I have been captivated by this quote from A.W Tozer; 'God dwells in a state of perpetual enthusiasm'. That seems like an outdated and improper statement when you consider what we se and hear on a daily basis. It is without a doubt, very disturbing to see this outbreak of violence in our cities, to see the death of an innocent man, to view evil on a daily basis. You may ask how can God be enthusiastic about this? I asked this same question as I pondered this statement and it just exploded in my spirit. It hit me, at every moment pn Earth a new day dawns! In the unending rotation of this planet we call home, a new day awakens with hope and expectation. Now, the pessimist would counter with the fact that night is the same manner. True, but where are your thoughts? Paul writes in Phillippians 4:8,
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
He instructs to keep your thoughts "continually fixed" on the authentic and real, what is honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising Him always.
I think these are great instructions for the day we live in, which brings us to another truth of scripture.
1 Thessalonians 5:5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.
In Genesis we see the order of what we call a day, begins with the night. Genesis 1:5 "so the evening and morning were the first day". The completion of the cycle we call day begins in the dark but finishes in the light! At the breaking of every dawn God sees himself in the human race, Genesis 1:27.
Yes, sin has stained us, but thanks be to God that in His unending mercies made a way for us to walk in the newness of day. Jesus came as the way-maker! Then to show even more how much God yearns for us, the gift of the Holy Spirit fell upon these earthen vessels! It is my sense that this would-wide shaking has dislodged a complacent, self centered church that will now respond to the groaning of all creation that waits for the manifestation of God (Romans 8:19).
May we feel a fresh new Pentecost, complete with a holy zeal that will raise our enthusiasm and expectation to meet God's enthusiasm and expectation, and see our cities, regions, nations, and the remote parts of the world turned to day!
Malachi 4:2 But for you who fear my name, the Sun (shemesh; Hebrew-daylight) of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.
As a lifelong outdoor enthusiast I am fascinated and overjoyed by the reports from around the world as I read about the environment and how it is responding to this worldwide lockdown. The reports that are most endearing to me are from Nepal. Take a look at the picture below.
This photo was taken May 8th and shows the Kathmandu Valley where approximately 2 million people live. During the 20 years I have travelled to this country the pollution in this valley has steadily increased to the point the beautiful snow-capped Himalaya's were seldom seen. Now, can you see what I see in this photo? Blue skies, snow-capped mountains and the valley with it's eclectic mix of old and new buildings as far as the eyes can see. Stories from North India verify this phenomenon. In villages they are seeing only what they have been told by the elders; 'beautiful mountains are there, but you just cannot see them'. Now with clean, clear skies their eyes see what they have only ever heard with their ears.
The Ridley's sea turtle's recent India egg-laying season was the longest in years. The deserted beaches brought an estimated 400,000 plus turtles onto the beaches to lay an estimated 60 million eggs. These events have transpired in just a little over 2 months. Many other stories of renewal and restoration are pouring in from all over the world. One biblical phrase used for times like this is out of 1 Corinthians 15:46 that says first the natural then the spiritual.
What a fascinating thought to think of a spiritual renewal and restoration. Can you see this possibility before us? With this one condition that is needed we can see, in a short time, a spiritual clearing of the atmosphere over our lives, our churches, and our nation. That condition? Peter revealed it to the crowd gathered under the roof of Solomon's porch. His fiery sermon after Pentecost has this condition - "you must repent and turn back to God".
Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
This brings a removal of the dark, pollution filled clouds of sin and a cooling breeze that soothes the soul.
As we approach Pentecost Sunday (May 31), what has shrouded your vision and spiritual fruitfulness? Can you see that what has taken place in the natural, God wants to do in the spiritual? The God of all power and might is still making all things new. Can you see this new day dawning, if, we do it His way?
