Archive | August 2016

Good Newsflash / Psalm 18:1-3

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Tune in to the radio, the television, the Internet, mainstream sources, or alternative news… it’s not possible to come away from exposure to any of that without a sense that there’s a lot of bad news concerning our corrupt, confusing, and crumbling world. It can, if we let it, cause a sense of hopelessness or helplessness. This is not what our Heavenly Father wants us to have as a focus!

Certainly we need to be aware of what’s going on in the world, but what in the world is going on for heaven’s sake? This is what we need to get hold of. Might we consider taking a higher perspective, a “God’s eye view” of any and all situations?

Dear reader, here is what I have found to be helpful, and offer as a suggestion to you.

A Psalm such as Psalm 18, when prayed in its entirety, or by the use of a few verses – personalized, proclaimed and professed – can work wonders, lifting our hearts and spirits away from all the grim happenings and gloomy specters that haunt the very air we breathe. Singing the Psalms – if you’re so inclined – can be even more helpful.

The world may indeed be a very dark place, but when we can begin to speak or sing God’s truth into it, somehow affirming His grace, good, and glory begins to change the view and the reality. There is power in singing and proclaiming His praises and His truth! For while we are acknowledging Him in this way, in essence we have “gone higher” – into His Presence, which is always now, always here. We needed to be aware of it. To pray and to sing His truth can bring in this awareness.

This can be done in the silence of our inner praying, or the words can be spoken aloud. It’s easy to directly pray many of the Psalms. They can be contemplated, meditated upon, taken to heart, and offered up to the Lord as our own prayers. This one is suitable because it is written in the first person and we can take it to heart and make ot our own that way.

I love You, O Lord, my strength! … You are my fortress and my deliverer! … You are my God, my strength in whom I trust … You are my buckler … You are the horn of my salvation … You are my high tower! … I will call upon You … You are worthy to be praised … Because all of this is true, so shall I be saved from my enemies!

This is perhaps why some Christians have the practice of praying through all the psalms in their entirety once each week! They are potent prayer and praise songs revealing God’s will and how He works, which we need to acknowledge and to contemplate – prayers which so clearly reaffirm how deeply God loves His people, and invites them to call upon Him at all times and in all places.

To pray the psalms is to call out for the wisdom, strength, and almighty power of the Lord to be brought into our “situations” both personal and public, when things seem hopeless – because we need a Good Newsflash in a bad news world. Not just once, but continually.

Let’s also hold onto the related promise of Jesus Himself: “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.” (John 16:33)

Let His word always be the last word – in any situation, at all times, and in all places.

Hallelujah! Amen

Glorying In…?

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Some thoughts on Jeremiah 9:23,24…

Some people think they are very “rich” in ways we might not consider in the basic, in your face literal sense of this passage. Certainly this passage can be taken into consideration literally. But its meanings come into play on other deeper levels as well.

What if – without any examining ourselves by the Holy Spirit’s light, hand in hand with the revealed word of God – we pridefully consider ourselves “wise” in our own eyes when it comes to spiritual wisdom? What if we look upon ourselves as “mighty men” in terms of glorying in our spiritual knowledge? Or what if we consider ourselves “rich” in terms of spiritual understanding? Doesn’t this make us better than the next person? Might we want then to look down at others from a competitive and perhaps even combative perspective, as objects of conquest – because we consider their perspectives as less knowledgeable? So then we have the right to beat them up conversationally or pry them open to force out an answer we are looking for – just for the sake of doing that? Right?

Is it possible that God may have a word, such as is spoken through Jeremiah here, that utterly lays waste to such draconian spiritual ego, such pride in self, all the while helping us realize that we’ve essentially missed the boat when it comes to what God desires in terms of relating with Him?

This kind of self inflation utterly undermines knowing God! Yet those who practice it consider themselves to be the intimates of God. This is the very worst self deception.

What is God saying here, to the spiritually wise in their own eyes, the “mighty men” who approach people with a hidden agenda of “besting” them (a word we do not often hear these days, which means to outwit or get the better of someone, which can be a form of bullying)? What is He saying to the one who perceives himself rich in terms of his own yardstick of spiritual accomplishment or knowledge?

