, to know that the Holy Spirit personally revealed the scripture immediately below to me, as I was preparing to release the song “Covetousness”…and it is certain that God looks on our hearts:

Ezekiel 33:30b-33  “…and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 So my people come to you, as people do, and they sit before you as my people, to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy and in pursuit of their own gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings a lovely song, with a pleasant voice, and plays an instrument well; for they hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. 33 When all this comes to pass–and it surely will–then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Frankly, I believe He was further communicating to me, that THIS is indeed the present condition of The Church! The stronghold, covetousness, now evidently so rampant that He is grouping us together, saying: “my people” are “greedy and in pursuit of their own gain” (covetousness) and “it has come to pass”! Actually Phil 2:21 says similar: “For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Revealing that I shouldn’t expect to observe much response to what He is giving me to share publicly on the subject.(You know your own heart, before you read the Ezekiel verse…if you were just being “entertained” by the video or were responding to the message in a serious manner.)

YET, I pray that my labors are NOT in vain, and that many WILL TURN, as I myself have chosen to do….resulting in God being made joyous by our newly-surrendered lives! I am praying for you, even as I release this blog!

Therefore, I exhort: EACH must question his or her OWN RESPONSE to the message He is giving His Church, of which we are a part.

Will you please be the One who puts what He is reveals into practice”?

Will you turn toward Contentment and away from Covetousness?

Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain! …More gain than covetousness could ever bring us!

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Now.. If you would like more information and truth, insight and practical application, about Covetousness, then read on:

Quite simply, Covetousness IS IDOLATRY.  It is your seeking contentment in “other things” apart from God… a “keeping up with the Jones”… a going after status, possessions, and power out of envy of our neighbor. It is taking your eyes off GOD and unto SELF.  It is taking your focus and resources away from the KINGDOM and God’s Purposes…and putting them on temporary things and fleeting pleasures, using them for your Own purposes. 

possessionsWe can covet many things: status, money, goods, houses, lands, and even people! Anything that someone else has that we desire to have for ourselves is covetousness. Anything we hang onto tightly, and are unwilling to give to God or others represents covetousness. Anything we zealously “want” so much that we take on needless debt or get involved in improper conduct (such as adultery) to satisfy “our craving” for that thing or person, is covetousness. Anytime, instead of asking God and waiting for his goodness of provision, that we covet and take, we exercise covetousness. Simply speaking, it is Love of Self rather than Love for God. Satisfying ourselves and our lusts, rather than honoring God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 

Let there be no mistake.  No covetous person, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God.  In fact, it says in Ephesians 5:5-7 that the wrath of God will come upon the children of disobedience in this area, and that we are not to be partakers with them in Covetousness. (the verse can be found in the scriptures area below)

Lust is “longing for” and “going after” So the question is: Are you “longing for” things of this world, more than you are “longing for” God? 

I John 2:15-16  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Friendship with something, means we have a closer alliance with it than we have to God. James 4:4 says “…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 

Do you buy and sell (the world’s system) more than you give and receive by faith (the Kingdom’s economy)? Do we “chase after” ? …more than we “ask of God” ?

thou shall not

covet-nothing

It is only when we believe the promises of God and trust in Him alone as OUR SOURCE, that we will find ourselves moving from covetousness to true contentment.

  • We must realize the goodness and generosity of our Father, and how he does delight in giving good things to his kids, if we but ask… And he gives to us, mostly, that we may give of our resources to meet others’ needs, and to the advance the Kingdom.  Friends…even if all we have left someday is God, He is enough.
  • Do not be afraid to give…to enjoy contentment… to stop the frenzy of this sin, for I assure you, that He WILL GIVE to you in answer to YOUR ASKING.  “Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be open” ! Our God loves giving us GOOD GIFTS when we ASK!
  • It is alright to enjoy his contentment - already haveblessings, Saints.  And He does prosper His Servants.. and prosperity IS of God… But it is so we can be conduits of his divine resources too!… Giving and Receiving is the way of the Kingdom! His provision coming in and being sown outwardly …all the while holding very loosely all that He has given us to enjoy.    In reality, all we enjoy belongs to Him, and we are just stewards of what He has entrusted to us.

money-root-of-evilCovetousness “clogs” up the flow of God’s Provision toward US and toward OTHERS. This is why it is a serious sin to The Church as a whole at this time. Do we realize how many churches are closing due to this sin? For supply is being closed off…just as Satan desires. Monies are being allocated to satisfy our Covetousness instead of Advancing the Kingdom! And some people don’t go to church at all, because covetousness has reached maturity, to the point that they no longer want to part with their own money for offerings? They fail to realize that they are supporting the work of God in their giving, and that tithing is simply giving back that which God has given them. But can churches be covetous too? You bet they can.  Many small church pastors are covetous of mega church pastors, for they have larger budgets, they get more kudos, they have more prestige or power. Bigger paychecks! Frustrations and bitterness comes…discontentment with their small church, etc. AND yet we then look at some mega churches, who have pastors coveting each other’s roles within their own organizations!…and each others’ pay grades!

