Archive for August 2010

Change Is Coming, Change Has Come

August 28, 2010

I want to know You Lord, as You know me,
but I am so easily distracted
help me to keep my eyes on You
so that I may learn to walk with you,
every day, every hour, every minute, every heartbeat.

When I know You, I will be able to share You
I will be able to speak, to others, the words You speak to me.
I will be able to love others as You love me
There are so many things that will change
for the better.

You will show me how much You love me
You will show me how much You love others
You will show me how much You love the Father
and how much He loves You.
from this great font, this great reservoir of love
You will teach me how to share Your love
You will send Your Spirit
You will send it like a torrent
to water the earth through me and through the others
my brothers and sisters.

In my lifetime I shall see You move
and the earth will tremble to know that You are here with us
That You are moving through us.
That You are visiting hearts
That You are changing lives

No one can hide from You oh Lord
No one will be able to say
We didn’t see, or we didn’t know
You will be making it clear to all.
And all will know that You are not to be trifled with

They can fear You
They can love You
They can walk with You
They can question You
They can reject You
but no one will be able to ignore You

Your Spirit will flow freely
Your reality will intrude on our fantasies
Your true life will invade our shadow lives
and many will welcome the change.

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Maturity

August 26, 2010

This is a re-post of an article which I posted over a year ago, when I perused the stats I noticed that not many people had actually seen this one.

I hope you will enjoy it.

Have you been frustrated by the song and dance many ministers perform when you ask them about what happened to all of the miracles, which are plainly and routinely spoken of in the Bible? Are you shocked (even just a little bit) when they tell you that miracles are not for today? I have often been amazed at some of the people around me who identify themselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and call themselves “Christians”. They are reading the same Bible or Bibles (various translations) that I am, yet it seems that we are not getting the same message. In the Bible I see a long line of people all the way back to Abel, who despite the fall, walked and talked with God. The true depth of some of the relationships is not spelled out, but there can be no doubt that Enoch, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph had unusually close relationships with the Lord, And this is just in the book of Genesis.

I am struck by the fact that God is sketching out for us, throughout Scripture, the life that we can have in Him. These Biblical fellows were not identified primarily by their professions, no, they were the people who knew God and knew Him well. There was no wavering on Abraham’s part at the command of God to sacrifice Isaac. We see Jacob the rascal transformed into a great man of faith by His relationship with God. There is the picture of the immature Joseph becoming wise as he suffers in prison with no one but God Himself to rely on.

Where are our modern examples of this kind of faith, this intimacy with God. I am disappointed to find that many men and women who call themselves “Christians” identify themselves primarily with their professions, or with their families, their relationship with Christ is lower on their list of priorities. We do not see very many, if any, who “walk by faith and not by sight”.

It is alarming to me that so many people in the various Institutional Churches believe that gaining head knowledge of scripture and following the advice (sometimes the commands) of their denominations constitutes a walk of faith.

Ever since the finished work of Christ on the cross and pentecost, we who believe in Him, have had immediate access to God through the Holy Spirit. If the Biblical accounts are to be taken as the gold standard this means that each of us who seek Him have the ability to speak to Him and hear Him answer. And the ability to daily seek Him and know His presence. The presence of the Holy Spirit in your life means that He has set up a place in your heart where He can be met and communed with similar to the Holy of Holies in the ancient temple in Jerusalem. A place where we can get to know Him, if we are willing.

If we are the people of God with this special constant contact with God, then it should be more obvious. We should be seeing people who are continually conscious of the presence of the Lord, humbly walking with Him, taking everything to Him everyday. And the presence of God should be apparent in our lives, in our demeanor, in our faces, the reflection of the glory of God in our hearts. Oh and yes there should be miracles, wonderful things follow the people who are His vessels, just look at the amazing life of Moses. A group of people who know Christ intimately should be the people you can rely on to lead you into a similar, deeper relationship, a Peter or John type relationship, a Moses type relationship, or a King David type of relationship.

Instead a “Church” group is a place where you are likely to be manipulated into giving money to a building project or where you may find yourself getting into fruitless arguments about the interpretation of some Scripture or theological matter. Or worse yet a place where you are indoctrinated into their denominational teachings which have become, for many, more important than the Bible itself.

Paul made it very clear in his pastoral letters that a believer grows into the fullness of Christ, that is, it is a maturation process. Are we seeing people, growing into giants of faith, like Samuel, Peter, John, or Paul, or are we seeing people trudge in and out of some “Church” building, as hungry for the Bread of Life and as thirsty for the Living Water as they were before they even heard of the Lord?

It seems that in our cultural expressions of “Christianity” we are stuck in first gear, a sort of self perpetuating immaturity that keeps us dependent on our trained “clergy” many of whom no longer believe in the integrity of scripture having been “enlightened” by the scholarship of the seminary. I recall an Assembly of God minister who advised his congregation that the woman caught in adultery passage in John 8 can be dismissed because it was not in the earliest manuscripts, I was shocked. Is there no room for the sovereignty of God in the Assembly of God seminary? Are we therefore trusting in the Lord, or are we leaning on our own understanding, or in this case modern scholarship, and are we making an idol of our “wisdom”?

Everybody who is in a “Church” knows how to lead you to join their “Church” and become members in good standing of their “Christian” group. Yet how many can lead you deeper into the things of Christ, into intimacy with the Spirit of the Living God.

