Snippets from My Journal #7 9/17/18

December 28, 2016

Jesus said: There is so much more I would like to say to you, but it’s more than you can grasp at this moment.  But when the truth-giving Spirit comes, He will unveil the reality of every truth within you. He won’t speak his own message but only what He hears from the Father, and He will reveal prophetically to you what is to come.  He will glorify Me on earth for He will receive from Me what is Mine and reveal it to you.  John 16: 12-14

HSpirit2

We have received only two commandments regarding the Holy Spirit:

Do not quench the Spirit. I Thess. 5:19

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

To grieve the Spirit is to refuse to allow Him to BE what He wants to BE in and through us.

To quench Him is to refuse to allow Him to DO what He wants to DO in and through us.

The Holy Spirit never pushes Himself; He is never rude or demanding.  He is the still small voice in our spirits that leads and guides us.  We must adjust to Him; He does not adjust to us.

If I’m driving down an unfamiliar road and get lost, my destination doesn’t move to where I am.  I must consult the map, figure out where I went wrong and adjust the route to reach my intended destination.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit acts as my map – He gently points out that I’m off course and I need to turn around and get back on the right road.

Perhaps God chose to depict the Holy Spirit as a dove because the turtledove is a very shy, harmless, innocent bird.  The word ‘harmless’ used here means ‘pure and morally innocent.’  It describes someone who has not been corrupted. The Holy Spirit is pure wisdom and grace.

The dove is quite different from these pesky pigeons we deal with all the time in Israel. They’re not the least bit shy, they make a mess of our balconies and waddle right up to the window and look in.  A dove would never do that!

Lord, train me to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit within me.  I know that I don’t lose my salvation when I grieve Him but I certainly do lose the sense of His sweet presence. It is written of Jesus that the Spirit of the Lord descended upon Him and remained with Him.  John 1:32  The Spirit remained with you because You, Jesus, never grieved Him nor did you ever quench Him.

Make me like You, Lord. I throw myself on Your grace asking that You will empower me to be promptly obedient to the voice of Your Spirit within me.  So work in me that your Spirit will feel at home with me like He did with you, Jesus.

To become more and more like You, Lord, is to be conscious of the Spirit’s presence within me and to order my behavior in such a way as to give Him a comfortable home in my spirit.  It’s impossible in my own strength; so I throw myself on Your unending grace and I ask You, Jesus, to do that work in me.

Snippets from My Journal #6 9/11, 2018

January 27, 2017

I heard the Lord say: My people live as though their bodies are their own and they can do what they please with them. Why do they not see that this is the very argument of the abortionists?  My people abort what I have deposited in them – My very Presence – by indulging the flesh as if it was their private possession.  “But you have been bought with a price; you are not your own.  Therefore, glorify God with your body.”  I Cor. 6:20

Forgive me, Lord, for indulging my flesh. Forgive me, Lord, I repent.

ICor6

More important than the fact that You created me, more important than the fact that You sustain me, is the truth that You bought me at the cost of Your precious Blood.  That is the most powerful reason for seeking holiness.

You paid an enormous price. Not with silver and gold did You purchase me. You took the punishment that was due to me.  You bared Your back to the whips, said nothing when they crowned You with thorns or when they drove in the nails, suffered the insults of those who mocked You as You were dying and prayed only, ‘Father, forgive them.’  I shudder to think how many times You have said those three words since.  How many times have You turned to the Father and said, “Father, forgive her”?

The price was priceless.

As certain as I am saved by Your shed Blood, just as certain is it that I was bought with a price and therefore am no longer the landlord of my body and my possessions.

The greatest event of my biography is not the day I was born, but the day I was born again; the day I accepted that I had been bought with an exceedingly high price, the day I began to learn that there is no ruler as tyrannical as my ego.  “Self ” is a fierce dictator, a terrible oppressor, and a cruel slave driver.

My five senses were not given to me to injure or pollute what Christ has paid for.  He did not save me to waste my time on worthless pursuits. He did not purchase me to pamper myself.

