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The ability to keep your eyes on where you are going, and where you want to be is not just a God-given gift, but it is a skill that requires much practice and self-control, and it is probably the hardest of all for believers, and any person who has been called, chosen and elected by God.  We must remember that God said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  And so often, what we think is the right way to do things is not right, and what we think is the wrong way to do things is not wrong.  Does that mean there are no rules at all and no guidelines, which are rock solid?  Not at all; As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.

What is often neglected when we teach and are taught the ways of God is to look at the present circumstances of our time and where we are, compared to where God intended for us to be.  In truth, throughout the history of man’s relationship with God, we have always come to a place at a time that God did not intend for us.  For Adam ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil when he was not allowed to, and found himself with Eve outside of the Garden of Eden when they should still have been in Eden.  They found themselves bearing children in pain and toiling for food from the ground when they should have been bearing children painlessly and eating from trees laden with the best of fruits.

Israel found itself facing decimation by Nebuchadnezzar when they should have been the ones who were decimating the nations who were God’s enemies.  Moses found himself on top of a mountain looking at the Promised Land, preparing his funeral, when he should have been preparing himself to cross the Jordan with Israel…  And so forth and so forth…  Indeed, the history of man’s relationship with God is littered with such tales.  Even the apostles found themselves in the dark in the middle of the lake battling the wind, when they should have been warm in bed in Bethsaida.  Whenever we find ourselves in such circumstances, God comes and does something that we think is contrary to His nature and appears to be against the supernatural and natural laws that He laid down, as if He was doing something that breaks those very laws themselves.

For instance, God making garments of skin to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve – that God killed a lamb to cover Adam and Eve seems contrary to the nature of God who gives life, but we fail to understand and see the circumstances surrounding the action, which was an action necessitated upon God because of our disobedience.  The exclusion of Moses from the Promised Land was necessitated because of Moses’ disobedience.  The genocidal slaughter of Israel by Nebuchadnezzar was necessitated by their continued disobedience to God.  Jesus’ death on the cross was necessitated by our disobedience to God’s commands.  Jesus walking on water towards the disciples was necessitated by the disciples’ disobedience to Him.  In fact, you will find most of the miraculous acts of God in both the Old and New Testaments are performed by God because of disobedience to His command and very few were performed because of obedience in the first instance.

If you look at what God said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”  “But if you will not listen to Me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject My decrees and abhor My laws and fail to carry out all My commands and so violate My covenant, then I will do this to you:  I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life.  You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.  I will set My face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.”  So in truth, most sickness afflicting the people of God had nothing to do with Satan but rather, because people disobeyed God and chose to listen to someone else other than God.  Eve was deceived when she listened to Satan and Adam disobeyed when He listened to Eve.  You can see that the whole disaster could have been stopped if Adam listened to God.  And likewise, Egypt would have been spared the twelve disasters if Pharaoh had listened to God’s message through Moses, and even Moses himself would not have missed out on the Promised Land had he listened when God told him, “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.”  And Jerusalem would have been spared its decimation if only it listened and repented.  The failure to listen and to repent is responsible for most, if not all the disasters that have befallen people in the Bible, but not all, and this is where you must learn to stay in focus, even when the exception to the rule occurs… and there are exceptions to the rule.  That is why you are elected to know the word and the power of God thoroughly, intimately and even perfectly so that you become experts who can see the exception out of the general situation… the holy from the common and the holiest of the holies from the holy.

Why could Jesus answer, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.  As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me,” when He was asked by His disciples, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”?  Now this is a reasonable question to ask, for being Jews they knew that the sin of the father or your own sin could cause blindness, because God said, “I will do this to you: I will bring upon you… fever that will destroy your sight…”  However, this man was blind from birth, so he never had sight to be destroyed, which is why Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” so that the blindness was caused by God’s will for His sovereign purpose.  What a shock for those who do not know God, but then did He not say to Moses, “Who gave man his mouth?  Who makes him deaf or mute?  Who give him sight or makes him blind?  Is it not I, the LORD?”  So you see, God’s sovereignty in His ways, was being demonstrated before the Israelites as well as the need to intimately know His word, as Jesus said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”

Now understand the circumstances of where we the church are.  We are like the apostles who did not listen to Jesus to set off immediately to Bethsaida as Jesus told them to, but waited till it was late and went off to Capernaum across the lake.  We are like Jerusalem who kept refusing not to worship false gods and who kept adopting the ways and practices of the surrounding nations.  So darkness is coming and a frightening spectacle will be seen and destruction has been decreed.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  This is the fate of all disciples who have not listened to Jesus, but have chosen to make their own plans, select their own times and proceed to their own destinations… the display of God’s power through His elect will terrify them to cry out in fear. 

