After attempting to dialog with those opposed to the International House of Prayer (IHOP) I realized one of their many issues is their belief that mysticism is polluting the Church. Andrew Murray is a well respected Christian author and it is my hope that his words can help move the dialog from the extremes toward the center. Continue reading
WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT – INTRO
Mostly, I want to start a series of post on what I think is important to believe and live before life is over. This is mostly due to what I didn’t hear at a funeral recently. I have noticed that there are key times in a person’s life when they are more open to spiritual things. Children absorb a lot, but their childhood experiences to continue must past the test of jobs, high school and college / leaving home. Another key time is at the birth and raising of a child. Finally a time of crisis later in life whether it is job, tragedy, health, or just seeing the end of life drawing nearer.
I grew up going church, but rebelled in late grade school. I had a profound spiritual experience on Labor Day night 1978 the day before my senior year, that started me on a much better path. I went through a difficult time in the navy in in my early to mid 20’s. I questioned everything and read broadly searching for what was real. But since then I have tried to trust and obey God as best as my weak human will could. Now as I think about things, I want to boil things down to what is really important to know and do.
WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT – Getting started with something solid.
It is hard to start something brief without first setting a structure, so here is the structure that my beliefs fit within. I believe there is a God who created all, and that He has been revealed to us in multiple ways. He is revealed through the extremely complex design of creation. He is revealed in the Bible in the stories, histories, accounts, songs, poems, and predictions. Also he has made us spiritual beings that can communicate with the invisible spirit world including both hearing God and talking to God through silence, verbal prayer, meditation, and also by a word we have mostly forgotten, providence. Next, the accounts in the New Testament about Jesus are true, his virgin birth, miracles, death and resurrection. Finally, that Jesus’ purpose on earth was to provide the only way to heaven for all who would believe and trust. If stuff you believe contradicts this, ask yourself will it help me after I die? Then wrestle through what is really eternally solid and what is merely important in this life.
One of Jesus’ famous teachings is in Matthew 5, 6 & 7 commonly called “The Sermon on the Mount”. The last paragraph contrasts two men who symbolically build their houses. One build’s on a solid foundation and the other on sand. Jesus said “whoever hears these sayings of my and does them I will, I will liken to a man who built his house upon a rock…” If you have never read the words of Jesus, find a Bible with the words of Jesus in red. Read the red a little at a time and then pray to the one who spoke them honestly and openly. Ask him to speak to you and help build or rebuild a solid starting place to make sure you find have an amazing afterlife and new depth of communication with God in this one. It may be the most challenging and rewarding thing you do in your whole life.
WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT – Part 2 – GRACE
Grace is one the most important words to me, it is often defined as unmerited or undeserved favor, but the word is higher, deeper, wider and more powerful than that. The famous hymn, “Amazing Grace”, written by a former slave trader, captures a good understanding of grace. First, it can save a wretch like me. Nothing any of us have done can disqualify us from His ability to pull us out of the pits we are in. The darker that place is the brighter grace shines, like a rescue on a dark night at sea. Once we see that grace is greater than all our darkness, selfishness, fears, and bitterness it can leads us to a place of guilt free peace. We must turn away from those things and forgive those that hurt us to truly find peace, but a deep, real peace is fully available. Many books of the New Testament link grace and peace into the start of the book. Grace frees us from the things that steal peace.
Next, grace isn’t just the favor of God for salvation, but the starting place daily to live a Christian life. It is easy to slip back into self-effort, trying to live up to expectations, hearing someone tell you what you ought to do and then slipping back into guilt when we can’t do it. If we understand and keep ourselves free by grace, we won’t keep asking for forgiveness, but live always forgiven from our past and present failures, and on into eternity. We know it is not our goodness but his grace that give us confidence. Out of that, peace is renewed and love can flows from our hearts to obey, because we want to live for someone who gave us so much. You don’t have to pray, read your Bible, give your money to the church, and on and on with rules of what you ought to do. Instead the grace and peace overflow out your life and doing what is right, being with God, giving and loving is a natural outflow.
