Time’s Opportunity

Dear Ones:

Moses had brought the people of Israel from Egypt, through the wilderness for forty years, to the border of the land of Canaan.  It was there that the Lord told him:  “…Behold thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge.” (Deut. 31:14) The limits of Moses’ time, and thus, opportunity, had been reached.  Soon, he would be taken to be with the Lord.  The next time we see him after his death is on the Mount of Transfiguration, there to comfort and encourage the Lord Jesus for the ordeal of the cross, which was before Him.  The question we need to ask ourselves is this:  Did Moses use his opportunity well, and did it truly count for eternity?

The same constraint of time that was imposed on Moses is also imposed upon us.  “To everything there is a season, and A TIME to every purpose under heaven.” (Ecc. 3:1)  When one looks at time in this perspective, we see that it is a gift, an opportunity, a privilege…AND it is associated with a PURPOSE.  Time’s opportunity is always associated with a purpose in the economy of God.  So, what is our opportunity, and what is our purpose?

One of those “bedrock” passages in Scripture which seems to answer so many questions at the same time is found in Psalm 37:3-5.  “Trust in the Lord (…with all thine heart…Prov. 3:5), and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.  Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”  Why is this passage so very important?  Because it deals first and foremost with the principle by which everything eternal becomes active in this life of ours…the principle of faith in God.  Out of that life of faith, “goodness” becomes possible, not only in the essence of it, but in its practice.  God’s provision is promised.  The centrality of worship is emphasized, and the knowledge of His work in us by the Spirit is revealed.  Lastly, there is the deliberate commitment of all that pertains to our existence to God, with the CERTAINTY that He will “…bring it to pass” by His sovereign power.  How can we use the opportunity at hand, and fulfill the purpose of God for our lives, unless we walk and live by faith, worshipping Him, and deliberately appropriating all from Him.  “Faithful is He who calls you who WILL do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24).

Dear Lord, Thou hast said that we are to “…go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He may give it you.” (Jn. 15:16)  Meet us this day in our minds, hearts, souls, and bodies, by Thy Spirit, in such a way, that we shall use well this opportunity of time.  Enable us to walk and live by the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, and this in such a way, as to bring forth fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, for Thy glory.   Bring us increasingly into conformity with Thy perfect will, way, and purpose for our lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

 

The Unrelenting Calling

Dear Ones:

We have been told that there are two things that never change:  taxes and death.  There is a third…the calling of God.  It is first a calling to fellowship with Christ, and secondly, it is a call to fellowship in service with/by/and for Him. How do we know this calling, these gifts?

When Jeremiah was called of God, the Lord said:  “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:  “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen…” (Gal. 1:15-16)  When Samson sinned against God by the revealing of his Nazarite vow to his enemy, Delilah and the Philistines, he lost his strength, lost his eyesight, and became a slave at the mercy of his enemies.  Did his calling and gifts change?  Were they retracted, taken back by God?  No.  His abilities, strengthened by the power of the Spirit, were “neutralized, rendered ineffective.”  Something had happened to his attitude of faith, so essential for the full realization of his potential.  When his hair began to grow, so did the return of that attitude of faith in God, and the belief that the “gifts and the calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29)

We are often very short-sighted, and circumstance-driven, in our living on this earth.  We forget that we are the creation of God, the objects of His love and power.  We lose sight also that we are part of a grand design that only He can reveal to us.  Part of that design is His calling, again, both and foremost to fellowship with Him (1 Cor. 1:9), and then to His service, His purposes.  God ALWAYS supplies the “gifts,” as well as the power (the enablement) by His Spirit.  So then, we come to this question?  What is God’s specific calling for my life?  Can I know for sure that calling?

