As we saw yesterday, we can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. If we do not obey, we cannot expect blessings to come. The good news is there is hope in the promises of God as we hold fast to his word. Jude 1:24 “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Obviously that kind of statement is not about man so it is important that we do not mix up God’s promises with man’s principles. I have often heard people talk about principles to live by. I took a quick peek at a few titles on Google. I saw spiritual principles to live by (nothing spiritual about them) or 101 life principles to live by and on and on they go. Then you have biblical principles. You have 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 24 and even 1500 biblical principles to live by and each one saying something different depending on what you wanted your principles to do for you. Now this isn’t all bad and I am sure we can glean some lessons from them but they won’t change your life, as the power of God’s promises will. What I mean by that is if you have not surrendered your heart, soul and mind to God, it won’t matter how closely you follow the principles to live by. If you have surrendered your life to Jesus, you won’t be looking for principles to live by, you will be led by the Spirit. Romans 8:14 “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” I think the problem is that we want this nice and tidy package of principles that we can follow as a guide because we don’t have the Spirit. Do this, follow this and this will happen. That type of thinking is usually when wealth is concerned. There are principles for everything from finances to getting along with others. What happens is people come up with principles and then add a verse to it to make it biblical. Just read the bible!
I believe that it is more important to have your life flow out of the promises God has given us in his word and that is where our hope comes from. Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth,” not from getting our ducks in a row or our principles numbered right. When we stand on the promises of God we have hope no matter what our situation is. 1 Kings 8:56 “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” Joshua 23:14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” Psalm 145:13 “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” These are awesome verses but we can’t just turn them into principles to live by. It is like saying the gates of hell will not prevail against us even if we have not submitted our lives to Jesus the Messiah the Son of God, no matter how many times you say it. Obedience leads to victory and disobedience leads to defeat. There were stipulations to live by in the Promised Land and those promises depended on obedience. No man will stand against was a promise but when they disobeyed the enemy stood against them. You can’t simply go through the bible and pick and choose verses that you think would make a good mantra. No matter how many times you repeat something, it isn’t going to make it happen. This is not Hinduism or Buddhism. This name it and claim it teaching that many teach in the church is dangerous. Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 1:15 “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.” Why isn’t God listening? 4 Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!” He then says 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Saying it over and over will not help.
You could be following some of these well laid out principles but still miss the promises God has you. For example you are seeking healing yet you do not submit to Jesus Christ. You faithfully start by saying "Hi, my name is...and I'm an”…. And then pray God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” yet you have no discernment or wisdom or belief that you can be totally set free because you have been taught that you can’t. Praying this prayer over and over is not going to change anything. This prayer is used by many 12 Step recovery groups. It is not remotely close to the Lord’s Prayer. Here is why in most cases saying this prayer is not going to work. In an introduction to AA, a pamphlet said, “Today we are willing to accept the idea that, as far as we are concerned, alcoholism is an illness, a progressive illness which can never be “cured,” but which, like some other illnesses, can be arrested. We agree that there is nothing shameful about having an illness, provided we face the problem honestly and try to do something about it. We are perfectly willing to admit that we are allergic to alcohol and that it is simply common sense to stay away from the source of our allergy. We understand now that once a person has crossed the invisible borderline from heavy drinking to compulsive alcoholic drinking, that person will always remain an alcoholic. So far as we know, there can never be any turning back to “normal” social drinking. “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic” is a simple fact we have to live with.” The invisible borderline and source is satan by the way and he can only be defeated by the power of God. In the 12 Steps, steps 2-6 say; 2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” Who is this God they refer to? It is obviously not the God, the father of Jesus Christ who sets us free or the Holy Spirit who empowers us to be free. Then you have others like Celebrate Recovery who have christianized the 12-step program and called them 8 Recovery Principles or 8 Ways to be Happy. They copied it and called it biblical. Rick Warren said, “This recovery program is based on God’s Word, the Bible. When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, he began by stating “Eight Ways to Be Happy.” Today we call them the Beatitudes. From a conventional viewpoint, most of these statements didn’t make sense. They sounded like contradictions. But when you fully understand what Jesus is saying, you’ll realize that these eight principles are God’s road to recovery, wholeness, growth, and spiritual maturity.” Oh so now the Beatitudes do make sense and voila, you have a recovery program sold around the world. What was Jesus thinking?
If you flip back a page to Matthew 4 you will see Jesus begin to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” And then you will see that “3 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Wow now that's a one-step program! But then in the chapter between 4 and 5, the one that the Holy Spirit forgot about and did not put it in because it would have messed the numbering up, we see Jesus teaching 8 Ways to be Happy. Remember the enemy is so arrogant it will always tell you up front there is a problem. The audacity to say the Beatitudes were a contradiction until Rick came along to give us full understanding. Elihu said to Job. Job 36:4 “Be assured that my words are not false; one who has perfect knowledge is with you.” The Holy Spirit knew that someday someone would clue into this missing happiness chapter and write a program to help the weakness of scripture that would sell millions of dollars worth of propaganda. Finally people did not need to be healed instantly from various diseases; instead they could spend years celebrating recovering.
