Being and Doing

Exodus 19:4-6

“‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 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 to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;


In Exodus 19, Yahweh invited descendants of Israel to become His nation through the covenant that He was about to reveal to them in Exodus 20. Peter wrote that believers in Jesus have become what Yahweh desired.

His own special people – the Body of Christ, His family.

A holy nation – set apart to Yahweh, citizens of heaven scattered throughout the earth, influencing the culture wherever they go.

A kingdom of priests – representing the nations around us in the throne room of heaven, seeking and finding grace and mercy for the needs of those with whom we interact.

The current purposes of the church in the earth include colonizing the earth with the culture of heaven, to the end that we convert citizens of the earth to citizenship in heaven, and to becoming members of Yahweh’s family.

In congregations where our purpose is only to increase church membership, we are taking up space in the dugout but not changing anything on the playing field. The consequence is that we continue to lose the game. Other teams continue to have more influence on culture and eternity than we do.

Aloft, Like a Swallow

A dove is frequently seen on the ground under a bird feeder, picking through the grass for the seeds that other birds disliked or carelessly dropped. A cardinal frequents the feeder, picking through the seed offerings for her favorite flavors, casting the others down to the doves and robins.

A swallow loves the heavenly places. Feeding on flying things, she rockets and coasts and flits and chases – not spending much time on the ground or in her nest.

We have access to an open door, that John saw when it was opened. The veil has been ruined. It didn’t swing back closed. It gapes, wondrous Light pouring through, trying to catch our inattentive eyes.

We have been invited to “come up here” along with John. It is our inheritance to spend time in the holiest places in the universe. How much we will regret having spent so much time walking in the weeds looking for what has been cast down and is easy to find, if that is the way we live.

You can’t fly too high. The real danger is in being satisfied with staying too low. Spend your energy aloft, where the view is true and the air is fresh and the sun is hot.

Over in the Gloryland

Could it be that we have not found the ends of the earth with either the good news about salvation or the good news about the Kingdom of heaven because our favorite songs have been about us longing to be in heaven rather than about our God already being in the earth?

I have studied and shopped for many denominational and many independently published hymnals for many years. It has always been difficult to find a book that has more than a few songs praising Yahweh, and fewer that speak directly to Him in worship. By praise, I mean declaring His greatness to other believers or to the earth, and by worship, I mean speaking to Him of His greatness or our love to Him.

By far, the majority of the songs are about us. Even a song that testifies about how He delivers us or heals us or loves us is a song about us in this sense. Songs that are just about Him, and His loving kindness and His wisdom and His glory are rare in hymnbooks.

Thanksgiving is always appropriate, but it is about what He has done for me. We know who someone is to the extent that we know what they love and hate. We know someone best when we know their pains, their strengths, their weaknesses, their passions.

Yahweh is currently passionate about producing a bride for His Son who is appropriately beautiful and righteous and full of love for Him. That should captivate our hearts and minds and property and clocks and calendars and our songs.

Emmanuel is a name and a declaration. It can be a lifestyle.

It means “God with us.”

Apart From the Law

Romans 3:21-24

God’s righteousness has been revealed. He didn’t use the Ten Commandments, the Kosher Laws, the Community Responsibility Laws, or the Financial Laws to make it known. He used prophets and the Law to inform us about it ahead of time, but He used grace to reveal it.

His righteousness is revealed in His people, whom He redeemed from unrighteousness by the blood that was tortured out of Jesus. He allowed sin to be condemned in His body so that ours could be free.

Your “rightness” is declared by and real-ized by the facts that you are born of Him and then led by Him. He changed your nature so that He could influence your behavior. Because He justified your life, He could give you the power to live it righteously.

You were made righteous by your faith in Jesus. Your behavior can exceed the Pharisees with regard to doing things right. Not because you have a better set of rules, though. It is because you accept the Ruler.

Bound by Unbelief

Andrew Murray, in “The Deeper Christian Life,” wrote:

The Cause of This Discrepancy Between God’s Gifts, and Our Low Experience

Dear fellow believer, I want to say to you, that, if you are not living in the joy of God’s salvation, the entire cause is your unbelief. You do not believe in the mighty power of God, and that He is willing by His Holy Spirit to work a thorough change in your life, and enable you to live in fulness of consecration to Him. God is willing that you should so live; but you do not believe it. If men really believed in the infinite love of God, what a change it would bring about! What is love? It is a desire to communicate oneself for the good of the object loved-the opposite to selfishness; as we read in 1 Cor. xiii. “Love seeketh not her own.” Thus the mother is willing to sacrifice herself for the good of her child. So God in His love is ever willing to impart blessing; and He is omnipotent in His love. This is true, my friends; God is omnipotent in love, and He is doing His utmost to fill every heart in this house. “But if God is really anxious to do that, and if He is Almighty, why does He not do it now?” You must remember, that God has given you a will, and by the exercise of that will, you can hinder God, and remain content, like the elder son, with the low life of unbelief. Come, now, and let us see the cause of the difference between God’s high, blessed provision for His children, and the low, sad experience of many of us in the unbelief that distrusts and grieves Him.

