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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

God in the Valley of Death - and Life




"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." (Ps. 23.4)

Behind every shadow there is a substance,

     and in the Valley of the Shadow there is death.

Somehow, as with the healing power in Peter's shadow,
     the shadow itself has power.
The Shadow of Death also transmits a portion of death and destruction.
     All shadow blocks out the light of the sun,
          and transmits a colder measure of darkness.

Where there is life there are shadows -
     and valleys are an experience common to all men.
Today we live in a shadowed world
     and the shadow is the same - death.
     It is a shadow which threatens all kinds of disorder and chaos.
          a shadow which threatens unknown calamity.
                The shadow would shut down life as we know it,
                      and fasten a portion of death on our days.

We like the comfort of Psalm 23
     but we need to see that the highest point of the Psalm
          is in the Valley of Death -

               In the Valley of Death there is Life.
          It is here that the psalmist finds the Presence of God
               and declares "Thou art with me."
(vs.4)

The Shepherd leads and provides in the first three verses,
     but He is closer in the valley,
          and it is here His sheep find something more than food.

               It is here we find God closer than the shadow. 

It is in the valley alone the palmist speaks of Comfort.
 

I can't explain Comfort - it goes beyond words.
    It is rest and renewal and security and Life.
        It is the absence of hurt, and pain, and all that may destroy.
            It is the flow of a New Life, fresh from the hand of God.


    Here in the midst of death God comes to and abides with His Own.
              
                        Here is Heaven begun on earth.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Life amidst the Death



"Thou wilt show me the path of life." (Ps. 21.4)


The sun is setting on a time of purpose - and anarchy is loosed.
Those who observe society see the end of an age and a setting sun.

We live at a turning point in our civilization.
     No one has the answer for the avalanche of change.

The common purpose and common values which unite a people, a nation, has been lost.
     In its place we have a mistaken affirmation on the individual's "rights" 

     and "freedom."
          Instead of us owing something to the world of mankind around us
               we feel that the world owes us happiness and fulfillment.

It would seem that the ones who should discern the situation and guide,
     the pastors and the politicians,
     are the only ones who are mistaking the sunset for the sunrise -
     proclaiming that greater and better things are just around the corner.
These are the ones unable or unwilling to free their minds from yesterday's world and accept the fact that we will never go back to the world of yesterday.

There cannot be a simplistic, triumphal mindset which would lead us to believe
that we will be untouched by that which surrounds us.
     There will be difficult days of uncertainty and shadow around -
          days unlike what we have experienced in time past.

We can't take lightly a scripture like Psalm 91 and use it as a talisman,
as though the mere repetition of Scripture has spiritual value to save.
     There will be times in which faith will be tested
     and only a real faith and communion with God will see us through in victory.

In the midst of all the darkness and confusion, the last word is God's.
     Fear and destruction are not the portion of those born of God.

In the lives of those who lay hold of God and His Word the enemy cannot prevail

      -There is "another King, one Jesus." (Acts 17.7)

This is the bedrock on which God builds.
     This is what God would show us.
          God Himself is the Way.
               God Himself is the Path of Life.

God always bears His own through the storm.


                 "Ye have seen ... how I bare you on eagles' wings, 

                  and brought you unto Myself." (Exo. 19.4)

Friday, September 4, 2020

Asking for Life



Psalm 21.4 "He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it him."
    What a  statement -

     so concise,
          so worth looking at with attention.

We place things in our lives in the order of their importance to us,
    and yet somehow we do not give much attention to discovering what life itself is.

     What is it that God sets before us as we travel through the years?
     How do the Earthly and the Heavenly realms meet and interact?

When we leave this earth and the things of this earth behind us,
    then what will we take with us?
The easy answer is to say that we take nothing with us,
    but in reality we take much with us.

All the days and hours of our lives are slots of time. 

These we fill one way or another, with things which we will carry with us when we leave.
There are things we have done,
    there are longings of our heart,

          there are things "which we have heard, 
               which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, 
                    and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." (1 Jn.1.1)

These are the measures of revelation, to which our response will be rewarded or judged, in that Sphere beyond the one we now inhabit.

