March 6, 2014
1 John 4:7-12
7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
This scripture in 1John is so simple and yet so profound because it sums up who we are to be in Christ. We are love, because He is love. Here, we are not talking about a superficial love or even a friendship kind of love. John is talking about an “Agape” kind of love, God’s love. His love is not selfish, but is ever giving to the point of laying down its life for another.
If most of us think about how easily we are offended by others we are going to catch a glimpse at how shallow the waters of our love are. In order to love like Christ, we have to move into Christ and it has to be His Spirit and life abiding in us that enables us to love with this level of love. We are called unto a high calling of Love. The reality of that love abiding and operating through us will speak more to the glory and reality of God than a thousand sermons. People in the world so rarely see the operation of that level of love and yet it should be commonplace within the body of Christ. God’s love is a gift that is worth living for and it is worth dying for.
God’s love is much like an expression of freedom. It is freedom from the tyranny of sin, oppression and selfishness. While men may come against you with all manner of hate and violence, your choice to love in Christ is something no man or spirit can take from you unless you allow them too. God’s love doesn’t operate out of feelings; that is how our love normally operates. Our feelings come and go, they change, but God doesn’t change. He has continued to love us even when we least deserved it and when we were His enemies. Can we love with that kind of love? Only in Christ can we love with that manner of love. It is not a love that is earned, but a love that is given. It is not a love that seeks only one’s own good, but works to the good of those it comes into contact with. It is not a love that is to be manipulated or used, but stands firm in integrity and righteousness. It works to the higher good in others even when they don’t recognize and understand the means to an end. It operates out of the wisdom of the Spirit and in harmony with the nature of Christ, for it is one and the same.
The reason this love is a testimony, to who we are in God, is because it is a love that can not be counterfeited or self produced. It is only found and obtained as we release who we have been and are becoming what He is through a life yielded completely to Him. The love of God in us is released in proportion to the level we are allowing the Sprit of Christ to operate in and through us. Even as your body houses your spirit, your spirit houses His Love and presence. That, in turn, should be expressed back through our body, as we are the servants and instruments of righteousness in God’s love.
We may see ourselves as a long way from this level of love in us, but it is much closer than you think. The only thing that stands between God and His love expressed through us is ourselves. That is why we must be willing to pick up our cross daily and follow Him. As we are crucified, His love is released.
March 5, 2014
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Higher Level Living
What is our natural response to insults, verbal and physical attacks, slander, gossip and false accusations? Isn’t it to fight back, justify, retaliate and begin attacking our attackers. Suddenly we find ourselves drawn in and participating in the same fleshly ugliness of those who attacked us. We have come down to their level and are fighting with the same carnal weapons they are. We are opening our hearts to be influenced by the same spirits that are influencing them.
“An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth,” some will say. Funny you should say that because a little further down in Matthew 5:32-42 Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Wow, that is pretty unconventional wisdom by this world’s standards and wisdom only a few are willing to walk in.
Because it denies all of “my” rights. It is asking me to give up and renounce what is “mine”. It is asking me to return good for evil and it imposes seemingly unfair demands upon “me” as a person. It seems to be letting injustice prevail and our rights to be taken unfair advantage of.
When we can all walk in the principles that Jesus gives us in Matthew 5-7 it is probably a pretty good indicator that we are getting very close to being dead unto self and alive only unto Christ. For us to willingly walk in the principles that Jesus is describing means it can no longer be about me, but only about exemplifying and living out of Christ. These are the principles that He walked and lived by. The reason He could is because His heart and affection weren’t upon His natural man or the things of this world.
We all have our possessions and things we have worked hard for. We all have our reputation and our dignity to uphold. It so goes against our grain to be taken advantage of or exploited or to be spoken falsely about.
What Jesus is telling us is, there is a higher level of kingdom living that most of us never touch or really know because we are still so connected and attached to this earthly kingdom and realm. Many of us still think that the political candidate or president is going to determine the fate of the world, the nation and my well being. We may believe if others aren’t of our particular denomination or persuasion of belief they are going to hell or will miss it and yet how many of us are really living these principles of Jesus?
What we all need as believers, who say we love Christ, is a deliverance from a lot of our materialistic and capitalist ways. They are not His ways, but what the world has taught us is true and valuable. If we are not of this world then why are these things still so important to us? The truth is most of us are really living out of a lower level of life and values than what Christ has called us too.
