Category Archives: Relationship

Discipleship – The Cost of Discipleship (Part3 of 3)

Introduction

This post is partially extracted from the video link – https://youtu.be/lpiQdRd9DSc and blended with personal insights. The video is about Getting into Word to produce disciples of Christ, Part 1. This post, The Cost of Discipleship, is part 3 of 3. The other two parts defined and described what is spiritual maturity and what is spiritual apathy.

Spiritual maturity is the goal, but the poison of spiritual apathy runs deep. What is the antidote for the heart poisoned by deception, discouragement, and distraction? Without this antidote, the goal of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus is jeopardized. Unfortunately, the video does not offer solutions; these “solutions” are my thoughts.

The following antidotes to the 3 heart conditions foster spiritual maturity. It paves the way and is part of the cost of discipleship, which involves the carrying of their cross (Luke14:27), forsaking self (Mat16:24), forsaking earthly relationships for the Lord (Luke14:26), and submitting to God’s will (Mat10:24).

 

The Cost of Discipleship

 

Antidote for the Deceived Heart

The deceived heart does not subject Himself to God. It is closely related to the distracted heart. The deceived heart is poisoned by pride that rebels against God. This pride is their heart’s treasure. It is a form of self-idolatry. Mat10:24 says, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.” But the deceived heart desires to be above its master.

Solving the challenge of the deceived heart requires one to reduce, manage and eliminate their pride in themselves and towards life (1Jhn2:16).

Scripture offers the following guidance to reduce pride

  1. To love the unlovable and the undesirable, even one’s enemies. (Luke6:32-35)
  2. To esteem others better than oneself (Phil2:3)
  3. This love and esteem are not mere words or state of mind but to look after the interest of others ahead of oneself (Phil2:4) and to serve (Jhn12:26, Mat20:26-27).

In this way, the prideful, deceived heart is subjugated by the cleansing experience of meekness and sincere love towards God and man. The flesh will resist with all its might against this cleansing.

Be mindful that this spiritual war of Eph6 with the deceived heart takes place in the minds of man as explained in Rom12:2, 2Co10:3-5, and Phil4:7. It is a war with two dimensions – internal with one’s carnal flesh and external with the evil spirit. This post focuses on the internal battle.

See the posts about Spiritual Warfare against the external spirit –  https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/08/23/spiritual-warfare/

Watch and pray to draw divine strength that fortifies the willing spirit to guard against human weakness in the flesh. By watching and praying, the soul has the resources to win the battle in the mind. Watching and praying is Lord Jesus’, the Lord Yahusha’s advice to His sleeping disciples in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and subsequent crucifixion.

 

Antidote for the Discouraged Heart

The discouraged heart is poisoned by brokenness and grief (Mat5:3-4). Often life circumstances are the source of brokenness and grief. One’s allotted lot in life is designed by God’s purpose and will. The 4-part post-series about the Will of God helps one make sense of suffering and pain. See part 1, The Will of God – Nature of God’s Will, via this link – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/09/15/gods-will-nature-part-1-of-4/

 

The antidote to the discouraged heart is God’s comfort, as mentioned in Mat5:4. What does it mean to be comforted by God?

 

God, Abba Yahuah, comfort the discouraged heart in the following ways.

  1. The comfort comes from the inestimable value of the resurrection hope of 1Pet1:3 that Paul said one might earn, by inference as a disciple by suffering and death, in Phil3:10-11 and to earn the eternal rewards of good works mentioned in 1Co3.

 

  1. The comfort is derived from the significance of being broken-hearted and mourning, which is the eternal value of emulating the Lord Jesus as the salt of the earth and the light of the world that pleases Father God (Mat5:3-16). This value is grounded in an intimate and empathetic relationship with God.

Earthly temporal suffering is also meaningful as payment for the significant eternal rewards. Therefore, it imbues senseless earthly suffering with eternal purpose. With eternal meaning, significance, and purpose, one can endure with patience for things outside control and preserve in areas within control.

There is a fierce struggle to let go of the familiar brokenness and grief. While they are poison, familiarity can be more comforting than submitting to an uncertain future-hope rooted in faith in the Faithfulness of God. The soul’s and body’s cries for swift earthly justice can be overwhelming for some.

In such cases, the heart is poisoned by both discouragement and deception. The deception is the pride of being a victim. Having lost so much, the heart hangs on to the dignity and identity of victimhood. The pride of victimhood, dignity, and identity poison the heart.

 

The antidote must draw from points raised for the deceived heart and, simultaneously, from the points raised for the discouraged heart. There is one significant factor that needs addressing. It is the issue of forgiveness.

The thorns and briars of unforgiveness growing from the fertile grounds of bitterness-hate are the strong men to the heart poisoned by deception and discouragement.

The topic of unforgiveness is a deep and broad topic that deserves its posts. Due to the need to limit the scope of this post and prayer, which I have not done, I will leave this elephant in the room as a reminder that to win the battle is not a simple wave of a wand.

 

Antidote for the Distracted Heart

The world’s distractions draw their power from the treasures in the heart that is not God. The Lord Jesus said in Mat6:21 –“ For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” This describes the issue of struggling to serve two or more masters.

The distracted heart is poisoned by the reign of another master that is not God.

 

I would go on a limb to say that all humans suffer from the poison of the distracted heart. By the time one becomes aware of God, the call of spiritual maturity, and the dangers of spiritual apathy, the contamination of the world would have taken place to vary degrees.

