(1126) Just started Nehemiah, I always loved the restoration books of the Old Testament; the prophets who were involved with the rebuilding of the walls and city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah hears about the sad state of affairs back in Jerusalem, he gets permission from the king to go back home and build. He faces opposition [of course!] and organizes the people to build their portion of the wall and gate. You will notice that once he gets a system going that works, he sticks with it! I recently read an article from David Brooks [writes for the Wall Street Journal?] it was in my local paper. He talked about a recent study that evaluated the top C.E.O.s of successful companies, the article was in keeping with previous studies. It basically showed that the most effective [not famous!] leaders were the old school guys who knew how to get the job done. They were skilled in their field, they knew how to implement steady growth over the long haul, and they were not ‘touchy, feely’ type leaders. They didn’t spend time getting their people to like them, or tried to empathize with them. They weren’t looking for the new fad thing to implement; they were steady, old fashioned guys that did not fit the mold of ‘the new, big idea’. Nehemiah was that type of leader. Once he organized the people and got them moving, he simply stuck with the plan. The critics said ‘what in the world do you think you’re doing!’ he just ignored them and moved ahead. I always get a kick out of it when I run into some ‘preacher’ during my normal rounds with the homeless brothers. My buddies will often introduce me as ‘John is a retired firefighter, and also a minister’ I have asked them not to say ‘minister’ but they say it anyway. I often look a little scraggly and the preachers will hear about ‘my little outreach’ and sometimes I get the sense of like ‘bless his poor heart, he’s trying’. They might say ‘and what do you do’ and it’s kind of hard to explain it to be honest, but every now and then they realize I’m the guy they’ve been hearing for years on the radio! Or they see the blog is all over the place and then they kind of change their tune, like people treat you better if you’re successful. I basically ignore the whole thing, it just hinders my work to be honest. But Nehemiah had his critics, they laughed at him ‘oh, and you think your gonna do what?’ One of the enemy’s strategies is to get you to listen to the critics, now there are times when you need to hear reproof and correction, but the critics are another thing. There the ones who can always tell you what you are doing wrong, but never get anything done themselves! These are the brothers that Paul called ‘busy bodies’ in the New Testament, they weren’t working or providing for their families, and had all this free time to critique everyone else. Let God give you the patterns and principles of how he wants you to accomplish the task, once you implement it, the key to success is sticking with it in the face of opposition. As the critics kept laughing, the walls kept going up, eventually you won’t be able to see them anymore!
(1127) let’s see, I wanted to do Nehemiah, talk a little about the recent abortion debate, and also discuss modern philosophy! Let’s see what we can do. In Nehemiah the workers are scattered all along the wall, they are responsible for their section. Nehemiah tells them that because they are so far apart, they need the ability to be able to hear the warning from the main overseer of the work [namely him!] so he has this trumpet guy next to him, if danger shows up he will blow the trumpet and they will be forewarned, hey in a day without electronic communication, this is a good idea! Recently [5-09] there have been some debates over the abortion issue and some high profile cases as well. Just 2 days ago one of the most notorious abortion doctors in our country was shot down in cold blood, his name was George Tiller. His abortion clinic was only one out of three places in the U.S. that performed late term abortions. This is the procedure where you insert a forceps into the womb, pull apart the legs and arms of the baby. Then you position the forceps over the head and squeeze till the brains come out [I know this is graphic, if you want to learn more about it, go to the Priests for life icon on my blog roll]. While we in no way shape or form condone the murder of doctor Tiller, it should be noted that he took part in the most wicked act that can ever take place, the murder of unborn children. Now in this debate some Christians [Catholics] have brought up the recent speech by president Obama at Notre Dame, some boycotted the speech. The problem was that Notre Dame actually honored the president with an honorary law degree. It is one thing to allow both voices to be heard, quite another to honor the most anti life president in the history of the untied states! He has made more pro death decisions than any other president in history. The U.S. Catholic Bishops had passed a resolution a few years back that stated no Catholic institution should give honorary degrees to those who are in violation of the churches teaching on major issues, obviously Notre Dame violated this rule. Now, some Catholic media persons were defending Obama, they even criticized their own church for hypocrisy! They were saying that honoring Obama was no different than honoring any other leader who might be pro capital punishment. These Catholic media persons were equating the churches stand on abortion with her stand on capital punishment; these two are not in the same league! The Catholic church teaches a sort of hierarchy of offenses [as a boy I still remember being taught mortal and