Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Blessing in the least obvious place

"Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is!"
Mark Twain
"Bethlehem in the land of Judah, you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah. A leader will come from you. He will shepherd my people Israel." Matthew 2:6

".....The shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about." They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby, who was lying in a manger. " Luke 2:15,16
The hidden places, the forgotten and depised places.....the place of humility. Is this what I envisioned? This is Jesus, is it not? His garmet is humility and His glory is revealed through humility. And so He calls me to come up...... to the lowest place.
Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless.
Blessed are those who mourn.
Blessed are those who are gentle.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God's approval.
Blessed are those who show mercy.
Blessed are those whose thoughts are pure.
Blessed are those who make peace.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me. The prophets who lived before you were persecuted in these ways.

"If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continually. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it. For what profit will a person have if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Indeed, what can a person give in exchange for his life? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes with the holy angels in his Father's glory." Mark 8:34-38
How heartbreaking to think that my mistrust, my unbelief is no more than scorn or shame. My refusal to receive his words and offer to life and admit that in him alone we find all that we need dishonors him as the giver of all life. Living in trust means that I trust in him so much that I am willing to face and endure the shame myself.

"We can’t play it safer than Jesus did. No servant is greater than His master (John 15:20). If obedience cost Jesus His whole life, it will cost us nothing less."
(Watchmen for the Nations)

My desire to control my life with my ideas, my agenda, and my way of getting there only keeps me in bondage to fear.....the way of self is the path to death. My desire to fit snuggly into man's ideas, man's agenda and man's way of getting there only keeps me in bondage to sin....the way of humanity is the path to death.
"Fear is certain evidence that I'm moving out of my own wisdom and expectations, instead of moving out of trust and security in the Father's watchfulness over and care for my life.....Jesus rules to the extent that I let go."
( Wayne Jacobson)
On the other hand......."The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. "Proverbs 14:27
My Child,
The kingdom of heaven belongs to you.
You will be comforted.
You will inherit the earth.
You will be satisfied.
You will be treated mercifully.
You will see God.
You will be called God's child.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to You!
Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven!
Love Your Daddy
Such a wonderful promise from you Father. Wooing me to life.What more could a girl ask for?
"Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!" Phillipians 2:5-8

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
I must come to a place where I embrace the whole journey, not just the promises I have in you but the pain and fellowship of your sufferings. I in you as you are in me.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The joy of your salvation

Oh the freedom of new birth. As a brand new baby in you I trusted you with wild abandon....I would go anywhere and do anything! I gave you all! I saw you with such clarity. And why wouldn't I, for your word says: "How blessed are those who are pure in heart, for it is they who will see God! Such joy in Salvation. Such joy in complete abandoned trust.

" Who may go up the LORD'S mountain? Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart and does not long for what is false or lie when he is under oath. This person will receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from God, his savior. This is the person who seeks him, who searches for the face of the God of Jacob. Selah"
Psalm 24:3-6
"Let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences (unbelief) have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean and our bodies have been washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:22
Oh my Father my heart is free in you, my heart is clean through you, and so you call me and welcome me to come up, to come in......
but it is tainted by man's ways and man's thoughts. You alone know how many words of unbelief I've allowed to pierce and blemish this heart; the lies that hold me back. "Renew my mind. Remove this yoke that I have allowed myself to come under, the bondage I've willingly become enslaved to. Restore the joy of your salvation. The joy of fully trusting you. Restore to me child-like innocence and freedom.....
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
(Create in me an innocent heart, Father, free of fear and unbelief and make new again that place of abiding)
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
(Hold me closer, whisper your tender mercies, how I need your guidance and your comfort, I am helpless without you)
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Let me walk in the inheritance you paid for, resting in your finished work, trusting you so much that I live for nothing but your will)
Psalm 51:10-12

Will of God
I’m tired of living in this world of sin
Tired of living in this game we’re in
Been to town and now I’m back again tired of living for the lust of men
And the world may think I’m crazy when I don’t run with them
But it’s just plain idolatry, when God can’t have all of me