First, we must KNOW that God is not like we are, and this, in that when He speaks, promises, declares something, He will fulfill it.  There were those in Jesus’ day who were not sure if what He said was indeed the teaching from heaven, the word of God.  In answer to this issue, Jesus said:  “If any man will do His will, he shall KNOW of the doctrine (teaching), whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.”  The first condition to knowing the gifts and the calling of God is “willingness,” i.e. the surrender of the life to Christ first and foremost.  James writes:  “If ANY of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally (freely), and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)  It is inconceivable that God, who gave His only Son to save us, would not, through His word, and in circumstances of His choosing, reveal to us what His will is for our lives.  Are we truly willing to know His calling, and are we committed to obeying that calling?  Let us be sure that His calling is without repentance.  Samson learned this lesson, and proved the reality of it.  It was a matter of faith in the faithfulness of God.

Dear Father, give us grace to see that Thy ways and thoughts are not ours, until we make them our own.  Help us to understand that Thy wisdom is from before the beginning of this world, and that Thou hast called us all, first to know and walk with Thee, then to know the way in which we are to go.  Lead us, take us by the hand, reveal to us the wonder of Thy goodness, and Thy sufficiency.  Then shall we be brought into conformity with Thy purposes and ways.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Love, Dad

Sheep And Wolves

Dear Ones:

Perhaps there is no clearer picture of what the believer is, facing the enemy of our souls, than that of the “sheep of the Shepherd”  versus the wolves that would destroy it.  In John 10:12, the Lord Jesus speaks of the coming of the wolf, whose sole intent is to catch the sheep, and scatter them.  He even goes so far as to declare that there are people who portray themselves as sheep, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  (Matt. 7:15)  If we have any doubt as to this relationship between the sheep and wolves, listen to what Jesus says further:  “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16)  What is the Lord Jesus seeking to convey to us?  What is it that we must grasp in order for the Lord to BE what He desires to be to us?

The first thing one notices about a sheep, even without considering the wolf, is that it is helpless, and is absolutely in need of a shepherd.  The Shepherd alone is its defense and the provider.   The second thing to grasp with regard to the wolf is that the sheep is completely at the mercy of the wolf, which by nature, has but one intent, to destroy the sheep.  And yet, Jesus sends us out in the midst of wolves.  Is this not cruel and unjust?

When we see Joshua the high priest standing before “the Angel of the Lord,” we find that Satan is there also, accusing him before God.  Joshua’s clothes are filthy, the very declaration of unconfessed, unforgiven sin.  This “wolf,” Satan, has but one goal…to steal, kill, and to destroy.  And here his method is to lawfully use “sin” to accuse, and condemn, Joshua before God.  Now, remember, Joshua may be a high priest, but he is still a sinner…still a sheep.  What is God’s remedy?  He removes all of his iniquity, forgives the entirety of his sin, and calls for the dirty clothes to be removed, and replaced by clean ones.  (Zech. 3)  All of a sudden, Satan has NO MORE BASIS for accusing him of sin, for it is forgiven, removed, gone…and this by the act of God.  It is so very important for the believer to grasp that “…there is therefore now NO condemnation to them which are in Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 8:1)  Satan condemns; the Spirit of God convicts.  There is a massive difference.  The first action is for the purpose of destroying, removing all hope.  The second is to remove any and every obstacle in the life which would hinder the manifest blessing of God in the heart, and upon the life.

If there is any doubt with regard to Who this Shepherd of the sheep is, and what his intent and motivation is, let us remember that the Lord Jesus says that the true Shepherd does NOT flee when the wolf cometh.  On the contrary, He faces him on behalf of the sheep. (Jn. 10:12-14)  In a final illustration, the Lord Jesus speaks of Himself leaving “ninety and nine” sheep which are safely in the fold, “…goeth into the mountains (…into the wilderness)” (Matt. 18:12), and seeks the one sheep that is lost, has gone astray.
This picture reveals to us the intent, the heart of the Shepherd.  He is willing to face the harsh elements, and the enemies (the wolves), in order to find, protect, and provide for the sheep that is lost.  This Great Shepherd is our victory, power, protector, and provider.  He has conquered the enemy of our souls, and thus calls us, to “submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from us. (James 4:7)”  Christ’s victory is ours, but it is known by those who live according to His ways, His thoughts.

