He Sees Part 1

Many of us likely grew up with the Sunday School song, O Be Careful Little Eyes.

The first verse says,

Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see,
Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see.
There’s a Father up above looking down in tender love,
Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see.

The subsequent verses go on to talk about our ears, tongue, hands and feet. For those of you familiar with it I don’t know what your experience was, but mine was one of thinking God was watching and I was in trouble if I stepped out of line. Thankfully my perspective has changed.

In my work career I spent some time working at the human resources office that set policy for all Government ministries. I led a project across all ministries and something I advocated for with a number of human resource directors in different ministries was changing the focus from a Performance Management Framework to Performance Support. My rationale was that management implies control and oversight while support is just that, support. Interestingly that is now the provincial focus.

I advocate this way because I deeply believe in the need to support people to operate in their gifts and callings and in creating an environment that best enables them to grow in their gifts and callings. This leads back to the song. Jesus, our Father, Holy Spirit all see. What are they looking for? Is there a difference between what they seek in the Old and New Testaments?

7  But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV)

8  Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. 9  For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:8-9 (NKJV)

In these verses we see two things. He looks upon our hearts and He wants to support and strengthen right hearts. What is the focus in the New Testament?

18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)

38  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 (NKJV)

We also have the reality that in the things Jesus did He said He was expressing the Father’s heart, doing what He was doing.

19  Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” John 5:19 (NKJV)

So take courage! Jesus wants to strengthen and support us to carry out His purposes. He may also want to give us a new song.

Oh, be looking, little eyes, for what He sees,
Oh, be looking, little eyes, for what He sees.
There’s a Father up above looking down in tender love,
Oh, be looking, little eyes, for what He sees.

A Steadfast Heart

In my last post I wrote about preparing our hearts for a move of the Spirit. Preparing our heart is one thing. Maintaining it is another. An analogy that comes to mind for me is going backpacking. I prepare by getting all of my food and gear ready. If I have prepared well I am able to respond to the things that happen on the trail. However, during the hike there is the need to constantly assess what is happening and adjust plans as necessary.

Two years ago my son and I did an overnight backpacking trip. It had rained a lot and rained somewhat on our hike in. It cleared up by noon and after we arrived at our destination we did a further day hike. We were hiking out the next morning under a beautiful blue sky with the sun shining. Just what one would like in the mountains. Then a brief sprinkle started and we debated about putting on our raingear, decided it might pass and so kept going as we were. A few minutes later the sky opened up and we had heavy downpour that turned into a steady rain pretty much the rest of the hike out. Not putting on our raingear while it was sprinkling meant putting it on under much wetter conditions.

What does any of this have to do with revival or refreshing seasons? While we can prepare, once things begin to happen we need to continually reassess and adjust. When His manifest presence is there we may start to abandon regular schedules. It is sunny after all so who needs raingear? Yet times of spiritual outpouring also become times of spiritual testing. We are tested in how we respond to His presence, our ability to discern and exercise wisdom. We are tested in our willingness to pay attention to His promoting when He calls us to come aside and rest awhile.

While much is happening around us in revival seasons we need to lean into that ‘still small voice.’ That is how Evan Roberts guided the Welsh Revival and how William Seymour maintained Azusa Street. Roberts would sit quietly, sometimes for an hour or more, waiting to sense the leading of the Spirit. Seymour would sit at the front with his head inside a wooden apple crate, praying and seeking to discern.

Remember, when the Lord sows good seed the enemy sows tares and they look alike while immature. Many things manifest under His presence. There will be pride, immaturity, false humility and a host of other things to test. I believe the most important attribute we can possess is a steady heart. A steady heart is one focused on leaning into and listening to His heart no matter what is happening around us. It is also a heart constantly seeking the wisdom to discern rather than quickly judge. We need both the heart of David and Paul.

7  My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Psalm 57:7 (NKJV)

9  And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10  that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11  being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 (NKJV)

Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here

The Preparations of the Heart

Proverbs 16:1 is a scripture that has long held great significance for me.