I want to live for the will of God
Oh Lord, I want to follow
With all of my mind, all my heart and all my soul
I want to follow you Oh Lord

How much time will I keep wasting?
How much cheap wine will I keep tasting?
Been to church and now I’m back again
Tired of living for the pride of me
And the world may think I’m crazy when I don’t run with them
But it’s just plain idolatry when God can’t have all of me

© 2002 Jason Upton & Key of David Ministries. All rights reserved
"I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me. But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck."
(Matthew 18:3-6)
"He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn't even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn't want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. John 1:10-12

A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 131

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

True Courage

"I have commanded you, 'Be strong and courageous! Don't tremble or be terrified, because the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.'
Joshua 1:9
"Here is a critical juncture. Will we risk our comfort to follow what we know in our hearts to be true? Many don't make it past this point, preferring to co-exist in silence rather than pursue their passion. I understand why people do that, but also know that they miss out on a journey whose joys far outweigh its risks and its cost."
Wayne Jacobson
In exploring fear and faith's wrestle I came across this article written by Marc Brisebois. Definetely a word to meditate on and take to the Lord in prayer. In this struggle of fear, I tend to think its all about me.....fear always points back to me. But its all about you Jesus, your glory and your fame.

Lines in the Sand
by Marc Brisebois

How far will we follow the Lord? As Christians it is too easy to say ‘all the way’. History tells us that few, if any, have fully finished their course. And so while we would like to think we are more committed than others we should ask ourselves what is the reality of our heart? Where is the line of demarcation for us? At what point will we say enough is enough, I am unwilling to pay a higher price to obtain what I cannot understand? We have all heard the saying, ‘every man has his price’. But what price is too much for us to pay? This line is different for each of us. But in order to fully follow the Lord, we must discover that there is indeed a line, where it lies in relationship to the Lord’s.

The Journey:
When Columbus sailed to present day North America there were some who believed the world was flat. The prevalent fear was that at some point they would drop off the end of the earth. The level of fear each man possessed would most certainly be different. For some, the vision of another land was a vague, untrustworthy idea. Had each man had the opportunity to turn back, the question is 'at what point would that have occurred?' Had they been on a train instead of a ship, you can be sure many sailors would have gone ‘awol’ in the night. The point of departure comes as each one reaches the limits of their faith. Once we reach the capacity of what is believed possible, the urge to exit begins to grow. This is very much the case for every great and perilous adventure. It most certainly applies to the Hebrew’s exit from Egypt in pursuit of the famed ‘promise land’. While they left as one man there were many hearts and various expectations. The scripture records that a mixed multitude went out. This is an appropriate description of the vast diversity among them. Though each had heard what Moses promised, not all believed. The signs of power shown to Moses drew their attention but few were fully convinced. The promise was like a very distant line being drawn in the sand. Though the line was delineated by the promise, not all could see the line, neither could every heart extend that far. Generations of crushed hope had left them with a hollow tradition of faith. While they spoke of freedom and liberty, in the depths of their hearts, they had resigned themselves to perpetual slavery. Yet when it came time to leave, all left Egypt in the pretense of holding the same vision. They really should have counted the cost before departing, but one does not plan for what he does not intend. And so hidden from the eyes of man, in the secret places of the heart, something was missing. It is in this place where there is no faith, that the vision cannot take root. The doubts will go unstated but they live hidden from all scrutiny. Like most of us today, Moses’ contemporaries were ignorant of their own faithlessness. Unbelief only comes to light when we have journeyed to the limits of our capacity to believe. Until then we talk as though we are journeying to the end, but somewhere the lines are drawn and the limits are predefined. Of course these limits remain a non-factor until the journey brings us to them. Only then will they come into play. It is only when we approach them that our discomfort begins. Suddenly a sense of anxiety and a desire for safety overtakes us. We may not even have the capacity to articulate the problem because we are ignorant of our heart’s condition. These are issues of the heart and not the mind. Nevertheless, we suddenly feel uneasy, unstable and unsafe. For all the rhetoric of ‘going all the way’, the truth is we never really knew the journey would take us this far. It is at this point where we become a liability to the corporate vision. We invisibly shift from being on board to dragging our feet. Even though the problem is clearly our lack of faith, we conveniently point to pseudo-problems in order to justify our misgivings. Now comes the murmuring and complaining, which are the unmistakable qualities of unbelief (Hebrews 3:7-19). When we stop believing we begin looking for tangible reasons to bail out. The reality is small problems now become the outlet of choice for the growing tension over having gone further than we believed possible, or simply further than we understood.