Dear Father, give us to know what we are, and Who thy Son is…strengthening our hearts to submit to Him wholly, depend upon Him fully, and know His victory over the “wolves” that confront us.  How we thank Thee that Christ IS our Great Shepherd.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

The Simplicity of Devotion

Dear Ones:

It has been well said that, “…knowing the will of God is not difficult; we are difficult.”  Is it not so with the matter of devotion to Christ?  It is not difficult to understand; we are difficult in the grasping and implementing of it in truth.

In Isaiah’s “gospel,” we read how the Lord was seeking to bring Israel back to an understanding of what it meant to trust Him, believe in Him, be committed to Him.  He told them, “…look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.  Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.” (Is. 51:1-2)  We read in Hebrews 11:8, where, “…by faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”  What do we gather from Abraham’s experience that reveals to us the essential elements of devotion?

First, we see how the Lord took the initiative in speaking to Abram. (Gen. 12:1)  Secondly, in revealing Himself to him by His word, he addressed the matter of the cost of following:  “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.”   Jesus addressed the same issue when He said, “…He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of Me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me.  He that findeth his life shall lose it:  and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 10:38-39)  Essential to understanding this matter of devotion  to Christ is the act and attitude of choosing Him above and beyond all others.  Does this mean that we are not to love our neighbor, and not love one another?  Does it mean that we are to neglect our God-given responsibilities to care for, and serve those in our family, as well as those outside of the family?  No.  But what it does mean is that God, our Maker (Designer), is so far above all of His creation, and every member of it, that He alone is worthy of our highest devotion.  The beauty of His Everlasting Nature, and the intrinsic perfection of all that is good and holy is so far above all that He has made, that there is but one answer to this question of what is the object of our worship?  It was God in Christ who created us.  It was God in Christ who has redeemed us.  Our “debt,” and loving response of thankfulness, is to Him and ultimately to Him alone, for we “live, move, and have our being in Him.”

So then, this is the reason for, and the basis of our devotion to Him.  But what of the motive for devotion?  One stanza of an old hymn goes like this:  “…grace alone can reach me, LOVE alone can win.”   The story is told of missionaries who went to Greenland to spread the Gospel.  But their work was tedious and slow among the inhabitants…that is, until the missionaries began speaking much of the love of God.  This concept, that an eternal, creative and redemptive God, would love the individual, was the life changing motive for following Christ.  It was said that Count Zinzendorf, when one day gazing upon a painting of Christ’s crucifixion, was absolute transfixed by the sight.  He was gripped by the meaning of an inscription at the bottom of the painting which read:  “This is what I did for thee; What hast thou done for Me?”  Love is the dominant theme of the whole of God’s relationship with man.   The revelation of that love is the dominant motive for every response of the sinner’s heart to Love Divine, to Christ.

Lord Jesus, grip us with a deeper and clearer knowledge of Thy love.  With that understanding, grant us grace to indeed surrender all that we have and are, to be Thine and Thine alone.  And in “that place of certain good, ” enable us to receive all from Thee that we shall have to give to others.  Thy call to Abraham, and his response to that call, came with the promise of Thy blessing …the blessing of all the families of the earth through and by him.  Enable us to live in the reality of Thy blessing as we follow Thee, that others truly shall be blessed with the knowledge of Thee.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Love, Dad

 

God’s Work In Us

Dear Ones:

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he speaks of God’s work in us.  First of all, he declares that he is confident of a specific thing:  “He that hath begun a good work in you, WILL PERFORM it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1.6)  The other passage is found in Phil. 2:13 where he writes, “…For it is God who is at work in you both to WILL and to DO of His good pleasure.”  The first passage deals with God’s commitment, His resolve, to form Christ in us.  He brings us to Christ, keeps us IN Christ, and transforms us into the image of Christ.  All of His dealings with us are to this end, and this He will perform, until and including that moment when we shall be transformed completely and forever at His coming, or our going to be with Him.  The second passage has to do with our response to His working, for it involves our “willing” and “doing.”  To this end, He is ever seeking to make us into men and women of faith, whose whole hope and expectation is in Christ.  How then does He work?  What is His method in dealing with us to bring us to this point, to this experience of Him?

