How Will You Drink?

July 18, 2004
Dubuque, Iowa

(For printable version click here.)

We were ministering last night out of Judges, the sixth and the seventh chapter.  I was not really able to get to the seventh chapter, because it seems like we were having to deal with the issue of man, which is the sixth chapter.  It’s funny how we always have to deal with man when we come to worship God, isn’t it?  That seems to be the scenario of things.  There are several thoughts on my mind this morning.  I’m just trying to decipher the direction that God wants to go.  Sometimes it’s a little difficult for me to decipher what my Speech Writer is writing.  I want to reiterate a few things, I think, not from last night, but from the Jamaica conference.  So often we, as we were talking last night, go to a meeting, get our tapes, get our notes, and then we go on to another meeting and we really do not glean out of the word of God what God has given us to glean.  There were two scriptures that were given during the Jamaica conference and I want to look at the one which was in 2 Chronicles 7:14.  I think it’s basically in line with what we were dealing with last night, coming at it from a different direction, coming at it from a different perspective.

Second Chronicles 7:14 says, If my people, hallelujah, which are called by my name… Now, you want to put your finger right there, because it’s good for you and I to look at the scripture, to read it, to make sure that it’s what the Lord is saying.  I would like us to turn over into Jeremiah 31:31.  It says Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah…  Now, many of you might be saying, “Well, we’ve heard all of this before,” and yes, we have heard it before, but every time you hear something, there’s something new that God is saying in the thing that He’s repeating.  We said last night that repetition is one of the means by which you and I learn to do things.  It says, Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts… “My law,” not “laws” plural, but “law” singular.  It’s not talking about a set of rules, it’s talking about a nature from which all of the rules are perpetuated.  How many of you understand that your nature determines the environment?  Are you aware of that?  Okay.  He said, “Not according to that covenant.”  But He says, 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be…, what?  …my people

I want to go over into the New Testament now, Matthew.  It’s the story of the lawyer that came to Jesus, and asked him the question, “What is the greatest commandment?”  Matthew 22:35, Then one of them, which was a lawyer… Now, context-wise it says in Jeremiah, what’s He going to do?  It is interesting that it was a lawyer that asked Him the question, when in Jeremiah He said, “I shall put my LAW…”  Now, we always make it plural.  I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that when we talk about this scripture, we always make it plural, we always say “laws.”  You don’t need laws when you’ve got the Lawgiver, when you’ve got the Lawmaker.  He, by nature, is the Law – the nature of the law is Christ Jesus.  Isn’t that what the scripture says?  It says that the law is a taskmaster, a tutor, a teacher, to do what?  To bring us unto Christ, unto – I don’t know if it says “the knowledge of Christ” or says “Christ.”  (Galatians 3:24) But for the sake of this conversation, to me, it’s one and the same thing in that it has a goal, it has an objective, and what its objective is, is to define what it originated from.  Thou shalt not steal.  Thou shalt not kill.  Thou shalt not bear false witness.  All of those things are by virtue of the nature of righteousness that is in God.  Our human nature does not have the ability to walk circumspectly in this human environment and maintain itself in righteousness.  Hello?  It takes the nature of the Law or the source from which the character of the Law is derived being worked within the fabric of your character in order to begin to demonstrate the restraint that is required by the law.

Now, what do I mean by that?  I mean, if you’re driving down the road and the speed limit is 35 miles per hour, the restraint that keeps you at 35mph is the man with the black and white car with the little red lights on the top.  He has the ability to stop you and charge you a lot of money, or whatever else.  He can even arrest you.  When I drove into Dubuque yesterday – you know, so many things we just kind of look at and let go by.  But the Lord is kind of quickening back to me this morning, when we came into Dubuque, there was this car that was pulled over to the side and the man was out of it, and he was being handcuffed.  He was being handcuffed – he was being restrained by the law.  Something in his record, I don’t know.  Maybe he got pulled over for a traffic stop and when they ran his record they found out he had something more serious against him that required greater restraint.  Hallelujah. 

Now, we’re not talking about that type of restraint, we’re not talking about that type of an administration.  What we’re talking about is an inward impulse, an inward nature that generates that type of mental thinking.  Not that we run hither and yon, but God working on the inside of us.  It says, If my people, which are called by my name… Now, you are all good Bible students, you’ve been in this word a long time, you know one of the basic elements of the word is that “name” is always indicative of “nature.”  Not so much in our culture (although I’m not so convinced that the spirits and the principalities don’t have their way) because we name our children after ourselves, or after our grandmothers, or after our grandfathers, or our aunts or our uncles, whoever it may be.  Why do you think all of that goes on?  Now, in Africa, maybe even in India, I don’t know, but names are very much indicative sometimes of the desire of the parent for the child.  In Africa, it’s more the spirits’ desire for the child.  Hallelujah.  You know, as they get more sophisticated, they’re losing some of the reality – I say “sophisticated” with quotes of course – with reference to being more educated.  It seems like, the more you are educated, the less ability you have to believe in the reality of God.  God becomes something of a figment of people’s imaginations.  Well, we started out with the figment of the imagination, and God is bringing us now to the reality, you and I as a people