The LORD says that there is no real glorying in these things! They emerge from self, from spiritual pride, from a contentiousness and competitive spirit that may, if unchecked, merge into spiritual bullying! It is spiritual self deception.

Here’s a very common example:

A big issue I see with all these “conversations” in social media (especially religious groups or pages), is that individuals have absolutely no clue who “the other person” is when addressing a complete stranger. All the normal social niceties and steps in “getting to know you” – such as introducing someone who walks into a room at a social gathering to which they have been invited – have been suspended. There are no boundaries, no basic understandings, often little respect shown. In “normal” life, it’s likely that our paths would never cross, which would probably be a good thing. But on the Internet, the game is on, and there are few if any rules of “social gatherings”.

Additionally there is also not the benefit of body language, tone of voice, or the “instinctual” sense of another person. (Although this can be tuned into through phrasing of sentences, excessive punctuation, and the like.) The “tone” can and often does come across, and in many cases these conversations become the haunt of those looking to challenge others to inflate their own ego – under the guise of “common interest”. These are the self perceived spiritually wise, mighty, and rich.

To borrow an old phrase from the hippie generation, participation in these groups and pages opens you up to a lot of “bad vibes”. I think that’s a valid idea. One that needs to be revisited. Then a great many of these cyber spaces need to be vacated, for lack of spiritual sensitivity and just plain old fashioned civility.

Boundaries seem to be the issue – whether global, national, or personal. I think they need to be a lot stronger in all cases. The question is, why are we being talked out of this solidly sound idea (strong boundaries!) in subtle ways? But I digress a bit, although that digression relates to what we’re addressing here – that if we were engaging in honest spiritual self assessment, we would come before God and lay down our wisdom, might, and riches – exchanging them for knowing and understanding Him, not concepts about Him!

Our Lord is not looking for people who are wise, mighty, and rich in their own eyes whose aim is always to want to be “right”! He can only work with the humble, with those who seek to know and understand Him, especially as they seek to know and understand others. He does not need “defenders” who perceive an enemy in anyone who does not see some dogma or phrase or word as they do. He seeks people willing to put on the Mind of Christ – the mind of humility and surrender to Him.

This spiritual pride was something Jesus was always addressing with the religious leaders of His day. The same nit picking has been the hobby horse that has divided the church for hundreds of years!

His way of addressing this matter? “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. “I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.”

(John 5:39-42. Read this whole section for deeper understanding.)

Godspace

Have you ever felt so dreadfully alone, trying to fill up that empty inner space of your heart with things and people that definitely may not be the best choices, and may even be destructive? And the harder you try, the more messed up things tend to be.

That may be a good thing, believe it or not.

As I look back nearly forty years on the path Jesus has called me to walk with Him – especially to its beginnings – sometimes I think of that empty inner space as a gift that had its purpose: it was God’s way of letting me feel my own distance from Him.  It was like always looking across the table at an empty chair when having dinner by yourself. Who is supposed to be sitting in that chair? No other has really fit into it.

But then one day there was a knock on the door of my heart… The Caller had to come back often. He had to be persistent before I answered. And yet there was a point when I had to give up the fear of what the Caller might imply for my lonely, unhappy life. Eventually, when kicked around enough by all the things and people who did not belong in that empty chair, when I got weary enough of all of them, I answered that persistent knocking. I realized that the implication was that the only thing I was giving up was messing up. It was worth surrendering that  to Him!

Friend, has He come calling at the door of your heart?

When Jesus comes, that “Godspace”, that empty space, that vacant chair at the table, is filled up with Him, because it’s supposed to be. That’s why it’s there. It’s the place made for Christ Jesus alone. No one else – nothing else – belongs there. He entreats you, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

He probably doesn’t care if the table is set perfectly, or even if the dishes match. Or even if some of them were left in the sink from lunch. It doesn’t matter to Him if there’s a stain on the tablecloth, or if there’s a hole in it, or even if there is no tablecloth. He will smile when He sees the chair left just for Him.

He simply wants the pleasure of your company and for you to get to know Him.

Feasting Among Foes

Practical Applications of God’s Proclamations and Promises

Ponder, Personalize, Pray!

Psalm 23:5. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.”

Sometimes these days, when perusing many a Christian conversation thread, one wonders just how connected believers are with the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Holy Spirit and the promises of God. Sometimes what comes across expresses more doubt, fear, and reactionary attitudes, rather than confident expressions of trust in our all sufficient King of kings and deepening desire for communing with Him.

God’s promises are perhaps better called proclamations of His beautiful, loving will for His children! It’s so important that we take Him at His word, especially these days when the adversarial forces are really out there and giving every impression that they are going to overtake the world.

While there may be rough sailing ahead circumstantially, what do you see in Psalm 23:5 about God’s provision for His sons and daughters in the midst of adversarial confrontations and situations?

How might this personally apply to your own situation?

What is the meaning of the “”oil”? What is the “overflowing cup”?

You may find it enriching to go to this link http://biblehub.com/psalms/23-5.htm for more references and use the commentary found there for help. It’s a good place to begin, as you pray and contemplate these passages.

Also remember Psalm 1:1,2 – “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Take this truth to heart as you ponder, personalize, and pray Psalm 1 in its entirety.

Write a prayer based on Psalm 23:5 and Psalm 1:1,2 expressing your faith in our LORD in the midst of challenges. Remember to also include your thanks and praise. Pray it often today.

Reminders

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Have you considered that…

The answers to the current mess do not exist in humanistic philosophies and especially not in politics or protest or previous patterns?

Nor do they exist in “religiously” asking God to “bless this mess”, and then go on with the status quo – hoping that it will all disappear… somehow!

Let’s be who we are, as spiritual warriors in Christ, and take this battle onto higher ground! The adversary and accuser is spiritual, hateful toward God and man, cunning, sometimes even charming, a pathological liar and father of lies and all liars, real, and has been a contender  for and pretender to the throne of the hearts of men since the beginning. This agenda obviously has been in place for a very long time through the complicity of men.

Therefore…

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

IF my people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Let’s get down to business, Jesus Christ loving people, understanding what it actually means to be “called by My name”. Let’s stop “taking His name in vain” by “playing church” but not being His holy Body on Earth, called out and set apart for His purposes.

Prayer for the Christian is meant to be a way of life, not something everybody turns to when their back is against the wall. “In the name of Jesus” means a lot more than something tacked onto the end of a prayer almost as a sort of charm or incantation.

It is imperative that every blood ransomed, redeemed by Jesus Christ soul to be on his or her knees with the Good Book open, and perpetual prayer on his heart, mind, and lips – with spiritual ears open to discern the Still Small Voice of the Holy Spirit, answering the question, “Lord, what would You have me do? Where do I fit into this?”  Be as Jesus – “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)

The time has come that there can be no “advice” from any other than the Almighty Himself. “Ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking…” Then when the answer comes, do it, and let no one talk you out of it.

Pain Killers: Personal And Political

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“… no sensible person believes that the killing of pain is getting rid of the trouble. No, you may kill the pain and silence the cry, but the trouble that is there may work itself out in your death. The killing of the pain does not mean that you heal the disorder.” (T. Austin Sparks)

What has been offered, through humanistic or so called scientific means, to individuals and to this world is as a mere pain killer, a temporary fix, most often politically and societally as well as personally. It is “… a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

This needy desperation and absence of any real or permanent answers invite us to reach higher than humanism – to ask, seek, and knock – for Divine and permanent wisdom, intervention, and resolve.

It begins with only one Way – the way of the powerful, transforming grace of God through Christ Jesus. It begins with one soul at a time, encountering the living Christ, which can transform us personally, from the inside out, as well as the outer world that results from human beings experiencing regeneration by the Holy Spirit. He invites us to know Him personally, in an intimate and abiding spiritual relationship of oneness with Him.

We may find ourselves in a position somewhat like Jesus’ disciple Thomas, who “… saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 14:5-7)

How about going right to the top for answers? “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)

What stops us?

We live in a world where we can no longer afford to keep singing, “I did it my way.” We can see where that has taken us…