Wednesday, April 8, 2020

"There is a God"

"There is a God."

This was Daniel's declaration when he stood before the king.
     After being taken captive, 
          the journey to Babylon, 
               the appointment to the king's court, 
Daniel stands under sentence of death when he declares, 
     as the solution to the king's problem, 
          as the solution to his own problem,
               "There is a God." (Dan 2.28)

This declaration of faith raised Daniel from the position of a mere captive 
to the position of ruler over the province of Babylon -
ruler over the place of man's defeat and confusion, 
the place of the building of its tower of Babel.
For Daniel there was no defeat or confusion for he believed:
"There is a God." 

It was a declaration that changed everything
It stood over, above, and beyond everything of earth.
It brought the God of heaven to the court of Nebuchadnezzar.

If only Adam could have met the temptation in Eden saying,
"There is a God."
If only the kings of Israel and Judah could have made the same declaration when confronting invading armies.
If only Israel could have said, "there is a God" when tempted to serve other gods.

If God's people today could stand on the ground of this declaration, 
     how different things would be in the church and in the world.

May God make it real to us, in the deepest depths of our soul.
     May we see this truth lifted up above every earthly power.
          May the Holy Spirit quicken us to take hold,
               and find the Life and Light of God,
                    as we say, 
                         "THERE IS A GOD."

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Meeting God in the Darkness

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. (Is. 45.3)
We like Clarity, Simplicity and a free path forward,
but the God of the Bible is beyond our facile theories
and our human concepts.

David is speaking autobiographically in Psalm 18, 
and he speaks of God answering his cry,
and coming in a trembling earth,
a shaking heaven,
darkness and thick clouds,
with winds and burning,
and a shaking of the foundations of nature.

"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." (Ps. 23.4)
Why would God allow His children to experience the terrors of a shadow caused by Death?
Why would He allow them to be exposed to the fear of being hemmed in by unmovable mountain walls?
Why would He allow their path to go through a place of no escape?
Why would He do all this unless it were for the reason of knowing Him as greater than the greatness of the valley?

A similar thought is expressed in Psalm 107:
 "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
... They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: 
their soul is melted because of trouble."

"These see"... because their souls have known the melting of trouble.
Others don't see, because they have always sought their ease,
and avoided the cost of a deeper knowledge of the realm of God.
We live in a generation which seeks to avoid the negative, 
and to experience only the positive.
Salvation without Damnation,
Healing without Hurt,
Hope without Despair.

It is a  time when men seek:
Light without Darkness,
Joy without sorrow,
Knowledge without the hard process of Learning,
Maturity without Aging,
Fullness without Emptiness,
Joy without Sorrow,
Comfort without Mourning.

As we have said before,
the gospel has been turned upside down as we have become accustomed to possess the Kingdom of God without Poverty of spirit,
and as we seek to possess the earth without paying the price of meekness.

Abraham, the "friend of God" experienced "the horror of a great darkness"
(Gen. 15.12) before receiving a clearer word from God.

There are treasures which are only to be found in the darkness -
not merely a coming out to Light but Treasures,
and beyond the other treasures -

             the treasure of knowing that the One Who comes in darkness 
                  is our Lord and our God.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

To the Dregs

God does not mess around -
     His blessing is given in full measure, 
          and His judgements also. 

Judgement is not only the portion of the world, but also of the disobedient church.
In the process of God's working with Israel there was a full measure of both blessing and judgement.

Isaiah prophesied to Jerusalem -
     (not just Israel but Jerusalem, the very center of Israel's glory,)
"Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; 
thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out." 
(Isa 51.17)
     "The dregs" - it is a picture of the bitter, inescapable, end.

     It was not just the cup but even to the dregs had to be drunk.

Today, I wonder what will bring us to awareness.
We seem to be still proclaiming peace and safety, in the face of a calamity which we can neither measure nor arrest.

If God desires to bring us to an awareness of the limits of our pride, 
and our abilities, the question is how much more will it take?

Everything which God has appointed must be fulfilled.
     The full measure of chastisement must be taken. 

There is an option to judgement:
Isaiah says (1.19) "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." 
This is truth unalterable. This is our proffered inheritance.

