Little Things: Great Results

Dear Ones:

When Israel returned to the land of promise after the exile in Babylon, she was given the task of rebuilding the temple.  Scripture tells us that when the older men, who had seen the temple of Solomon in all of its glory, saw the people rejoicing in the foundations of the new temple being laid, “…they wept with a loud voice.”  The remembrance of such glory lost because of unbelief, and now contrasted with such meager, and simple new beginnings, brought much sorrow to their hearts.

In the book of Haggai, we discover that, after the foundation had been laid, and the work on the house of the Lord had ceased because of opposition by Israel’s enemies, the people adopted a very small vision of this endeavor.  Haggai writes:  “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory?  And how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison as NOTHING?” (2:3)  First we have, at the laying of the foundation of the temple, men who are weeping because of the remembrance of the glory of Solomon’s temple.  Here, at the outset of another effort to build the temple, according to the will of God, the people are faced with a contrast that is very demoralizing.  The edifice that they are building is as “nothing” in comparison.

It was a very difficult thing to overcome the remembrance of the failures of the past, and the apparent meagreness of a new beginning.  But we must always remember that the great issue is the will of God, and what He promises.  In Zechariah we read:  “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of Hosts hath sent me unto you.” (4:9)  Here we have the revealed will of God, and the promise of His provision.  Not withstanding, the Lord addresses the “smallness” of the enterprise:  “For who hath despised the day of SMALL THINGS?”  With the reality of the situation, and the reality of the comparison before the people, there is a possible reaction of losing heart, of not being committed to the enterprise.  What is God’s answer?  It is a promise:  “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Hag. 2:9)

We must never forget that God is able to do great things with little.  What He is looking for is faithfulness in the little things, or large things…they are the same to Him.  He is able to do the “exceeding abundantly above all that we could ask or think.”  We are to believe Him to take the “small thing,” even if there has been failure before, and to use it for His glory and honor.  And this He will do if we trust Him.

Dear Father, let us never be discouraged, nor deterred, by the smallness of the endeavor.  Enable us to be faithful in things great and small, never despising the day of “small things.”  Strengthen our faith increasingly to believe Thee to do the wonderful thing, that which will bring great glory to Thy name.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Love, Dad

The Hand On The Plow

Dear Ones:

Jesus spoke of “the hand on the plow,” with regard to following Him.  “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)  Who then is “fit” for the kingdom?  There is none…and as Paul put it, “…no, not one.”  What then does he mean by putting one’s hand on the plow?  Growing up on a farm, I saw and experienced first hand what this means.  The weight of the plow, the hardness of the ground, and the power of the mule or the horse pulling the plow, are such, that if there is not the firm grasp upon the plow, there will be no effective work with the plow.  Secondly, there is no way that one can plow without looking forward, for the direction of the plow, and the corresponding furrow it makes, is in the control of the farmer.  There is no doubt that the Lord Jesus is speaking of commitment here, the commitment to “do” the will of God, and in leaving the past (…and preoccupations) behind, to look unto Him for all that is needed to finish the task.

In the history of Israel’s exile, after seventy years, she returned to the land of promise, specifically to Jerusalem, by the edict of Cyrus the Persian, having been ordered to rebuild the temple, “the house of the Lord.” (Ezra 3:8) The account of this is in the opening chapters of the book of Ezra.  The return of the people was truly an act of faith.  The rebuilding of the temple was also an act of faith, according to the will of God.  The foundation was laid.  But then, something happened.  The people were wrongly accused by their adversaries, and because of the rule of another monarch, the work ceased. (4:24)  Now, it must be understood that the building of the temple, like the falling down of the walls of Jericho, was a spiritual work.  God, of necessity, had to be IN it, or it would not be done.  At the beginning of this enterprise, we might say that, “all hands were on the plow.”  But then for some reason…the “plow” stopped moving.  We note that at the beginning of the work, during and shortly after the laying of the foundation of the temple, “Jeshua the son of Jozadac, and his brethren the priests…” were engaged.  The blessing of God was upon all.  When we go to Haggai and Zechariah, we discover the name again of Joshua (sp.), the son of Josedech, as the high priest. But in Zech. 3, Zechariah relates that he is standing before the angel of the Lord, clothed with filthy garments, being accused by Satan.  In other words, he is neutralized, and thus, Israel is  neutralized, and the work on the temple is neutralized.  For some reason that we do not know, there must needs be cleansing in the heart of Joshua (…and perhaps in a good many others), primarily because of their unbelief.  If the temple is to be built, then God must “return with mercies” to Jerusalem.  And this is what He will do…and did…but only after Joshua is cleansed from unbelief.