Sometimes we don’t think much about it until we are put in those positions where we must choose between the conventional wisdom of this world and the wisdom that is from above. If you want to really stand out as odd, even among most of the Christian community, try truly walking in the principles that Christ lays out here.
Finally Jesus really stretches us even more in verses 38-43 by saying, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Jesus is calling us to a higher place. It is not a realm where we can operate in conventional wisdom or even love with conventional love. It is place that we can only operate out of, by His Spirit and His Agape’ love. It is a place where our self identity can not live; only our identity in Christ. It is a place where we need to thank God for our enemies, because they are the only ones who can help elevate us to this realm of living and being. Are we ready for a higher level of living?
March 4, 2014
The Lord will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;
with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.
A New Song
What is it that causes the Lord to perform this scripture in Isaiah? What is it that brings forth the warrior and mighty man in our Lord? What is it that causes us to triumph over our enemies, because the Lord does battle for us?
Isaiah 42:9-12 prefaces this scripture by saying, “Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
you islands, and all who live in them. 11Let the desert and its towns raise their voices;
let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy;
let them shout from the mountaintops. 12Let them give glory to the Lord and proclaim his praise in the islands.” It is the “new song” that the body of Christ raises unto the Lord. It is the song of praise that declares His glory and honor and majesty. It is the united voice of the bride as she sings praise to her Bridegroom who is her protector and defender. Perhaps one of the greatest weapons and instruments of spiritual warfare we can weld is the instrument of true praise and worship birthed out of our spirit by the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God moving through our spirits as we offer them as these instruments of praise and worship that stirs up the Lord on our behalf. It is our praise and confidence in Him that stirs up His zeal and causes Him to be jealous over His people. Then will the Lord come forth to do battle for us as we enter by the Spirit, as one body, into the “new song” of the Lord.
Is this not what Jehosaphat experienced in 2 Chronicles 20 when “Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunitesa came to make war on Jehoshaphat”? He is the example of what the Lord can do for us if we cry out to Him and trust Him with all of our hearts.
The Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel, son of Zechariah. “He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’”
18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.”
22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day.
27 Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lyres and trumpets.
29 The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side. (2 Chronicles 20:15-30)”
Here we see the power of that “new song” that is based in praise and worship. It is the power of praise that sets the spiritual armies of God in motion and destroys our enemies.
Add this weaponry to your spiritual arsenal. For through the praises of His people the Lord is mighty to battle on our behalf. This “new song” is a spiritual song of praise and power. Let us unite our voices in one accord to lift up the praises of our God and by the Spirit sing to Him a “new song” that brings about the destruction of our enemies. We never lift a finger to fight. It is the Lord that goes before to battle for us. How great is our God! Praise His awesome name!
March 3, 2014
The Death that Defiles Us
Haggai 2: 10-19
10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Haggai: 11 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’ “
The priests answered, “No.”
13 Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”
14 Then Haggai said, ” ‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the LORD. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.
15 ” ‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on —consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the LORD. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
” ‘From this day on I will bless you.’ “
The Book of Haggai is written during a time when a remnant of Israel has returned from their Babylonian captivity. They have returned to a devastated Jerusalem and a former glorious temple of Solomon that now lies in ruin. The Spirit of the Lord is stirring up the people through the prophet Haggai to come together and rebuild the temple. Up till this time every one has pretty much been to themselves and only concerned with their own welfare and building back their own houses.
Our scripture today may not make a lot of sense to a lot of us, but I felt compelled to share a few spiritual truths from it. This analogy that the Lord is giving is about those things which sanctify and those things which defile. First He is saying that just because a priest has sanctified meat or meat that had been offered on the altar and it touches some other food or drink does that mean this other substance becomes sanctified. For instance, spiritually speaking, you carry around in you the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. For He has said, “ except you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood you have not life in you.” Therefore by faith we are partakers of God’s holy sacrifice, Jesus, and as such carry Him in our spiritual garments. Does that mean that every life that we touch becomes sanctified and redeemed because we have touched them? No, they have to come into a personal relationship with Christ by faith and partake of the Christ for themselves. It doesn’t just rub off of us onto someone else.