Covetousness has invaded every single area of society, this is why it is on the heart of God TO WARN, for he says “because of these things his wrath will come onto the children of disobedience.” Covetousness grows as a virus, spreading into other areas of our lives: individuals… schools….churches… businesses… internet… nations… the World!

desire creedWe have more gadgets,  thingamajigs, and whatchamacallits then we can keep track of…our malls and supermarkets full of enticing merchandise that we don’t think we can live without. Advertising seductively speaks that we will find happiness, and all will be peachy, if we just get “that”, whatever it may be. Status is measured in name brands and company logos.

An example of what I mean? Brand Name labels used to be hidden in the inside of our pants or shirts, and now they are viewed as being the important thing! Why…If you don’t wear a certain “brand”, you’re just not “cool”.  Friends, this breeds covetousness in children at school, in workers at work, and between companies as they “covet” for their brand renown. It has gone so much to the extreme in the US, that we actually export “non-brand name clothing” to third world countries, for we and our own children would not be seen wearing such “cheap clothes”. (i.e. not brand name!) This is a single example of a widespread issue. Do you know that brand-name athletic shoes are among the most stolen items at high schools and colleges? It is because of “covetousness”!!

  • covet-definitionAnd we’ve been assaulted with covetousness online!
  • I personally receive dozens of emails daily, from people trying to get me to BUY SOMETHING.  They do it by presenting a picture, a great price, and putting a thought in my head that “I just can’t live without this!”  Groupon, Amazon Local Deals, eCost, Yipit, and others come daily attempt to feed our lusts… and most websites, when you do buy something, put you on “their list”. UNSUBSCRIBE if you are daily tempted! and STOP BUYING! The more you are caught up in shopping and spending, the more you will be “enticed”.  It is a vicious cycle, unless it is “taken in hand”!  Instead, Start Giving what you have in surplus to others, as God would prompt you. (I’m not telling you to give everything you have away. Just listen to the Spirit if he prompts you to give something to someone! What goes around comes around…God will replenish you through someone else) 
  • By the way. those in poverty may have the biggest struggle in the area of covetousness, for they “desire MORE” for themselves, and may experience envy of their neighbors, coveting what “they” have.
  • Poverty is to be met by ASKING of GOD! He is no respecter of persons. In fact, Christ became poor, that you might give you his riches!
  • Poverty sometimes causes hoarding, for a person may FEAR LACK. Hoarders LOVE THEIR THINGS.. so much they can’t part with them… until they are lost under piles of stuff they have already, that is!) Instead, their family members part with them, in relationship! Covetousness, manifested as hoarding, has really become a serious issue! Choosing things over love from family! Wow! (But, I guess you don’t have to be a hoarder to do that kind of choosing though. Covetousness has a serious consequence: We can lose relationships!)

Now, understand, covetousness is not only in regard to things and possessions.  It has to do with “competing” and “grasping for more” …you covet that person’s job for yourself… lust after your neighbor’s wife… covet that woman’s beauty so you just must have that plastic surgery…or “I need a lawn care company too!” Covetousness takes many forms, and can lead to financial ruin, destroyed relationships, and sorrows of many kinds.

  • Even Eve, sinned the sin of forbidden-fruitcovetousness… she wanted more than what God had given her… she wanted what was out of her reach… she coveted the fact that she could become like God. Contentment was NOT her heart, even when the whole of the garden was hers to enjoy.  Covetousness today is exactly the same.  We have plenty and then some, but we want more! We want what “that person” has!

looking at neighbors ice cream

  • As part of our sinful nature, carried down from that first sin in the garden, covetousness will show up in children almost immediately. Parents, this is your opportunity to teach them about coveting what is their brother’s or sister’s or friend’s things, and to have them learn contentment.  Lovingly train them early about how God looks on covetousness, and you will prevent a stronghold in their life. Praise them as they ARE content, and lovingly correct them when they aren’t.
  • Women beware of coveting other women’s shopping ability if you go to the mall and have little resources to spend, while your friend pulls out her credit card and racks it up. It’s not a competition to see who can go home with the most goodies! Better to have a contest of who can “spend the least” on a shopping trip, and getting the better deals on the things your household needs!looking at others shopping
  • And for heaven’s sake, if you have a husband or boyfriend, do not be covetous of your friends and their household situations, putting strain on him or your marriage…to keep you in your “luxuries”, due to covetousness.  This is grievous and burdensome to him if finances are tight! God is your source, not him! Ask God. Don’t let your covetousness destroy your marriage, by piling up debt, never being satisfied with his gifts, having to have a certain expensive brand at the grocery store, etc. Let him enjoy your attitude of “contentment” and “pleasure in Him” instead of complaining! 

fish menMEN, don’t be envious of the income, resources, haul, or catch of another man in your life or vantage point. Proverbs 12:12 says, “The wicked covet the catch of evil men, But the root of righteousness yields fruit.” 

BE CONTENT with what God has given you for position or income.  Be faithful where you are…ASK OF GOD, and He will promote you for your hard work and honoring of Him. The scriptures teach that promotion comes from The Lord: Psalm 75:6-7 “For promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. 7 But God is the judge: he puts down one, and sets up another.” You don’t have to “take” power  or “abuse” your authority or “compromise” your integrity in order to get ahead.