Through the preaching of Haggai and Zecharaiah, the hands were again strengthened by faith to firmly grasp the plow.  There was cleansing by an act of God.  Satan was held at bay.  And the spirit of the people was again stirred up by God, to grip well and firmly the handle of the plow, going forward, even in the face of opposition.  God had “returned” with His blessing, for faith had again grasped well the plow.

Dear Father, forgive our unbelief, which so easily creeps in almost imperceptibly.  Cleanse us thoroughly in mind, heart, soul, spirit, and body, strengthening our hands to firmly grip the plow.  Anoint our eyes, and renew our vision, enabling us to look unto You, as we go forward in faith and obedience, trusting You for the full out working of Your will and purposes.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Love, Dad

My Prayer For You

Dear Ones:

The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:17, made a most demonstrative, and radical statement:  “…and if Christ is not raised (from the dead), your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”  What is he saying?  Again, it is very simple.  There is a God, who has testified by nature, history, and primarily in His Son, of His love for us, and His saving power.  IF this is true, then this fact will have a resounding, and radical effect on the believer’s life.  In other words, there is a God who hears and answers prayer, for Christ IS risen from the dead.

It is the role of every father to provide for the nourishment, shelter, and guidance of his children.  In that role, perhaps his greatest ministry is that of prayer, believing prayer.  Numerous are the instances when parents came to Christ for their children, some of whom were sick, had died, or needed deliverance.  In EVERY case, in response to the parent’s seeking heart, God answered.  And so, it is with this reality in mind that the prayer of a father is made for you, his children.

The key word in this prayer is “established,” meaning “rooted and grounded, founded upon…immovable.”

Dear Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that You accept me because of Who Jesus IS, and what He has DONE on the cross, I come to bring every one of my children, their spouses, and grand children to You..  It is for Your sake, glory and honor, that I order this prayer unto You:  “By Thy Spirit, in the fullest measure possible, ESTABLISH them IN CHRIST.  Grant them the knowledge of this inseparable, unalterable union with Christ, strengthening them to take their stand forever on Thy truth, relying wholly on Thy faithfulness.  Secondly, ESTABLISH them in fellowship (Communion) with You, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Teach them what it means to truly walk in the light, knowing thorough cleansing from sin, and true, profound fellowship with You, as they trust the Holy Spirit to meet every present need.  Thirdly, ESTABLISH them in their calling, that blessed purpose for which You brought them into this world, and for which, you equip them fully for the realization of this purpose.   Fourthly, ESTABLISH them in fellowship with the other believers, disciples of Christ, in the body of Christ, and thus, seeing and knowing the reality of the fellowship of the Spirit, in the body of Christ, being encouraged and inspired.  And lastly, ESTABLISH them in their specific homes, with spouses of like mind and heart, committed together to love and serve you, bringing up their children to love You.  May they be forever founded, grounded, rooted in the love of God, as all of these aspects of living are realized in their lives.  I pray this with thanksgiving and praise.  For You are worthy to be honored and glorified by their lives, and ours.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

May God grant me to trust Him fully for the full realization of this prayer in your lives.  And may you trust Him to meet you every day, realizing that your purpose is eternal, and the means for the realization of it, are endless.  God is faithful, who will meet us all as we pray, believe, obey, and SEE His hand working, SEE His glory revealed.

Love, Dad

Impossible Praying

Dear Ones:

The Bible is filled with the “impossible.”  The reason is simple:  “The things that are impossible with men, (…and they are many), are possible with God.  The question is, how does the impossible become actual, and realized?  Perhaps Nehemiah can shed some light on the matter.

