A River Runs Through Us!

RiverLife

Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your lampstand out of its place, except you repent. (Revelation 2:4-5 KJ2000)

 

This is a sobering warning from the Lord Jesus to His church at the end of the first century. This church was doing everything that He wanted of them, but one thing. In their zeal for the Lord, the “things” of “doing church” had replaced their love for Him and for one another. Sound familiar?

But, God is doing something to remedy that problem. How many of you have felt this special move of God in your hearts, lately? It is like a river flowing out of your belly… a river of His great love that seems to have no end and who’s intensity just keeps growing! God seems to have sent His Spirit into us to restore the love we once had in those early days when Jesus first came into and made His abode in us. I have been totally taken by the love of the Lord over the last few weeks! It is so strong and it is flowing out of me for all who He puts me in touch with, even on the internet!

Well, as I have shared this experience with a few others that He put me in touch with in a special way, it turns out that they are also feeling this within them– an artesian force that can’t be contained. Jesus told the woman at the well, “…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”(John 4:14 RSVA – emphasis added). In John chapter seven we read,

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (But this spoke he of the Spirit, whom they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39 KJ2000).

Yes, this flow is of the Spirit of God and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… I have been experiencing all of these aspects of His fruit flowing out of me and it is exciting, but the most intense of them is His love and with it the joy of the Lord springs up in me as well. This river is His healing power for dry and thirsty souls.

In Psalms we read, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early.”(Psalms 46:4-5 RSVA). You see, with this river of love comes great joy that makes us so glad to be in the City of God and among His people! Now couple this last passage with what David says here, “How precious is thy steadfast love, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of thy wings. They feast on the abundance of thy house, and thou givest them drink from the river of thy delights. For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light do we see light.”(Psalms 36:7-9 RSVA). Here we see the love of God, the river of God, and His fountain of living water which brings Light and Life! It is all the same flow coming down from the throne of God and flowing out from we who are IN the flow of His Spirit as His individual streams that make up the river.

Ezekiel saw this river (see chapter 47) and John saw this river in his vision of heaven,

 Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2 RSVA)

So, as I contemplated how this love of God flowed from me to those who were also in the river it was like it was a continuum that replenished itself. The more I let his love flow through me the more I got! My stream of love flowed into them and theirs flowed into me and the love has just kept building and increasing! It has been like Jesus said in Luke, “Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall be given into your bosom: for with the same measure with which ye mete it shall be measured to you again.”(Luke 6:38 Darby). Sometimes my “bosom,” my breast, feels like it is about to explode if I try to hold it all in!!!

For the first time I am starting to understand the depth of what Jesus was saying here in John…

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:9-12 KJ2000)

Where the love of the Father abides in us, His fullness of joy will also be there with it. What is His commandment that we are to keep? “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” We abide in Him… by abiding in His great flow of love for each other!

While meditating on all these things, I got this picture of a flow that was circular… there are these rivers that flow in a circle in water parks in our area. They flow in a circle and are moved along by large pumps and underwater jets from the pumps. I saw this as the flow of love as I have been experiencing it. The love flows from me to the next person down stream. Did it originate from me? Yes and no. The flow originated from the Father and the Son and the love that they have for one another and it spills forth onto us and then through us to others and then back to them again from our love filled hearts. John in his first letter wrote,

 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. In this is our love made perfect… because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love… He that fears is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.(1 John 4:16-19 KJ2000)

So we see here that the “pump” that makes this river of love flow is the love of the Father and the Son and as WE dwell in the flow of their love we dwell IN THEM and are made perfect in their love. As His body we become like Jesus to this thirsty world by letting the love of the Father and the Son flow to them through us.

The next is one of my most favorite passages in the Bible… Jesus final prayer to the Father,

“… that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.”(John 17:21-23 RSVA – emphasis added)

We just read above that we are made perfect in the love of the Father and the Son. Now we see Jesus saying the same thing calling it being ONE. If a pitcher or a cistern is broken it is no longer perfect and good for nothing for it can hold no water (see Jer. 2:12-13). Through God’s love for us, we are being made into perfect vessels of His love from which He can pour us out on the thirsty and loveless world around us. It is in this same love as we abide in it that we are made perfectly ONE. We as the Bride of Christ are making ourselves ready for His soon return by fellowshipping and abiding IN His Love!

Do you want to evangelize the world?