This awareness and admission are critical to the journey of a pure heart towards God and man. See this link about the pure heart toward God – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/08/31/sincere-love-and-sincere-faith/.

If this awareness is dim and admission a struggle, the heart is also poisoned by deception. But the guardians of this deception are not the simple matter of one’s sense of pride that plagues the deceived heart. These pride guardians are empowered by their masters (evil spirits) of the heart’s treasures and co-conspirators of the carnal flesh that loves the world (lust of the eye, lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life of 1Jhn2:16).

 

Dethrone the False kings

Therefore, it should be apparent to dethrone these false sovereigns of the heart is no easy matter. I would claim that this war against these faux sovereigns is waged till one draws their last breath.

To wage this war, one needs awareness of which category these pretender sovereigns fall into-

  1. The lust of the flesh.
  2. The lust of the eye.
  3. The pride of life.

 

After identifying their realms (categories- there are usually many of them existing in all the 3 categories), one needs to wage a spiritual war of attrition with them (the evil spirits). For thoughts about this, see the post about Spiritual Warfare. Perseverance in watching and praying is key to winning this spiritual war.

Then one needs to examine the areas these evil spirits continue to take advantage of to perpetuate their reign. The soul and flesh are tempted to sin in these areas. The obvious solution is to avoid these areas; flee youthful lust, as advised in 2Tim2:22. This fleeing may involve quitting one’s career, moving homes, and surrendering some free will to others with their interests at heart. These areas qualify for the act of perseverance, to make that crucial life-changing decision to remove themselves from the dangers of these temptations.

But where life circumstances compel one to remain tempted, e.g., in a marriage, in a family setting, immobilized, then, on-top of perseverance, one needs to be patient, looking away from these temptations and focusing on the points raised in the discouraged heart.

Because of proximity to the temptations, the person naturally will struggle with their sins. But do not give up hope. Repentance for most is a long process, and some are short. There is no meaning to comparing; let each season present itself as another opportunity to pass the test of discipleship. Celebrate the failures in the confession-forgiveness of 1Jhn1:9 and restoration of the full assurance of faith of Heb10:22 and confession-empowerment of Jam5:16.

See the link for the benefits and power of confession to God and man to support the challenges of being close to temptations – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/09/12/benefits-of-confessing-to-god-and-confessing-to-man/.

Gradually, over time, these harmful desires will lose their stranglehold on the soul; by the willing spirit and cooperative soul, and going thru the cycles of forgiveness-restoration-confession, the new man’s divine immunity will mature, being led more consistently by the Holy Spirit of Yah.

Celebrate success in meekness and sober-mindedness. Whether in failure or success, offer both with thanksgiving and praise to the whole counsel of God; Abba Yahuah, His Son, Yahusha, and His Holy Spirit.

 

Enthrone the King of Kings

The cost of discipleship concerning the distractions of the heart requires the sincere believer to remove any treasure from the heart that is not God Himself, which is the personal relationship with Him.

In this way, the distractions that stem from the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of richness will not sway the heart. Practicing this solution requires one to honor God’s will with your wealth and submit to His will with a Submissive heart to melt the cares of the world and the lure of riches. It is not easy to overcome this struggle, the rich man of Mat19 failed to pay the cost of discipleship.

Honoring God with one’s wealth has been controversial, mainly due to the prosperity gospel, which I am not in favor of. In my observation and experience, the prosperity gospel magnifies the distractions of the heart.

The wealth stewardship I favor is based on a personal relationship vs. an impersonal institutional relationship, one that is based on mutual trust and respect for each other vs. an unequal relationship between patron and recipient. Wealth stewardship is a means to support the eternal goals of soul salvation vs. pursuing the earthly pursuit of social justice to alleviate suffering.

The topic is too broad for this post—a ten post-series, Christian and the Money Series, attempt to describe this topic. The first post of this 10-part series can be found at this link – https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/11/11/christians-and-money-reality/.

 

Conclusion

The perspective of the 3 heart conditions helps to identify the aliment, but in practice, the heart is plagued by all the 3 aliments of deception, discouragement, and distraction. It will be challenging to anybody as it presents the imagery of being besieged by surrounding enemies.

Wisdom from the leading of the Holy Spirit of Yah is indispensable to navigating the treacherous terrain poisoned by deception, discouragement, and distraction. At this point, it may seem that the battle, much less the war, is impossible to win. These thoughts are flawed. It is God that wins the battle, for it belongs to Him.

The person needs a willing spirit that sincerely seeks God in their troubles. Posts such as these are meaningless without this desire to seek God. Even it is God that supplies the specifics of the navigating. Having knowledge of the heart conditions that draw from His word and revelations that puts them into practice, it is hubris to call the proposals written here antidotes. God, Himself is the true antidote. Abba God Yahuah was the one that has paid the greatest cost of man’s right to discipleship by the crucifixion of His Son, Yahusha.

Will of God – Confirming God’s Will (Part 3 of 4)

Introduction

Before confirming God’s will, which is the focus of this post, it is helpful to recall that post 1 of 4 covers the nature of God’s will. From post 1, God associates suffering as the measure of doing His will.

The nature of God’s will spans between perfect on one end and acceptable on the other end, with the good will of God in between them. Christ’s suffering and death on the cross are God’s measure of His perfect will. The acceptable will of God would have the least suffering.