Matthew 22, verse 35.  Then one of them, which was a lawyer… It’s funny how a little word can just get you going, isn’t it?  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master… Now, his intent, of course, was to try to find a way to trap Him, to ridicule Him, to mock Him and to be able to point at Him in a scornful manner.  But he says, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  As far as I am concerned, you can almost sum up the entirety of the scripture in that one verse.  But we are so, what word do I use?  Slow, hard-headed, what?  Stubborn, not too bright, what is it?  I don’t know.  But God had to put all these other pages in the book, and people had to live and die so that He might paint us a picture.  What do I have to do?  Do you ever say it?  “What do I have to do?  Draw you a picture?”  Well, yes, evidently that’s exactly what has to be done.  The epitome of the scripture is summarized in that one scripture, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, with all of thy might, with all of thy soul.”  In another place it’s reiterated, but it’s a little different.  It changes the “mind” to “might.”  I’m glad He did that, because it doesn’t leave it in a mental environment.  You know, you and I can think about something for a long time.  “Well, I’ll have to think about that.”  I think about it, and I think about it, and I think about it, and I think about it, and maybe I put it on the back burner to think about it some more and forget it.  But it says, thou shalt not only love Him with all of your heart, not only with all of your heart and all of your soul, but with all of thy might. 

Now, let’s go to Luke 10.  25 And, behold, a certain lawyer… Boy, he got a lot of press, didn’t he?  …stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  Okay, did that say eternal life?  Let’s go back.  There’s an expansion on the question, do you understand what I’m saying?  There’s an expansion on the question.  It’s not just, “What is the greatest commandment?”  Now, it is, “What do I have to do in order to inherit eternal life?”  Do you have any perception of what that does with regard to your theology?  I want you to think about it a minute.  Do you have any idea what it does with regard to your theology?  What does the scripture say?  Now, maybe my Bible misprinted it.  What does your Bible say?  Yes, in the one in Luke.  I want you to read what the lawyer asked him.  Luke 10:25, And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  26 He said unto him, What is written in the law?  how readest thou?  27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.  Well you see, we have a wrong concept.  We think that, in order to obtain salvation, all we have to do is profess that Jesus is Lord.  Or we run through the four spiritual laws.  Let’s see what the Amplified Bible has to say.  “25 And then a certain lawyer arose to try (test, tempt) Him, saying, Teacher, what am I to do to inherit everlasting life [that is, to partake of eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?”  So, as you can see, he’s talking about eternity. 

What must I do to inherit eternal life?  Are you thinking about your salvation?  How much are you saved?  How saved are you?  What is the degree of your position of commitment?  Is your salvation one inch long?  One inch deep?  Or is it like (he wrote something I couldn’t read) this?  There’s another scripture that’s coming to me now.  It’s the scripture that says if the righteous scarcely – let’s look at that scripture.  We’re into Bible study this morning, evidently.  First Peter 4:18, If the righteous scarcely be saved… Now, why would you think that God would be talking to us about this?  It’s so basic.  Why?  Now, I want to tell you something.  I didn’t go home last night and begin to meditate on what I was going to preach to you this morning.  I already had it in my mind what I was going to preach.  At least, I thought I had it in my mind what the Lord wanted me to preach, and that was out of Judges the seventh chapter.  But now, in the midst of the meeting, God begins to change the venue.  He’s changing our direction.  You need to ask yourself why.  I want you to stop and think.  Isn’t that something different for a congregation to do?  Stop and think?  Usually we come to sit and listen and it kind of goes in one ear, maybe a few words get caught or snagged in there in the midst of our brain and the rest just seems to run out the other ear, falling on the ground.  Why do you think God is talking to you about salvation?  Because, what I believe – of course, you didn’t ask me, but I’m going to tell you.  Some of you are in jeopardy of not making your salvation what it should be.  Now, I just watered that down, I want to you know.  Hallelujah.  God’s not going to talk to this group about salvation unless salvation is something very, very important and something that is not being accomplished, not being worked out in the way that God expects it to be worked out.  Okay, that brings me to another scripture.  He just keeps feeding me these scriptures.  Hallelujah.  Let’s find it and read it, so it’s not Burt’s theology.  First Peter 4:17, For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?  With difficulty and much work.  Well, that brings me to the next scripture. 