Only as we are in the unity of the love of the Father and the Son will the world know that the Father has sent the Son and how much HE loves them. When our evangelism is just so many empty platitudes and throwing scriptures at people without the love of the Father flowing through us to then, they will never see the Son for who He is and love Him because He first loves them.

So, dear saints of God, pray that God might open up your hearts and heal you of anything in you that blocks the flow of His great grace and love for your fellow members of Christ’s body and for all who are starving for a touch from the Father’s loving heart. And as He heals you of your wounds you will be amazed at the love He pours through you for people that you once hated and disliked.

 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven… (Matt. 5:44-45)

 

What Has Been Happening?

But who may endure the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appears? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
(Malachi 3:2-3 KJ2000)

We know that God has said that in the last days, He would be doing a deeper work in the hearts of His saints AND that He would use our fellow saints to work in and prepare us for the second coming of our Lord Jesus.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:6-8 RSVA- emphasis added)

Yes, WE as members of the Bride of Christ are what HE uses to make us ready for His coming. It seems that in the last month and a half He has gone after one issue after another that was still lurking deep in my heart, some of them lingering there even from my childhood. I have gone for years before this, without Him really touching any new issues in my heart. He seems to do these things in seasons and I have been in one of those painful, yet wonderful periods of my life.

God in His wisdom has used a wonderful sister in Christ to reach into my heart and bring to light a lot of places that my attitudes toward different classes of people had not been healed. It was about 24 years ago that a lady counselor told me she could go no further with me after about three sessions. Then she told me a curious thing… that when God got at the rest of what was holding me back He would use a woman, not a man as He had previously years earlier (in 1979)… Well, this has all come to pass as He used a very unsuspecting vessel over the internet to touch my heart. This dear sister slipped right in “under my radar” if you will and God started using her to do what no other person could do before.

Once the first area of darkness was brought to light, my hatred for pastors and disdain for ecclesiastical authority, then the others came tumbling down as well. And get this! She didn’t even know that God was using her this way. Jesus just showed up in her words! Yes, He still uses the weak things to confound the mighty and the foolish things to confound the wise. I don’t know how many more issues are going to show up, for at one point the Lord showed me my heart with the top removed and it looked like a cone-shaped coffee filter with grounds in the bottom. When I saw that, I gave Him full permission to empty me out once again.

As a precursor to all this He had me meditating on this passage (and I am still marveling over it in its simplicity)…

And we are writing this that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:4-7 RSVA)

Light! God’s pure light! This is the power that exposes darkness and makes it flee away. But it also heals that scar that is left behind when our darkness is banished. A study about light is a very interesting thing. Light not only illuminates, but it bleaches things out like a fuller’s soap (see Malachi 3:2) and it also kills bacteria and purifies.  But here we see John revealing to us that LIGHT is integral to REAL fellowship in the Spirit of God.  IF we are walking in the Light as HE is in the Light…. God is Light and in Him there is no darkness… true fellowship is found where hearts are open to HIM and to one another.

Later in John’s letter we read that God is Love as well. So, can we have real healing fellowship with one another without HIS healing Love there, too? I don’t think so. Love is what it takes for us to open up to His light… We love Him because HE first loved us… and His love in His saints is what holds us together and enables us to trust one another and to open up to one another so HIS Light can shine in!!! This is when the blood of Jesus does its cleansing work! It was being loved unconditionally by a bunch of hippie Jesus People in 1970 that got me to open my heart up to God and be healed from a spirit of hate that was left over from my part in the Vietnam War.

“We have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” You see it all fits together… I was having fellowship in openness with this sister and God came into it to open me up and heal me. Some of you might read this and think, “Poor sap! What is HIS problem? I got perfectly healed when Jesus came into my life!” Well, good for you! But with me the next verse in 1 John has great meaning as well… “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

So, dear saints let us boldly enter into His throne of grace and let His light do its work with one another… no more silly church games of parading around in our righteous robes like so many Pharisees of old! Let us open up our hearts to those whom God has given us in a special relationship (the spiritual ones we can trust [see Galatians 6:1]) and get REAL with one another…

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
(James 5:16 KJ2000)

Do you see the context of effectual and fervent prayer? It is for one another’s healing as members of Christ’s body. I hope we will all find that special person, as I have, who God uses to heal us and get to the bottom of our heart issues that hold us back.

“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.”
(Proverbs 27:17 MSG)

God bless you all!

