Archive for December, 2006

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Deep Worship

December 31, 2006

Psalm 77:6  “I call to rememberance my song in the night:  I commune with mine own heart:  and my spirit made diligent search.

A song in the night.  The type of song that Paul and Silas sang as they were in the innermost part of the Philippian jail; fast in the stocks.  The unexplainable joy that the true believer has which transcends the physical realm.  The sincere love that one has for the Lord Jesus Christ who went to an old rugged cross to save us from eternal torment.  To know that he has gone to prepare a place for us and that soon; so very soon, we shall be forever with him in a world without end.  “With no less days, to sing Gods praise, than when we first begun.”  I remember it as though it happened yesterday, but it was 23 years ago.  The day when I woke up lost and undone, but went to bed a new creature in Christ Jesus.  He is worthy of all praise, all glory, and all of our adoration as he paid for our sins with his own blood so that we could inherit eternal life.  When this universe and all that it contains is but a distant memory, we’ll be singing a heavenly chorus; the likes of which no earthly voice can duplicate.

I no longer have the book as I passed it on to others, but it was an account of the Azuza street revival as told by a preacher named Frank Bartleman.  It must have been written in the 1920s or early 1930s.  He told about how at certain times when the Holy Ghost would move in those days, the atmosphere was so sweet and peaceful that musical instruments or voices of any kind would only be a disruption.  The folks in that place had reached a place where they were completely of one mind; seeking the Lord and his will.  No pre-concieved format, no self-serving itineraries, no place for pride or vain-glory.  A similar revival was also taking place in Wales as the Lord was pouring out his Spirit and folks were coming into the household of faith.  He also told about how both of these revivals began to unravel.  It started when certain individuals tried to “regain control” of things.  Folks who decided that they knew how things should be run started organizing the meetings based on human intellect.  We can cause a whole lot of trouble when we start to think within ourselves that “we know what’s best.”

As I read this account, I realized that of all the churches that I’ve visited over the years, I’ve never encountered such an atmosphere as the one described by Frank Bartleman.  I’ve been in many really good worship services, but none like those which transpired at Azuza street.  Those moments in which I’m closest to the Lord are always when I’m somewhere alone.  Frank Bartleman also lamented over the hymns that were being written at the time of his writing about these events.  He stated that the publishers were too busy concentrating on “jazzing things up” instead of seeking to worship the Lord Jesus.  One can only guess as to what he would think of the stuff that goes on today.  (More importantly; what does God think of the stuff that goes on today?)  I would love for a revival such as the one at Azuza street to transpire again.  The only thing that’s preventing it is us.  In this age, with the end so close and the love of many waxing cold, I’m not expecting it.  Each of us who know Jesus must get as close to him as possible, and then strive to get even closer, through sincere prayer and through his word. 

If this post sounds scatterbrained, it’s because I’m not sure as to where it’s going.  I’m already somewhat sidetracked.

In my days as a new christian, I would often mistake noise for worship.  I was lacking in discernment and so, the louder it was, the better.  As far as I was concerned “all joyful noise was worship.”  In those days, I really didn’t grasp the concept of worship being not so much a physical demonstration, but rather, a condition of the heart. 

John 3:24  “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”   

Indeed, when you think on certain aspects of the Lord such as how he endured such a contradiction of sinners against himself in order to redeem us from death, it’ll tend to make you shout.  For me, this often takes place when I’m driving from point A to point B.  When a certain verse that you’ve been thinking on hits home in a way as never before or the goodness of God becomes real to you on a new level, there’s no containing that joy.  (unless you really want to.)   Thinking on the things of God and on the world to come can cause you to shout, clap, jump, and what have you.  It wont need any physical “jazzing up” as it will transpire naturally. 

Rather you’re a shouter or of a more reserved nature, (it really doesn’t matter as true worship is a condition within the heart)  I know of one day that we’ll all be shouting.  That’s the day when Jesus returns with a shout that will “wake the dead” as the dead in Christ are raised first, and those that remain will put on incorruption.  We’ll all be shouting on that day.  I can’t help but ponder sometimes; wondering how many are really looking forward to that day.  This is another sidetrip, but it seems as though many saints are gnat-straining over every irrelevant issue that one can imagine.  I don’t know if it’s because we’ve heard about the return of Jesus so much that many have become dull of hearing or it’s because the social and economic climate has many of us running around in perpetual motion.  I think that both of these are factors.  Nonetheless, the day of Christs appearing is approaching quickly.