The Lines:
The real problem is with the lines that are drawn in our heart. The lines are the limits of our faith – the most we can possibly foresee or hope for. The lines begin to be drawn the moment we first hear the promise.
For the Hebrews it began when a man called Moses appeared on the scene articulating a grand vision. “God spoke to me and promised a land flowing with milk and honey”, he says. For most it is too good to be true. After 400 years of slavery the thought of true liberty had long died. Sure, a tradition of hope existed, but it was the talk of old men and dreams of the uninitiated youth. Yet, the passion and conviction of this leader was too much to dismiss. And throughout the nation people began to entertain a ray of hope. Nevertheless outside of a few notable exceptions, the people were quite prepared to settle for less. They did not actually believe in the final destination but perhaps there was something else for them. For some the promise meant simply a life without toil. The thought of a house and a small piece of land without the threat of oppression was the most that could be hoped for. Others may have believed for a strip of land on the side of the desert– a place where their children might somehow realize a normal existence. Still others could see a little further and envisioned a city with it’s own government. Maybe, just maybe a tiny bit of self-determination. All of which fell far short of the spirit of prophecy circulating over the nation. It is not that these things would have been wrong or not part of what the Lord was wishing to give. The problem was that these limitations came from not being able to hear the Word of the Lord. “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:18-19)“…but the word did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (Hebrews 4:2b) Dreams had previously been crushed and they were unable to heed Moses word because of cruel bondage and anguish of spirit (Exodus 6:9). “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” and for many the idealism of youth had long ago melted away. The scar left on the heart impeded them from seeing that this was far more than idealism. It was the sound of inevitability looking for a heart in which to rest. For many the heart had already ventured to believe once too often, only to be disappointed again and again. So now when the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey comes, it is too much to fathom. The result is that in the shadow of this larger vision, a lesser vision is nurtured. We exchange a wonderful plan for something far less. “I cannot believe for a land flowing with milk and honey, but I believe we can find a place just beyond the reach of Pharaoh”. Our willingness to settle for less remains hidden for a time. It is only when we approach or cross the threshold of our expectations that the tension becomes apparent. At that moment faith gives way to fear.

