Thursday, December 31, 2009
A New Kind of Joy
by Dudley Hall www.sclm.org
In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:23-24 (ESV)
"That day" must be a wonderful time! I think we all live with an unconscious hope that a day will arrive when everything wrong will be righted and we will have all our aspirations fulfilled. Is it fantasy? Is it just the daydreaming of idle children who are unsure about reality? Is Jesus playing on our need to have air castles?
"That day" had been prophesied for centuries. There were lots of speculations as to what it would look like. None of those speculations accurately pictured what it really was like. There were only about 120 followers of Christ gathered to pray and to hide from persecutors. Strange things begin to happen that drew a large crowd of amazed and amused people. Under inspiration from the Spirit of revelation Peter stood and explained what was happening in light of Old Testament prophecy. Each of the miraculous signs spoke of the fulfillment of God's redemptive time. Fire set on the individuals signaling that God would live in each of them. The sound of wind signaled that the breath of God was energizing this body like the original Adam and the slain body of Jesus. The tongues signaled the reversal of the curse of Babel. Spiritual communication was being restored.
But maybe the most important thing was that now the disciples had access to the Father in away that no one other than Jesus had ever enjoyed. He had introduced them to the Father as legitimate sons. They would now have the right to ask directly from the Father on the authority of Jesus' name. He had given them the same rights and privileges they had seen him enjoy and employ for three years. They had been assigned to carry out the transformation of society by proclaiming and practicing the gospel. They now had the power and authority to get the job done. As they lived out this dynamic they would experience joy to the fullest level possible for mankind.
It was his joy transferred. Jesus demonstrated a life of joy. He was man the way man was intended. He lived and loved and laughed and cried. He was so conscious of being loved by the Father that he couldn't bring himself to worry, covet, or fear. He knew his identity and his role. He was totally sure that he had accomplished what he was sent to do. It was this joy that he was offering the sons. They now could enter that relationship with the Father and have the same joy.
What a day! It is in our calendar. We live in light of that day. We are not waiting for it to arrive. It is here and available for us. Let's wake up. No time to sleep. The dawn has come. The Son has arisen, and it is time to carry on with the job of partnering with the Father in displaying his glory to all who still hide behind bushes afraid of a Father who desires to reveal his love to them.
OTHERS MAY: You CANNOT
-by G.D. Watson.
If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into
a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands
of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or
measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will
seem to let other people do things which He will not let you do.
Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful,
may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out
their plans, but you cannot do it, and if you attempt it, you will
meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you
Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes,
of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any
such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep
mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your
Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have
a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor,
because He wants you to have something far better than gold,
namely, a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may have the
privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.
The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you
hidden in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice
fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in
the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He
may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it, but He
will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are
doing; and then to make your work still more precious He may let
others get credit for the work which you have done, and thus make
YOUR REWARD TEN TIMES GREATER when JESUS COMES.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love,
and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your
time, which other Christians never feel distressed over. So make
up your mind that God is an Infinitely Sovereign Being, and has a
right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to you
a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with
you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love slave, He will
wrap you up in Jealous Love, and bestow upon you many blessings
which come only to those who are in the inner circle.
Settle it forever, then that you are to DEAL DIRECTLY WITH the
HOLY SPIRIT, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your
tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that
He does not seem to use with others. Now, when you are so
possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart,
pleased and delighted over this PECULIAR, PERSONAL, PRIVATE,
JEALOUS GUARDIANSHIP and MANAGEMENT OF the HOLY
SPIRIT OVER YOUR LIFE, then you will have found the vestibule
SOURCE: Faith, Prayer, & Tract League,
Tract #76; Grand Rapids, MI 49504.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Way Home
You have wandered from the place of comfort and security, and now you find yourself in a place that is not familiar to you says the Lord. You feel like you are a long way from home.
But I have never left you. I have been by your side all along. And though at times you may have ignored Me, I have still been there, ready to share with you and pour into you all that I have.
My child, the way home is but one step away. Open your eyes and see that I am right there beside you. I am closer than breathing, and I do not require from you anything more than a heart's cry.
For as your heart reaches out to Me, I am ready to reach out to you and touch you. I am ready to calm your fears and bring the peace that you desire.
So do not let the enemy accuse you any more. Even though you may have failed and gone your own way, I do not condemn you. I came to die for you and I always stand ready to love you.
Come to my open arms, and enter once more into My joy. For I love you and care for you, and I will wipe away your tears, and clother you afresh in My glory says the Lord.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I Have Changed Your Path
As a river that has been diverted to flow in a new direction, so I have brought change into your life says the Lord. Therefore do not be surprised by this sudden change of events and the fact that the direction you were heading has suddenly disappeared.