Yesterday was our church's first gathering since Covid-19 took over the world. Amazing how a microscopic germ has transformed our planet, makes you wonder what a mustard seed of faith could do if released by Christ followers who would trust and obey? This was God's message to the children of Israel in the book of Judges, chapter 6. The enemy had forced the Israelites to hide in caves and the higher places away from the fertile fields where food was grown. In their shelter-in-place situation they cried out to God.
As always God responded by sending a prophet with a message. That message was not about a future event where everything will be fixed and the enemy wiped out. No, the word from God was about times past; do you remember when? Then God reminded them of a few of His mighty exploits. As kingdom minded people we are prone to be in such a forward moving stage that when we seem to hit a road block we tend to forget those "Times Worth Remembering."
God allows these momentary pauses so we can get a 180 degree view of not only what is ahead but also to always remember that if He has delivered you once, He can do it again! God has preserved His people over and over and over again. God's people, who trust and obey His word, have and always will overcome odds that are humanly impossible to comprehend. The Bible is full of odd defying exploits, men and women who took that mustard seed of faith and shaped history.
It seems in this story of Judges their biggest transgression was they fell into the trap of fear. God said, do not fear, and they fled to the hills in fear. The demonic spirit of fear is being unleashed upon the world in waves. Fear empties warehouses of toilet paper, distorts reason and common sense. Now the next fear factor is our nations meat supply. We are running low on meat!
Hmm let's see, the writer of Hebrews has something to say concerning meat. Lack of meat of the Word has caused you to be dull and sluggish. This has caused your spiritual senses to not perceive heavenly matters. (Hebrews 5). Our spiritual diet has caused a weakness in our ability to perceive and understand the ways of the Kingdom. Then in Hebrews 6 it says 'now is the time to progress! Move forward into this new dimension of faith'. We all have in our arsenal those "Times Worth Remembering" to push us forward!
Our great missionary friend, Peter Ratcliff, is a British citizen. Even though he has not lived in his home country for many years he still possesses that distinct accent. One of his go to words is "epic". My wife, Rhonda, brought some shirts for his children that said "My dad is Epic". No truer words have ever been spoken, Peter and his whole family are 'epic'! They are an epic family in epic times. The simplistic definition of epic means the heroic deeds of a person of unusual courage and unparalleled bravery.
History produces events that call for "Epic People" to rise to the challenge. We have witnessed the courage of doctors and nurses in hospitals worldwide to fight to save lives. We have witnessed men and women serve countries around the world fighting for whatever cause their respective countries promote. On any given day first-responders are just a call away from an epic event. Humanity owes a deep debt of gratitude for these brave men and women. They have answered the call of service with courage and bravery.
In Christiandom, "epic times" began when Adam sank his teeth into the forbidden fruit in the garden. From that time until today, it takes an epic person to stand for truth in a world where truth is subject to personal opinion. The power of media sways the uninformed to follow a lie, and of course satan, with his deception, deceives even the very elect scripture (Matt 24:24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.). The intensification of persecution upon Christians worldwide goes unnoticed in mainstream news but it is a daily occurrence.
As we travel to other countries we have been so blessed to meet many epic christians. Men and women with tremendous courage and bravery that have strengthened my life with their wisdom and faith. Sadly, I see in our western style of religion that the thought of having to be an 'epic person' is something to try and avoid. The thought of having to be brave or courageous is something we try to reason ourselves and our children out of. "Let's play it safe" seems to be the banner most want to carry.
Epic times will demand, and have always demanded, epic christians to stand firm in the Faith. Let us be known as an Epic generation for an Epic time.
What is it you are embracing in this season? Are you embracing media reports? Conspiracy theories? Your own intellect? We all have our "stuffed animal" we are embracing right now. Let's be real, we say what we want, act like we know better, but the compromised church is on full display.
The book of Habakkuk seems to be a page out of todays events. The prophet has called out for a nation to repent, yet the hard heartedness of the people is immovable. They prefer to do what is right in their own eyes. This has been a virus that has caused more harm to humans than all other viruses combined. In the book, God sends judgement in the form of a nasty group of ruthless warriors called Chaldeans. Habakkuk cries out to God 'how long will the people suffer?' God tells him to get a vision in place, it may seem like it will not happen but wait for it, it will happen!