The Nez Perce Indians of Idaho, who befriended Lewis and Clark during their expedition and exploration of the West, were exposed to the teaching of the Bible concerning God.  There were certain members of the tribe who were discontented about their religion, their form of worship.  They were not convinced that they knew the truth about God.  They sent four members of the tribe to St. Louis to hear more of this God, as they knew that Lewis and Clark had returned there.  Several years later, missionaries were sent to them, and many came to Christ.  How did God deal with them?  He created a longing in their hearts for the truth, for the conviction of reality, for the experience of the peace and love of God.  God then provided the TRUTH of Himself, the vision of Christ and His work.  It would be as the Nez Perce would grasp the truth of Christ, and commit themselves to Him, that the change would come, that the work of God would move forward towards the goal of being transformed into the same image as Christ.  God also sent to the Nez Perce a woman missionary whose name was Kate McBeth to be a living testimony to the reality of Christ.  It was written of Ms. McBeth, “…the little intrepid missionary…the woman whose Christ-like life is a miracle in this land.”  Not only did God give the knowledge of Christ through the pages of the Bible, but in and through the life of one of His servants, who would live among the Nez Perce.

There is a very important principle that we must see if we would understand something of God’s dealings with us.  It is the principle of appropriation.  All through the Psalms we find where the Psalmists are speaking of  God being a refuge, our strength, our light, our salvation…and much more.  Here again, God deals with the Psalmist as He deals with the Nez Perce, and as He deals with us.  He REVEALS to us the truth of Himself.  He gives us a “vision” of Himself (…by vision I mean a clear perception of Himself according to the truth.)  Secondly, He reveals to us that we must take Him as such by faith.  For example, we know that the Lord is the Great Shepherd, but have we made Him by faith OUR, MY Shepherd?  Is He MY refuge and strength, or is He simply THE refuge.  He is not mine in the way that He desires to be unless I take Him by faith according to the truth.  It is, as we walk on the two feet of “surrender” and “faith,” that He works in us His blessed work.  I surrender to Him my false concepts, petty thoughts, in order to embrace Him by faith, according to the knowledge of the truth.  Jesus is known by His truth, and that truth indeed sets us free.

Dear Father, work in us the willing and the doing of Thy good pleasure.  Draw out our hearts to Thee by giving to us a hungering and thirsting after righteousness.  Reveal the truth of Thyself to our hearts, and strengthen us to surrender the ashes of our false ideas, and twisted concepts, in order to grasp the hem of Thy garment, believing Thee according to the truth.  Then we shall  KNOW Thee more and more, and Thou shalt dwell in our hearts in an ever increasing measure for Thy glory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

Meekness Is Greatness

Dear Ones:

It was written of Moses, that he was the most meek man in all the earth. (Numbers 12:3)  And yet, here was a man who spent forty years in Pharoah’s court, forty years being a shepherd of sheep, and finally, forty years leading the people of Israel to the promised land.  What is meekness, and why is it greatness?