 

While most will not need, God willing, to answer the call of Abba Yahuah’s perfect will of martyrdom, the experience of suffering is unavoidable. But why is suffering inevitable in this relationship with God?

Heb12 offers clues to this question.

Heb12:6 – “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”

Abba Yahuah shows His paternal love by chastening and scourging. Blue Letter Bible Greek Lexicon describes chastening and scouring as a form of child training with afflictions thru life circumstances. This theme of life circumstances will be elaborated on later in this post.

Abba Yahuah does not chasten for His gratification. Heb12:10-11 reveals the reason for the chastening  –

“For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He (Yahuah) for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

 

Yahuah knows chastening is painful and brings sorrow to life. He deems this temporal suffering on earth as payment for doing His will, so He is just to embrace His children being one with His holiness and nature.

Abba Yahuah wants His children to be like Him by emulating His Son by suffering as they do His will on earth, even as His Son, the Lord Yahusha, has suffered. Imitating Christ is a strong theme that the apostles, Peter, Paul, and John, impressed upon their brethren in 1Peter2:21,4:1, Phil2:3-8, 1Co11:1, and 1Jhn2:6.

 

Concerning emulating the Lord Yahusa, the Lord Himself has this to say in Jhn13:34 –

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

This 3rd post explores the process of confirming God’s will and builds on the foundations of the previous 2 posts. 

God is perfect, but man and their life circumstances are imperfect. How would man know whether or not their choices abide by God’s will? This post seeks to answer this question.

This post assumes the person seeking to do God’s will is sincere and a mature son of God is paying attention to how God communicates His will.

 

Confirming God’s Will?

The Holy Spirit is indispensable to communicating God’s will but is invisible. Naturally, there are issues of clarity and doubt in this communication.

Rom12:2 offers these instructions.

-“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Rom12:2 is a verse rich with many truths. This post draws attention to the words “may prove.” These words mean to examine closely with scrutiny when testing to confirm the genuine will of God as revealed in His Word, in the life circumstances, and in the Spirit-led choices made.

 

The scrutiny will involve the following.

  1. Carefully observing the life circumstances. 

Look for patterns and evidence of carnally motivated behavior in oneself and others. Seek forgiveness of 1Jhn1:9 and the restoration of Heb10:22 to increase the mind’s and heart’s clarity.

 

  1. Seek God in prayer and wise counsel. 

After prayer, read the Word. Sometimes certain scriptures come to mind, or a particular understanding pops up. By reading them, God has the opportunity to speak to life circumstances.

Sometimes, wise counsel (solicited or unsolicited) will appear. Filter this counsel thru prayer and scriptures.

 

  1. Patience and Perseverance.

These two mindsets are crucial to producing favorable outcomes of the “may prove” experience to confirm God’s will.

 

They are patient and perseverant. For a detailed exposition of these two subjects, Derek Prince has a 5 part podcast. See link – https://youtu.be/EGFuq_G3_eA.

In a nutshell, perseverance is the active part of “may prove.” It is doing good works according to God’s will to serve Him.

Patience is the passive part of “may prove,” for matters outside control and the scope of doing. This waiting is waiting with the faith-hope of Lord Yahusha’s return and our resurrection.

With patience and perseverance, one pursues to prove, by trial and error, the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

The sense of the decision being right, which the Word confirms, a sense of peace that comes from deep within the soul despite the outward circumstances, and a sense of joy unspeakable of the soul. All of these will emerge in varying intensities and clarity to confirm how close one is to doing the will of God.  These elements of righteousness, peace, and joy confirm that one is walking in the will of God’s kingdom. Rom14:17 says this –

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

 

Conclusion

Confirming God’s will is an iterative process. It will likely be a bumpy ride. This post presented one perspective of this process. Other views may also produce a similar outcome. Nevertheless, focusing on prayer, His Word, and awareness of one’s life circumstances would likely be critical elements.

The proper mindset and familiarity with the process are necessary to confirm God’s will by trial and error.

Present Day Davids and Goliaths

Introduction

The Goliath that David faced was a SINGULAR event. Goliath was an overwhelming force of evil that stood against David. By God’s mercies, most of us do NOT have to contend with such insurmountable problems.

David’s response was to confront Goliath in mortal combat. The stakes were high. David staked his life. David slew Goliath with a sling and stone, and about a decade later, overcoming similarly mortal challenges of being pursued by Saul, he became Israel’s second king.

David’s victory over Goliath creates a strong impression on Christians. They may develop expectations of David’s earthly outcomes when they face life challenges. 

This expectation reinforces the belief that equates favorable earthly outcomes as God’s blessings and UNFAVOURABLE earthly outcomes as a displeased God teaching the person a lesson or a punishment.

The latter is true; when that person is in disobedience. This person sows into their carnal flesh, reaping death in their lives to fulfill Rom8:6, to be carnally minded is death, and where God is not mocked of Gal6:7-8.

 

The New Testament Davids and their Weapons

This post offers the perspective that earthly outcomes will likely be unfavorable when one is led by the Spirit of Rom8:15 and fulfilling the Law of Christ of Gal6:2.

In the New Testament, Christians throughout the ages have also confronted their Goliaths; Martyrs are the present-day Davids. 