True worship transcends the physical realm.  A person can sing and shout; saying all of the right words at the right times, but their heart could be a million miles away.   If it’s from the heart, it’s real.  If it’s not from the heart, it’s just nice sounding “sound.”  Likewise, you can be off somewhere and not saying a single word, but your heart is meditating and thinking on the Lord Jesus.  Worship has ever so many facets from “making a joyful noise unto the Lord” as the children of Israel did after God closed the Red Sea upon the Egyptians, to “Be still and know that I am God” as the children of Israel did prior to the red Sea being parted.  Each has its appropriate place. 

In the natural realm, when you fall in love with another person (of the opposite sex, of course) you’ll find yourself thinking about that person when you’re apart.  You might think about their personality traits, their characteristics, the way they respond to certain situations, any aspect of that person that caused you to like them.  You’re not actually putting words together, but you’re “considering” those attributes.  It comes from the love that you have for that person.  Likewise, when you think about the Lord; when you ponder his ways and on how you can become more in line with those ways; it’s the result of the love that you have for him.  Sometimes you can think about the character of God, and become overwhelmed beyond words.  

I’m not sure as to how far back it is, but there’s a post on here called “Close Encounters” which talks about what happens to folks who “see Jesus.”  (For Daniel, no strength remained in him, Paul was blinded, and John the fell at his feet as one dead.)  He is so incredibly awesome that we don’t have adequate words to explain it.  As a result, we can never praise him enough, but we can certainly praise him forever.  And forever we shall.  We are already living in eternity; even though we’re currently in this vessel of clay.  While we’re here, It’s my prayer that folks would come to Jesus and that the saints would draw ever closer to the Lord with the passing of each day.  At the end of every day, you’ll have either drawn closer to him or drifted a little.  Each of us have to give this matter the utmost of attention.

This site is on the blogroll, but I’ll list it again here.  It’s www.inhishands.co.uk  (Maria Toth) and is a good place to go for a daily dose of encouragement.  We all need encouragement as the times that we live in are growing darker by the hour. 

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Where Lust Corrupts

December 29, 2006

I John 2:15-17  “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

Romans 7:22-23  “For I delight in the law after the inward man:  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

This is the one battle that effects every saint like no other battle can.  This involves the “different law in our members” that doesn’t want to obey the gospel, but would rather seek the pleasures of this temporal world.  It’s a fleshy mentality which seeks self-recogintion and self serving projects.  The old man strives continuously to reassert dominance an as a result we are locked into a battle that will go on until either we go back to the earth or we put on incorruption at the return of Jesus Christ.  It’s a battle that we must give all diligence to as the scriptures are filled with such warnings.

James 1:14-15  “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

II Peter 2:10  “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.  Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.”

Often, when you touch on issues involving holiness, it’s  viewed by many as legalism; as though you are trying to manipulate them through a cleverly devised guilt trip.  Such a concept couldn’t be more removed from the truth.  Holiness isn’t simply a collection of “don’ts.”  Holiness is the very nature of the God who fills heaven and earth; the God who wants us to have life and have it more abundantly.  There is indeed “fun for a season” in sin, however, this so called fun cannot even begin to compare to the supernatural “joy of the Lord” that is for every believer who walks in obediance.  It’s the very song in the darkest night that will sustain you when things are falling apart on every side.

Hebrews 4:15  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus is completely holy.  He was in this world of sorrows for 33 years and never sinned one time.  Jesus is God manifest in the flesh and we are to be followers of him in total obediance.  This obediance is not a grievous thing; it is life as Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.”  If we know him, we’ll desire to be like him and will continuously strive to become more like him.  When we stumble or “blow it” as we often will, it’s expediant that we repent and get it taken care of.  To “lay aside every weight and sin.”

I John 1:9  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

This is not a popular topic these days.  In too many instances, the gospel is compromised as pastors work to build numbers instead of character.  I would rather be with a group of 10 saints who really love the Lord Jesus than a thousand who are walking in half-heartedness.  There’s a special fellowship that exists when folks really love the Lord and are come together in his name.  All self-serving contraptions set aside as we enter together into the presence of the Ancient of Days.  Not in a denominational name, the name of a person, or some other name, but in the name of Jesus.