David "asked life" - only God can give it, because only God is the Author.
    Only God can give it, because that Life is beyond the reach of man.
The wisest man who ever lived expressed his frustration in searching through all of human experience.
    Finally finding that ultimate satisfaction was to be found nowhere he

declared "all is vanity." (Ecc. 12.8)

Life is given to those who seek,
    those who are not held by the things which hold most men,
        the fears, and  the formulas which surround us all.


Life is found when we realize that leaving our own world is essential 
if we are to find the world of God. 

That which is not Life is Death,
and the question is, 'how much Life do we carry with us'?

Yes, Life is given freely to all who value and seek it.
     Paul says in Philippians 3.7: "What things were gain to me, those I   
counted loss for Christ."
          Jesus said, "Seek and ye shall find." (Mat.7.7)




































Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Taken Away



In Matthew 25.29 we have a man losing all that was given him -
     losing, due to the simple fact that he had not used it,
          losing because fear had tied his hands,
              losing for lack of faith in the possibility of increase.

This passage comes near the end of Jesus' ministry,
    a time of leaving last words of guidance to His followers.
It is the answer to the question:
    "what is wisdom and what is foolishness?"

This whole chapter speaks of the kingdom of heaven.
    Its application is for our lives.
        What is at stake is the kingdom of God within us.

Today, the kingdom of God can be, and is, taken from many.
And we can so easily lose what we have - what has been given us,
not merely by sin but:
    

by trying to hold on to the past -
    holding to a belief that God has withdrawn Himself from active working in our midst ...
    "The Bible is complete and God no longer works in His people as of old".


or by holding on to something future -
        "There is coming a great, earthshaking manifestation of God ... tomorrow".

Faith does not seem to extend to the working of the Spirit of God in His power in our midst today.
    Rather, today seems to be a stagnant period,
        of either looking back and waiting for the end of life here below,

             or waiting for a future which is a fruit of our imagination.

So much of today's "teaching" is only a defence of what needs no defending.


So much of today's prophetic message excuses the reality that God is not in the midst right now.

In our childish reasoning, and ramblings, we lose out on Infinite Life;
     on infinite promises of infinite possibility.
But the weight of spiritual things in our time is more real than all our deliriums.

Can we awake, and cry for a Light that will illuminate all our existence?
     Can we cry until the darkness surrenders, 

          and God shows us that kingdom which is BEYOND it all?

There is all to gain - and there is all to lose.

The Author of our faith will be the Finisher of our faith, if we cease to depend on any other thing and trust the One Who will guide into All Truth. (Jn. 16.13)

               This is God's promise - this is our Certainty.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

"GO ... OUT"



In Mathew 25...... we have the story of the ten virgins.
    It is a story of preparedness and unpreparedness
        a story of oil and light,
            a story of a coming bridegroom.

Today there is one little phrase which jumps out in the passage:
    "Go ye out to meet Him."

And in the phrase one word which calls:
    the word "out."

It seems a word sadly forsaken in our times,
    a truth so central to the gospel,
        a truth so uncompromising.

If we would meet God we must go out.
    Out from all the things with which we are surrounded ...
        Out from things external and from things internal.

We must leave behind all our earthly knowledge to find a way in the realm of the Spirit.
    When we go to Him we cannot carry with us the bondage of any human   understanding -
    none of the things which man's ingenuity has "interpreted" of how the things of God,
    and the Word of God, really are.

We can carry no weight of earth's traditions, nor doctrines.
    God is far beyond all of this.
        We can carry none of the besetting sins,
            nor of "besetting ambitions" for ourselves.


It is a going out beyond our doubts and fears and ambitions.

Everything must be laid down if we are to go "out."
    Our eyes must be on God ALONE.
        Our hearts must be set on God ALONE.
            All the hopes and yearnings of our lives must be only for Him.

For those who seek Him thus,
    there is a Meeting,
        there is an Encounter,
            there is a wedding and rejoicing.
           
            If we catch the merest glimpse of the overwhelming glory of God,
            If we would see for an instant His Presence,
            then all other things would seem so tawdry,
            and utterly unworthy of our attention.
            And we would walk all our days in the glory of that revelation.
           