Now, we have the tendency to be religious about it.  We have the tendency to begin to think religiously.  “Well, I’ve accepted the Lord as my personal savior.  I have been baptized in water.  I have been baptized in the Holy Ghost, so I should be okay.”  Well, you would be okay if you lived a hundred years ago, because the time frame determines the extent or the strenuousness of the requirement that God puts upon us.  Now, the next scripture that comes to me is, what does it say about “working out your salvation”?  Working out your salvation.  Hmmm?  Read it, please.  Philippians 2:12, Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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.  Work out your own – now, why did Paul put that in the scripture?  Why do you think He put it in the scripture?  Well, I could tell you why I think he put it the scripture.  Because there is the possibility, there is an opportunity for me to miss my position of salvation.  And the church was evidently in a crisis situation with regard to the world and the things that were going on in their personal environment. 

Now, all of what we are saying this morning is on the basis of, If my people… If my people.  If my people.  This all started out with the verse, If my people… If my people, who are what?  Called by MY name.  We’re talking about something that is not a part-time experience.  We’ve been part-time Christians.  We have a demeanor, we have an attitude, we have a way of presenting ourselves to others in this type of an environment.  But when we go home, or out to work – well, maybe if the shoe doesn’t fit, it doesn’t apply to you.  I mean if the shoe isn’t your shoe to fit, don’t try to put it on.  Hallelujah.  But there is something in this word that is pertinent for everyone that is in hearing of my voice.  It says the first great commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your strength, with all of your might!  And then it’s further expanded to us by the definition of the scripture that says, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  There’s a position, there’s a place, and then the scripture in another place says you have to work out your own salvation with fear.  What do I work at?  Loving the Lord!  Making Him forefront, foremost in my thoughts, in my life.  There isn’t one decision, there isn’t one decision that I make that does not have consequences if I leave out God!  Now, every decision I make will have consequences but I want to be under the shadowing of the Almighty. 

You know, it was required of Israel to follow the cloud (Exodus 13).  It was required of Israel – he says when the cloud lifts up or the pillar of fire lifts up and moves, you do what?  Their focal point was the cloud, which was a symbol of the presence of God.  It was a symbol of the desire of God for Israel.  Hallelujah.  I suppose, what would you think would happen if a guy gets up one morning and the cloud moves and he says, “I’m not moving.  I’m not moving.”  How long do you think he would have lasted out there in the heat of that desert?  They tell me it gets pretty hot out there.  If it wasn’t for the cloud that was overshadowing them, they would have fried.  There’s another thing that we have to understand, there’s something of a mystical, magical thought that we have with regard to heaven.  Just let somebody say the word and your mind just begins to wander somewhere up there in the nice quiet place, in the sweet by and by, or in the blue of the blue.  Yes, we do.  That place far off, that place, Oh, you know, someday, someplace, sometime.  My God!  The scripture says that heaven is within you.  Hallelujah.  So it’s not only working, or working at laboring at believing in the reality of God.  My, there’s so many scriptures coming to me.  Hebrews talks about entering into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:1), – well, what is entering into God’s rest?  Does anybody have the slightest conceivable idea what it means to enter into God’s rest?  Simply put, from my position, and I’m sure you can expand it, build upon it, and create it to be something far greater, but very simply, very basically, it means being in the presence of God. 

We have a little song we sing, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” and what?  The things of this world grow strangely dim.  Strangely?  Strangely?  They just disappear.  There is nothing else that is of utmost importance than having that position, that place, that revelation of His awesomeness, of His beauty, of His ability, or the awesomeness of God!  There are no words in the English language that I know of that really describe the feeling that you have when you come into the presence of God. 

Now, I have not yet arrived at the place that I want to come to.  I have only seemed to be able to make it up to the peripheral, much like Moses being hid in the cleft of the rock.  Moses said, “I want to see You, I want to know You.”  He was reiterating, he was living out in actuality of his life the thing that was written of in the scripture!  Moses had a desire to love God!  He wanted to know God, he wanted to be in the presence of God, he wanted to see God face to face!  Can you imagine the aspiration or desire that was in the man that would make him, knowing the law, knowing the scriptures, knowing the theology of God that was given to him by the patriarchs, knowing that no man can see God and live, and yet saying, at the expense of his own life, “I want to see You!”  Hallelujah.  God is so merciful.  He said, “You can’t see Me.  Let Me hide you in the cleft of the rock and I’ll show you My peripheral (Exodus 33:20-23).”  My God, we can’t even imagine.  This man had spent time on the mount, do you understand?  He was up there in the mount when it was shaking and lightninging, the cloud was covering it and fire was going everywhere.  He was up there.  When he came down, just by being in the place where God was, his face shone so that they had to cover it with a veil (Exodus 34)!  We have no idea.  We have no idea.  We have no idea.  And quite frankly, I think a lot of us are like the children of Israel.  “You go up, Moses!  Lest we die!”  “Thou fool, knowest thou not that unless a corn of wheat falleth in the ground, it abideth alone (John 12:24)?”  There’s no help, there’s no place, there’s no significance with regard to the position of your relationship, or no meaning for your spiritual life, if you circumvent the aspect of dyingLoose!  But we want our way, we want our will, we want our things, we want this, we want that. 