This view stems from the observation that martyrs emulate the GREATER David, who is Jesus Christ. God the Father defeated Satan, the GREATER Goliath, by the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection. The Lord Jesus is the ROCK of all ages (Isa26:4), and the CROSS was the weapon delivery system (God’s sling) to secure man’s salvation.

The Lord Jesus’ suffering on the cross, Him crucified, and death was His weapons that secured His victory for God the Father,  even as David’s weapons were sling and stone that defeated Goliath.

Martyrs are most Christ-like in emulating the Lord Jesus, partaking in His suffering and death (1Pet4:12, Phil3:10). In this way, martyrs also wield the same weapons of suffering and death for their eternal victory. 

God does not call for all Christians to be Martyrs, for the burden of martyrdom usually exceeds more than one can bear. However, the 5th seal of Rev6:9-11 paints the picture of many Christians facing martyrdom in the end times.

How does one prepare for martyrdom? This question is for another post, and deep down in my soul, I do not feel qualified to explore this subject. So, I will reflect on this question as exploratory as possible and guard against being conceited.

For 1Co10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 

 

Conclusion 

Christians must value their weapons, the same weapons wielded by martyrs, of suffering and death-like, by denying the body to fulfill its carnal lusts—the eternal rewards of ruling with Christ as kings-priest awaits as spoils of war.

A Pure Heart – Sincere Love and Sincere Faith

Introduction (Pure Heart Towards Man)

This post about the pure heart shares a video by Zac Poen on the same topic and is closely related to the previous posts, “The Life not in Want and The Life not in Want – King David’s Life.” A life not in want would necessarily have a pure heart at its core.

 
The link for The life of not in Want – King David’ Life : https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/08/30/the-life-of-not-in-want-king-davids-life/
 
This video by Zac Pooen has the theme of a pure heart – of love and a good conscience in sincere faith.
 
This reflection will describe this love from a pure heart as sincere love. It is also helpful to look at the good conscience of sincere faith concerning matters of justice, fairness, and righteousness.
 
This sincere love and the sincere faith themes are from 1Tim1:5 –
 
“Now the end (GOAL) of the commandment is charity (love)  out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (sincere without hypocrisy)”
 
1Tim1:5 carries great significance as it presents the goal of God’s commandments for the believer. These goals are found in the pure heart that manifests two traits 
 
1. sincere love.
 
2. good conscience of sincere faith
 
Zac draws from Mat6 forgiveness as a prerequisite for a good conscience (sincere faith). This forgiveness is sought from others and to forgive others. This forgiveness concerns a good conscience among man.
 
Zac then draws attention to the fact that a person with a pure heart will see God (Mat5:8) in all situations who works all for good (Rom8:28).
 
Zac’s conviction is that a pure heart will spring forth sincere love and the good conscience of sincere faith.
 
 

Pure Heart Towards God

This post complements Zac’s video by offering how scriptures guide the believer’s purity of heart toward God in sincere love and sincere faith.
 
These scriptures are-  1Jhn:9, Heb10:22, and 1Pet3:21.
 
1Jhn1:9 is about humbling before God, in fear and trembling of 1Pet1:17, confession of sins seeking forgiveness from God is the believer’s ongoing (daily) initiative of sincere love and sincere faith to reconcile with God. It is a replay of Rom10:9; confession Jesus is Lord.
 
Heb10:22 is a rich verse – 
 
 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
 
The true heart of Heb10:22, according to Blue Letter Bible (BLB) Greek Lexicon, means a sincere heart.
 
The “full assurance of faith” in Heb10:22 is God saying, He welcomes the believer to experience the truths of Heb10:22.
 
The evil conscience of Heb10:22 is the opposite of the good conscience of 1Tim1:5. 
 
Heb10:22 is God’s solution to possess a good conscience towards Him by sprinkling the polluted heart with pure water so the soul and body may be washed clean to meet God’s standard of purity and holiness.
 
This pure water can be synonymous with the Word of God. 1Pet3:21 offers clues that clarify God’s specific word that leads to a good conscience towards God. 
 
The Word is the belief-hope of Christ’s resurrection and, by extension, the hope of the believers’ resurrection mentioned in 1Pet1:3-5. 
 
This resurrection focus is a replay of Rom10:9’s belief of Jesus’ resurrection on the 3rd day.
 
1Pet3:21 –
 
“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”
 
It is noteworthy that Heb10:22 evil conscience, according to BLB, can mean wicked conscience of the carnal love of the world of 1Jhn2:16. But it also can mean the resentment the believer bears towards God and man for the perceived injustices experienced according to God’s will. 
 
Therefore, the focus of the resurrection of Christ will cleanse the soul and body from the stains of both moral wickedness and resentful thoughts and emotions.
 
 

Conclusion

To live a life of pure heart, one needs to –
 
1. Submit to God to confess their sins daily to seek forgiveness. A forgiven person is free to love and receive love.
 
2. Draw near to God daily, in full assurance of the faith in the resurrection to clean their conscience and body of moral wickedness of resentment towards God and man. This daily cleansing restores the believers’ souls as mature sons of God (Rom8:14).
 
Such a person will praise and give thanks to God in all circumstances, enduring in sincere love and sincere faith, for they see God in all things.

The Life of Not in Want – King David’s Life

Introduction

The post, The Life of Not in Want (see link – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/08/29/the-life-of-not-in-want/), was scant on details about the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep (believers). In today’s society, making sense of the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep is challenging. Caution – Long post ahead.