Meekness is first and foremost a disposition of heart, an attitude of mind.  Jesus, in His call for us all to come unto Him, i.e.”…all that labour and are heavy laden…,” followed the invitation by declaring, “…for I AM MEEK and lowly in heart.” (Matt. 11:28-29)  It seems that in all that Jesus says of the kingdom of God, as opposed to the concepts of men, His thoughts are NOT our thoughts, nor his ways our ways…they are high, as the heavens are above the earth.  And on this subject of meekness, it is no different.  He elevates this matter to the very heights of heaven, for it is an essential part of His nature, He IS meek and lowly.  We gain a little insight as to the meaning of meekness by understanding the repercussions of it.  When Jesus says that His invitation is open to ALL that will come, He at that moment declares that He is open to receive ALL.  He does not step into the realm of men’s thinking, where men compare themselves with one another, and thus, seek to elevate themselves over their peers.  Because of this issue of meekness, He is able to place Himself at the disposition of all men, for to Him, there is no difference.  Though He is the perfect man, He makes Himself available to ALL humanity, accessible to all, for He too has human flesh.  The barriers of “greatness” and reputation among men does not belong to Him, as He sees Himself one of us, able to meet us where we are, and how we are.  The whole basis for this attitude of meekness has its foundation in His attitude towards His Father.  In that relationship, where the authority and power of God are paramount, He is able to by-pass all the sinful barriers of man, to stretch forth His hand to reach even the “lowliest” and most pitiful of men.  He has become man to save us all.

Though we have our supreme example of meekness in Christ, the question becomes, “How can this meekness BE in me?”  How can we partake of HIS meekness?  And what are the fruits of meekness?  How does it reveal itself?

In Genesis 24, we discover Abraham being a very old man. His son Isaac at forty years of age has just lost his mother.  Abraham sends his oldest, and most trustworthy servant into Mesopotamia to the house of his relatives, in order to find a wife for Isaac…the one appointed for him.  In the course of the story, after the servant arrives in Nahor, he prays: “O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.” (v.12)  It is from this point that specific prayer is made, and answered.  Indeed, the “God of heaven, and earth,” in His quiet sovereignty was working in all involved.  But what we want to glean from this story is this:  Here is an individual, as we are.  Here is a man, who is a servant, but whose prayers God answers specifically.  He gives him success.  But what is the key?  Is it because of the “greatness, ” the prowess of man, or is it because of his meekness?  Twice in this story we find the servant of Abraham WORSHIPPING GOD.  “The man bowed his head, and worshipped the Lord.” (v.26)  ”  His account of this moment was:  “I bowed down my head, and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter unto his son.” (v.48)  And lastly, “…And it came to pass when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth.” (v.52)  Abraham’s servant was a meek man, a prayerful man, a faithful man…because he was a worshipful man.  His perspective, and vision of God, was such, that pride was not found in his heart.  On the contrary, he saw himself to be a lowly servant of Abraham, and of God.  There were no barriers to faith here because his vision of God was greater.

True meekness comes from God, from Christ.  He gives His meekness as we gaze upon Him in worship.  Christ reveals Himself by the Spirit to the seeking heart.  He reveals His meekness in its meaning and power to the one who is willing to see, to grasp, and to believe.  Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see Thy meekness.  Enable us to make it our own by faith.  Grant us grace to worship Thee as we ought, in/by  the Spirit, and in truth.  Then THY meekness shall be revealed in us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

 

 

 

A Song In The Night (Is. 30:29)

Dear Ones:

The “Macedonian Call” was a very significant event in the life of the Apostle Paul.  Paul and Silas went in response to that call to the town of Philippi in Asia Minor to preach Christ.  There, because Paul had cast a “spirit of divination” out of a young woman, they were subsequently beaten and cast into prison.  The were placed in the “inner prison,” and their feet were put into stocks.  It is then, in spite of the pain of their ordeal, and the “aloneness,” that something remarkable happened.  “At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God.” (Acts 16:25)  If ever there was a reason, a proof of the veracity of true Christianity, it is in that moment when Paul and Silas prayed and sang.  There was a consequent earthquake, and as a result, the jailor of the prison came to Christ. What does such an experience, in such difficult and painful circumstances, reveal to us?  Only that, it is by the living, overcoming and conquering Christ in the heart, that such an experience is possible. Though Christ was (is) “touched with feeling of our infirmities (weaknesses),” He IS untouchable (unaffected by circumstances), unalterable, undeniably present, faithful and true.  And though there is suffering, yet, there is the experience of His presence, His joy, which no man can take away.  The Spirit of God fills these men with His peace, joy, and praise.