When a man goes beyond what he believes possible fear rises.
Faith enabled him to behold what he could not see with his natural eyes. But now, without faith there is no sight and no understanding. Faith provided the substance (dry land) when substance was unavailable. Now without something to hold onto my flesh requires a replacement. Like a fearful sailor the urge to return to dry land consumes me. This is exactly what happened to the nation of Israel. “Why does this Moses want to destroy what we have? Were there not enough graves in Egypt that he had to bring us to this desert to kill us?” Their fear caused them to continually prophesy their demise. The fact that they now possessed a freedom they did want to lose meant they were tormented all the more.The problem is that the challenge of believing for greater things seems to put in jeopardy the hope of lesser things. For those who never believed they would leave Egypt alive, it was time to cut their losses. “Why risk the first chance at a normal life for what I do not believe possible. Why should we go to battle against other nations and risk having our children become slaves once again?" “I do not believe ­– I cannot go further.” For those that are satisfied with a plot of land and a house just beyond the reach of Pharaoh every step beyond them is a death they cannot bear. They neither want more nor are they prepared to sacrifice further to go farther. As such they are truly a mixed multitude – one people with multiple visions. Someone once said this is the recipe for division. Without a common vision the people are easily fragmented as spirits of fear prey on their unbelief. Now that they had achieved what most believed improbable, it seemed unwise to risk it for what seemed truly impossible? It is out of this fear that rebellion was born. The people would not believe and so chose something less than the promise and defied those who would have them face their fears. Had this been primarily about God delivering them from the hand of Pharaoh this would not have been a problem. But God was not so limited and His ultimate intention was far greater. As a nation they were a beginning point for the work of God in the earth – a kingdom of priests that would become the expression of His heart to the nations.“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6) As His own special people they would be the scepter of redemption for the nations. His intention was not to merely occupy a small strip of land east of the Mediterranean Sea. Rather, He anticipated doing what He had always intended – to fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. This is the ultimate line in the sand. The anger of the Lord’s displeasure was in the fact that Israel constantly interpreted the promises of God in the light of their own need for security and comfort. Their refusal to enter the promised land almost resulted in them being annihilated. The truth is they feared losing their children to captivity. In His judgment the Lord declared that these very children would walk in faith and possess it. Of that present generation all would perish save Joshua and Caleb. The Lord declared them to be of a ‘different spirit’, and that Caleb ‘fully followed the Lord’. On the other hand, the unbelief of the rest of the nation meant they were putting the intention of the Lord in jeopardy. Since that time the Lord has only looked for, and been pleased by one thing: Faith. The Lord is pleased by those who believe His Word. This Caleb did! Thus the Lord is only asking for us to do one thing – to not lean on our own understanding and to be willing to let Him draw the line.

The Pattern:
The consequences of this truth are many. Today in churches and lives throughout Christendom this pattern is repeated again and again. While the Lord says ‘all the earth is mine’ few believers actually believe it. Though the Spirit has drawn a line in the sand that encompasses the nations, Christians are content to draw their own lines. According to our limited gifts and abilities we imagine what we might do and where we might go, and there we draw our line. We are quickly satisfied by the achievements that distinguish us in the eyes of others and abandon the greater hope. For some, the lines are drawn in terms of professional advancement or material acquisitions. Others cannot see past being a father, wife or husband. Pastors and spiritual leaders, while still in the midst of training and development, set the boundaries of their hope by the ministry they visualize. For many the apex of success is to become the senior pastor of any congregation. When that ambition is realized they spend the remainder of their days guarding their achievement. In the church new believers are discipled into corners by the lines drawn by those they respect. Theology and ministry becomes defined by what is known and what is safe. We are taught that the highest order of Christian life is to be a tithing regular church attendee. ‘If you are faithful enough you might one day get on the board’. All of these become demarcation points for our zeal and limitations to our faith. In the midst of this great company of people exist others still who once envisioned the impossible and ventured. Prayer warriors heard the cry, believed and advanced. Great things happened and the fulfillment of still greater things appeared on the horizon. But in the midst of promise came the disappointment. Leaders fell, friends were wounded, churches were divided and movements became still stagnant waters. In the wake of disappointment we settle for something less, inoculated against a greater vision. Not unlike those Hebrews who once believed and lost hope. “…but they could not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage." (Exodus 6:9) Even so the Spirit of the Lord calls to those who once believed to awaken to a fresh hope. The challenge of the Lord is to lift up our eyes to Him who calls those things which are not as though they are. He is calling us to repentance over the lines we have drawn in the sand, and urging us to look to the greater promise. As He said to Moses when they would not enter the land, “I have pardoned according to your word; But truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” (Numbers 14:20-21) This is the one line to which all others must yield. For in as much as every knee shall bow, ultimately, every line will yield.

