Reading The Book

Charles Spurgeon once said that he could find ten men who would die for the Bible for every one who would read it. This is a portion of a book written by the Jewish historian Josephus (AGAINST APION: Section 8):


It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain Divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be willingly to die for them. For it is no new thing for our captives, many of them in number, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks and deaths of all kinds upon the theatres, that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws and the records that contain them; whereas there are none at all among the Greeks who would undergo the least harm on that account, no, nor in case all the writings that are among them were to be destroyed; for they take them to be such discourses as are framed agreeably to the inclinations of those that write them; and they have justly the same opinion of the ancient writers, since they see some of the present generation bold enough to write about such affairs, wherein they were not present, nor had concern enough to inform themselves about them from those that knew them; examples of which may be had in this late war of ours, where some persons have written histories, and published them, without having been in the places concerned, or having been near them when the actions were done; but these men put a few things together by hearsay, and insolently abuse the world, and call these writings by the name of Histories.
(from Against Apion and Discourse to the Greeks, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)


Josephus was arguing with some Greeks about the value of having true historical records. The Greek historians all disagreed with each other and accused each other of fabrication, but the Jewish people were normally persecuted for their heritage and its records.

Knowing and trusting the Book enough to be willing to be persecuted for it should be our normal condition as the people whom Yahweh trusts to be His representatives in the earth.

Great Meetings

It’s pretty awesome when believers gather and wonders happen. People being healed, freed from demons, getting saved and worshiping Jesus as if there is no veil between the holy of holies and the front row; it is sometimes clear that Jesus is raised from the dead and wants to influence our meetings with that fact.

I am convinced, though, that the best measure of maturity for congregations and their meetings is the same as it is for individuals: how quickly do we respond to situations with answers that prove the influence of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fullness of faith, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).

If that is missing, I would infer that there is something important about His presence and influence that is, too. It really is going to be bad for some people one day to stand before Him and be asked, “Who are you?” Reminding Him of the awesome meetings might not be enough to settle it.

We are influenced by relationship, not just presence.

Being Filled

There are two great basic reasons to be filled with the Spirit of the Lord. One is to have more access to Who He is. Another is to give Him more access to who you are.

Once isn’t all there is, either. Be refilled at every opportunity. There are rooms in the dwelling place you call your heart that He has not been given the keys to, and they are locked. He wants to be there as much as He wants to sit in the formal living room, where all the furniture is covered with plastic and the big fat family Bible sits on the coffee table.

He isn’t afraid of any of the rooms in our hearts, and we shouldn’t be afraid of His presence bringing light into the darkest corners of any of them. He wants the place to be full of Life and Light and Love.

He wants the keys.

I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:16-19 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Rewarding Work

Jesus taught that work and spiritual disciplines will be rewarded. The warning He offered regarding the rewards was that some will be from humans and some will be from Yahweh:

“Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face, so that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:16-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

It makes me want to be careful about what I let into my heart or mind if someone sees me doing a good job and praises me for it. Be thankful, but don’t be distracted. Put the discipline or the work back in the possession of Jesus.

Receiving What We Have Believed For

When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony!”

“I will come and heal him,” He told him.

“Lord,” the centurion replied, “I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured. For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus told the centurion, “Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you.” And his servant was cured that very moment.
(Matthew 8:5-13 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

It seems that we should be surprised when miracles don’t happen, but we’re usually surprised when they do. Lord, make us able to believe all that you want us to!

Bad Government

Having Sharia Law mixed into the fabric of the laws of any nation would make for bad government. Being influenced by the false teachings of Islam can’t lead to a good place.

Having people in a government who are surrendered to Yahweh can cause even a generally corrupt government with bad laws to become good government. The opposite is not as likely to be true though: having the best laws, but having immoral and unbelieving people ruling in it would still be bad government.

