Stop Lingering. ‘Come Out of Her, My People’

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

She has been an adulterer with all of us…

What activities in your life do you linger in that are snares to your spiritual growth?

1After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2With a mighty voice he shouted:

“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. 3For all nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. 4Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; 5for her sins have piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. – Revelation 18:1-5, New International Version

Babylon was a splendid city in ancient Mesopotamia located between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers about 60 miles south of what is now Baghdad. It was a resilient, thriving and idolatrous city whose pleasures often came with a price to its occupiers. Through Daniel, King Belshazzar, who ruled in Babylon, was warned that “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.” (Daniel 5:26) True to the prophecy, Babylon and Belshazzar’s kingdom was destroyed by the Persians.

Today, “Babylon” is our sinful, wicked and hedonistic culture. It is also whatever is your personal “Babylon.” What is your personal Babylon? I don’t know. But it usually appeals to our flesh. The Holy Spirit surely will indicate areas in your life that need sanctification; activities or people that He has asked you to shed, be separated from, no longer be ensnared by, to no longer entertain the flesh.

Your “Babylon” could be anything from gorging on unhealthy foods or particular goods He has instructed you to abstain from, music, types of television shows or other forms of media and entertainment He has pricked your spirit about to no longer allow these in your life since our bodies house the Holy Spirit. It could be any form of sexual immorality, lusts of the flesh, pride of life, gossiping, ungodly associations, materialism, vanity, selfish ambition, false doctrine, false beliefs and trends, etc.

If we are truly walking and talking with the Lord, studying His Word and learning His ways, we’ll feel that “prick” in our spirit as only He can do. In His infinite wisdom, He knows that indulging Babylon is harmful to us whether spiritually, physically, emotionally or mentally. I presume that any loving parent would call their child away from harm.

In His great love for us, God does the same and we should take joy in this. We are His Children and He calls us away from such harm knowing that it corrupts even if “everybody else is doing it” (in this case, the world). The world is behaving as it should in a world heavily influenced by Satan. We are called to be set apart from the world. Not only has God set us apart from the world for His purposes, we are called to expose the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11).

It may even be something that doesn’t appear bad by outward appearances. For example, habitually drinking coffee, or for me it was listening to a lot of R & B music years ago, watching some TV shows. The Lord may see an activity as too consuming in your life and ask you to “put it down” to subdue the flesh. We may also be ignorant of what is our personal Babylon. Ask Him to reveal it to you.

When He says, “Come out,” don’t linger like Lot’s wife who was destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah for lingering because her heart was still joined to it. Sever ties with it. Avoid rationalizing your need to stay in Babylon, however harmless it seems in the grand scheme of things. That’s the intended delusion!

 

Babylon culture

Is there anything we would allow to hinder deepening our obedience to the Lord, whatever He asks? Is there anything not worth shedding that He asks us? He is indeed a gracious, loving and patient God who calls and prompts us, awaiting our response. He is imploring His People—you and me as members of the Body of Christ, His elect and those lost sheep yet to return to the fold—to “Come out of her,” to come out of Babylon.

I join many of you and other Believers in sensing that Jesus is preparing His Bride, preparing His Church for His return. There is a serious tenderness with an increased urgency to “come out now” and “don’t linger.” While the world will continue to engage in its affections, God has called us to separate from it. He is returning for a glorious Church without spot, wrinkle or blemish, holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:27).

I direct this message to you as well as to myself. Our goal is spiritual maturity, to be perfected in Christ Jesus. To be truly liberated from our clamoring flesh. We are at war with our flesh–not to make peace with it. We must be vigilant.

Sanctification is a process. You have to desire the change and it starts by renewing your mind (Romans 12:2) and setting your mind on what the Spirit desires (Romans 8:5-6). God will not change His mind about what He wants from us so we need to change ours. Come out now and don’t linger. May you be obedient and guard against any rationalization to stay in or return to it. He will help you if you trust Him and obey. He will give you the grace to do it but we must be a participant. May we directly associate obedience with our love for Him.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” -John 14:15 (New International Version)

Heavenly Father, thank you for your lovingkindness shown toward us even when we have blatantly rebelled. As your children, you know what is best for us and the purposes you have for us. May we be determined by a desire for holiness to stop lingering in a lifestyle or habit when you have said “Come out of it.” May our hearts be tendered to your voice. If we are ignorant of our personal Babylon, show us and help our obedience to leave it behind. May we press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us. Thank you for wanting to free us from the affections of this world so we may experience abundant life as you’ve promised. By your leading, may we serve as light, love and truth to help free others who are ensnared by worldly culture. 

In Jesus’ Name we ask and pray this.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Will You Be Found Wanting?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Tekel (means “weighed”): You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. –Daniel 5:27, New International Version

The New Living Translation uses the words “have not measured up” and the New American Standard Bible uses the words “found deficient.”

The Gill’s Exposition commentary on Daniel 5:27 gives the meaning on ‘Tekel’:

“though art weighed in the balances: of justice and truth, in the holy righteous law of God; as gold, and jewels, and precious stones, are weighed in the scales by the goldsmith and jeweler to know the truth (the integrity) of them, weighed with great exactness, to know the worth of them… where a person’s principles, practices, are to be weighed; and it is sad where they are found light and wanting…pretending to be righteous and holy and will be found wanting of that holiness and righteousness…his works will be found wanting, and not answerable to the demands of a righteous law, and he without the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness, and so naked and speechless. The fire of the word will reveal, try, and burn up and being able to stand against it; and if these are weighed in the balances, they will be found wanting of real truth and goodness, and be but as chaff to wheat…”

Daniel 5:27 along with the commentary, references those whose works, intentions of their heart and their lifestyle has been counterfeit and unrighteous in the eyes of God.  They pursued vanities and not the truth; not the true oil to fill their lamps. Their living will be measured against God’s standards and found to be deficient. Their vain living and works absent of the righteousness of Christ will be burned up in the fire like hay or wood. The fire will test what work each has done, and if anyone’s work is burned up he will be saved but only through the fire. However, those robed in Christ’s righteousness, who have operated in the truth, will be like pure jewels and stones whose works when measured on the scales will not be deficient but of lasting, enduring, eternal substance and significance.

scales Daniel 5-27

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 also references those who build their lives on foundations other than the true foundation of Christ Jesus. In doing so, no matter their worldly accolades and achievements, they will come up short in their eternal impact.

That which we love, we seek. Many people pursue the vanities of worldly significance, ignorant and oblivious to what will truly be of significance/weight/value in the eternal. This grave and irreversible reality is sealed after they have died, have been eulogized and unable to do no more. They will be without excuse.

Paul also says “each man’s work will be revealed by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13),” and what will remain? The nearer you draw to God in THIS LIFE, it sets your course on your role with GOD in Eternal Life. As Believers, we will not be judged for our sins but our work will be judged. What work did we do for Him? In Matthew 6:33, Jesus told us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” and to be near to Him, and to love Him. We are establishing an eternal inheritance for ourselves.

Introspection

Sometimes I am led to expand more in my writings but have not felt that leading here. The message is piercing and sobering. It calls us to take a serious account of our living thus far; to ask God to reveal to us areas where we are falling short. To seek and pursue Him with everything we have. To yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leading into truth and to follow in the right direction. We want to hear those words, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

Will your work be sustained or burn up? Will you be found wanting on the scales? Your folly will be made manifest at a time in which there are no “do overs”; the window of “redo” will have closed as you find your living and works deficient, if you are found wanting on the scales according to God’s standards.

Have you lived as God calls us–to be holy and righteous? Have you provided people with sufficiency, weight and truth? What fruit have you produced in their lives that will give them eternal weight?

-Nicole

 

Is Holiness Possible Today?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“Oh Nikki, stop it with that holier than thou stuff,” said mom to my then 13 or 14-year-old self. Note: mom didn’t say “stuff” but I’ve chosen a more appropriate substitute.  🙂

Mom was responding to my correction about her cussing. I was a black child, albeit raised in a household by two Christian parents, along with my brother, who found boldness (or ignorance) to correct her mother. Those of you who understand the dynamics of growing up in a black household, mom didn’t like back talk (even if we were right) and neither did/does Dad (mom passed away in 1989). But within me, I had a boldness and love for the Lord and a desire to see others love and live for the Lord as He calls us to.

I-am-the-light-of-the-world

My love for the Lord began in early childhood. My parents bought my brother and me an entire 10-volume set of illustrated bible stories. I read the stories from page to page, enjoying the illustrations, loved learning about Jesus, his ministry, his and the disciples’ interactions with others. Even reading about his crucifixion and resurrection, I may have read that more than the other stories. I loved the Lord, yet my childhood thing was to be so perfect that I wouldn’t get in trouble with mom and dad. So if I didn’t complete a chore, broke a dish, got a bad report card grade, or something else, I lied about it. I sometimes blamed the incident on my brother who had no clue that he was about to get a spanking because I lied so well. Goodness gracious. He and I can look back on it now and laugh, but at that time it was no laughing matter. My parents were grieved by my boldface lying pattern, and one day said to me, “Nikki, we want to be able to trust you. We can’t trust you.”

Those words pained me deeply. I too, wanted my parents to be able to trust me. Why did I fear being punished to the point of lying? I was truly repentant and asked the Lord’s help to stop lying, to turn from this. I didn’t want to be a liar. This was at age 12. It was then that I turned my life over to Jesus Christ, and my heart was made new. It was then that I felt a greater love for the Lord, with such a zeal to share Him and His love with others, to encourage them to walk in His truth.

Oh yes, this has long been who I am. This sudden change occurred within our household with my mom who was a Believer. But she still had her favorite curse words, liked to smoke her occasional More brand slim cigarettes, and liked to drink her occasional screwdriver. She was not delighted to hear her teen daughter’s correction. Eeeks.

Two scriptures (and certainly there are more) come to mind in writing this: 

1 Peter 1:16 (English Standard Version), since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” As one commentary reads, “The written word of God is the surest rule of a Christian’s life, and by this rule, we are commanded to be holy in every way. God makes those holy who he saves.  Holiness (should be) the desire and duty of every Christian. It must be in all affairs, all conditions and toward all people.”

Matthew 5:6 (New International Version), Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  As I was coming more into the Lord in childhood, I genuinely had a hunger and thirst for righteousness; for a right relationship with God and others (and still do). I simply didn’t interpret it with this understanding at that time, and likely, neither did mom.

be_ye_holy_as_i_am_holy_by_whitenine-d34fske

Sooo many opportunities to sin abound in our society. Is the Bible and how God calls us to live still relevant or even possible in today’s challenging times? The answer is “Yes.” God’s Word, His character and His nature are unchanging, no matter the situation. In the next few weeks, our ministry will speak with college students who are struggling on how to navigate such societal trappings. Worse, as they seek to successfully avoid the trappings and enticements of sin, they see some members within the Body of Christ who they look up to, engaging in similar sins—the sins the students are told to avoid. Many of them are disheartened and confused by what they see. As I mentor our young people, I understand that this millenial generation truly wants to see those more mature in the Body of Christ walking the walk and not just talking it. Truly living in holiness,  yielding our flesh and spirit in obedience to God’s will. Mirroring Christ’s love and His ways.

But I’ll ask them as I am asking you: Is holiness possible today? Do you even desire holiness or understand what it is? As dear friend and co-founder of Christian think tank FreedomSquared.com, Hakim Hazim, said so well recently: “Many want God’s blessings but reject the relationship standards.” 

What Holiness Means and Why It is Possible Today 

Holiness means to be “set apart, consecrated, set apart for God’s purposes; sacred, hallowed, sanctified. Called out of darkness to reflect God’s Light to the world.” God gives us His Holy Spirit so we can live as He does. That’s why it is possible, even today, to live holy.

Is holiness possible today? You bet. It’s not only possible, it’s God’s plan for us. Be encouraged: I am living it as are others. If you’re living it, continue, as others are watching and listening. If you’re struggling, I offer this prayer:

Lord, help us through Your Holy Spirit to yield to your ways, your will for holiness and not how we interpret that to mean.  Develop within us such a love and devotion for you that drives our desire to pursue holiness no matter the situation or environment we’re facing. Though there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), let us not use that as a license to keep allowing past sins into our present.  Help us to model to this generation what a life of true joy, true freedom, true peace can look like in You. Thank you, Jesus, for your love, mercy and grace upon us. 

Amen.

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

Subterranean Iniquity

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. –Hebrews 4:13

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Usually when we think of the word “subterraneous” or “subterranean” we define it as something that lies or operates underneath the surface of the earth. However, this word could also be defined as something or someone that exists or operates out of sight or secretly. At times in our lives there have been subterranean iniquities a.k.a., sins that we have either failed to confess or knowingly attempted to cover up. What is sin? Summed up, it is an offense against God’s religious or moral law. It is the debased, depraved, or corrupt state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God a.k.a., in a wrong relationship with our creator. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” –James 4:13

Bishop J.C. Ryle, an 18th century Anglican preacher and prominent writer, once wrote this quote and I believe it’s still applicable today: “Do nothing that you would not like God to see. Say nothing you would not like God to hear. Write nothing you would not like God to read. Go no place where you would not like God to find you. Read no book of which you would not like God to say, “Show it to me.” Never spend your time in such a way that you would not like to have God say, “What are you doing?”

It’s worth considering. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro through-out the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.  2 Chronicles 16:91-John-19-If-We confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive

You say, “Well then! How am I supposed to have any fun!?” Friend, I know without a doubt that you can have fun in the Lord and among his people. However, the truth is your life has to be clean in order to truly experience it. There is something about the Holy Spirit that lives within the Believers of Jesus Christ that before you can experience the joy and the fun you can have in him, he first prompts you to “go and sin no more.”  He says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4   Our lives ought to be holy so that the presence of the Lord can be with us and ultimately so that we can be used for his glory and the Kingdom of God.

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  –1 John 1:5-9  Forgive-Me- 1 John 1-9

Jesus stands ready to forgive and save the unbeliever. Likewise he is always ready to restore the fallen believer. Will you draw near to him? He wants you to. It’s my prayer that you do today. Amen

-Jason

Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.