 

 

 

Grave Errors and Sucking Delusions

Grave suckingYea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall grow worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13 KJ2000)

And concerning the dead, that they rise: have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: you therefore do greatly err. (Mark 12:26-27 KJ2000)

Ever since men have read about Elisha getting the mantle that was on Elijah, they have been trying to lay claim the anointing that was on some great man of God before he dies. Leonard Ravenhill once said, “I get calls from all over the world, everyone wants my anointing and mantle… but nobody wants my sackcloth and ashes.” When two of the disciples of Jesus asked that they might sit at His right hand and at His left in the Kingdom of God, Jesus said, “You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Jesus drank the cup of suffering and He was baptized in the death of the cross. If He had not, He would never have been able to overcome death and the grave for all of us and give us His Life. Jesus was tempted to just set up an earthly kingdom with Him as its head and to avoid the cross, yet He knew there was no comfortable short cut and was (and is) obedient to His Father to the very end. Satan also tempted Eve to get on a fast track to be “like God” by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and her act brought all manner of sin, suffering and death into the world… everything that God is NOT. Watch out for those evil seducers in the church that offer you an easier way to spiritual success other than the cross of Christ.

The latest twist to getting on the “fast track” to get a powerful anointing in Pentecostal circles is to go lie on the grave of a famous evangelist or miracle worker and “suck up” the anointing that was on them when they died. (The picture above is a young lady lying on the grave of Alexander Dowie.)  They call it “Grave Sucking.” Never mind that there is nothing in the scriptures that point to this practice. The only “fast track” to walking in the anointing of the Spirit is death– death to self, that old Adamic nature in us– and being born anew of the Spirit of God.  We will know success in God’s kingdom only as we are cut off from that old Adam, grafted into Christ, abide in Him as the True Vine, and allow HIM to produce HIS fruit through us by His Life and not our own. Paul made it clear that the gifts of the Spirit are given as HE wills and not according to our wishes. All we can do is abide IN the Son and rest while He brings forth the fruit the Father wants.

P.T. Barnum, the famous circus entrepreneur said, “There is a SUCKER born every day.” How apropos.  It seems that at the rate deception is taking hold in the churches (prosperity teaching, church growth techniques, seeking worldly success, etc.), a sucker must be born every minute! At least one local church leader  laid face down on John G. Lake’s grave in nearby Spokane, Washington so he could pull up Lake’s healing anointing to himself. Well, we saw no healing miracles happen by the ministry of this man. All he did was pull up death. Shortly thereafter, his daughter was killed in a car wreck on the front lawn of the house next door and his wife died of cancer about three years later. He since has moved out of the area and who know what death has followed him as he continues to follow and teach these deceptions to Christians!

Paul warned the elders of the Ephesian church that men would rise up in the church and teach all manner of lies contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He said, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” (Acts 20:29-31 RSVA) That is right, within the church men rise up and start teaching perverse things to gain a following. This was unheard of in the infant church. Church elders and leaders only worked to unite the saints with Christ as their Head and never to themselves, always pointing them to Jesus Christ as their sufficiency in all things. The apostles had no disciples and Paul rebuked the Corinthians for thinking in those terms.

“For you are yet carnal: for while there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men? For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase… All things are yours and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:3-2)

The perversity of false teachers, false prophets and false apostles and their teachings is accelerating in these last days and they are gleaning followers after themselves to make merchandise of them. Peter warned it would happen as well saying, “But there were false prophets among the people, as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly put forward wrong teachings for your destruction, even turning away from the Lord who gave himself for them; whose destruction will come quickly, and they themselves will be the cause of it. And a great number will go with them in their evil ways, through whom the true way will have a bad name. And in their desire for profit they will come to you with words of deceit, like traders doing business in souls: whose punishment has been ready for a long time and their destruction is watching for them” (2 Peter 2:1-3 BBE – emphasis added). Going to the seminars these men put on can be very expensive to your pocket book as well as your soul.

The tares are being gathered together in God’s field and bound in bundles for the end time judgment even as we watch these “believers” gather around false teachers that appeal to the perversity in their own hearts. We are watching the great apostasy (the great falling away) spoken of by Paul in action. This is NOT a time to go chasing after men, but rather a time to draw close to God. Remember Jesus’ warning, “For false Christs [false anointings] and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Lo, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Lo, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; if they say, ‘Lo, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:24-26 RSVA).

Paul warned us of this great deception of our times.

