Friday, May 27, 2011

I Will Veil Myself In You

I would like to share this beautiful video by David Wilkerson with you.  I hope it speaks to your heart as it spoke to mine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Conviction or Condemnation?

As Christians, especially if we are reading God's word, we pretty much understand the "do's and don'ts" of God's commandments.  And even though we are no longer "under the law", "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14), the bible tells us not to sin.  "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." (Romans 6:15)

If we are honest with ourselves we would have to say that we are sinners.  We do sin.  "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)  What then do we do?  God tells us not to sin, but his word tells us that we are all sinners!  There is good news!  Romans 6:18 says, "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."

We know that we were made free from sin because Jesus Christ, God's only begotten son, came to earth, suffered and died for us, took away our sins, and rose again to be with the Heavenly Father in Glory.

We also know that Jesus is our advocate!  So that if we do sin we can come to him and receive forgiveness.  "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins."  (1 John 2:1b-2a)

Since this is true and we have Jesus as an advocate, why is it that when we do sin we come under so much condemnation?  I think we have all had times that we have "come short of the glory of God" and were guilt ridden because of it.  Knowing that God wants us to live righteously, when we sometimes come short of that standard, we ourselves heap guilt on our own heads.  Most times we are our own worst enemy.  By doing this we place ourselves back under the law instead of under God's grace!  When we trust in Christ and his Word, we are under his grace.  But if we put ourselves back under the law (trusting in our own abilities to keep our flesh in control) we are putting ourselves back under the very thing that Christ freed us from.  Are we then not saying, in essence, that all Christ did for us was in vain?  

Consider King David.  He saw Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, (who happened to be away at battle) bathing, and he sent for her so that he could have her.  But after sending her back home it was later discovered that Bathsheba was pregnant.  Since Uriah was away, David had to devise a plan to make it look like it was Uriah's baby.  So he sent for Uriah and inquired of him as to how the battle was going.  Then David told him to go home and rest there with his wife for a few days.  But it was reported to David that Uriah did not enter into his house.  He slept on the doorstep, believing that it was not honorable for him to be home with his wife while his fellow comrades were still at battle.  David had a big problem and had to fix it fast.  He gave orders to have Uriah sent back to battle and placed in the thickest part of the fighting so that he would be sure to be killed.  The plan worked.  When David heard of Uriah's death he gave Bathsheba time to mourn; then he sent for her to be his wife.  "But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD." (2 Sam 11:27b)

Soon after, the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to David to tell him a story of two men, one rich, the other poor.  The rich man had many flocks, but the poor man had nothing but one little lamb which the bible says, " was unto him as a daughter."  (2 Sam 12:3b)  A traveler came to the rich man asking for food, but instead of taking from his own flock, he took the little ewe lamb from the poor man, killed it and served it for food to the traveler.  "David became very angry at the rich man. He said to Nathan, "As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this should die!  He must pay for the lamb four times for doing such a thing. He had no mercy!"  Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!"  (2 Sam 12:5-7a)

Immediately David came under conviction.  He said unto Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."  (2 Sam 12:13a)  Notice that David did not condemn himself; he did not "beat himself up", he was not guilt ridden.  He cried out to the Lord, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit."  (Psalm 51:10-12) 

David knew that he had to rely totally on God, that there was nothing in himself that could fix or help the situation.  David came under God's conviction, not his own condemnation. 

Condemnation always drives you away from God, leaving you feeling that you are defeated, judged by God; everyone around you, and mostly yourself.  It tells you that you are a complete failure.  It keeps you in chains.  In allowing yourself to come under condemnation, you are placing yourself right back under the law.  Proverbs 24:16 says, "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again."

The Apostle Paul said, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
 

Phil 3:12-14

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

His Praise Is My Battle Cry

"Praise Him, praise him,
Praise Him in the morning, praise him in the noontime.
Praise him, o praise him,
Praise him when the sun goes down."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"There's never a reason strong enough
to ever stop praising the Lord.
Whenever the going is getting tough
You've got to keep praising the Lord.

O Praise Him, you know that you should
All things work together for good.
Praise Him, you can never afford
To ever stop praising the Lord."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Praise is the power of heaven.
Praise is the power of heaven.
Praise is the power that opens the door,
To the King, the King of kings."

The powers of darkness must flee
When we praise and magnify thee.
Praise is the power that opens the door
To the King, the King of kings."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have been reading the Psalms lately.  Psalm 6 stood out to me particularly.  I can identify with David when he says in verse 6 and 7, "I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears."  Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies." 

Many times we condemn ourselves for feeling tired and weary.  As christians we often get the idea that because we have the Lord we should be happy and joyful all the time.  The Apostle Paul told us not to grow weary in well doing.  There's a reason Paul said that.  It's because we do! 

But here is David, the king, crying on his bed, most likely like you and I have done.  Pouring our heart out before God, telling him how we feel we just can't go on.  Asking him, just as David did in verse 3, "how long O Lord"? 

When I consider the fact that David was a king, annointed by God, I conclude that if it's okay for King David, then it's okay for me! 

Let's take a look at Psalm 7 for a moment.  You can't help but notice that the transistion from Psalm 6 to Psalm 7 is a drastic one.  David goes from weeping and crying all night long in Psalm 6, to putting his trust in the Lord and praising him in Psalm 7.  He says in verse 1, "O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust."  At the end of that Psalm he says, "I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high."