Firstly, the occupation of the traditional shepherd has disappeared from the public sphere. Secondly, the education system indoctrinates the belief in human systems, science, and institutions. It also imbues the values of dependency on these beliefs and worship-submission to the symbols of these beliefs.

Psa23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want,” needs greater context to support the believer’s journey to develop their Shepherd-sheep relationship with the Lord Jesus.

This post explores the life of King David, the author of Psa23:1, to offer present-day believers perspectives that they can relate to their own life. This post draws from the following resources –

  1. https://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/280331/jewish/Nitzevet-Mother-of-David.htm (Chabad)
  1. Development thru the Lifespan by Laura Berk 6th Edition page 202&204 – the role of fathers in the child’s development (Berk)
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5497959/ – This study shows higher reactivity development due to a lack of father involvement. (Ncbi-1)
  1. See link https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2939716/ – This link shows that children with absentee fathers are about 2-3 times more likely to have sexual intercourse earlier than children with fathers (Ncbi-2)
  1. See link https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-kids-call-the-shots/201606/boys-without-fathers-3-myths-3-miracles – This link shares that boys raised by single mothers are more likely to be sensitive to others’ needs. (PSY)

David’s Family Background

David was born into the illustrious family of Jesse. Jesse served as the head of the Sanhedrin. History honors Jesse as among the top four righteous individuals in the annals of Jewish history.

Jesse harbored doubts over the purity of his ancestry due to Ruth (his grandmother) being a Moabite. To address this doubt, after his wife Nitzevet bat Adael (Nitz) bore 6 children, Jesse separated from her (no more sexual contact) to appease his doubts, as an impure male Jew is forbidden to marry a pure Jewish woman.

Jesse later longed to have a child and sought to have this child thru the maidservant of Nitz. The Canaanite maid, aware of Nitz’s longing for Jesse, hatched the plan to switch places as Leah did with Rachel.

Citing from Chabad –

“Like her ancestress Tamar, who was prepared to be burned alive rather than embarrass Judah, Nitz chose a vow of silence not revealing her pregnancy to Jesse. And like Tamar, Nitz would be rewarded for her silence with a child of greatness who would be the forebear of Jesus.

After three months, Nitz’s pregnancy became obvious. Incensed, her sons wished to kill their adulterous mother and the “illegitimate” fetus that she carried.

Unaware of the truth behind his wife’s pregnancy but having compassion on her, Jesse ordered his sons not to touch her. “Do not kill her! Instead, let the child that will be born be treated as a lowly and despised servant. In this way, everyone will realize that his status is questionable and, as an illegitimate child, he will not marry an Israelite.

David’s Early Childhood

As far as David’s family was concerned, David was born into sin (Psalm51:5), grew up as a social pariah, and was rejected by both the family and the Jewish community.

Citing from Chabad –

“The negative character traits from Ruth the Moabite clung to this despicable youngest son of Jesse.

On the infrequent occasions that Nitz’s son would return from the pastures to his home in Bethlehem, he was shunned by the townspeople. If something was lost or stolen, he was accused as the natural culprit and ordered, in the words of the psalm, to “repay what I have not stolen.”

David was not permitted to eat with the rest of his family but was assigned to a separate table in the corner. “

Scorn, abandonment, and rejection from his family and Jewish society marred David’s childhood. He could not form the attachment he longed for his father, brothers, or peers. (Psalm69:8).

His social environment made him known that he was better off dead and did not deem him as a human.

David grew up with his mother as the only source of attachment and accepting adults to emulate. It is reasonable to speculate that her mother positively supported David’s relationship with God and softened the rejection he experienced within the family and from the Jewish community. Scriptural evidence supports this speculation, revealing David’s closeness with God and His openness to embracing the Jewish community despite their initial rejection.

This dominant maternal nurturance, David’s only earthly source of social and emotional support, was not without negative ramifications for David’s development as a person.

Without the father’s involvement and constant rejection by males (father, other adults, siblings, and peers), David’s development suffered a process of emasculation.

As a result, David exhibited more feminine traits vs. alpha male traits, such as gentleness, less inclination to unnecessary aggression, deference to dominant males with the relational association, and more sensitivity to the needs of others (see PSY). These traits would shape much of David’s responses later in life.

Another consequence of an absentee father is the development of lower emotional self-control. Self-control development occurs during early childhood, supported by the rough play between the father and child. Such play (see Berk) provides a burst of intense emotional stimulation that promotes the development of emotional regulation.

David’s later life events also suggest that because of his father-deprived life, he has higher reactivity (see Ncbi-1) in emotional settings that support sexual promiscuity later in life (see Ncbi-2).

Middle Childhood to Adolescence (His Shepherding Days)

David faithfully carried the roles of shepherd and other menial tasks early in life. While shepherding in the wilderness, David faced the lion’s and bear’s dangers (1Sam17:36).

Citing from the Chabad –

“He was given the task of shepherd because “they hoped that a wild beast would come and kill him while he was performing his duties,” and for this reason was sent to pasture in dangerous areas full of lions and bears.”

