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.

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

In response to several inquiries, let me invite you to visit our website and become a partner with us in spreading the Word of the Lord.

www.mirrorimageministries.org

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.

Shadow of Things to Come – Lesson #6 June 6, 2017

Potiphar is furious! Returning home after a long day at work, his wife presents him with ‘evidence’ that his favored servant, Joseph, attempted to seduce her.  As you and I know, the truth is just the opposite but having been spurned, her lustful desire towards Joseph turned to hate and a desire for revenge.

JosPrison

Joseph was in the worst possible position. There were no witnesses for the Bible says they were ‘alone in the house’. He was a slave with no status and therefore had no possible way of defending himself. The only one who could tell the truth was the very one accusing him to her husband. As the lady of the house, she would be believed far and above a slave. Escape was impossible, there was no recourse to a lawyer.  Before he knew what happened, Joseph was slammed into prison for a crime he did not commit.  This was the next test Joseph had to pass and it was profoundly difficult.

Betrayed again! First by his brothers and now by an immoral woman, Joseph might well have stared at the damp and dark prison walls and wondered, ‘Why, God, why?’  Yet in his heart, Joseph knew he had done the righteous thing when he said to Potiphar’s wife: How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? (Genesis 39:9)

Keep in mind that the Torah had not yet been given.  This was years before the event at Mt. Sinai.  Yet Joseph already knew that adultery was wrong.

Notice also that this was not a one-time attempt by Potiphar’s wife. And it came to pass as she spoke to Joseph day after day, that he would not listen to her. (Genesis 39:10)  She was persistent but so was he.

We may mistakenly fall into the trap of temptation if, after conquering it once, we think all is well and we let our guard down.  Temptation to sin is as persistent as Potiphar’s wife was with Joseph.  Just because you overcame an evil inclination once doesn’t mean it won’t come around again. In fact, it almost always will!  Like Joseph, we cannot let down our guard and we do well to imitate his behavior.  He not only refused her but when she kept repeating her request, he did all he could to even avoid her very presence. That means, if you have any idea where temptation will confront you, if at all possible, don’t go there!  Do not fool yourself into thinking, ‘I’m strong enough to handle it’.  Spiritual strength is not just the ability to resist temptation; real spiritual strength is demonstrated in refusing to go where you know temptation is waiting for you!

The lack of moral character in Potiphar’s wife is even more evident as we continue to read.  In front of other slaves, she even blamed her husband for the ‘alleged’ crime of Joseph. Speaking of her husband, she said, See, he[Potiphar] brought in a Hebrew to us to mock us. (Genesis 39:14) She stooped so low as to malign her own husband in the eyes of the household slaves.

A person filled with rage and a desire for vengeance will always say and do irrational things that expose the very weakness of their case.  Uncontrolled anger will always lead to more sin.  If this woman had been honorable, she would have said nothing at all but taken Joseph’s refusal as a wake-up call and perhaps come to her senses.  But no – she had to tell everybody how ‘terrible’ Joseph was.  And it wasn’t even true!  It reminds me again of Shakespeare: ‘The lady doth protest too much!’

Yet, despite his good and moral choices, Joseph ended up in prison.  Falsely accused and helpless.

God actually did Joseph a great favor for whenever we are in a helpless position, that is when God Himself takes over.  That is what He does when He is grooming a person for a position of influence in His kingdom.  The most important test that any person may have to pass before he/she is ever ready to be greatly used by God is to be punished for doing the right thing and to keep quiet about it, letting God Himself be one’s defense.  The tendency to self-righteousness, self-defense and self-justification is a powerful force to the ego.  It was not easy for Joseph; it is not easy for us.

But the reward of doing so is well worth whatever patience and humility it requires.  You may not know the future, but God does.  He is preparing you for an important task.

Application:

Fighting against what God is doing in your life only prolongs the period of testing. To turn to Him and humbly accept His work in your life is the only sane response. It’s in those times that the prayer of David, ‘I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall forever be in my mouth’ becomes the sustaining force.

As we will see, even in the prison, Joseph had the favor of the LORD. By that we know that he kept an attitude of faith and trust, even when he didn’t understand why he had to undergo such a difficult imprisonment.

Faith isn’t faith when you see and understand; faith that pleases God is when we trust Him without understanding why certain things have happened.

Joseph had a dream – in fact, more than one. In the darkest hours of his life, remembering what God had shown him in those dreams were a stabilizing factor.

A wise man once said to me: Don’t doubt in the dark what you knew in the light.  I pass that on to you in the hope that it may provide you with courage to trust and believe when hope and the future seems lost.

 

 

The Shepherd King #42 April 4, 2017

2 Samuel 24:1-14

One of the wonderful things about the Bible is that it does not hide the weaknesses of its heroes. We learn from the lives of such men as David that the best of God’s people are at times weak and do sin grievously. But since we are all frail human beings, we have no right to point the finger, criticize or judge another for as someone once said, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

A second wonderful thing about the Bible is the revelation of repentance.   The word ‘repentance’ means ‘to turn around’, ‘to change one’s mind’.  Ancient Rabbis taught that God created repentance before he created man.  Isn’t that an amazing thought!  Repentance is the pathway to forgiveness.

Repentance+6

That does not mean that we should take repentance lightly, as if it were an ‘easy way out’ that makes us less sensitive to sin.  Not at all.  To repent is to have a sincere heart and mind change about what we have done; to face it squarely, call it what it is – sin, and with an act of our will, turn away from it and seek God’s help in avoiding it in the future.