If the other man has more “man toys” then you, he probably also has more headaches and expense to “maintain” them!  And this could include “their wives!”

And EVERYONE:  “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side!”  (this is covetousness in a sentence!)

Exhortation: HOLD EVERYTHING LOOSELY…meaning Do not attach your heart to it!

I Cor 7:29-31 implies our time is short here… and we are to hold everything “loosely”. This passage instructs: “…and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passes away.”

This is basically saying, we need to have a certain amount of contact with the world, and yes, you need the world’s goods… but Use It – Not Abuse It! Do not “love the world”. Love God! Only the Kingdom will go on… the World will pass away.

Proverbs 28:16b says “…But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.” Sounds like a great promise to hang onto as you are decision making in the days ahead!

in god we trust

  • WHO and WHAT you “trust” matters!
  • Is it GOD? or SELF?
  • Are you going to ASK and BELIEVE? RECEIVE and GIVE and RECEIVE?
  • OR, are you going to covet and take? holding on and not letting go!

IF WE WILL BECOME ALERT, THE SPIRIT OF GOD WILL DO A ONE-ON-ONE RESCUE OF EACH OF US – SO WE, HIS CHURCH, MAY COME  “OUT” FROM THIS STRONGHOLD!

CHOICES WILL BE MADE…EACH AND EVERY DAY:

  • TOWARD CONTENTMENT or TOWARD COVETOUSNESS…
  • TOWARD GIVING or TOWARD TAKING…
  • TOWARD HOLDING or TOWARD RELEASING.

We have free will. And it’s God’s great grace that will empower us to overcome. I know I have some things, myself, to bless others with, stored away in my garage… so, I’ll appreciate the one-on-one getting out from under my own covetousness, by being more of a giver too!

idolatry 2Now… here are some related scriptures to help us. Let us no longer remain ignorant of this gross sin in God’s eyes, that we might please Him, AS Lord:

Ephesians 5:5-7 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

I John 2:15-16  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

James 4:1-3 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.You do not have, because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

James 4:4 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses*, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the ENEMY of God.  (*infers “being unfaithful” to God in this passage)

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’

Luke 12:15-21 “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.  And he spoke a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  Worthy to Note: It’s the storing up of our many treasures that can be of covetousness, even if God’s blessings gave them in the first place. If we desire them for “self” and “status”, disregarding God’s need for them to be distributed that our plenty will satisfy someone else in their scarcity, then we are not rich toward God. If a person is rich toward God, he or she will be using their given resources to bless others and to advance the Kingdom. They better be prepared for increased resources.. for God loves a flowing-in and a flowing-out GIVER!  Our “always having all sufficiency in all things” is so that we may “abound unto every good work”! (smile)

hebrews 13 5

Timothy 6:7-12 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.e of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

James 5:1-6 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.  Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.  Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.  Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.

Matthew 6:19-24 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

I Cor 7:29-32 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; 30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; 31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.  (Use it-Not abuse it!)

Jeremiah 8:10 says within it:  “Because from the least even to the greatest, everyone is given to covetousness.”

Proverbs 28:16b says “...But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.”

CLOSING REMARKS:

I know this is a very serious topic, and very sobering in presentation.  The verses reveal the seriousness of the sin to God.  And the seriousness of the result to us, if we live a lifestyle of covetousness.

Although the Lord is expecting more our obedience than our words… Still, a good way to begin surrender in this area, is with a prayer of repentance. His blood is powerful and will wipe away your sin, as you ask forgiveness, so there no need for condemnation. Just turn from covetousness, toward contentment, in response to the sweet conviction that is within your heart.

Dear Lord,  

I come To You, acknowledging that, yes, I, myself,  have walked in a certain degree of covetousness. I choose to turn away from Covetousness in my life…but I need you to help me!  Make me alert to temptations, and please reveal those times I am “falling into it” unknowingly deceived.  I will trust you, and ASK for that which I need to satisfy me.  And I will GIVE as you instruct, to the work of the Kingdom and to my neighbors in need, knowing that I will RECEIVE from your hand as I myself sow.  I will be content with what all you have given me, and I thank you for all the many blessings that are mine, Lord.  Reveal to me what to do with what I do have. Enable me to enjoy the things you give ME richly to enjoy, whilst holding it all loosely, able to release it anytime to your purposes. God, I know I have become entangled in this sin.  I know it has been rampant in my own life, as it is The Church, so please forgive me now… Cleanse now my conscience from my acts of selfishness, and I will “reckon myself dead to this sin!”. Being no longer ignorant, but aware, of how you look on this sin, enable me to have GREAT GRACE to DAILY OVERCOME – choosing contentment over covetousness – and using that which I am given to store up treasures in heaven and not hoard it here on earth.

In Jesus name, AMEN   

And here also is a word from the wise, that you may go on into victory:

Contentment makes poor men rich; and Discontent makes rich men poor! (Benjamin Franklin)

Written by Elizabeth Norland, August 10, 2013

Please check out the archived articles – MENU TAB at top of blog – for many more articles to aid you in your spiritual growth.