There’s something here that God is really touching.  You know, I don’t know what your concept of commitment is.  You know, we do certain things for the church, we might do this, or do that.  Sometimes we do it as a labor of love and sometimes we do it as an obligation.  If it’s an obligation, we find that the strength of it soon begins to evaporate and dissipate.  Then we come to the conclusion one day that, “I don’t want to do this any more.”  Or what we do, we do it in a half-mannered attitude.  Hallelujah.  You know, there are many people that have expressed a desire to come out and work for First Fruits.  Some of those have had the word of the Lord, and some of those have had something of a religious perception.  I tell you what, in the heat of the day you can tell the difference because I want to tell you, when you get down on your hands and knees and you begin to pull weeds, and it’s ninety-two degrees, and it’s ninety-nine percent humidity, and you’re working, working, working, that row just gets longer and longer and longer… I was out there with my grandkids and we were picking potatoes and one of them said “Are we gonna do another row?”  I said, “Well, every time you ask me, it’s one more row.”  So this one, not my grandchild, but this little boy comes and says, “Isn’t it lunchtime?”  I said, “Do you see anything to eat?”  I said, “You have to work until I say it’s time to go.”  But you can tell the difference.  You can tell the difference.  Brethren, it’s no different in the things of God with regard to church.  Church should be you and I – our whole life.  Not “church church” as we have known church, but church as a body of people coming together, striving to do the will of God, bringing forth the kingdom!  You know, I don’t work to make a living.  I work so that I might have the ability to perpetuate the kingdom of God.  My money doesn’t go into a bank that goes into a social security account so that I might have some plush, or I might have some sort of retirement fund.  I don’t plan to retire.  I’m gonna be like Enoch, Lord willing.  I’m gonna walk out of my reality of humanism into the reality of God!  And what was once an Asbill is going to be Christ.  Hallelujah.  Working, working, working, working. 

God does different things with different people.  Moves them through different sets of circumstances – I understand that.  But I want to tell you something.  There is one factor that is common to all people who have heard the word of sonship and that is that the goal that God has set before them is the same!  The means to get there is different.  But nevertheless, those means begin to fall to the side.  Put them away, move them back here, move them over there, denying this, denying that… They are moving for your set of circumstances – circumstances that are designed to bring forth Christ within you.  Loose!  My God.  Why are you still sitting in your chairs? 

You know, I can just share with you what God has shared with me.  That’s all I can share with you.  I can only tell you of my personal experience in God.  You know, I am a very responsible person.  Very responsible.  My father taught me responsibility.  As a result of that, I taught my children responsibility.  You have to take care of your home, you have to work, you have be diligent and work, work, work, work, work!  And all of my children are good hard workers.  But I came to an understanding one time – not that all that is bad, it all is good, but it was not channeled in the right direction.  It was motivated from a human perspective, for a human environment that is temporal, that is changing daily.  I didn’t know the environment of the world out here was going to be what it is now when I was teaching my children to be worldly responsible!  You know, what really brought it home to me, I was talking to a sister here the other day, and she was talking to me about her children.  She said the Lord spoke to her down in her basement one day, and He said, “You know what?  You’re raising your children unto yourself.”  My God.  I got to thinking about that.  Yes.  That’s exactly what we do.  It is always me this, me that, me everything.  It says in the scriptures that a man’s children are like arrows in a quiver (Psalm 127).  We were looking up the verse today, in the car out there this morning.  What do you do with arrows?  Whither they go thou knowest not.  You shoot them out.  Arrows are weapons of war.  You know, sometimes an arrow doesn’t get treated very well.  It doesn’t only do damage to what it hits, sometimes it gets broken and the point gets dulled, but the point I’m trying to make is that there is something of an idea, there’s something of a thought that we need to have with regard to eternity and the position and the place that God has and God wants and God is going to get!  As we raise our children unto Him, unto HIM… if I’m not there it makes no difference!  Makes no difference, none!  Because the Father is there.  Wherever they go I can’t always be here, there, everywhere.  I can’t always be following them up and telling them this and telling them that, but the Father can.  He’s omnipresent.  If I raise them up to believe in Him, believe in the reality of His kingdom, everything that they are doing is focused not for the point of being responsible human beings in a society that is changing….  The society is finished, do you understand?  Ichabod has been written upon its wall.  God has pronounced, MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN.  Belshazzar’s kingdom is coming down!  What am I going to teach my children about that?  How am I going to teach them to survive in a society that won’t let them survive unless THEY conform to ITS way of thinking?  What am I going to do with my children?  What are my children going to do?  Well, I’ll tell you what’s going to happen.  In the midst of all of the destruction, they are going to be sorely pressed.  Sorely pressed.  It’s only for the mercy of God, you know, that I can cry out to God, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner, I have missed the mark, I have fallen short in my position of parenthood, I have not done what You have required of me, I would ask You to have mercy upon me and upon my children!”  Repentance begins where?  At the house of God, which house we are.  There is a repentance that needs to be worked within our soul. 