These near-death encounters were foundational for David’s experience of God, underpinning his faith-hope-love in God. It would later fuel David’s passion for protecting God’s reputation, putting his life on the line when he confronted Goliath in 1Sam17. This relationship with God also refrained him from killing Saul on 3 occasions in 1Sam19:24, 1Sam24:7, and 1Sam26:10, despite Saul’s relentless intent to kill him. Saul pursued David, which covered about 300-400 miles (Ryrie Study Bible, 1995, page 461).

David’s relationship with God as Shepherd-sheep began during his shepherding days in the wilderness. It is needful at this point to remember the instrumental role of his mother in David’s life. Nevertheless, abandonment and rejection deeply scarred David’s soul. During the long periods of isolation, vulnerable to the elements and wild beasts, David endured these experiences and found solace in God without the light of earthly hope.

Why did David not fall into despair, bitter resentment towards God and life?

Instead, God was so pleased with David that God conferred the privileged accolade of a man after God’s heart (1Sam13:14) and anointed him as King (1Sam16:13).

The following are my speculations on why and how David succeeded with less favorable odds than King Saul, who had more earthly resources to be more successful than David –

  1. David’s prolonged social isolation in the wilderness protected his soul against the ways of the world that pursue the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life (1Jhn2:16).
  1. David benefited from his mother’s love and guidance that, I speculate, focused on forgiveness and God’s faithfulness. Suggestive evidence of this claim appears in 1Sam22:1, where David’s family (parents and brothers) joined him at Adullam. David forgave and honored his parents/brothers even in this low point of his life, as he sought protection from the King of Moab while Saul was seeking his life (1Sam22:3).
  1. David’s life hit rock bottom during his shepherding days, alone, with the heavy responsibility of the sheep, the harsh desert, and the threat of wild beasts. During these lowest points of life, it presents the golden opportunity to form the Shepherd-sheep relationship of total dependency on the Lord Jesus. It demands submission under God’s mighty hand (1Pet5:6).

Each person needs to chart their course, especially at their lowest points, to let go of their bitterness toward God (for allowing these circumstances) and men for the evil of their injustices. Then the experience of forgiveness can take place in their souls, to forgive God and man, including themselves. On the heels of letting go and forgiveness, God as Shepherd can restore the soul to the state of not in want.

David’s Adulthood

Sexual promiscuity marked his adulthood by marrying 8 wives/concubines, as compared to Saul, who had 1 wife and 1 concubine. David’s lack of control over his lusts resulted in him raping Bathsheba (2Sam11:4) and subsequently murdering her husband Uriah the Hittite to cover the rape and her pregnancy (2Sam11:5, 15, 24). These issues stem from the lack of paternal involvement in his childhood.

See the link about David’s infidelity – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David) and the link about Saul – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul#:~:text=Saul%20married%20Ahinoam%2C%20daughter%20of,2%20Samuel%2021%3A8).

David faced severe domestic problems that threatened his reign as King and the tragic deaths of 4 of his sons (the miscarriage of Bathsheba, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah).

David was forgiving, meek, and submissive to those who were related to him to the extent of doing himself self-harm. He faced the rebellion of his sons, his father-in-law (Ahitophel in 2 Sam. 15:31, Bathsheba’s Father), and his cousins (Joab and his brothers – see the link https://journeyonline.org/lessons/joab-a-man-king-david-feared/?series=8751)

Although trouble haunted him on the domestic front, David was not weak by any means; He was a warrior-King. He adapted to survive in a hostile environment, being ruthless (He collected 200 Philistines foreskins as a dowry for Michal recorded in 1Sam18:27), he was not one to suffer insults lightly (Nabal’s incident in 1Sam25) and cunning (David tricked the King of Gath twice).

Conclusion

David was not perfect by a long shot. His spotty domestic performance bought him much suffering and heartache. There was also the occasion He angered God (the census of 2Sam24), bringing calamity to Israel, and he displeased God by the incident with Bathsheba recorded in 2Sam11.

Despite these, his Shepherd-sheep relationship withstood the test, given God’s affirming words of Acts13:22 validating David as a man after His heart.

The narrative shows deep brokenness is necessary to produce an enduring Shepherd-sheep relationship. This brokenness involves extended periods of isolation with the Lord to sever the dependency and temptations of the world. This brokenness is needed for the soul to hit rock bottom.

The unfortunate reality paints a different story. When the soul hits rock bottom, more often than not, man abandons God. Enduring to do the contrary not only differentiates one as sheep unto God but as a valued sheep, beloved of the Shepherd.

The Life of Not in Want

The Psa23:1 – “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

The “shall not want” is the Godly contentment of wanting nothing, clarified in Jam1:4.

Jam1:3-4 –

“Kneeowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

This patient Godly contentment that wants nothing is of great gain, according to 1Tim6:6, and is a reality for the believer because of 2 reasons.

1. Man brings nothing into this world and will bring nothing away when they die (1Tim6:7) is an immutable fact.

The first reason is the realization of the futility of being earthbound by material and relational reasons.

 2. The second reason is Psa23:1’s relationship of the Shepherd fulfills all the soul’s and body’s (wanting) desires.

What is the Earthly Life of this Godly Contentment?

1. His grace is sufficient to endure the challenges and human weakness (2Co12:9) and the temporal earthly suffering (Mat5:3-11, 2Co4:16-18).

b. To bear each other burdens to fulfill the Law of Christ (Gal6:2),

c. To avoid evil and do good works of faith (Jam1:22, 1The5:22), and

d. To discipline the body’s desires (1Co9:27)

What are the Motivations to Live Such an Undesirable Earthly Life?