The same is not true concerning the contact with a dead body. Anyone touching a dead body became defiled by it. Then Haggai reminds the people that before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple when anyone came to a heap of twenty measures there were only ten and whenever they went to the wine vat to draw fifty measures there was only twenty. How many times have we came to lay hold of the life and substance of Christ and His Spirit and we have come up short? We haven’t found the fullness and the substance that we needed. How many times have we experienced want, or need or adversity instead of blessing? “You did not turn to Me, declares the Lord.” The law of sin and death around us has defiled us. So many of us are still trying to live out of that life or else we are allowing it to touch and contaminate us. We are in Christ, but Christ has not been fully formed in us. This is why we must come together in the unity of the body of Christ to rebuild the true temple and tabernacle of God whom we are. Too long we have been contented to abide in our “ceiled houses” our own denominations, doctrines and religious houses, ideologies and thinking. God is calling us to come out of the defilement of flesh and spirit and come together to build His house. What we see in the world today has little to do with His true house. What we see is a fragmented bunch of religious people, many of whom are into it for their own profit and gain. The world is seeing people that call themselves by the name of Christ and yet they are dishonest, unreliable, backbiting, slanderous and many other things that shouldn’t even be named among us. We have become a mockery of His holiness. We are a defiled people. We are defiled by the world and defiled by a dead religion still operating under the principles of sin and death, rather than life and peace in Christ Jesus. Where is Christ really seen and glorified in all of this? His true temple lies in ruin, but He is calling forth a people to build it again. He tells us that when we put His house first there will be blessing. Where you haven’t seen fruit before you will begin to see fruit as the Lord is lifted up and His house is built. How is the house of God built? Christ has to be formed in us. He has to be not only our habitation, but also our expression in this life. It is not just about believing in Jesus; the faith has to become substance and Christ wants to be the substance of your life and of His entire house. The Spirit of God will build the house as we come together in the unity of the Spirit and the love of Christ to join hands and hearts and be ONE in Him. Christ is not divided; He is ONE Man, ONE Lord, ONE Spirit and ONE Baptism. If we will separate ourselves from the defilement of this world, from religion and dead works, if we will consecrate ourselves to His work, we will see blessings in areas that we have never seen them before. He has called us to build HIS HOUSE!
“7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:7-13)
February 28, 2014
The Pothole of Self Pity
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, [was] not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou [art] a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for [it is] better for me to die than to live. Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?
In the Word of God perhaps Jonah serves as kind of the poster child of self-pity. He had to go where he didn’t want to go, preach to a people he didn’t want to preach too, and then see God’s mercy toward them when they repented, that he didn’t want to see. He made no bones that he had an attitude concerning the matter. So he is just telling the Lord to end his life, it’s not worth living any more.
While it is easy for the reader to see how wrong Jonah’s attitude was, he didn’t see it and most of the time we don’t really see it in us either.
I really think the enemy tries to feed our minds with thoughts of how unfair life is to us and how we so often are mistreated, abused, neglected or unappreciated. That is not to say that there is never any substance to these feelings, for often there are valid reasons we feel this way. What we must guard against is the subtly of the enemy and our own self, as we tend to get our eyes on us and all of our woes.
The Lord gave me a good revelation of this in myself recently. Request were always being made of me to do this or that which was okay, but then I began to feel that they really never seemed interested in caring and responding to my needs. Now the thing about self-pity is that it’s like a good stew, the longer it simmers the better it gets, the more justified we feel and the more unfair life seems. So finally it all came out and the other person had to sit and listen to all of my “woe is me”. The truth is they probably had feelings of being neglected or taken advantage of just like I did. Afterwards I began to get a revelation of the pothole of self-pity I had stepped into. Here is all of this talk about how we need to lay our lives down and walk in love and all of sudden I look up and see this big old stain of selfishness in me. Sometimes we get these wake-up calls about how shallow our love really is. I realized that whenever I am turning inward and caring more about me than about others, I am going to be discontent and unhappy, because my needs and expectations will seldom be really met by others. I need to be leaving those feelings with the Father, because He is the one who completes me and fulfills me. The truth is, I am probably often going to be a disappointment to others in meeting their wants and needs just as they are in meeting mine. How many times do needs and expectations not get met because we are living selfishly, upset about what we don’t have while we fail to consider if we are really meeting the needs in others. This introspection usually just leads to greater and greater polarization. That is why the Word is always exhorting us to get our eyes off ourselves and on to the needs of others. The less place that we give to self, the less place it has to feel sorry for itself.
