Snippets from My Journal #16 November 13, 2018

November 13, 2007   (exactly eleven years ago today)

Lord Jesus, it was written of you in the book of Hebrews that You are ‘the radiance of the Father’s glory, the exact representation of His nature’.  Heb. 1:3  So I guess I could say that you are the mirror image of the Father.  How incredibly awesome is that!

But You say that You want us to be a mirror image of You.  I feel so inadequate! I want to and yet how often I stumble.  Will I ever be able to be a reflection of You, Jesus?

mirror

I heard the Lord reply, ‘No, you won’t; you’re not able but I am.  It is My life within you that will make you a reflection of Who I am. Do not take on a responsibility you are incapable of fulfilling.  Just take Me and let Me do it in you.’

Lord, I’ve given myself to You a hundred times – maybe a thousand times over the years – and I still get frustrated when I want to be like You and I fail.

Jesus: ‘Did you listen to yourself? Did you hear what you just said? It is not by your effort; it’s by your surrender that you become like MeSurrender means to stop resisting, to yield, to give in, to cave in, to back down.  To surrender to Me is a moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day habit of yielding to what My Spirit says to you and what My Word teaches you. It’s actually simple on the one hand and extremely demanding on the other.  The principle is simple; but to live it consistently is where the challenge lies.

I realized as I pondered what the Lord said that the key to living a surrendered life is learning to hear the voice of the Spirit within.  I can’t submit if I don’t hear the instruction.  I can’t yield if I don’t hear the warning.

Lord, I cry out to You for the ear of a disciple. My mind talks too much; it never stops.  It’s as if I have this ‘radio’ on within me, always ‘broadcasting’ thoughts, ideas, feelings, opinions.  How do I turn it off so I can be quiet in Your presence and hear what You say to me?

Yes, Lord.  I heard that. The more I spend time in Your Word, the more my mind will come under discipline.  Thank you, Jesus.  Grant me grace to be faithful.

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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.

The Presence of God #4 June 19, 2018

Truly You are a God who hides Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior.  Isaiah 45:15

Godhides

Have you ever felt as though God was hiding? You pray, you call out to Him and it seems as though no one is listening?  Oh, you can be sure He IS listening even though it doesn’t seem so to you.

There are a few reasons why God seems to ‘hide’ Himself from us at times.

He may be trying to get our attention away from those things that have been distracting us.  Let’s face it – our daily lives are full of events and people that can distract us from our purpose, our calling and our spiritual pursuit of the Lord.

It may be that He is disciplining us or as some would describe it, chastening us. What does that mean?  Chastening is essentially God hiding Himself from us.  It’s when we seem to hit a wall, when nothing makes sense and the heavens seems closed. It’s when you feel deserted, when the God who was so real to you three days ago has disappeared and you can’t seem to find Him again.

King David experienced those this.  He wrote: ‘Why do you stand far off, Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?’  Psalm 10:1  And again: How long, O Lord? Will You forget me for good? How long will You hide Your face from me?’  Psalm 13:1

The irony of these times we experience is this: at the very time that the Lord seems the most absent to you, He is actually totally present.  The ‘hiding of His Face’, properly understood, is a blessing in disguise for which we must learn to be grateful.  It is absolute proof that He loves you!

My son, do not despise the discipline of the lord, nor grow weary when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and scourges every son whom He receives.  Hebrews 12:5-6

We love to feel His conscious and manifest presence and wish those times would last forever.  They will…in eternity.  But in this life one of the most important lessons to learn is to believe His Word just as much when we feel nothing as when His manifest presence is all around us.  It pleases Him immensely when we believe His Word during the hiding of His Face from us as much as we do when He allows us to sense His powerful presence.

Think of it this way, when the Lord reveals His presence in a manifest way, He is pleasing us.  When we believe His Word and stand on it unconditionally without the sense of His presence, we please Him. 

And we should get as much joy in pleasing Him as when He pleases us.

Here’s the question we must ask ourselves: Do we want more of God or more from God?

What makes you happier – knowing you are pleasing Him or having Him please you?

Paul told Timothy to be ‘ready in season and out of season’. 2 Tim. 4:2 Fundamentally that means be equally faithful and diligent whether you feel like it or not!