In the same way, the massing of the troops of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar at Samaria and Jerusalem caused them to cry out in fear.  Though they were delivered initially, they relented of their repentance and went back to their sin.  Unfortunately, many who call themselves disciples, we included, continue to make our own plans, set our own times and plan our own destinations, even after we have seen and been used to do great miracles for the Lord.  If this is the case, how could the Lord come to us with a gentle and loving Spirit?  It is the gentleness of the Lord that allowed the disciples to see Him on the water and frighten them that they may call out.  The disobedience of the disciples after the feeding of the 5000 was intentional, however you are elected to a place greater than they and even Moses, yet Moses made one mistake… one mistake… when commanded by the Lord to speak to the rock for water, and instead struck it twice because he was angry saying, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”  He lost focus for a split second, and lost his place in the Promised Land.

So understand, there are many, many things that can take your focus off what the Lord has elected you for… the Devil will try to deceive and temp you in the circumstances you find yourself in… the people God has given you can distract you and make suggestions that seem good… e.g. Eve to Adam; the apostles to each other; and the very people of God can be such a source of distraction and exacerbation to you that like Moses and even Paul, you lose your focus and say and do things that God did not intend for you to say or do.  It is no wonder that you are reminded to be in continuous repentance.  Just because you are in the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, do not think you can stop repenting.  Just because Jesus was sacrificed once and for all for sin does not mean you can stop repenting.  If Jesus Himself has not stopped making intercession for us before the throne in Heaven, then who are we to stop repenting?  But do not let the need to repent stop you from going forward. 

Jesus did not allow the disciples’ disobedience or any opposition to Him stop Him.  When some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to Him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else.  Herod wants to kill you.”  He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach My goal.’  In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!  If He had listened to the Pharisees, He would have found Himself at the wrong place for that time, even though the advice seemed good.  Rather, let the need to be in continuous repentance spur you on until you come to the place where you are set free… free from repentance because not only are you free from the power of sin and death, but you are free from sin and death for even the second death has no hold on you.  You have come to the place where you have lost your head for Jesus.

However, worse than the Devil deceiving you, your brethren misdirecting you, and you losing control of yourself and finding yourself doing or saying the wrong thing, there is a distraction more powerful than any of that, which can cause you to lose your focus.  A distraction from God.  Take the case of Ezekiel who was already living in a difficult time and having a difficult ministry… he had already performed a most unusual fast in Ezekiel 4, and baked his bread over dung, then midway of his ministry, God said, “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes.  Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears.  Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead.  Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food of mourners.”  So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died.  The next morning I did as I had been commanded. 

Now that is a test of faithfulness unto the Lord unlike any other, exceeding even Job’s, for Job did not know who struck him, but Ezekiel did and yet remained faithful to the Lord.  It is easier to be chained up by heathens and pagans for preaching the gospel of the Lord; to be excommunicated and tortured to renounce the revelations God has given you; or even be attacked by your own mother and brothers and friends with disbelief and ridicule… all that is much easier to accept than when the Lord gives you a command and then does something to you personally, which seems to go against everything you are promised.  I mean, was Ezekiel not obedient?  Was he not listening to the Lord and had he not carried out the tasks that God had given him in chapter 4?  You try lying on one side for 390 days all bound up and then 40 days on the other!  Was he not elected by the Lord?  Was the Holy Spirit not upon him?  Had he not seen great visions from the Lord and had he not been given insight by the Lord into the shortcomings of the people of God?  He had, and did all that was commanded of him, yet Ezekiel 24:16-18 was given to him, and yet still he obeyed.

Did it not look strange to those who would have been observing him in his failure to show outward grief to his wife’s death?  I will leave the words of the judgement of Ezekiel to your imaginations, for you know well the wickedness of men’s hearts.  Now look at what the Lord then says, “Say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:  I am about to desecrate My sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection.  The sons and daughters you left behind will fall by the sword.  And you will do as I have done.  You will not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food of mourners.  You will keep your turbans on your heads and your sandals on your feet.  You will not mourn or weep but will waste away because of your sins and groan among yourselves.  Ezekiel will be a sign to you; you will do just as he has done.  When this happens, you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.’” 