These motivations compensate for the undesirable earthly life and to fulfill the transformed soul’s and body’s wants are –

a. The 1st resurrection of Rev20:6 as a reward (Phil3:10) to rule with Christ in His 1000-year rule and share in His divine nature (2Pet1:4).

b. The eternal rewards of good works of 1Co3.

c. Avoid the 2nd death of Rev20:5, avoid the outer darkness mentioned in the Gospels, and avoid the eternal fate of outside heaven’s gates of Rev22:15.

Conclusion

Without this shepherd relationship, 1Pet2:25 describes the believer as –

“sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop (overseer) of your souls.”

The realization of the futility of being earthbound and an intimate relationship with the Lord as the Shepherd are the foundations to live the life of wanting nothing in Godly contentment.

The motivations support this realization and Shepherd’s intimate relationship with the Lord.

Mind and Heart Games – Which to Trust?

Introduction

Derek Prince’s video on “The Enemies we Face Part 2” clarified that spiritual bondage and influences could be external (the focus of the post Spiritual Warfare) and internal (the carnal flesh). See below video link for more details – https://youtu.be/o348jdFeFOI.
 
For the post about Spiritual Warfare, see the link – https://sincerelawrence.com/2022/08/23/spiritual-warfare/.
 
The post titled, Spiritual Warfare, introduced the spiritual weapons of the shield of faith. These weapons are the faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus’ salvation which is Him crucified and His shed blood, as the defensive spiritual weapon employed by the spiritual hosts that wages this spiritual battle.
 
It also introduced the offensive spiritual weapon of the sword of the Spirit, which is the promises of God, the faith-hope in the power that raised Jesus from the dead for the believer’s resurrection, and the power of His coming dominion.

 

The Mind and the Heart

Concerning the internal influences of the flesh, the Bible emphasized that the mind of the soul is where the war is waged, although spiritual warfare affects both the mind and hearts. In fact, the heart is not spared from testing (1The2:4).
 
Example verses to support the above claim
 
1. Rom12:2- transformation by the renewal of the mind
 
2. 2Co10:4 – spiritual weapons destroying the argument and reasoning not of God in the mind, 
 
3. Phil4:7- Peace of God guards our hearts and mind, and 
 
4. Jhn14:1 – Let the heart not be troubled by faith in the Lord.
 
 

The Mind’s Advantage over the Heart

Why does Rom12:2 not say the renewal of the heart but it is the renewal of the mind?
 
Why does 2Co10:4 not say spiritual weapons are destroying the idolatrous heart treasures but destroying the strongholds of arguments and reasoning in the mind?
 
 
It appears the mind has access to a more actively engaging God, and the heart’s access has an element of passivity on God’s part that relies more on man’s initiative.
 
Heb10:16 may explain the reason for the different treatments between the heart and mind.
 
 
Heb10:16 – 
 
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put (PRESENT tense) my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write (FUTURE tense) them;.”
 
The law of Heb10:16 is most likely the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus of Rom8:2 that is synonymous to the law of Christ of Gal6:2, and the law of loving thy neighbor of Rom13:10. And all these are the extension of the 3 love commandments mentioned by the Lord in the gospels.
 
 
The mind has intimate access to the law as God has placed them in mind as a present and ongoing action by God.
 
But the hearts do not have the support of this law as the writing (engraving) of the law has NOT taken place yet, and will likely occur in heaven.
 
Furthermore, while circumcised, the heart is not transformed and has no advantage of the law that the mind has. 
 
The heart remains vulnerable to hardening (Heb3:8), committing an error (Heb3:10), suffering envy and strife (Jam3:14), double-minded (Jam4:8), suffering blindness (Eph4:18), and deception (Jam1:26). 
 
Likely, only the part of the heart that is circumcised (Rom2:29 and Col2:11) is wholly God’s domain. 
 
I speculate that the circumcised heart is where the Holy Spirit and the born-again spirit dwell. In contrast, the rest of the heart is still contaminated by carnality, shackled to the carnal flesh.
 
 

Why has God Given the Mind the Advantage?

Why is the reason for this different treatment? The reason is to honor man’s will and allow God to test man’s soul through their heart, whether their faith and love are sincere, to reward them or their faith and love are carnal, to discipline His sons. 
 
This reward and discipline are necessary to satisfy God’s impartial justice of 1Pet1:17, for it answers the accusing question that Satan placed on Job in Job1:9- “Then Satan answered the [fn]LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing?”
 
 

Conclusion

 
The above long narrative aims to draw attention to the transformed mind of the soul, sensitive to the Law of Christ, as the new man’s Homebase. 
 
The mind must have resolve and endurance to overcome the spiritual influences of the carnal flesh. And be mindful that the mind has a relatively more tremendous advantage over the heart.
 
The heart cannot qualify as a home base for the soul until God writes His laws on it in heaven.
 
In-essence, sober-mindedness that scripture places a premium on ought to be the primary approach in the being led by the Spirit of Rom8:14, when testing for God’s will of Rom12:2, and testing spirits of 1Jhn4:1, all relying in part or whole on the WORD of God illuminated by revelation.
 
The heart could play a secondary role, provided we are confident it is the circumcised heart leading and cast a scrutinizing eye if unsure.
 