Last Days

The return of Jesus the Christ is so imminent that it has already begun.  Just as Enoch walked with God and one day was no more, so shall the beginning of the catching away of the Body of Christ be.  The continuing escalation of the manifestation of the presence of Jesus in fellowship with the unity of His Church, is likened to the relationship between God and Enoch prior to the first rapture.  It will continue to grow in power and might until the Church is caught up with Him in the heavens.rapture

It truly is the season where the former and latter rains will be given, and a supernatural harvest will take place.  The relationship between the Father and each believer, who will be led by His Spirit, will be continuous and awe-inspiring to the unbeliever, who will acknowledge them as “Children of the Most High God”.

It will be a time where the supernatural of God will become the natural way of doing throughout His Body.  The power of God to gain wealth to establish His covenant in the earth will be evident and practiced by the members of the Family of God.

The great shaking of the world system in these last days will be the world overwhelmed and overcome by the manifest glory of Jesus in the Body of Christ. (The persecution of the believers after the “Rapture” will be in response to the fear and turmoil caused by the Glorious Church exercising its authority in the Earth.  It will be the backlash of the kingdom of darkness to the glorious light which it would not accept and could not withstand.)

It is a season for each believer to totally give himself over to the Lordship of Jesus…To dedicate oneself…body, soul, and spirit… to the Master’s service.

It is the time for each believer to become as one with the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit.

—————————-This is a page written by my deceased husband, David Stephens, as he wrote it in a tablet upon his death bed. I felt prompted to share it with you, as he wrote it, for I came across it today as I was scanning files. It gave hope to my own heart, so I sincerely pray that it will encourage you as it did me.  Let’s continue to look to the author and finisher of our faith! …Growing in the knowledge of God and Christ, and enjoy sweet fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ! Whatever you do, do not deny The Faith… because Glorious Days are head for us…His Church…and are now upon us!

– Posted August 7, 2013, by Elizabeth Norland

One Day, We the Church, The Bride of Christ, Will Be United

With Our Bridegroom: Jesus Christ, The Lord of All ! 

Are you ready?

Are you getting excited?

I AM !

bride raptured

 

*Please check out the menu tab ARCHIVED ARTICLES… for many other articles exist to encourage you in your Christian Walk. And, please click on Follow, at the right, if interested in receiving new entries in your own email inbox as new articles are posted!

THANK YOU !

This ABILITY Surpasses Any CAPABILITY

Recently the Lord revealed to my heart that the greatest ability that I have, that far surpasses any capability I might exhibit, is the ABILITY TO REPENT.  I have pondered that insight for a number of days now, and feel to write about what was shown me, believing  this article will truly change many lives. Perhaps “your” life!

Think about it with me….Read past the picture below and and I will “show you something”…to help you understand..

First, let me define what REPENT really means. To repent is to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin, enough so, that a person chooses to turn away from it, and turn toward God, and receive forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, resulting in fruit keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8-10 states that true repentance involves “fruit” or evidence to the fact. Hebrews 9:22 states that without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness).The good news is that Jesus DID shed his blood, and made atonement for ALL sin, so that we are always and forever ABLE to repent.

This ability to repent far exceeds any capability of ours, for sooner or later, each one of us sins or fails or has something they need to turn away from, knowing it does not please a Holy God. Our capability to lead a righteous life is indeed in Christ, but within our own sin nature is also the capability to do evil. Therefore, the greatest ability we have is to repent.  As with a computer, we simply press “delete” or “backspace” upon our error, erasing our error, so that we can once again enjoy advancing forward. So too, with repentance, our own sin is erased, and glorious fellowship is restored or given with our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, whether we do repent is up to each one of us, and “when” we repent. We have totally free will in this matter. Yet God is always pursuing us, revealing to us, and desiring for us all to come to repentance.

Do we realize how glorious is this Ability? It is ALWAYS AVAILABLE to us. (That is, if we, ourselves, do not harden our hearts so many times that our desire to access our ability to repent is diminished or non-existent. )

etch-main

When my two sons were grade school age they had an Etch-A-Sketch. Have you ever had one of them yourself? Well, as I sat with them both, one of them was drawing something I was teaching them how to draw, and goofed up, getting totally exasperated with himself. So, I, in encouragement, grabbed hold of the Etch-A-Sketch and animatedly declared:  “Let’s get rid of all that!” It’s a good thing, with this, your mistakes can just be erased, so you can start afresh! “ (I showed him how to shake it up, and as he did it, we watched the silver wash away all of what he drew.)  “See, you can start all over!”  As I said these words aloud, instant revelation came to me from the Holy Spirit, and out my mouth it came: “An Etch-A-Sketch actually represents a picture of GRACE and FORGIVENESS OF SINS, sons… and the silver stuff is as the BLOOD OF CHRIST.  The display screen is as Our Life.  If our life displays or reveals an error, gross sin, mistaken path, misled alliance, failure, broken promise, abusive action, selfish tendency, etc…we need only to repent to activate the BLOOD which then ERASES all that was done outside of the will of God. We need not remain miserable and exasperated, ashamed or fretful.”