I Corinthians 9:27  “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

This sounds serious.  If you really love the Lord Jesus; if you have the Holy Ghost abiding within, you will find yourself delighting in the deep things of God.  You’ll desire to know more of him and will strive to be more like him.  You’ll desire to be a good ambassador for Christ as you are surrounded by those who have never been born again.  Those for whom Christ died that have yet to come to him in sincere repentance.  You’ll strive to not do anything that would cause them to turn away from the only one that can give them eternal life.  (Gathering versus scattering)

I Jophn 5:2-5  “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.  For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.”

When I came to Jesus in September of 1983, my knowledge of biblical principals was next to nothing.  I understood that I was a sinner (there was no denying that) and in need of a Savior.  Afterward, as I started to “grow” the old habbits started to gradually go away.  The things that once brought happiness (as I perceived it at the time) were no longer fulfilling as I had living water flowing from within.  Gods love is real; his presence in the lives of them that love him is continuous.  The more that you grow, the more that you’ll strive to keep that relationship vibrant.  I have a sad chapter in my life in which I was backslidden for a period of years.  It was the most depressing thing that I’ve ever been through.  I praise God for bringing me back home and I have learned much from the ordeal.  One verse that has sustained me since that time is the following.

II Corinthians 7:11  “For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea what zeal, yea, what revenge!  In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

Such is the case with me as I’m far more careful than in times past.  This is why I write about this topic; because it’s the little weights and the little sins that can make havoc of your life.  The ones that you don’t see coming.  I pray that this posting is of encouragement to any passer by.  Not from a desire to be legalistic, but from a desire that we all would strive to be increasingly close to the Lord Jesus Christ and be changed from glory to glory.

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Will He Find Faith?

December 28, 2006

As we approach the end of 2006, one cannot help but wonder about how the next year will unfold.  If there’s one thing that I find troubling above all else, it’s the lack of alertness that has infected the church.  For the saint whose truly walking with the Lord and remaining sober-minded, nothing can throw them for a loop.  They may see attacks from directions that couldn’t be anticipated, (such as from the brethren or a political aparatus that was once deemed friendly) but they will have the word of God tucked away in their heart and will remain in close fellowship with Jesus.  Those who are abiding in Christ and not following afar off will be ready for anything.  Saints; the only thing that can derail us is our own negligence concerning the things of God.

Proverbs 4:23  “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Last night on the blogger site, I was commenting on Matthew chapter 25; how in the parable of the ten virgins, “everybody was slumbering.”  (This can be seen at www.philippians320.blogspot.com  look up post “let the dead bury the dead”)  Far too many of us are overcharged with the things which are coming to pass on the earth.  These things are going to transpire as Jesus told us specifically that the last days would surpass all others in their intensity.  These are the times that are upon us today and we must remain focused on the eternal.  We must stay close to Jesus as the deceptions of this age will be so convincing as to deceive if it were possible, even the very elect.  This means that these delusions will make sense.  They’ll have the backing of the media, the backing of the scienticic community, the backing of governing officials, and they’ll captivate of the majority of your acquaintances.  This sounds horrific, but it’s coming to pass even now.     

II Timothy 3:1-5  “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobediant to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

That sounds like a synopsis of the past several years as societal breakdown has accelerated and folks have become increasingly “full of themselves.”  Meanwhile the church has become content, rich, and comfortable in this present world; a world that is being turned upside down at this very moment.  Precious few are prepared for the days that lie ahead.  But for those who are walking in ths Spirit, they will be aware of whats coming to pass and focused on the everlasting world to come.  I feel like a broken record in saying these things, but they have been on my heart for some time and it continue to be so.  I have visited several churches over the past two years and it seems as though NOBODY IS WATCHING!  The things of this world dominate the conversations and the teaching is focused on the present in too many occasions. 

There are so many warnings in scripture about the perilosity of the last days.  Here’s some of the things that Jesus told us concerning these days. 

Matthew 24:4  “And Jesus answered and said unto them,  Take heed that no man deceive you.

Deception in the last days is the greatest danger of all.  This is an area which will cause a man to follow what appears to be logical.  The lies will look real and will have scientific documentation to support them.  They will look like the “real deal” and anyone speaking contrary to them will appear to be dillusional.  (This isn’t new as in the Soviet Union, christians were often treated as “mentally disturbed” persons in need of psychiatric help. 

Luke 17:32  “Remember Lot’s wife.”

This lady loved the world that was coming to be no more.  Love of this world will cause you to be disobediant to what you know is right.  Lot’s wife had no place to repent after she looked back.  Just as when a person receives the mark of the beast, there’s no more place of repentance.  THESE ARE SERIOUS SERIOUS TIMES!   I would urge any passer by to ensure that you’re following the Lord Jesus and not a church or a particular person. 