Jesus did not take out a mortgage on me – He paid in full.  Therefore I am not partly His and partly mine, as a house is partly mine and partly the bank’s.

Therefore, the commandment is clear: “Glorify God with your body.”  I Cor. 6:20b

Lord Jesus, Your word says that my body is a temple of Your Holy Spirit. Cleanse this temple, arrange and re-arrange however You want to, re-decorate this house to Your liking, clean out whatever needs to be cleaned out and make this house of my body a place that You find pleasing and comfortable to live in.

I throw myself on Your unfailing grace for it is You – and You alone – who are at work in me to will and to do Your good pleasure.  I trust You as the owner of everything I am and have to make me into what pleases You, Jesus.

 

Snippets from My Journal #5 9/4/18

April 15, 2016

The topic that never stops demanding from us……forgiveness.

Forgiveness2

A young Joseph, the darling of his father, is betrayed by his brothers, thrown in a pit and then sold to slave-traders.  To add insult to injury, he is later falsely accused of sexual impropriety at a time when life had just gotten better for him.  The false accusation lands him in prison for several years.

Finally he is vindicated and not only that, but raised to the second highest position in the land.  Life is really good now – a palace to live in, a new wife to love, an authority to exercise over the nation.  His wisdom is the talk of the town; his administrative decisions are followed to the letter.  Famine is coming and he prepares the nation for survival.

Then one day travelers show up from the nearby land of Canaan.  Joseph recognizes them immediately – his brothers, the very ones who betrayed him. They have no clue who he is for no son of Jacob would ever be expected to look and dress like an Egyptian.

Fast forward to the day that Joseph is revealed himself to his brothers.

Joseph put everybody else out of the room so there was no one with him when he revealed his true identity to his brothers.  (Gen. 45:1)  He let his brothers save face.

Do you suppose the Joseph was immune to the temptation to take revenge – or at least to embarrass his brothers in front of the Egyptians? Do you suppose that Joseph never had the thought of ‘getting even’ go through his mind?  Of course he did – he was human. But through his years of suffering he had learned a few things and we get the benefit of seeing what it’s like when a servant of God has a sanctified tongue.

Our flesh is inclined to get even with those who have hurt us by destroying their credibility.  We can’t stand to see people who’ve hurt us be admired by others.  The flesh wants to make sure that they “feel guilty” and are “very sorry” before we forgive them.

Joseph had plenty of reason to feel that way but he chose to protect the self-worth of his brothers instead.  He did not shame them in front of the Egyptians.

As if that was not impressive enough, he took it a step further and even protected their dark secret from his father.  He would not let them tell Jacob what had really happened.  (Gen. 45: 9-11)  And he provided for them all – they and their families – throughout the remainder of the famine.

Total forgiveness says I no longer hold this against you, I will not keep bringing it up and I will not going around telling everybody what you did to me.

Too difficult?

Think of it this way.  Has God ever tattled on you to someone else?  Or does He forgive you when you repent, wash away your sin and promise to ‘remember it no more’?

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  Matthew 5:12

Joseph is a great example of total forgiveness, but there is an even greater One – the Lord Himself.

Why do you think He included that verse in the Lord’s prayer?  Because He knew that we would get hurt.  It’s part of life! It just happens.  Many times it’s not deliberate and other times it is.  That’s not the point with Jesus.  He just says, ‘Forgive as you have been forgiven.’

If you’re struggling today with a hurt or an insult whether it was recent or happened years ago, give it to Him. Let Him take it, heal you and set you free from the prison of unforgiveness.

It may be the greatest thing you do for yourself this Tuesday.

 

 

 

Snippets from My Journal #4 8/24/18

March 2, 2009

The Lord corrected one of my frequent prayers this morning.  I have often cried out, ‘Lord, make me everything you want me to be.’ This morning the Spirit of the Lord stopped me as I began to pray that and said, ‘Pray this instead: Lord Jesus, You be everything You want to be through me.’