I cannot claim this full maturity yet, it is the process I am involved in, and maturity will be the fruit  of being closer to, and more like Jesus, but I invite you, dear reader, to seek God with your whole heart and enter into this process of growth in the Spirit. There are numerous scriptures that speak of how willing He is to respond to you, when you humbly and earnestly seek Him.
There is the timeless Revelation 3:20

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.” Amplified Bible

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” NASB

Jeremiah 33:3

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” NASB

and Proverbs 3:5-6 says

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” Amplified Bible

In the verse from Proverbs, if we are to trust in the Lord with our whole hearts how shall we do this if we are not in close communion with Him all of the time.  It is obvious that God desires that we not be ignorant of Him and His ways.

So walk with Him and grow in Him, spend time with Him, listen to Him, and you will find the desert in your heart blossoming from the springs of Living Water He brings to your life.

Mysteries

August 6, 2010

I remember when I was young, I was often frustrated when I asked a question of a religious teacher and was told that the question I had asked concerned one of the “mysteries” of God. Now all of these years later I cannot say how important my questions were. I cannot tell if the teacher was giving me an honest answer or just putting me off either, but I can say while I am musing over my reminiscences that there are definitely mysteries depicted in Scripture.

One of these is the peculiar relationship God had with Jacob the trickster. Jacob was kind of an ornery fellow who schemed to get his brother to sell him his inheritance and tricked his father Isaac into giving him Isaac’s final blessing as he masqueraded as Esau. Yet God says in Malachi 1:2-5

2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD “Yet I have loved Jacob;
3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.”
4 Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins”; thus says the LORD of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever.”
5 Your eyes will see this and you will say, “The LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel!”
Malachi 1:2-5 NASB

It is interesting to note that often when Edom (Esau’s descendants) had a choice to make, they tended to take the wrong one.
When God was judging Judah for her idolatry and lax devotion to the laws He gave her, He sent Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and burn the temple, an action which He had ordained, but when Edom joined in on the side of the Babylonians and enthusiastically killed their brothers, God was angry and determined to destroy Edom for their treachery.

11 This is what the LORD says:
“The people of Edom have sinned again and again,
 and I will not let them go unpunished!
 They chased down their relatives, the Israelites, with swords,
 showing them no mercy.
 In their rage, they slashed them continually
 and were unrelenting in their anger.
 12 So I will send down fire on Teman,
 and the fortresses of Bozrah will be destroyed.”
Amos 1:11-12 (NLT)

In Jeremiah 49:7-11 He says
7 This message was given concerning Edom. This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Is there no wisdom in Teman?
Is no one left to give wise counsel?
8 Turn and flee!
Hide in deep caves, you people of Dedan!
For when I bring disaster on Edom,
I will punish you, too!
9 Those who harvest grapes
always leave a few for the poor.
If thieves came at night,
they would not take everything.
10 But I will strip bare the land of Edom,
and there will be no place left to hide.
Its children, its brothers, and its neighbors
will all be destroyed,
and Edom itself will be no more.
11 But I will protect the orphans who remain among you.
Your widows, too, can depend on me for help.”
Jeremiah 49:7-11 NLT

I think it is naïve of so many people who insist that God shouldn’t have judged and destroyed people in the Old Testament. Do they have any idea how evil these people were? Do they think that God just takes pleasure in destroying anyone?
How is it that God loves Jacob and despises Esau? And as it turns out Edom (Esau) only confirmed God’s decision by their actions. This is truly a mystery, but we are not without illumination. Paul treats this very subject in Romans

8 This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.
9 For God had promised, “I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
10 This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins.
11 But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes;
12 he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.”
13 In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.”
14 Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not!
15 For God said to Moses,
“I will show mercy to anyone I choose,
and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”
16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
17 For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”
18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.
19 Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”
20 No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?”
Romans 9:8-20 (NLT)

We have had a couple of centuries when many, many people have judged God according to their own notions of propriety. They do not accept that God knows what He is doing, they can’t stand the idea that God would judge and destroy someone. So the question has become are we going to accept that God has His own criteria in judging or is the pot going to judge the potter?

13 The Lord says: 
  “These people worship me with their mouths, 
  and honor me with their lips, 
  but their hearts are far from me. 
  Their worship is based on 
  nothing but human rules.
14 So I will continue to amaze these people 
 by doing more and more miracles. 
 Their wise men will lose their wisdom; 
 their wise men will not be able to understand.”

15 How terrible it will be for those who try 
  to hide things from the LORD 
  and who do their work in darkness. 
  They think no one will see them or know what they do.
16 You are confused. 
  You think the clay is equal to the potter. 
  You think that an object can tell the one who made it, 
 “You didn’t make me.” 
  This is like a pot telling its maker, 
 “You don’t know anything.”

Isaiah 29:13-16 (New Century Version)

Is this not the very thing Jesus is casually mentioning here in John 9.

1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.
2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.
5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
John 9:1-5 (NLT)

Our modern sensibilities rebel at the thought of a man who spent years, perhaps thirty of them, in a condition so desperate that all he could do was beg for his bread. There were no other options for this man, before he met Jesus, and for no other reason than to show God’s power at God’s whim. We must steel ourselves to this startling revelation, but God was playing God again.

Don’t you see that whatever gifts and talents you may have, you also have faults and impediments and that they were put there by the God who loves you? God loved that man who was blind from birth as well and while He may have condemned him to decades of blindness, He didn’t leave him in that condition. It could be said that the blind man received a greater gift than any we have heard of in our day.

Oh! What a wonderful thing at the end of all of that despair and humiliation to see Jesus’ face as the first thing his eyes beheld in this world. The first thing he saw with his eyes was the Light of the world.