Friday, August 18, 2006

The Way of Cain - Week III: Victory over Idleness


ADONAI, Teach me the way of Your laws; keeping them will be its own reward for me.  Give me understanding; then I will keep Your Torah; I will observe it with all my heart.   Guide me on the path of Your mitzvot (commandments), for I take pleasure in it.  Bend my heart toward Your instructions and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; with Your ways, give me life (Psalm 119:33-35).  May You do this for the GLORY OF YOUR NAME and the GOOD OF YOUR SERVANT!  It is in, by and through our LORD Jesus' Name I ask, Amen.

“Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? "If you do well, will not {your countenance} be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.~ ADONAI {to Cain, Genesis 4:7}

Sh'ma, Yisra'el!  ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad [Hear (Obey), Isra'el! ADONAI our God, ADONAI is one]; and you are to love ADONAI your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources.  ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5

"Words!  They mean things", my husband always insists.  And he is right.  

D'varim is the Hebrew word for Deuteronomy meaning simply and powerfully  'Words'.  As in 'the Words spoken from Moshe (Moses) from ADONAI to the people of Israel.   

Let us look at a most important word, Sh'ma.  When the Sh'ma is spoken (the passage above is referred to as such), Hebrew people hearken back to Deuteronomy 6.   This is a concept that has been lost in translation.  Sh'ma does not simply mean 'hear'.  In the Hebrew mind, it means 'Hear and Obey!' for the two are not distinguishable in the Kingdom!  And yet, in our arrogance before the LORD, we often substitute hearing for obeying...thus, sin has made its entrance into the Garden. 

Lest you think that this study is a legalistic approach to a life in the Messiah, I implore you that a life in Christ IS all about motivationWHY we do what we do...so I shall attempt to expound.

First, let us peer into Romans 8:28 - "All things work together for good for those who LOVE God... (I am stopping here to explore what LOVING GOD actually means.)


Yeshua said that IF we LOVE HIM (Who is God), we WILL KEEP (and be keeping) HIS COMMANDMENTS!  


Joh 14:15 - Show Context
"If you love me, you will keep my commands;


Joh 14:23 - Show Context
Yeshua answered him, "If someone loveme, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.


Joh 14:24 - Show Context
Someone who doesn't love me doesn't keep my words -- and the word you are hearing is not my own but that of the Father who sent me.

Our 'keeping His commandments' is indicative of our LOVE for the Mashiach!  My Sisters, do you see the connection between LOVING GOD and KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS?  Sh'ma, Followers of The Most High!  So let us see how this verse may be translated:  

“All things work together for good for those who KEEP GOD’S COMMANDMENTS and are called according to His Purpose.”



In God's Holy Eyes, the equivalency of 'our Love' is 'our Keeping'.  Don't you feel the same way about your children's love for you?  We often say (whether it's fully kept or not is another article entirely) to our children, "My Mouth...Your Feet!" because there is often a major gap between the two.    Go figure.


I used to believe that I could be as lazy, unprepared and undisciplined in the Kingdom field (which begins in our homes) as I wanted, and God would still bless me....because afterall, ‘all things work together for good’, right?


Please tell me your toes are hurting!  Because mine do every time the LORD brings this Message before me...as well as paining my heart.  


Within the Seed of this seemingly harsh Truth lies the enormous Kingdom Power to set you and I really and unquestionably free from our captive thinking and 'less than living'.  This is what Yeshua expounded on Himself in John 8.  (You can read it here.)


Because God's Will and God's Word are intertwined, we often miss that Transforming Factor through which we are able to determine and discern His will for our lives in any area.  We mistake 'having previously known Him' in our past for 'presently loving Him' in our today as we walk in accordance with His will and forward into pre-determined futures.  


In other words, we long for 'an answer or direction' by His Hand very often and yet He stops us dead in our tracks to ask 'do you love Me?'  He reminds us that to 'Love Him' is to 'love others' whereby we are transformed (firstly) THAT we may discern His will for our lives (secondly).  Notice the progression from being transformed by love....to knowing His will in love.   If we are not careful and diligent in guarding our hearts, we cannot help but blatantly forsake bearing fruit in the present for the vain and futile pursuit of a divine revelation in the future.  That is the most common mistake of the 'seasoned' Follower.  Our Father is glorified as we bear much fruit.


Loving Him is not checking off a 'to do list' from our spiritual handy-dandy notebooks.  Loving Him and loving others is HIS will for our lives...but first we must make daily sacrifices.  Sh'ma!


I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God's mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please Him; it is the logical "Temple worship" for you.  In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the 'olam hazeh (this world). Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed. ~ Romans 12:1-2 (CJB)


The LORD asked Peter thrice of his love for Him.  Why?  Was it because He did not know?  No!  It was because He wanted Peter to intensely examine his heart that he may recognize the Love Factor of  'My Mouth...your Feet in Love'.   Yeshua wanted Peter to be very aware of his own (deceptive) heart's motives that often keep us from walking The Way of Christ and cause us to miss His will TO LOVE.  The Disciples walked side by side with the Mashiach (Messiah) and yet they missed the point all too often.  It is great arrogance on our part to believe that just because we have been attending our churches religiously that we are walking in accordance with His will TO LOVE.     "Do you love Me, Peter?  (Then) Feed My Sheep!"  (You can read of this account in John 21:15-19)


I said all of that to ask...'What is your MOTIVE for what you are doing FOR Yeshua?   So, you’ve been rigid and disciplined in restoring order to your life, and yet you feel no fruit growing from your branch.  You have no shalom in your being!  Friends, perhaps it is simply because you have been pursuing excellence without LOVE.  Your motivation has been to 'complete the task' at any cost...at the expense of your relationships (which is what life is all about).  And so ADONAI has sent leanness into our souls because we have attempted to 'sow our own seed' under the guise of the Messiah's Kingdom.


13 They soon forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel, 14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, And tested God in the desert. 15 And He gave them their request, But sent leanness into their soul.  ~ Psalm 106


HE is still direct and bold with us because ETERNAL TRUTH - which HE IS - sees both the brevity and the great purpose of this life.  EVERYTHING hinges on and is upheld by TRUTH.   It is THE TRUTH that sets us free...not our ideas about truth.    


Let us check our hearts' motives that we be no longer deceived.  In which of the two categories would you find yourself?



Works-based righteousness 

(Legalism): 

“I obey, therefore I’m accepted.”

(Matthew 23:1-12)


Grace-based Righteousness 

(Excellence in Love/Fulfillment of the Law):  

“I’m accepted!  Therefore, I obey!” 

(John 14:15)


See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword - It cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and It is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.  Before God, nothing created is hidden, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to Whom we must render an account. 

~ Hebrews 4:12-13 (CJB)



And that brings us to Week 3.    Shall we?


THE FATHER’S BATTLE PLAN 

Week III - Victory Over Idleness: OPERATION PREPARE  



Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. 
~ Ecclesiastes 9:10

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the LORD. 
~ Romans 12:11 (AMP)

Whatever work you do, put yourself into it, as those who are serving not merely other people, but the Lord. 
~ Colossians 3:23 (CJB)


The lazy person's way seems overgrown by thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway. ~ Proverbs 15:19  

Were you able to describe in detail what Cain’s neglected crop looked like in your mind’s eye from last week's writing exercise?   Why do you suppose it looked that way?  Remember that Cain’s crop was the direct result of what little time and effort he put into it.   Just as Cain’s crop revealed his undisciplined and careless nature, so too the produce - or actions - of our lives reveal the time we have spent in our own fields.   


Locate and share some Proverbs relating to idleness, laziness and/or being prepared.  


I passed by the field of the lazy man and the vineyard of the man lacking sense.  There it was, overgrown with thistles; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. 
~ Proverbs 24:30-31

Depending on the translation you are using for Proverbs 15:19, you will see the thorny field’s owner described as lazy, slacker, sluggard or slothful.  The Hebrew root word is ‘atsal and it means to be indolent or slack:--be slothful and to lean idly!  


Before you are quick to believe that laziness/idleness is ‘not that bad a sin’, let me remind you that one idle moment on the rooftop led King David to covetousness (as in his neighbor’s wife!), which consequentially led to the removal of the neighbor himself!  Proverbs 18:9 says that ‘laziness is brother to the destroyer’.  


Kingdom Living (the Way of Christ) is designed to be both pleasant (on the inside) and productive (on the outside).  Though our circumstances may not be ideal, we can still have great JOY despite those circumstances (Psalm 16:11) and produce a bountiful crop for His Name’s sake and by His Spirit.  ‘This is how My Father is glorified -- in your bearing much fruit; this is how you will prove to be My talmidim (disciples)’, said Jesus!  