In fact, even as an Etch-A-Sketch erases a picture, so too, is grace greater than sin! When one of you hands that Etch-A-Sketch to the next person, there is no evidence of what had been written there.  It is dissolved. Invisible. Gone! So too, sin is gone!… forever erased in the sight of God. He remembers it no more.

Jesus wipes the slate clean! Then God sees the slate clean! How awesome is that!

Now, you might say, “hmm…well, sometimes, with an Etch-A-Sketch there is some residue of what was there”…and yes, this is true…. So too, you may need to go to the Lord, and receive GRACE, a few more times, to cleanse your own conscience, so that it is erased forever.  Sometimes it is a process, at our end, as the water of The Word washes away residue, as our own faith in the atonement is built up.. i.e. we embrace our own forgiveness of sin. An evidence is that we become God-conscious rather than sin-conscious when the work is complete. Sometimes, the remembrance of “what was” may be upon people around us, who then may continually remind us of our sin, to our chagrin. And sometimes a temporal consequence is resultant, even though an eternal consequence is absolved. But to REPENT is all about what is between you and God, and GOD HIMSELF SEES IT NO MORE.  So every single “present moment” can be a “new beginning” of walking with the Lord in perfect peace. Inner strength to walk midst others’ judgments and to embrace a consequence of our sin, and to go on cleansed and whole, is granted us as part of this grace of repentance. It is given to us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, who is with us, assuring us of our secure salvation, and letting us know whenever repentance needs to be done to clear our consciences.

The point in this simple illustration of the Etch-A-Sketch is to reveal that to REPENT is a great ABILITY that we have as Believers.  Actually, to repent is available to all. For Jesus calls Sinners to repentance. This is why He came! A person just needs to know that it is Jesus’ blood that can cleanse and grant reconciliation to God, causing a rebirth….a pure blank slate now to be written upon. However, in true repentance, this new Believer will choose to now let God use those controls, creating a masterpiece out of their shaken life.

My son discovered, that it became easier for him to draw, and he became better and better at the Etch-A-Sketch, for he was no longer intimidated by the thought of making a mistake.  He knew it could easily erase, and he could start again. This is also true of how grace and repentance work in a believers life.  The longer a person walks in Christ, the easier it is for them to be FREE of sin… and actually the need to repent and wipe the slate clean, becomes less frequent as a person becomes “perfected” in such great grace.

Luke 24:46-48 says “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

So what about good works? Or a focus on “capability”? Well, it is simply fulfilling the Lord’s command of Matthew 3:8 “Produce fruit keeping with repentance”. Our “fruit” must come forth in keeping with our repentance. This is how we show God we rejoice in our forgiveness, and reveal we are His. You lied? then the fruit would be to resolve to tell the truth. You fornicated? then the fruit would be to resolve not to have sex outside of the marriage covenant. You stole? Steal no more. You grumbled and complained? Then change your attitude! You fought with someone? Say you’re sorry, forgive them, and look together for your solution in Christ.

When one truly realizes the greatest ability we have is to REPENT, and he or she exercises that ability immediately when the need arises, then this ability to WALK IN OUR GRACE gives us CAPABILITY to walk in the righteousness of Christ.  (i.e. we know we can shake that Etch-A-Sketch each step we take that is not in Christ…so our path can be righted…and fellowship restored.)

Another reason why our greatest ABILITY is to repent? … Because our sin is NEVER too much, or mistake EVER too big, for the blood not to erase, when appropriated. Christ’s capability gives us this ability.

NEVER will God not forgive true repentance. He loves the sinner and wipes away the sin.  It is a lie of Satan that God hates sinners. What He hates is Sin, and how it keeps us from Him.

Repentance is always available to anyone who will believe in GOD’S CAPABILITY to provide that forgiveness.  Yes, again I say you must be or become a “Believer in Christ” to be forgiven. It is an ability only available IN CHRIST.  It is only His Blood that cleanses away the sin.

There is one other thing that can mislead too.  Let me warn you of that. Okay?  The Word of God says, in II Corinthians 7:10, that “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”  Worldly sorrow lacks “repentance” and brings death. Repentance is more than just an sorrowful emotion, or a “getting caught” and wanting to avoid “a consequence”. Godly sorrow is a grief that is for God’s sake, and produces a remorse of the soul which then reverses itself and restores to life…it leads to salvation through Jesus, and a transformed life.

Let’s go back to the Etch-A-Sketch picture of grace… We had to “Let it Be Shaken.” As was true of the choice to shake that “Etch-A-Sketch” to erase what was written upon it… So too, a sin revealed requires the choice to take action on our part.  It is an act of our own free will to DO the action of repenting after coming to recognize that which needs to be repented of or erased. To refuse to do that “repenting” (as with the Etch-A-Sketch being shaken to have the silver erase the slate)… it means mistake upon mistake is built up more and more, causing us greater and greater exasperation and unhappiness in our own lives.  Yet also, here again… we see the greatest ability we, human beings in all the world, have been given! We can even erase “all that buildup!”  Once we see and recognize our sin before God… this ability remains there to access! This ability surpasses understanding! Oh, what grace! Repenting can erase it all!