The first thing you notice in the testimony of Nehemiah (Neh. 1) is that he is a “painter.”  He paints with very clear and distinct strokes of his brush.  In other words, he declares clearly, and honestly, what the context of his circumstance is…and it is a most impossible one for the realization of his desires.  He is in a foreign land.  The situation at Jerusalem is one of disorientation and discouragement, dejection and delay.  Some of the exiles have returned to the land.   The temple has been rebuilt.  But “…the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down.” (Neh. 1:3)  In these very picturesque words is described the spiritual state, and context, of this “City of David” which was to be the testimony of the Everlasting God, the God of the earth.  It has become just the opposite, with very little testimony of His blessing and glory.  Nehemiah is helpless and hopeless…a servant in a foreign land.  He is face to face with the reality of the “impossible…,” except that, there is God…a God who in fact hears prayer, and answers prayer.  Indeed, prayer is the only recourse that Nehemiah has.  If God doesn’t answer prayer, then there will be no expectation of the “restoration, revival, and rebuilding of the wall,” and the consequent evidence of the presence and glory of God.  Can God find in Nehemiah a man who will DARE to believe Him for the impossible?

On this canvas where Nehemiah is painting this history, we find him “fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (v. 4)  Yes, Nehemiah takes the posture of one that is totally helpless, but at the same time, appealing to one who is able to do the impossible…hence addressing God as the “God of heaven.”  He uses often the word “now” in his praying, as well as the words of God, His promises.  He realizes that the key to this endeavor is a successful appeal to the authorities that be, to King Artaxerxes.  And so, his prayer, his supplication, is that the Lord will prosper him THIS DAY, and that the King will grant him mercy, in responding to his request to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall.  It is as he prays to the “God of Heaven,” that God answers his request, and the “impossible” thing begins to unfold.  Why?  Because there is a God in heaven who hears and answers prayer.

James, in his epistle, writes:  “We have not, because we ask not.”  This is the first reason for which we do not see answers to prayer…we just simply do not pray. The second problem, or hindrance, to prayer is selfish intent or motive, not praying honestly or sincerely.  Are we seeking first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, His will…for the realization of His purposes?  Nehemiah, in an impossible situation, was earnestly, honestly, desiring to glorify God.  The rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem was imperative to that end.  So, he prayed…as did Elijah on Carmel.  As Elijah did not stop praying until he saw the small cloud rising out of the sea, so Nehemiah would continue to pray, until the day, the moment, when the King chose to send him on his mission, and accomplish it.

Dear Father, give us grace never to be deterred by the impossible.  Grant to us, on the contrary, to seek Thy face for that which Thou dost desire to do, and will do, in answer to prayer and faith.  Strengthen our hearts to see You as the “God of Heaven,” sovereign over all, and for whom, nothing is impossible.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

 

The Quiet Glory

Dear Ones:

There is a difference between the presence of God and the “manifest” presence of God.  It is the same in the life of a Christian, a disciple of Christ.  Christ is present by His Spirit, but is He manifested in the life?  When Moses led his sheep to the backside of the desert, where Mt. Horeb was located, he did not know that God was present, “more real than the air that he breathed.”  However, when he SAW the burning bush, burning but not consumed, and then heard the voice of “the Angel of the Lord,” his perspective changed.  God was always present, but there came a moment when He deliberately manifested Himself.  How did He reveal Himself?  By fire…a quiet burning…and yet, the bush was not consumed, or destroyed.

When the disciples, on the day of Pentecost, met in the upper room, the Spirit was poured out upon them, according to the prophecy of Joel.  There was the apparent “tongues of fire” manifestly resting upon all the disciples.  As in the experience of Moses, God reveals Himself by fire, but the disciples, like Moses’ burning bush, are not consumed.  What are we getting at here?  It is simply that God is always present, but His quiet glory (…in this case revealed by fire) is manifested at specific times.  How does this apply to us?