It’s such a wonderful gift when the Holy Spirit teaches us something new or corrects our misunderstandings.

HolySpirit

Thank you, Father, for sending your Holy Spirit to teach us, to train us, to guide us through this life.  Let me never take for granted this amazing gift: the indwelling Spirit of the Lord.  Perhaps we do not pay sufficient attention to the fact that the Holy Spirit is God – the Spirit of the Lord within us.  That’s mind-boggling!

The Holy Spirit was present in the early church at a very high level. When Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, he lied to God. (Acts 5) The consequence was that he died – instantly.  When God is manifest as powerfully as He was at that time, it was life-threatening to lie in His presence.  Offending the Spirit of God in that day was like tampering with high voltage electricity with wet hands.  It’s no wonder the fear of the Lord fell on all who saw what happened to Ananias and his wife.

Paul wrote, ‘Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God.’  I Cor. 6:19

A temple not made with hands – that’s what God has wanted all along.  The Tabernacle in the wilderness was an accommodation to Israel’s sinfulness.  The Temples in Jerusalem were much the same.  What the Father has wanted from eternity is what He has now made us to be: living temples, human beings saved by the blood of Jesus who now host His very own presence in the form of His Spirit alive within our spirits.

Wow, Lord! When I really think about it, it’s overwhelming.  Forgive me for not appreciating more deeply the reality of your Holy Spirit within me.  I don’t have to be afraid to talk directly to You, Holy Spirit. There is no rivalry, no jealousy in the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  You are ONE in a way that is beyond our human comprehension but I believe YOU! I believe Your Word.  I sure don’t understand electricity but that doesn’t stop me from using it.  I don’t need to understand the Trinity but simply to believe for without faith it is impossible to please Him.

The Spirit of God is God the Spirit.  How simple is that!  Lord, I want to be passionate about You, passionate about the Father, passionate about you, Jesus and passionate about your Holy Spirit.  Fill me anew and afresh today, cause Your Spirit to overflow in my life. Grant me the ear of a disciple to hear His whispers.  Don’t let me be so dull of hearing that He has to shout to get my attention.  Make me sensitive to Your voice, Holy Spirit.

Jesus, You introduced the Spirit to us as a ‘comforter’, an ‘advocate’, a ‘counselor’ and a ‘helper.’  He’s not an ‘it’, He’s a person and He has His ways, very definite and sometimes peculiar ways of working in my life.  At least it seems peculiar to me at times, Lord.

But He’s the only Holy Spirit I’ve got so I must adjust to Him because He’s not going to adjust to me!

Holy Spirit, I want to really know what the Bible calls ‘the joy of the Lord.’  (Neh. 8:10)  I know there’s a difference between being happy when my circumstances are favorable and knowing the joy of the Lord independent of any circumstances or situations.  Will you please teach me how to live in the joy of the Lord because it’s written in your word, ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength.’

I want to live from that source of strength, knowing and loving the Lord Jesus intimately and passionately.

Snippets from my Journal #3 Aug. 21, 2018

Early this morning I asked the Lord what He wanted for this week’s post. When He impressed me to pull out a journal from 20 years ago, I was stunned.  And then when He impressed me to put out the following entry, I was even more stunned – and to be honest, rather hesitant for though I had not reviewed this journal entry for some time, nevertheless I remembered it well and to me, it’s very personal.

But the Lord made abundantly clear that this message was not just for me, but for every devoted disciple of His, particularly in these days, twenty years after He spoke it to me.  So….here goes.

upwardcall

August 21, 1998:  I remember it well.  I was in England, preaching in a number of churches there.  One morning, as I looked out the window to a typically lovely English garden, I felt the Lord’s impression to pick up my journal and wait on Him.  Over the next several minutes, I wrote what I heard in my spirit. I pray it will challenge you as it challenged me that day and has continued to challenge me ever since.