But WAIT!…WARNING!!! Our free will is involved here!  If we choose not to appropriate our ability to repent once sin is revealed, it can indeed eventually become too late to have our slate wiped clean. We can go to hell and suffer permanent consequence for sin, and not just earth’s temporary consequences. For the individual Believer, when the choice is made to continually harden their heart, after knowing the joy of being In Christ, scripture warns them, in Hebrews 6:4-12 and in Hebrews 10:26-39 that this condition of hardening the heart causes them to not avail themselves of this, their greatest ability: to repent. Those believers who sin against the Holy Spirit, who is faithful to convict of sin, will instead repeatedly choose not to respond and they will indeed lose their salvation. The Amplified Version of 10:29 states that when Christ’s blood is considered common and unhallowed, that the Holy Spirit is profaned, insulted, and outraged! He has imparted the grace TO REPENT and the blood was given to cleanse! But even believers can walk away from grace. Grace requires the action to stay IN CHRIST and resting faith in what He has done by repenting when convicted by the Spirit of sin. Rest easy, if you have a conscience active right now at all, you are not “there”. No fear need be… just simply repent now. (Don’t necessarily believe this?…then continue on, and read the three verses from Revelation, near the end of this article, and you will hear what Christ Himself says about the danger some of you are in.)

It is only a “Believer”, or one who is repenting to  “become a Believer” , that exercises this GREATEST ABILITY known to man: the ability TO REPENT, and it leads to their SALVATION, in this life and in the life to come.

To repent is easy… and it may be done continually…as a lifestyle…with joy.  The Lord delivers us from our sins as we continually bring them before him in godly sorrow over them.  We experience the pain of seeing our need, but then the great joy in having sin removed.  You need not become sin-conscious or look for sin.  The Holy Spirit will do the work of revealing sin to your conscience, and the written Word of God will expose unknown or hidden sin. A prophet may speak, a sermon may be heard, an authority figure rebuke…God uses many ways to reveal things for us to repent of. Let peace be your guide. Is some sin revealed? You “respond” in repentance. Quickly receive the blood wiping it away! Rejoicing then, simply follow Christ, in that area, believing the slate is clean. There is no need for penance, which means an act of self-abasement, mortification, or devotion performed to show sorrow or repentance for sin. The blood is sufficient to wipe your slate clean. Repentance is of the heart.  Always with Jesus, He says to the repentant one, “Neither do I condemn you… Go and sin no more.”   And worthy to note: Following true repentance, the Holy Spirit may direct you, to do some restitution toward someone you may have sinned against, that reconciliation be made to them. Repentance is toward God, and Restitution is toward one another…. a natural, chosen response to a changed heart, for within it the Love of God now flows freely.

It will bring GREAT JOY, if we understand that This ABILITY to Repent Surpasses any Capability.  We cease being “self-righteous” (ignoring our need to repent), or “heathen” (ignoring our need for God’s plan of forgiveness), or “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (ignoring the grace that is set before us). We, instead, realize the incredible ABILITY Christ purchased at the Cross by spilling his blood…the ABILITY to repent and go forward forgiven and cleansed.  Healing and deliverance, all a part of our atonement from sin, comes from our continually accessing our ABILITY to repent, due to what Christ did.

With all the talk of grace, out there in the world… I exhort, and speak the truth: GRACE still needs AN ACTION  and RESPONSE on our part: TO REPENT and TO RECEIVE. Christ’s work is finished. And salvation from sin is not of OUR Works. We must simply choose to access this GREAT ABILITY that He has offered and paid for.

In closing, I am led, by the Spirit of God, to give you, from the Word of God, an increased desire to exercise your greatest ability: TO REPENT.  I will leave you three verses from Revelation that have the instruction from Our Lord Christ Jesus TO REPENT in them. Listen carefully. Please. 

Revelation 2:5

“Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent, and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you, and remove your lamp stand from its place.”

Revelation 3:3

“Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know what time I will come to you.”

Revelation 3:19

“Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”

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Written by Elizabeth Norland, June 28, 2013

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Faith and Unbelief – Humility and Pride

FAITH – Deeply believes God will do what HE SAYS – and it subsequently produces WORDS of agreement, and ACTIONS of obedience.

FAITH – Need not understand.  It doesn’t look at the natural. But believes GOD WILL do and GOD CAN do what GOD SAYS He will do.

Luke 1:37 says, For nothing is impossible with God.”

It’s one thing to Believe IN HIM, it is an entirely different matter to BELIEVE HIM.  This is where our faith is tested.  Do I take Him at His Word? Do I truly HEAR Him? Have I “REALIZED” His Promises?

PRIDE and FAITH are Opposites, just as UNBELIEF AND FAITH are Opposites.

UNBELIEF is really masked, or camouflaged PRIDE.

Let’s consider the 12 spies that returned from beyond the Jordan to report back to Moses and Aaron and the Children of Israel in the wilderness. The account is in Numbers 13:26-33.