venial sins] the church sees abortion as an intrinsically evil act, the outright murder of innocent defenseless persons. The church also teaches against the death penalty, but the execution of a criminal is not to be equated with the murder of unborn innocent children [some 4 thousand per day!] so these Catholic believers were wrong on the stance of their own church. Today’s ‘post-modern’ philosophy will argue that truth and morals are relative [subjective] they see truth thru the lens of ‘that might be wrong for you, but not for me’ or ‘I personally am against abortion, but I don’t want to push my views on others’. In the world of postmodern thinking, this is considered acceptable. This view of right and wrong is based on the view that there really is no objective truth, that is truth does not correspond to any outside reality. Truth, in their view, is simply the way various cultures perceive and understand things at different times in human history, but it’s possible for other societies to interpret the data coming into their senses and arrive at another view of truth, and who am I to say that ‘my truth is real and yours is false’. Obviously in the field of theology this would be [and is!] disastrous. Paul himself would say ‘if Christ be not risen [a real fact!] then we are of all men the most miserable’. The biblical worldview of truth is objective; truth is something that corresponds to something else that is real. This does not always mean material, but real never the less. For instance mathematical equations are real truth, or feelings of love are real, but not material. This would be the foundation for saying ‘the murder of babies is wrong, always has been, always will be’ whether my view is contrary to your view is meaningless, the act itself is wrong! Your view of that oak tree might be different than mine, but if you run into it with your car, the only view that counts is what reality is. It really was a tree that was there, it was not simply my perception of ‘a tree’ my perception corresponded with reality and the truth was that the tree really was a tree, whether you like it or not! The modern philosophers would say ‘the only real question left for philosophy to answer is the viability of suicide’ [either Sartre or Camou said this] When philosophy severs itself from true moral reason and foundational ethics, it has no leg to stand on. When society can accept that murder might be wrong for you, but not for me, then the basic fabric of civilization is no more. Well I think I covered all three of the things I set out to do at the start, hope it helped.
(1128) yesterday I got with a few homeless buddies, found out that Eddy got arrested and sent back to San Antonio, some sort of serial killer charge, KIDDING! A child support thing, it is funny, the guys have picked up my morbid sense of humor. One time I had Tim with me, a good friend who has been homeless for years. We picked up my daughter from school, they know my friends and all, sometimes as they were growing up they would drive by them with their high school friends and all, see them at the corners. They would be like ‘oh, those are my dad’s friends’. So when I had Tim in the truck as we were picking up my daughter, I tell her ‘this is my friend Tim, he has spent many years in prison [she looks at me like ‘are you kidding me dad, picking me up from school with these bums in the truck!’] Tim tells her ‘yes, I had some serial killer charges that I was dealing with at the time’ he was kidding too! But anyway Eddy got sent to San Antonio, and the cops have been harassing some of the guys. I also wanted to talk a little bit more on Nehemiah chapter 5, Nehemiah really gets on the nobles/elders, he tells them that they were putting too much of a burden on Gods people, some of them were going into debt to simply pay the required taxes to the leaders. Nehemiah rebukes them strongly! He says ‘all the time I was laboring among you as a governor, I turned down the normal pay governors get. I also paid out of my own pocket for the expenses of my team and staff, plus I did not purchase any real estate of my own, but totally dedicated myself to the cause’. The nobles were engaging in the building up of their own financial fortunes, understand this wasn’t forbidden in and of itself, but at the same time the average people were being told to do and give more, to the point where they were actually going in debt as the leaders were increasing in wealth, Nehemiah felt this was wrong. Like the apostle Paul, he would lay down the right to build wealth [purchasing his own land] while working and leading Gods flock. He simply felt it to be a wrong example for him to be gaining in wealth while the people were going into debt; he laid down his own right to prosper for the sake of the people. One of the things Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for was they were putting heavy burdens on the people, but they themselves were not willing to bear the same load. Often times in the world of ‘full time ministry’ we see good men get into scenarios where they unwittingly fall into this mindset, they fall into patterns of becoming wealthy, receiving large salaries at the expense of many low wage supporters, they often see this as a legitimate expression of ‘church/ministry’ while the scripture warns against leaders profiting from the people, while the people themselves are under a burden. I like Nehemiah’s example, he willingly gave up the right to grow his own portfolio while the average church goer was struggling, although he had a right to the governors salary, he saw it to be more noble to donate his time and skills at his own expense, freely he had received, freely he gave back.