Paul and Silas would later be released from prison, and because of their witness, a church would be born in Philippi.  To this church, at a later date, Paul would write a letter.  He would write it from Rome, himself a “prisoner of Nero.”  What is so very noteworthy about this letter, is that it overflows with joy and rejoicing.  It is true that the Philippians had a special place in the heart of the Apostle, and as such, he certainly wanted to communicate to them the very essence of the Christian experience.  His message was that of an experience where, “…Christian joy is more and better than happiness, because it does not depend on what happens.”

Out of the depths of His experience of this joy, the Apostle writes:  “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice.” (4:4)  David experienced this same great reality when he wrote, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of thine heart.” (Ps. 37:4)  What are these two men declaring by instructing us in this manner?  They are bringing to light that God, in Christ, by the Spirit, IS our joy, a joy that will never diminish in its overwhelming magnitude and essence.  And it is a Joy, from which we will NEVER be separated, for we are one with Christ.  Our experience of it will depend upon our appropriation of it by faith.  Not only does rejoicing in the Lord please God, as it is an act and attitude of faith, but it is by that means that God reveals His joy in our hearts.

In 2 Chronicles 20:22, we find that Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, and his people, were soon to be attacked by a multitude of enemies.   Jehoshaphat sought the Lord, and the Lord told him to, “…stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” (20:17)  It would be, after Jehoshaphat had appointed “singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness,” WHEN THEY BEGAN TO SING, that the Lord set an ambush against the enemies of Judah…and they were smitten.  The point is this.  When we set our hearts to rejoice in the Lord always, He works to reveal His joy, His victory in us.  I believe I can say that all of the victorious Christians that I have met in my life, have been rejoicing Christians.  They were learning to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS.

Dear Lord Jesus, fill us with Thy joy.  And strengthen our hearts to always rejoice in Thee regardless of circumstances.  May Thy joy increasingly characterize us, that the world may see and know that Thy joy is NOT of this world, but of Thee, and Thee alone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

 

Mission, Means, Motive

Dear Ones:

Christ’s mission began before the foundation of the world.  The “design” of that mission was, from a human standpoint, very intricate, and impossible to realize.  When one looks at the point of beginning, the creation, and then looks at Christ on the cross declaring, “It is finished,” one is transfixed and overwhelmed at the magnitude of it all.  We go from the “glory that the  Son knew with the Father,” before the creation, to the point of feeling the full import of being “forsaken” by His Father on the cross, to that moment when He rose from the dead, and again knew the fullness of fellowship with His Father.  If there is one thing that this “story” tells us, it is that God is One God, Almighty, and will do exactly as He has promised.  With respect to us, it all boils down to this:  Jesus loves us…Jesus loves me, and the whole world. The question then must be asked: Then, why am I here, what is my purpose?  And how am I to truly live?

The Mission of Christ was to save lost humanity, as He died for all men.  Our mission is the same, except that it was not us who have accomplished the work of salvation on the cross…that is uniquely Christ’s work, perfect and holy.  But, we have entered into His objective, His mission.  He came to seek and save that which was lost…to minister, not to be ministered to.  He came to, not only bring humanity back to God, but to put God in the heart of humanity.  Where once God chose Israel to be the means by whichHe would declare His salvation to the world, He now has expanded that “voice” by the means of the living Church, His Body.  The incarnation, when Christ took upon Him human flesh, and dwelt among us, has now in a very real sense, been realized in His church.  He has come to dwell, to live in the hearts and minds of His children, who together form His church.  His mission was once singular, in that He was alone.  Now, it has broadened.  He is in His church by His Spirit, in order to reach the entire world with the message by His “Means.”