For I know the end from the beginning, and I saw what lay in your path. Therefore I changed your direction to prevent you from going through difficulties. I also did it to bring you to a place where you can gain access to those things that you need in order to fulfill your goals.
Do not be dismayed, but know that I am indeed still in control of your life. And the plans and goals that you had before will still be fulfilled in the future. But right now they will not be fulfilled the way that you expected.
Just trust Me and know that I am doing this because I love you and desire to bless you. I am not seeking to withhold anything from you, but I earnestly desire to give you even more than you have wanted. Therefore I have moved on your behalf to take you to a new level.
And the goal that you were headed for has now been greatly increased and moved to a higher level. Therefore I have had to take you by a new route to reach that destination.
Let go therefore of your old plans and look to Me alone now for direction. Then set your new plans in motion and run speedily towards this new goal that lies before you. For I will give you even more than you desired, and I will provide even those things that you did not ask Me for says the Lord.
I know your heart, and I know your commitment. Therefore it pleases me to bless you in even greater measure than you expected.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Overcoming Your Fear Of People
By Bob Gass www.thevine.co.nz
Do you avoid certain activities and social occasions because of insecurity? If so, you might have 'social phobia,' the fear of being inadequate, embarrassed or negatively evaluated. Some of us even experience panic attacks that leave us immobilised to the point of dysfunction. Yet it's avoiding such situations rather than facing them, that allows our fears to control us. How great our fear becomes depends on what we say to ourselves when it hits. And what we say to ourselves is largely a function of what psychologists call our 'sub-personality type.' Here are some common sub-personality types, and ways we can handle them:
'The Worrier.' Worriers anticipate the worst, create grandiose images of potential tragedy, and are always hyper-vigilant for any small signs of trouble. Their favourite self-talk expression is, 'But what if… ?' Learn to replace your worrier self-talk with, 'So, what if… By God's grace I can learn to handle this. I can feel anxious and still do it. I don't like it, but I can stand it until it passes. I'll get used to it with practice and God's help.' When Jeremiah's fears kicked in and he wanted to run from a public speaking assignment, God said to him: 'you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don't be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you… ' (Jeremiah 1:7-8 NLT). Instead of running from it, choose to face it in faith; and watch how God will get you through it!
Another sub-personality type contributing to our fear of people is called 'The Critic.' It's that part of you which constantly judges your own behaviour, compares you unfavourably with others, points out your flaws and reminds you you're a failure. Its favourite self-talk expressions are, 'You're stupid; can't you ever get it right? Look how capable so-and-so is. How come you can't be like them?' While 'the worrier' suffers from anxiety, 'the critic' suffers from low self-worth. What's the answer? Learn to replace your critic self-talk with, 'They're what God made them; I'm what God made me, and I accept myself as His unique creation. I make mistakes, but I'm not a mistake. With God's grace, I'm working on being the lovable, capable person God made me.'
'The Victim' is another sub-personality type underlying our fears. It's that part of us which feels helpless or hopeless, believes we're inherently inadequate and unworthy, sees insurmountable obstacles in our path, and bemoans the way things are. Its favourite self-talk expressions include, 'I can't… It's useless. I'll never be able to. Why even bother?' Replace your victim self-talk with, 'I don't have to be perfect now. I'm a new creature in Christ and I'm growing a little more each day. I choose to see the glass half-full rather than half-empty. Since God says I can, I choose to believe I can; and I will in His time and way.' Face your fears. Do what you've been afraid to do. God's promise, 'I am with thee… ' (Jeremiah 1:19 KJV), was all Jeremiah needed and it's all you need too.
Don't be afraid… for I, the Lord, will be with you and see you through.
Jeremiah 1:8 TLB
At a coastal aquarium a big barracuda kept trying to attack a mackerel, but a glass barrier stopped it. After repeatedly bumping his nose into the barrier, he finally gave up and quit trying. Later when the barrier was removed, the barracuda would swim to the point where the barrier had been - but he could go no further. To him that barrier was still there. Are you like that? Do you have imaginary barriers in your mind that say "so far and no further?"
When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nation, he told the Lord that he was a lousy speaker, wasn't qualified and couldn't do the job. Immediately God said, "Don't say that" (Jeremiah 1:7 NLT). There are certain things you've got to stop saying if you're ever to break through your mental barriers and self-imposed limitations. What God said to Jeremiah, He's saying to you today. "You will go where I send you, you'll do what I enable you to do, and whatever I have promised I will bring to pass in your life" (Jeremiah 1:7).
