And behold, the Lord passed by, & a great & strong wind rent the mountains & brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: & after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the eathquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: & after the fire the thin sound of silence. 1 Kings19:11 & 12

Friday, July 13, 2012

How then do we stand?

Wherefore take up the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Eph 6:13

Sometimes people say the most astounding things; things that are like a flash of lightening across your life, a blinding illumination.  It gets you thinking, doesn't it?

So a recent speaker, talking about preaching the gospel, said: you can't take a poor weak gospel to a people who can levitate for 20 miles across the desert.  Let's face it, these are a people who know something about spirituality!  And how true this is!  Not just for our indigeneous population but for anybody.  You cannot take a poor weak gospel & expect people, who are made to be innately spiritual, to be impressed ~ because they aren't.  They never have been.

Sadly the one thing the church has managed to do down the centuries is defuse the gospel of it's power.

Now I need to be very clear.  The Word is the word of God & it never returns to Him void. It is vital & living & sharper than a two edged sword.  It has it's own life & purpose but it was never meant to work on it's own.  It was meant to be seed in a believer who outworked it's power through their life, witnessing to its Truth.  The Spirit & the Word work together to achieve God's purposes.

Back in the Good Old Days God was chary about whom He shared His Holy Spirit with.  If you were a King you would be anointed with His spirit for the office of Kingship.  If you were a priest you would be anointed with His spirit for the office of priesthood.  If you were a prophet you would be anointed with His spirit for the office of Prophet ~ but...for the most part the Spirit came & went.  He did not stay.  He did not indwell & He could remove Himself from people, thus removing the anointing , as King Saul discovered [1Samuel 24:6], & which is why we find David begging the Lord to remove not His Holy Spirit from him[Psalm 51:11], & Elisha bartering for a double portion [2Kings2:9].  The ordinary person knew almost nothing of God's Spirit because that Spirit was not for Him.  He had the Torah, the Law & the Prophets.  He did not have access to God's Holy Spirit for Himself.  If he wanted to know God's will he had to go & enquire of a priest.

That all changed at Pentecost. Jesus was the first man to fully live & walk in the Spirit, showing us how it was to be done.  He promised that His departure was for our good but that we would not be left as orphans but He would send us a Helper. That Helper arrived at Pentecost.

So far so good.   The Church grasped hold of the fact, & taught, that the Holy Spirit indwelt in us; that the Holy Spirit sealed us unto the Day of Redemption; that the Holy Spirit testified as to the Truth of God's Word.  All this is true.  But somewhere along the way we lost sight of who the Holy Spirit is.  The Holy Spirit is God.  He is the 3rd person of the Trinity.  He is part of Elohim.  He has personality.  He has power. And He wasn't given to us for us!

He is our Helper: to help us live the God~life.  To help us witness.  To help us understand.  To lead us into all Truth. To help us pray as we ought.

Oh, but you say, He is the Comforter!  Indeed He is ~ but His comfort is of a robust sort, the sort that comes alongside to help us shoulder a burden, the sort that points us constantly to Jesus, the author & finisher of our faith, [Hebrews12:2] the sort that enables us to pick up our cross & lay down our life! This does not mean we will never experience Him comforting our grief but the comfort will be given because we are not without hope & we need to be strengthened for the work that has been given to us to do.

We need to get hold of, grasp like a nettle, understand with our heart as well as our mind, that the Spirit who dwells in us is the Spirit of God!  We have the Living God indwelling within us!  If that is true, & scripture says it is, then certain other facts follow automatically.  If God Lives in me, then His life lives in me.  His power lives in me.  His strength lives in me ~ for He has not given us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline [2Timothy1:7]  And the word for power is dunamis ~ from which we get our word dynamite!  The explosive potential is there but we have to activate it!

I am not interested in bandying doctrine around.  That is neither my purpose nor my intention.  However I will say two things to you in the strongest possible terms.  If you cannot access the power of the Holy Spirit how on earth do you expect to stand, when you have done all you know to do in the evil day?!  And if you do not know the power of God's spirit have you gone to Him, with a humble & contrite heart, a heart that is willing to stand corrected, a heart that is willing to hear & submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit & asked of Him yourself?  Have you studied the scriptures?  Power is always given for a reason.  If for no other reason it is so we can match, then overcome, anything that is thrown at us by the evil one.  Does it impress the unbeliever?  You betcha bottom dollar!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

This is the generation...

Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; John 5:39

I said something recently about the Lord’s return & the person I was speaking to snorted dismissively.  Yeah, sure thing.  Two thousand years & He’s not returned yet.
Sadly that is also the attitude of many believers.   We have waited a long time & still the Lord has not returned. 
There has been a shift.  Our world has been changing.  In some ways it has changed beyond recognition in just a generation.  Many of us have been sensing that change.  Some of us, doing as the Lord instructed us & watching the signs, dared to hope that we were watching the birth pains beginning & that very soon our Lord & Saviour would return.
And then…
The Lord began speaking to me.  He showed me the horsemen loosed & riding over the world.  He showed me cities burning, rioting & the utter depravity of man.  And in case I had missed His point he directed my attention to Matt.24:42, Matt.25:10 & 25:19,  ~ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come….But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived.  The virgins who were ready went in with Him to the wedding feast & the door was shut….After a long time the master of those servants returned & settled accounts with them….
Now there is no reason on earth why you should believe me just because I tell you these things.  No reason at all.  That is between you & the Lord.  Seek your prayer closet & ask of the Lord yourselves whether these things be true or not.  However there is one point to which I would like to direct your attention because it is completely relevant to this generation & this is not only the first generation but the only generation for which this is relevant.
That point is Israel.
For 2 000 years there was no Israel.  In Matthew 24, where our Lord refers so often to the End Things, He gives the discourse on the Fig Tree.  The Fig Tree is symbolical Israel, an Israel that had not borne fruit for the Lord, which is, & was, its whole reason for existence.  It was to be a Light unto the Nations but because it had not borne fruit it was to be cut down & removed from the land.
That happened in 70 AD when Rome devastated Israel, razed the temple to the ground & scattered the people to the nations just as Jesus had foretold!
But wait!  There is more!
Jesus also foretold that Israel would rise again.  Oh, my brothers & sisters in Christ!   We have seen this happen!  It began in 1948  when returning exiles to the land of Israel declared their independence triggering  the surrounding nations to declare a war of extermination & 1967 when Jerusalem was taken by the Jews during the 6 Day War.
This one simple fact has fulfilled at least 10 O.T prophecies:
Amos9:14~15 Jacob’s descendants would regain control of  Israel
Ezekiel 37: 10~10 Israel would be brought back to life
Isaiah 66:7~8 Israel will be reborn in one day
Ezekiel37:21 ~ 22  Israel would be re-established as a nation
Jeremiah 16:14~15 The 2nd Israel would be more impressive than the first
Ezekiel 4:3~6 Ezekiel pinpointed the time of Israel’s rebirth
Ezekiel 34:13 The people would return to their own land
Jeremiah 31:10 God would watch over His people & regather them
Leviticus23:3, 7 ~ 8 Israel’s army would be disproportionally strong
Deuteronomy 30: 3~5 The fortunes of the people of Israel would be restored.
You can read more on these here.
The restoration of Israel is the key sign that we are indeed in the last days at the end of the Age.  Remember Jesus discuses the fig tree after he has spoken about the tribulation &  His return.  He returns to the beginning & reminds us that these are the signs to watch for that indicate various stages of the end times.  Then He says: Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished.
Which generation?  The one that has seen the restoration of the Land of Israel! That is us.
I do not care, & I do not think the Lord cares, which denomination any of us affiliate with.  We have been told that those of us who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit & in Truth.  There is only one condition: We are to love Him with all that is in us, all that we are, everything!  And that is only possible if we are sealed unto to the Day of Redemption by His Holy Spirit & live & walk in the Truth of the Spirit.
Dearly Beloved, are you His?  Does His spirit testify with your Spirit assuring you of your salvation & your place as sons & daughters of the king, co~heirs with Christ Himself?  Do you know, personally, experentially that Jesus Christ is alive & that He is indeed your Lord & Saviour?  Are you hearing from heaven?
Behold, even now He stands at the very gates.  He is almost here.  Are you ready?  Is there oil in your lamp?