Matthew 24:24  “For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” 

This gives a clear picture of just how deceptive these days are that are soon to be upon us.  The end times senario is already underway and this age is soon to be concluded.  This is why I write about it so often.  Few are even bringing up the dangers of the end times; preaching a “we’re not going to be here” gospel which is contrary to scripture and contrary to the pattern of the ages.  

Luke 21:26  “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”

In short, folks are going to go nutty as everything is shaken to its core.  Their hearts are going to “fail” as they watch the events unfold before them.  Even as I write, the increase in seismic events and volcanic activity over the past year is incredible.  Another story that I heard about on Steve Quayles broadcast but haven’t seen for myself, concerns a bill that was signed by our president which requires all data concerning such occurances to be cleared by the white house before its released.  A peculiar bill to be sure and it makes one ponder things all the more.  (I’m doing this story a great disservice as I only heard parts of it, but I wanted to at least increase the awareness of it.)  All the more reason for the saints to have their hearts firmly established and their treasures laid up in heaven. 

Matthew 24:29:31  Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

There’s an old saying that we’re all familiar with.  “THE DARKEST HOUR IS JUST BEFORE DAWN!”  Such a saying describes perfectly the return of Jesus Christ.  The thing to focus on in all of the events to come is this: JESUS IS COMING!  This is why it’s ever so urgent that the saints look to him with a fervor like never before and trust him completely.  To lay aside every weight and sin and to watch diligently. 

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Arabian Nights

December 26, 2006

 Matthew 11:28-30  “Come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

In these days of neverending drama and an ever-lengthening list of things that we must get done in order to keep pace with life at the end of 2006AD, many unwittingly neglect time with the Lord; quality deep moments which don’t have a clock screeming “it’s time to come back to earth.”  Time in which we can really seek our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in prayer; with total, heartfelt adoration of him, as we ponder his word in our fervent desire to know more of him.  That we might become “More like him” and “Less like us” as we are changed from glory to glory.  To seek out those moments where time itself seems to be suspended for a while as we seek his will and strive to lay aside every weight and sin.  The apostle Paul wrote it this way.

Philippians 3:10  “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

Our desire to seek truth and seek the will of God should be so strong that we refuse to allow the will of the flesh, a denomination, an employer, our neighbors or the brethren to steer us away from this quest.  Folks can be wrong and if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves venturing down the road to “another gospel” which will appear authentic on the surface but will ultimately pander to the flesh.  In the previous verse, Paul is telling of his fervent desire to know Jesus on an increasingly personal level.  To learn of the “deep things of God” in a way that can only come through spending time with him and spending time in his word.  In the next verse, we learn of just where Paul received much revelation concerning Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:15-17  “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mothers womb, and called me by his grace.  To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; I immediately conferred not with flesh and blood:  Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.” 

I have been thinking on this lately.  Paul was a man who was schooled in all of the traditions of the Hebrews.  He knew the law and the prophets on a level that few of his contemporaries could match.  When he became a christian, he went into Arabia and received revelation from on high.  In fact, he received so much understanding that he had to be given a thorn in the flesh to keep him from being exalted above measure.  Can you imagine having three years to just be “out there” fellowshipping with Jesus and learning of him daily?  Can you imagine the truths that you could tell the saints upon your return to civilization?  In todays society, many struggle to find ten minutes in their hectic schedule to spend time in prayer; let alone three years in the Arabian Desert.  Yet we absolutely NEED that quality time with God; not just a couple of ponderings at the end of the day as we’re dozing off to sleep, but special time; carved out of the days theatrics to just “be still and know that he is God.”  This is an area that all of us should give more diligence to.

II Corinthians 12:1-4  “It is expediant for me doubtless to glory.  I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago.  (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such an one caught up to heaven.  And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)  How that he was caught up to paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

The fact that Paul had to remember back fourteen years in relating this tells us that such revelation to a person upon the earth is rare.  Nonetheless, we need to diligently seek the Lord; knowing that he is the source of all wisdom, understanding, discernment, comfort and life.  We may never see glory while on this side as the man in the above verse did, but as we seek God in ernest, he is faithful to grant understanding.  I have mentioned this before, but most of us; if we actually received a glimpse of the world to come, we would be so “awe-stricken” that we would be unable to function in this world.  Our Savior Jesus knows exactly what each of us need and exactly what each of us can handle.  He truly is a faithful creator and is continuously calling us into a closer relationship with him. 

Psalm 63:5-8  “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.  Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.  My soul followeth hard after thee:  thy right hand upholdeth me.”

These verses come from one of my favorite psalms.  In them, we find precious insight into the life of King David.

( 1 )  He was joyful and satisfied in the Lord.  He really loved God and he rejoiced in knowing that he is always a very present help in trouble.  Think about the first time that you fell in love with someone.  You most likely thought about that person constantly.  You found such thoughts pleasureful as your love for them was growing.  Such it should be with us as we draw closer to the Lord.  We should be joyful and content.

( 2 )  He thought upon God often; taking advantage of the quietness that the night offered.  One of the things that I like about being on second shift is that I always come home late at night with a starry sky overhead, except when we have cloud cover.  On such nights, I get out of the truck and find myself unable to go in.  I just want to be out there thinking on the deep things of God

( 3 )  He sought God with all diligence; with all of his heart.  To “follow hard” tells us that King David made the Lord his top priority.  He sought God with a fervor and allowed nothing to turn away his heart. 

Today, on December 26, 2006, we need to be likewise “following hard” after the Lord.  To seek him with all that is within us; and not just follow along with the crowd.  Today, the churches are filled, the drums are beating, and the saints are shouting “Alleluia!”  The tares are doing the same thing.  Many are making a lot of noise, but few are “following hard after the Lord; laying aside their own ambitions and seeking his will.  Precious few are preparing for the hour of temptation that will come upon the whole earth.  We need to take every single oportunity to get as close to the Lord as we can get.  To lay aside every weight and sin as the days are darker than ever.  I don’t know of anyone, personally, who could just go to the Arabian Daesrt for three years, but we can keep our thoughts continuously focused on the world to come and on the great salvation that we have in Jesus Christ.  I’m going to close this for now.  I’ll leave with two very familiar verses; but verses that are very needful.

Romans 12:1-2  “I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” 

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In Search Of:

December 24, 2006

John 8:32  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

It’s a monumental concept; the scope of which we can never fully grasp during the time that we dwell in these vessels of clay.  I know that many claim to “have it all figured out” and I watch as folks will claim to have God, who inhabits eternity, placed into a series of cleverly designed formulas.  We do indeed have his word and through it we learn of him; his attributes, his pure holiness, and his plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.  Yet to really percieve his awesomeness is beyond our comprehension.  None of us who live in the realm of the linear, can even begin to comprehend the idea of “from everlasting and to everlasting, and yet scripture tells us that God inhabits eternity.  There has never been a time in which he wasn’t God, nor will there ever be such a time in the eons to come.  Likewise, we cannot grasp the concept of “time no longer;” a world in which things or events don’t have a specific window.  Yet we know from scripture that we will exist for all of eternity.  This means that when you came to be “you,” the landscape of the eternal was forever altered.  There will never be another moment in which you are not a part of “all that is.”  What does this all mean?  Simply this: we’re not nearly as smart as we would like to think and our days in the physical realm are but a vapor that appears for a moment and then goes to its place. 

Job 9:1-2  “Then Job answered and said, I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?  If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.”

So, one might ask, “what’s the point of trying to underdstand something that we have no ability to begin to understand?  Live for today and hope for the best.”  Such is the general attitude of most, who glance at the world of theology and shake their head in dismay.  They see muslims fighting muslims, churches sqabbling over a host of issues, and they hear the ambassadors of every wind of doctrine under the sun, all claiming to be the “guardians of truth.”  It would seem to many, as though “truth” is buried under so many layers of tradition and theology that a quest for it would would certainly end in overwhelming frustration.  Yet truth is very real and available to anyone who seeks for it. 

Proverbs 8:1-6  “Doth not wisdom cry?  and understanding put forth her voice?  She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.  She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.  Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men. O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.  Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.”

Truth; understanding and wisdom is readily available to any who truly seeks it; casting aside traditions and looking to the one who inhabits all of eternity.  The God who created every atom, every mountain, every star, every galaxy, and all of the dark energy that scientists struggle to find a place for in their ever-lengthening equasions.

Proverbs 2:5-7  “Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.  He layeth up sound wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.  He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.”

True unbridled wisdom comes from God; not simply facts or equations, but real  understanding of that which is and that which shall be in the future.  a person can go to one institution of higher learning after another, heap unto themselves every degree under the sun, obtain knowledge far in excess of their piers, and then die in their sins because they forsook the truth that “God is.”  They counted the gospel; the good news that Jesus Christ paid for their sins, as little more than folklore.  Proverbs 1:7 declares that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Likewise, Psalm 53:1 declares that the fool has said in his heart that there is no God.  This next verse, I find myself quoting often, but it really addresses this topic.