God wants to change your conditioned response patterns and false belief systems. He wants to give you a new pair of glasses. Instead of seeing what you expect, He wants you to see what's possible. Instead of expecting the worst, He wants you to begin looking for the best - for that's what He has in mind for you today.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Today I'd like to share from the Father's perspective once again, but this time more of the ways of mercy and grace, where mercy and grace might be headed in our lives, to what end, for what purpose.
We know Hebrews 4:16 implores us to come boldly to the throne of the Father to receive "mercy and grace to help in time of need". We take that as a blanket statement covering any situation, yet I think most of us would admit much of the time it's hard to tell whether that mercy and grace is given. I'd like to share one possibility why it feels that way.
For what purpose?
Everything in this universe has a purpose and is interconnected; every planet, every star, every plant and animal. So it stands to reason mercy and grace will be given with a higher purpose and benefit intended.
The question is then, what might the Father have in mind, and if we aren't seeing mercy and grace in the area we are looking for, is it possible we are looking in the wrong area of our lives?
Where the Father and Jesus are always heading
"That we would be henceforth no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried away by every wind of doctrine...but speaking the truth in love may grow up into him (Christ) in all things..." (Eph 3:14-15)
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." (Gal 4: 19)
"....work out your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling for it is God who works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure." (Phil 2:12-13)
"Seek those things which are above...Put on therefore, as called of God, a heart of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another...and above all things put on love..." (Col 3:1-16)
This small sampling of passages clearly show the Father and Jesus are trying to move us towards being more Christ like. Therefore if we want mercy and grace to help in our time of need for any purpose other than to apply it to becoming more Christ like, we won't be able to receive nor even understand what God is doing. He is ALWAYS leading us towards more maturity in Christ.
The natural man looks for mercy and grace as a way of escape, but often God gives mercy and grace to help us confront our own issues and fears. For example, mercy and grace may be found in going to the business where you wrote a check that bounced and pay them plus the penalty without making excuse or blaming something or other.
Or, doing the difficult thing and just talking to the mortgage company or bill collector to tell them you don't have the money. Or, going to that one you've been at odds with and apologizing for being wrong without blaming it on the devil, stresses at home, or your boss.
Do you remember my examples from last week? Hagar ran away thinking God's mercy would be found anywhere else but back with Sarah, who treated her so bitterly. Yet in Genesis 16:9 the Lord told her to go back and submit to Sarah.
For purposes of illustration we can say Hagar went to the throne thinking mercy and grace would be found in not staying under hardship, and while the Lord blessed baby Ishmael, the directions were clear: Go back.
Leah's grace was found in staying in a difficult marriage, Jacob's grace was found in serving Laban for 20 years. (Gen 31:38) Grace was given inside of difficult circumstances.
The Father and Jesus are always moving us towards maturity, and often that means doing things, thinking things, that our minds and emotions don't want because they are difficult, humbling, painful.
Cut and run
A woman we knew regularly blew up at her husband in fits of very violent rage, even attacking him physically. For several years she blamed it on the devil, how she was raised, the time of the month, her husband's gentle mannerisms, anything and everything except taking the blame herself.
But one day we had a breakthrough and she admitted she and she alone was to blame. After that the blow ups became less intense, she began looking quicker at herself, and they are still together years later.
She initially thought mercy and grace would be found by leaving her husband, or by the Lord changing him. She would cry out to the Lord to speak to her husband but nothing changed.
We taught her that God's mercy and grace would always be found within our own heart and emotions first; growing in Christ, growing in character, growing in the fruit of the spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22 and II Peter 1:5-8. She needed to stop giving herself excuses for not growing up and doing right, and she did.
A man asked advice about his restaurant. We were talking at about 2:30 in the afternoon, the lunch hour was over long ago. He wanted advice on how to turn the corner on his cash flow, as he needed about $900 per week more to make a profit.
He had prayed, fasted, spoken only good things and declared himself profitable. Yet he was still losing money. I looked at the 10 people still on the clock hanging around, and told him that was his problem. As soon as the lunch crowd left he needed to release his waitresses, except one, his cooks, except one, or just shut down from 2-5pm.
Then he told me why he couldn't do that: One was a single mom, another was supporting her husband whose hours were cut back at his job, and on it went. I told him God's grace would take care of them, and that God's grace was to be found in him being a good steward of his labor costs and growing in this area.
He never could bring himself to do that. He closed a couple months later, making everyone lose their job. In reality, he chose to close down and throw everyone out of work rather than do the uncomfortable thing and cut back on their hours.
Mercy and grace were to be found in doing the uncomfortable thing, but he never saw it though he cried out for mercy, grace and wisdom, closing his restaurant in confusion and wondering where God was.
Where is mercy and grace to be found?