God did not forget to include this program and its 8 steps for happiness; we have forgotten to follow the word of God. These principles are not Gods word nor are they from Him. Jeremiah 23:21 “I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied.” Jesus, Matthew 24:4 “answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” I like what one author said in a critique of Celebrate Recovery. “Let no one think that presenting these critical concerns about Celebrate Recovery in any way lessens the biblical obligation of the church to minister to those struggling with habitual sin. The issue is not whether we should minister, but how we should minister: man’s way or God’s way? Man’s way, or a mixture of biblical teaching and ungodly counsel, is contrary to God’s way. Man’s way leads to death. Applying Scripture to man’s way leads to a slower death, akin to what would result when pure water is added to a toxic drinking fountain. We desperately need to take heed to God’s admonition through the Prophet Jeremiah.” Jeremiah 2:13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” His article was based on Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs also says Proverbs 12:15 “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”
I think this is a good example of man developing principles instead of standing on the promises. Paul says in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” That pretty much describes powerlessness. Yes people distort this passage but as Peter says about Paul, 2 Peter 3:16 “He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” If you were to read just this part you would think there would be no hope of healing. What a sad statement to believe there is no healing for alcoholism or any other sickness for that matter. Paul then says this is no longer who I am. Romans 7:24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” And we turn the page. Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
We are not meant to live in captivity; we are to be free and you do not need a principle-based program to do it. You need the power of God. Deuteronomy 7:12 “If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. 13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 14 You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. 15 The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.” Then on the curse side we see Deuteronomy 28:27 “The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. 28 The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God— 59 the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. 60 He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. 61 The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed.” This happened because Deuteronomy 28:15 “However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you.”
Now you could celebrate recovering or you could become a new person and the old would be gone. We don’t need to stand on the principles; we need to stand on the promises of God. Jesus did not forget a chapter he wants us to wait on Him and be clothed with power. We can stand on his promises because we are heirs. Romans 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Galatians 3:29 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Ephesians 3:6 “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
God said Genesis 18:18 “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” The promise is Genesis 12:1 “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 15:1 “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 22:13 “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” 15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” We are heirs together in Christ Jesus.
But that is just one promise. Every day you look up at the sky you need to remember another promise which was made to David. These promises are fulfilled in obedience. 1 Chronicles 28:7 “I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.” 2 Samuel 7:25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight. 27 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” When Solomon became King he said, 1 Kings 8:15 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David.” 25 “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ 26 And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.”
It is really important that we seek the Lord with everything we have, not man made principles about Him but the Lord himself. If we want to see these promises continue we must listen to David’s charge to Solomon. 1 Chronicles 28:9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Deuteronomy 5:29 “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” 1 Samuel 2:30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” We are required to seek the Lord and remain in Him. John 15:4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” Yes many plans and principles will give the appearance of wisdom but they will not give the power of the Holy Spirit as described in the New Testament. If the church would stop looking for the next best program, or principle packed self help book and return to God, God said He would return to us. Zechariah 1:3 “Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.” This is what we are to do yet the church fails to return to Him who created them. Deuteronomy 32:5 “They are corrupt and not his children; to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation. 6 Is this the way you repay the LORD, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” Then we see the sickness of Egypt come upon us yet we still do not turn. We also see in Romans 1:22 “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” Most do not see the magnitude of this disaster. This due penalty will not be fixed by a Twelve Step program nor will it be fixed by a christianized copycat of it. Haggai 2:17 “I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not return to me,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 5:3 “Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.” Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.”
If we would return to God and follow His word Exodus 34:10 “Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.” Yes we will see healing but this just isn’t about being healed but spending eternity with God. John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” We need to stop settling for a dimly lit candle and call out to God to fill us with His Glory and Power. 2 Chronicles 7:1 “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Revelation 21:23 “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 22:3 “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Jesus said to Paul Acts 26:15 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Not only will be healed we will be ready to meet our savior. 1 Corinthians 15:51 “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
On the day of Pentecost everything changed as did the disciples and they went out in power. Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Peter said Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
Jesus said Luke 24:48 “You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” If we really want to see the true working of God, repent and wait until you are filled with the Holy Spirit or don’t wait and find a principle to hold to and slap a cheap band aide on it. It would be better to hold fast to the word of God and change people’s lives forever in the power of the Holy Spirit. Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Romans 16:25 “Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”