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 KJV – emphasis added)

This is no time to be playing games with God! The Wicked One is being let loose with his lying spirits to cover the earth. Men are being bundled into false religions, false churches, false political causes, and false philosophies all over the world. Why are people so easily deceived? Because they take pleasure in unrighteousness. It is a heart matter.  What is it that tickles your pleasure zone? God is letting men chose who they will follow as they are offered whatever gives them pleasure. They follow what is in their own hearts and as a result they are being bound to these false teachers like bundles of tares. If the love of the Truth, Jesus Christ, is in our hearts we have a love for HIS voice and not the voice of thieves, robbers, strangers and hirelings. His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. If we do not take up our crosses and follow Jesus, we will keep making room for that fallen adamic nature in us to manifest and follow deceivers who speak to the lusts of our hearts. Jesus’ sheep are being separated from the deceiver’s goats right before our eyes as are the wise virgins from foolish virgins.

Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 KJ2000). It is high time that the saints of God woke up and started praying as David did, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23-24 KJ2000).

“I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference… Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3:19-22 NLT)

 

A Sword Which Divides

JohnBaptThen went out to him [John the Baptist] Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Matthew 3:5-9)

As I again read these word from John the Baptist it really trigger something in me about how Jesus did not come to bring peace, but the sword of division (See Matt. 10:34-36). John’s words were not just a textual teaching to people sitting in their padded pews, speaking things that tickled their ears, but rather an “in your face” challenge and warning to repent to a people that came out to see this strange man as if he was there to entertain them and make them feel good about themselves! That is the difference between inspired speaking led of the Spirit and mere mealy-mouth teaching from a pulpit. In Proverbs we read, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6 KJ2000). We would do well to consider these words the next time a brother or sister says something that we find disturbing.

I would rather learn from a man who has convictions and who challenges me with a word filled with the power of God, than listen to a mind puffing textual word study from a mealy-mouthed preacher. The Word of God becomes a sword that passes through the hearers separating soul from spirit and discerns the thoughts and the intents of the hearts of men (see Hebrews 4:12-13) when it is empowered by the Spirit of God. Give me men who speak that are full of the Holy Spirit like Stephen. Give me a message that is life-changing and refuses to let me play around with it in my head while it pierces my heart!

After Stephen preached what was the result?

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him [Stephen] with [their] teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God…” (Acts 7:54-55 KJV)

Too many teachings and sermons today lack the power of God, because men resist the Holy Spirit for they fear offending someone as they speak. Someone once said that the sign of a good preacher was one who comforts the distressed and distresses the comfortable. I guess those Jews in Jerusalem that day were pretty distressed in their comfort zones after God was through talking to them through Stephen. His preaching forced them to either repent and move on in Christ or manifest what was in their hearts.

This preaching of Stephen which resulted in his death led up to a definitive moment in church history where persecution broke out upon their warm and fuzzy little gathering in Jerusalem and compelled the saints to get out of their nest and be scattered all over the known world with the gospel. It was also the beginning of the undoing of a Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus so he could be remade into the image of the very Christ whom he persecuted.

One time I heard a nest-building preacher say from the pulpit, “Stephen had no business preaching in the temple that day. He got what he had coming because he left off being a deacon and took up preaching. If he would have kept quiet and done his job, peace would have continued for the church instead of persecution.” It is interesting how the temple proprietors in Jerusalem were also offended with Stephen, so much so that the killed him and what set them off after he had preached to them for many minutes without offense being taken? I believe it was this…

“Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye.” (Acts 7:48-51 KJV).

The Holy Spirit in Stephen touched their “holy cow,” their idol, and the thing that stood between them and obeying the Son of God… temples made with the hands of men and their support. He equated their temple devotion to resisting the Holy Spirit. Interesting how the loyalty of men to their church buildings is not all that different today, yet they expect the Spirit wind to blow inside their skillfully and beautifully made “comfort zones” according to their own dictates.

Just as the words of Stephen got him killed that day, this kind of preaching will still get you killed in a lot of church circles today and if not, it is surely has a deadening effect on the volume of donations that are put into the offering plate. Sad to say, the latter is the foremost consideration of many a pulpit-eer these days. If men who preach were more interested in the souls of their followers and dared to speak accordingly, than they are in their own incomes and church building projects, the church (the called out ones of God) would once again be that city that shines forth from the crest of a hill and the world could see that it is offered a choice to sin and death instead reheated lukewarm “life.”