It seems for many years the vision of a Third Great Awakening has been the vision God has had us write and declare. Wait on it, God says it will surely come! Then Habakkuk goes to prayer. Not just any prayer, but a wild, ecstatic prayer of remembrance. He recalled God's awesome works. In these times of uncertainty in the world, one thing we can be certain of, God is still a god of miracles! He is still the same God yesterday, today, and forever. So Habakkuk states this liberating declaration:
May you take time today to embrace the goodness of God, the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever. The fig trees will bloom, the vines will yield fruit, the fields will supply again abundantly, the flocks and the herds will fill the stalls!
Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice! Paul the Apostle, written from prison. Selah.
Reading the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, I was again confronted with this theme that Jesus spoke back in John 9:1 In this event a blind man caught the eye of Jesus. His disciples noticed Jesus was drawn to this man and of course has to ask the very carnal question 'who sinned that caused this blindness? Was it his sin or his parents?' Jesus replied, 'Neither! It happened to him so you can watch him experience a miracle'.
Now to John 11, his good friend is sick. Jesus gets the urgent message 'please come now!' Sounds a lot like the prayers going forth in this pandemic, Jesus! Come! Now!
Jesus assured his disciples again, my friend will not die but will reveal the greatness of the Son of God by what takes place. They finally make the move to go see him, but it seems by human wisdom that it is too late. They even missed the burial, Lazarus was sealed in the grave!
Is it not true that when we don't get out prayers answered in "our time" we think it is too late? Here is what Jesus said-
John 11:15 'And for your sake, I am glad I wasn't there, because now you have another opportunity to see who I am so you will learn to trust me. Come, let's go see him.
Did you catch that? Jesus didn't say 'let's go comfort Mary and Martha', he said let's go see Lazarus!
We, the church, the called out community of Jesus followers, have another opportunity before us to really see who Jesus is. We have another lesson to pass, will we learn to trust Him? It seems we get this lesson over and over, maybe we need reminding over and over? We can trust Him! The empty tomb assures us of this fact. This Resurrection Day was unlike any the world has experienced. So many theories, conspiracies, and stories are being tossed about that no wonder next to fear, confusion is everywhere.
I think this simple approach will help you, that this event will reveal the greatness of God by what takes place. I hear the sound of God's End Time army coming forth! I pray Isaiah 40:31 over you this week-
But those who hope in the Lord
This Easter Holiday will be one we will never forget. That may be an understatement as life globally continues to grind to a halt. We are getting messages daily from Nepal, India, Paraguay, and Lebanon, telling of the difficulties facing the people. To think that just 6 weeks ago I was in Nepal and we gathered, we ate in abundance, we hugged, we laughed. How we are prone to take times like that for granted. In a moment of time it has all changed.
I would think the disciples has similar thoughts over 2000 years ago. As they sheltered in place in fear for their lives, the message was clear it will not be as it was. The man they had followed for 3 years was outside the city hanging on a cross. Days before they gathered, they ate, they hugged, they laughed. Even with Jesus telling them change was coming, human nature gets locked into the moment and change seems to be a distant mirage.
When you read the words Resurrection and Revolution your first thoughts generally were to the rising from the tomb of Jesus and an overthrow by force. True statements and thoughts but I want to give these definitions for thought.
Revolution- A complete or drastic change in conditions, ways of thinking or acting.
That makes the life of Jesus clear, He came to bring a revolution. Human conditions, ways of thinking, and our actions all needed a crucifixion. The resurrection of Jesus was not to bring back old customs and practices. It was for a new way of life, it was for an abundant life as Jesus promised.