            As Jesus "steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Lk. 9.51)
                    Let us turn from all else,

                         let us set our faces, 
                              to go out to meet Him.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

QUARANTINED IN DARKNESS - WITHOUT REVELATION



The Bible starts with two opposites:
     God and Nothingness .


We find there a God greater than Emptiness,
     a God Who creates Substance and Light.

There is a parallel here to the work of God in the lives of His own.
     The New Creation has its reflection in the Old Creation.

But while the Old physical creation was gloriously completed, 
     with the sole utterance of God's command.
          the spiritual creation is a joint work, 
               where man's will collaborates with God.
 

Sadly, so many times the New creation does not reach completion.

So where are lives stagnated ...quarantined?
I think I know where...
     it is in the second verse of the Bible.

It is in that period of waiting before God moved again -
     that time when the earth was "without form and void, and darkness was..."
          that time of waiting -
               that place where nothing changes.
                    that place where God's New Creation is not complete.

It is a place where all is 'without form.'
The "shape" of purpose is absent,
The blueprint for the future is as yet unseen.

There is a 'void'.
There are no elements to build upon.

There is 'darkness' which man alone cannot penetrate.
There is no creation to be had - because there is no vision of a creation..

Here we find the Pain of lives stranded in that emptiness, unformed.
     Lives without substance or meaning.          

          lives which add nothing to the kingdom of God.

But God spoke ...and there was Light.
Is there any way of showing the impact of light in darkness?
     God's Light - "like the light of a million mornings."

It is the heart longing of the Children of Light -
     the sons of the God Who is the True Light.
It is the revelation of a realm unknown -
     a place where nothing is covered and hidden.
A freedom which bursts with Life.
     A place which is limitless because Light is limitless.

This is the Purpose of God's creation for His creatures -
formed of the dust but bearing His likeness;
     a world without limits,
          a Life beyond all our measures.


                  It is the place where we are Satisfied,

        because we begin to find the completeness of God's creation,
                  in every tiniest part of our existence.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Quarantine - a Waiting in Mercy, a Time to Repent?


1 Chronicles 12.32  speaks of men who knew, who discerned.

There are things we can only truly know by the Spirit -
truth known in a realm beyond emotion, instinct or thought.

If we are not illuminated by the Spirit of God, 

we are inevitably mistaken in our judgement of the world around us. 

We live amidst a profusion of voices.

     We cannot know the times in which we live, 
          if we only depend on others who profess to hear.
We cannot trust any voice except that which comes to us from God.

I hear so many affirmations of the great work which God is about to do in the not too distant future, and I am disturbed.
     What is the measure of our searching, 

          our surrender and our obedience to God?
Is what we hear about us "revelation" or is it not much more than fanciful thinking?

We always think that there is a tomorrow when things will be again as they are today - or perhaps better.
     Maybe we need to ask the basic question, will there even be a tomorrow as 

          we imagine?

Voices from the past are stilled:
     for years God has had His messengers preaching words of warning -
          I think of David Wilkerson and my father pouring out their heart's     

          in a burning cry.
But that time is past.

After Noah had preached righteousness and built the ark for one hundred and twenty years.,
God brought judgement to the earth.
The ark was finished ... but God waited seven more days before the door was closed.


Heb 3:15 says: "To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."
There had been one hundred and twenty years of Noah's preaching righteousness,
and yet after all these years God gave yet seven more days for mercy, for repentance.

I wonder if we are not in the time of the "seven days";
I wonder if this time of quarantine is not a time in which God still waits
- waits for our response before pouring out destruction.
I wonder if time is more advanced than we think.
I wonder if our way of life is at an end, except for the short days of mercy.

The verse of Hebrews 3.15 comes to mind:
"To day if ye will hear his voice,
harden not your hearts, as in the provocation."
Mercy calls us, and God awaits our reaction.

"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." (Ps. 25.14)
     Do we fear Him?
          Do we know His secret?

God's ear is ever open to the cries of His own and they will not be forsaken.
     Let us fear God alone,
          and let us seek God alone.