(1413) O THOU AFFLICTED AND NOT COMFORTED, I WILL LAY THY STONES WITH FAIR COLORS, AND THY FOUNDATIONS WITH SAPPHIRES- Isaiah 54. A few weeks ago I read a story in the paper about the problems Europe is having with their new common currency, called the Euro. A few years ago Europe had a bunch of countries join together and share a common money system, the purpose was to give them more influence in the global market place. But Greece is going thru their own economic catastrophe and it’s affecting the other countries in the group. So they are debating whether or not to bail out Greece, their own TARP thing. Some of the countries are mad and are wanting out of the whole deal; Germany has criticized Greece by saying ‘well if you guys need cash, why don’t you sell one of your islands’ not a very brotherly thing to say. Greece responds ‘well if you gave us back the money the Nazis stole from us during the war, maybe we wouldn’t be in such a bind’. Like Jesus said ‘nation rising up against nation’ to be honest it’s quite funny. Okay, let’s talk the concept of reparations. I know some of you are saying ‘that’s it, this guy has just gone too far for me! I’m gonna shut this blog and go watch Beck’. Just a warning to all my readers; you will read sections on this site where you will think I’m a stark raving conservative, other posts might sound like I’m a socialist, just to be clear- I consider myself an independent and believe that Christians should not be bound to any one party or group, except the kingdom of God. Now, what does the bible say about reparations? [The idea that the sins of White America against the Blacks should be atoned for in a monetary way] Most Americans cringe at the thought, though the idea itself is not totally foreign to scripture. The bible teaches us that when people [or people groups] wrong and sin against other groups, that the groups who committed the sin should try and make things right thru a process called restitution, which includes paying back what was stolen. Now I am not saying that the current ideas on reparations fall into this category, but the concept is there. Some people feel the years of the slave trade that produced a financial harvest for the nation overall, that the generations of Black kids that never had the opportunity to have grown up in families with wealth, they missed out on building wealthy dynasties for their kids, that we as a govt. should try and make up for this sin, not by punishing whites today for the sins of their forefathers, but by seeing this reality and making things right generationally- so to speak. I do not fully hold to the idea myself, but wanted to give you an honest view from scripture. I believe that we as a people [we being all Americans] should strive for equality and a color blind society as much as possible, we should advocate for all our brothers and sisters regardless of race or creed. We should avoid seeing our positions of influence thru a lens that says ‘I am White, Hispanic, Black, etc. and my job is to advance my ethnic group at the expense of other ethnic groups’. This mindset, which I see all the time, is frankly racist at its core. Now I am not saying that an ethnic person can never try and improve the plight of his own ethnic group, he just needs to make sure that he is not doing it at the expense of the other groups he represents. Years ago while working at the fire dept we had a new group of rookies get hired, one of them was a Black brother. When a promotional test was coming up I had a Mexican friend tell me ‘well, why even take the test, so and so will get pushed to the top no matter what we score’. One day while on shift I went upstairs to the dorm area and noticed my Black friend mopping the floors, it was ‘floor day’ and it just so happened that he was the only one mopping the floor [often times the other guys might be on a run, or doing another chore]. Though I was in a supervisory type job at the time [which means I did not really have to help!] I immediately grabbed a mop and helped. I am not telling you guys this to make it sound like I am more noble, I am saying that we all need to be aware of both the things that look racist, or actually are racist. My Mexican friend was not a racist, he simply has been brought up with the reality of seeing how affirmative action [hiring quotas] has caused what he saw as an injustice to exist. The fine Black friend might have gotten the top score regardless of affirmative action, and yet he would be seen as getting the promotion because of an unfair policy. When we as Americans try and do the right thing now, to make up for the sins of the past, we need to make sure that we don’t create a new environment that discriminates against other races as well, because in the end it only makes things worse.