Oh, my Lord & my king!  Come quickly!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What Abraham saw.

The Fire & the wood are here, but where is the the lamb for the burnt offering. Genesis22:7

When Sarai was 90 years old she conceived & bore a son, Isaac.  The child of promise.  The one the Angel of the Lord foretold.  Their only begotton child.  The one they had so given up hope of having that Sarai laughed when she was told about it.

Can you imagine how loved this child was?  Doted on.  Indulged.  Rejoiced over. 

So what was Abraham thinking when he took off into the wilderness with Isaac for the sole purpose of sacrificing his son to God?!

What was God thinking?  We know from other passages God abhors child sacrifice, yet here He is asking Abraham to to do just that.

The answer begins before Isaac's birth when the two of them are having a chat under the night stars.

"Look," says God.  "As many as the stars in the sky, so will your offspring be."

That's a goodly amount by anyone's estimation.  There was only one fly in this little jar of ointment ~ Abraham was childless.  Abraham was childless but still he believed the Lord & it was counted unto him as righteousness.    He believed the Lord for the hard thing.  After all Sarai was past the age of child~bearing but when it came to accepting that God would give the land he & his descendants were to inherit into his possession Abraham balks. 

"How can I know,"  Abraham asks, "that I will gain possession of it?"

And  God says the strangest thing.  "Bring me a heifer..."  & a goat & a ram & a dove & a pigeon.  What is going on here?

Now nearly every culture has a fundamental understanding that the life of a sentient being is in the blood.  Scripture has strong taboos against the unwarranted spilling of blood so that even the very earth cries out in protest, as it did for Abel.  The strongest ties are not those of family, tribe, nation but those forged in blood.  It is called cutting covenant.  In Africa those entering into covenant make cuts on their arms & mingle their blood.  Other cultures drink the blood.  However it is done it indicated that there is a mingling of two life streams into a single unit.  To fight one covenant brother is to fight the other as well.  Once entered into the terms of the covenant are absolutely binding.  They can neither be altered nor changed, added to nor detracted from.

In the middle east an unblemished animal was cut in half & the covenant parties passed *between the blood*.  Now the thing to note is that it is not Abraham *cutting covenant*, it is God.  When darkness falls a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch passed between the pieces.

What has this to do with the sacrifice of Isaac?  Everything!

When God tells Abraham to head off into Moriah & sacrifice his son,  Abraham doesn't even quibble.  He saddles his donkey.  He has the wood for the fire.  He has the fire. He has his knife.   And Isaac knew what was up because he suggests good old dad has forgotten the lamb for the sacrifice.

Abraham gets as far as laying his hand on the knife preparatory to slaying his son before God intervenes & provides the ram.  We do know the story.  Sighs of relief all round, no doubt.  But the question remains:  Why?  Why did Abraham agree to this?  After all, he's only got the one son; one son to inherit.  One son to provide descendants as numerous as the stars.  One son from whom God has promised to forge a great nation.

The answer lies in the covenant God cut.  Remember the terms of that covenant are so legally binding that they can neither be altered nor changed once the covenant has been entered into.  Abraham knows that God is obligated to raise his son from the dead in order to fulfill His promises because of the terms of the covenant!  Abraham walked in the uttermost assurance that God was irrevocably bound by the terms of the covenant He had cut.

In a deeper sense this provided a gateway for Jesus.  Could God do less than Abraham?  If Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his only son, then so too must God.  For Abraham God provided a ram, but there was no sin sacrifice, no blood than could be shed for sin except the perfect blood of Christ.

So when we speak of *The New Covenant* that God has entered into with us through Jesus Christ we need to understand the terms & conditions of that contract are irrevocable, unchangeable, unbreakable.  If we accept that Christ died for us then the terms of that covenant are ours.  We are buried in Christ.  We are made new.  Our iniquities will be remembered no more.  The life of Christ is ours. 

Abraham saw this very clearly.  He understood covenant.  He understood that the covenant promises of God are unalterable.  Because of that he could act in confident faith.  So too can we.