When Prophets and Poets agree…
The truth of God as “I Am” includes the idea that God is present active reality. God is known by what He does. He is not merely ambience or atmosphere. The bush burns and we do not go limp or tearful or sentimental in its warmth. We turn aside to investigate an observable event and discover with trembling fear and shock the God who is present active reality working out His purpose even suspending the natural order of things to do so. The action of God is the sign He is truly present. Let’s seek that and not be content with ambience. Churches that believe themselves to be alive are most in danger of settling for the god called ambience. There is understandably a market for a regular feel good moment.
I know I post too much for folks to keep up with, but when my heart is as filled as it has been today I can’t help myself…
I pray in a general way for all those who preach the gospel or serve the gospel in diverse ways on Sundays in Scotland, as well as remembering by Name those God lays upon my heart. This morning as I set out to do that, I got a very distinct image unrelated to anything going on in my mind. For me that is usually a sign that there is something being shown to me by the Holy Spirit that He wants me to pray about, or share or both.
Let me describe the image. I believe it is for someone, perhaps more than one who is sincerely setting out this day to serve the Lord and to bless His people, found or still lost. I saw a storage box being opened up, just a plain cardboard storage box. Inside was the claw of a crab. Somehow just by looking at that crabs claw it became attached to the sleeve of the person opening the box. Although there was no life in it – it was simply a dead claw – it seemed to exert a pretty formidable grip on the sleeve of the person who was opening the box. It was heavy in a way that was out of proportion to its size and dragged the person’s arm downwards with great pressure and inflicted considerable pain. Its grip seemed fixed and unbreakable.
That image makes me want to say this to some servant of God and His gospel: STOP OPENING THE BOX ON PAST SIN! I think the person this is for in a powerful way has committed a sin of financial dishonesty, perhaps even theft, even theft from church funds in some way, but this may also be word for many more beyond that individual. Listen: whatever you may be thinking of in relation to you yourself as I share the image with you, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleanses us completely from every sin that we confess. Be sure of that. The Word says it, so believe it! Stop tormenting yourself and stop caving in to the devil’s demands that you remember a particular fall again and again, his demand that you open the box. His aim is to rob you of confidence that God can use you, and use you powerfully this day, “Dear one.” That is what I heard the Living God call you: “Dear one.” It is time to shut the box of continual remembering and place it at the foot of the cross, and walk away. Accept that you are cleansed by the blood and walk into this day as one counted and called “dear” by your heavenly Father, by God the Son and by the God the Holy Spirit who lives within you.
So: mount the pulpit steps, dear one of God; lead worship, dear one of God; step into that excited group of children, dear one of God; distribute the bread and the wine, dear one of God; be part of the welcoming team at the door, dear one of God. Your hands are clean, your garments are white, you are counted as holy and blameless before the throne of God. In a phrase that is mocked sometimes even by some of God’s children nowadays you are washed in the blood, your garments are spotless, they are white as snow, you are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You have been to Jesus for the cleansing power, you have laid aside your garments that were stained with sin, you know you have, Dear One, sensitive one, storm tossed one. Serve the Lord with joy and confidence this day. He wants to give you this desire of your heart: you will glorify His Name today, this vey day… oh yes, by the way, I presume you know that the Lord would also say to you, “Go and sin no more.”
Happy Me, Bishop Todd Atkinson , Shepherd of shepherds (Santa on vacation), Howard the Hunter after God and Faithful Friend, David the Marksman and Magnificent Son…
…and in the background, foreground, among us all, Jesus: Giver of every good gift, The Good Shepherd who found us all, befriended us all, and made us all sons who belong to the household of God forever: Jesus, enjoying us eating, drinking, laughing uproariously, letting our dreams speak and run free, and loving one another! The Kingdom of Heaven is indeed near…
A meal shared with those who love Jesus is a foretaste of what is coming:
“On this mountain, the LORD of Armies will prepare for all the peoples a feast of choice meat, a feast with aged wine, prime cuts of choice meat, fine vintage wine (Isaiah 25 verse 6).”
Well with me it is a bit like waiting for a bus: you wait and all of a sudden 3 come at once. Same with propheticy things for me as it is a now and then sort of gifting, rather than my main call.
Anyway here is another propheticy offering:
Some of you need to resist the pressure of openness! There can be an inner pressure and a growing church cultural pressure to bare all. To conceal is not always hypocrisy. It is often a forgotten wisdom. Make sure God’s Spirit is leading your revealing and your concealing rather than a compulsion, an unheralded desperate need or another pressure.
May God help us all to know how much to say, when and to who. If our flesh or the devil directs such things it is a sure and certain route to deep rejection and loneliness at worst or being held to the revelation rather than being allowed to move on. Self revelation is not our calling or our ministry. Know when and what to share.
A propheticy thingy: a while since I have had one of these:
Keep to the call. Don’t trade a part of that call for advantage someone offers to you in another aspect of the call. Don’t open the call of God to hijackers. Hijackers are not for you. They are for themselves. Try an experiment. Say “no thank you” to them and apparent interest in you and relationship with you quickly fades. BUT , a big but…there are those whose offer of help has no strings attached. Avoid hijackers. Wait and look for Kingdom of God enablers.
Be careful in making alliances! All that glitters is not gold, but where it is, where it is true spiritual gold or even literal gold and silver being offered in and for the will of God, embrace it with thankfulness.
But, I say again: if the price of friendship, favour, the opening of doors involves surrendering one percent of what God has said to you, turn and run like heaven, and don’t look back wondering, “but what if I had …”
In the dragon’s den the pressure is always on to give away more of an original call and idea than is right…
This won’t be for all. There are however seasons in God’s purposes and seasons in the enemy’s assaults, so it may be for several of all y’all!
“If you had been the only one, Jesus would have gone to the cross for you!”
I know the intention behind that thought, but….
… but what? Well, one of my favourite parts of the writings of the Old Testament are the “Servant Songs” in Isaiah. In a remarkable way we are taken into the innerness of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, 7 or 8 centuries or thereaabouts before Jesus actually walked on the earth to think the thoughts expressed in these Songs. (You can find them in Chapters 42, 49, 50 and 52-53.)
It is the conversation between the Father and the Son in Chapter 49 that interests me with regard to the oft quoted sentiments in italics mentioned above. In that chapter we read the innermost thoughts of Jesus. He says to His Father, “My work seems so useless.” Have you realised that Jesus could be downcast? Depressed? Presumably He was thinking here of the smallness of the spiritual harvest as the cross approached. So few folowers, little apparent impact. The Father did nnot say, “Son, it would have been worth it all for even one.” He actually gives an assurance to His Son, His Servant, that a world wide harvest is coming! “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my slavation to the ends of the earth!”
God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are thinking big! They are thinking expansively. Think big with God!
What does that mean in practice? Well it means that we pray for and actively work for the extension of the KIngdom of God in this world, spreading its righteousness, joy and peace, diligently, creatively, relevantly, thoughtfully, with compassion, seeking to show others that God and His Kingdom love and power have come close to us in Jesus.
Think of yourself as an outpost of the KIngdom of God, as the disposal of One whose love has conquererd the territory of your life, whose eye is on the sparrow but also scans the centuries and distant coastlands, always reaching out with His strong arm to save. Jesus said in Isaiah 49, “I am like a sharpened arrow in his quiver.” Every true believer seeks to become like Jesus. Well, let’s be like Him in his self understanding expressed here: we are sharpened arrows prepared by the Father, ready to be fitted to the bow of his saving love and shot with aim and intention into the world. Perhaps you have felt you have not landed on any target. Perhaps the Father has a target in mind that you have not yet seen and could not imagine.
He has prepared you, the arrow, and he has prepared the target. Can you believe that? I hope so: think Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, if you get my drift.
Why so serious? Why try and carry a burden that is not yours to carry? Enjoy God today!
That’s all folks!
…to Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God I come.”