10 of these spies  – we, in modern day, would consider “humble” – for they said “we are as grasshoppers”, and 2 of these spies – we’d consider “proud and arrogant” for they said “we can take the land!”

YET IN REALITY:

10 were PRIDEFUL – “relying on their own strength”  – their report was given according to a human perspective, not according to God’s perspective.

2 were HUMBLE – “relying on God’s ability to do as He said, and relying on God’s strength to make it all possible”.

DO YOU SEE, MY FRIENDS, HOW PRIDE LOOKS DECEIVING?  How it is a false humility? and “appearing humble” is in actuality UNBELIEF disguised?

True humility BELIEVES who God is and understands who we are. We maintain hope, and strength….and are more than conquerors!  For we know it all has to do WITH GOD, and NOT US, except to step out in FAITH that He will do as he says. We have to do OUR PART to do that stepping into what He says to.

NOT YET CONVINCED? Let’s look at the 10 spies report: Numbers 13: 26-33

“It truly flows with milk and honey” – what God had promised about the land was indeed true.  These men acknowledge it was as He SAID, and an awesome land of milk and honey, and they revealed its wonderful fruits.

YET THEN THEY SAY THIS:

“Nevertheless”

“nevertheless” means “despite all of that.”

At that moment, Moses, and every man of faith in Israel should have cried out and said, “Nevertheless nothing! How can one say, ‘We went to the land, found it good, and God’s promise true,’ and then say, ‘Despite all this . . .’?”

The 10 spies continued:

Despite God’s words and His promise….” the people there are strong.”

We will disregard God’s faithful promise… “for their cities are large and fortified .”

and Who cares about God’s Words…we saw with our own eyes the descendants of Anak, a tribe of large men! “

and despite God’s Ability…. “the land is taken up! the Amalekites dwell there, and  the Amorites . . . and so do the Canaanites.  “There is no room for us.”

Their UNBELIEF was revealed in their WORD: “Nevertheless”…and JUSTIFIED in their WORDS spoken thereafter…

It is hard to imagine a report more unbelieving and unfaithful to God than this; a report that recognizes the faithfulness of God’s promise, the truth of His word, and yet says, “Despite all that . . .”

UNBELIEF IS NOT HUMILITY.  FOR IT DOES NOT GIVE GOD HIS PROPER PLACE OF HONOR AND RESPECT. FAITH IS RESPECT FOR WHAT GOD HAS SAID.

So, let’s look at Caleb’s bold report of Numbers 13, and Joshua’s concurring:

“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Then Caleb quieted the people: Caleb – blessed forever! – commanded the people to immediately (at once) trust and obey God and to take the land, because God had made them able.  It took great courage for Caleb and Joshua to stand against the tide of unbelief, of doubt and “despite all that“ attitude.

Caleb, for sure, had the spirit of Romans 3:4: Let God be true but every man a liar. Numbers 14:24 describes Caleb AND HOW GOD LOOKED UPON HIM:  “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.

FAITH is really HUMILITY. We believe and follow another, ONE, greater than ourselves.

BUT, the majority sometimes rules, even if they are all “dead wrong”, for the other 10 men who had gone up with him countered this rally for faith to rise up, with their own declarations of UNBELIEF:

We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.”

Unbelief often presents itself as being “factual” or “practical” or “down to earth.” Yet, the most factual, practical, and down to earth thing we can to is trust the word of the living God. Their unbelief was not according to the facts, but despite the facts.  They left out their BIGGEST FACT – that what God SAYS is greater than Man’s abilities or inabilities.

WHEN WE DO NOT REPLACE OUR WEAKNESS, WITH HIS STRENGTH… WE ARE PARALYZED…UNABLE … TO DO WHAT GOD TELLS US TO DO.

God’s ABILITY must be taken into consideration!

FAITH IS HUMILITY.  UNBELIEF IS PRIDE.

Significantly, we see that two spies, Joshua and Caleb, could see the exact same sights – the same grapes, the same men, the same land, the same cities – and they come away singing in faith and encouraging the others to BELIEF not only could God do it, but that THEY COULD DO IT through faith and obedience…by going forward.

While at the same time, the others were filled with a sense of certain doom.

Ultimately, faith or unbelief does not spring from circumstances or environment, but from our hearts, which God must change.

To confirm scripture with scripture, let’s look at Jeremiah 17:5-7, and think of what was just shared:

This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.

Their UNBELIEF indeed brought about their desert experience.  It led them away from prosperity when it was presented.  It took them into a salt land where death is imminent.

Now let’s skip to the New Testament, and talk of Jesus Christ.

What GRIEVED Jesus the most, as he walked this earth?  Was it not UNBELIEF?  Can you not hear his words, “O, Ye of Little Faith!” as he went along life’s way?

Now, tell me, what PLEASED Jesus the most, as he walked this earth? Was it not BELIEF? Can you not hear his words joyously declared to the centurion, “ I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”  or the words to the blind men “Do you believe I am able to do this? and then “According to your faith, it will be done for you.”

God does not respond to our need. He responds to OUR FAITH.  Jesus responded to FAITH.