When King David sinned by committing adultery and murder, he repented to the depths of his soul when the prophet Nathan confronted him. (2 Samuel 12)  He was forgiven but at the same time, our decisions have consequences.  As we saw earlier, the child which Bathsheva bore to him died.  Later he suffered the heartbreak connected with his son Amnon. Then Absalom, another son, was killed.

Now we see yet another sin which David committed and would soon regret.  It may seem curious to you at first, but bear with me.  What was his sin?  He counted the warriors of Israel.

Now you might quickly say, ‘What’s so bad about that?’

Israel at that time was not the democracy it is today.  Israel was a theocracy, which means that God was truly the King and David served as His representative.  Moreover the children of Israel were God’s people and their army was His army.  David’s numbering of the warriors was as if he was telling God, “I’m not sure you have this under control. I want to know for myself how big my army is.”

We get some light that validates this interpretation from I Chronicles 21 which recounts the same event.   In verse 1 we read, Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. 

The Bible does not contradict itself; it explains itself.  What Samuel didn’t write, the author of the Chronicles filled in.  And, as we believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, we ought to appreciate this lesson.  2 Samuel 24 is an occasion where God permitted Satan to tempt the king for remember, Satan is God’s tool. A reading of the book of Job makes that immensely clear.

However, there are three things all of us need to understand about haSatan (as he’s called in Hebrew).  In tempting God’s people to sin, 1) he always goes too far and ends up being exposed; 2) when Satan is up to something, so is God; and 3) when Satan is up to something big, God is up to something much bigger.

Another thing to learn from this chapter is that sorrow follows sin, sooner or later. If you have any thought towards God, you will eventually regret what you did.  Look at 2 Samuel 24:10 David was conscience-striken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done.  Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.’

Recognizing his error, David doesn’t wallow in depression over his mistake.  He turns quickly to the Lord.  Realizing our failure and repenting quickly is a sign of spiritual maturity. The people most to be pitied are those who feel no sorrow for the evils they have done and at the final judgment it will be too late to repent.

David had learned well that God is gracious and merciful toward the sinner. In vs.14 he says: I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.’

Application:

Have you learned in life that God is often far more gracious with your sin than your fellowman? Have you learned that God is far more gracious towards you than you are to yourself? Repentance is a wonderful gift of God’s grace. It is He who grants us the ability and the strength to turn away from sin and turn towards Him.  He is just, yes; but He is also merciful and compassionate for He knows better than we do that we are fragile beings, dependent on His care for our very life.

The Shepherd King – Part 26 December 13, 2016

Having seen David rise from a lowly shepherd boy through multiple trials to ascending the throne of Israel, we now arrive at a point in his life that painfully demonstrates how even those close to God and with a passion for Him are not immune to temptation and failure.

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.  From the roof he saw a woman bathing.  The woman was very beautiful and David sent someone to find out about her.  2 Samuel 11:2-3

davidbathsheba

The messenger came back with information that should have stopped David cold right there and then.  He identified the woman as Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s soldiers.

To appreciate what’s about to happen we need verse 1 of this chapter:

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.  2 Samuel 11:1

So all of David’s army is on the battlefield, including one of his captains, Uriah.  But at the moment, David is blinded by lust and sends for the woman.  They have intimate relations and shortly thereafter, she sends a message to the king that she is pregnant.

It is important to realize that in the culture of the day, a woman had no rights.  It was unthinkable to deny the king anything he desired.  Whether or not Bathsheba was a willing accomplice to adultery only God knows.  The focus here is on David who was overcome with desire on seeing her bathing and acted impulsively to satisfy his own wants.

The first lesson derived from this scene takes us back to the Garden of Eden.  Eve looked at the tree and saw that the fruit was good and desirable…  Gen. 3:6  David looked and what he saw was desirable.  Do you see the connection? Theologians describe it as the ‘lust of the eyes’; that is, when our eyes become the entryway for sinful thoughts that lead to sinful actions.  Our five senses were given to be vehicles for holiness but how often do they become vehicles for sin, as David’s did in this instance.  He saw but instead of averting his eyes and going back inside the palace, what he saw prompted him to foolish action that led to sin.  David had risen to such a position of power that anything he wanted was done by willing servants.

Therefore, the second lesson flows from the first: David failed to reckon with the interval between ‘wanting’ and ‘getting’.  There is no ‘romantic’ excuse such as that so often used in our day to justify this kind of behavior.  Rather, amid all of his integrity and humility in other areas of his life, self-control in sexual matters remained a weakness.  In 2 Samuel 5 we learned that ‘David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem.’ (vs. 13)

This event is a heart-stopping warning to all of us.  The great King David, a man after God’s own heart, was nevertheless subject to a weakness that hurled him headlong into a reprehensible sin that later prompted the writing of Psalm 51 which says in part:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love;

According to Your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Psalm 51: 1-2

The alarming rate of infidelity, even among God’s people in our day, demands us to take a hard look at David’s fall. But the application is not reserved only for sexual sins but for ALL manner of sin.

Notice:

1) he saw and what he saw propelled his imagination down a road it should not have gone.

2) he turned those thoughts into words by commanding his servant to go find out about the woman.  Virtually all temptations go from the mind to the mouth before they become action.

3) he sinned in actuality.

Application:

We need to learn from David where to stop sin, any kind of sin.  If wrong thoughts lead to wrong words that lead to wrong actions, then the arena of self-control must begin in our thoughts.  That is where we flex the muscle of self-control and stop sin at its origin.  The book of Proverbs tells us: As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.  Prov. 23:7

Whatever our area of weakness may be, the formula is the same.  I encourage you to memorize these two verses of Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the everlasting path.