Now Moments

There are ‘now’ moments in each of our lives. I know there was a time in my life when I thought I needed now moments like the one Moses had at the burning bush.

3  Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” Exodus 3:3 (NKJV)  

I still pray for significant encounters with Him and have had some over the years. At the same time I have previously written on the danger of missing the spiritual while looking for the supernatural. I think that is true of now moments. While these moments of choice are sometimes dramatic and obvious, usually they are times of simply choosing to respond to His prompting to engage in a conversation, contact a person, and sit with Him and His word or something similar. Yet these now moments of being faithful shape our lives.

While the now moment for Moses was very obvious that is generally not what happens. In the gospels we read the stories of some who responded to their now opportunities to follow a dusty itinerant Rabbi (Matt. 4:18-22) and examples of others who gave Jesus reasons why ‘now’ was not a good time to respond and follow Him (Lk. 9:57-62). As we reflect on the now moments in our lives we can consider the factors that led to our conversion and moments that have shaped our walk. Like now moments in scripture some may have had dramatic encounters while others will have had seemingly mundane experiences that led to conversion and shaped a lifestyle. 

I know my own commitment to follow Jesus was not dramatic. I had a ‘now’ moment in a cancer diagnosis a few days before my wedding at age 23. This led to a reflection on my belief system and a decision to read the scriptures. Yet, while people were praying for me I never made a real commitment until age 25. There was nothing dramatic, no flashing lights. Simply a series of responses in various now moments.

Once I began to walk with Jesus there were many now moments of being at the right place at the right time. Meeting key people and in the moment making decisions to continue godly relationships, some of which have now lasted decades. A commonality in my experience was an inner nudge, a sense of the need to respond to something or someone. I believe sensitivity to these nudges comes from faithfully pursuing His presence and purpose.

I remember a key relationship in my life came from responding to a sense to call someone I had met and go and visit her. She later told me of the spiritual significance of what had happened and what she discerned in the spirit realm. I was aware of none of these things. I just knew obedience was important and so responded to His inner nudge to get to know this wise and godly older woman who became a friend and mentor.

I don’t know what ‘now’ is like for each of us. I do know that it is important to focus on His leading, seek to be found faithful and ask for His help in responding properly to the opportunities He provides. To deepen this feel free to join me in something I regularly pray, “Help me to discern and engage in the opportunities You provide.” Faithfully seeking and trusting Him advances His kingdom in the earth and prioritizes the spiritual over the supernatural.

A Rooster Crowed

I was hiking in the mountains and heard a rooster crow. Yes, I was close enough to civilization for someone to have chickens. I had been praying as I hiked, something I like to do. When the rooster began crowing my mind went back to living on an acreage and having chickens. Chickens, more particularly roosters, are very reliable. They begin crowing just before the day dawns. They announce the new day.

So what do chickens have to do with scripture and anything meaningful? The rooster got me thinking about Peter and his confident denial that he would never deny Jesus, leading to his denial and heartbreak in a few hours. Understanding the Jewish day helps. The Jewish day begins at sundown, so there is a wonderful idea that we begin our day with food and fellowship with our family, rest, then enter into the day’s work from a place of rest.

In essence when Jesus told Peter he would deny Him before the rooster crowed (Matt. 26:24, Lk. 22:34) He was saying, “Peter, you won’t even make it into the work of the day before you deny me.” Peter was speaking out of pride and self-confidence, Jesus was speaking out of knowledge and wisdom. Having learned from this experience Peter later wrote of the importance of humility in receiving the grace by which we stand.

5  Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 6  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7 (NKJV)

My point is not to disparage Peter. Peter was a bold witness for the gospel, the only one of the twelve to walk on water, the first to take the gospel to the Gentiles and loved Jesus deeply. His failure is recorded in scripture to encourage us. After His failure and denial of Jesus we know from scripture that he embraced Jesus forgiveness and had a healed heart. We see the fruit of it in one of his first recorded messages where he boldly confronted the people of Israel of over their denial of Jesus.

13  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14  But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15  and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. Acts 3:13-15 (NKJV)  

So a major lesson from Peter is the need to reflect on whether our confidence lies in our ability to stand or His ability to keep us from falling. One is a recipe for failure and the other is the path to empowering grace and freedom. If we humbly seek His grace we can trust in His keeping power as Jude wrote.

24  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25  To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25 (NKJV)

Walking in His Anointing

If we have been born again then we have also been anointed by the Holy Spirit (1 Jn. 2:20, 27). Given that we have been anointed let us look at how to we walk in what we carry. The best example of course is Jesus.