You know, I know a family, you don’t know them, but I know them.  Every time that one of the children does something wrong, it’s always somebody else’s fault.  Its always because of this situation, that situation – of course, you’re not guilty of that, are you?  It’s always somebody else’s fault.  But you know something, in the ministry, what I found out?  There are two sides to every story and if you are looking at it from a human perspective, the side that you think is right is usually the side that’s wrong.  If you’re not looking at it from a perspective that is God, your sense of rightness will be tainted.  You’re not looking down from the Alpha and the Omega and everything in between.  We all have desires and aspirations, and we put those desires, those aspirations upon our children, and then we want to push them into a mold to make them fit so that that thing that we have in our minds comes to fruition and we can say, “Oh my, isn’t he such a good young man, isn’t she such a good daughter.”  Oh yeah, we go around bragging about our children, when it’s really because of the mercy of God, without understanding the reality of what we’ve really done.  In spite of what we’ve done, God has circumvented our situation to bring salvation! 

Do you want your land healed?  Come on.  You want your land healed?  It says, Humble yourselves therefore before the mighty hand of God.  Humble yourselves therefore before the hand of God (2 Chronicles 7:14).  There’s a humbling – I came into this word on a humbling note.  Humble, humble, humble, humble, humble.  Humble, always humbling, always humbling.  Every time I get a little puffed up, God has been very faithful to bring me into yet another humbling experience.  Mine is never done privately.  I don’t know what it is, maybe I’m just such a stubborn, hard-headed individual, mine is never very private.  If that weren’t bad enough, I have to get up and testify about it to everybody!  Because it is the only thing that I have to testify to that is a reality to me, that and the experience that I have got as it has worked in my life to bring redemption!  Loose!  Hallelujah!  How much humbling have we done?  How much soul-searching?  Let every man examine himself.  We think it’s just for the last supper, right?  We think it’s for the time of communion.  We will spend five minutes looking at ourselves and talking to God.  “Oh let’s see, I did that, or I did that, or I did that, Lord, blah, blah, blah, blah.”  Let every man examine himself.  You know what an examination is, when they give you a tough examination?  I took a contractor’s test and it took me four hours!  Four hours.  Four hours of intense thinking, and that’s tough for me.  To think for four hours straight?  My goodness.  It’s a whole lot easier to get up and start preaching and talking, than it is for me to start thinking.  Yet it says, Examine yourself, examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5) – not your neighbor, not your husband, not your wife, not your children, not your parents.  Who?  You!  Me!  That’s a new technique, that’s a new thought – me! 

You know, God is so merciful to me.  I get up in the morning, I go stand before my mirror… I open my eyes.  Gotta put my glasses on…My God.  It looks like my dad.  I see Dad staring back at me.  I say, “I don’t want it!”  What’s worse yet is sometimes I not only see Dad, but on the other side I see my older brother.  I don’t want it!  I don’t want it!  I don’t want it!  That’s not my destiny, that’s not my calling!  Devil, you’re a liar!  God, bring Your fire, bring Your humility, bring Your circumstance, whatever it takes, begin to purge this vessel!  Purge it from the top of its head to the tip of its toes.  Work out my salvation, my God!  Create the fire!  Let me walk through it!  Let me see whether or not I come out not smelling like smoke!  I don’t think they just came out not smelling like smoke, I think they came out with the scent of heaven on them (Daniel 3)!  I don’t know, maybe it’s just my vivid imagination.  I don’t think it is, but maybe, maybe, maybe it’s just my imagination – sometimes I think I’m there.  I smell, I see, I touch.  I can sense heaven so strongly – I’m experiencing the thing that’s going on in the midst of the thing!  Smelling of heaven.  Have you ever smelled heaven?  The sweetness of the aroma of that celestial city that wafts across your nose, that does something other than activate your saliva glands and make your stomach grumble?  It exposes the leanness of my soul.  Just take a deep breath.  One time I walked outside and, my goodness, it certainly wasn’t the environment, and I took a deep breath and I could just smell heaven.  You know, you just want to inhale it.  If I could just take a deep enough, long enough breath, maybe I’ll be there.  Have you ever heard heaven with your ears?  I remember one time I was in a dream and in the dream, heaven just opened up before me, such a lovely melody, and I was walking down this hall, because I was being drawn by this lovely melody.  It was like laughter and singing all at the same time, sweet, not harsh, not loud, not raucous, but just sweet and drawing.  It was drawing me down the hall.  I was just walking down the hall.  I wanted to hear it and as I came to the wall, it opened up and I was getting ready to step over into it and somebody said, “You can’t go yet.  You can’t go yet.  It’s not your time, it’s not your place, you can’t go.”  I said, “But I want to go!  Let me in, let me through, let me in, it’s so lovely!  Let me in!”  He said, “No, it’s not your time.”  Hallelujah.  Have you ever smelled it?  Have you ever heard it?  John says, “The word of life we have tasted, we have handled with our hands (1 John 1:1).”  Hallelujah.  My God.  Hallelujah. 