“Since I have called you to be like Me in your spirit, I will draw you into a life of crucifixion and put such demands of obedience upon you, that I will not allow you to simply follow what others do.  You will wonder why other good people do things that I will not allow you to do.

Other Christians and ministers who appear to be very effective may promote themselves, work schemes or pull strings to carry out their plans, but you cannot.  If you do, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from Me as to make you deeply penitent.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making great amounts of money, or have many luxuries, but I will be your daily supply because I want you to have something far better than gold – a helpless dependence on Me so that I may provide your needs from My unseen treasury.

Others may be honored and put forward, while you remain in the background for the choice and fragrant fruit of My Spirit is best produced in the shade.

I will let others become great while you remain small.  I will let others get the credit for what they do for Me, but you will work hard while others get the credit for what you have done, in order that humility may grow and increase in you.

My Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you with a jealous love and will convict you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time, things which appear small but are the very building blocks of learning to live by My Spirit.

So make up your mind that I am your King, your Lord and the Lover of your soul, and I have the absolute right to do as I please with My very own.  I will not explain everything to you; at times you will be perplexed, puzzled, even dismayed at My dealings with you.

But know this, just as you take Me at My Word, I also take you at your word. You have asked Me to conform you into My image and that is precisely what I intend to do.

Settle it forever that by submitting yourself to Me, I am now in charge.  My Spirit has the right to lead you, to tell you when to speak and when to be quiet, what to say and what not to say, where to go and where not to go.  My Spirit is a Master Teacher to school you in My ways and transform you into My image.  Be thankful for His guardianship over you and resist not His management of your life, for in so doing, you will find the very vestibule of heaven.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Phil. 3:14

May His word and His ways be manifest in all of our lives.

Snippets from my Journal #2 Aug. 14, 2018

Some years ago, an elderly saint who has gone on to glory said to me: ‘Pay attention to your dreams, especially the ones you remember best.  Those are usually the ones the Lord gives you just before it’s time to wake up.  The Lord spoke through dreams to Joseph, the patriarch, to Joseph, husband of Mary and to many others throughout the scriptures.  He still does.  Pay attention when you have a dream you remember and always ask the Lord to grant you understanding of it for those are the dreams that carry a message from heaven most of the time.  It may be for today, it may be for years down the road.  Write it down and wait upon the Lord who gives understanding in His time.’

I don’t dream very often at all, at least not that I remember when I wake up.  It’s unusual for me to have a vivid dream that I can clearly remember – very unusual.

But the admonition of the old saint came back to me early this morning with the sense that it needed to be shared. At the same time, a dream I had not thought about in a long time, floated across my mind. I pulled out my journal from 2012.  Flipping through the pages, suddenly, there it was.  As I read, I got more and more excited for I saw in the dream meaning that I had never seen before.  I pray it will speak something to you as well.

January 2, 2012 – Journal entry

I had a very vivid dream just before waking up this morning.  I was standing on top of a high dune, looking down. There were four fully mature lions “hanging out” on the sand by the waterfront.  One was lying down right at the water’s edge, looking out to the sea. The other three were milling about on the sand in a casual way, several feet steps away from the water’s edge. There was a young woman among them – clearly unafraid – with her left arm over the neck of one of the standing lions, like a very loose embrace.  There were a couple of palm trees off to the right and the left, swaying in the light wind.

4-lions-at-seaside

Lions don’t naturally belong on beaches so what were they doing there? I wondered initially.

The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that the four lions represented His people from the ‘four corners of the earth’.  One lion is ‘at rest’, lying down peacefully at the water’s edge. The other three are moving about, restless.

The sand is symbolic of the instability of the nations and the world system whose support for or right attitude towards the Body of Christ comes and goes like waves hitting the beach.

The young woman represents the grace of God ministering to the restless, who are stirred but as yet undecided about taking the plunge into wholehearted acceptance and joy regarding the return of the Lord Jesus.  Therefore they pace back and forth indecisively.

The shoreline represents the border between heaven and earth and the sea itself, a reminder of the crystal sea before the Throne of God, spoken of in Revelation.