This tells me something very important.  As believers, our faith is not based or built on our feelings.  2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "We walk by faith and not by sight."  In other words, despite our circumsances and our feelings, we continue to walk with and trust the Lord.  We don't give up on God because we don't see the answer, or even the end of our trial.  Obviously, King David, in the midst of sorrowful and extremely painful circumstances, made a decision to praise his God.

It struck me in Psalm 7 that David said, "I will praise the Lord according to HIS righteousness.  Not according to how I feel about things, not according to what my circumstances are, not according to whether I feel weary or not, but according to God's righteousness. 

Our feelings and circumstances change, but God never changes.  Malachi 3:6 says, "For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." 

If there is anything the Lord has taught me in my years of following him it is this:  HIS praise is my battle cry!  Despite my feelings, despite my circumstances, despite the fact that I can not see the end from the beginning, I will praise him.  Job said, "Tho he slay me, yet will I trust him."  When we praise God for who and what HE is things happen in the spiritual realm.  We may not see the results instantly but there are results just the same! 

Just as King David did, I am making my decision.  I am going to praise Him!

"And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten." 
2 Chron 20:22

Monday, May 16, 2011

God Wants You Back

Have you ever lost someone very dear to you?  Maybe they died suddenly?  Maybe they suffered a long illness and then died?  Or perhaps they didn't die at all?  Perhaps you "lost" them some other way, a way other than a physical death?  Perhaps you have a loved one who has shut you out?  Perhaps you have shut someone out?

I recently read a paragraph that really started me thinking.  The author said, "Today my grandmother, mourning the loss of her daughter said, "I'd give anything to have her back - I'd forgive her of anything."

Is there anyone in your life that you feel that way about?  Whether they died physically or not, whether you feel they shut you out, or you shut them out, if you feel you have lost them, you are in great pain.  Do you feel that you would do anything to have them back?  To have things be the way they used to be?  To have a good, healthy and fun relationship again?

The paragraph went on to say that "that is exactly how God feels about you. He will forgive you of anything  just to have you back."

Are you angry with God and have shut him out?  Or maybe you have unknowingly, slowly and silently slipped away from him?  I once heard a pastor share of how he was on his knees quietly before the Lord.  The Lord spoke to him and said, "Welcome home son."  The pastor went on to tell the congregation, "I didn't even know I had left."  Perhaps you feel you have committed the "unforgivable sin"?  Maybe you've just been too preoccupied with other things in your life?  What ever the reason, it doesn't matter!  He wants you back!  He is in great pain and would forgive you of anything just to have you back!  To have a good, healthy and fun relationship with you again! 

Matthew 18:12 says: "How think ye?  If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?"

Did you know you can "grieve and quench the Holy Spirit"?  Ephesians 4:29-31 says,‘Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only such a word that is good for edification according to the need at the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice."

You grieve the Holy Spirit when you return to those things that Jesus has set you free from. 

You also can "quench" the Holy Spirit.  1 Thes 5:16-21 says: "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully, holding fast to that which is good."

Instead of giving thanks, are you ungrateful, questioning what God is doing or where he is? These types of attitudes can quench (or restrict) the Spirit.

What is the difference between grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit?

Grieve is something we do. (Examples are: we are angry, bitter, have unwholesome talk)
Quench is what we don’t do. (Examples are: we don’t rejoice, or be thankful or just talk with God)

Recently I have been asking the Lord to give me his heart.  In other words, give me a heart like his.  The more I know Jesus, the more convinced I am that he loves me, that he wants me; that he desires to have a healthy relationship with me.  The more of his heart that he gives me, the more love, desire and emotion I have for him, and the more I want to please him. 

Since I've been praying this way he has shown me these two things that I must not do if I want to maintain a healthy and edifying relationship with him.  I must not grieve him and I must not quench his Spirit. 

William Cowper put it like this:

"What peaceful hours I once enjoyed,
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void,
The world can never fill. Return, thou sacred dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest,
I hate the sins that made thee mourn,
And drove thee from my breast.
The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Do You Have a Red Shoe?

About two weeks ago I slipped on my red shoes and went for a walk around my neighborhood.  I wasn't wearing socks so the shoes were a bit loose on my feet, but no bother, it's just a short walk.  I had taken about 2 steps when I quickly became aware of a spec of sand in my shoe.  The fact that the shoes were fitting loosely allowed that piece of sand to move around under my foot.  Every time I set my foot down for its' next step the sand would gouge me some place else.  Sometimes under my toe, perhaps under my heel, next, maybe the ball of my foot.  The solution for all of this is very simple.  Common sense tells any one of us to empty the shoe out, replace it on your foot and enjoy the rest of your walk.  But I didn't.  I didn't want to bother with it just then. 

Now it's two weeks later.  I still have not taken the time to empty my shoe.  And every time I wear it that little spec of sand is quickly called to my remembrance.  It is really quite ridiculous.  I have worn those shoes everyday for two weeks, allowed that sand to grate at my foot, and done nothing about it!  Even when the solution is so easy! 

Yesterday the Lord showed me something about that sand spec.  He showed me that sometimes I do the very same thing in my spiritual walk with Him.  Spiritually speaking, something might be grating at me, rubbing me, causing me discomfort, or even pain, and I do nothing about it.  I leave that "spiritual spec of  sand" there for weeks, sometimes longer, before I take any action to remove it. 

Why do I do that?  I suspect I am not the only one who does.  Lord, help me to be quick to yield myself to you, to let you remove those unwanted things in my life, those things that are unholy or a hindrance to my walk with you and others. 

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 
redeeming the time, because the days are evil." 
Ephesians 5:15-16