Jeremiah 33:3  “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

This is an invitation to anyone.  Of course, if you simply deny the existance of God or deny the authority of his word, you’ll have no other option but to believe a lie.  The bible; penned over thousands of years by several different folks as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21) contains the mystery of God and has a 100% accuracy rating.  The new testament doesn’t contrast the old testament; it fulfills the old testament.  The book is of supernatural design as it would be statistcally impossible for so many scriptures, given across the span of centuries, to be in agreement with each other.  And yet this is what happened.  God has preserved his word for every generation, despite the untold number of attempts to alter it or remove it. 

John 17:17  “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

God speaks through his word today.   He will never act in contrast to that which is written and as a reslt, you can use it to decipher between truth and error.  Feelings and emotions can change with the weather, but the word of God is steadfast; a fact to which Psalm 119 will attest.   If you’re born again, you are already aware of this.  It was through the word,; be it preaching or in written form, that you learned about Jesus Christ going to a cross to pay for your sins.  It was the Holy Ghost who led you into the household of faith.  It was through hearing the word of God that you came to know the truth that the truth set you free.

Well I’m falling asleep again at the computer.  We’re off work until January 2.  If this post seems confusing I would urge you to do as I did when I was an unsaved teenager.  I simply asked God to show me what was the right way.  I was serious about this and he honored that prayer; even though I was lost and was embracing every kind of contorted idea imaginable.  In time; which for me was September of 1983, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and have had a sure foundation ever since.  Even during the backslidden years, his word remained within.  Had it not, I have no idea as to where I would be today.  So please; just ask in sincerety and do as Jesus said to do.John 5:39 

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:  and they are they which testify of me.” 

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Be Still and Know

December 20, 2006

Daniel 12:4  “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

I came out here tonight with about four different things on which to talk about.  This topic wasn’t on the list, however it’s really needful as folks today are fulfilling the above scripture on a continuous basis.  It’s ever so easy to become overcharged with the cares of this life and become negligent in the needful things; those issues which have eternal significance.  Life has never been more hectic and demanding than it is today as folks are literally “running to and fro” to stay above water. 

 A good example of this erratic pace is my household.  We have four kids: Morgan-age 17, Megan-age 13, Matthew-age 11, and Ryan- age 8.  Matthew is autistic; a situation which presents an array of special circumstances.  My wife works at a daycare and I work at American Axle on second shift.  This puts our schedules at continuous odds, however it actually works fairly well from a logistical standpoint.  We further complicate our situation as we have five dogs, two cats, rabbits, goats, and an endless parade of smaller critters.  Needless to say, our household is in constant motion; much like so many others across the land.  Work, school events, and the like, ensure that this cycle continues with no ending in sight.  Amidst this constant flow of events is the temptation to allow errands or other domestic activities to cut into your time of prayer and searching the scriptures. “Just a little bit.”  It’ll usually be “just a little” then a little more and so on.   It’s a subtle trick of the enemy as he works tirelessly to get us to neglect fellowship with our Lord Jesus.

Have you ever seen a prompotional contest in which the winner receives a dream vacation to some place that has palm trees, sandy beaches and friendly locals?  (This is an out of the ordinary post tonight; sorry)  My dream vacation would be simply this: to be stranded on a deserted island for a week with nothing but a bible, a notebook and a concordance.  (I like to find stuff quickly)   Away from all of the contraptions of the mundane that strive to place themselves between us and the things of God.  Such a dream vacation is probably nowhere on the horizon and I’m not going to use up valuable time “naming and claiming” one, so I must resort to the next best thing which is taking advantage of every opportunity; no matter how small, to fellowship with the Lord Jesus and think on eternal matters.  To cast down imaginations which seem to pop up out of thin air and pray without ceasing; always striving to draw closer to the Lord. 