(1326) FOR AS THE NEW HEAVENS AND EARTH, WHICH I WILL MAKE, SHALL REMAIN, SO SHALL YOUR SEED AND NAME REMAIN- Isaiah 66:22 Well the senate finally passed health care reform; they still have some hurdles ahead, but they got the 60 votes needed to move forward. I do find it utterly corrupt that any single party would actually pass something that took away benefits from Republican states and not take them away from Democratic ones. And then have the audacity to make the ‘losing states’ underwrite the ‘winning states’. I can’t imagine the uproar in the country if Bush did this. Nebraska [Ben Nelson] cut a deal where they will never pay for the extended costs of Medicaid, ever. The ‘Federal govt.’ will forever cover their new costs. They are the only state that gets this deal. The Federal govt. pays stuff by taxing other states; in essence the rest of the country will be underwriting Nebraska, simply because they needed the Democratic vote. Florida, under Bill Nelson, another Democrat, will be the only state that will not lose Medicare Advance. This is a very popular program with senior citizens and every other state will lose this program. Why not Florida? Florida has lots of retired seniors, they need to keep the senate seat Democratic, so to get the seniors votes they did this deal. These deals are fundamentally corrupt, we are doing this at a time in the nation where we will be forcing families to pay a yearly 750 dollar fine if they don’t get insurance [or a 2% fine of their income, whichever is higher!] and many average income earners are really going to be in a bind. Much of the money will pay the profits and salaries of multi millionaires; this is wrong. In the 1960’s Harvey Cox [professor at Harvard] penned the book ‘the secular city’ it was a play on words from saint Augustine’s ‘city of God’. Augustine, as a true Amillennialist, wrote about the influence of the church/kingdom of God on the nations of the world, and how you could not separate virtue from public/political life. Cox would challenge this idea and teach that you could have a separation; you could run a nation apart from the morality of the church. Harvard would also produce the philosophy of ‘Pragmatism’ you govern by what is expedient, do what it takes to get the job done- don’t worry about what’s right or wrong type of a thing. God says his word/standards don’t go away, the things he states/creates are there for good. The Democratic Party ran rough shod over some very basic principles of right and wrong, when Harry Reid was asked about these insider deals, he said that’s the way they do business. In essence he said if your state didn’t get to do some under the table deal, then that’s your senator’s fault. The senate leader was being very pragmatic, doing what he needed to do to get the votes. I think they might have traded for a few votes today, at the expense of a bunch of them tomorrow.
(1325) BEFORE SHE SUFFERED SHE GAVE BIRTH, BEFORE HER PAIN SHE GAVE BIRTH. WHO EVER HEARD OF SUCH A THING? SHALL I BRING YOU TO THE POINT OF BIRTH AND NOT FINISH THE JOB? FOR AS SOON AS YOU SUFFERED WITH BIRTH PAINS THEN YOU BROUGHT FORTH WHAT I WANTED- Isaiah 66:7-8 [my paraphrase] In Johns gospel Jesus said when a woman is going thru birth pains it’s difficult because her time has come, the moment of accomplishing the purpose. Jesus says ‘she has sorrow’ but after she gives birth she forgets the sorrow because a man is born into the world. Jesus makes this statement as he himself is entering into his time of sorrow; he prays ‘Father, if it’s possible for me to not have to go thru with this, if there is any way you think we can do something about this situation, then please lets go another route’! The agony was very real, he wasn’t afraid of death, but he dreaded the fact that he would ‘become sin’ for us; he would be separated from the Father and experience extreme turmoil. He sweat great drops of blood, a physical act of excruciating anguish that causes this to happen. Jesus told us that we too had to be willing to carry our cross. I know some feel Jesus was talking about his cross and death, but in context he was talking about the difficulties that would come along with following him and denying ourselves. Peter said that when we go thru fiery trials that we should take comfort in the fact that other brothers are going thru the same things, even worse things than us. A few years ago a prominent local figure was arrested and sent to jail for soliciting a minor over the internet; he worked for the parks/beach dept. and was active with the Fire Dept. and EMS. Of course the news shocked people; he seemed to be a good person who gave of himself to help others. A year or so later I read an article that he had died in prison, though the article did not go into detail there were enough hints to tell that after he went to prison he rededicated his life to God and tried to make amends. It also said how his kids attended his funeral but his ex wife wanted nothing to do with the man. I thought to myself how hard it would have been for him and his family to have gone thru this tragic thing. I put his family on my prayer list for a few years, a time where I pray for fellow believers who have messed up and are in jail, whenever I read these stories they become part of this prayer time. Or people who have terminal illnesses, don’t you think it would be hard to pray and continue to do God’s will knowing that you only have so much time left? There are times in life when the purpose of God must take precedence over the things we are going thru. I am not saying these examples are the only types of ‘cross’ experiences people go thru, but they give us some insight into the difficulties that can happen. In Hebrews the scripture says that Jesus endured the Cross, despising the shame and has been seated at the right hand of God. Make no mistake about it, the shame and agony of the Cross were not things that ‘felt good’ to go thru, they were things that were despised, but they were things that needed to take place in order for a greater purpose to come forth. I mean whoever heard of a woman giving birth before the pain, and likewise we believers will go thru some tough things before Gods purpose will be fulfilled.