Do you find your joy in knowing that you please Him?  One of the most telling verses in the New Testament is about Enoch who received this commendation: that he ‘pleased God.’  Heb. 11:5

Perhaps you remember your parents saying to you when you needed to be disciplined, ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you.’ Father God feels the same way. He gets no pleasure in hiding from us for after all, He created us for fellowship with Him! He only hides His Face when He knows we need it.

Over the years a number of people have expressed to me or in my presence the fear that perhaps they’re not really saved.  When I hear that, I like to ask them one question: ‘Have you ever been disciplined by the Lord? Convicted or rebuked?’  If they say ‘Yes’ and they all have, my response is: ‘Praise the Lord! God only chastens those whom He loves, so rejoice.’

Here’s what we need to understand about the Lord’s chastening in our lives:

1) He has nothing to prove; He doesn’t turn around the ask the angels, ‘Was that too harsh?’ He is perfect in all of His ways towards us.

2) He never loses His temper when He disciplines us.

3) He doesn’t shout at you or use harsh language.

4) He asks you to follow His ways because they’re the best for you.

5) He doesn’t demand you be perfect, only faithful to His Word

6) He ALWAYS has time for you – always! He never leaves you nor forsakes you.

Our sin nature is allergic to holiness.  The Lord in His abundant love disciplines us that we might ‘share in His holiness.’ Heb. 12:10  He created us to be transformed into the image and likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus. Therefore, He will do whatever it takes in our lives to drive us to our knees, solidify our focus on Him and persuade our hearts to love Him and His will above all else.

Application:

There’s a wonderful song that includes in the lyrics this phrase: ‘He never gives up, He never gives up, He never gives up on me.’

Aren’t you thankful that He doesn’t!

For it is God who is at work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.  Phil. 2:13

 

The Presence of God #3 June 12, 2018

Where could I go from Your Spirit?  Where could I hide from Your Face?  If I go up to heaven, You’re there; if I go down to the realm of the dead, You’re there, too! If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, You’re there.  If I fly into the radiant sunset, You’re there waiting!  Wherever I go, Your hand will guide me; Your strength will empower me.  It’s impossible to disappear from You or to ask the darkness to hide me, for Your Presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.  There is no such thing as darkness with You.  The night to You is as bright as the day; there’s no difference between the two.  Psalm 139:7-12  (The Passion Translation)

presence4

We have already learned that there are two ways to understand God’s presence. His conscious, manifest presence is when everything in you is aware that He is in you, before you, behind you and surrounds you.  His unconscious presence is when He is just as much with you but you are not aware or ‘conscious’ of His pervading presence.  However, the fact that you don’t ‘feel’ Him doesn’t mean He isn’t there.  Moreover, the fact that you may not believe He is with you doesn’t mean He’s gone away for Paul clearly declared to Timothy (and to us) that God ‘remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself.’ 2 Timothy 2:13

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.  Prov. 15:3

Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I do not see him? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD.  Jeremiah 23:24

Never underestimate the reality of His presence in your life at ALL times.

Think of Jacob who as a young man could not have imagined that generations would repeat the phrase, ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’; Jacob would could not have imagined that his name would be changed to Israel and would become the name of a nation.

And it all began at a place called Bethel where Jacob felt nothing!  Remember what he said after he awoke from his dream.  Surely the LORD is in this place and I did not know it!  Genesis 28:16

Bethel was also the place that Jacob was commanded to return to when he’d drifted away from his earlier awareness of the LORD’s presence.

Put away the foreign gods that are among you.  Purify yourselves and change your clothes. Let us arise and go up to Bethel and there I will make an altar to God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone Genesis 35: 1-3

Years after his first awareness of the LORD’s presence, notice what Jacob says.  God ‘answered me in the day of my distress’ and ‘has been with me wherever I have gone.’

This was after his mistreatment at the hands of Laban and after his daughter, Dinah, had been violated.  His family was in trouble and Jacob was fearful after his two sons had murdered all the men of Shechem in retribution for the defilement of their sister.  It was then that God spoke to him and said, ‘Go back to Bethel’.  In other words, go back to where you first experienced My Presence, Jacob.  Let Me refresh and renew you. Seek My Presence again for it is only there that you will find peace and direction for the future.