Love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, with all of thy heart.  With all of thy mind.  With all of thy strength.  Anything other than that falls short of the mark.  Paul said, “I press.”  You know, we have examples in the scripture.  Do you think that they were just testimonies of men that lived so that we might know that they were godly men?  They set standards.  They gave their blood, they gave their ultimate sacrifice.  Agabus came and said “The man whose girdle this is, so shall he be bound, and he will be brought before Rome” (Acts 21:10).  And Paul said, “Brethren, why do you trouble me?  Do you not know that I have already lost my life?  And I am under the command and dictate of God to bring forth His kingdom!”  He had a destiny!  He had an appointment in front of Nero!  We go to church Sunday.  Maybe Wednesday.  And sometimes on the Bible study nights, maybe how we feel considering our indigestion and our backs and our feet and our children and all of the things that are going on, or feel that we have been to church too much. 

When we were in California, I drove ninety-five miles every day one way to make a living.  I did that for over a year.  Ninety-five miles over, ninety-five miles back.  It wasn’t “in-the-country” road driving.  It was not like driving out here on 151 or 61 with a few cars.  We’re talking bumper to bumper Bay-area traffic.  And then I have seen fellowships where people wouldn’t drive twenty-five to thirty minutes through heavy traffic in order to attend a service.  “It’s too difficult.”  Yet some of those people will travel across the country to go on vacation or to facilitate some desire that they have that is unfulfilled.  They need more clothes, they need more this, more that, more furniture, whatever it is that they need.  What do you think that “that” is?  How do you think that “that” is accorded or legislated or written down in the economy of God?  How does that measure up to the principle, to the concept of loving the Lord your God with how it says we are to love God?  Listen to me, brethren.  I’m not trying to put my mold on you.  God forbid.  God forbid.  You have to come to a conclusion, you have to come to your own position of commitment and revelation as to the extent of the requirement that God lays upon you.  But I cannot, I cannot in good conscience hold my peace about what I believe is the spiritual principle of what God is going to require of you and I at the end of the day when you and I end up before the throne of God!  Hallelujah.  You know, we’re all going to be there.  He says no man entereth the kingdom carrying his knapsack (Luke 18:24, Mark 10:24).  We’re not going to even carry our name.  There’s a new name, a new name written!  You know, it’s really a prophetic word, do you understand that?  Because when you were born, God saw your destiny out there, what it could be in the midst of humanity.  He knew precisely the nature, the quality and the thing that needed to be worked within your fabric.  He knew it.  He knew it!  And He took it, and He wrote it on that heavenly stone.  He does that, a name that is consistent with the nature of heaven.  And we want to hang on to the fragments of our humanity!  We want to hang on to the fragments of self.  It is ridiculous.  You know, it’s really like grass and gold.  It’s really like grass and gold.  We’re hoarding grass when we could have gold.  We’re compiling grass.  Piling it up.  Grass, grass, grass, more grass, more grass, more grass.  What was it Job said?  Naked came I into this world and naked shall I go out of it.  Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).  Hallelujah. 

Brethren, we are living in a very, very serious time.  We are making decisions, and the decisions we’re making – some of those decisions are going to be irreversible decisions.  Why?  Not because God isn’t gracious.  Not because God can’t do something else.  It’s because God CAN do something else, and God WILL do something else because God is working toward His time schedule, not yours or mine.  Hallelujah.  You and I have to make a decision.  We have to make a decision as to whether or not we really believe that what we’re hearing is the Word of God!  Now, you can go out of here and go about your business, raising your children, doing your work, and waiting for Jesus to come, or you can go out of here making a decision to hasten the day of His appearing, of redeeming the time.  Hallelujah.  Hallelujah. 

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves…  2 Chronicles 7:14 …shall humble themselves.  Humble, humble.  Does anybody have a good definition of “humble”?  Okay.  Let me read you a definition of humble.  This is the Strong’s Concordance.  The number is 3665, you might want to write that down in the margin of your Bible.  It says: to humble, subdue, bring low, bring down, subjection, to be humble, be humbled, be subdued, be brought down, be low, be under, be brought into subjection.  Is there any doubt about what it means to be humble?  It means a very confining, constraining set of circumstances. 