(1323) WHERE IS THE HOUSE THAT YOU ARE BUILDING FOR ME? Isaiah 66:1, leaders- think on this for a moment; what is it exactly that you are building for God? What are the main themes of scripture that you are communicating? Verse 2 says ‘all these things hath [past tense] my hand made and all these things HAVE BEEN, says the Lord’. In Ephesians 2 Paul says that we are ‘his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that he chose for us before the world began’. We are simply fulfilling the pre-ordained destiny of God. That is if we are proclaiming and doing what’s right. Yesterday I read a news article on a mega church out of Ohio, they broadcast a plea that they immediately needed 3 million in donations or they were in trouble. The plea was looked into and it seems like they ‘fudged’ on the seriousness of the appeal- basically they used ‘disaster’ language for a problem that was not as urgent as you might think; sort of like what our country did with TARP and what we are doing today [12-19-09] with saying we urgently need to pass health reform before Christmas, a false deadline that is being used as a political tool. Why do well meaning ministries/preachers often focus so much on money? Why is it common for many sermons and messages to be centered on this? In the first century when the Apostle Paul was circulating his letters, he would write about 95 % on real theological truth, maybe a few % of the letters would deal with giving, most of that small percent was in the context of giving to the poor. Then you had an even smaller % of that deal with giving to help Paul on his way to the next town, or giving to meet the needs of laboring leaders in their midst. So if you were a first century church receiving the letter you would not see Paul’s main message being one of always appealing for funds. But over the first few centuries of Christianity the church collected these letters and put them in a book [our New Testament]. This has enabled people to scour thru the corpus of Paul’s writings and to pick this small percentage of appeals for funds and to basically present them in a way that says ‘look how important it is to always speak about money, after all the bible is full of it!’ Which is really a distortion of the actual themes of the letters; much of Paul’s writings taken in context actually reprove what the modern preachers have done with this proof texting tool [read 1st timothy 6]. So you find many well meaning brothers seeing the need for more and more money, for a never ending series of good projects, and this causes there to be a general focusing on a very small percentage of actual New Testament teaching and presenting it in a way that causes the average believer to think that this is the main thrust of scripture. So what are you building? Have you never really seen this before? If not then ask the lord to help you re-focus on the important stuff. Pastors, leaders- most of you brothers mean well, just allow the Lord to bring forth out of you the things that he has fore ordained for you. One of those things might have been stumbling along and reading this blog.
(1320) Isaiah 65:17-19 ‘I create a new heavens and new earth…the former has passed away and shall not come into memory…rejoice in my work, I too joy in it’ [my paraphrase] When God does new things, he allows the former things to fade and eventually pass. Hebrews says the old things are fading quickly. Often the transition period from the old to the new is difficult; we become accustomed to certain patterns of thought and action and if these old structures are being challenged we have a natural tendency to resist, often in the face of irrefutable evidence! When Jesus challenged the religious concepts of his day the leaders made an effort to refute him. He of course would win all these theological skirmishes, but this made no difference to those who did not want to accept the truths he was speaking. As time went on they simply hated him and decided to stop him, it was no longer a matter of truth- they hated what he stood for and that was that. A few years ago I bought a book on the case of the military doctor who was convicted of murdering his family. The book is ‘fatal justice’ the made for TV movie was called ‘fatal vision’. The movie did portray the doctor as evil and it was easy to hate the guy. But the book brought out some real questions about the case and it did put doubts into my mind. Well anyway I was telling this to a person who has seen the movie many times and has a real hate for the man. I tried to present both sides of the case and in some way defend the doctor. The person was mad; they even said that they didn’t care anymore whether he was guilty or innocent, because he was such an ‘SOB’ that he deserved to rot in prison anyway. The religious views that the people held were more important than the actual truth, the enemies of Jesus got to a point where they really weren’t open to truth anymore, they had their view and they simply wanted to kill him. We are truly creatures of habit and when ‘new things’ are presented to us, things that we never really considered before, we have a tendency to harden in our position and it no longer becomes a sincere search for truth. In essence we want the guy to rot in prison whether he’s guilty or not!
