The Last Straw

This earnest appeal to our dear sister, “Naomi,” trapped by bitterness and unbelief, was for her, the last straw – the straw that broke the camel’s back. Imagine trying to free someone from a bear-trap who is crying out in pain, but denies that their leg is caught in the steel jaws.

“God insists that you keep the Ten Commandments to earn your salvation.. yeah, that’s the ticket.” Can you smell the brimstone?

Good morning, Beloved Family of God,

I awakened this morning with such a clear understanding of the pathway to blessing in God. He has laid it out so simply. Since the moment that we were saved, died with Christ at the cross, and risen as new creations in Him, our task – our struggle – has been to believe His word.

Our salvation is never in doubt, never in question, but as I have said before, the challenge to us is to remove, or allow the Holy Spirit to remove, obstacles to our fellowship with Jesus and with His Body. We do not lose our salvation when we sin, but we reap the natural consequences of it.

What is the measure of our walk with God? How can we tell if we’re doing it right, or there are still things in our lives that are effectively hindering our fellowship with God, resulting in unnecessary suffering?

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22-24 WEB

These are the things we are directed to attend to when testing the spirits of those we encounter. When we see the fruit, we know the Holy Spirit is working in that vessel. When we see it in ourselves, or in a brother or sister, we rejoice!

This list of the fruit of the Spirit is something of a diagnostic guide for us to search out needs in ourselves or our siblings. If some element is missing, we know something is amiss. Just a few verses later, Paul says this:

“Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each man examine his own work, and then he will have reason to boast in himself, and not in someone else. For each man will bear his own burden.”

But let him who is taught in the word share all good things with him who teaches. Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let’s not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let’s do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith.” Gal 6:1-10 WEB (Emphasis added)

We are directed here to bear one another’s burdens and to actively minister to each other in a spirit of gentleness when we see a sibling in need. We can only really fulfill the law of Christ if we walk as a Body united in Jesus Christ and not as individuals adrift, blown about by every wind of doctrine.

None of us has been able to find a fellowship of believers into which we fit. We are new wine in an old wineskin. We are a disruptive element in settings where the participants only want to play church. But God is able, and God has given us this small fellowship of fellow believers who love and pray for us, care for us, bear our burdens. Brothers and sisters with whom we can watch for the return of our Lord.

We all have need of a shepherd, a spiritual covering whose admonitions we heed and to whom we submit. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but He has also put shepherds who are believers over us. Two shepherds that we follow are J.D. Farag and Andy Woods. These men exhibit the fruit of the spirit in their lives and our spirits witness that they speak by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Do we pick our shepherds? Does a sheep select its shepherd? No. But we know our Master’s voice, and another we will not follow. This submission to a shepherd is important though, because it provides protection and blessing. If you don’t have a shepherd, look to the Lord and see what He has provided for you.

What should our walk with God and with one another look like? Paul described it here in Ephesians 5:

“15 Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Don’t be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father; 21 subjecting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.” Eph 5:15-21 WEB (Emphasis added)

This is the burden that the Lord has laid on my heart, that everyone in this little fellowship should live a life of joy in the Lord, unencumbered by influences that are obstacles to our walking in the fullness of the blessing that the Lord has provided for us. I have suffered as you have suffered: with treachery, with bitterness, with Godless family members, with disease, pain, infirmity, and with unrighteous people who attack us.

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, the snow globe and the baseball cap. I have nothing to boast about except for the salvation that God the Father gave me through the sacrifice of His dear Son. He sought me out, taught me, wooed me, accepted me, and made me to be the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, all while I was still a sinner. He did the same for each of you as well.

I have been taught of the Lord and by His grace led away from some of the same snares that still bind people in this fellowship. My dearest wish is to see us all freed – now; not to leave you writhing in misery until either death takes us or the Lord Raptures us. At the same time, I know God has things for me that can only come through my submission to each of you. It is a two-way street. We wash one another’s feet. We serve one another as the Lord has served us.

Look to the Lord about this. Let the Holy Spirit search you; search your hearts and reveal the true will of God for your life. Surrender yourselves completely to Him. He never fails. The Lord never fails. When we are unfaithful, He remains faithful still. Because of our faith we can choose to be among those disciples invited to the Transfiguration, or whatever intimate, miraculous events that are coming to reveal even more of our Lord to us. “That where I am, there ye may be also,” He said.  I love you all.   In Christ,   Jerry

Naomi’s one-word response to the email message was “Goodbye”. Her issues are with God, not me, and I have left her in His hands.

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Photo Credits

  • Adapted from #91237724/Jankovoy-adobe
  • #46314262/alecicotelli-adobe
  • Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer