Karen and I just returned from Ashville, NC where we stayed at a great Bed and Breakfast (North Lodge) and visited the Biltmore House, America’s biggest home, paid for by our wonderful kids as a birthday present for Karen.  As we travel we always travel with what we call a bum bags. A bum bag is a paper bag filled with three dollars, a bottle of water, an apple, a granola bar, a piece of Dove chocolate, and a chick track to help someone who just needs a bag of love to make it. While in Ashville we saw many bums, but sadly we met not a bum who deserved of one of our bags.  To be honest we were shocked to see how the homosexual community has conquered the City of Ashville.  I think Billy and Franklin Graham and their folks need not travel around the world to evangelize the lost, but just travel less than 30 miles from the Cove and have a heart for the City of Ashville. Karen and I were surprised by the lack of spiritual churches and just a general lack of a spiritual attitude and presence in the city.  It was evident everywhere we went from restaurants to stores, local parks, the Biltmore House, and gas stations. The streets were filled with bums panhandling or playing instruments for money I thought I was in San Francisco. Now we had the bum bag we could have given it out, but the bums were young, healthy even the dogs they had were well fed, but they were just dirty, lazy, and lacked a desire to work worst though was their lack of a desire for the things of God in their lives.  We never passed out our bum bag (there was no one we saw that deserved them), but as I reflected on these folks I wondered how they could end up like this and of course the answer is because of the ungodly decisions they made they were brought to this ungodly condition.  Now some would say Pastor Dave you are too judgmental you should have given them all a bag, well this is not in keeping with the Bible.  The Bible says if a man does not work then he should not eat, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:10-11)

God expects us to work and be accountable for our actions there are consequences for our actions and decisions.  We are where we are today in life based on two things; God’s grace and longsuffering and our conscious decisions.  Our place in life is not based on our parent’s wealth, color of our skin, our intelligence, or our skills and abilities we all can get a job if we really want one, but the driving force in our lives is the choices and decisions we make.  Each bad decision we made will require us to make two right decisions to get us out of harm’s way.  These homosexuals and bums in Ashville have turned their back on God and only when they turn towards a loving God will they be able to get their life back on track again. I wondered why our four kids did not end up like these homosexuals and bums in Ashville. And the answer quite clear is Karen and I loved our kids enough to take them to church and put as much of God in their lives as we could.  This was a decision we made when they were small and today it has paid off for them, us, their spouses, and their families.  Most often our decisions impact more on the lives of others than on us alone.  Little do we know the true impact of each insignificant decision we make.  If we knew we would be more careful in what we decide.  Not the big decisions we make, but the little ones.  We think God is more concerned about the big things we do and about the big decisions we make, well not so. God is more concerned about the little decisions we make and the little things we do; the smaller the decision the more God is securitizing us in it.  God is always watching us move and operate in small things because He knows if we can function correctly (He can trust us then) in small things then when we make big decisions we will also move correctly in them.

So too in our spiritual life, we are where we are in God today based on the decision we have made over time.  The collections of correct Godly decisions will end us in a place of great prosperity (to push forward in God) in God. Our spiritual life (the level of spiritual maturity to which we have attained) is far more than the sum of the spiritual information that we have gathered or any compilation of our spiritual experiences.  Rather, the core and substance of our being “spiritual” relates to the level of inner peace and harmony that results from our making right choices and decisions along the pathway of our spiritual journey.  Because the Lord is seeking those who are willing to go beyond that which they have freely received through redemption, our making these right choices and decisions will never be easy.  Paul tells us in Philippians, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)  No matter who or where we are, we must make decisions as to what we will see, hear, do, or where we will go or not go.  The ever present temptation is to compromise and go along with the questionable or difficult situations that we often find in our path or circumstances, but we must never forget it is not the church or a denomination that is God’s work, but us.  Again Paul tells us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.”  (Ephesians 2:10)  Notice that our response to and cooperation with these “good works” is conditional “we should walk in them.” These good works are preordained testing points that will determine how far we will follow the LORD. We make few major decisions, but each day we make many “minor” (seemingly to us) decisions that feed either the carnal or the spiritual aspect of our being.  The accumulation of these choices will result in our becoming predominantly carnal or spiritual. As our spiritual decisions begin to outweigh the negative pulls and responses we become an “overcomer.” To the extent that we rise above carnal soulish desires we are lifted into a place of communion with our LORD and we grow spiritually. John tells us, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His Throne.”  (Revelation 3:21) Our position with Jesus in this “throne” relationship is the result of our overcoming (rising above) all that is earthly and carnal.

The more decisions that we make which are toward the Lord and His purpose the easier it will become to continue making these decisions.  The further down the road that we go in our walk with the LORD we will progressively become more detached from all that is either carnal or a temptation to us.  In the beginning it may be difficult, but as we progress it will become easier.  The pathway of our spiritual life can be considered as being an upward spiral.  If we take a large wood screw and place a finger nail in the groove near the point and run it along the surface we will gradually progress toward the head.  Though it may seem to us that we are going in circles, as we continue to make right decisions, we are progressively moving upward.  If we do this in reverse and feed the carnal aspect of our being, it will lead us ever downward.  There are those who have within them a quality of spiritual life (divine substance that permeates their being) and it may not be apparent as to why this is so, but if inquired into these would testify that through the struggles of life they have been making quality decisions which brings them into an ever increasing levels of fellowship with the LORD, in His Throne.  Too often we think the Kingdom of God is a place we can get a job or exercise power and authority over someone, but this is so far from the truth.  Paul in Romans tells us what the kingdom of God is, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serves Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”  (Romans 14:17-18) The Kingdom of God begins with “righteousness.”  As we make the right choices, we place ourselves on a platform called righteousness.  Due to an accumulation of these righteous choices, we discover that there resides within us an abiding “peace.”  This will also result in the approbation or the favor of God resting upon us and “joy” is then manifested.  Our submission to divine government will lead to our becoming a partaker with the LORD, in His Throne.  In this realm our decisions do not relate only to right or wrong, but with the motives that underlie right or wrong. It is here that the final test of our union with the LORD will find its outworking.  We are tested concerning the choices and decisions that we make.  As we progress up the spiral we will be tested concerning the motives of our heart which provoke the things that manifest as right or wrong. It is not enough to deny our self, but we must overcome the very principle that allows it to abide within us and assert itself.  Those who are satisfied with being blessed and eventually going to heaven have their reward the streets of gold and mansions, but for those who intensely hunger for this higher level of spiritual reality, there is much more.  These in the place of pressure will deal with the issues of their heart, they will be found in the Throne, seated with Jesus.

As Karen and I were touring the Biltmore House the LORD impressed these words on me, “and yet he died.”  I shared these words around the breakfast table at the Bed and Breakfast table where we stayed and things really got quiet.  Mr George Vanderbilt had it all, yet he died.  He had over  120,000 areas of land, a house of over 250 rooms with four acres of floor space, and over 1,800 employees, yet he died at age 51 in Washington, DC from complications from appendicitis and the surgery that followed.  The building of the Biltmore House was a marvel in 1895 when it was opened and happened out from decisions Mr. Vanderbilt made, yet he died.  Nothing is discussed about his spiritual condition this too was made out from the decisions he made. My hope is that He is with the LORD, but I do not know.  What I do know is if he is with the LORD he made the right decisions and if we too desire to be with the LORD now on earth and when we die we too must make the right decision.