Isaiah 26:3  “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

I quote this verse often because it’s true.  It doesn’t matter if you’re on a lonely strand of beach or in a crowded city street during rush hour.  Gods perfect peace is wherever you are; so long as you’re looking to him and not focusing on the storm.  His peace can be found in a noisy factory or along a gently flowing brook.  His peace can be found in a desert place or in the innermost chamber of a prison in Philippi.  I remember reading about Dimitri Duduman; during one of the times in which he was imprisoned by the Romanian authorities. (during the communist years) he was preaching Jesus to the prison population and and as a result, they locked him into a small, solitary cell that contained dead rats and was very unpleasent to be sure.  It was there, that he had one of his most incredible encounters with the Lord Jesus as he received revelation on things as never before.  The physical realm; no matter how traumatic it may be, has absolutly no bearing on the peace of God.  When you love Jesus and have your affections set on the eternal, physical turmoil will not “get to you.”  This doesn’t make the turmoil any less turmultuous, but you’ll have the joy of the Lord in spite of it.  When you really get in into your heart of hearts that this world is ever so temporal, and that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you, his peace will abide with you in ways that you cannot imagine.  Here’s another familiar verse.

Philippians 4:6-7  “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.   And the peace of God which passeth understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

It doesn’t make any sense to the natural man.  Gods peace and joy unspeakable are based in the spiritual realm; they are every bit as real as the ground beneath you.  In fact, the ground below you will one day melt with a fervent heat, but God is from everlasting to everlasting.   I’m referring to a lot of familiar verses tonight, but we really need to keep these things in mind.  We’re fastly approaching a time in which mens hearts will be failing them for fear and we must be prepared ahead of time.

Psalm 91:4-7  “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.  Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;  Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon-day.  A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.”

The Lord knows them that are his and will always be with us; no matter where we are or what the circumstances facing us are.  I know that all of this sounds really basic, but we lose sight of things way too easily; especially if time spent in prayer has wained a little.  I can always tell when I’m not “prayed up” if you will, because I find myself becoming “impatient” over trivial things  such as a driver in front of you who’se not paying attention.  If this person also has a cell phone stuck in their ear, my mood can deteriorate quickly.  Outbursts of flesh will always be a danger if we allow ourselves to drift for even a moment.  We must stay in fellowship with the Lord Jesus; not only for ourselves but for the lost who reside all around us.  When we allow ourselves to get “out of sorts” we become like the proverbial “Bull in the China Shop” causing damage to all that we come into contact with.   We must strive to walk in the Spirit on a continuous basis as precious souls are in the balance. 

John 16:33  “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I Peter 5:7  “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Jesus Christ is always as close as the mention of his name and there’s no problem that’s too big or too small.  It’s 4:00 AM here in Constantine and as a result I’m waging a losing battle against sleep.  Therefore it’s time to go snooze.  The peace of God truly does pass all understanding.  I pray that you’re in this state of peace and joy unspeakable.  The days ahead are certain to be trying and we’re going to need Gods perfect peace like never before.  I pray that we all would draw ever closer to him through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. 

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Heavenly Phrases

December 18, 2006

Jude 20-21  “But ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,  Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

When you get into a discussion concerning “praying in the Spirit” you will find all sorts of viewpoints ranging from those who would tell you that this is not for today, to those who will tell you, “you’re not saved until you do it.”  I don’t want to delve into a deep theological discussion as it’s time consuming and there are plenty of websites which already do this.  I do want to comment on this, however, because in the times that we find ourselves, it’s ever so important to be as close to the Lord Jesus as you can be.  These are times of incrediblly strong delusions coupled with unprecidented lukewarmness.  You really need to be endued with power from on high if you’re to stand in this hour of temptation.

If you are truly born again and you love the Lord Jesus Christ with all of your heart, you will have a desire within to be as close to him as you can be; to increase in your understanding of God and his great salvation.  To grow into the fulness of Christ and be in complete obediance.  As a result of this desire, you should find yourself searching scriptures on everything that you hear, studying; coupled with fervent prayer as you seek Gods truth.  Men can be in error.  Men can put scriptures together in a way that’s not as they’re supposed to be and one must develop discernment concerning this.  (Hebrews 5:14)   If you get some time, check out the two entries on the blog roll concerning “Lectio Devina” which talks of fervent prayer coupled with the study of scripture.

John 14:26  “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your rememberance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

One of the many functions of the Holy Ghost is to give understanding.  Soon after I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, I went to visit my sister for a few days.  At this time, my undersatanding of scripture was very limited at best and I figured that mormons were just another denomination.  As my sister was “telling me things” concerning christianity, I was getting a “crunch” inside; much like somebody rubbing your hair the wrong way. “SOMETHING WAS VERY WRONG” with what I was hearing, but at the time, I didn’t know what.  The words all sounded right, but something “wasn’t right.” (For starters, they claim that the bible isn’t completly accurate and that Jesus was once just a man.  They have more faith in a guy who stuck rocks in his hat than in the word of God which offers stern warnings to any who would seek to alter its content.)  As time progressed, I learned of the true nature behind mormonism; that it’s “another gospel” preaching “another Jesus.”  This was a potentially disasterous pitfall and the Holy Spirit steered me away from it. 