God demonstrated to an unworthy Jacob the greatness of His grace and mercy.  There is no sin too great, no failure too final, no discouragement too hopeless.  When God’s people ‘arise and go back to Bethel‘, they find a loving LORD waiting with open arms to restore, renew, heal and empower those whose hearts are after Him.

What am I saying?  Bethel is symbolic of that place where you and I commune with the LORD privately, personally and passionately.  It is a metaphor for our personal, set-aside time to be with Him.  Like Jacob, we may not ‘feel’ anything but be assured by the Word of God, that the LORD is ALWAYS with you, listening.  He delights in hearing from His children.  He delights in your yearning to be with Him.  He delights in answering you in the day of your distress, confusion or questioning.  He has promised that if we seek Him, we WILL find Him.

Are you thinking: this is too good to be true? Is it really possible that the presence of God has been with me, even on my worst days? Even before I surrendered my life to the Lord?

Yes, it IS true! For His presence does not depend on your works, but on HIS faithfulness.

Bethel is a lasting symbol of hope.  When you and I feel absolutely bereft of spirituality or any kind of goodness, when our confidence is lower than low, Bethel reminds us that our God is a God of surprises, that He never leaves us or forsakes us.  Bethel is the reminder that when you think there is no hope, there IS hope for the Lord is with you like He was with Jacob even when you ‘don’t know it’.

When Jacob first prayed at Bethel, he felt nothing.  He simply prayed and went to sleep! But a few hours later he was able to declare, Surely the LORD is in this place and I did not know it.  Then he added, ‘How awesome is this place!’  Gen. 28: 16-17

May the conscious presence of the LORD increase in each of our lives as we choose to spend increasing time seeking Him.

Joshua – The Man and the Book October 17, 2017

Welcome to a new series on Coffee and Commentary.  Over the next several weeks we will be looking into the life and times of Joshua, his prophetic significance as a prototype of the Messiah and the relevance of his book and the man himself to our present times.

For thirty-eight years, Joshua son of Nun was a faithful servant to Moses. Through times of joy as well as sorrow, Joshua watched, listened and learned as he attended to Moses’ needs and stood by him throughout the years in the desert. He was a young man when he began serving Moses, and a devout one, for we read in the book of Exodus, “And the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp but his servant, Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the Tabernacle.” Exodus 33:11  Joshua was a man who loved the presence of the Lord.

He was devoted not only to the LORD but also to Moses. On one occasion, hearing that two men, Eldad and Medad, prophesied in the camp, “Joshua, son of Nun, who had been Moses’ assistant since his youth, protested, Moses, my master, make them stop!” In response Moses corrected his assistant with these words, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all of the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them all.” Numbers 11: 28-29

It takes a special person to not only be content with a number two position but to actually flourish in it. Not too many stand in line to be second in importance; most prefer to be first. To make a career of being a servant is not appealing to the modern secular mind; it is not discussed as a desirable profession in high school or college career seminars. Yet servanthood is essential to true spiritual success.

Nowhere in the Torah do we get any hint that Joshua was vying for position or serving with a view to promotion. Nowhere does he indicate any desire to take over for Moses in the future. We detect no ambition, no self-seeking in Joshua’s relationship with Moses.

But as the Torah comes to its conclusion we read: ‘So Moses, the servant of the LORD, died there in the land of Moab, just as the LORD had said. The LORD buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab but to this day no one knows the exact place. Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever. The sons of Israel wept for Moses on the plains of Moab for thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end. Now Joshua, the son of Nun, was full of the spirit of wisdom for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel listened to him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.’ Deuteronomy 34: 5-9

At the end of those thirty days, the children of Israel are positioned along the banks of the Jordan River. Their next step is to enter the Land but Moses has left them.

Consider: for forty years, they’ve been fed supernaturally. Their clothes didn’t wear out and neither did their shoes. Miracles were commonplace, a regular part of their life. In fact their very lives depended on daily miracles, many of them performed at the hand of Moses.  Now, their entire life is about to change dramatically.

