Saturday, April 18, 2015

Who is the Thief that Steals, Kills and Destroys in John 10:10?

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

We have all heard this scripture, but who do you think is the thief?

Most reading this today would likely immediately say, "the devil " because it's been repeated over and over again by many ministers. However is this an accurate assessment based on the context? I do not believe so. I too used to say "the thief" was the devil, but as I started to read John 10 thoroughly, I had to come to the realization that I was wrong. I've even written a blog post using this verse, which I no longer agree with. I believe there is a lesson in the Parable of the Good Shepherd that Jesus was trying to share that has been lost because many have made "the thief" in this particular parable, the devil. I've seen many use this verse to promote theologies that are otherwise not supported in the bible, so I think it's important to step back and really take a look at this verse.

First let's refresh ours minds of what occurred before Jesus gave the parable.

In John 9, Jesus healed a man who was born blind. It caused quite an uproar because no one had ever been healed of a condition like this before. The Pharisees were not happy when they heard it was done by Jesus and they began to interrogate the man and his parents.

The man told the story of what happened to the Pharisees, but they did not want to listen. Then they called this man's parents in and they were so fearful of the Pharisees, that they essentially left their son to explain it yet again. God used this man who had been born blind to confront the Pharisees and to reveal their true hearts and spiritual condition. God used "a foolish thing to confound the wise". The Pharisees became angry and they kicked him out of the synagogue.

Jesus states in John 9:39-41:
“For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind. Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we? Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
It is in this exchange that Jesus exposed the Pharisees for what they really were; blind guides leading other blind people to their destruction. The Pharisees said they could see and were followers of the Law and Disciples of Moses. Yet they purposely denied Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus said, "Because you say you see, your sins will remain."

God is merciful to those who are in ignorance and do not know, but His wrath is upon those who purposely close up the way of salvation and abuse His sheep. Although Jesus opened the eyes of an actual blind man there was a spiritual element to what He was teaching. Jesus was clearly teaching about opening the eyes of the spiritually blind.

This is extremely important to remember as we head into the Parable of the Good Shepherd in John 10.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber."
Here Jesus is saying you must enter through the door that leads into the fold. Later on we will see that Jesus is the door. However, the "fold" that Jesus is referring to here is the pasture that holds God's sheep. Therefore, if a person does not enter through the door (Jesus), but climbs up some other way, Jesus says he is a thief and a robber. These thieves and robbers are false teachers (the Pharisees) who were not sent by God. These false shepherds have entered into the pastures of His children, but were not granted access. They gained access unlawfully.
But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 
Here Jesus is using an analogy to assert His deity and is showing that He has been sent by God.

In these two verses we see that:
God the Son is the Shepherd.
God the Son is the door to the fold.
God the Father is the doorkeeper.

Jesus is saying that He has been sent by God to shepherd the sheep. The sheep (God's children) know the true shepherd's voice and He calls them by name and leads them! You can see the difference in descriptions here. God calls us by name, but thieves and robbers do not. They do not even use the door and instead gain access into the fold through unlawful means.
When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.
Here Jesus is saying He brings all of His own into the fold. This is likely talking about God calling each of us by name to believe in Jesus for salvation.

Jesus (the Shepherd) has gone ahead of the sheep. He is our example. He shows us the way. The sheep will follow Him because they know His voice. A stranger's voice they will not follow, but instead they will run away because they do not know the voice of strangers. The strangers here are the thieves and robbers that Jesus spoke about in v. 1. They are the ones who have gained unlawful access to the fold. These are the Pharisees, false teachers and false shepherds.

Now Jesus begins to explain this verse in a more plain sense, so they could understand.
7 “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.
Jesus was stating here that He is the only way. He is the door (and the Shepherd). He is our salvation. He is telling the crowd you cannot follow any other person or way into the fold. He says, "Those who came before Me were thieves and robbers" These are the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders who killed all of God's prophets. The Pharisees and Jewish leaders were not sent by God and did not lead the sheep by God's authority. They climbed up some other way to deceive the sheep. v.1.
9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Here Jesus talks about what a person will find in Him. Jesus is the door to salvation. If a person enters through Jesus, he WILL be saved. Those who enter in through Jesus will go in and out of the fields and find pasture. In this pasture we find forgiveness of sins, love, rest and eternal life! 

