Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Secret of Praise, Prayer, and Worship

Sometimes words are very easy to put together -
but it is very difficult to fully transmit what is meant....

The secret to Praise, Prayer and Worship is simply in knowing God.
     A life will reflect what it knows,
          and express what it knows -
               it can do no more,
                    and it will do no less.
The question is do I really know Him?

What do we call "praise?"
As I listen to what passes for Praise today, 
I see in the leaders, and in the led, a total unawareness of the spiritual dimension of the activity.

God speaks to Israel in the book of Amos (5-23) saying of Israel's praise,
"Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs,
for I will not hear..."
As Amos says again (6. 5) they "chant to the sound of the viol..."
another translation says "at the bidding of..."
     It is the music that calls - not God.
          How much singing is born of human flesh ?
               How few...sing from their spirit to a God they know in spirit?
Romans 8.8 ... "They that are in the flesh cannot please God."

Or, yet again, Luke 16.15 ..."But God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."

How much of the church's activity is useless and contrary to God's intention?

What is it we call "prayer?"
"Praying in the Holy Ghost" ...
Do we know the meaning of the phrase,
or is our prayer the mere exercise of our mind and lips? 

Some day in heaven God will gather all in a perfect kingdom.
Can we see God's consummation?
Are our activities born of ourselves, or are they born of God? 
Does our praise reach heaven?
And can our faith reach to heaven for an answer to our prayer?

God longs to reveal Himself -
and when we see God in the depths of our spirits 
     everything takes place a different dimension -
the limitations of earthly reasoning are overwhelmed with a greater knowledge,
          the enchainment of all human thoughts and fears is vanquished.
The realm of freedom which stretches before us is as vast as God.

Like Lazarus coming from the grave, there is a tremendous frustration when the child of God is not free.
Jesus' word on that occasion was "loose him, and let him go" (Jn. 11.44)
I wonder how many have not yet heard those words,
and yet think they are free because they are no longer in the grave?

We live in a day of superficiality, 
     where life has been made easy,
          and there is a rebellion against anything which demands effort.
This mentality has invaded pulpits and pews,
     and we embrace the easy, 
          and prefer not to look at the commission given to Paul,
"I will show him how great things he must suffer for My sake." (Acts 19.17)

The measure of love, is the measure of love's giving.
Giving is the price love pays to the one loved.
If we could only understand this how different our lives would be.

As we give to God we find the measure of His giving to us.
Without this giving there is only an eternal babyhood; -
     "an infant crying in the night,
          an infant crying for the light."

Leaving all we know, and all we are,
     and beholding Him,
          we "are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
               even as by the Spirit of the Lord."  (2Cor. 3.18)

In this place Praise and Prayer and Worship flow in a spontaneity as effortless and natural as the air we breathe.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Today ... "This is the day which the Lord hath made."

"This is the day which the Lord hath made." (Ps. 118.24)

What a certainty is here ... 
in the midst of the uncertainty around,
and the clamor of voices,
and while we look to an unknown future.

God not only controls the day, 
     but He made the day.
Time belongs to Him and no other can create it.

He knows and rules over all that time contains.
     Today, in this time and the place where we find ourselves,
     we can 'look up, and lift up our heads' (Lk. 21.28)
     because as the verse continues "your redemption draweth nigh."

How can one express the unshakeable certainty that this word brings?
     There is a knowledge within, deeper than any external thing,
          knowledge that although "heaven and earth shall pass away,"
               this word will never change.(Mt. 24.35)

God repeats His miracles, and creates new days again, and yet again,
     He has purpose for His people,
          and a portion for each day.

It is not hard to find God's purpose and God's portion 
     if we will but lift our eyes above the earthly.
The Light from above never dims, 
and the life from above is constantly renewed.

The portion of God's children is not that which earth gives,
     nor does it come from surrounding circumstances.
The portion of God's  children is that which His Love unceasingly bestows.


1Th 5:8
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Last Days

Isaiah chapter two,  verses 1 - 5, speaks of the last days,
This is the time when man's days, 
     the time when man did according to his own will, 
          are ended.
A time when the things which are done in God's Name,
     but of which He knows nothing are ended.

This is the time when God steps in and man's government on the earth is judged.
This is when the true is separated from the false.
This is when God's children respond to His call and "go up" from every earth born thing to be taught of God alone.

Creation groans (Rom 8.22) in its waiting.
God's true church groans also, unsatisfied with the smallness of the measure of God in the midst of those who think they know of the Kingdom.

But there is a certainty here: "it shall come to pass." 
We will be beyond uncertainty in that day.
It won't be man anymore, it will be God's day and God's working.

The nations "shall flow" to the Lord's house ... reminds me of a missionary who prayed for eight years that God would move.
God spoke to him of the animals entering the ark - God drew them,
and so He would bring people to His Kingdom.
Later multitudes came and lives were touched with the working of God.
It is not we who build the church, only God can do this.

here we see an Exalted God, 
and a Responding people.

And there will be "Law and the Word of the Lord" (vs. 3) in that day and in that place.

Law is the defining rule of conduct .. nothing wishy washy, nor lax.
A clear way shall be there.

And a Word... a Creative Word, bestowing Life wherever it is heard.
And there will be Judgement there - a Separation of that which is Right from that which is not.
A separation of that which has Value from that which is without value.

And there shall be Peace, "neither shall they learn war anymore."  

Verse two starts with "the Lord's house," 
and verse five is an invitation to the house of Jacob,
(not Israel, but Jacob before he was called Israel - weak, deceitful and deceived.)

"Let us walk in the Light of the Lord."   This is the end,
and to this all things lead,
to walk again with God as it was in the beginning in Eden, 
before there was sin and death and sickness.

Let us be of those who respond today,
those who "go up"  to the mountain.

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.