The peaceful lion, with his focus fixed firmly on the sea, speaks of those disciples who are eagerly awaiting the return of the Lord from a place of inner peace and joy at His soon coming. Like the lion, they are ‘looking out to sea’, un-distracted by this world and its seductions.

The other three lions are unsure, insecure and struggling to come to terms with the radical implications of the coming of the Lord to take us home.  They’re not looking out to sea but are focused on their own questions, doubts, worries and circumstances.

*********************

This dream is dated January 2, 2012 – six and a half years ago.  As I read through it this morning, I was stunned with its relevance to TODAY.

There’s a reason that in the dream I was watching this scene from the top of a high sand dune. Was it a call to pray for the restless lions? Was it something else?

What does this dream say to you? I believe the messages contained in it can be as varied as the people who read it.  I’d love to hear back from some of you if you’re willing to share what the Lord says to you through this post.

May His grace reveal more and more to all of us.

Snippets from my Journal #1 August 7, 2018

Having completed our series on the Presence of God last week, I have been asking the Lord what He wanted me to focus on next for this blog.  I was quite surprised with His answer:  ‘Share from your own journal.’  Initially I was aghast and thought, ‘My journal? My personal journal, Lord? That’s just between me and You!’  But after struggling with it for a couple of days, I believe that’s what He wants so here goes.

Early 2017

Matthew 5: 14  ‘You are the light of the world…’  In the Greek, the word translated ‘you’ literally means ‘you and you alone’.  So this is a very personal exhortation to each individual disciple of the Lord.  It is spoken to simple and entirely unimportant people from the world’s point of view.  It’s to ‘you and you alone.’  That means me.

oillamp

This implies that:

(1) the world is in darkness though claiming to be ‘enlightened’.  Though there has been an incredible advancement of knowledge, yet most people still have no true understanding of what LIFE really is.  And when we don’t know what to do with the knowledge we have, it becomes a source of tragedy producing broken relationships with God and with man.  Paul said it this way: ‘Knowledge makes arrogant but love edifies.’  When our knowledge makes us feel superior, we lose the ability to love our fellow man as we have been commanded to do.  ‘You are the light…’

(2) it is a disciple of Christ who can impart truly helpful advice and understanding.  It is not more ‘knowledge for knowledge’s sake’ that improves society but the knowledge of God and His Word.  “You are the light…’

(3) you – the ordinary Christian with a living relationship with Jesus understands more about life than the greatest ‘expert’.  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its knowledge did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.  I Cor. 1:21

The same Lord Who declared ‘You are the light…’ also said, “I am the Light of the World.” These two statements are inseparable for He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life. John 8:12

And again, For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.  Ephesians 5:8

What does light do?

(1) It exposes the darkness and what is hidden in the darkness until the light appears.  You are a light switched on by the Holy Spirit.  Lights don’t talk; they don’t make a sound. They simply reveal what was not seen before. The influence of the Christian as light in the world is to expose what belongs to darkness.  This was the cause of the antagonism towards Jesus.  His transparent purity and honesty exposed the darkness and hypocrisy of His contemporaries who had no interest in changing their ways.  So they hated Him.

The condemnation of the world is this: Light came into the world but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.  John 3:19

(2) Light not only exposes the darkness but – good news – it shows the way out of it!  So let your light shine that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.  Matt. 5:16. Our example gives the unbeliever a look into what can be.  People who never read a Bible read you – what are they learning?

A lamp in Jesus’ day had two essential elements – oil and a wick. To keep the lamp burning, oil was not enough. You had to keep trimming the wick.

You are the wick! Continually trimming the wick so the lamp will give light is descriptive of disciplining our character so that our light shines brighter and brighter.

Though this has been true for 2000 years, in these last days God is looking for those who will shine brightly, allowing His love and goodness to be demonstrated by our lives.

Let your light shine!

Has this spoken to you? Leave a comment or testimony below!