©2005 Watchman on the Wall Ministries. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A meaningless gift

"You take no delight in sacrifice or offerings. Now that you have made me listen ,I finally understand......." Psalm 40:6

"For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God's approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by TRUSTING IN THE SON OF GOD, who loved me and gave himself FOR ME. I am not one who treats the grace of God as meaningless.For if we could be saved by keeping the law then there was no need for Christ to die." Galatians 2:19-21

My "gift of sacrifice" makes Your incredible gift of sacrifice meanigless. This whole journey isn't about sacrifice or to bring me to a place of sacrifice....it's about love. Love is where I'm headed....rooted, grounded, and straight to your heart of love Oh Father! All true sacrifice and surrender are birthed BY YOUR SPIRIT and come through the wooing of your Spirit. You wooed me to a deeper intimacy, until I wanted you MORE than the pleasures of this earth. You woo me still until I will desire you more than earthly praise. You will continue to woo me until I desire YOU more than the comforts of this earth. Wooing me, romancing me until I am consumed with you and enraptured by your love! What a joy this journey!

Monday, June 13, 2005

I must decrease and He must increase

"......not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith..." (Phil 3:9)

There is a certain righteousness that we can attain...but it is futile and dangerous. It has all the right "looks" but it leads me and all others who observe me AWAY from true life. MY righteousness is a heavy load and it is actually quite ugly. It leads others to idolize me, compare themselves to me...look AT ME. And it grieves your heart.

Wayne Jacobson writes: "Jesus knew that the only way to live is by following the voice of his Father, initiating nothing out of his own desires or even need. This was a life lived in trust, and that trust only had expression where it responded to God's voice alone......The sin of assumption is probably the most deceptive of all sins, because it allows us to act in God's name, thinking we are doing his will when in fact we do things that harm his work in us and others at the same time. But the only way for us to overcome such temptation is to live the same way Jesus did. That is, we stop doing anything just because it sounds good, meets our need, is Biblically justifiable or because someone is pressuring us to do it. Instead, the only question we need to ask is whether or not God has spoken this to us.....Without an ear that listens to God's voice what we call trust is nothing more than presumption; what we call obedience, nothing more than legalism."

There is only one way to life. There is only one way to lead others to your streams of living waters. To listen, trust and follow your voice! It is all about intimacy with you.The righteousness FROM GOD that depends on FAITH has this result : ".... that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. " Phi 3:10,11

"All the appetites, attitudes and anxieties that held sway in my life all resulted from the fact that I did not trust that Jesus was big enough to watch over my life and lead me into his fullness. Because I couldn’t trust him to do it without me, I always found myself wandering back to the trail of self-effort......He does not conform us by obligation, but transforms us by sharing his love with us and showing us how we can trust him.......The righteousness that flows from trust is incredibly resilient. Once you’ve tasted of it, everything else loses its appeal.....trusting a Father’s love and depending on him is the only way to walk." (Wayne Jacobson)

It all comes back to trust. In trust we surrender completely because we know his deep love for us. Why would I want any other way?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Entering and abiding

“For the law made nothing perfect, and now a better hope has taken its place. AND THAT IS HOW WE DRAW NEAR TO GOD.”

“Come into his presence with thanksgiving, enter his courts with praise.” Psalm 100

Worship is an out pouring of a life. Worship is spirit to spirit communing. Worship is the result of revelation. I do not worship you oh Lord that I may touch you, see you and know you more…you reach me, touch me, see me and I am undone. You have taken away the veil and there is nothing but thanksgiving to offer! Being with you is my hearts desire and you have made it so simple, so accessible.

“For no one can be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know God’s law the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it. But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight – not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins.” Romans 3:20-22

“And so dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heavens most holy place BECAUSE OF THE BOOD OF JESUS.” Hebrews 10:19

“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly INTO GOD’S PRESENCE, assured of his glad welcome.” Ephesians 3:12

“let us go right into the presence of God, with hearts fully trusting Him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Hebrews10:22

“So let us COME BOLDLY to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it.

Now all of us, both Jews and Gentiles may come TO THE FATHER through the same Holy Spirit BECAUSE of what Christ has done for us." Ephesians 2:18