OUR GREATEST NEED
Our greatest need, is for each one of us to know and believe that we are loved and that we are fully accepted IN Christ Jesus. That means, we can ‘walk out’ our own spiritual walk, with humility, minding our own business, doing only what Christ has called us to do, whilst keeping a right standing with God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is our own obedience for which we are answerable to God, not someone else’s. Doing things this way, will bring much increase, not only into our own lives, but into the lives of others as well (and it makes us much nicer people to be around). In his letter to the church of the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul writes,
“But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-11).
The Apostle Peter encourages us, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God? Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:17-19).
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he lovingly urges, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
Therefore, like those who came to be baptized by John, we need to be asking the Lord on a regular basis, “Lord, what must I do?” (To show fruits of repentance). Or, like the rich young ruler who came to Christ, asking, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18).
It is our responsibility (not someone else’s), to keep our heart open to the Lord in order to receive instruction from Him as to what we should do. Each one of us has been given a portion of grace for each and every situation we face. God will not leave us wanting, but has said He will provide everything we need (see 2 Peter 1:3), so we are without excuse! Let each of us continue to outwork that portion of grace to the fullness of its capacity, with patience, until we see His work completed.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:2-8).
- IT WILL BE GIVEN TO US TO THE EXTENT THAT WE BELIEVE!
THE DANGERS OF AN UNBELIEVING HEART
We would be very foolish to start out on a journey to what has been promised to be a very fruitful and beautiful ministry or destination (the Promised Land was a land flowing with milk and honey), but to stop short of that destination because our hearts refused to believe. Unbelief is a by-product of rebellion (which is a form of witchcraft – “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” - 1 Samuel 15:23). Unbelief comes as a result of hardening our hearts to the Lord. God calls a hardened heart for what it is – it is sin! The writer of Hebrews calls it a deliberate turning away from the living God. It is a very dangerous situation to remain in for too long! Quoting from Psalm 95:7-11 the writer of Hebrews said,
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried Me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways.’ So I declared on oath in My anger, ‘They shall never enter My rest.’ See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Hebrews 3:7-12, NIV).
The writer continues, “To whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief” (Hebrews 3:18 & 19, NIV).
- THOSE WHO DISOBEYED THROUGH UNBELIEF NEVER ENTERED HIS REST!
For this reason, when warning of the dangers of unbelief in a letter to the Hebrews, the writer reminds them to encourage one another daily! We need daily encouragement to hold onto our original conviction that we are all PARTAKERS OF HOPE IN Christ Jesus, until Jesus Christ comes again!
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end" (Hebrews 3:13 & 14, NIV).
That is why the gifts of discernment, prophecy, words of knowledge, and the gifts of encouragement and exhortation (meaning to strongly encourage or urge someone to do something) are SO VITAL to the Body of Christ. THEY HELP TO KEEP US SAFE!
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WITHIN
It is the goodness and the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. The Apostle Paul said, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, NIV).
But there first needs to be a softening of the heart for the message of God’s love to get through. The Lord spoke to the people of Israel through the Prophet Ezekiel, promising them, saying,
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26, NKJV).
None of us can truly come to repentance (meaning: ‘a change of heart or mind;’ by implication, ‘the reversal of a decision’ – see Strong’s Concordance) unless we first have revelation knowledge of the sin, or the offence before God that we have committed. Revelation knowledge comes only through the workings of the Holy Spirit within. It is a deep conviction – nothing wavering!
“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our Gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1:4 & 5, NIV).
This word ‘conviction’ is also translated, ‘entire confidence’ or ‘full assurance’ (Strong’s Concordance). It means there is no doubt at all, left in our minds.
- IT IS ONLY THROUGH THE INNER WORKINGS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN OUR HEARTS THAT WE CAN COME TO A CONVICTION OF OUR WRONG DOING OR OUR SIN.
- THIS MEANS IT IS ONLY THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO CAN BRING ABOUT REPENTANCE OR A CHANGE OF MIND.
It was John the Baptist, before the atoning sacrifice of Christ, who began initiating this response from the people, who, already having an understanding of the law, now understood that they had fallen short of God’s holy standards. By showing the people where they were lacking in producing living fruit (referring to fruit that lasts), they began to understand where they had fallen short. John the Baptist, in advance of Christ’s ministry here on earth, was firmly establishing the people’s need for a Saviour and a resurrected Christ - though Christ’s death, burial and resurrection had not yet come to pass. Some of the people who came to John the Baptist repenting, were not sharing what they had with those in need around them. Others, were taking more than they were lawfully entitled to take. Others still, were using coercion against others and lacked contentment with what was provided for them by the State.
- LET US NOT KEEP MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES.
THERE IS POWER IN REPENTANCE
On the outside, it would appear that the cause of these wrongful behaviours, were as simple as selfishness, blindness, or greed. But most likely, all of these things came about because of fear. The real question inside of each person’s heart more likely would have been, “Am I acceptable?” “Am I loved?” “Am I enough?” “If I give away what I have, will I have enough left to meet my own needs?” When Jesus Christ later died on the Cross and rose again, He made eternal provision to meet all of those needs.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mark 6:25-33).
When the rich young ruler came to Jesus asking, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16, NKJV), Jesus answered, “’Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He (the young man) said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honour your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ The young man said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:17-22).
In contrast to this rich young ruler, Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector, having had an encounter with Jesus, Who came to him and spent time in his home, found a power far greater than his own to provide for his needs. Zacchaeus received a revelation of Who Jesus was and the safety, security, protection and provision that was available through following Him. Knowing the nature of this loving Christ, Zacchaeus passed the test that the rich man failed, causing him to turn away in sorrow. The difference between the two, was Zacchaeus’ revelation of who he was IN Christ; of God’s provision, and of all that Christ could do. Zacchaeus said, “’Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:8-10).
- GENUINE REPENTANCE PAYS BACK WHAT IT OWES AND PRODUCES LIVING FRUIT!
- GENUINE REPENTANCE UNLOCKS THE POWER OF GOD TO ACT ON OUR BEHALF!!!
KEEP FEEDING THE HUNGRY LIVING BREAD
Let us not be like the blind guides of Israel, who were “ever hearing, but never understanding; … ever seeing, but never perceiving” (Isaiah 6:9, NIV).
The Lord said through the Prophet Isaiah, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your (own) healing shall spring forth speedily” (Isaiah 58:6-8, NKJV).
Isaiah is saying, when you see the hungry needing bread - feed them! Let us not be like those who would send the poor away hungry. Even whilst we are still waiting for our own healing to occur – we are to continue to feed the hungry with living bread (Who is Jesus Christ - see John 6:35). When one of the Pharisees, a lawyer, came to Jesus asking him a question, saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36), Jesus replied, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
- GOD’S KINGDOM IS AN EVER-LASTING KINGDOM AND HIS KINGDOM INHABITS THE PRAISES OF MEN!
- GOD’S LOVE IS ETERNAL AND HIS ETERNAL PURPOSES HAVE NEVER BEEN REMOVED!
So, what else do we do whilst waiting for resolution to come? Ask the Lord, “What is it You require of me to do?” Then go and do the very thing that He tells you to. It is that simple!
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah” (Psalm 32:1-5).
A SIMPLE PRAYER:
“Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand the words that You are speaking. By Your grace, enable us to believe and to act upon Your word and to receive the promises You have laid before us. Despite our current circumstances, let us not forget those You have placed around us and in front of us who are still in need of You. Let us continue to reach out and touch others in the area of their needs. We ask this in the name of Your Son, Yeshua HaMashiach, (Jesus the Messiah) Amen”.
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