We often think or say, “Will, if the Lord had given me a better husband or wife, or better children, or a nicer neighbor or better Christian friends, or different relatives, I wouldn’t feel and act the way I do. Do we ever consider that may be exactly why we have these people in our lives? In a perfect world you will never be stretched and grow beyond where you are at. Only opposing forces cause us to reach further, try harder, and exert more energy to overcome our opposition. We say, “Well, that person just brings out the worst in me.” Praise God, how would you and I ever know what was in us if we didn’t have people that revealed our true heart. It is the irregular people in our lives that give us the opportunity to exercise and practice our Christian values. Instead of seeing the irregular people in our lives as our problem, maybe we need to view them like our spiritual gymnasium where we can workout, exercise and practice our Christian love, values and the nature that God wants to work in us. It is only when I see and acknowledge my sin and weakness that I can repent of it and seek the Lord’s help in overcoming it. There is no one that can help us become more conformed to the image of Christ than our enemy. If Jesus would have had no Judas or religious leaders to betray and falsely accuse Him, there would have been no Calvary and we would not have the salvation we are now partakers of. Our adversity can serve to bring us up into godliness as we meet it with the Spirit and attitude of Christ. If we have a selfish or self-centered attitude, then like Jonah we are going to become angry and bitter as we justify and feel sorry for ourselves.
Watch out for that pothole of self-pity. It is one you can really twist your ankle on and cripple your walk. Do all things as unto the Lord and for His glory and honor, counting it all joy that in your service you first serve Him. “Let all your things be done with Love (1 Corinthians 16:14).”
February 27, 2014
Alert and Watching
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
As I watched a sparrow feeding out of the bird-feeder this morning I was impressed at how it did not just casually eat with no other thought or worry in the world. It was continually eating and watching, turning its head from side to side and aware of what was going on around it. It didn’t take its safety and well being for granted, but was ready to fly at a moment’s notice. I was reminded of the story of Gideon and how that out of thirty-two thousand whom volunteered to fight for Israel, God brought it down to three hundred. The first thing God did to disqualify the excess numbers was to let all that were fearful or afraid go home. God is raising up a people for His glory and one of the first things they must have is faith and confidence to believe and trust in their God. A lack of faith and trust is the first thing to disqualify us. Out of the thirty-two thousand that started twenty-two thousand went home. Ten thousand were still too many people. A battle won with that many men could be construed as man’s ability, rather than God’s. God must receive the glory for the deliverance and if we think we have any strength or ability then we tend to dismiss God and take the glory for ourselves. The second thing God did was to narrow the field by having them drink water. If they were down on their knees drinking with their head down and unaware of their surroundings they were disqualified. Only three hundred lapped the water from their hands like dogs, because that way they were alert and ready, their physical needs were not turning their attention from their first duty as soldiers in readiness.
Where are most of us as the body of Christ? Where would we fit in among these thirty-two thousand that came to fight in the Lord’s army? Have we become fearful and afraid? Has our faith and confidence in the Lord become weak? Has our attention has been diverted by our blessings, by our affections for life and by all the other distractions that take our eyes off of the Lord. Have we ceased to really watch and be concerned about the things of God and the timing of God? I don’t believe the Lord is looking for us to be fearful or paranoid, but He is looking for those like the three hundred that fought with Gideon, who are alert and watching in their spirit. They are attuned to when the enemy is around, where he is at and what he is doing. They are not allowing themselves to become vulnerable by becoming lethargic and complacent. They are sensitive to the hour and the timing of the Lord, watching to move at His command and His coming.
This aspect of watchfulness is addressed a number of times and especially in the New Testament, but in Psalm 130:6 David says, “My soul [waiteth] for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: [I say, more than] they that watch for the morning.”