(1319) Isaiah 65:1-10 Isaiah says that the Lord was ‘found’ by those who were not looking for him, and that those who were looking for him [thru religious actions] were not finding him. He rebukes his people Israel because they developed a religious mentality that took the true revelation of God and exchanged it ‘for a lie’. But the lord says he still saw a remnant of value within her; she was like a cluster of grapes that went bad but had a few ‘good apples’ left. When Jesus appeared to Israel in the 1st century they were waiting for Gods promise to them to be fulfilled. They were ‘waiting for the kingdom’. If you were to encapsulate any singular idea in the preaching of Jesus that was the most prominent, it would be his declaration of the Kingdom of God being now present as he preached. Israel saw the kingdom thru natural eyes, they believed that the restored temple played a major role in Gods coming kingdom. Understand that the restoring of the temple by Herod [the one before the Herod of Jesus day] was a spectacular event; the temple was grand and the Jewish people regulated their life around its rituals. It was only reasonable for Israel to believe that the next step would be the restoring of her national sovereignty by a coming Messiah. They had their temple restored first and were waiting for the national independence to follow- a reverse of what many modern dispensationalists believe. But instead Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms that their understanding of the kingdom is wrong, that the kingdom will not come by observing outward events, but it was already present thru his appearing. In Jesus parables he speaks of the values of this kingdom, forgiveness, laying down your rights for others; he is talking about a spiritual kingdom. When the disciples show him the temple and its grandeur, he states flatly ‘there will not be left one stone upon another when all is said and done’ huh? So Jesus without a doubt challenged their understanding of the kingdom and how it would outwardly manifest in society- it’s not about temples and homelands! He gathers a ‘few grapes’ from the cluster [The 12 disciples] and uses them as the foundation stones of a new kingdom and temple. These apostles would launch the great new movement/kingdom of God thru the proclamation of the gospel. They would write some harsh things about the temple and old law economy of Israel as a nation. The disciple John would refer to the synagogue as ‘the synagogues of satan’ ouch! [Revelation] Paul would say those are not Jews who are Jews ‘outwardly’ [it wasn’t an ethnic thing anymore] but those who had the ‘circumcised heart’ would be counted as the true Israel of God [Romans/Galatians]. And the overall language of the 12 Jewish apostles was not one that would fit in with a scenario of a restored Jewish temple with restored sacrifices and a national homeland. I mean you can’t get much more clearer than this! And yet in our day you have many well meaning believers looking for all these outward signs of ‘when the kingdom will come’. We bypass the main writings of the New Testament [like the things I just quoted] and we go hunting in Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation- we find all types of prophetic words that seem to support our obsession with some outward restoration of these things in order to justify our system, we basically have fallen into the same error of first century Israel, we are looking for the kingdom in all the wrong places. I understand that many believers who hold to these beliefs are sincere and well meaning, many of them have a genuine love for the Jewish people and this is commendable. But we need to heed the words of ‘the few good grapes in the cluster’ they did not exalt Israel’s natural status nor did they see the kingdom of God thru the lens of restored temples and homelands, they believed that all who would receive the Messiah were presently being built into a temple made without human hands, the ‘true Israel of God- the heavenly New Jerusalem that is coming down from God out of heaven’.