Can you imagine the conversations as the thirty days are coming to a close? “What are we going to eat over there? Where will we get water? Will the natives welcome us or not? What kind of people are they anyway?  Do you think we can really trust Joshua? We’ve never seen him do a miracle! Why did Moses have to die now ??”

The thirty days are up; now what?

Joshua 1:1-3 It happened after the death of Moses, the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, ‘Moses, my servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all the people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Everyplace on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.

The servant of the servant of the LORD was now appointed leader. I try to think how Joshua must have felt. Me? Step into the shoes of Moses? Really?

Yes, really.

We tend to think of the death of Moses only as ‘punishment’ for his disobedience in striking the rock. I believe there is more to it.  It was the kindness of God that removed him.  Moses had finished his course. He had completed his mission. He was the deliverer and the lawgiver. He was a shepherd and a teacher. He had watched over the flock he led out of Egypt right up until the last one died. He was a ‘father’ to them. When Amalek rose up against Israel in the desert, Moses told Joshua to choose men and go out and fight while he went up on the mountain to pray. (Exodus 17)

The calling and anointing on Moses was not suited to what Israel needed to do next – take the Land. God had another man in mind to lead Israel into the next season of their national history.

The sons of Israel who mourned Moses were a new generation with different needs and different challenges . They had already been told they were to ‘take the Land’. The process would involve fighting for it, waging war, working hard. Their lives were about to undergo a radical change. They needed a different kind of leader.

Enter Joshua.

It was a monumental shift for all concerned but perhaps most of all for Joshua himself. But look at the gracious encouragement the LORD gave him.

‘No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life.

Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you nor forsake you.

Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

Only be strong and very courageous;

Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you;

Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.

For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have success.

Have I not commanded you?

Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.’ Joshua 1: 5-9

Notice carefully everything that the LORD said to him.

  • No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. –Nobody will bring you down, Joshua. No Korachs, Dathans or Abirams will arise to challenge your authority like they did to Moses!
  • I will be with you just as much as I was with Moses. Moses may have left but I’m not leaving, Joshua!
  • Be strong and courageous! There would have been no need for God to command him to be strong and courageous if he already was!
  • Joshua, you will give the people possession of the Land. It will happen!
  • Only two things I command you – be strong & courageous. You can do this thing, Joshua!
  • Now let Me tell you how you do this thing – this Book shall not depart from your mouth: get in My Word, stay in My Word, Memorize My word; don’t look anywhere else for guidance or inspiration. All you need is in My Word.
  • You will succeed
  • Remember – this was My idea! Have I not commanded you? I called you and prepared you when you had no idea what was coming.
  • Do not tremble or be dismayed.. No cold feet, no upset stomach, no nervousness. I’ve got this, Joshua. Just follow Me and we’ll get this done. It’s a new season. You’re going to do things that have never been done before and see things you’ve never seen before, Joshua.

Joshua’s immediate response to what the LORD said to him was to give the word: Get ready, prepare your provisions, we’re going in! In three days!!

It is to Joshua’s eternal credit that he put aside his personal grief at the loss of Moses, overcame his hesitation, his fear, his anxiety, and rallied the people to move on into their destiny, though the unknowns were many.

What inspiration and/or exhortation do we draw from this first encounter with Joshua?

  1. He faithfully and unselfishly served another person’s ministry for decades, committed to doing whatever was necessary to enhance that other person’s success.  Do I care as much about other people’s success as I do about my own?
  2. When his ‘promotion came’, he didn’t throw a party. He trembled and was humbled at what lay before him.  God always meets the humble of heart and sends encouragement and support in one way or another, like He did to Joshua.  Joshua had learned from Moses that only by the grace of God do we accomplish our purpose.  Do I truly depend on God’s grace or do I think I can do fine on my own?
  3. The Word of God is the source of life, strength, courage, inspiration, guidance – everything we need.  The Lord’s direction to Joshua to immerse himself in the Word applies to each of us as well.  How about adopting the motto: ‘No Bible, no Breakfast!’  Do I start my day with God? With His Word?  It should be more necessary to us than that oatmeal or scrambled eggs!

Has the Lord impressed something else on you from this lesson?  Please share it below so we can all benefit and grow in Him.

Til next week, walk with God moment by moment.