Jesus teaches us this throughout the gospels such as in Matthew 24, 4“Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many…13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come…” 42″Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45″Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
In Matthew 25 Jesus gives us the parable of the ten virgins, the five wise and the five foolish. When the Lord did come the foolish missed out, because they were unprepared and not watching. When they came back it was too late and the door was shut to them. Verse 13 says, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Mark 13:37 says, “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 exhorts us, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6 tells us, “Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober.” Paul exhorts Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
The Lord is speaking to all of us today to rise up off of our haunches of complacency and spiritual dullness. Now is the day to really get our ears in tune with the Spirit of God and our hearts ready to meet Him. He is exhorting us not to neglect the day of His visitation, but as good soldiers, to prepare ourselves and be watching for Him. When the Lord comes will He find most of us at the water hole, drinking our fill and oblivious to the spiritual time, hour and condition of our hearts?
When the Spirit addresses the churches in Revelation 3, the first concern that He addresses is one of watchfulness. Revelations 3:3-6 says, “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Isn’t this what He is speaking to our hearts today?
February 26, 2014
Thou shalt not delay [to offer] the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.
During the depression my grandfather had a farm and in order to make ends meet they used to sell cream. I never really saw it work, but I remember on the farm was a shed we called the milk house. In that shed was a machine called a separator that would separate the milk from the cream. The cream was the richest and most valuable part of the milk. The cream was never really discerned or seen when it first came from the cow. It was the process of separation that brought it to the top.
I believe God is looking for the cream of His crop. Our world is like a separator that spins us, tries us, and test us. God is looking for those individuals that are laying hold of the fabric of His life through the midst of our life’s tests.
Has it ever struck you that in Revelations 2 and 3 where the Spirit is speaking to the churches, at the end of each exhortation to each church there is a promise to the overcomer? The Spirit is saying to him that gives heed to my correction and exhortation in obedience and faithfulness I have a special promise. Now the promise doesn’t come without a condition and requirement. The Lord is talking about more than just salvation here. He is talking to those who stand the test of separation and who rise to the top.
Paul speaks in Philippians 3 about running the race. He forsook all else in pursuit of the prize, the prize of the high calling that in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” The “perfect” used in this scripture refers to maturity in spiritual matters. God has a higher calling that He is calling those who are mature into. There are promises to Him who overcomes. This is a different calling than just a salvation experience, this is a calling into the first fruits, the first ripe of Christ, that will come into His image and likeness.
How great is your vision? Are we content in our spirits with just our salvation or do we hear a trumpet that is calling us to come up higher? The overcomer hears that trumpet and responds to it. Do you hear a higher calling in your life today? It will come through the Separator.
February 25, 2014
The Story of a Cripple
And [though] the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This [is] the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
A little girl sits staring out her window. Her thoughts and dreams take her on journeys that her legs never can. Struck by a drunken driver while riding her bicycle she no longer knows the pleasures of running and playing with her friends the way she used too. At first, it didn’t seem real and she thought that surely she would get better and be able to walk again, but she never has. Then she became very angry with this person who had hit her on her bike, she hated them and wanted them to die. This person had robbed her of a normal life, of friendships and had forever handicapped her from being like everyone else.
Elsa was just eight years old when it happened. After her body had recovered as much as it was going too, she would spend hours looking out her large second story bedroom window. Below in the street and yards she would watch the kids play. Often she would be saddened and angry as she set there, a captive of her circumstances. Eventually she began to look beyond the neighborhood into the nearby fields and forest that surrounded the area. She began to observe nature, the seasons, the birds and the little animals. She began to see that just like humans, animals, birds and even the trees sometimes experienced tragedies, but adjustments were made and life went on.
