Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:
if any man hear my voice, and open the
door, I will come in to him, and sup with
him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20 

      Have you ever wished you could move a stop sign? Maybe relocate it to a more convenient spot on your normal route, or just pitch it out altogether? Perhaps you cautiously ignore certain stop signs altogether such as those that are situated in a rural setting that rarely see traffic. Maybe if no traffic police are in view, you simply do a “California stop” and roll right on through. Since we live in Idaho right across the border from Newport, WA, we drive through Newport often. At the time of this writing our usual “shortcut” is blocked off for roadwork, so we found the detour route across the railroad tracks. At that particular crossing one of the stop signs is set so far back from the railroad tracks that you can’t see for any distance down the tracks in either direction. Therefore, I stop at the stop sign, then drive a few feet forward, then stop and look again. That is one stop sign I’d like to move!

      Stopping twice may be a slight irritation, but getting slammed by a train is unthinkable. Trains never lose. All of this brings to mind the many “stop signs” God has put in His Word, signs that are for our benefit and well-being, yet how many of us have figured we were an exception to the rule, ignored God’s stop signs, broke His law in rebellion, and suffered the consequences? I have, and it’s called reaping what you sow, which is never fun and is always the hard way to learn.

      The Ten Commandments are a good example of some of the Lord’s stop signs beginning with “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” Exodus 20:3. Most people don’t give much thought to idolatry in our day and age, but it is still the number one offense against God. What people fail to stop and ask themselves is if Jesus is not LORD of all my life, then who or what is? What are my priorities, what are my goals, where do my affections lie, what am I living for, what do I think about the most, and what is of utmost importance to me? An honest examination of oneself in light of these questions can be tough, but are necessary. Jesus “said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” Luke 9:23. If we fail to deny ourselves the right to live our life on our terms, then we have made ourselves god. Therefore, if we are god, then we can call the shots and ignore God’s stop signs while putting up our own stop signs in an effort to control just how far God can come into our life. Letting God in “all the way” means there are no stop signs anywhere, in any way, whatsoever. We will answer to God for throwing up our stop sign in order to maintain “our right” to our life by such things as refusing to forgive others, failing to flee youthful lusts, ignoring widows and struggling single women, the fatherless and needy children, being a stumbling block to a weaker brother, being a respecter of persons, sowing seeds of discord among the brethren, loving pleasure more than loving God, giving way to envy, strife and bitterness, being covetous, exalting ourselves, bringing a reproach on the Gospel, (just to name a few) and in general any refusal to repent of any sin of commission and omission.

      Then Jesus went even further and said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” Luke 9:24-26. Jesus put His finger right on the core of the matter, which is the fact that we fallen humans do everything in our power to “save our lives” by maintaining as much control as possible over our lifestyles. Lifestyle is directly related to whatever culture and environment we are born into. It is what we know and are familiar with for either better or for worse. Therefore, whether we set our goal to escape an unpleasant lifestyle, or aim at keeping and adding to the lifestyle we prefer, the fact is, we are still trying to save ourselves, and when the LORD flashes His stop sign in front of us through our God-given conscience, or by His Word, or the admonitions, instructions, and rebukes of others, the automatic response is to ignore the warnings and either dash past the stop sign or finagle a way to relocate it.

      We do this by justifying why we are right in trying to save our life but the bottom line is we don’t trust God as much as we trust ourselves, which makes us our own god, and that takes us back to idolatry. This is why Jesus said if we try to save our life we will lose it. If we are busy saving our own life, living for ourselves and our own agendas and lusts, then there is no room for the Lord Jesus Christ. If we want all of God, He must have all of us. We cannot belong to the world part of the time, and Jesus some of the time. This is unhappy news for those who want Jesus for maybe an hour a week on Sunday morning, or need Him when tragedy strikes, or who hope He will show up when they take their last breath. But, if we are to believe every word from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we must totally “sell out” to God. And when we do, with all our heart, then our life will be saved.

      Jesus exposed the fact that those who try to save their life are, in fact, ashamed of Him, and oh! How the world is ashamed of the name of Jesus! The name of Jesus is an embarrassment to “refined” (prideful), “educated” (brainwashed), “religious” (deceived), and “wise” (foolish) people. His name is not to be spoken in public gatherings, the halls of Congress, at the workplace, schools or colleges, in speeches, movies (including “Christian-lite” movies), or on the news. You won’t read His name in the newspaper or other general publications, or on television (with the exception of so-called “Christian” TV where the non-threatening, non-controversial, easy-going, wimpy, “sweet Jesus” is mentioned.) On the other hand, “God” is freely mentioned. The word “God” is liberally spoken by Muslims, Mormons, Masons, Roman Catholics, Nazi’s, occultists, Universalists and other cultic and New Age groups, historians, archeologists, etc., and when there is a major natural disaster, they call it “an act of God”. While the post-modern church has been busy playing instead of praying, and becoming dulled down by motivational speakers (wolves in sheep’s clothing) and other “ear ticklers” the Bible’s “Stop sign” concerning the sin of twisting God’s Word in order to redefine the Majesty in the Heavens, the LORD God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, the true God of the Bible has been redefined by globalists to mean whatever “god,” or “force” you want to believe in and worship.

      Let’s read it again, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels”. Where are the men and women, and youth of today whose hearts are on fire for the living God? Where are those with a deep and burning passion for Jesus above all else? Where are the people who hunger and thirst after Christ, and who love Him and His Word more than all the silver and gold in the world? Where are the believers who long to see the lost come to Christ, to be discipled, rooted and grounded in Him, built up in their most holy faith and who go on to become torch bearers? How many “Christians” weep for the sins of this nation, the shedding of innocent blood, the resistance against all that is upright, lawful, pure, moral, and God honoring? How many pray for God’s mercy upon the unrepentant, careless, self-serving Laodicean Church?