This temporary pandemic will soon die and fade away. A time and season of resurrection will be in our midst. Will we as blood bought, Spirit filled followers of Christ be content with our old customs and practices or will we receive the revolution this pause has offered?
The pause that occurred over 2000 years ago released the greatest force upon the world ever, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The disciples received and accepted the revolution given to them. We stand at the threshold of a great awakening. Let's allow this event to completely and drastically change us for the Glory of God!
I woke this morning to the old Bob Dylan tune, "For the Times They are A Changing". I, of course, went to Youtube to listen to the song and was amazed at some of the lyrics and how they are relevant for today. In some of your extra time you now find yourself with, listen to this song.
It seems with each passing week this worldwide event escalates before our eyes. What was hoped for, now seems impossible. What we all prayed for seems to be delayed. The atmosphere of anxiety is intensifying before our our eyes. Human wisdom seems to have met its match. Could this be the turning point to where a broken, hopeless humanity cries out to God? I have an inner sense that we are about to see something of this nature. This has shaken the world. We get communication form all parts of the world and it's the same story, 'fear, worry, and uncertainty is at an all time high'. Yes, the media hype has not been much help either, but as the days roll by and more and more victims are added, reality hits with deepening gloom.
Last Sunday, as I sat before an empty sanctuary, I gave this assurance from the Word of God that "The Times They Are A Changing". Times and seasons are promised from God, what we have hope in is that times and seasons are temporary, they are not permanent. What IS permanent are the promises of God. A crisis is never permanent. This all shall pass. When this does pass, what will we as the human race have learned from this experience?
My prayer is we will be a more humble, compassionate, unified people. May you go to God's word and find a promise to stand on today. That promise is the rock to stand on, all other ground truly is sinking sand. May the Rock of all times, seasons, and ages bring you peace while we go through these times that are A-Changin!
I have been reading John Maxwell's new leadership book, "Leadershift". What a timely message he shares in this book. I love to follow his messages on leadership, and this may be one of his best. One thought in the book that is so key for this day is how to become transformational leaders. In this time of upheaval, turmoil, and uncertainty, this type of leadership must rise to the occasion to steer our homes, businesses, and churches through this storm.
Transformational leaders have these characteristics:
-They see things others do not see
-They say things other do not say
-They believe things others do not believe
-They feel things others do not feel
-They do things others do not do
History's greatest leaders were conceived in the crucibles of turmoil, war, persecutions, and cultural meltdowns. What we see before us is an opportunity to see a new breed of leaders arise out of the rubble of this event. It is needed in all 7 mountains of our culture. What a multitude of challenges and opportunities we have before us.
I have, around my desk, post it notes with quotes that speak into my life. This one really got my attention this morning, it is from Bob Hazlett and he says this:
"The impossible challenges facing you today are actually an invitation to experience a part of God's power you haven't seen yet."
What a great promise! I am convinced that we will see some amazing miracles in the coming months.
1 Corinthians 2:9
Allow the Peace of God to help guard your heart's and mind. We are going to see a victory!
No, I am not referring to the old Aerosmith song from the 70's, I am reading this in the book of Isaiah 8:11.
11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of those people
The Lord is speaking through the prophetic voice of the day and instructs him NOT to walk in the way of the people. How were the people walking? In fear, stumbling in spiritual darkness, seeking advice from ungodly & worldly advisors, driven to chaos. Walk this way says the Lord; let Him fight your fear, seal the Word of God in your hearts, put your hope in Him. Then He says by walking this way I will use you as a sign and a wonder in the land.
My understanding of this passage in Isaiah 8:11-22 tells me there is a way the Lord wants us to walk, especially in times like this. To be a beacon of hope in a world that is being shaken; church we must walk this way! Our walk is one of faith not fear! Our walk is one of confidence that ALL His promises are YES and we agree with our amen!
Our walk will not imitate the world because we walk to a different sound, a different command! The world is watching the church in this epic event, how will we respond? As for me and the house the Lord has entrusted me with, we will talk this way!