In Jeremiah 20:9, we read:  “But His word was in mine heart as a BURNING FIRE shut up in my bones…”  In a parallel passage in Luke, we read the testimony of two disciples how had been met by the Lord Jesus on the road to Emmaus:  “Did not our hearts BURN within us, while He (Christ) talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) The word of God was given to Jeremiah to know, and to proclaim to Israel.  But there is a vast difference between the objective word of God, and the effective working of the word of God “… (burning) in our bones.”  When Jesus purified the temple by driving out all the “changers of money,” it was written that the disciples remembered what was written of Him in the Psalms:  “The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up.” (John 2:17)  There was a burning flame in the heart of Christ, a burning zeal for the glory of His Father, and the doing of His will.  The point is this…when the Spirit of God is in the heart, and the believer is truly trusting God for the knowledge and out working of His will, there will be the consequent “burning,” desire and “zeal” to believe God for the full outworking of His will.

In the book of Hebrews, we read:   “…Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a FLAME OF FIRE.” (Heb. 1:7)  The Spirit of God is not only given to us to revive us, restore us, but to quicken us…stir us up…put within us Christ’s zeal to love and serve God.  If ever we needed to be “stirred up” to seek God, and those things above (Col. 3:1), it is NOW.  Scripture tells us that “TODAY is the day of salvation…,” and that we are to redeem the time, being about our Father’s business…as was Christ.

Dear Father, the quiet glory of Christ’s zeal is resident in our hearts by virtue of the Spirit’s presence.  Quicken us by Thy Spirit, stirring us up to seek Thee, and the fulfillment of Thy purposes and will.  Save us from settling down to something less than Thy highest and best.  As Wesley so clearly wrote:  “Give us IN THIS HOUR TO PROVE..the sweet omnipotence of Thy love.”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

The Burning Bliss

Dear Ones:

In Bimney’s great hymn, “Eternal Light, Eternal Light,” he writes:  “The spirits that surround the throne may bear the Burning Bliss; but that is surely theirs alone, since they have never known, a fallen world like this.”  In light of this hymn, how elevated and true are our concepts of the holiness of God?  Paul writes Timothy:  “….Now unto the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God…(1 Tim. 1:17), …who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see…” (1 Tim. 6:16).  We have unveiled to us here, in some measure, what Isaiah saw in his vision of God, what Ezekiel saw, what Daniel saw.  They, like us, only see “…as through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” (1 Cor. 13:12)  How then do we reconcile the truth of God’s holiness, and “unapproachableness,” to our existence, and the experience of Him?  How do we come to grips with the vision that we need to always have of His greatness, soverignty, and holiness, when living in a “fallen world like this?”

We begin by coming to see and understand the concept and truth of God as our Father, our “Father in heaven.”  This is a most wonderful, and blessed thought, because it is as if the Eternal God steps out of the greatness of His “pure, and spotless separateness” from His creation, to enter into the personal, individual realm of our existence, our lives.  It is difficult to understand how One could be so great, so holy, and yet, give us access into His presence, and experiencing the reality of that which Jesus said:  “…You Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”  (Matt. 6:6)  What is the key in coming to an understanding of this relationship, grasping the reality of it, and living in the light of it?

Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples, did not grasp this relationship.  He could not understand how he could be looking at, and talking with Jesus, and yet, was at the same time, in the presence of the Father.  Jesus would tell him:  “…he that has seen Me has seen the Father.” (Jn.14:9) But then Jesus deals with the issue of appropriation of this reality in the life of Philip.  He asks Philip:  “Do you BELIEVE that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?”  He later will tell Philip directly:  “BELIEVE Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” (v.11)  The KEY to understanding what it means, that the Father dwells in the Son, is taking Jesus at His word, believing it, counting absolutely upon it.  How does this knowledge, and means of appropriation, affect us?

Jesus will proceed to the tell the disciples that He, by the Spirit, will come to dwell in their hearts by faith.  And they will be called to grasp this knowledge of the truth BY FAITH.  “At that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I IN YOU.” (Jn. 14:20)  “Abide in Me, and I in you.” (Jn. 15:4)  The KEY to “bringing heaven down to earth,” and living BY the Son of God, is to take Christ at His word.  How can we possibly grasp the scope of the Eternal Invisible God living in the heart, if it is not by faith in His Faithfulness, and the revelation of His truth?

