I Corinthians 9:7-10 (NLT)
What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? For the Law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest.
As the clouds began to roll in and droplets of water bounced off the sidewalk, it became clear that my evening walk would not occur due to my aversion to the rain. Don’t mind sitting on the porch watching from the cover of shelter but the thought of plodding three miles or so in it does not appeal to me but neither did the alternative. I am not a huge fan of the gym. It smells like sweat and socks no matter how hard they try to mask it with disinfectant, sanitizers and air fresheners. Too many noises to distract me from the praise and worship blaring in my ears and likewise people to compare myself to. Nevertheless if this workout was going to happen (and it was), it would be as a guest with my husband in his fitness center. After signing in, we parted ways as he headed to the weight benches, I made my way to the line of treadmills along the wall. Treadmills remind me of human hamster wheels. I enjoy walking outside because it feels as though you are going somewhere even though I am only making the same circle each day. The treadmill just seems so regimented and monotonous. Choosing a workout called Rolling Hills hoping for a simulation, I began my journey. Who would ever think one would be inspired on a treadmill in a sweaty gym filled with struggling people? I guess the Holy Spirit really does go with me wherever I go.
After adjusting the settings, I walked for thirty minutes which is less than the forty-five of my usual foray. I set a pace that I thought to be similar to my daily jaunt including elevations along the way to try to emulate the “rolling hills” of our neighborhood (which I know refer to as my comfort zone). Surprisingly, two-thirds of the way through I was winded and struggling a bit to keep up. What was wrong with me? I do this almost every single night of the week. Why are my knees so weak? Why am I unable to keep up the pace? Could it be because in my comfort zone, I control all the variables? I decide how fast or slow I will go. I determine the intensity of my own workout. What I lack in consistency was found on a treadmill that is unaware of my failing limbs, rapidly beating heart and declining strength. The machine is methodical in nature unaffected by human weakness. It forced me to continue to keep up with the plan rather than speeding up, slowing down or worse stopping along the way. There are many distractions when I walk at night especially people who I cannot just pass by but feel compelled to stop and be social. But on the treadmill, there is no time for that or I will surely fall off the other end. When the workout was over, I was glad. As I stepped off the treadmill, my legs were like jelly. I learned a valuable lesson about my way versus God’s Way that night.
What soldier pays his own expenses? What farmer plants but does not eat of his produce? What shepherd cares for his flock but has no milk? One plows and one threshes, we all share the harvest. Why don’t we always partake in the fruit of our labor? Maybe it is because we are walking rather than treading in life. There is a difference between the two. To tread means to walk in, on, over and across. It is step of purpose rather than aimless wandering. It means to crush by treading as referenced above. It means to walk through life in the Authority of Jesus Christ and have the dominion God created us to have. It is to subdue or suppress. We have been given complete power over the enemy, yet we still walk in trepidation and fear of the future because of his lies. It is to do by walking or dancing. Where is our praise over the provision and promises of God? Why can’t we rejoice in our salvation? The enemy has violated the law of Moses that says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” (Deuteronomy 25:4) God has provided everything that we need to survive and be satisfied in this life. We have salvation which is the future and hope attached to His Plan which is the fulfillment of God through Jesus Christ. He has given us the Holy Spirit so we can do what pleases Him. But most of us choose to walk in our own way rather than setting our feet on course. The Highway of Holiness has definite markings. It is always the same. Grace allows us to go there. Mercy helps us keep on course. His Love is the driving force that compels us to walk there but few will actually choose a path of righteousness seeing it as limited and restrictive rather than productive and fruitful. I don’t like the gym. I don’t like how it affects my natural senses. The treadmill seems rigid and uncaring. It marks out my path and makes me follow. However, at the end of the day it is such a course that leads me to what I desire. We are not experiencing God’s Prosperity due to a lack of endurance and a compromised plan.
Micah 6:13-15 (NKJV)
“Therefore I will also make you sick by striking you by making you desolate because of your sins. You shall eat, but not be satisfied; hunger shall be in your midst. You may carry some away, but shall not save them; and what you do rescue I will give over to the sword. You shall sow, but not reap; You shall tread the olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; and make sweet wine, but not drink wine.”