Acts 1:8  “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

The baptism of the Holy Ghost is very much for every generation as Mark 16:16-18 and Acts 2:39 will attest.  It was in the late summer of 1984 when I received this.  It was the first time that I had ever been to a full gospel church and the folks all prayed for a while before service.  I thought to myself, “what a good idea” and so I found a spot alone by the door to just talk to the Lord.  I believed that the baptism of the Holy Ghost was real and for today but, hadn’t received it yet.  It was only a few moments into this time of prayer that I noticed my language was no longer of my understanding.  It happened really fast; much like when the gentiles first received the Holy Ghost in Acts chapter ten.  It was at that moment that I was really closer to the Lord and was literally endued from power from on high.  Power to live a holy life; power to be obediant like never before.  I had much more zeal than in the previous 11 months, although it was quite a while before the wisdom started to catch up with the zeal. 

I’m writing this tonight because, you really should be seeking to be empowered from on high as these are incredibally deceptive days.  As in all things, I ask that you would study it out for yourself.  For your own sake, don’t simply follow a man, a church, a tradition, or anything that runs contrary to truth.  As we enter the time of great tribulation, (something else to search out) you need the power of the Holy Ghost working in your life.  If you read Stevens discourse in Acts chapter 7, you’ll see just how important this is. 

Luke 21:14-15  “Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:  For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.”

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have not yet received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, I would urge you to give this the utmost of diligence.  Your relationship with the Lord Jesus will be much more personal; much more steadfast, and you’ll have that joy like you cannot imagine.

Romans 8:26-27  “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Ephesians 6:18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints:

If you find yourself in a situation where you just don’t know how to pray concerning a situation, pray in the Spirit.  This is a perfect prayer, totally within the confines of the will of God; totally void of selfish ambitions and desires.  When you pray in the Holy Ghost, you have no idea as to what’s being said,k but you can be certain that it’s perfect and needful.  We don’t even know our own hearts as we should; how can we possibly know what we should be praying for.  There are certain things that we bring before the Lord with the understanding on a regular basis such as seeking wisdom, praying for unsaved acquaintances and what have you.  But our little window on the world is very limited and we really have no idea as to what’s really pressing.  “The Spirit helpeth our infirmities.”  This could be physical or spiritual such as a root of spiritual pride growing within or any number of things which so easily beset us.  These are addressed when we pray in the Holy Ghost. 

I Corinthians 14:15  “What is it then?  I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also:  I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”

I Corinthians chapter 14 offers very common sense guidelines concerning spiritual gifts and concerning praying in the spirit.  Things are to be done in such a fashion as to not cause confusion should unsaved folks for whom Jesus died be present.  This is something that took me a long time to understand and I fear that I’ve done much damage in times past.  Everything that we do, should be toward the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and reaching those who are all around us who haven’t received him as Savior.  If we don’t have the love of God working in us, were putting on a show.  Everything is to be done for its intended reason.  The apostle Paul mentioned that while he spoke in tongues more than they all and praised God for it, he would rather, in the church, speak five words with the understanding as to bring edification or wisdom to another. 

I Corinthians 14:39-40  “Wherefore brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid  not to speak with tongues.  Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Well I need to close this out for now.  This is a subject that has ever so many areas of discussion.  As I read back through this post, it looks like an assortment of “starts” without finishes.  The deep things of God are….well….deep!  His ways are so far above our ways that we could never begin to really get a grasp on just how wonderful he is.  Lately, in prayer for others, I’v been asking the Lord to grant various individuals a “revelation” concerning these deep things that they never had before.  That they would receive a piece of “understanding” of Gods nature and his everlasting glory.  The more that you understand about his glory, the more incredible our salvation becomes; that Jesus Christ would leave glory, where he had dwelt from eternity past, take on a body of flesh, walk upon the earth that he created but was in total contradiction of his perfect nature, and go willingly to an old rugged cross; shedding his innocent blood for those who weren’t even looking for him.  I need to close out for now, but I’ll leave with this passage.

Hebrews 12:2-3  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider him that endured such a contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

Whatever you do; don’t faint in your minds.