Suddenly Jesus was in my living room saying he wanted to teach me about how prayer works from the Father's and His perspective. (I am only giving the briefest sketch here about this visitation due to space, there is more detail in my book Pursuing the Seasons of God available at our web site below)
We were in the air looking down on a church in some town, and a young lady, single mother of two, was sitting in the back pew on the right side. Her children were crawling around and she wasn't listening to the sermon, but was lost in her own pity party.
Jesus explained to me that her husband had left her and she was living with her parents. I heard her prayers: "Lord, what are you doing with me? How long can I live with my parents and sponge off them? I can't even get a job because my car is broken (Jesus interjected that it was her alternator), but I can't fix my car because I don't have a job."
I felt so sorry for her and turned to the Lord to see if something could be done, and as I turned I saw tears running down his cheeks. He said: "She is only going to this church because of her parents, but she knows she is supposed to be over here in this church. This is where provision has been made."
As he pointed across town at another church I saw through it's roof to the people. The sermon was a series about managing finances, and Jesus pointed out a man towards the back: "See him? He's a mechanic, and I've commanded that he fix her car." Then he pointed to 3 ladies near the front, and the middle one in particular: "Do you see her? She watches children in her home and I've commanded she watch her children."
Then he pointed to a well dressed businessman in the church: "Do you see him? He owns a business and has an opening for a receptionist, and I've commanded she have that job." Then he waved his hand in another direction and two angels removed what seemed to be cloth from a long table with buildings on it, bathed in light, stretching away into the distance.
The Lord continued: "What you are looking at is my will for her for the next two years. The first building you see is an apartment I've provided for her. Behind that you see a school, for I am sending her back to school for 2 years to complete her education." And on it went - her job, day care, etc.
By "command" he meant that from heaven he had commanded provision to be made in these areas, thus angels and heaven moved to make those provisions. It immediately reminded me of I Kings 17: 4 and 9 where in the midst of drought and famine the Lord told Elijah that "I have commanded the ravens to feed you by the brook" and "I have commanded a widow to feed you".
Elijah had to get to the brook the Lord mentioned and later to that particular widow in order to receive the provision that had been commanded from heaven. If he had not been obedient he would not have received, and may have wondered why God wasn't being merciful and gracious to him.
In this young woman's case it remained to be seen if she would do the difficult thing and grow in Christ, and do what he wanted of her. It was far easier to have a pity party, sponging off mom and dad, stuck in a rut.
Think about what mercy and grace meant to her: Changing churches, meeting new people, applying for a job, moving to her own apartment - all very busy and difficult to do by yourself, yet that is where mercy and grace were found.
Consider the woman caught in adultery in John 8: "Go and sin no more" was where mercy and grace fell from the lips of Jesus, but what did it mean to her? It meant cutting off an affair with a man who she was emotionally involved with, most likely provided for her in some way (in that day and age), and cutting off all imaginations and dreams of what their new life may have been.
Yet that's where mercy and grace were leading her. Again, mercy and grace are given with purpose in mind, and that purpose will always involve growth as a person and in Christ. Escape and disobedience is so much easier.
Yet to those of us who have made the right choices, always choosing the more difficult path if it would lead to becoming more Christ-like and closer to him, it yields such peace, such closeness with the Lord! May we all come into the fullness found in Christ Jesus, that he would be formed in us, in love!
A new subject next week.
If you didn't receive the invitation for Tuesday, December 15th's Webinar at 8pm CST, US (part 2 of What I saw in heaven), click the link below.
Webinar invitation for part two, Tuesday December 15, 8pm Central Time US (January's will be at a time more convenient for our EU friends:
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
"I Don't Look Like What I've Been Through!"
By James Ryle www.truthworks.org
"Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn't even smell of smoke!" (Daniel 3:27, New Living Translation).
The story of the three Hebrew children -- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego -- being thrown into the burning fiery furnace is legendary. They refused to bow down and worship the golden statue erected by King Nebuchadnezzar and as a result were bound in ropes and tossed into the fire.
But something happened that shocked the pagan world. The king jumped to his feet in astonishment and asked his soldiers -- "Did we not throw three men bound into the fire?"
"Yes, O King," they answered, in fear of their lives.
"Then how is it that I see FOUR men -- free, and walking about in the flames; feeling no harm! And the fourth man looks like the Son of God!!"
When the world binds you up and throws you into the furnace for refusing to worship its image of gold, the only thing the fire will burn away are the stocks and bonds which the world has placed upon you. And Jesus Himself will walk through the fire with you!
Nebuchadnezzar ordered the men to be brought forth from the fire. Upon examination it was found that "not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn't even smell of smoke!"
God will bring you through all kinds of fiery trials with no harm whatsoever done to you. You will come forth without even the smell of smoke! Thus, you can say to the dumbfounded kings of this world, "I don't look like what I've been through!"