One day when she looked out, the field was on fire and it was quickly moving toward the forest. She hurriedly dialed 911 and reported the fire. She observed as the fire fighters arrived quickly upon the scene and as they battled the blaze, doing all that they could to contain its damage. It went on for some time and the fire had reached the forest, burning a good area of it, before they finally got it under control and put it out. Elsa was saddened as the landscape had been forever changed and she felt it would never be as beautiful or the same again as she looked out over the charred trees and burnt ground. As the seasons changed she was amazed the next spring when the grass was actually greener in the burnt area than any place else. Elsa observed that over time the burnt area filled back in with growth and animals started coming back into the new growth and shrubs. In many ways it was even more beautiful and lush than before. The Lord began to speak to her heart and she began to make the connection that bitterness and unforgiveness only will leave your heart barren and unproductive. It poisons the ground. Elsa began to here the voice of God telling her and showing her that she was like that burnt ground. Wonderful things could still happen in her life. Yes, it might be different than most, but perhaps even more beautiful in some ways because she had a perspective that others didn’t have. She began to pray and release the anger, bitterness and offense she had so long held inside. She prayed for the person that crippled her and asked God to make them whole as well. Elsa came out of her room and began to become involved with life and people again. She accepted that circumstances beyond her control had forever changed her, but perhaps it could be for the better and not for the worse. As she began to embrace life, relationships and people again, she felt her life enriched somehow. She missed being normal; walking and running like others, but she saw opportunities to help people in ways she never had before. She realized that, like that that burnt field, God was restoring her to be an even better person than she had been before. She realized her right attitude and God perspective made her grass a little greener than a lot of those around her. She found herself walking no longer with the natural legs that she was born with, but with legs of faith, trust and dependency upon God to now direct her life in the way and the plan that He had for her. Now instead of feeling robbed of life, she felt enriched with new meaning and purpose that her new life had found. Instead of the burnt field of bitterness, hate and unforgiveness she found herself flourishing in the greenery and new life of her relationship with the Lord and with people. She was learning what it is to be a new creation in Christ Jesus, that even in adversity there is blessing and holding on to offenses is more crippling than physical handicaps.
February 24, 2014
1 Samuel 3:1-14
The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
6 Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD : The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
8 The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
11 And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ “
Hearing, Listening and Responding
Today, as in the days of Samuel, the Lord is teaching His anointed to once again hear and discern the voice of the Lord. The Lord is here to reveal Himself to us and through us in word and in power. Often we can miss the voice of God to us because the intents of our flesh are so loud that they make us dull in our hearing. Our hearing is increased as we listen and obey. Our quick obedience and responsiveness to God’s word to us increases our sensitivity to hear Him and to know His ways. The Lord is not someone we rush. He doesn’t operate on our timetable; He operates upon His. It is not for God to wait upon us; it is for us to wait upon Him. If we are too busy and occupied to wait, then it is likely we won’t hear a lot from the Lord.
One of the first principles that Samuel learned when he discerned from Eli that He was hearing the voice of God was to make Himself available. When Samuel finally discerned the Lord’s voice Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Do we know God’s voice when He is trying to speak to us? Do we make ourselves available to listen and obey? Sometimes the word that God gives us is a weighty word. It can have serious implications toward the ones that it is directed toward.
We are not responsible for the words, other than to accurately communicate them the way that God gives them to us, but we are responsible to be available and obedient to what He does speak and direct us to do. Samuel was reluctant to speak the word of judgement to Eli and his household that the Lord had given him, but he was obligated to do so. When we become God’s mouth piece and His instrument, then it is not about what we say, or what we think, it is about being true to the sound that God is blowing through your instrument in whatever capacity that is. The soul must step down and give place to the spirit man to release and obey the Spirit within Him.
Most all of us that have been in the church world for sometime have often seen a mixture of flesh and Spirit in operation. What we have observed to a great extent has been a polluted anointing. Whenever our flesh is mixed with Spirit it taints it.
God wants to do something, in this hour, through each one of us. He is looking for holy vessels that will be true to His Spirit. He is looking for a people that have His interest at heart and not their own. Before God can release through us the fullness of His power and anointing there must be first developed within us the character that is in the likeness of His own. If our character isn’t true to the Lord then what He would attempt to produce through us will fall to the earth. There are small things in our integrity and character that God wants us to start paying attention too. We have all justified a lot of things. We all have our little indiscretion, little lies or dishonesties, but God is calling us now to integrity and accountability to Him. He has a holy calling before us and it will take a holy character to walk in that calling. Begin to be extremely sensitive to the voice of the Spirit and conscience in your daily lives. Become much more disciplined in your listening and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit. He can lead us into all truth, but only we can be willing to partake of it.
The Lord will begin speaking to us more and more in that still small voice of His Spirit. We, like Samuel, must learn to discern that voice and respond in obedience to it in every area of our lives. God is purposing great things through His people, but He is looking for a church without spot or wrinkle. That means that He must wash us and with His fuller’s soap and press us with His refiner’s fire till we come forth purified for His purpose and His calling. Listen for Him, trust Him and obey Him.