The day after John had warned the people to flee the wrath to come, Jesus showed up as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” With conviction of sin also came a direction and an answer as to which way to they needed to go. It takes both. First there must be exposure to the depravity of our hearts, then repentance. But this is followed up from God with the solution and an exchanged life IN Christ is offered to those who truly repent.

Lord, convict us of where we are falling short (the definition of sin) of the Life of your Son, Jesus Christ. Cut and divide deep into our hearts and separate our soulish ways from the Life of the Spirit in us that He might prevail unto the rising up of His glory within us. Don’t let us settle for anything less. Amen

 

 

The Process of Faith – from Thorns to Sons

fower among thorns

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from which they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13-16 KJ2000)

As some of you might have observed, there has been a great struggle of gaining true faith in Christ and His kingdom within me. How many of us are truly “strangers and exiles” on this earth? We Christians, especially here in America, still have our hopes in a land where we can find our city. We still hope to get a secure place here on earth and this delusion is probably greatest in “the land of the free.” Our founding fathers thought that they had finally found that secure place on this earth. Many of them had fled Europe because of persecution for their faith. They worked hard to make America secure, not only for them, but for us. But in this present hour we are watching all their hard work and all our “securities” evaporate before out eyes; our 401k retirement plans, our property values, our family ties, world peace and safety, even our so-called Constitutional rights they fought so hard to secure! All that we relate to as “security” in this world is evaporating before our eyes and there is panic in the air.

The above passage is from the great “faith chapter” in Hebrews. There we find a list of people who put their trust in God. All these saints of old had one thing in common… not one of them ever found a secure place in this world, but their hopes were in something far off, “a heavenly.” Is that where we have our only hope? Is God “not ashamed to be called our God”?

Americans are about the richest people on earth, but our riches have deceived us. They have made us put our hopes in things that are temporary and transient. In His parable of the sower, Jesus warned, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Mat 13:22 KJ2000). We American Christians hear the words of Christ and His gospel and we think that we are thus “saved,” because we once made a “decision” for Christ. But what happens after that? How many of us go out and get all wrapped up with the cares and concerns of this world after Jesus sets us free? Jesus said that where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also. The hearts of many are waxing cold for fear of what is coming upon this country and the world. Many Christians are even taking up arms and are willing to kill to save themselves and what is theirs. Have we not learned from the example of Peter with his sword? Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Thorns – the cares of this world, choke out faith and can kill our relationship with God.

In Romans we read,

For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body. (Rom 8:19-23 KJ2000)

Glorious liberty! Are we truly the Sons of Liberty? Our founding fathers thought they were. I think we are in the process of being freed in the truest spiritual since. We have been born into vanity and futility as sons of Adam. We are in bondage because we think that our continuing city, our “peace of the rock” is to be found on this earth. I can see why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor.” They have a lot less “thorns” in their lives to be released of.

We give lip service that Jesus is our Rock, the Rock of our salvation, but are all our hopes and dreams founded on that Rock alone? So, as we watch all our earthly securities being vaporized, God is hoping we get the picture! HE has subjected us to lives of vanity here on earth in hope that we will finally see that being totally IN Christ is our only hope. HE alone is that which can not be shaken while everything else is shaking and falling apart (see Hebrews 12:26-29). Our hope and our lives must be IN Him or we will suffer great loss as the waves of tribulation come crashing in upon us.

Paul wrote, “For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.” He is talking about the labor pains of a woman. You see, the earth is the womb we are in. It is rumbling and pushing and being stressed to its limits. Why? So we who are Christ’s would dig in and hold on for all that we are worth? So we would fight to hold this existence together to our dying breaths?

Jesus defined some of these “birth pains” as wars, earthquakes, natural disasters, famines, pestilence, and such. Men cry “Peace! Peace! And there is no peace.” This age is coming to an end and the whole creation is giving birth, actually pushing us out of this world and all that pertains to it. Is it any wonder that everything we cling to as “security” in this life is failing?

I think a baby must feel a great deal of rejection in the birthing process. All of a sudden the walls of his world are closing in on that once warm and comfortable place that was its whole life and reality. Its whole known world is pushing it out as if it is unwanted! Then that blast of cold air and the bright lights. Oh, the trauma! No wonder they come out crying. But what is next? The mother takes the child, wraps it in a blanket and puts him on her breast. The crying is over. There is no more of a peaceful sight than a baby nursing at its mother’s breast. This is all a parable from God. We should take hope in what is ahead, dear saints. “Travail lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Paul continues, “We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body.” The redemption of our body… what does that mean? He is speaking of our being caught up into that eternal city whose builder and maker is God whose Foundation is Jesus Christ, God’s own Son. For here we have no continuing city. There is a groaning within us, those who are His, to get out of here and get on with REAL Life… that eternal life we have had a foretaste of in Christ!

