In the latter 1990s, before I had relocated to Florida  from Long Island, I had a very close brother in the Lord who lived in Pennsylvania. I had met him and his family of wife and 2 young boys at a Christian camp retreat during the time the Lord was calling me into prison ministry. He was involved in prison ministry. There were a number of times his family came to spend 3 or 4 days at my log cabin in the mountains of Upstate New York, and a number of times I would spend time with his family in Pennsylvania.
He had his own home improvement business, and during that time he became deeply interested in antiques. He spent a lot of time reading, studying, and learning about antiques, and then decided to become a dealer in his spare time. He spent all of his spare time going to auctions and antique dealer shows. He became literally hooked on antiques…to the point where he was scheduling his contracting work to accommodate antique auctions he wanted to attend! And he was spending all of his spare money buying antiques and accumulating them, and then selling them on E-bay at a profit. The only problem was…he would pour the money he received from the sale of antiques right back into buying more and more antiques, and his investment in them became larger and larger! He used to tell me that the Lord had granted him “the desire of his heart”…completely misapplying the Scripture, Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. [Ps 37:4] He used to justify what he was doing by saying antiques are a platform that enables me to minister the Lord to other dealers as the occasion arises.
This is what many Christians oftentimes do to satisfy their conscience; they justify away their guilt. They are living out Not Thy will, by my will be done. They are doing the things they enjoy in this world, things that give them pleasure. They justify it by saying it is a platform that enables me to minister the Lord to others as the occasion arises. For some it is fishing and/or boating on the weekends. For others it is routinely playing golf; bowling in a league; playing tennis; engaged in a hobby; playing mindless video games; going to the gym; watching sports on television or going to sports events; working a job you enjoy, not because you need the money for the necessities of life; watching favorite television shows/movies; etc., etc., etc. If the Lord called you into His Presence, to meet with Him face to face, and asked you, My child, what have you done this past week with the allotted time I have given you? Would you be embarrassed to tell Him how you have spent some of your time…a good portion of your time? Would you be able to say to Him Who sees even the secret most hidden things you do, and knows the deepest most hidden thoughts of your heart, I have faithfully inquired of Your Holy Spirit, and I have gone only where He has led me to go; I have been engaged in doing only what He has shown me to do to participate together with Him in His work.
My brother John above from Pennsylvania once took me to see an incredible display of antique kitchen and home artifacts that a pastor had put together in his basement over a period of many years. It was so extensive…like a museum! I could only imagine the enormous amount of time he spent in doing this, and the money it cost! Oftentimes he would tour school kids and youth groups through his basement “museum! As he was giving us his tour, he explained that, “Of course, if the Lord told him he needed to relocate elsewhere as a missionary, he would not object. After all, it is only stuff. And he would be able to sell everything and easily recover all the money he had spent.” I had never met this pastor before…but the Lord strongly prompted me to send him a “watchman’s letter” that ended up by saying, “Yes…you would be able to recover the money you had spent, but the time you had spent cannot be recovered; it is LOST FOREVER.”
I knew a brother in the Lord who greatly enjoyed bowling…and so, he and his wife were in a bowling league during the week. He was a former pastor, and had done some missionary work in South America. One morning…on the morning of his bowling league day…as he was walking through his neighborhood, an unsaved man he knew…whom he had oftentimes witnessed to…saw him walking and came hurriedly over. The man was greatly distressed, and pleaded that he desperately needed to get together with him this morning to talk, that it was urgent and very important. My brother friend said he would be happy to meet with him…later in the afternoon after he returned home from bowling! He made his recreational bowling more important and a priority over that man’s soul! How would you ever be able to explain that to the Lord?
A number of years ago, the Lord put me in touch with a brother I had never even met before…who was seriously addicted to gambling [so I found out] for the past 14 years. He was homeless and lived out of his car, because all the money he earned was always spent entirely on gambling. He used to tell me how he would pray to the Lord to bless him with winnings…and that in return he would give half of his winnings to churches and Christian organizations! And he actually believed that the Lord would oftentimes answer his prayer! He was stunned when I told him the Lord does not bless sin…and that it was Satan keeping him locked up in his addiction. After several years of becoming a close friend and ministering to him, I had convinced him that he needed to get into a one year gambling addiction program, and that I would help him through it. At that point, he walked away from the Lord and from me…he knew gambling was sin, but he liked doing it and wanted to keep on doing it, and refused to give it up for the Lord!
That brings me back to my brother John from Pennsylvania. I never had any interest in antiques, and I told the Lord there were 3 things I would NEVER do: I would NEVER be involved in antiques; I would NEVER miss a Tuesday night prayer meeting at my church [Brooklyn Tabernacle]; I would NEVER miss a Sunday service [there were 4 services on Sunday; I always attended 3 of them]. The problem was…I NEVER heard the Lord speaking to me, “Oh, really?” I started to go with John to some auctions…and then it wasn’t long before I also became hooked! I became very knowledgeable in, and specialized in, antique oil lamps. I was able to buy lamps at a low price, and had even learned how to repair them. Then I would sell them on E-bay and make a good profit. But I did what John did…I just poured the proceeds back into buying even more lamps! I even bargained with the Lord as my gambling addiction brother did…asking Him to bless me with great buying opportunities, and that I would give ALL the sales proceeds to Him! Really what I was doing…I just wanted to keep on enjoying my addiction, and I didn’t care about the money! And then it happened…I missed a Tuesday night prayer meeting, and also the following Sunday church services as I spent the entire Sunday going to antique shops! The “rooster” crowed twice…I had done all three things I told the Lord I would NEVER do! The Holy Spirit convicted me so deeply, and made me so painfully and consciously aware of my sin! In that moment, I repented and turned completely away from antiques! I tried to convince my brother John he was wrong, but he wouldn’t listen. Several years later the Lord delivered him…but only after his wife became so bitter about his antiques that their marriage was on the verge of collapse!