The Presence of God #10 Aug. 1, 2018

Note: My apologies that this week’s posting is a day late.  I’ve spent the last five days at the hospital with my husband who had surgery a few days ago.

****************************

BroLawrence

For this week’s post I’d like to highlight a classic book on our topic, The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  Or if you read it years ago, it’s worth reading again.

Brother Lawrence, born Nicolas Herman in 1614 in France, was an uneducated Catholic lay monk who served in the Thirty Years’ War before joining the Carmelite Monastery in Paris.  For many years he was a simple cook and later in life repaired sandals.  From this humble, unknown monk came the classic and profound work named above which has now been read by millions.  His book is equally popular with Catholics and Protestants and was a favorite of John Wesley and A.W Tozer among others.

It is reported that he lived with such a profound peace emanating from him that church leaders came to him for spiritual guidance.  The peace of soul and mind which he enjoyed was not simply an absence of anxiety or worry but rather his consistent awareness of the presence of God within him.  In I Thess. 5:23 He is called the ‘God of peace’ and Paul further wrote that this peace ‘surpasses all understanding.’  It also ‘guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’. Phil. 4:7

This French monk was in touch with God in a most profound way and encourages every believer to seek and attain the same experience.  Keeping in mind that he was uneducated, the reader will notice that explanation of what he senses does not always make sense to the casual reader.  But let me encourage you, if you pick up his book, keep reading and ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and inspire you.

Brother Lawrence commented that the prescribed times of praise and worship in the monastery did not give him an increased sense of God’s presence because he sensed God’s presence constantly.  Now wouldn’t we all like to be able to honestly say that?  Brother Lawrence says we can…if we will pursue the Lord’s presence relentlessly.

We should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence,’ he wrote, ‘by continually conversing with Him.’

How often during the day do your thoughts turn to the Lord?  How often during the day do you speak to ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory‘?  How naturally does your mind turn to Him when it is not occupied with duties or responsibilities?

These were some of the disciplines that led Brother Lawrence to that blessed state of being continually aware of the presence of God.  And yes, it does take discipline but here’s what we all need to realize:  the Lord delights in you and loves it when you think about Him and talk with Him.  He loves it more than we do!

Love for Him is the driving force that will propel you to grow in the awareness of His presence with you and in you for one naturally thinks consistently about those whom one loves dearly.

Four hundred years ago, a simple, uneducated monnk fell in love with his God and the legacy he left has inspired millions to do the same.  Once His presence becomes a daily focus of our everyday life, we will wonder why we didn’t pursue it sooner!

Application:

I have found that cultivating a thankful heart is a major step towards learning to live in God’s presence throughout the day.  Start your morning thanking Him for the gift of knowing Him.  Thank Him for Who He is and how thankful you are that He loves you so. Soon you’ll find His peace increasing within you and His presence becoming more real than it’s ever been, even during the simplest of daily tasks.

I close with this last quote from Brother Lawrence: ‘The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer.  In the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper.’

May we all have a similar experience of His presence.

The Presence of God #9 July 24, 2018

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

For God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.  God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.  And God has chosen the base things of the world and things which are despised. Yes, and He chose things which did not exist to bring to nothing things that do, so that no flesh should boast in His presence.  I Cor. 1: 27-29

GodUnusual

Among the results of spending time in the presence of the Lord is one that we might prefer didn’t happen.  Sometimes we are just plain perplexed. What in the world is going on? we might ask.  Or, how did this happen? Or, the unexpected occurs and we say, Where did that come from?  Anybody been there? I sure have.

We may not like this but part of God’s “ways” includes that He does things that make no sense to us at all – at least at first.  Yet everything – and I mean, EVERYTHING – that He does or allows into our lives has one ultimate purpose: to conform us into the image and likeness of His dear Son.

Think of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

Think of Jesus choosing a tax collector to be one of His disciples.

Perplexing to the max!

One thing I’ve learned about God.  He loves to do the unexpected and with good reason. He offends our mind in order to reveal our hearts.