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)

Messiah means ‘Anointed One’ and Jesus was in Nazareth proclaiming His Messiahship in the synagogue by reading Isaiah 61:1-2 referring to the anointing upon Himself. The idea of an anointing was the ability to accomplish a task. We see Old Testament examples in the kings like Saul and David being anointed with oil by Samuel the prophet. They were given an ability to do something. In this case to lead a nation. Jesus was given the ability to usher in an eternal kingdom so let us focus on some of what the anointing accomplished through Jesus. 

We know from the gospels that multitudes were healed by Jesus and lives were transformed through His ministry when He walked the earth in human form. A closer look at this account from Nazareth draws out some interesting contrasts with how effective Jesus was in most places.

1  Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2  And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3  Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they were offended at Him. 4  But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5  Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. Mark 6:1-5 (NKJV)

Mark does not include the reading from Isaiah that we have in Luke 4:18-19. He does however give us the reaction of the hearers to Jesus. The people of Nazareth recognized Jesus mighty works but took offense at His declaration because they had known Jesus all of His life. The result was that Jesus could do little for them. Even though others received a great deal from Jesus the offense the people of Nazareth took up limited the effectiveness of the anointing that was on Him to bring them the kingdom to their community.

So we can apply this lesson to our lives. If we are born again we have been anointed and we carry an ability to do something in and for His kingdom. For His anointing to be effective in our lives we need to believe and trust in what we carry. At the same time we cannot control how others respond to what we carry. We are called to walk in integrity, speak the truth in love and bathe what we do in prayer. The rest we are to leave in His hands.   

Wrapped in Revelation

Sometimes when reading something we are struck with a new insight. This happened recently as I was reading in the book of Numbers. Clearly some parts of the bible do not make for exciting reading. For me it takes discipline to get through some Old Testament (OT) sections. However, I know the Lord inspired His word and even seemingly mundane things are important to Him. He has provided a record that Paul said we are to learn from (1 Cor. 1:10-11) and Jesus our pattern often quoted from the OT.

So, what struck me? What I read wasn’t about numbers of people or things, it was about how the Ark and other sacred items were to be cared for prior to travelling.

5  When the camp prepares to journey, Aaron and his sons shall come, and they shall take down the covering veil and cover the ark of the Testimony with it. 6  Then they shall put on it a covering of badger skins, and spread over that a cloth entirely of blue; and they shall insert its poles. 7  On the table of showbread they shall spread a blue cloth, and put on it the dishes, the pans, the bowls, and the pitchers for pouring; and the showbread shall be on it. Numbers 4:5-7 (NKJV)

9  And they shall take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand of the light, with its lamps, its wick-trimmers, its trays, and all its oil vessels, with which they service it. Numbers 4:9 (NKJV)

11  Over the golden altar they shall spread a blue cloth, and cover it with a covering of badger skins; and they shall insert its poles. 12  Then they shall take all the utensils of service with which they minister in the sanctuary, put them in a blue cloth, cover them with a covering of badger skins, and put them on a carrying beam. Numbers 4:11-12 (NKJV)

What initially stood out in my reading was the Ark of the Covenant was to be covered in a blue cloth. The other key items in the Tabernacle were to be treated the same way. Blue speaks of revelation as the sky/heavens are blue and point to our need for revelation from heaven. Hence the post title, Wrapped in Revelation.

I believe Jesus desires to give us ongoing revelation regarding His word, our lives and the lives of those around us. We see this desire expressed in one of Paul’s prayers.

17  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, Ephesians 1:17 (NKJV)

To be clear, this is about a revelation of the Father and His purposes and one of His desires is that we know His work in every area of our lives. Elsewhere in this same letter Paul said,

10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

So, I believe that our lives are to be wrapped in revelation that comes from seeking His wisdom for each day. This is not some esoteric idea but the reality that Jesus lives in us and wants to be involved in every area of our lives. He wants to wrap us in a revelation of who He is, what He has accomplished in our salvation, who He is in us and how He desires to move through us in every aspect of our lives. So let us be wrapped up in who Jesus is that we might touch the lives of those around us with His presence and purpose.

Following His Leading

Recently I had to take my car in for some work and the dealership loaned me a new vehicle. It has the modern features, one of them being lane departure. I have driven vehicles in the past that warned me when I was drifting out of my lane. The difference with this vehicle (Subaru Ascent) is that it actively tries to pull the vehicle back into the correct lane. Turning on the signal light to turn or change lanes deactivates the system.

As I was sharing this with a friend it got me thinking about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we start to drift out of our lane He warns us and seeks to pull us back and keep us on the right spiritual track. He doesn’t force us. He doesn’t control. Just like I can override the lane departure system in the vehicle I can override the warnings of the Holy Spirit.