One translation of Job 42.16 says, "he died at last as old men die, 
that have taken their full toll of the years."
How different from our common expression that "the years take their toll."
Job was in control here - it was he who collected toll of the years!
Does it sometimes seem that in our lives we are 'drinking the dregs' of the years?
It doesn't have to be that way, we can take toll of our years.
     Instead of the years taking from us,
          and leaving us the bitterness, and frustration, of loss.
               There is an invitation to know the fullness of a realized Life.
Time can add yet more and more to our possessions in Christ.
The "good of the land" is still there for those who follow hard after their God.

Monday, March 23, 2020

What is a prophet?

What is a Prophet?

The prophet is one who has faced the unchangeable realities of the spiritual world and who has lost his earthly values.
He sees himself, like John, as a voice in a desert world.
He is one who has caught a heavenly vision 
which renders everything of earth opaque.

His vision of God makes him acutely aware of that which is not of God -
and so he hurts and burns for the state of an apostate church which presents itself as needing nothing.
As he sees man seeking a glory which is God's alone - he burns.
As he sees man hewing a way where God's demands have been removed - he burns.
He sees a church built on the principles of secular business, numbers and influence and he burns. 

A prophet is not self-appointed, or appointed by man.
 A prophet is not self-anointed to the task - rather he is called from on High.
The prophet is not clueless regarding the true state of things around him.  -
rather he sees them from Another Perspective. 
The true prophet knows nothing of a way of easy attainment.
His ministry has been found at the cost of a total surrender of every area of his life to the Almighty.

A prophet will not lower the standard of a Holy God,
nor will he make the Way easier.

He has no need of an "echo chamber" of praise from his fellows.
He dangles no fairy-tale promises before his hearers.
He does not confuse a man made way of unending gifts and blessings,
with the high demands of the way of God's dealings.

He does not fish for "support" for his person or his ministry.
His "gift" is not for sale.
He has no need of "followers" nor of "partners."
He seeks no praise of man, nor any recognition of earth.

The prophet is one who has faced the Unchangeable Realities of the spiritual world, and who has lost his earthly values.
He is one who has caught a heavenly vision 
     which renders everything of earth opaque.
He sees himself, like John, as a voice in a  desert world

He has felt the Wonder, and the Beauty, and the Burning, of Reality.
He has seen Realms beyond the earthly, 
and things of earth now hold no value to him.
He walks through this world as through a foreign country -
as one who can never be satisfied with that which surrounds him.

As Moses said ... would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them! (Num. 11.29)

As children of Light we can all share a degree of prophetic vision.

"Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." (Jn. 16.24)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Where is God?

The earth has been shaken before, 
but in our collective memory the greatest disruptions, 
and the wars, have been man generated.

I fear that at this time we are seeing God Himself taking measures:
Perhaps we are seeing God Himself, the One who has all things under His control, allowing what is taking place.
Have we not felt for a long time that something had to shake the world and the church? 
His people, which are called by His name, have not humbled themselves, and prayed, and sought His face, and turned from their wicked ways; 
so, He didn't forgive their sins, and cannot  heal their land... and the world does not have a chance with a church in this state.
God has taken measures against a generation whose Pride and Self-sufficiency has risen up against all that God has set forth as the only Path of Life.

We have nations and societies who see their fluctuating morals as a path for the world to follow;
nations who see themselves as destined to rule the world.
And we have those who see themselves as capable and necessary to direct other nations.

This time the politicians have no answers, 
     and the best solution they can come up with is to "get out of the way" 
          and hunker down until things get better.
Entire nations are trying to close their doors to the rest of the world,
     all is affected from the schools, to the workplace, to the markets.

Can it be that in the churches we have those who see themselves as appointed to show the way,
     calling themselves "prophets" 
          they didn't see the beginning of it, 
               and are now telling us they know the end of it?...really???

Pride is a lifting up of oneself to a place beyond his attaining.
Pride always ends badly, whether in the church or in the world.

An old prophet's word from thirty years ago resounds within me today,
but church and society are not yet ready to hear it.

Every crisis marks an end and a beginning.
"Each age is an age that is dying, or one that is coming to birth."

We can't go back to yesterday -
     the safety and the peace of yesterday is no more.
Predictability is no more.
     We cannot plan when the future is unknown.