Read the history of some of the greatest revivals of past centuries and without exception, the ‘religious experts’ condemned them as emotionalism, fanaticism or just plain nonsense.  God doesn’t pay much attention to “religious experts”.

It is recorded that John Wesley was offended when George Whitefield went outside the church and preached in the fields to ordinary people. And when some of Whitefield’s converts jerked or made strange noises, Wesley considered that undeniable proof that Whitefield’s meetings were ‘not of God.’  Eventually, Wesley followed Whitefield into the fields and some of the same manifestations of God’s presence happened under his preaching.  Needless to say, Wesley was humbled.

God said of ancient Israel, “They have not known My ways.”  Hebrews. 3:10  Those who tend to see God’s ways only in light of His sovereignty, His majesty and His glory are often the first to criticize manifestations of the Holy Spirit that surprise or shock them.  Often the leaders of the last move of God are the critics of the ‘new’ move of God.  How easily we can get into a spiritual rut!

Unusual moves of the Spirit of God are one way that God humbles our sense of propriety and challenges our tendency to think of God in “our image” rather than our need to grow into His image.  We like a neat and respectable God in the neat and respectable box we’ve created for Him in our minds.

Sorry! God doesn’t like our boxes and operates outside of them all the time, never more than in this present season as we look for the soon appearing of the Lord.

When God shows up in ways you don’t expect, how do you react?  Is your first inclination to doubt that ‘this is God’?  If you’ve brought someone new to your church and the Holy Spirit moves in an unusual way, do you feel like you need to apologize for what happened? Are you ever inclined to reject the people who react in a manifest way to the presence and power of God in the midst of a worship service?

Jesus never apologized for saying that people were to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53), even when some of His followers reaction was to say, ‘This is a hard saying.’ (John 6:60)  It was so revolting to them that some walked away but Jesus didn’t panic, nor did He shout out to explain Himself or apologize.

When He proclaimed, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up’ (John 2:19, everyone assumed He was talking about the building on the Temple Mount and they criticized Him harshly.  Jesus didn’t respond by saying, ‘Hold on, now. I’m talking about My resurrection from the dead, not about this building!’  (see John 2:21-22)  They were offended because what He said and many of the things He did, like healing on the Sabbath, didn’t fit in their religious box.  What they didn’t realize is that Jesus had never climbed into their box and He never would!

God is God and we are not.  We love to proclaim that ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ but subconsciously confine that declaration to the boundaries of our own understanding.  If nothing is impossible with Him – and that is the truth – then who are we to stand in judgment of how the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Church, chooses to deal with us, individually and as a community.

Application:

We are living in amazing times.  It is our privilege to be alive in this hour when the anticipation of the return of Jesus has never been higher.  Let us be very careful to remain humble, teachable and sincerely loving towards one another for the Spirit of the Lord is doing things in these days that were never done before; things that have specifically been reserved for the last generation at the end of days.

He has saved the best wine for last. Be thankful that you can drink in His presence.

 

The Presence of God #8 July 17, 2018

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are you ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

I have learned that God loves to show up in unpredictable ways. He is always the same God but manifests His presence in a multitude of ways, including some that surprise us. He has His reasons for doing so.

Godshowsup

If God showed up the same way all the time, no faith would be required of us to accept His ways. We might even take Him for granted.  Once He presented Himself as the fourth man in the furnace with the three Hebrew boys.  Another time He shut the mouths of lions to save Daniel’s life. In Hebrews 11 we read that ‘some were sawn in two…slain by the sword’ but others ‘escaped the edge of the sword’.  But God was with both groups – giving abundance of grace for martyrdom to those who were slain and abundance of grace to those who escaped.  As opposite as these two experiences are, both were accomplished through faith. His presence was as real to the martyrs as to those who escaped martyrdom and it is His presence that strengthened them all.