What is His “Means” by which He will bring “others which are not of this fold?”  It is simply, “…by My Spirit.”  We often fail to grasp that the Spirit OF God, the Spirit OF Christ, is GOD THE SPIRIT.  He has not changed one iota from the time of the creation, to the time Christ was born, anointed, died, and rose from the dead.  His power is undiminished, and His love is perfectly the same yesterday, today, and forever.  How can we ever expect to fulfill the purposes, the will of God, if we do not walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, reign in life by the Spirit?  The call of God to fellowship with Him, is a call to be led by, and filled with, the Spirit.  “All in Christ, BY the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God, all else is nothing.”

So, what is the dominant motive that we are to have in the knowing and the fulfilling of the mission, by the means of the Spirit?  Again, it is a very simple answer…love.  “Do you love Me?”  Such were the words of Christ to Peter.  “You have left your first love.”  Such were the Lord’s words to the Ephesian church.  Christ’s words concerning Mary choosing to sit at His feet to hear His words, were:  “…Mary hath chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her.”  What is He talking about here?  He is speaking about personal devotion to a Person, His Person…singular loyalty and worship.  Our service for Christ must never go beyond our personal love for Christ.  One can be so caught up in the service that one forgets the first thing, to BE His, to worship and adore Him.

Dear Father, grant us a clear vision of our mission, our part in this great enterprise of the Great Commission.  Enable us to grasp the “means” for the realization of that vision, ever strengthening us by the Spirit to look heavenward for all that we have in Christ.  And, dear Lord, enable us to love Thee in an ever-increasing, deepening manner, so that the world may KNOW that Thou art love and life.  We thank Thee in the Lord Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

 

 

 

 

A Secret At Dothan

Dear Ones:

We are often troubled by that which we see.  It is also true that we can be greatly comforted by that which we cannot see, but which will be revealed, if we pray.

Elisha was in a difficult situation.  The village (Dothan) where he was residing with his servant was surrounded by a hostile force of soldiers who had come to take him captive.  Elisha’s servant had risen early, went outside, and saw these soldiers.  He immediately became afraid.  The servant was dominated by what he saw.  Elisha was dominated by that which he did not see, but which he knew to be true.  The word of Elisha to his servant was simple:  “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them..” (2 Kings 6:16)  It was then that Elisha prayed that the Lord would open the servant’s eyes, so that he could see the “greater” reality.  “And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw:  and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisah.” (v.17)  Most certainly, when the servant saw what was spiritually true, he was comforted, and overwhelmed.  His former fear was swallowed up by the vision of God’s power.

Now, what is interesting about this episode in the life of Elisha is that, the remedy to the problem of the hostile force of the Syrian army was not by “horses and chariots of fire.”  It was by Elisha’s prayer that the Lord would “smite this people…with blindness.” (v.18)  Why then did God give such a vision only to answer in another way?  Often, in the economy of God, He chooses to give us a “vision,” or perception of His glory in one way or another, in order to strengthen us to believe Him to answer prayer.  Why did God give to the Peter, James, and John, the vision of his Jesus’ transfiguration, when He met with Moses and Elijah?  It was to stir them up to believe Him, and to obey Him.  Peter had his own idea of what to do, which was a mistake.  But the Father made clear what was to be the result of the vision:  “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; HEAR YE HIM.” (Matt. 17:5)

As we read the word of God, and trust the Father to give to us “…the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17), He will open our eyes to see His glory in His word, in creation, and in His church.  The result of the vision is two-fold:  It delivers us from fear, and it instructs us in the way we should go.  It should also inspire us to believing, specific prayer that God desires to answer.  What do we do with that which God reveals to us?  Do we use it, pray it, believe it?  Or shall we choose instead to be dominated by what we see?  The prayerless man will faint in his faith.  The worshipful man will be inspired by God to believe Him for the out-working of His will, for His glory and honor.  The question we must ask is:  Will we be like the servant who looks at the circumstances of life, to be dominated by them?  Or will we be like Elisha who prays for the eyes to be opened in order to see “…the glory of God,” and be dominated by the greater reality?  “The just shall LIVE by faith….,” and believing prayer.”