Dear Father, enable us, when we come aside to be alone with You, to grasp the reality of Your presence, the nearness of Your Person to our hearts, even in our hearts.  Open the eyes of our hearts to see what this blessed union with Christ by the Spirit means, and strengthen our hearts to appropriate the life of Christ for every need.  You have made us, and saved us, to know you TODAY, where we are, trusting You with that which you have given us to do.  Strengthen our hearts to lay hold of the fact that You are a Rewarder of those who diligently seek You.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Love, Dad

Established In and By Christ

Dear Ones:

It is one thing to be resolved to BE what we should be, and to DO what we should do.  It is quite another to accomplish this.  We are familiar with the illustration that the Lord Jesus gave concerning two houses, one built upon the sand, the other upon the rock.  We might say that the word, “built,” refers to being established, or fixed.  There is no question that in and of ourselves, we often have to say that we have been driven from the field of battle, or swept off the rock by the waves.  But there is certainly an experience of God’s grace that He desires to put in us, so that we, in an ever-increasing way, overcome the adversities of life, and that which would militate against the knowledge of Christ.

In our consideration of this matter of being “established,” let us begin with Christ.  “Now HE which stablisheth (establishes) us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, IS GOD.” (2 Cor. 1:21)  If there is to be an experience of being “rooted and fixed in God,” there must be a vision, a perception and grasp of the truth of Who Christ IS, and what He is to us…and what He will BE to us in the measure that we trust Him.   In the Old Testament we read over and over again that God is the Rock, our Rock, the Rock of our salvation.  When one comes to Christ, and is placed IN Christ, he or she is placed IN that Rock…to be one with Him.  He is the stability, for He is the only thing in this creation that does NOT change.  But, how is the stability of Christ to be MY stability in experience?

In Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he writes at the end of the letter:  “…Now to Him that is of power (who possesses the power) to stablish (establish) you according to my gospel…” (Rom. 16:25)  God actually empowers us to BE established, by strengthening our hearts and minds, souls and spirits.  In 2 Thess. 2:16-17, we find Paul writing: “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father…stablish (establish) you in every good word and work.”  This is nothing less than the intervention of God, strengthening us in our hearts and minds in such a way, as to give us success in His purpose and work through us.  Lastly, in 2 Thess. 3:3, we read:  “…The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish (establish) you, and keep you from evil.”  It is so very important to realize, and to grasp the faithfulness of God with regard to establishing us.  He is committed to do so.  Can we trust Him for it?

It is a very remarkable part of, and conclusion to, a prayer of Moses (Ps. 90), where he prays concerning being established, and accomplishing that which is established (fixed, lasting, steadfast and certain…).  He prays:  “…and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.” (v.17)  How do we make the “establishing work” of Christ, to be our own?  First, by praying according to the will of God…and we know that this is the will of God.  Secondly, by believing God, taking Him at His word, that He is faithful who has promised.  “Faithful is He who calls you who also WILL do it.”

Dear Father, give us an ever-increasing vision of what it means to be established in Christ, but also, of the experience of appropriating Thy Son as our Rock.  Work in us by Thy Spirit to establish, make certain and lasting, the works of our hands.  Lead us, guide us, give us wisdom…and may we ever take our stand in Thy strength upon Thy faithfulness, for Thou wilt never fail nor forsake us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

 

The Gracious Spirit of God

Dear Ones:

It is true that the Spirit of God, in His work and nature, is often represented by elements in nature depicting power and authority.  But we should never forget that when the Lord Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God “…descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, ‘Thou art my beloved Son: in Thee I am well pleased.'” (Luke 3:22)  We see here a picture of that which does not represent the power of God, but the tenderness, the gentleness of God in dealing with humanity.  It demonstrates also the meaning of the Old Testament term “tender loving-kindness.”  Although the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Creation, He is also that quiet, silent, and gracious Friend, that sticks closer than a brother.  One reason why the Lord Jesus was so approachable by all people, both children and adults alike, was that He was graciously tender.  His Spirit is the same nature … for they are one.   And marvel of marvels, Christ is in us by His Spirit…His gracious Spirit.  What is the application and repercussion of this reality?