(1317) A DIFFERENT LAKE OF FIRE- Isaiah says ‘Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens and come down…like when a fire makes the water to boil, that you would come down’ [Isaiah 64] the imagery of fire and water are both used as pictures of the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost God ‘ripped open the heavens and came down’. Jesus said he came to set the earth on fire and how he wished it was already burning! Since the day the Spirit of God has been poured out on ‘all flesh’ these ‘fleshed out ones’ have been stirring the waters and making it boil. Psalms says why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? Why do the kings of the earth try to rise up and resist Gods anointed ones? In John’s gospel Jesus said the religious leaders were going around trying to kill him. Why? Because when he came and did the works that no one else was doing, it took away their cloak of an excuse. In essence the reason the ‘waters’ [nations/peoples] are boiling [tribulatin’] is because we as the people of God are a natural thorn in the side of society who wants us to just go away. I watched a news show this week interview an ex-gay man who started a ministry and who is now married and lives a good life. I know for a fact that the women interviewer is a lesbian [she says so on her on line profile] and of course she was upset that any person would claim that they were once gay and now have left the life and are happy. The man’s ministry was not ‘anti gay’ he said his ministry simply works with those who want to leave the lifestyle, but that still offends the mind of modern man. The presidents ‘school czar’ [Jennings] is an open advocate for the gay agenda in the public school system. He has praised men who were affiliated with ‘NAMBLA’ [the North American man/boy love association] and he does advocate for the public schools to teach the gay lifestyle as a perfectly legitimate way of life. Now I’m sure there are many gay/lesbian people who sincerely have seen and experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation. I’m sure many of them feel that teaching this agenda to kids would be helpful in combating future discrimination against kids. But those who have this agenda can’t stand any group who simply says ‘being [acting out!] homosexual is a sin’ this simple reality causes them to be upset and in a way ‘have no cloak for their sin’. If ex-gays have left the life and are now happy, then their life is a rebuke to homosexual acts. Yes, it’s like starting a fire that causes the water to boil. We are liquid Napalm for heaven’s sake! Christians should avoid stereotyping gays/lesbians; there are many sincere people who struggle with various things. Many people out of a good motive feel like pushing the gay agenda would be helpful; but at the end of the day homosexual acts are physically more harmful than heterosexual/monogamous relationships, even if you put aside the religious convictions of many people, it is still dangerous to push this agenda in the public school system. Obama needs to fire his ‘school czar’.
(1316) I LIKE FREE STUFF! ‘FOR SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME MEN HAVE NOT HEARD, NOR PERCIEVED BY THE EAR, NIETHER HATH THE EYE SEEN, O GOD, BESIDE THEE, WHAT HE HATH PREPARED FOR HIM THAT WAITETH FOR HIM- Isaiah 64:4 Last night I caught a story on the news, it showed how terrorists were using an ingenious way to communicate; instead of sending electronic emails thru the internet, they would share a common email account and paste their messages to the saved drafts, then the other guy would simply read the drafts. The FBI/CIA could not detect the message. Over the years I have heard how people really don’t value teaching unless they pay for it, and the more they pay the greater the value. Some Christian motivational speakers have actually charged many thousands of dollars just to share a word from God. Paul wrote the greatest letters known to man [the New Testament] and circulated them freely and encouraged their duplication- we need to reevaluate the standards we live by. Isaiah said God would reveal things that were secret since the world began. In the gospels it says that Jesus fulfilled this verse thru his teaching. In Corinthians Paul said the Spirit is continuing this ‘revealing’ ministry thru the church. In Revelation chapter 5 you have the vision of John seeing God on the throne with a scroll; no man is worthy/able to reveal the things in the scroll. But Jesus, the Lamb who was slain earned the right to walk up to the throne and take the scroll and open it. Jesus continues to reveal things to the church based on his righteousness, not ours. He specifically instructed his men that the things he was freely giving to them [spiritual gifts and insights] should be shared with others free of charge [thus Paul’s unwillingness to charge for his very valuable insights]. We need to get back to the basic reality of scripture; no speaker/teacher was to become rich off of the revelation of God that was purchased by the Blood of Jesus. These spiritual gifts were not to be used for one preacher to gain authority over others, that is the idea that the most gifted one in the group would ‘be over’ the others was rejected. Jesus explicitly taught this to his men. The false teachers at Corinth were saying of Paul ‘sure his letters are weighty, but he’s not even on the scene, wait till he shows up’ in essence they tried to devalue the ministry of Paul because he was communicating thru letters as opposed to having some regular office where he was exercising authority over them. The important thing to remember is Jesus is the one who has earned the right to open the scroll, we simply freely receive the gift of communicating it as the Spirit wills. We should value the free things, on the news story about the emails they said how this tool of the internet and the free access of the emails were accomplishing more than the older ways that cost thousands of dollars to get the message out. As the people of God lets value the free stuff, don’t teach people that ‘the free stuff’ has no value. Don’t tell them that we are charging them for their good and not ours, these arguments fall on deaf ears as the media exposes the million dollar mansions and 5 thousand dollar a night hotel fees. Let’s use the wisdom of the terrorist, communicate the stuff for free, I don’t know how many lives have been changed over the years thru a free Gideon’s bible placed in the hands of some soldier or in the drawer of a hotel. These bibles are the free gift of revelation that Jesus poured out on Paul and the other writers of the New Testament, thank God that they never copy wrote the thing!