Jesus told Paul His grace was sufficient in a difficult season of unanswered prayer and infirmity, because power is perfected in weakness. Grace is powerful enough to help us through difficult time as we realize it is not our health and strength that are eternal but His work in us sometimes requires our suffering. Finally, grace changes our perspective from the temporal, earthly life to seeing things more and more from an eternal perspective. Having found salvation by grace through faith we become heirs and will inherit eternal life. An eternal perspective like this is described in Hebrews 11:16. “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” I think it is very important for Christians to more and more have a perspective that this world is not our home and to become “strangers and wanders on the earth”
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11–14).
Walk about Zion, and go round about her, number her towers (her lofty and noble deeds of past days), 13 Consider well her ramparts, go through her palaces and citadels, that you may tell the next generation [and cease recalling disappointments]. Psalm 48:12-13 Amplified
The rainbow in Genesis 9, the Feast of Passover in Exodus 12, a jar of manna in Exodus 16, the Feast of booths in Leviticus 23, the 12 stones taken from the Jordan River in Joshua 4, and the Feast of Purim of Esther 9 were all established for the generations to come. Over and over in Leviticus laws were given with this phrase “It shall be a statute forever in your generations” and here in Psalm 48 describing Zion is included in this passing down from generation to generation.
When I was a young man, Keith Green made powerful impressions on me not just through his songs, but in his descriptions of revival especially highlighting Charles Finney. I was inspired and was set on a course that I am still on due in large part to the descriptions of the Second Great Awakening and the stories of revival that burned in my heart.
Each generation not only needs to be taught doctrine, walked down the Roman road of salvation, but also told stories of how God has done great things not just in biblical times, but in recent generations. Has our generation failed to inspire our children while the visible and audible world keeps streaming interesting content and capturing their attention?
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, Hebrews 12:22-23a.
Walk about this Zion, join with the hero of the faith and keep looking for that city. Inspire the generations to come with descriptions of the city of golden streets and glory.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44
Sometimes a verse is taught or understood one way but it never really has an impact, then a completely better understanding is revealed and the misunderstanding is replace with a clearer understanding of God’s ways in these dark times. The parable of the treasure hidden in a field is one of these often misunderstood verses, in that we believe we need to sell all, buy the field and the treasure is Jesus or the kingdom.
Matthew chapter 13 is an account of several parables Jesus told. First, a sower sowed seed in a field with various results. Second, a man sows good seed in a field, but his enemy sows tares. Third, a treasure hidden in a field is found, hid, and purchased. Forth, a pearl of great price is a similar story, and finally a dragnet describes the separation at the end.
“Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. Matthew 13:36-38
Jesus clearly says the man is Himself, the field is the world. So it is in this parable of the treasure that the man once again is Jesus, and the field is the world. The treasure hidden is not something we have to sell all to obtain, but Jesus paid the great price in laying aside His divinity, becoming a man, and purchasing the world with his blood. Mixing John 3:16 into this parable; God so loved the field that he gave his only son that whoever believes would not perish but be His eternal treasure.
… you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 For you were bought at a price 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23
Because the treasure is hidden we rarely really grasp just how valuable we are to God. Many have obscured this treasure by not heeding Paul’s warning to take heed how we build on his foundation in 1 Corinthians 3:10-12. So much wood, hay and stubble has been mixed into our religion that the treasure has been buried deeper. It is my hope that many will discover a treasure map finding the gold, silver and precious stones, and encourage others to build in alignment with the cornerstone, on a sure foundation, and according to the heavenly pattern.