In Isaiah 11, we read:  “(Speaking of the Lord Jesus…)…And the Spirit of the Lord shall REST upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…and shall make Him of quick understanding…” (v.2)  The quiet presence of the anointing Spirit in no wise diminishes His power, available when He is needed.  In Luke’s gospel, we read that the Lord Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry, stood up one day to read the scriptures in the Synagogue.  He chose the passage from Isaiah 61:1-2:  “….The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (v.18-19)  Here you have a most remarkable passage which speaks of the gracious, quiet presence of the Spirit, and the extraordinary power of the Spirit to meet the needs of men.  We understand something of the heart of God, as the Spirit’s presence and power are directed towards the saving and deliverance of men.  In a more specific way we see the Divine power of the Spirit revealed to us by His stated intentions:  “heal the brokenhearted,”  “liberty to the captives,” “sight to the blind,” “liberty them that are bruised.”  Who can do this but Christ by the Holy Spirit?  So let us never minimize the quiet presence of the Spirit of God, for He is able to do “…the exceeding abundantly above all that can ask or think, according to the POWER that works in us.” (Eph. 3:20)

Dear Father, in light of our frailty, sinfulness, and stark limitations, grant us this day to grasp the reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God, dwelling in our hearts.  Enable us see, and understand, that this Spirit that anointed Christ is indeed the same Spirit of dwells in our hearts.   And in seeing what this relationship is, enable us to trust Him for His power, so that all of Thy purposes can and will be fulfilled in us for Thy glory.

“Gracious Spirit, dwell with me! I myself would gracious be.  And with words that help and heal, would Thy life in mine reveal; And with actions bold and meek, would for Christ my Savior speak.”  (T.T. Lynch)  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

 

Wind, Fire, Rains, Floods

Dear Ones:

We find mention the Spirit of God from the very beginning of Scripture:  “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1:2)  We find Him mentioned at the end of the book of the Revelation: “And the Spirit and bride say, come.” (Rev. 22:17)  Why is He so very important?  And why MUST we consider Him?

We know that the Father sits on the throne of heaven, with the Son seated at His right hand.  And we find that the Spirit of God is everywhere working, and accomplishing the sovereign will of God IN heaven, as well as on the earth.  He IS that One who is the means accomplishing the purposes of God.  Angels have specific missions, and are limited in those missions.  Because the Spirit of God IS GOD the Holy Spirit, He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent….all-knowing, present everywhere, and all-powerful.  How does this relate to us?  The answer is very simple.   God works BY the Spirit, in creation, and in redemption, in the hearts and lives of men.  He is not a “force” but a Person, and He has been given to all men that they might be saved, and that by Him, they might realize the reason for which they have been created, and brought into conformity with that purpose.

How can we understand the Spirit?  How can have something a vision of Him, in order to trust God for His work in and though us?  One way is by “pictures” in Scripture.  We find that His special coming at Pentecost was accompanied by the noise of a rushing, mighty wind.  We find at the same occasion that “tongues of FIRE” were upon all of the disciples, all who were assembled in the upper room that day.  Jesus would speak of the Spirit of God being a “well of water” within us.  He would speak of “rivers of living water” given to us, dwelling in us, and potentially manifesting His life through us in a quiet, but powerful way.  In the Old Testament, we find a picture of what is called the “former rain” given moderately…and then the “latter rain.”  This refers to actual rain, but when you look at the context and where the physical blessing is leading to, you come to where the Spirit is poured out upon all flesh. (Joel 2:23, 28)  There is a physical picture of a spiritual blessing.  Lastly, we come again to the matter of a river…powerful and life-giving.  The psalmist declares:   “…There is a river, the streams where of shall make glad the city of God…God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.” (Ps. 46:4-5)  In all of these pictures we see the Spirit of God BEING something to men, and WORKING with men.  This leads us to the question:  Why is this knowledge important to me, and this, today?

God gave to Israel, through writings of Isaiah, a picture of what He wanted to be to her, and what He wanted to do for her.  Isaiah wrote:  “Thus said the Lord that made thee…I will pour water on him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground:  I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” (Is. 44:2-3)  The knowledge of the Spirit, in His power and tenderness, is given to us that we might BELIEVE God according to His promise.  The question is, will we truly believe Him?  Will we truly receive Him?  And will we believe Him for His fullness?   In answer to these questions, we need to listen to what Wesley wrote in one of his great hymns:  “I can, I do, believe in Thee; all things are possible to me.”