A disciple bears much fruit by disciplining himself.   In Old Covenant times, the priests used two sharp prongs to hold the bloody sacrifice on top of the altar and prevent it from sliding off.  For today’s New Covenant Living Sacrifice, those two prongs are DISCIPLINE and DEVOTION.


Ecclesiastes 10:10 says:  If the [hatchet's] iron [blade] is blunt, and [its user] doesn't sharpen it, he will have to exert more effort; but the expert has the advantage of his skill (CJB).  Most translations read as: But wisdom brings success.  The Hebrew word for wisdom - chokmah - means ‘to gain skill for living’ as I pointed out last week.   If we are seeing little results, it could be simply because our blades have grown dull!  Godly wisdom (thus success) is gained by doing things God’s Way.  The Hebrew mindset is one of diligence and discipline.  The Hebrew ‘day’ begins at sundown.  What would happen if you and I diligently prepared tonight for our tomorrow?  The stress level would be significantly lowered and your day would be more productive to the glory of God!  He absolutely loves us regardless of the good or bad choices we make.  However, His love compels Him to teach us how to live an abundant life by His Spirit - only through making 'choosing well' (Genesis 4:7) will we be able to hold our heads high and receive what He wants to pour into our lives.  Proverbs 11:14 shouts ‘victory comes from much planning’.

Look!  ADONAI your God has placed the land before you.  Go up, take possession as ADONAI the God of your ancestors has told you.

...But you would not go up.  Instead you rebelled...and in your tents, you complained. ~ D'varim 1:21, 26


WEEK 3 SCRIPTURE READING

PLEASE READ Deuteronomy 4:1-14


The propensity of the Israelites to 'rebel and complain' following their disbelief is what hindered them from taking possession of the Land God had given them.  Rebellion and complaining is a form if 'idleness' because it is anti-diligence and disbelief in God's Word and God's Power.  They are the carnal seeds of discontent and every time our tongue complains, a seed is sown.   

Moses' recap of their journey is written for us that it might remind us today that the whole purpose of His Counsel (Word) is for our hearing/obeying in order to take possession of the 'life' God has given us!  

The LORD gave the Land to Israel, but they still had to exert a diligent effort to take possession of it.  In the same manner, the LORD died to give us abundant life, but we have to exert a diligent effort to realize, gain and keep it by His grace and power.  His Mouth....my feet. 

ADONAI ordered me to teach you laws and rulings, so that you would live by them in the land you are entering in order to take possession of it. ~ Deuteronomy 4:14


PERSONAL EXAMINATION


  1. Are the seeds you have been sowing the kind that will allow you 'to take possession of your land (abundant life)'?
  2. What does your ‘field’ look like?  Would those closest to you describe it as you have?
  3. How is the LORD revealing to you to ‘clear away the thorny clutter’ from your life? 
  4. Will you be faithful to follow Christ as He leads you into newness of life in every area?  (Remember narrow is the gate and difficult is the way and there are few who find it - Matthew 7:14)
  5. Will you determinedly PREPARE your heart in God’s Ways and succeed in your living by dying to your carnal nature?
  6. Do you have a complaining or compliant spirit?
  7. Have you examined your motives lately before the LORD?

He who keeps a mitzvah (command) keeps himself safe, but he who doesn't care how he lives will die. 
~ Proverbs 19:16


ADDITIONAL TRUTHS FOR EXCELLENCE IN LOVE

  1. Jesus warned that ‘no man who puts his hand to the plow, and then turns back is fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62)’.   Examine (Luke 9:57-62) and then abandon any idea that implies ‘LORD, I will follow you, but first...’.
  2. The definition of insanity is doing the same things but expecting different results.
  3. The lazy person cannot find his way because it is overcome by thorns.  
  4. A True Disciple (one who not only believes in but follows the LORD) PREPARES for tomorrow and PERSEVERES for today.
  5. Ecclesiastes 5:12 says ‘a laboring man’s sleep is sweet’; and so it is because the LORD has given it to him.
    Unless ADONAI builds the house, its builders labor in vain...for He provides for His beloved, even when they sleep. Psalm 127:2
    I will lie down and sleep in peace; for, ADONAI, you alone make me live securely. 
    ~ Psalm 4:8


