Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Helper

"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7)

What an amazing statement, and one whose reality and weight is so often overlooked; and if not overlooked, never really applied in the personal lives of people.  How different would we be if we allowed the truth of this statement and its pertaining reality to the Spirit-filled people of God to conquer our doubts and fears; if we allowed the Holy Spirit - the Helper - to be fully Himself within us, expressing God's love and manifest presence to the people around us?  What changes would be made if we were to grasp both mentally and spiritually this certainty, that as we walk in our neighborhoods and other public places, the actual Spirit of God lives within us (in full measure) and wants to come out of us  through our speech and the way we do life and into the needy, broken lives of people around us?

The truth: we have divine power and presence which abides on the inside.

The current reality: we don't fully believe in Jesus' statement, that it was better for Him to go away so that the Spirit might come. We don't fully understand as we should our purpose in this life and the person (the Holy Spirit) who indwells us to help us accomplish that purpose.  And we are so wrapped up in our own affairs, that the yearnings of God's heart are not important to us: we go days and maybe weeks without acknowledging their existence, and we certainly do not let them break us or move us.

Don't be fooled.  It is no mistake that the church today has only a vague, impersonal knowledge of that which it possesses.  The enemy is ever vigilant to cloud the understanding Christ's bride.  But you should not be deceived by his wiles: recognize your identity as a son/warrior/messenger of the Lord, and bring and establish the Kingdom wherever you go.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Journey on which I find myself is not inspired by the failings of others, but the footsteps of those who went before me; and the companionship of them that walk with me; and the presence of Him who lives in me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Are We Speaking?

"...but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head..."
(Ephesians 4:15, NASB)

Just today, as I was speaking with the Lord, I voiced a desire of mine: that my mouth would speak only that which is truth, so that the pure things of God - His mysteries and His thoughts - which originate in His heart, would find my mouth to be an instrument through which they might find expression.

To carry and express His desires and longings, those things that weigh on His heart, is one of my prayers; and I know that the mechanism of its fruition is that, in Christ, I develop the strength and maturity to do so. And an aspect of that developmental process is that I speak the truth...in love, as Ephesians 4:15 commands; that I put away all evil speaking, letting no corrupt word proceed out of my mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  I want my Spirit to be a pure channel, untainted by the filth of this world, through which life-water can flow into those I meet.  I want my words to heal brokenness, not create it; to restore the ruins of a life ravaged by sin, not destroy what is left of them.  Instead of my words being the fire that incites needless controversy, I want them to be a refreshing drink to the soul, inspiring peace and communicating God's love.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Clash of Two Wisdoms

Just felt like I needed to post this excerpt from Art Katz's book, Apostolic Foundations: The Challenge of Living an Authentic Christian Life, p. 139. (This is an excellent book by the way, and I highly recommend that you read it)


The Clash of Two Wisdoms


"We need to understand that there are two wisdoms in collision. Even the word 'wisdom' is slightly confusing here, because we think of wisdom in terms of cleverness, and the application of knowledge. A better definition for wisdom would be, "the moral values of God." It is what God is in Himself, and therefore it is what the church must demonstrate in itself exactly who and what God is in Himself. This is what Jesus did in His earthly walk. Everything He did was for the purpose of the Father, without regard to Himself, even though it resulted in His own suffering and death. God is waiting for the corporate church to make exactly the same demonstration in order that the age might conclude. When we begin to take God and His Word seriously, and realize that this must be fulfilled through the church, then we should also realize that God is calling us to more than the casual conglomeration of saints meeting on Sunday. This requires an earnest, daily relationship, and a growing up together."

Walking Worthy of Our Calling

Paul really highlights chapter 4 as a transition in the book of Ephesians. This can be clearly seen from the start in verses 1-3, where he writes, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord beseech (appeal, urge, implore) you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

I, therefore, beseech you. I, in light of all that I just said in the last 3 chapters, in light of the glorious inheritance that is yours in Christ, in light of the fact that he made you alive - he seated you in Christ in the heavenly places, in light of the fact that you are His workmanship; that you were brought near to the Father by Christ's blood, urge you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. What a radical call to holiness! This is where the mysteries touch the reality of day to day life: in the walk.

Paul urges us to walk worthy, which means we need to walk lowly, gentle, and with longsuffering, living life together in unity, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Paul is saying, "This is what you have, and this is who you are in Christ, now walk worthy of your calling. Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking; and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. And also, speak the truth in love, so that you may grow up in all things into Him who is the head."