Since the Garden of Eden He has given us the choice to obey or disobey. If my heart, is as it should be, to be obedient, then I will heed His warnings. While the warning system in the car is very obvious, He is usually more subtle.

The verse below provides a good example.   

13  I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. 2 Corinthians 2:13 (NKJV)

Paul said he had no rest in his spirit. While this was not a ‘lane departure’ warning it does teach us something about one way He leads us. Paul had a sense of unease, an awareness that all was not as it should be with Titus and it motivated him to action. In our walk the Holy Spirit generally leads us through His word and in our spirit. In seeking to follow His leading we may have sense that something is not right, as Paul did, or a sense that what we are trying to accomplish may not work.

Even if we are endeavouring to do something that is good but lack His peace in our spirit (Col. 3:15) it may not be the best or it may be out of God’s timing. We are called to stay in our lane, seek to know His voice and leading (Rom. 8:14) and act accordingly. So, let us pay attention to our spirits (Mal. 2:15), heed His lane departure warnings, do as He leads seek to arrive safely at our eternal destination!   

Revealing Jesus

I am currently re-reading Rick Joyner’s Final Quest Trilogy. A quote that stood out to me was, “I did not call you to preach about Me; I called you to be a voice I could speak through.” The context is Wisdom (Jesus) speaking to Joyner in a prophetic encounter. While some may struggle with that idea, the concept is found in what Paul wrote.

15  But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16  to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, Galatians 1:15-16 (NKJV)

Jesus wants us to know Him and wants to reveal Himself to us and then through us. I believe that to get there we need to develop a deep sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. He is the one who forms Jesus in us (Galatians 4:19) and reveals Him through us. The testimony of scripture however is that this requires our cooperation.

Prior to my friend Evelyn stepping from time into eternity in recent years, she walked with Jesus for over 80 years and regularly revealed Him to others. One of the things she often warned about was the danger of passivity. She was concerned that passivity led to deception and a move away from Jesus. Hebrews presents it this way.

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. Hebrews 2:1 (NKJV)

Growing in Jesus requires that we ‘give heed’ and pursue His presence and purpose. I approach this by daily times of sitting with Him, spending time in scripture and seeking to discern His leading during the day in my interactions. I regularly pray the following, “Holy Spirit, as I sit and walk with Jesus, I ask You to draw me into the subtleties of the interaction that I might deepen my awareness of Your presence and leading.” I recognize my dependence on Him to reveal His life through me.

As I know many of you do, I also want to be a voice and life that Jesus speaks through and uses to change lives. This is a major driver in my life, seeking to represent Him at all times and in all things that ultimately He may receive the reward of His sacrifice.

Embracing His Purpose

I was hiking in the mountains recently. At higher altitudes, where the snow was melting, there were differences in what was happening with the water. At places it was simply mist coming over a cliff, in other places there were small waterfalls and streams. At the trailhead at the bottom of the mountain there was a wide rapidly moving stream. This stream then flowed into a river fed by many other streams. Observing this some spiritual truths came to mind.

The first, which I have written about before, is in the verse below.

4  There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. Psalm 46:4 (NKJV)

In this we can see the idea that within the body of Christ there are many different streams or movements that ultimately all flow into the same river. However on this occasion I was drawn to another aspect. Streams are made up of many droplets of water. Each drop, though unable to be seen in a stream, is important. We may think that our drop doesn’t matter and we can be left out. Yet if every drop in any of the many streams of the church thought that we would have no streams and no river.

When we became believers something happened inside of us. As His new creation workmanship we were assigned a calling and purpose.

10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

God set us up for success in His kingdom, not success in terms of finances or other things as defined by the world. He set us up for success in walking out what He called us to, the fulfilling of our purpose in His kingdom. An important word in what Paul wrote is ‘should.’ We should be walking in His calling and purpose. If we are not we can ask Him for wisdom to be found faithful in what and where we have been called.

While the works He has prepared for us may each be a drop in the larger stream of His purpose His desire is that all of the drops are achieving their purpose. All of our drops are needed to flow into the river of His purpose.

Living with Wisdom

Paul is eminently practical. We have one of many examples of his practical theology in what he shares with the church at Thessalonica, on how to deal with adversity. Paul recognized that the believers in Thessalonica were enduring suffering (2 Thess. 1:5) so provided the wisdom below.

13  But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14  to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 16  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17  comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 (NKJV)

He informed them that they, and by extension we, were: 

  • Chosen for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and a belief in the truth,
  • Chosen to obtain the glory (character) of Jesus,
  • Were to walk in obedience,
  • His comfort and consolation are available to establish us in good words and actions.