  6. A True Disciple understands God’s irrevocable law of sowing and reaping and WAITS EXPECTANTLY for harvest time.
  7. The LORD has ordained that 'seed time' must come before a 'harvest time' in our lives.  And by His Spirit, only the faithful continue to sow the Good Seed instead of 'watching the wind'.  
    4 He who keeps watching the wind will never sow; he who keeps looking at the clouds will never reap. 5 Just as you don't know the way of the wind or how bones grow in a pregnant woman's womb, so you don't know the work of God, the maker of everything. 6 In the morning, sow your seed; and don't slack off until evening; for you don't know which sowing will succeed, this, or that, or if both will do well. 
    ~ Ecclesiastes 11
  8. The REWARDS of obeying God far outweigh any risk we might imagine ~ Hebrews 11:6!  

You are righteous in 'position', but is your righteousness in 'practice' works-basked or Grace-based?  Motivation matters.
"Reputation is what people think about you.  Character is what God knows about you." ~ Author Unknown

MEMORY VERSE:  


So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

~ Psalm 90:12


5 comments:

Carol said...

Goooood stuff! I'm doing an amen dance right now. Uh-huh. Oh, yeah. Go, Carmen!

Tina said...

Carmen, thank you so much for your comment on my blog this morning and your prayer for my family. It is a blessing. I am enjoying the current study so much. Presently, in this third installment, I have had my attention called to the number of times the Bible says "take heed of yourself" and am digging deeper. It echoes of godly self-discipline and self-control to me and I know God is working with me on this area of my life. I look forward to extra time to dig deeper as I am off from work next week. I also love learning more of the Hebrew language and it's meanings. Thank you for your obedience to His callings. I am happy God led me to your study and your blog.

Mercury, unique properties and wonderous but also can be fatal if not handled with care. said...

i guess idleness also allows my mind to wander. Is this really where i am supposed to be, should i do this or that..... keeping myself busy with the things i have alredy been told to do enables me to stay focused and when God whats to redirect my path He will speak, i don't have to keep asking if He has changed His mind yet.

Roanne LeRaine said...

In response to the verses in Deuteronomy, I see our own Nation disobeying these commandments. I know it is obvious, but with technology and our "rights" in full force, we have become lazier than ever before! I pray for a revelation to all believers to stand up and stay strong, so that we can hold onto whatever is left of God's blessing on our country. But first, we must start with our own homes. This week, 4 of my five kids started school and my first goal is to get up early enough to have a productive morning devotional time again. This study has been great to have a focus point of study, and exactly what I need to remind myself of my motives and reason for furthering my relationship with my Adonai.

jcdisciple said...

"Works-based righteousness (Legalism): “I obey, therefore I’m accepted.” (Matthew 23:1-12)

Grace-based Righteousness (Excellence in Love/Fulfillment of the Law): “I’m accepted! Therefore, I obey!” (John 14:15)"

This is absolutely the BEST way I have ever heard or seen this described. My whole existence has been a struggle to grasp the TRUTH in the second descripion and dispel the lie in the first. I have always wanted to be accepted by my works...it is only God's grace that has shown me the futility in this. I am already accepted b/c of HIS great grace and HIS great WORK...therefore, I work BECAUSE of this TRUTH.

I so appreciate this study. This year has been a year of diligence and study, and I have seen much fruit, but I have grown idle these past few weeks and I have begun to suffer for it. I apprecite this study as it is convicting and exhorting me not to rely on the work of the past and expect more fruit, but to realize that I must continue in "love" toward my Lord, if I am to expect another harvest.

God has truly gifted you and revealed many great things. Your analogies, wisdom of Hebrew, and obvious diligence to glorify Him in your teaching shines through each lesson. I only hope to attain such a glorifying ability to teach others.

God bless you for your disciplined diligence to teach His word.

Amanda Bowers

But as for me, Heaven forbid that I should boast about anything except the execution-stake of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah! Through Him, as far as I am concerned, the world has been put to death on the stake; and through Him, as far as the world is concerned, I have been put to death on the stake.  For neither being circumcised nor being uncircumcised matters; what matters is being a NEW CREATION. And as many as order their lives by this rule, shalom upon them and mercy, and upon the Isra'el of God! 

~ Galatians 6:14-16

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