In verse 10, Jesus is using the idea of a thief to show the contrast between Him as the Good Shepherd and those who are false shepherds. If a person follows the thief, he will steal from the sheep, kill the sheep when it suits him and ultimately destroy the sheep. There is no salvation in the thief. There is no life.The false shepherds and teachers do not care about the sheep, but will actually send them to their destruction. Yet Jesus says,"If you follow Me, then you will have life abundantly." I believe Jesus is talking about eternal life here.

Having gone through all of this verse by verse, I no longer belief that verse 10 is talking about the devil as "the thief". We all know that the devil is our adversary, who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). I am in no way trying to make him look "good" because he is not. However we need to be true to the scriptures. This parable is not talking about the devil, but about false teachers, false shepherds and anyone else who keeps the means of salvation away from the people. It is talking about those who were not called by God, but pretended to be one of His shepherds.

In this particular scripture, Jesus was most definitely talking about the Pharisees, but it is something we should heed even today. There are thieves and robbers pretending to be shepherds who have not been called by God, but are in this for their own selfish ambitions.

As we continue on in the parable, I believe it's even more clear that the thief in v 10 is not the devil.
11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
Here Jesus is telling us that He is the good shepherd and He is foreshadowing the cross, but we can use this as an example of how we should treat the sheep that God gives each of us to care for. A good shepherd would lay his life down for his sheep. He takes care of them regardless of the cost to himself. Jesus leads by example and He shows us the heart of God for His sheep.
12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 
Here Jesus is showing us the contrast. Hired hands are the thieves and robbers that were previously discussed. They only care about the sheep in so much for what the sheep can give them. They do not look to the sheep as their own and so would not lay their life down for them. They are in this for themselves and their own selfish ambitions whether it be money, fame or status.

Good news though. Jesus is not a hired hand! He is the Good Shepherd! God takes possession over us as His children and He is our Father. Jesus willingly surrendered His life for us!

We also see in v. 12, Jesus talks about a wolf coming to the sheep and the hired hands do not care. The wolf could be the devil, hunger, sickness and trials in life. When a hired hand sees the wolf come, they flee because they do not care about the sheep. They only cared about themselves and their own safety. They do not want caught up with the wolf because it is more than they had bargained for. They run and let the sheep to fend for themselves, but a sheep is no match for a wolf and the sheep are scattered! Sheep need a shepherd, but this hired hand was not it and it lead to their destruction. It is the hired hands (thieves) that lead the sheep into being slaughtered.
14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
Once again, Jesus says, I am the Good Shepherd! He is contrasting Himself to the thieves, robbers and hired hands that came before Him. The hired hands do not care about the sheep, but He says, "I care about the sheep because I know you by name. I own you. You are mine!" Jesus the good shepherd does not flee when the wolf comes, but will lay down His own life willingly! He shows us the kind of service that we should all follow in. Hallelujah!
If we quickly look to Ezekiel 34:1-10, we see that what Jesus was talking about here was prophesied through Ezekiel about the false shepherds in Israel.
Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’”
Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’”
God was not happy with the way the shepherds of Israel were treating His sheep. They slaughtered the sheep, took their wool and ate them for food, but did not care about them at all. This is exactly what Jesus was talking about in John 10 with the Parable of the Good Shepherd. This is one of those scriptures that actually shows that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah in the Old Testament.When Jesus was born of a woman and came into the world in flesh, God was taking His sheep back out of  the mouths of the false shepherds in Israel. Jesus is the Good Shepherd as opposed to the shepherds of Israel who were thieves, robbers and hired hands.

I truly believe when this parable is read in its entirety and alongside Ezekiel 34, it becomes very clear that "the thief" discussed in v. 10 is not the devil. It is certainly talking about false shepherds and false teachers. If people want to debate that the Pharisees and false shepherds in Israel were doing the devil's work, then that is something as a Church we could certainly debate. However, I still think the point must be made that in this parable, Jesus really was talking about the Pharisees. It ties into what had just occurred in John 9 nicely as well.

I personally feel we should refrain from using this Scripture to create theologies that are otherwise not supported in the Word.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Unstable Foundations of Hyper-Grace and "Finished Work" Doctrines

Over the past 3 years, I became aware (and deceived) by the “hyper-grace” teachings while seeking God for healing. I truly believe the only thing that kept me from fully embracing hyper-grace is the fact that I am sick and have a real need. I've had chronic illness for over 14 years and doctors cannot help me. I need to see the reality of what Jesus did on the cross in my life, so catch phrases, slogans and simply believing things differently will not cut it for me. I need the real supernatural power of God to hit my body.

The hyper-grace message became very popular because many people live with a lot of condemnation and do not have a basic understanding of the true message of God's grace.

Since I've been sick most of my adolescent and adult life, I used to struggle with a lot of condemnation. I've never been able to meet up to anyone's expectations in life.

In the church, most of the condemnation that people feel, stems from the fact that ministries are driven by teaching people a method instead of getting people to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. When we try to sell Jesus as a 10 step method, it only makes a person feel condemned and feel as if they are never doing enough. You will always find someone who prays more, reads the bible more, prays in tongues more (or maybe you don't pray in tongues at all!?), sees more people healed or does more street ministry. It's an easy place for people to self-condemn themselves. These checklists and methods also turn into weapons used against people too.

I think it's important to recognize that the main theme of the hyper-grace movement is their disgust and rejection of all methods that have been created in the church. Many of them have been hurt in an abusive church situation. I am not faulting them for wanting to move away from controlling types and it's one of the reasons why I gravitated towards their message too. The problem though is instead of simply rejecting the bad they have indeed over-corrected into error.

They believe that once Jesus died on the cross, that doing anything at all for God is considered works. They believe if you try to obey the teachings of Jesus, then you are pushing “works salvation”. Sadly if you teach on things like service and obedience of any kind that you are “legalistic” and “religious”. Some of them say praying is a work. Some of them say reading the bible is a work. Some of them say turning from sin is a work. Some of them say fasting is a work.

There are variations of exaggerations in these groups. Not all of them believe in the same exaggerations and it makes it difficult to succinctly point out all of the errors. A person is basically forced to use minister names because otherwise you might be using a broad brush on another group who doesn't believe in what the other group within hyper-grace believes.

They have gone from one extreme which is a long list of things “to do” to the other extreme where they say, “there's nothing left to do. Jesus did everything. Just rest”. They have confused the free gift of salvation with the costs of serving the God who gave us that free gift. 

First, it's important to understand that from what I've seen, no one on either side is preaching the idea of doing works in order to be justified (saved). Of course salvation is only found in believing in what Jesus did on the cross, but we should also obey God's will for our life.

But this is where the conflicts and disagreements begin.

Many will say that grace cannot be exaggerated. They say that God's grace is too good and I agree that God's grace is too good. The fact that God sent us His Son Jesus, to die for us, to redeem us even while we were still enemies of God, is amazing! But once we come to believe in Jesus, our life and actions do in fact need to change and this is where hyper-grace disagrees. They say, “It's already done in Christ”. “you are already holy and sanctified”. And yet there is a renewing that God must take us through in our lives to begin to react as Jesus would not as our flesh would. Unfortunately many in the hyper-grace groups do not believe that God can do a work in each of our lives. They do not believe in wilderness seasons. They do not believe that trials can be used to conform a person into the image of His son.

I suspect many people who come across the hyper-grace teachings are in fact temporarily set free! This happens because they realize that the man-made methods that they put themselves under were not of God. I myself had this realization in 2013. I stopped trying to fulfill some man made healing method and started to look directly towards Jesus. But this is where I differ from the hyper-grace camp... Looking directly towards Jesus and pursuing Him involves having to pay a price of some sort. We will have to pray and read the bible. It involves spending time with God. It involves having to turn your back to the things you once did and learn to live the life that he wants for you. It involves sacrifice at times. It's not an effortless journey. It actually is quite painful to die to oneself.

When a person does not have this real connection to God and trials come, many who believe in the hyper-grace, finished-work teachings walk away from the faith. I've seen at least 3 "leaders" in this movement shut down their blogs and FB pages. When the trials and struggles of life come, many of them are not built on the rock that is Jesus. While they reject the "methods of men", they have also done away with any personal relationship and intimacy with God too. When a group of people considers turning from sin and obeying the Lord as works, then how as a church can we restore such people back to the true gospel message? When a group of people think God is no longer doing works in His children, then how will they ever be prepared when storms come?

In my few years, I have seen more walk away from God in these groups than in any other group. I have a few Cessationist friends who are sick and do not believe in healing, but trust God no matter what. They are on stable grounds. I have hyper-grace friends who are sick and were believing God for healing, but when it did not come; They left the faith. The general attitude and mindset of those in hyper-grace is this. "Either God is good and He heals me now or God is not real” There is no room for long term struggles in their walks with God. There was no trust built in God, but simply they trusted in their doctrines and catchphrases. Underneath the catchphrases and slogans, when their life spoke louder than them, they had nothing at all to lean back on.

If those who have accepted hyper-grace were honest with themselves I believe they would see there's a lot of healing that needs to take place within their hearts. They are insecure of God's love and therefore have had to then say that God is always loving and there is no wrath. They are insecure about their salvation and therefore have had to say that you cannot fall away from the faith. They need black and white answers to legalistic questions about God and it has forced them to have to rewrite scriptures like Ananias and Sapphira. For example, some are now saying that Peter in his great power received from God, murdered them. They cannot accept that God may have judged them, but they will gladly turn Peter into a murderer. Wow!

Unfortunately sometimes we need to examine ourselves to see why we are believing the things we are believing. God put me in a situation that forced me to do it. It came down to humbling myself and realizing that what I had believed about God was not true.

The bottom line is that those believing hyper-grace have been deceived into thinking that service, obedience, prayer and reading the bible is works. They have been deceived that trials and struggles in life are strange things we should never experience. If you type in trial, struggles or wilderness into the hyper-grace blogs and you get almost no keyword hits. They have absolutely nothing at all for those in hard times. It is a teaching that attracts people with generally good lives, but gives them zero tools to endure when the wind begins to blow. It's not supposed to be that way! The gospel is supposed to get us through the good times and the bad times.

If we have lost our hunger for God, then more than ever we need to be alone with God and seek him! Unfortunately though, it is nearly impossible to talk to many in the hyper-grace/exaggerated Finished work groups. For having such an amazing revelation of God's grace, I do not see this same love and grace extended towards those who want to have simple discussions with them. They see the inconsistencies with everyone else, but are totally blind when they do it themselves. We can all get our feathers ruffled at times, so I understand and can relate. However I don't see the great revelation of righteousness, grace and forgiveness they all claim to have. If I don't see it in their life, then what and why are they even talking about this as if it's having any transformative effect? Do as I say, not as I do? Isn't this exactly what they were against in the first place? The hypocrisy that's in the Church and the pastor or church that hurt them? Have they simply become what they preached against? In many ways, yes I do believe so and they don't even see it.

We rest in knowing what Jesus did for us, but that doesn't mean we don't pray, read the word or turn from sin. It does not mean we do not commit our lives to God and serve Him in whatever capacity He wants for us. In fact because of what Jesus did, we have a hunger to do all of those things even more so because we see what He took for us. We should not arrogantly look at the cross and then think we are owed something from God.... Jesus gave us more than enough and we should have a joy in our hearts while following Him. No matter what life brings and sometimes it will bring tough situations.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Necessary Cost

Recently God has been talking to me a lot about cost and sacrifice. He has been giving me various dreams about the cost that we've had to pay in this season as we were seeking Him for healing.

Prophetically we were told that what my husband and I have been walking through was part of a necessary cost. We've had other words that basically confirmed we had been walking in a wilderness season and a training program as well. 2 years ago I could not have handled this, but God has changed my heart on many matters relating to this and I choose to trust God.

This summer marks 15 years of suffering with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. In 2005, I had to quit college and work altogether because I was too sick to function any more. That was only a year after I had gotten married. Pretty much my whole marriage has been riddled with trials, struggles, sickness, pain, frustration and confusion. Then in 2009 my husband got sick with chronic fatigue syndrome. He was hospitalized for a week and then became bedridden for an entire year. During this time, he was no longer able to run his own business. We went from being financially well off to being in total poverty. I gave my life to Jesus in June 2012. By 2013, we had no money left and God told us to start selling off everything we owned and to go on food stamps. We obeyed and once we ran out of things to sell, we had to start trusting God for ALL of our bills and God provided! We have been completely dependent upon God ever since and both of us are still too sick to work. We have had to cautiously navigate this season and yet God said it was a necessary cost. Looking back on all of this, it is only by the grace of God that we have made it through it all.