In essence, Paul informed them that the difficulties they were going through were an opportunity for the glory (character) of Jesus to be worked into and revealed in their lives. This would come about if they were cooperating with the Spirit’s sanctifying work in their lives and if they continued to hold fast to the truth of the gospel. His summation and comfort was that good things awaited them, an everlasting rather than temporal consolation.

Practically in our current environment this means embracing a deep rooted commitment to speak the truth in love. It means not getting caught up in the swirling emotions of our times but to live out our faith. It means not asking what Jesus would do but seeing what Jesus is doing and coming into agreement with His purposes. I have found the need to check myself and saw someone else on social media acknowledging the same thing. We are in a highly emotionally charged time and need to lean into Jesus to respond with a right heart.

I have challenged some comments and supported others in my goal of demonstrating Jesus heart. I saw a post saying, “Christians worship and follow an innocent man of color who was killed by police officers.” While I can see the intent I see this as the type of characterization that needs to be challenged. The problems I see in it are that in trying to use it to combat racism it fails to acknowledge that Jesus was in fact the only truly innocent man who was ever killed. Further, he was of the same culture and race of those who wanted Him to put to death. We need to acknowledge the problem but address it with wisdom.   

We are called to provide leadership to those around us and reveal Jesus no matter the circumstances. I know I need to thoughtfully weigh my comments and reactions in this hour and be very aware of how I am representing Jesus.

Wisdom in this Hour

In this post I will briefly address what is happening in North America with the protests and ‘Black Lives Matter’ focus. I have not followed all of it, the news is overwhelming as the two things currently dominating the news cycle are Covid-19 and the protests over racial injustice. To know how to respond we need both wisdom and discernment. For that we are called to look to the Spirit and scriptures not the media, as there are two types of wisdom we can draw on.

13  Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (NKJV)

James is clear that as believers there are two sources we can draw on for wisdom and they are both spiritual. One is the demonic realm and the other is the heavenly realm. We can determine the source by examining the fruit. The fruit of drawing on demonic wisdom is envy, self-seeking, confusion and other manifestations of evil. Heavenly wisdom is pure, peaceable, and gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and similar manifestations of the nature of heaven.

In examining the current situation with the riots and protests I have seen many posts quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr regarding riots. “Riots are the language of the unheard” as a justification for the current riots. Yet the statement came out of an interview with Mike Wallace on CBS and in context Dr. King said this in response to the riots that were happening and those suggesting a movement away from Dr. King’s approach, “I contend that the cry of ‘black power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.” Yet this was an acknowledgement, not an endorsement. While many in the black community were demanding more action Dr. King said, “Now what I’m saying is this: I would like for all of us to believe in non-violence, but I’m here to say tonight that if every Negro in the United States turns against non-violence, I’m going to stand up as a lone voice and say, ‘This is the wrong way!’ He further said, “I will never change in my basic idea that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom and justice. I think for the Negro to turn to violence would be both impractical and immoral.”

If we want to know the source of the events happening in our time we merely need to look at the fruit. Is what is happening being sown in peace? Is the result peace, gentleness and mercy or anger and bitterness?

Source for Dr. King interview

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mlk-a-riot-is-the-language-of-the-unheard/

He Sees Part 2

In my previous post I looked at how Jesus seeks to support right hearts and wants us to see from His perspective. We can see more of what He sees by digging a bit deeper into Luke 4:18-19.

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)

In context Jesus read this in the synagogue in Nazareth and it was His first public declaration that He was the long awaited Messiah. He was reading from Isaiah 61:1-2 and His hearers knew it was a messianic prophetic promise. It was even clearer when Jesus finished reading and addressed those assembled.  

  20  Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21  And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:20-21 (NKJV)

In essence Jesus said, “This prophetic promise is about Me.” Luke 4:18-19 tell us that Jesus sees the poor who need the gospel, He sees and heals the brokenhearted, He sees the captives and sets them free from bondage to sin. He sees the spiritually and naturally blind and enables them to see again. He sees the oppressed and breaks the burdens off of them. He sees the need for repentance and a welcome into God’s family and so proclaims His redemptive favour, the doors of the kingdom are open wide to the repentant.

Given that Jesus does these things and calls us as co-labourers we can see our role in two ways. We can be both the recipients and conduits of His grace.  We are called to see the poor who need the gospel, to see and heal the brokenhearted, to see the captives and set them free from bondage to sin. We are called to see the spiritually and naturally blind and enable them to see again. We are called to see the oppressed and break the burdens off of them. We are called to see the need for repentance and to offer a welcome into God’s family. Conversely, when we are in need of any of these things others are called to see and come alongside.

Our calling is to see His work in one another’s lives and build what He is building. Nothing more, nothing less.