Let me share with you what I believe as a Christian, as a son of God, as a man that desires to be a son of God, as a man that has submitted himself to the will of God – not that the will of God is perfectly being worked out in this frame, but God sees to it that He brings what correction I need.  But I believe that because of that position, because of that belief, that I am under the control of God.  Not that I’m doing everything that God wants me to do, but God is over my environment.  Hello?  Are you following what I’m saying?  He’s over my environment.  He’s in charge of it.  Because basically what I’ve done, my act of obedience is I have walked out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.  And as long as I abide in the light, I am under that authority.  He has control over my environment.  Now, what do I mean by that?  I’ll tell you what I mean by that. 

I was rather distressed one day about First Fruits and some of the inabilities that we have because of different sets of circumstances, and I was going to God, and basically I was complaining about Him putting me into a place, giving me a responsibility, and then not giving me the tools by which to do it.  How would you like to go out on a job and somebody says to you, “Build this house.”  You have all of the lumber, but you don’t have power, you don’t have an electric saw, you don’t have the nails, you don’t have the hammer.  And yet, there is an expectation that you will do the job.  Of course, you would say, “O yeah, sure, praise the Lord, I’ll have it up here in a jiffy.”  Well, that wasn’t my attitude.  I was complaining to God about the situation.  And God said, “You have a wrong perspective.”  Can you imagine that?  “You have a wrong perspective.”  You know, I’m a responsible person – but, you know, a friend of mine says, “Let another man sing your praises,” but its really not that I’m singing praises, I just want you to understand the environment in which I am in and what I have to deal with with regard to me.  I am a responsible person.  You give me a job to do, you say, “Do this job,” and I will do whatever I can to do the job!  I will work at it to my best ability, I will put everything I have into doing what you’ve given me to do.  I’m a responsible person.  And so that responsibility was something, I suppose, that was motivating me to complain because I was not – I am not able to do what I know needs to be done.  I am frustrated in not being able to do it, so I’m complaining. 

Of course, you never do that, right?  God said to me, “You have a wrong perspective.”  I said, “What do You mean, the wrong perspective?”  Of course, you wouldn’t talk to God like that, would you?  I said, “I don’t have a wrong perspective.  I’m doing the very best I can.”  He said, “You have a wrong perspective.”  And I said, “Okay, what is wrong about my perspective?”  He said, “Well, you are looking at First Fruits as an objective, and you are looking at it as a – what is the word – you’re looking at it as, well, a goal, but more than that.  He was dealing with my pride, you understand.  He said, “You’re looking at it as something of a medal which you might hang on your chest, as an accomplishment that you have done on the basis of what I’ve told you to do.”  He said, “That’s a wrong perspective.”  He said, “I did not create you for First Fruits.  I created First Fruits for you.”  Are you following my thinking?  Are you following God’s thinking?  He didn’t create me to do the very best thing that I could do for First Fruits, although He knew that I would do the very best thing that I could do and end up being frustrated because it couldn’t be done.  But He created all of the things, and allowed all of the troubles that come with First Fruits as a means to work something of His nature within me!  So, First Fruits is not the objective.  God is the objective. 

Now, you can take that and apply it to any situation, you can take that and apply it to any life that is under this word.  Whatever the situation is, it is designed not for you to better the situation, the situation is designed to better you, and bring forth the reality of God and His kingdom!  My goodness.  Change my perspective?  Repent?  Humble?  I spent a long time before the Lord repenting of my belligerent presumption with regard to First Fruits.  Does that change my work habit?  Absolutely.  It makes me a little more diligent.  It makes me a little bit more aware.  It makes me a whole lot less frustrated.  Hello?  Because it’s not my problem.  It’s not my problem!  You got rebellious kids?  It’s not your problem!  Hello?  It’s God’s problem.  It’s God’s problem.  And there’s something of a reality of God that you’re going to have to have, you and I, because I have one, you know.  I have one, hidden out there in the West.  It’s not my problem, it’s God’s problem!  If I am diligent, if I am working under the auspices of the unction of the Holy Ghost, moving in the manner to bring forth the reality of the kingdom, if I am working to love the Lord my God with all of my energy, all of my focus, all of my time, all of my finances, all of my being is being invested in the kingdom of God, then God has a responsibility to begin to reach out into these other peripheral areas that I have no control over!

We do not put God to the test because we are afraid.  We’ve got house payments, car payments, clothes payments, phone payments, all of these things crowding around and they’re all chattering “Pay me, pay me, feed me, feed me, feed me.  Feed me, feed me, feed me, O my mail, bill, bill, bill, bill, bill, bill, bill, bill, bill.”  Do you know what it costs to travel today?  And yet, God says, “Go.”  I said, “I can’t go, I’ve got all these bills!”  “Just go!”  He didn’t say, “I’ll help you out,” He said “Go!”  My goodness.  There’s something of a requirement, there’s something of an expense, there’s something of being expended that is required!  There’s something of a responsibility that we have for those who make the grade, who make the – come on, brethren.  When there’s one in the midst of you that says, “I am committing my life to God,” and he begins to step out on the basis of the word of the Lord, we have a corporate responsibility.  We have a corporate responsibility.  “Oh, praise the Lord.”  I’m telling you something, did you know God raises up individuals that make certain concessions and commitments to judge the rest of us?  Do you know that?  I’m telling you what God does – this is God theology, this is God-ology, this is how God operates, this is how God works! 