What do I see in all this? I see radical lovers of Jesus. I see the words FAMILY in every verse. I see relationships that are genuine and deep; that go beyond the carnal into a deep spiritual bond between brothers and sisters in Christ. I see a radical, fire-filled bride changing society.

So let's walk worthy of our calling, not only as sons but also as siblings. Let's take this family thing seriously and live it out, so that we may see Jesus formed in each of us, and the body of Christ grow to maturity.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Acknowledging What God Has Done

Just this past Sunday, I visited one of The King's People house churches and had a wonderful time in the Lord with everyone there. There was edifying fellowship among the people, God was present in the worship and the discussion, and life was transmitted from one believer to another.  And during a period of discussion in the gathering, there were many encouraging insights expressed, and one that I specifically wanted to write down and share.

This particular insight focused on the Israelites and their liberation from slavery and the many trials they faced during their 40 years in the desert.  And it highlighted first of all, their grumbling and complaining before the Lord: how he had brought them out of Egypt simply to be slain by the Egyptains in the desert, how he had parted the Red Sea simply so that they could die of thirst and hunger in the wilderness, seemingly oblivious to the many times that God had been faithful in keeping His promises to them, how He had never failed to keep His promises.  In spite of all that the Lord had done, they continued to grumble and complain against Him, not understanding that He was YHWH, their God and Provider.  They simply did not believe that the Lord was good.  That is what it boils down to: they did not trust in the character of God.

And looking from our perspective as we read through Exodus, we wonder at the conclusions to which the Israelites came, like the one in Exodus 14:11, when the Israelites said to Moses concerning their being pursued by the Egyptians, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?  Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?"  We read this and its hard not to laugh.  We think, "How can they doubt a God who had sent ten devastating plagues (from which they were spared) to demonstrate that He was the one true God and to release them from the bondage of slavery?  Then later on in Exodus 16:3, they complain about not having anything to eat saying, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full!  For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger!"  Why did they say these things; how could they say them after they had observed the mighty works the Lord had performed on their behalf?  It's not that they thought the Lord couldn't do it, it was that they thought He wouldn't do it.  Why?  Because they did not hold to and trust in His goodness; they did not believe that God was good.

And how many times do we in our own lives have those same thought processes?  How many times in our minds do we allow the magnitude of the situation to overshadow the magnitude of God and the reality of His goodness?  Let's finally start believing that God is a good Father.  Let's reflect on what God has done in our lives - pulling us through impossible situations and providing for us when we needed it most - and have confidence for today and every day for the rest of our lives that He has not brought you here - meaning any problem or trial that you are currently going through -  to abandon us.  He is GOOD and His GOOD plans for our lives - which do not exclude trials - will always prevail.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christ is Our Peace

"For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace." (Ephesians 2:14-15, NKJV) (my emphasis)

The Prince of Peace is one of the many titles given to our Savior, Redeemer, King Jesus; for He is the Reconciler, who has rended the veil between man and God, bringing peace between us and The Father and giving us free access to Him.  By God's grace we have been saved, being born of the Kingdom and co-heirs with Christ.  These are the things that He has accomplished: things of which He dreamed long before the world began; and the summing of those things are IN CHRIST.  This verse above is part of that summing up: that In Him there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but one new man, who was created In Christ when He broke down the middle wall of separation, abolishing the enmity and making it possible for God to dwell in us: we are the residencies of the Spirit.


One new man.  An entirely different breed of people.  This was His plan from the beginning: to have people who carry the presence of God; who strive to let the Holy Spirit be fully Himself within them; and who have a radically intimate relationship with the Father, free of the anxieties this world and its people possess; able to see from new heights in the Spirit.  These are the new Jesus People.  And all this because of Him who brought peace, and whose rule in our lives is one of peace, in place of the chaos we see all around us.

Note:  see Jesus people video in the left margin of this page, under Favorite Websites and Videos.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Quotes

Last night I was pondering the value of quotes and the significant affect the good ones can have on a person's life: opening his eyes to truth, or helping him to learn from the experience of others; and I came to a conclusion which I transported from my mind to paper in two different forms.  I present them to you below.  Enjoy!