Brothers and sisters in Christ…
The Lord’s disciples walked with Him each and every day. They were with Him wherever He went. I don’t believe any of them excused themselves on occasion to attend the chariot races in Jerusalem, or the annual boat show on Lake Galilee. Andrew Murray has said that bearing fruit is not just a part of a Christian’s life; bearing fruit IS my life.
Just as God raised up a remnant of just 1% of all the men Gideon had marshaled to fight against the Midianites, even so there is a holy remnant whom God is raising up for Himself in these Last Days…a Godly remnant of the 1% of His children who will not bow down, who will not shrink back, who will not compromise, who will remain steadfast and immovable in their commitment to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goes. God’s holy remnant is called to life of self-sacrifice and self-denial. You cannot become my disciple without being willing to sacrifice one’s desire for anything and everything you own. Obedience is what characterizes the life of Your child…obedience continually and unceasingly day and night. I am called to a life of obedience. All who are indeed My children are continually led by My indwelling Holy Spirit!
Abba Father…Time is the most precious gift You have given me. I don’t ever want to have to stand before You, Father, and be ashamed to tell You how I have spent any hour of my time. I don’t want to spend my time on my self-life…satisfying my self-interests, engaged in doing things having selfish motives, having a self-serving agenda, or to gain something for myself. I don’t want to spend my time engaged in doing any work that Your Holy Spirit is not engaged in doing. I don’t want to spend my time engaged in doing any work that Your Holy Spirit has not specifically called me to do to participate with Him in His work. I don’t want to spend my time on anything that does not contribute to the physical and spiritual well-being of my family. I want to know there is an eternal purpose for what I am doing, that how I am spending my time has eternal value and eternal worth.
Abba Father… It doesn’t matter, then, whether I live or whether I die. All that really matters is that You keep my heart lovingly and joyfully joined with Your will…because The death of my physical body is certain…whether now or later. Even so, I fulfill the Eternal Purpose You have for my existence solely and only by wholly embracing in my heart: NOT MY WILL, BUT THY WILL BE…in everything. This is the defining characteristic of my life…the life of a child of the Most High God. Abba Father…I am to be only where You place me to be; I only go where You lead me to go; I only do what You show me to do; I only present the thoughts You give me to present, and I only speak or write the words You give me to speak or write. That is how I worship You in Spirit and in Truth. Abba Father…the supreme act of worship is: Not my will, but Thy will be done…in EVERYTHING. The supreme expression of worship is spending my allotted time solely and only, wholly and always, on things that have eternal value, eternal worth, eternal purpose. If I don’t worship You in this manner, then none of my “worship” is good or pleasing or acceptable to You. I would be guilty of honoring You with my lips, but my heart is far from You; it is a stench in Your nostrils.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new Earth…the final redemption of our Earth and race, the restitution of all things accomplished…for the first heaven and the first Earth with all its damages, disorders and spoilations that were the result of sin had passed away. And, likewise, there was no longer any vestige of the first sea, but rather a new, regenerated and eternal, sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, and prepared for the Bride…the Lamb’s wife…for her eternal blessedness…the very crown of the redeemed world! And I heard a loud voice from the Throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live and walk with them as He once did with Adam, in sublime and intimate fellowship. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God, and this union and intercommunion with Him, and possession of Him, will be the very crown of human blessedness and glory! He Himself in loving Almightiness will wipe every tear from their eyes, drying up all of the many springs of sorrow that now break human hearts. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain with their thousandfold heartaches and griefs which now beset and torment the children of men, for the old order of things has passed away, and all things are made new by the great regeneration of God.”
5He who was seated on the Throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Friends, brothers and sisters…
There is one absolutely necessary preparation for every living soul on the face of this Earth, for the soon coming and imminent return of Jesus Christ…the one preparation that will irrevocably determine in which neighborhood you will spend all eternity, whether in Heaven or in Hell. You must be a born-again child of God. I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot be in God’s Kingdom. I tell you the truth, no one can ever enter the Kingdom of God unless you are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at My saying you must be born again. [Jesus…John 3:3-7]
If you have never been born again,
or you are not sure whether you have been born again,
or you have been living your life as a lukewarm Christian and would now like to recommit your life and enter into a deep and intimate relationship with Christ Jesus in preparation for the soon coming marriage supper of the Lamb…
then I counsel you to get alone with God, read the solemn marriage vows you must make to become the bride of Christ and thereby be born-again, [https://preservechristianfamily.org/2019/01/21/bride-of-christ/], and with sincerity of heart from within the depths of your being, acknowledge before God, “I DO.”
He walks with me and He talks with me: