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.

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