There are threads that run through many books of the Bible. Probably the best known thread is the scarlet thread of redemption, where little hints, types and shadows of Jesus’ way of salvation are woven into Old Testament passages. Many other threads can be discovered and traced; The Revelation 21-22 vision of the heavenly city is full of threads. Jerusalem, the bride, tabernacle, water or river of life, foundations, walls, gates, the number 12, gold, precious stones, lamb, measuring, temple, light, glory, book of life, and tree of life are all in Revelation 21-22 and also found in many other places in the Bible.
Behold, the eternal dwelling place of almighty God is with man. Have you caught a glimpse of the treasure hidden in a field? Come, I will show you the bride, the lambs wife. And he shows us a city with pearls for gates, jeweled foundations, streets of gold. An old Vineyard song said we will dance on streets that are golden. I think we will be the streets, walls, foundations. We are the treasure hidden in a field, refined, combined, and artistically fashioned into the climax of history. The eternal dwelling place of God.
We can’t find God in our own little world.
But God comes looking for us,
While we’re hiding under the leaves.
“Where are you, sons of Adam?
Where are you, daughters of Eve?”
He calls us to leave our own little world
And seek to come to His eternal one.
We hid among the noise, the busy life style,
consumed with the visible.
He is in a secret place and wants us to dwell there too.
Prayer can be reduced to ask God to bless or fix
Our own little world without ever seeking Him or finding Him.
We pray to the god of our own little world,
without truly communing with
Our Father who is in heaven.
Not just on a personal level, but a Church can dwell in an own little world of the religion of songs, hype, and sermons without an ear tuned to what the Spirit is saying to us.
How do we get out of our own little world?
We must get back to square one.
Start over and begin again
A journey away from noise to silence.
Away from constantly hearing too many voices
to diligently listening for the One.
Jesus did nothing except what he heard or saw the Father doing.
Jesus never dwelt in his own little world, but he died to save us from ours.
For our citizenship is in heaven,
from which we also eagerly wait
for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
who will transform our lowly body
that it may be conformed
to His glorious body,
according to the working by which He is able
even to subdue all things to Himself.
Subdue us, conform us, transform us, from our little world of wood, hay, and stubble. That we might look for a glorious one of gold, silver and precious stones once again.
Lord my heart is not proud, nor my eyes lofty. I do not concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. But I have stilled and quieted myself just as a small child is quiet with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me. O my people put your hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever. Psalm 131
Recollection is the process of separating ourselves from internal and external bombardments and bringing spirit, soul and body into a unified whole with the Spirit of God. There are 3 basic steps to this process. Continue reading
Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people! Jeremiah 9:1
Leading Up to this Era
This is my third posting on the Old Testament. First I wrote on the observation that majority of the Old Testament is made up of five multigenerational stories which I’ve called Grasping the Old Testament. First, God promises Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that through them both a nation and also a blessing to all the nations would come. After a 400 gap the story picks up with Moses and Joshua leading the nation out of bondage, setting up a new society, and entering into the land of promise. The next 400 years is told in Judges when the nation seams stuck in cycles of oppression, repentance, deliverance, and peace, until backsliding into sin started the cycle over again. This cycle was disrupted by three generations of advance with Samuel, David and Solomon, which I entitled The Very First Great Awakening. Following Solomon a stable society continues until Jerusalem is destroyed and Judah is taken captive to Babylon. God speaking through His prophets usually speaks to His people, He also often references the present younger generation as the daughter of My people and when judgment comes it falls upon a group God calls not My people. Continue reading
Andrew Murray was a writer, teacher and pastor in South Africa in the second half of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. He wrote over 240 books, several of which are considered Christian classics. He wrote several short books that were intended to be a daily meditation on a subject for a month. The Secret of Intercession has 31 short chapters and 125 pages. Each chapter begin with a verse and ends with a prayer.
The chapters build upon the previous ones laying out what is; “the solemn duty, the high privilege, and the wonderful power of intercession.” What follows are key points from the first few days meditations. This is one of the books that greatly influenced my life and helped lay the foundation in me for prayer and intercession. Continue reading