The culture around every person today screams, "Be who you want to be!" The hidden agenda within this proclamation of today is as long as you look like everyone else that is trying to stand out. Ever notice how those that attempt to stand out more from others or those that try to be individuals begin to look like others? This is because it is the same voice of deception attempting to make each person something opposite of what God desires for them to be. In the book of Judges, there is one example in particular that thought he was a nobody, small and was going to amount to nothing, but God had other plans for him. The children of Israel cried unto the Lord for help and God sends a man, a prophet, to remind them of what He has done, but the people do not obey the voice of God (Judges 6:7-10). This prophet was sent by God to give a message to the people, but this cleared the way for Gideon to come in behind the prophet to lead the people, but he had to first become who God wanted him to be. Gideon was hiding while threshing out wheat when God sends a messenger to Gideon (Judges 6:11-12). This messenger calls Gideon a mighty man of valor (Judges 6:12). For a man hiding from everyone this is a declaration of what should be in God’s eyes. There may be areas of life that a person feels like Gideon, small, a nobody, or even worthless, but this is NOT what God says about anyone. These are lies from the enemy, Satan, that attempt to beat down individuals and hold them back from becoming who God wants those individuals to be. If a person gives their heart and life to Jesus Christ as their Savior (John 3:3), puts on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18), and stands against the spiritual enemies, that person will have victory through Jesus Christ. When a person has a relationship with Jesus Christ, uses the Word of God to understand who God wants them to be, and allows the Holy Spirit and a local pastor to mature them (Ephesians 4:11-12), that person becomes who God wants them to be. Once Gideon obeyed the first commands God had given him, Gideon began to build confidence in himself and his hearing of God's commands turning him into a mighty man of valor. This process made the messenger's declaration come true about Gideon. God has plans and purposes for each person born on the earth (Jeremiah 29:11), so the world, spiritual enemies, and our own flesh are usually our biggest hindrances to becoming who God wants us to be. Christians must overcome this deception of being whoever they desire to be and become who God says to be. It is within being who God wants that the perfect will of God is found and maintained as that Christian walks with God every day. Once Gideon became who God wanted him to be, Gideon was able to lead an army for God and do great and mighty things (Judges 6-8). Are you becoming what culture or your flesh desires or are you becoming who God wants you to be? The best plans and purposes for each person's life are found in becoming who God wants them to be. Who are you going to be? Find out more information about our church at abundantgracesparta.org.
Anyone can probably testify to the selfishness within people of today’s time. It seems the more time passes the more people, in general, become more self-absorbed, self-centered, dishonorable to others, and lawless (Matthew 24:12). This can be noticed in the way some people drive, talk, and especially in the interactions among people in public even with strangers. Sadly, this lawlessness begins with seeds of rebellion and pride. This lawlessness includes being a lover of self, a lover of money, boastful, arrogant, a reviler, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, profane, unloving, irreconcilable, a gossiper, lacking self-control, a hater of good, a traitor, reckless, conceited, a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God, and having a form of religion but deny God’s presence in their lives (2 Timothy 3:1-5). The church is not exempt from this spirit of lawlessness. The more Christians should walk with Jesus Christ the more His character should be reflected in them as opposed to this lawlessness that so many live by (Colossians 2:6). Also walking with Jesus Christ should produce a gratitude which is the exact opposite of lawlessness and pride (Colossians 2:7). Lawlessness can be defined as what you want, when you want, how you want. Some may say, “That doesn’t sound bad”, but when a person breaks laws, especially the commandments of God, to receive what they want this creates a lawless person. A person may think, “We are not under the law”, but remember Jesus said, “Those that love Me keep my commandments” (John 14:15, John 15:10). Jesus did not place a timeline on this statement. God desires things to be decent and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). Decent and in order require a standard of operation to keep peace. Without having some kind of “law” things would descend into destruction very quickly. Laws do not keep God’s people from being free but they do establish boundaries for lawless people to know when they are doing something incorrect or wrong. God’s people should have the Word of God, also known as the Law of God, written on the tablet of their hearts (Proverbs 7:3) creating a distinction within them between what is right and what is wrong. When Christians do not make this distinction clear with their mouths and through their actions, they are no different than the perverted priests (Ezekiel 22:26) that were seeking self over God. Lawlessness will abound, but it should not abound in the lives of people that declare they love and serve the Law-giver, God. Jesus calls out the religious leaders that have the appearance of doing everything correctly through religion on the outside but are lawless on the inside (Matthew 23:28). Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), so His expectation of God’s people living by the holy standard of God has not changed. Anyone that practices sin is lawless (1 John 3:4). Anyone that loves God and practices righteousness does not live in sin (1 John 3:6). This does not mean they never sin, but they do not live in a repetition of committing or practicing sin, also known as lawlessness. Christians must be quick to repent and turn away from sin. Lawlessness is not of God and it should not be among His people. May Christians everywhere be determined to represent God with their very best and not be lawless people.
In today’s society more than ever, wolves seek to satisfy their own appetites rather than help others. Sadly, this can also take place within the church if the shepherd is not keeping a watchful eye on the sheep and the pastures they are in. Jesus warned against such individuals that would be disguised as harmless sheep but they are really vicious wolves (Matthew 7:15). This is one of many important reasons to have a God-ordained pastor that you submit to for not only feeding on the Word of God, but also for protection against enemies that come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). How do these people become wolves? They become filthy, and polluted, refuse to obey the voice of God, do not receive correction from the Word of God or the leaders of God, do not trust God, and stop drawing near to God (Zephaniah 3:1-6). How can these wolves be identified? The wolves can be identified by their fruit, also known as the way they act or live (Matthew 7:16). Wolves are cruel, greedy, destructive, and predatory. A person may say, “That would be easy to spot”, but these tendencies usually happen in private settings to not give away the wolf’s true identity until the proper time. One of the callings of a God-ordained pastor is to protect the sheep from such individuals. Just as a pastor is to be like Jesus shepherding God’s people, it is important to protect the sheep. Jesus protected not only the people that were being taken advantage of but also the house of God when He ran out the moneychangers from the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). Being like Jesus requires pastors to run off any wolves that would seek to harm the sheep of God. One of the issues of today’s time is when wolves call sheep to themselves from another flock. This is a dangerous situation that allows the wolf to have full access to these sheep without hindrance. These sheep are now open to anything the wolf desires to do. One sign of a wolf leader is they do not submit to a leader themselves for wisdom or guidance. They are instead a lone wolf gathering anyone to themselves for personal gain. Another sign of a wolf leader is they dishonor God, His house, and His people to receive recognition or attention for themselves (Ezekiel 22:27-28). Wolves also make themselves seem more important or more spiritual than they actually are. When wolves are hungry they will not spare the sheep and take as much as they want (Acts 20:28-30). The real leaders that have been ordained by God must stand against these wolves to protect the people assigned to them by God. Part of keeping out wolves requires pastors to rebuild the walls of righteousness to protect God’s people and house (Ezekiel 22:30). There are times that pastors must address these wolves within the congregation or at times call out wolf leaders to their congregation so the people do not become prey to any wolf. When God’s people know what righteousness is they will be less likely to fall prey to any wolf that is seeking personal gain. May Christians begin to see the wolves for what they truly are and may God-ordained pastors begin to call out wolves so others stay in the safety of the local church where God has called them to be fed and protected.