If God is asking us to sacrifice things in our life or asking us to bear a load, we must know that it is not for the remission of our sins. We are not paying to be saved, to be loved by God nor are we trying to lessen our eternal punishments by offering up a sacrifice. The shedding of Jesus' blood on the cross was enough to pay the penalty for our sins. We are only saved by grace through faith in Jesus, so suffering in this life has nothing to do with making payment to God for our sins. I just wanted to make sure that was clear before I continue on here because many seem to get confused about that.

When Jesus died on the cross and rose, for me as a Gentile believer, it was only the beginning. We see this in Ephesians 2:11-13.

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth...remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

It is only because of what Jesus did on the cross that we can now be reconciled to God through faith in His son. Now that we are in a relationship with God, He may call us into a place that requires us to sacrifice. He may call us out of our comfort zones. He may call us into a season where we are bearing a load. All of these things are for His purposes and often times are related to the calling that God has placed on our lives. He has to get us ready for the work He has ordained for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We see this in the life of Elijah, David, Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul and even Peter. They all went through some stuff.

There's a popular message today that says you can't earn God's favor or blessings. Many of them are actively attacking service and sacrifice saying you are trying to “buy” God. They say if you sacrifice things for God you are cheapening what Jesus did. They will say that if you try to “please” God with your sacrifices that you are “doing works” and “adding to the Finished Work of Christ”. These teachings actually show what is in these minister's hearts. It is true that I can't earn God's favor when it comes to salvation and why would I? That was paid for by Jesus' sacrifice, but what these groups fail to recognize is that Jesus was also an example of obedience for us to follow. Everyone wants to “be like Jesus” in power and miracles, but I see very little talk about “being like Jesus” in devotion, holiness, obedience and in service to the Father.

When Jesus was about to be betrayed and suffer a horrible death, He called out to God.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

His obedience to God was to His own death! We should remember these words from Jesus when God calls us to sacrifice or walk a certain way that is difficult. We should remember that Jesus chose to die for us willingly and we should be willing to give our lives for Him too.

Having said that, in this season God was calling my husband and I to stand into a difficult place. He called us to bear a load that seemed impossible to bear at times, but it was in these times that we had to dig in and really begin to trust God. We had to dig into His word and start searching for living water to live off of! 

On my worst days, it was God who gave me the strength to stand and now I can say that our faith has been tested by fire. God did something inside of me that I cannot describe to you today. I feel something inside of me that I cannot describe, but it was born in me through this difficult time. I finally understand how the apostles could do what they did day after day after day, knowing they were going to be physically assaulted at times. I cannot even imagine the physical pain they must have been in after getting stoned, beaten and whipped and yet the hope that was in them through Jesus, that brought them to their feet to continue proclaiming the gospel.

If God calls us into or if we have found ourselves in an impossible situation (like my husband and I), God may call us to continue to stand in this difficult place for a season. We may be called to places we didn't think God would ask us to stand. I know that was certainly the case for me. I never knew that God would ask so much of me.

A common way God calls us to stand is when there are delays. Delays in the promises of God creates the atmosphere for sacrifices and loads to bear. It was the delay in our healing that caused us to have to stand in this difficult place and instead of giving up, I said, “Ok Lord, not my will, but yours” and what that involved was a lot of changing, stretching, tearing down, rebuilding and growing in Christ.

The “Finished work” groups would say I am preaching “mixed-grace” because the words sacrifice and service are bad words to them. They would say that I am preaching works based salvation. However my post has nothing to do with salvation and everything to do with being obedient to God's will for our individual lives. There's a big big difference there. Paul was never trying to obtain God's love or his salvation through the beatings and sufferings he went through for Christ's sake. Yet enduring this was part of the cost for his calling from God. He was called to suffer these things for Christ. It was very clear in his writings that he understood the costs involved and he knew it would ultimately lead to his death. This was also the same with Peter. After Jesus was resurrected, He told Peter in John 21:18-19, the kind of death that would be pleasing to God for following Him.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.

I bolded things here because God through His son Jesus called Peter to die a certain way and Jesus said, “Follow me”. It was part of Peter's calling that he would suffer and die in this way!