Paul wrote,

“For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that has made us for the same thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord” (2Co 5:4-6 KJ2000).

Our redemption has been sealed by the Holy Spirit within. He is the “earnest money” of the agreement we have made with God when we first surrendered to Jesus. Next came the “down payment.” We gave all we had to get that house. We surrender ALL to Him in this life process. Then comes the closing and we finally get the keys to our house and we get to move in. And guess what? Once we are moved in we find a note on the kitchen counter that the rest of the loan is paid off! The house is totally ours because Jesus paid the full price after all.

Lord, open our eyes to what a great salvation you have given us. Free us of the thorns that seek to choke out our faith in your Son. Raise us up as joint heirs with Christ and let us see that we NOW live in heavenly places as we put our trust in Him alone. Amen.

Two Declarations from the “Bully Pulpit”

Teddy Roosevelt called the presidential podium a “bully pulpit.” Tonight (12/16/2012) we heard President Obama appeal to the country for it to do something to stop these mass murders that have been happening around America… four in this year alone. This latest massacre of children in Newtown, Connecticut was horrendous, but I hold that  the answer to this problem is not more laws, which seemed to be what he alluded to and will be putting forth in the days ahead. He quoted scripture from the New Testament all through his speech, but fell short of calling for the only answer that will ever make a difference, a nationwide repentance before God and a heart change that God desires to give us all if we will just “humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways.” The law never has had power to change anyone’s heart, but according to Paul it only gives power to more sin (see Romans 7:9-11). Only surrendering to Jesus Christ and seeking His new heart within can change us for this is the very essence of the New Covenant (see Hebrews ch. 8).

Connecticut has the fifth strongest gun laws in the nation and these laws did not prevent this mass killing. Already some are calling for a tough and comprehensive Federal gun control to stop wrong doers from just going across state lines to purchase their weapons in states with weaker laws. Guns, like drugs, are not stopped at borders or by laws. If the US adopts laws even as strong as those in Canada, gun runners, as it is with drug runners, will start a new “land office” business across our porous borders and will have a whole new way to become rich in a new black market. Remember, prohibition only made drinking all that more vogue in the 20’s and 30’s and made the criminals rich.

Contrast Obama’s speech tonight with that of Abe Lincoln at the end of the Civil War (for that is what we are seeing already in this county on our streets as evil spirits pour forth from hell and inhabit the unrepentant and the weak)…

“It is the duty of nations…to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins…with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy…The awful calamity of civil war… may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins.”  Lincoln continued: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven…We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.” Lincoln concluded: “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! “It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for…forgiveness.” ~ During the Civil War, after issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln called for a “National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer for March 30, 1863,

Compare this part of Lincoln’s speech…

We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

With what Jesus said to the church of Laodicea…

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would that you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked…” (Rev 3:14-17 KJ2000)

And what did Jesus say was the remedy to this myopic narcissistic problem in the church?

I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire [trials and tribulation], that you may be rich; and white clothing, that you may be clothed [in His righteousness], and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve [the Holy Spirit within our hearts], that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev 3:18-19 KJ2000)

We are experiencing as a nation the chastening of the Lord as Satan is allowed to run havoc in our borders because of our great apostasy as His church (See 2 Thes. ch. 2). The question is will we repent? For even His “church” sees itself for the most part as doing just fine as we go from one church program to another with no thought of listening to the voice of God to see what HE wants us to do or asking Him how HE sees us. The salt has lost its flavor and it is now being trodden under the feet of carnal men. WE, the opulent, self-presuming church, are the ones who are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

Lord grant to your people a true spirit of repentance. Arise, Oh Lord, in our hearts as the Day Star that you are and shine into our hearts and first change us as your church and secondly as a nation as we truly return to you as our Lord and Savior as our only sufficiency. If necessary strip us of our wealth that we trust in just as you are stripping us of our peace and are stripping us of freedom. For the only true freedom we can have is found as we walk in obedience to what the Spirit IS saying to the churches. Amen.