The righteousness and justice of the Lord is that we do unto others as we would have done unto ourselves, and so He did it to Ezekiel, His own prophet, that which He wanted to be done to others… and that He had already done to Himself, for Jesus was the Lamb slain at the foundation of the Earth.  In one day, Jesus Himself, the delight of God’s eyes and heart, was also struck down and crucified.  It was after that this was done to Ezekiel and Ezekiel had obeyed as he was commanded, that the prophecies against Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre and the king of Tyre, Sidon, Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem, the mountain of Israel, and against Gog were released… prophecies of devastation and destruction of all who disobeyed God and had fought against God.  Then came the prophetic revelations of the restoration of the Temple and the first preview ever given to man in any detail of the Millennial Age and the new City of Jerusalem.  Ezekiel, amazingly, maintained his focus on the task.  Likewise, as we see what will happen around us, the challenge is to focus on the task and the election for which you have been called.  It is no wonder that God has called this “walking on the razor’s edge” for us.  The details are different, but the principals are the same.

An intimate knowledge of the W/word of God and the P/power of God is demanded if we are to avoid and eliminate error, which are mistakes and which is sin.  Thus, the mastery of sin, the mastery of error, so as to avoid and eliminate it, calls for an intimate knowledge of the W/word of God and the P/power of God, for Jesus said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”  Surviving the errors, and we will make them, calls for repentance and forgiveness.  Never forget, the covenant we have is the covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins.  It is the reason why here, no matter what mistakes have been made, forgiveness is always available with repentance, and no sooner you are forgiven, you are expected to move on and carry on.  Only those who have chosen not to return and forgive and to be forgiven and those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, do not continue with us.  Thankfully, all who have discontinued have done so because they have chosen to leave and not because they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

However, a perfect knowledge of Scripture and a perfect knowledge of the power of God is still insufficient, for the elimination and avoidance of error is not the point that God sent Jesus to make.  Jesus said to the Jews who were persecuting Him, “You diligently [imperatively] study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.”  The knowledge of the Scriptures and the power of God that you have been trained in, to acquire all the more of, is of no use and of no purpose unless they help you to draw closer to Jesus and see the true purpose of Jesus’ coming to us was not just to reveal God to us as mush as Salvation for this creation of God’s.  It is easy for you and I to lose sight of the primary purpose of this task because of the Knowledge of the Glory, the secrets of the Kingdom and the power and all the work involved.  Just as it is easy to lose sight of the real purpose of God in the midst of all the prophesies that He declared through Ezekiel, which destroyed all those nations, that the unchanging core purpose of Jesus is God’s salvation to all who have sinned.

Yes, He is God’s correction to the world and God’s peace offering, and every great and small revelation that we may receive… but never forget, never ever forget… that He is first and last God’s salvation for all who believe and for all that He has made, which cannot believe.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

So, in the business of what lies ahead for you each and every day as you live life, in all the great signs and wonders, in anything that is part of the preparation for the arrival of Jesus, even when you and others like you have all made it into the Millennium… never forget, never lose the focus that Jesus Christ is God’s Saviour and Redeemer for this creation and all its creatures, and that the purpose you are given to Him, to be in Him and with Him, is to have life… and life abundantly.

For the Lord’s own words were, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.  Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  For forgiveness of sins is delivered either by repentance or by the application of the punishment decided by the judgment… in either case, after the forgiveness and after the punishment, the freedom comes.  A prisoner is free from the consequences of his crime because of a pardon or that he has sat out the full sentence.  Either way, he is free, free to start his life again.  Likewise, through the forgiveness of sins, and through the manifestation of judgment, all are set free again, free to start life anew, afresh, which is why He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

So who is equal to such a task!  To come to know the One and Only Living God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, so that His thoughts are your thoughts and His ways are your ways.  But God has given us the mind of Christ and the Spirit of Christ that we may know and search out His thoughts and ways, and He who said, “This is what the LORD says, He who made the Earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is His Name:  ‘Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”  …is the same Lord, by whose Name “everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.” 

There will be more power, more revelations, great signs and wonders, more distress for the world and those who distress the Lord, and there will be an abundance of all that the pagans run after being added to you; but in the midst of all this, there must be more focus on the Lord and holiness to His holy purpose, that His glory and honour and thanks be multiplied through salvation in Jesus’ Name.

Be holy for He who elected you is holy, and His thoughts and His ways, though they seem strange and unfamiliar to you, are holy.  The only reason they are strange and unfamiliar is because we are not where we should be.  The only reason they were terrified of Jesus as He came to them on the water was because they, the apostles were not where they should have been.  If we are where we should be, then the coming of the Lord holds no terror, but will bring relief, just as the knock on the door in Bethsaida would have brought them relief, for it meant their Master had rejoined them.  Rejoice, for our Master is soon arriving to rejoin us.  AMEN

 

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