Apologetic

Despite what your mom told you when you tripped that kid in the third grade and thought it was funny, an apology is not saying, “I’m sorry.” I should say more appropriately that it didn’t mean that. A dictionary is not an authoritative rule book on how to use words – it is simply a record of how words are used.

It previously was a word used to describe an explanation. If you accused me of making a mistake by parking where I did, and I answered by giving you the reason I parked there, believing that it was OK, I have apologized.

“Apologetics” is a system of reasoning or of categorizing ideas. In religious circles, it is what we believe and why.

The church has had a bad habit at a local level of answering young believers’ questions with “Because the Bible says so,” or “Don’t question God!” Neither of these answers holds up well when the young believer finds herself / himself in the real world being challenged or insulted.

Over 70% of young people who consider themselves to be Christians, in less than two years in most of the public colleges and universities in this country no longer consider themselves to be Christians because of the schools’ influences. It is not because the professors have intelligent, well reasoned challenges against Jesus and His followers’ beliefs, because they don’t. It is because we have not prepared them to answer with truth.

Study – study to show that you are part of what God is doing in the earth (2 Timothy 2:15). Teach those for whom you have responsibility reasons for what we believe.

On the other hand, however, have the courage and pass on the courage not to pretend to understand things that are still mysteries. Yahweh and His ways are higher than ours. We cannot understand some things. Theologians who pretend to will be proven foolish.

 

Yahweh the Terrorist

1 Samuel 13&14

When Saul was afraid of the Philistines on whom he had declared a war, he froze and his army therefore hid. One reason they were afraid was that even though there were 3,000 Israelis, only Saul and his son Jonathan had swords!

Jonathan decided to use his sword. He and his armor bearer attacked the nearest group of Philistines. After they killed half an acre of them, they had 21 swords.

What created a tide of courage in the Israeli military, though, was that Yahweh terrorized the Philistines and routed them. Israel rose up and pursued them victoriously.

On days, you have to step into the impossible to see Yahweh step into the miraculous.

Today might be one of those days.

Take a step!

Always a Bigger Picture

1 Corinthians 12:4-26

(6,7) There are different gifts, different arenas in which they are useful, and different kinds of work that the Holy Spirit wants to empower us to do. There is only one Spirit giving all the different gifts and ministries. The Holy Spirit is manifested (revealed or unveiled) in each believer through gift and work, for the good of all believers.

I need to ask Him who He says I am if I don’t yet grasp what my gift is or what the work is that it should be empowering me to do, or if I don’t know where I should be doing it. It could be in gatherings of believers, or where I am employed as an engineer or an accountant or a teacher or a mechanic or anything else.

Even if I am convinced that I am a teacher or prophet (or something else), even if I have certainty about what the work looks like and that I am in the right position, I am not through seeking the Spirit about my work. What ministries should be related to mine? Whose ministry does mine make possible or give increase to?

What is the big picture? How do I fit in to it?

Look beyond just finding your purpose. What is our purpose? What is the Lord of the Harvest doing in and through His Body, and how do I add to the work at that level?

With whom must I be connected in a committed or sacrificial way?

Hard Hearts and Heads

Mark 6:30-52

Jesus’ disciples participated in the miraculous feeding of 5000 men and their families. When everyone had as much as they wanted to eat, the disciples each gathered a basket of leftovers from what began as five loaves of bread and two fish.

Jesus then sent His disciples by boat across the sea. At 3am, when they were halfway across, Jesus appeared on the water walking toward them. They were terrified of Him.

They let Him get in the boat, and the hard winds they had been fighting suddenly calmed. All of this astounded them, according to Mark, because they had not understood the miraculous feeding. They had not understood it because their hearts were hard.

Clearly, if you are involved in something Jesus does supernaturally, you should expect normal to shift to a more miraculous place.

You could see awesome things happen, and still have a hard heart that isn’t changed by the events. Why not always expect more? Build hope and expectations on your experiences.

Put Your Girdle On

Peter wrote that we should “gird up” our minds. Even flabby weak things look and behave better when you stuff them in a girdle.

If you haven’t read 1 Peter 1:10-25 lately,  I recommend that you do it today. It is good advice for building a good attitude and perspective on values.