They knew the cost and willingly accepted it. Everything that Peter and Paul went through was part of a necessary cost of the calling on their lives. I believe we each have a role to play today. Are we willing to pay the price though? Are we willing to accept our cost for following God? Are we willing to say, “Father not my will, but yours be done”?

Some people may go through a season where they have to get angry with God because of the cost God is asking of them. Some people may go through a season of rebellion because they made an idea for themselves who God is that was not based on scripture. Some people may never willingly accept the cost and I believe those calls may be forfeited.

The sacrifices God asks from us will be different for each person. He may ask us to let go of things that we cherish and hold dear to us. He may ask us to leave a job. He may ask us to take a certain job. It may be things that we never thought God would ask us to let go of.

I'd like to share a dream I had several weeks ago. In this dream, I found out that I was given free stays at a $400/night hotel. It was a beautiful place and I was already imagining myself in the room. I was so amazed that someone would give me this! I asked the lady at the counter if there would be any other costs and she repeatedly told me no. Except I found that she lied to me. If I wanted to use internet, drink the bottled water and eat breakfast, then I'd have to pay for those amenities. When I found out there was a cost, I was angry! This lady at the counter in charge of putting people into their rooms flat out lied to me!

Even though the $400/night room was given to me for free, I was angry about the costs I had to bear. Because that lady lied to me, I started making a scene in the place. I was so mad that I walked away from that freely given $400/night hotel and went to the cheap $50 hotel because the amenities were included.

When I woke up I had to look up to see if this was a real thing with more expensive hotels and I found out that it was! But God wasn't talking about real hotel rooms. I believe these rooms represented the callings God is asking His Church to step into. The lady at the counter who lied to me represented teachers and ministers who are not being upfront with God's children. These ministers are lying about the costs and are not properly preparing people for their calls!

Remember the room itself was given for free. The same goes for our callings which are given to us freely through faith in Jesus Christ, but in order to walk in those callings and fulfill those callings, there may be costs to us. In the cheap hotel, the internet, breakfast and bottled water were all "included", but the room was cheap. It was dirty. It wasn't anything special whatsoever.

In my dream God also showed me the lines of others in the Church who have settled for the cheap hotel when He is calling them into the $400/night room. They settled because they had been lied to by ministers! And because of that lie, they were not willing to bear the price He is asking of us to bear. 

In this dream I very clearly heard the word, cheapskates.

We have become cheapskates in the things of God.

Many hyper-grace and Finished Work teachings today are actually teaching believers there is NO price to pay. They are perfect representations of the lady in the counter of my dream. They have twisted up so many believers and have put in the hearts of believers the false idea that if you give of yourself to God, that you are trying to earn the blessings of God. Whether they realize it or not, but they are not giving people freedom but becoming gatekeepers, keeping people from receiving what God has for them in their life. They would likely accuse me of the same thing.

If we are not careful we may walk away from the high calling of God and settle for something lesser because we don't want to pay any price at all. Even if that price is minuscule compared to what God has given us! There may be more asked of us with particular callings. This is seen in the lives of Jesus and the apostles. They walked in power, boldness and authority, but it came with a price.

Have you been duped by false teachers in the Church telling you there is no cost? And I use the word false teacher very seriously. I do not throw that out there lightly.

Are you not willing to pay a price because you were lied to that there was no price to pay?
Are you walking away from what God has called you because it is different than what you had been told?

At various times of our walk I have been guilty of this. I fell for hyper-grace and the exaggerated Finished Work teachings in the beginning of my walk. God in His grace warned me in a dream about it at the end of 2013. I never thought that sickness would ever be part of the cost that God would ask of someone to bear. However in this season as I trust and believe God for healing, He has shown me that He was using this sickness for His purposes. Without the sickness, I never would have had the compassion and desire to see captives set free. Without the poverty, I never would have been on food stamps, without light bulbs, soap and other various things at times. The necessary cost was a major humbling for me because I looked down on people like that. I never would have been able to feel the pain the sick and poor feel. I never would have even cared at all about these people. It was this struggle, this cost, this pain that made me who I am today and now God can use it all for His glory.

Whatever cost you bear for a season, God will use that so you can help others in similar situations. And since I believe in the supernatural power and healing of God, I believe this means God will use you to pray and see others healed, set free and delivered in Jesus' name. But we must be willing to follow Him, no matter what.