God has not failed you. The Lord has not forgotten you. He sees you right where you are. The problem is not in God’s Provision or His Plan but in our inability to walk in His Ways. On the treadmill, I set a course including a desired goal. Once I pressed “go”, the equipment was not concerned with my physical or emotional wellbeing but only that I finish the course. When I walk, I can slow down if I get tired or a cramp. I can speed up when I am going down a hill. If I run into an old friend, I can stop and then start again when ready. But according to the settings on the machine, I keep a consistent and disciplined course unless I give up, push stop or get off the treadmill. God’s Plan is one way. It was written before time began. When we decide to give up, push stop or get off His Way – we hinder those things associated with His Goodness for our life. We muzzle ourselves so that we are unable to enjoy the fruits of our labor making it futile. We sow and reap by treading not walking. Treading goes beyond just putting one foot in front of the other. It is a commitment to something with a purposeful outcome rather than random wandering. God has created you with a purpose that only He can fulfill otherwise your life will seem futile and meaningless because you are a Child of God by design and anything less is unacceptable. We eat but are not satisfied. We get carried away by our own plans including selfish, sinful desires. We sow but never reap because the enemy robs us daily by his schemes. We go to church, pray and try to live a good life yet never feel the Power and Presence of God found uncompromising righteous obedience and passionate loving commitment to following Jesus Christ. It requires discipline that we are not born with and endurance that we must find.
Deuteronomy 11:24-25 (NKJV)
Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand against you; the LORD your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.
God created mankind to be a dominate force on the earth. We sold our birthright for a lie when the enemy came calling. Now what? God still promised His People prosperity and power if we would only walk in His Way. Instead, His People had to wander around for forty years until they would accept this plan for their life. It did not change when they lost their way. (Joshua 1:2-4) What lie have you sold your birthright for today? What has drawn you off course? Are you satisfied with your natural life? Do you hunger and thirst or are you content? The Promise of God allows us to stop wandering around gather substitutes and counterfeits to fill the void in our life and allows us to walk in the purpose and power of God to prosper on the earth. As you sow, you will reap. But what you sow is according to what you plant. God has given you dominion on this earth. To receive it begins with doing things the Lord’s Way, if this is too much to ask of you than it is really not necessary to ask anything of God. You must believe His Word, Will and Way enough to stop wandering and walk with purpose in every step. It is time to tread a little.
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT)
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
To tread is to walk in, on, over and across. Makes me think of the Love of God and that is wide, long, high and deep. As we learn to accept and walk in the Love of God, we begin to walk with purpose. Faith turns to confident hope as we learn to trust Him more and more allowing us to stop trying to do everything our way and accept God’s Way as the very best course of action. This is how we experience fullness in life and the power that comes from God as we are made complete through endurance that builds godly character. God’s Love is worth going after. It will lead you to a higher calling as you soar through life above the distractions that lead to detours, delays and defeat. “Even youths will become weak and tired and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31) As you become unhindered by human limitation, you are empowered by faithful expectation that allows you to follow the Will of God, walking in His Way which will yield fruit in your life. You will prosper as your soul prospers. You will begin to enjoy things like satisfaction, completion and contentment found only in the Love of God.
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 (NLT)
Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.
You can have it your way. You can chart your own course. You can have a good life. But if you want the most out of life, it requires more than just hard work and motivation. You have to live according to your purpose and plan designed specifically by God for you His Creation. Anything less is unacceptable and cannot ever satisfy you completely. You can work hard and make money. You can buy all the food you every could want, but it won’t satisfy your soul. You can have everything you need the moment you need it and still never find contentment. Without the reward of salvation and an abiding covenant of love with the Father, you will only experience momentary satisfaction and waning contentment. It is by following Jesus Christ that we find joy and peace for the rest of our days unhindered and unlimited even when it makes us uncomfortable.
Psalm 37:23-26 (NLT)
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. The godly always give generous loans to others and their children are a blessing.
It would be appropriate to expound on all of Psalm 37 but the core value is this – the Lord directs the steps of the godly. If you are not following closely to adhering to God’s Will, Way and Word for your life – you may be living a good life but it is not necessarily a godly life. Provision, protection, promises and prosperity are reserved for those who live a righteous and holy life. Those who consecrate themselves to God for His Purpose. This requires doing things His Way and not following our own path. We must walk in His Divine Footsteps laid out carefully before time began. His Spirit will guide you if you will submit to Him. God wants to bless your life. He will empower you to find satisfaction and live in it for the rest of your life no matter what! You are a Child of God! He is just waiting for you to act like it. Stop wandering and walking through life. Take off the muzzle of disobedience and live in the Prosperity of God found on the Highway of Holiness!
Psalm 37:3-6 (NLT)
Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the LORD and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37:27-29 (NLT)
Turn from evil and do good, and you will live in the land forever. For the LORD loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will die. The godly will possess the land and will live there forever.