Daniel, David, Mordecai, Esther, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (three friends of Daniel who were given the demon glorifying names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego) were all government officials who influenced the nations in which they served. As we pray for believers whom Yahweh has called to bring His presence and rule into the governments of our cities and nation to hear and to accept their callings, we will see His Kingdom influence our cities and nations in ways we have not yet.

Pentecost at Your House

Luke described an event in chapter 2 of his book The Acts of the Apostles in which all of the believers at a prayer gathering were filled with the Spirit of Yahweh. They all then started speaking loudly about the magnificent acts of Yahweh.

The Holy Spirit then either made them able to speak in many different languages, or made many people who spoke in many different languages able to hear what the filled were speaking in Galilean as if it were being spoken in the language of each of the hearers. Or, both.

During a prayer meeting Luke described in chapter 4, some of the same people were filled again. In chapter 19, Paul met some “disciples” in Ephesus. They had apparently not been informed about the sacrifice Jesus had made on the cross after their baptisms by John. Presumably they were in Palestine for some feast and had returned to Ephesus before the Passover during which Jesus was killed.

They heard from Paul that there was more, they accepted it, and were baptized in water in the name Jesus and then Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit “came on them,” and they began to prophesy and speak in languages they did not understand.

Theologians hope to refine this wonderfully sweet sap to a well controlled, neat white crystalline sugar and lead us to believe that there is nothing mysterious about the varieties of encounter styles (being filled, being baptized in, being baptized with, having the Spirit “come upon them, etc) and the varieties of responses to the encounters (speaking in tongues, prophesying, response not mentioned, etc). I would like for you to think about the fact that no two marriages are just alike. No two relationships between mother and daughter or son are alike. Nor fathers and children…

I would also like to suggest that no matter what you have experienced of the Spirit of Jesus so far, that there is much more! Some of the much more you will not be trusted with unless you give some evidence that you understand that it is treasure beyond value that you will treat properly: surrendering completely to its influence, not neglecting the revelation it brings about Who He is or who you are, etc.

Ask for more.

Good Luck

We need to grasp both Who He is in us and who we are in Him and allow the truths to affect our thoughts and actions. Seeking His inheritance, and His calling, we will find ours.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.
(Ephesians 1:18-19 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

The more time we spend praying (including listening) over our days and our projects, the more those who watch us will wonder about how unusually lucky we are. Then one of our prayers can be that we would be able to help them see the Kingdom by leading them to be born of Yahweh. Seeing the Kingdom will help them grasp the difference between luck and favor.

Praying God’s Will

Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Your Kingdom come; Your will be done in the Earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

Jesus prayed “Father, if this cup can’t pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)

Whoever wrote the letter to the Hebrews (I think Paul) wrote that David, in Psalm 40, was quoting Jesus as having said, “See, I have come… to do Your will, O God!” (Hebrews 10:5-10; Psalm 40:6-9)

When the will of the Lord – what He wants to happen or to stop happening – is done in the earth, His Kingdom has come to that place in that time. Disobedience on another day will let the place slip back into darkness again. Obeying Him all the time brings the power of eternal things into the passing of days.

 

Mirrored in Jesus’ Light

As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret. He saw two boats at the edge of the lake; the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the land. Then He sat down and was teaching the crowds from the boat.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

“Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.”

When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they took, and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners.

“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people!” Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed Him.
(Luke 5:1-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Peter heard Jesus the Teacher instructing a crowd while he hosted Him in his boat. When he then obeyed Jesus and went fishing, He saw Jesus the Fisherman. Seeing this version of Jesus caused him to be able to see himself more clearly.

When John was baptizing Israelis in the Jordan, he could see their individual needs for baptism. He told them what they needed to repent from. When Jesus appeared in front of him, he saw Jesus the Baptizer, and saw his own need to be baptized (Matthew 3:14).

As you see Jesus doing the things that He has called you to participate with Him in, focus on His ability to work in you, not just your need and inability. Focus His call. Focus on Him succeeding, and join Him in the success. He chose you for it.