      Are you ashamed of the Gospel? Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” Romans 1:6.

      A.W. Tozer wrote, “Many of us Christians have become extremely skillful in arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications. We arrange things so that we can get on well enough without divine aid, while at the same time ostensibly seeking it. We boast in the Lord but watch carefully that we never get caught depending on Him.” The Root of the Righteous, page 39. And, horror of horrors if anybody should see us if we are suddenly touched or overcome by the Holy Spirit and find ourselves moved to tears! Quick! Throw up a stop sign against anything emotional! Keep a hard heart and a stiff upper lip even though “Jesus wept,” Esau wept, Jacob wept, Joseph wept, Benjamin wept, King David wept, the Children of Israel wept, King Joash wept, King Hezekiah wept, the priests and Levites wept, Ezra wept, Mordecai wept, Job’s friends wept, Jeremiah wept, Peter wept, John wept and many others wept, including women, of course. Oh! But may it not be so with us! We have perfected the art of an emotionless Christianity, replete with perfected stoicism. Never mind that we are commanded to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” Romans 12:15. [Emphasis mine.] Tozer said, “God desires and is pleased to communicate with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills, and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the souls of the redeemed men and women is the throbbing heart of the New Testament.

      How can there be true revival if we insist on moving the stop signs because we are ashamed to confess the name of Jesus to others, afraid of what people think of us, resistant to His commandments, insistent of our own ways and “personal interpretations” of His Word, willfully ignorant of God and His ways, ignorant of the wiles of the devil and spiritual warfare, ignorant of Jesus’ commandments, and ignorant of prophecy that was written for us? How can we please God if we move the stop sign and place it at the far end of the broad path we have chosen so we can satisfy our lusts instead of paying attention to the stop sign?

      People who believe they are their own little god, having rejected love for the truth, are totally deluded about their true spiritual state; therefore, they have no problem redefining the true God of heaven to be whatever fits into their preferred concept of Him. Obviously, we are living in perilous times for many reasons, but to be brutally honest the falling away of the Church in these last days is the greatest peril of all because multitudes of souls are perishing without Christ. Oh, they may belong to a church, they may partake of communion, sing songs, join in church activities and social events, put money in the offering, and talk the talk but they put up a stop sign when it comes to walking the walk. And by that I mean the inner “daily walk.” God’s Word says, “Behold, Thou desirest truth in my inward parts; in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom” Psalm 51:6.

       There seems to be no end to the many stop signs that we either ignore or move out of the way altogether, but we do so at our own peril. “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man…” Genesis 6:3a. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” Hebrews 10:31. “ 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” 1 Peter 4:17? How frightening it is to see the flippancy that has crept into the house of God like a poisonous vine. The Body of Christ needs to wake up, be vigilant and sober, discern the “poisonous vines” that tend to be ignored while flippancy towards God’s holiness, the Word of God, and sin becomes the norm. Christian, we need to be diligent and watchful, educating ourselves concerning doctrines of demons, false prophets, and wolves in sheep’s clothing in these end days that either appear as harmless or come as an “angel of light.”

      We are warned in 2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”. There is great deception in a “form of godliness” that “denies the power.” We must recognize that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead, that He is not an “it” or a “force” but the Spirit of God. The power we need is the Person and work of the Holy Ghost in us and in our midst. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me . . .unto the uttermost part of the earth” Acts 1:8. We will never be able to walk in the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit if we put our stop sign up to keep Him out. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” Ephesians 4:30. Acts 7:51 says, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” And, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Quench not the Spirit.”

      What grieves the “holy Spirit of God”? He is grieved whenever we willfully sin and run past God’s stop signs. He is grieved when we turn away from him and shun His Word so we can live life on our terms. He is grieved when we bring a reproach on the Gospel by our words, and deeds. He is grieved over sin, iniquity (immorality), rebellion and unrighteousness in the church. He is also grieved over the churches where He is unwelcome, shut out and given no opportunity to move on people’s hearts because of the restrictions of man’s “church as usual” timeline and programs. He is grieved when He is quenched (stifled) and His gifts are disallowed, ignored, shunned, or rejected. He is grieved when He begins to come down (manifest His presence) and move on the Body, but is interrupted or ignored because people do not discern His Holy presence. He is grieved when false prophets, heresies, and doctrines of demons go undiscerned in the Body, and grieved when the Great Commission to make disciples (followers of Christ) is not obeyed. He is grieved when He is resisted, quenched and rejected. And, He is vexed when He is present to heal, both spiritually and physically, but is disregarded by the silliness or flippancy of man. Oh, how the church needs to discern the presence of the Spirit!

      Without the Holy Spirit there is no life, no conviction, no comfort, and no power. Jesus said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” John 16:13, 14. If you are thirsty and dry, the question is have you put your stop sign up against the Holy Spirit and grieved, resisted or quenched Him? If so, humble yourself, repent and ask the Giver of gifts to fill you with His Spirit.

      Running a stop sign is dangerous; it could cost you your life, or the lives of others. It doesn’t matter if your vehicle is plastered with all kinds of clever bumper stickers—what matters is if you obey the law or not. The same holds true in the spiritual realm. Ignoring God’s stop signs in His Word could cost you your soul regardless of how many years you have played church. The truth is neither your pastor, your church, your creeds, your religious platitudes, doctrines or religious affiliations, religious works, religious titles, religious sentiments, nor anything else that you depend upon can save your soul except a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior who will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire. “Ye must be born again.”

      Are you ready to put down your stop sign?