1) You must not take a quote simply to heart, you must delve deep into each individual word, discovering its function in and contribution to the complete thought - whether it plays the role of the foundation, the walls, or the roof - and build up to reflecting on the thought as a whole structure.  Then you must investigate the roots of the thought and the source which inspired the maker to express it; and with much deep musing within the realm of an eternal paradigm, either wisdom, revelation, or both will come for the undertaking of implementation.

2) A plant in full bloom and health can be an awe-inspiring sight to behold; but to experience full appreciation, you must look under and all around it.  So it is with a good quote.

Agony - Leonard Ravenhill

If you've read my posts, you'll know that I regard an eternal perspective as a very precious treasure.  How do I or anybody else obtain it?  Partly by listening to sermons - or excerpts of sermons - like the one below.




All For Jesus - Hymn

I couldn't find the author's name.  But here it is: an excellent hymn.


All for Jesus, all for Jesus!
All my being’s ransomed powers:
All my thoughts and words and doings,
All my days and all my hours.

All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my days and all my hours;
All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my days and all my hours.

Let my hands perform His bidding,
Let my feet run in His ways;
Let my eyes see Jesus only,
Let my lips speak forth His praise.

Worldlings prize their gems of beauty,
Cling to gilded toys of dust,
Boast of wealth and fame and pleasure;
Only Jesus will I trust.

Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside;
So enchained my spirit’s vision,
Looking at the Crucified.

Oh, what wonder! how amazing!
Jesus, glorious King of kings,
Deigns to call me His belov├Ęd,
Lets me rest beneath His wings.

The Harlot - Misty Edwards

A beautiful song.  Very long I know; but the description is vivid, and the message is priceless.  This was you.  This was me.  And that is Him taking our punishment, grafting us in to His family.  He declares to His Father, "This one...is mine!" And to us, "What's yours is mine and what's mine is yours."



Monday, January 2, 2012

We are not Uninformed, Underprivileged Acquaintances; We are Sons!


It is a great encouragement to me that I have been called a son; a title - more rightly called an identity - which implies trust, confidence, and responsibility.  The knowledge of this simple fact (simple in that it is simply true) and its perpetual work of shaping and molding my life, imparts great confidence and joy.  Yet there is something remarkably wonderful about this sonship into which I have entered that, many times, I find myself guilty of neglecting.  That is, we are sons, "..according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace..."  Yes, this is what gives me the greatest joy of all: my functioning as a son, my living it out both in the commonplace and the extraordinary, gives HIM glory, and testifies to the riches and power of HIS grace.

When I operate in my identity, it brings a big, big smile to His face; and suddenly a laugh erupts from inside Him, a deep belly-laugh, and resonates throughout heaven; and pretty soon He just can't help Himself and He's dancing in circles, jumping up and down, and shouting, "That's him!  That's my son, Thomas!  Wow do I love him!

And we are not passive sons, living in the shadow of our Father.  No, He caused the riches of His grace to abound toward us in ALL wisdom and prudence.  He made known to us the mystery of His will; and it was His good pleasure to do those things.

Of course it is all about Him: everything is to His praise and glory; but my point is that He has given US (not "United States" by the way :) the keys to the Kingdom!  He has made US stewards of mysteries!  We have been given responsibility!

In this knowledge, I will not doubt or fear.  I won't let insecurities rule me in any fashion.  But by that into which I have been called, through His wonderful grace, I slip out of the bondage...and into a new, white garment; I step out of the darkness...and into the light: the glorious riches in Christ.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Perspective

I had someone ask me once, "How many people will be brought into God's Kingdom and discipled through you this year?"

What a penetrating question!  Wouldn't you agree?

I say, let's keep our feet moving, our hands healing, our eyes seeing, our mouths praying, and our hearts understanding.  Let's make sure our lives speak of the One who transformed them, and testify to His reality.  And when the opportunity reveals itself, step out.  Give that which has been implanted in you to give.  Steward the mysteries of God and the beauties of His grace (1 Corinthians 4:1-5).  Think, breathe, speak the life which is inside you.  And remember, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts..." (Psalm 95:7b-8a)

Let's be Redeemer's of the times!

2012!!!

Is it just me, or does 12 look a lot cooler attached to 20 than does 11?

Motivations

I've been thinking in the context of this new year in the context of eternity, and I've concluded that the purity of my motivations is very delicate and a very precious thing to the Lord.  I pray I pursue it wholeheartedly!  And I challenge you to do the same!