My prayer for you, my reader, is that FAITH WILL ARISE WITHIN YOU. AND YOU WILL KNOW GOD’S ABILITY, AMIDST YOUR PERCEIVED INABILITY against what the Enemy may be doing in your household, neighborhood, workplace, or your country.  WE HAVE GOD!

There is no inability in God.  You can’t go wrong if you will trust Him and follow Him when He gives you his leading to advance forward in obedience to something He has told you.  DO NOT LET YOURSELF BE “INTIMIDATED” BY UNBELIEVERS…and Un-BELIEVE-ers. The latter can be God’s own people, if they are not actively believing God, and walking in their faith. Stand your ground, Humble yourself before God and walk in FAITH and HUMILITY BEFORE GOD. (Even if the World around you labels you as Proud!)

I Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”

Written and Shared by Elizabeth Norland, October 19, 2012

One With God

One With God

The Word of God can be summed up in one simple revelation, God desires intimate fellowship with mankind.

The Book of Genesis begins with God creating man and of His visiting man in the garden of Eden.  It is man who chooses to separate himself from fellowshiping with God through disobedience. God extends the offer of renewed fellowship by means of a redeemer.   In the interval of time between  the promise and the coming of Christ, the promised Redeemer, God continues to establish communication with mankind.  It is interesting to note that God talked to man immediately after his fall.  And when Cain killed his brother, God again communicated with the sinner.

Sin does not end man’s ability to hear from the Lord.  It does limit our ability to fellowship with God.  The very act of salvation of the sinner requires one to hear from the Spirit of God.  Only the Spirit of God can bear witness to the heart of the hearer that Jesus is Lord.  For the “faith” necessary to believe “comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”.

If the sinner can and does hear from the Lord then the Believer, one who has accepted Jesus as Lord, should have very intimate contact with God the Father. He is made Righteous through the Blood of Jesus, and thus is Holy in the sight of God.

The cause of not entering into dialogue with the Father is lack of knowledge of what we are in Christ Jesus.  There can not be any other force that could inhibit fellowship with God, our Father, than the force of ignorance.

It is Not the matter of:

1)     Being good enough, because we come in the Name of Jesus, who has been made goodness for us. Jesus has been made righteousness for all of us.

2)    Having earned the right because no man can earn the right, for making one mistake makes you guilty of having broken all the  Laws of God.

3)   Having obtained a spiritual Maturity, no one obtains a spiritual maturity that entices God into fellowship.  Paul stated that he had not obtained such a spiritual maturity.  Yet it is obvious that Paul heard from God.

4) Having a special calling or God given position which requires you to hear from God so that you may fulfill that office.  We are all partakers of the covenant of faith which comes by hearing and being led by the Spirit of God. We all qualify to hear from God by the grace extended to us through Christ Jesus. God is not a respecter of persons, even though He may require some to walk in a position of greater responsibility than others. There are no “special saints”.

God has called Jesus the “First Born”of many children to be “Born Again” into the Family of God.  We are called to be led by His Spirit as He directs us ,as a father directs and instructs his children.

*This is an article shared, written by my deceased husband, David Stephens.

LIKE HIM

God whispered to me…

MEASURE YOURSELF BY JESUS

Do you LOVE   LIKE Him?  

 Do you OBEY ME    LIKE Him?  

Do you SEEK ME    LIKE Him? 

Do you have SELF-CONTROL    LIKE Him? 

Then, I, your Father, have work to do.

Submit to my hand.

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What Father God is encouraging you to do is:

Don’t compare yourself to OTHERS… or to the world’s standard(s)…

but to JESUS CHRIST, His Son. He is your standard and mine.

He is who you are to look to…to imitate.

In other words,

Do you love God and others, as Jesus loved HIS Father and those around himself? and loved YOU?  

Jesus’s words: “…love one another, even as I have loved you” John 13:34

Do you obey Father, as Jesus did. He, not doing anything he wasn’t LED to do, or doing anything His Father God wouldn’t approve of? Are you self-ruled? If so, you are not LIKE Christ. Christ did not “self-rule” EVER! 

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Phil 2:5-8

Do you seek the Father, as Jesus did, going alone to be with Him, and practicing His presence every moment of your life? Do you ENJOY a “relationship” and do you have “intimacy” with God, as Jesus did? You can! Believers have God residing within themselves, to commune with, Spirit to spirit.

“You are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell IN THEM, and walk IN THEM, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people”  II Cor 6:16

Do you have self-control as Jesus had? Do you turn the other cheek?  not grow bitter or unforgiving though mistreated? avoid being prideful when dealing with the weaknesses in others? Do you avoid harmful substances or bad habits which oppress you and keep you in bondage? Do you avoid sexual immorality and impurity? Continue to give any iniquity over to the Lord, until He brings you completely into freedom. God’s will must become your will in this process. And Jesus pleads in your behalf:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” Luke 23:34

YOU CAN – BE – LIKE HIM.

Here’s a verse that will help.

Actually Jesus’ own words of John 6:57

“Just as the Living Father SENT ME, and I LIVE  because of the Father –

so THE ONE who FEEDS ON ME  will LIVE because of Me.”