If the mind is in cahoots with the carnal flesh and corrupted heart, the evil domain conquers the soul as the spoils of war.
 
Therefore, let the mind of Christ that knows the will of God lead the soul’s mind in soberness. Be guarded against the affections of the heart, for they are deceiving.
 

God’s Faith, Hope, and Love

Faith is about beliefs that have a strong element of assumptions. Man’s knowledge and resources are limited. Much about life is accepted-assumed as true, unchallenged as a given on this basis of faith-belief or assumptions. 

Faith is operative primarily in and for the moment or the present. The Bible says faith brings the intangible hope of something in the future into the present (Heb11:1). 

This process, between faith and hope, makes an intangible hope into something more tangible (still intangible) to satisfy the present.

Hope is about a future goal. It represents man’s purpose, something, someone, or an outcome valued and worth pursuing. It presents man’s values.

There are many ways to express what love is all about. I am by no means competent in this department of love.

To support love’s connection to faith and hope, this post frames love being a decision drawing its strength from the resolve of the faith in the relationship and affection (emotional attachment) with the hope of a desired future arising from that relationship. 

The above describes faith, hope, and love in general terms. 

What is God’s focus or definition concerning these 3 pillars of the Christian faith (1Co13:13)?

Below is an attempt to support clarity in answering this question-

1. FAITH is about belief in the promise of the resurrection (1Pet1:3), the promise of His return (Heb10:37, 1Pet1:7), and the promise of the eternal rewards (Mat16:27, 1Co3:14, Heb10:35).

2. HOPE is about the hope in the resurrection (1Per1:3) realized by FAITH that does not put the believer to shame (Rom5:5).

3. LOVE is about loving the unseen Christ (1Pet1:8) realized by FAITH with joy unspeakable while enduring tribulations (1Pet1:6-7).

Paidon, Teknon and Huois

It takes confidence in God and the relationship one has with Him to uphold His justice and live in His gift of loving forgiveness.

The latter is a comfort zone of “Teknon,” child (not mature) of God, and the former is for matured sons, Huios.

Teknon of Rom8:16 is how the believer relate to God in His gifts, love, and mercies. Come to Him as little children (Mat18:3, the word little children is Paidon in Greek, means infant, little children, which is one stage of life before Teknon) to experience His loving kindness.

In the life of Teknon or Paidon of the Christian, there is abundant God’s love, forgiveness, and restoration.

However, the mature sons of God, Huois, are led by the Spirit (righteous living, heavenward focus) and not after the flesh (carnal living, earthbound) after Rom8:14 and Rom8:9. In the life of Huois, there is discipline, stewardship, calling and rewards.

The complete Christian is a composite of both Teknon-Paidon and Huois. They are manifestations of God’s love and God’s justice. As sons, we emulate and take after our Abba in heaven, the embodiment of love and justice.

There are NO winners, except the evil realm, to marginalize either His love or His justice. Embrace both and live out both.

Discipleship and Spiritual Apathy (Part2 of 3)

This post is partially extracted from the video link – https://youtu.be/lpiQdRd9DSc and blended with personal insights. The video is about Getting into Word to produce disciples of Christ, Part 1.

The video draws upon the parable of the Sower to expand on the nature and issues of spiritual apathy that is poison to the goal of being the discipleship of the Lord Jesus.

Mat13 – 1-15 Parable of the Sower is in the category of a Kingdom Parable is a foundational parable to understand all other parables. This parable draws attention to the heart condition of the believer in His Kingdom. Many view the parable of the Sower as relevant to the unbelieving world- but why would this parable of the Kingdom, where only believers can qualify to be Kingdom citizens, be directed to non-citizens unbelievers?

I am not saying there is no application for unbelievers, but the context of Mat13 appears to indicate its relevance for believers.

The parable in a nutshell-

  1. The Setting of the parable – About the Kingdom of God
  2. The Story – A Sower sowing the same seed in 4 types of ground (heart condition)- impenetrably hard by the wayside, the shallow rocky soil, the soil where thorns grow, and the good soil.
  3. The Significance – To teach the truth about the heart condition as foundational to spiritual growth and maturity.

 

Three existential reality shapes the heart dictating one’s response to the word of God. They are the deceived, discouraged and distracted hearts.

  1. The reality of one’s life pursuits- beware of the fallacy of pride that can hijack the life pursuit. This represents the hardness of the unconverted heart (along the hardened wayside), hardening in unbelief, and hardening in stubborn pride. This heart is deceived.
  1. The reality of one’s pain, a discouraged heart bearing the scars of trauma, represents the shallow rocky soil. The pain is expressed as the scorching sun of tribulation and persecution (Mat13:9).

The pain of life makes one forget about God as the root is shallow (not inclined to depend on God) and resorts to other means to solve the pain. God and His revelational truths become the emergency panic button of last resort to solve the pain. This heart is discouraged.

The heart’s shallowness is likely due to being traumatized by life’s pain to protect itself. But this same coping mechanism also results in a superficial relationship with God.

  1. The reality of one’s desire for pleasure, where the distractions and pleasures of life enchant the heart. This heart is represented by thorns, the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of wealth. This person desires blessing over the God who is the source of blessing. Such a person forsakes their eternal values for earthly pleasures. This heart is distracted.

In the next post, the cost of discipleship covers the solutions to these heart conditions that impede the authentic discipleship of Christ.