Dear Lord of Elisha, open our eyes to see Thy glory.  And enable us to pray according to Thy will, believing Thee for the full out-working of Thy will  in all that we say and do.  Ever deliver us from fear by strengthening us to walk by faith.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad

 

 

Love’s Resounding Call

Dear Ones:

It has been said that, “Life reduced to fellowship with Christ makes the complicated simple.”  This is true.  But what of the priority within that fellowship, that supreme motive and power for living?  It is simply, the love of God.  The whole plan, and realization of the work of redemption, “…from the creation of the world,” was brought to pass ultimately because of one thing…the love of God.  “For God SO LOVED that He gave His only begotten Son…” (Jn. 3:16)  When we look at Sodom and Gomorrah, and see the destruction of these towns, we discover that there is no love there…no manifested, selfless love of God.  The contrary is true.  The whole of that society was consumed by self-love, and the satisfaction of self-centered, selfish desire.   Jesus, in speaking of the last days, and the consequent judgement, “…and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12)  It seems that as true, selfless love diminishes in a society, judgment is not far off.  So, how important is love?  And how do we know that we truly love?

It is an amazing scene where Jesus is eating a meal with his disciples on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, and this, after the resurrection.  Jesus specifically turns and addresses Peter who had denied Him three times.  There is no rebuke in his address, no chastisement.  But there is a very poignant question asked that goes to the heart of life’s main consideration:  “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?” (Jn. 21:15)  The first thing to note  here is that Jesus addresses Peter in a very singular manner.  He calls Peter by his name.  Secondly, Jesus speaks of “love” as being the primary and most important subject to be considered.  Now, it must be noted that the verb for love here that Jesus uses is that used when speaking of the love of God, something Peter knew and felt, but which was foreign to his personal experience and practice.  The Apostle Paul uses this same verb in speaking of love in 1 Corinthians 13.  He declares, that in the absence of this experiential love of God, one’s words, whether they be of men or angels, are “….as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”  He goes on to say that one can have the gifts of prophecy, understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, …even having the faith to remove mountains, but not have this love, the declaring,”…I am NOTHING.”  Even the act of offering all to feed the poor, and giving one’s body to be burned in the sacrifice for one’s faith and service, “…and not have love, “…it profits me NOTHING.”  (v.1-3)  What must we grasp in the consideration of this matter of love?

First, we must come to grips with the fact that Love is the greatest manifestation of the holy, and blessed character and nature of God.  John says, “God IS love.” (1 Jn. 4:8)  There is no moment when He is not love.  Every vestige of human love on this earth is the result of a Higher Love, which has revealed itself in one way or another in and through creation, but primarily in the sacrifice of Christ, and the cost to the Father.  So, it follows that Love is the first thing.  Secondly, the whole of redemption was accomplished so that humanity should not only know ABOUT this love, but know the experience of it.  The man who is most like Christ is the one who loves most by His love, by His Spirit.  Peter had risen about as high as one could rise in human, natural love and affection for someone, for he did love Christ.  He declared it.  But he could not rise to the standard of Christ’s calling.  He had to learn that that was only possible BY THE SPIRIT, for the fruit of the Spirit, the very evidence of His life in our own, is the imparting of that love.

Dear Father, give us to see the priority of Love, and cause it to ABOUND in our hearts in all wisdom and knowledge, that we may approve things that are excellent.  And Lord, enable us to follow Thee out of love for Thee.  May our highest aspiration, and motive, be to love Thee by the Spirit, and in turn, to love those around us in like manner.  “Love through me, Love of God; There is no love in me; O Fire of love, light Thou the love, that burns perpetually.”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Dad