If you don’t believe me, turn over there and read about Noah in Hebrews.  Hello?  It says that Noah, obedient to the Word of God, did what?  He did what God told him to do.  He invested his life.  He invested his family, he invested his financial resources, whatever they may have been.  He neglected the things that were natural in order to obtain the goal of building the ark, and it says by his obedience to the Word of God, God condemned the rest of the world.  It was Noah’s right of obedience that brought damnation and hell upon the face of the earth. 

Now, if your Bible says something different, you tell me about it, but that’s what my Bible says.  That’s what my Bible says.  I’ve seen little children, growing up under the admonition of the Lord, stand up and begin to move in righteousness and bring judgment upon their parents.  If my people… Let us not drink or eat damnation unto ourselves… You cannot separate communion to a particular time, a particular place, a particular hour.  The act is nothing more than a physical representation of what God is doing in the spiritual realm.  First the natural, then the spiritual.  There’s communion going on in your fellowship with the Body of Christ.  As you partake of the Word, and as you begin to feast upon God, and as you are meditating and fellowshipping with one another, come on!  He said, “Let every man examine themselves!”  We’re talking about working out our salvation with fear and trembling. 

We have fallen very, very, very short of fulfilling the obligation of righteousness.  You know, brethren, I personally don’t want the commendation of, “You’re scarcely in.”  “You’re here,” my mother used to say, “by the skin of your teeth.”  “You’re here by virtue of the Blood and the Blood alone.”  No, no, I don’t want that.  I don’t want that for me, I don’t want that for you.  I want to hear, “Well done.  Well done.  Well done.  Well done!”  I don’t care what men say about me, I don’t care what their opinion is of the world, I don’t care any about that!  What I care about is, “Well done!”  And what do you think it’s encompassing?  Loving Him.  Loving Him.  We haven’t even got to the next part of it, you know, of loving your neighbor.  We haven’t even passed the first step.  We’re trying to get up on the throne.  We’re like little babies crawling up the steps, fighting over the position of the place of authority, for that place at the right hand of God at the throne, the throne of God.  And we haven’t even gotten up over the first step.  Loving Him.  Loving Him.  Loving Him.  Loving Him.  Loving Him.  LOVING HIM!  Loving Him.  Loving Him.  Hallelujah. 

Well, praise the Lord.  You know, I read a book one time called Bruchko.  It’s about a young man that went to Columbia.  He was nineteen years old.  He had a limited knowledge of God.  All he had was a desire for God.  That was all he had.  He had no revelation of the end time, all he had was a desire to save the heathen in the jungles of Columbia.  That’s all he had.  Nineteen years old.  You know, he knocked on every door, he tried to do everything he could to go.  He was rejected by mission boards, didn’t have the theological background, would have had to go into theological “cemetery” and come out a dead man before they would send him to a dead people.  So he just took it upon himself, he took it upon himself – would to God we could have some of that foolishness!  He did a marvelous thing over there.  I’m talking about a man that had the tenacity and the right perception of salvation.  He didn’t have an understanding of the end time, but nevertheless, what he had was enough to get him to invest himself entirely!  Would to God we had some of that tenacity and perseverance as well as determination.  Can you imagine what it would be if you had a group of people, which were as dedicated?  We have had more Word, more manifestation of Spirit.  You know, one of the things I like about Brother Ravenhill is all the statistics he gives you.  He tells you how many people have been saved, he tells you how many people are professing to be filled with the Holy Ghost.  You know it’s into the hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of people.  And yet it says that the people in Jerusalem – what were they, a thousand people, maybe?  They started out with twelve, and it says, these are they that, what?  Turned the world up-side down (Acts 17:6)!  If twelve men filled with the Holy Ghost could do that, what could you do, what should be happening with the millions of people who are professing to be Christians?  Narrow it down, push them off, separate them…, what about the sons of God?  How many people do we have that have a reality and have heard the Word, and have seen the power and the demonstration of the moving of God, and yet we sit, as it were, encapsulated in our humanity and being pressed down by our environment.  And oftentimes disgusted, depressed and defeated.  It should not be that way. 

I got up this morning, I had a rough night last night, but I got up this morning with the words, “You’ve got the power in the name of Jesus, You’ve got the power in the name of the Lord, Though Satan rages we will not be defeated, We’ve got the power in the name of the Lord.”  You’ve got the power.  You’ve got the presence.  All you have to do is commit to it and utilize it.  God help us.  God help us.  God help us to rededicate, I mean DEDICATE our lives to His purposes, His plan and His destiny.  God bless you.  God bless you.  God bless you.


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