Father, grant us a clear understanding of who the Spirit of God is.  And open our eyes to see what Thou hast declared Him to be to us.  With this vision, grant us grace to believe Thy Son by the Spirit, receiving Him in His fullness.  Do Thou quench our thirst for Thyself by filling us with the Spirit of Thy Son…for Thy glory and honor.  Accomplish in and through us all of Thy blessed and wonderful purposes by Thy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Love, Dad

 

The Awakening: The Pattern

Dear Ones:

If there is one thing that is true of this physical creation, of nature, it is that there are patterns everywhere.  Science reveals to us physical laws.  Nature reveals to us the out working of those laws, the intricacy and beauty of which is incomprehensible.  In Romans 1:20, we read the reality of this:  “For the invisible things of Him (God) from the creation of the world are CLEARLY seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.”   What is Paul saying?  It is simply that every day God is speaking…declaring to us His glory (the revelation of His nature…) through “the heavens” and the “firmament.” (this physical world) (Ps. 19:1)  How does He speak?  By laws and patterns.  The revelation of the physical laws of nature is the prelude to his perfect Law, His word…and eventually, the unveiling of His Living Word in Christ, “…full of grace and truth.”  Why is the knowledge of the laws and patterns so essential?  It is because God can only be known according to, and by, truth.  Faith is ALWAYS based on the truth, never upon a lie.  What is the eternal blessing associated with these laws and patterns?  It is that God can be KNOWN, experienced, communed with in accordance with these laws and patterns.  If the heart and the life of the individual can be “awakened” to newness of life, or a new beginning, a study of laws and patterns essential.  Let us look at an example of a pattern, with laws, that can lead us to a knowledge of God…either for the first time, or in a new way.

In Isaiah 51, we have written where the Lord is seeking to bring Israel back to her “point of beginning,” point of blessing.  In addressing those who are seeking the Lord, He says: “Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit where ye are digged,” (v.1) i.e., go back to the beginning and rediscover the laws and patterns, even the basis for which God works in the heart.  The first prayer of Isaiah, with regard to the “awakening” is as follows: “Awake, awake, put on strength; O arm of the Lord as in the ancient days.” (v.9)  Why begin here?  Because the first thing is always appealing to the goodness, mercy, and power of God, to intervene.  We are talking about a true intervention of God in the life, not a “possibility,” or just an “aspiration” of the heart.  And the first question we must ask ourselves is this:  Does God desire, even WILL, to answer such a prayer from the seeking heart?  The answer is “Yes,” because He is Love, and will as such, never deny Himself, or what He IS.

The second mention of the “awakening” is found in the words of the Lord to Jerusalem:  “Awake, awake, stand up O Jerusalem…” (v.17)  The command like the sound of a clear trumpet, is calling Jerusalem to hear, to respond, to rid herself of the slumber where hopelessness, faithlessness, has trapped her.  God is announcing to her that indeed, He has awoken, and this, in order to meet her by meeting her need.

The third mention of the awakening is found in Isaiah 52;1:  “…Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments….shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down…loose thyself from the bands of thy neck.” (v.3)  What is He commanding here?  The Lord has “awakened” in answer to prayer.  He has chosen to intervene in the life of Jerusalem, and in our own lives.  Now comes the reaction to this realization when the command comes to shed the past, the sins, the bonds of mind, heart, soul, and body.  Christ has come to set the captive free…the call is to believe it, and obey Him.

The result of such an intervention of God in the life, where there is the wholehearted response to His call, is this:  “Break forth into joy; sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem.” (v.9)

Father, open our eyes to see, and return to the patterns of Thy dealings with us, and this, since the creation of the world.  Grant us to see Thy commitment to intervene in the life in answer to prayer and faith.  And, enable us to truly, and with our whole hearts, believe Thee to do the wonderful thing.  Strengthen us to rise up and follow Thee. Then, we shall truly not be slumbering in hopelessness or lack of purpose, but KNOW Thee, our blessed Counselor and Life.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Love, Dad