1  The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:1 (NKJV)

I believe an incredible move of the Spirit is imminent. At the same time I recognize that how, or even if, we will experience it depends on our heart condition. I recall reading a story from the deeper life movement in 19th Century. One of the speakers and leaders in the movement held a series of meetings where many experienced deep times of refreshing from the Lord. After the meetings he realized something – he was the teacher and his spiritual life was dry! He responded by setting aside everything else and seeking Jesus until He too experienced refreshing.

Pentecost Sunday is near and this year, as in every other year, we have an opportunity to reflect on the first outpouring of the Spirit in the Upper Room in Jerusalem to prepare our hearts. At the first Pentecost hearts in the upper room were prepared and thousands were blessed by the outpouring of the Spirit. Sadly many more in the city went on with business as usual. The history of revival, is similar. People came from all over to experience Azusa Street in the early part of the 20th Century. Most of Los Angeles continued on with business as usual, or likely a more aptly description is busyness as usual. Our heart condition is critical.  

I long for two things. One, a deep move of the Spirit that touches the church and our surrounding culture. Two, wisdom to steward and sustain this move. The first requires that we, like the history of every revival I know of, prepare our hearts and the second is that we maintain steadfast hearts (more on that next week). While I am not an expert, I have read a good deal about revival and I know from scripture that hearts are first dealt with before His Spirit is poured out. As A. W. Tozer has said, ‘He first disturbs us before He fills us.’

So, I don’t know what is in your heart nor you what is in mine but Jesus knows what is in all of our hearts. If we desire to see Him move in our lives and our culture let us embrace the heart of David.

23  Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24  And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV)

Rooted and Grounded

In Ephesians 3 Paul uses some important imagery in communicating spiritual reality.

17  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – 19  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)

Contained in these verses we have the idea of being rooted and grounded followed by a shift to width, length, depth and height. Paul is covering all of the dimensions but telling us that knowing the reality of the dimensions is dependent on being rooted and grounded, not just in anything, but in love, the love of Christ.

Even a well rooted tree can come down if planted in the wrong place, what is around it is important. If you look at the pictures below there are two significant trees. One is already in the creek and over time will be swept away, the other is still rooted but on a crumbling bank that will give way over time and it is only a matter of time before that tree will also end up in the creek and be swept away. There are numerous trees in both pictures that are safely away from the eroding power of the creek.

It is a question of where are we planted and whether we are we rooted and grounded in a safe place. Jesus love is the only secure place to be rooted and grounded yet we cannot plant ourselves there. We can pursue Jesus love but we need to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in our inner being to be securely planted.

16  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, Ephesians 3:16 (NKJV)

If we want to know the width, length, depth and height of Jesus love then let us ask Him to strengthen our inner being so that we can both be rooted in, and bear the reality of, the width, length, depth and height of His love – knowing His love in every dimension of our life!

His Perspective

I want to draw us into heaven’s perspective. Our culture enjoins the worship of celebrities, a worship of the rich, famous and popular. Yet in the midst of all of this there is an important reframing of the issue by Jesus. He is great at giving us perspective!

15  And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15 (NKJV)

This is a verse that cuts deeply across the grain of our culture – Jesus plainly declaring to the religious leaders of His day that in seeking popular acclaim they embraced the wrong value system. They were drinking dirty water from polluted cisterns. They didn’t understand that Jesus perspective wasn’t about religious power and control, it was about people. Even those He grew up with in Nazareth were offended by what Jesus said when He declared both who He was and what His priorities were.

18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)

Jesus was publicly declaring He was the Messiah but like any good leader He also laid out His vision for His followers to see. His focus was on the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind and the oppressed. Did He accomplish His vision? Luke tells us in a one verse summary of His ministry.

 38  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 (NKJV)  

Getting back to the value system of Luke 16:15, there is an expression, ‘Most of those who are well known on earth are little known in heaven and most of those who are well known in heaven are little known on earth. God’s valuation system is different than our culture. He wants our focus to be on being known in heaven.

In sharing some of these ideas with a friend he said, “The Lord once asked me, ‘Is it good enough that you are famous in heaven.’  He was exposing the fact that it really wasn’t.” What about the rest of us? Is it good enough to be famous in heaven?