One looks at those books of the Bible which focus on the unseen, spiritual causes,
and one sees an overarching Purpose of the God Who fills all in all.
     Ezekiel seventy times says that "they shall know that I am the Lord."
     John says, "these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ" (Jn. 20.31)

Beyond the collapse of man's attainments, and man's pride, God abides.
     And His purpose, and His kingdom must prevail.

God has all the answers to all our life's needs.
     As we commit ourselves to God,
          with all that we have,
               and all that we are,
                    with all the intensity of the Life which He has put within us       
 He will be found of us. 

PS. Maybe now is the time we need to learn about "strong crying and tears."
(Heb. 5.7)

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dancing in Nakedness of Spirit

A Lutheran pastor, Richard Wurmbrand, wrote of his experience during fourteen years of imprisonment in the Soviet Union.
Alone in his cell,
stripped of all resources,
stripped of every vestige of human dignity,
and with a body and mind ravaged by the tortures to which he was subjected,
in the total nakedness of his humanity - he met God in a new way.

Neither his education, nor his church tradition, provided answers.
That which he had lost in the years of suffering
     left him devoid of strength of body and mind, 
          grasping to merely exist.  

With his mind crumbling,
     and falling apart,
          he wasn't sure of his sanity.
But he discovered that, beyond all the lacking resources,
     he could come to God and offer himself.

He saw that his broken body and mind were no impediment.
He found that even the mad had a voice,
     something to be expressed.
and there he worshiped in utter simplicity, 
     clumsily, dancing before the Lord.

It made me wonder, can we come to the place to which he came?
     Can we do as he did?
Do the things we possess, the things we "know,"
     the fears and traditions of our society,
          and our churches, hold us prisoner?
     Are we free enough to lay it all down when we come to God? 

I am sure that the pastor who came out of the years of imprisonment, 
was a different man than the one who entered the prison.
In losing everything  earthly he was set free,
and his eyes were opened to understand as he had never understood before.

In God we are all given freedom which is Absolute.
The only bonds which can bind the child of God are the bonds of his own making.
But having been set free it is so easy to return again to bondage.
Like Peter on the water, we look around and sink.

Someday in heaven there will be no covering veil,
no fetters upon our spirits.
In that day all those who are gathered there will release the infinite song of recognition of the One Who fills all in all.
In that day the heavens will ring with the sound of unfettered praise.

Why do we not rise up from the earthly, 
and taking our freedom, 
render a free response of all that we are 
to the One Who reigns forever and ever?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

God of the Bible

"This is our God, we have waited for Him." (Is. 25.9)

Fulfillment is to find the God we have sought,
     and to see Him as He is. 
To be able to say, "This is the One I have sought,
     this is the One Whose call captured my spirit."

We are lost if the God we seek is the God of religious tradition,
or the imagination of a religious delirium -
a fantasy of human imagination, 
a dream of unfounded promise. 

I fear that many are caught out by man made pictures of Who God is,
and have built an edifice without foundations.

God, and God's world, are beyond everything human.

A hundred years ago young George Boole felt the constrained to explain the working of the human mind.
In his search he hit upon a form of algebra which operated with two components, not numbers, but only "yes" or "no."
His discovery did not seem to have a practical application in his own day but today, two billion computers around the world use this method to drive the world's information.
And on the basis of this discovery a search engine can find almost instantly the answers to our queries.

Beyond the world of man exists the world of God.
     In God all is "yes" - and without God all is "no."
          And all this world, and all eternity, hangs on this simple truth.

There is "no shadow of turning" with God. (Jas. 1.17)
     there is no mixture in God's truth.
And God imparts the knowledge of Himself to His own, 
     not through the efforts of the mind, 
          but through revelation to the spirit.
Without revelation it is impossible to rightly understand the things of God.

Man has made a sad mess of this world.
Our pride has blinded us to our ignorance,
     and failure has been met  by a redoubling of our efforts,
          leading to yet greater failure.

There is coming a day 
     when "the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, 
          and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: 
               and the LORD alone shall be exalted" (Is.2.17)

We can live in that day even now 
if we but bow ourselves,
and lift God up above every other thing.

If we but "let God be True," (Rom. 3.4), and consider all else without value. 
Then we will find ourselves able to say:
"This is our God we have waited for Him ....we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."