Believe it or not, if God showed up the same way all the time, we might get bored. Just look at Numbers 21:5 when the Israelites got tired of the manna falling from heaven every day. Think about it:  they were being nourished supernaturally every single day and they got tired of it!!!

God can do anything He pleases and may show up in our lives in a variety of ways but one thing is sure – every manifestation of His presence will be consistent with His Word in one way or another.

Is there a difference between the way Adam and Eve experienced His presence and how we do?

Adam and Eve ‘heard the sound of the Lord God’. it says in Gen. 3:8 Have you ever wondered what that ‘sound’ was?  It seems from the context that it was His voice for God called out, ‘Where are you?’ (vs. 9)  Was His voice angry? Was it sad?

Though they had walked with Him before, this time they hid themselves.  They felt shame for the first time because they knew they had sinned.  What made them conscious of their sin? The Presence of God.

Isaiah had a similar experience. In Isaiah 6 the prophet had a magnificent vision of the throne room. ‘I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.’ vs. 1  Almost immediately the prophet cries out, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined. Because I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’  vs. 5  The manifest presence of God convicted Isaiah of his sinfulness.

In Luke 5, Peter had been fishing all night and caught nothing, but when Jesus came on the scene,  he hauled in a boat load of fish. What did Peter say? ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’ Luke 5:8  Did that ever strike you curiously? He didn’t burst out in praise for the large catch of fish which is what we might expect him to do.  Peter instead acknowledged his own sinfulness when confronted with the Presence of the Lord.

The greatest saints in church history saw themselves as the greatest sinners.  Yet in our day, we hear so little preaching about sin.

The presence of the Lord also manifests as joy.  ‘In Your presence is fullness of joy,’ David wrote in Psalm 16:11.  Nehemiah told the people of his day, ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ Neh.8:10

God gets our attention by convicting us of sin but quickly forgives and restores us when we repent, which brings joy. Listen to David once again: ‘Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.  Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice.’ Psalm 51:3, 7-8  Forgiveness and restoration always being joy to the soul.

His presence may also introduce fear – the fear of the Lord which is completely different from human fear.  The fear of the Lord is both joyful and scary.  There IS a heaven and there IS a hell. God is merciful and He is also just. The fear of the Lord is a deep respect and awe for Who He is accompanied by a revelation of who we truly are in light of His transcendent glory.

Part of the fruit of Pentecost was that ‘fear came to every soul.’ Acts 2:43  When Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, ‘great fear came on all those who heard these things.’ Acts 5:5  The early church knew the presence of the Lord in its various manifestations.

Another manifestation of His presence is in healing sick bodies.  There is something called ‘a healing presence’ that accompanied the ministry of Jesus and still manifests to this day. Luke 5:17 And the power of the Lord was present to heal the sick.

Many a disciple has sensed the presence of the Lord in their private prayer times, as well as in community worship. It is always such a blessed gift from heaven when God shows up in our worship services.  The more we praise, the more His presence is released to us, for God ‘inhabits the praises of His people.’

Perhaps one of the most thrilling experiences of the presence of the Lord is when He illuminates a passage of scripture to us. It may be something we’ve read 48 times but the 49th time, it leaps off the page and we ‘see’ in the verse that which we never saw before. Insight into His Word can come at any time.  I’ve had ‘light bulb’ experiences driving down the road or washing dishes. He can show up anytime for He is always with us. Grasping a deeper meaning of scripture than we previously had is one of the most exciting experiences with God and He often does it at the most unusual times.

His presence will also surprise us at times.  Remember when Peter and John were on their way to the temple in the afternoon? As they passed by a disabled beggar, the Spirit of the Lord stopped them and Peter said to the man, ‘Look at us.’ Then he added, ‘Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ Acts 3:4-6  The beggar was instantly healed. I rather think that Peter was amazed.

Application:

By His wonderful presence God directs us, gives us inspiration, understanding and wisdom; He shares His joy with us and assures us of His love. There is nothing like the comfort that His presence brings.

May we each recognize His presence as it manifests in our lives and embrace it with our whole heart.