(1314) IN DEFENSE OF THE HOMELAND- As a young boy growing up in New Jersey I had the privilege of having many different ethnic friends, but at times I found it difficult to defend the homeland [Italy]. I mean the Brits could appeal to the heroism of a Churchill, the Russians could even have their Rommel, but I was caught between a rock and a hard place. Sure I could resort to ‘what about that El Duce’ but I was grasping at straws man! This week Italy has been in the headlines, they convicted an American exchange student [Amanda Knox] on murder and she got 23 years in prison. As I listened to the news media berate the Italian judicial system I realized that they weren’t upset about the high probability of the girls guilt, they were upset that the standards of the American system of justice were not applied. The case involved 4 students who were involved in some type of sex game and one of the girls did not want to do it. So one of the boys killed her. After the initial arrest Amanda Knox admitted to being there at the time, she told the prosecutor and police that she was there. But after a while she claimed it was a false confession and the Italian courts actually threw out her first confession on the grounds that she wasn’t properly represented at the time. The jury convicted her based on the high probability that she was there and she was seen as an accomplice. The person who murdered the girl confessed and it seems like a very sad case all around. But the American media portrayed it as an unjust conviction, even though common sense seemed to be part of the jury’s verdict. They did not claim she killed the girl, just that she was present. I remember a case a few years back where a neighbor was being tried for the kidnapping and murder of a little girl. During the trial at one point the defendant was in negotiations with the prosecutor about getting a lighter sentence if he showed them where the girl’s body was. These were private discussions that the jury was not aware of. Instead the body was found and the deal was off. The trial proceeded and the defense dragged the history of the parents into the case, they were swingers and the defense tried to say that one of the swingers could have done it. The problem with this type of justice is everyone behind the scenes knew for a fact that the man raped and murdered this little innocent girl, but according to our rules it would be ‘unjust’ to tell the jury. In Isaiah 63 the prophet says the Lord looked down and realized that no one was standing up for justice, so the Lord himself rode thru and set things in order. He used ‘the right hand of Moses’ and delivered the people. He put on Salvation and took care of some things. Over the years I have seen how it is so easy for the people of God to allow for wrong stuff to take place over long periods of time, things that everyone knows in their heart are wrong. But we become desensitized, we believe in the fair market and if religious TV networks continue to pump out blatantly false stuff, so what- it’s a free world. But yet Gods standards are different than ours, even if society as a whole has accepted lower standards, it’s still wrong to do/teach false stuff year after year after year without ever truly dealing with the stuff. The American church has infected the world with these materialistic teachings to the point where we have whole nations being sidetracked thru these networks and quite frankly the network leaders couldn’t ‘give a rip’. God got tired of the inability of his people to deal with stuff, the mindset that says ‘even though we all know he molested the girl’ yet our view of justice is it’s all right to legally allow for the defense to try and convince the jury that the parents friends did it, even though the judge and prosecutor and defense all know it’s a big game! God looked down and said ‘enough’ I am going to bring some things into alignment that have been crooked for too long. God is merciful, but when we refuse to honestly deal with stuff, he will step in.
(1313) GOD WANTS TO MARRY YOU! Isaiah 62- This chapter uses a lot of marriage imagery, the bridegroom rejoicing over his new bride and ‘all your sons being joined to you’. In the New Testament Jesus himself uses this imagery when speaking about Gods people and the relationship God had with Israel. Now, it’s important to see that the New Testament [especially Paul] uses the imagery of the bride and bridegroom when speaking of the church; Paul will teach that both Jew and Gentile are making up this bride that the Lord ‘is married to’. Some dispensationalists [end time beliefs] make a distinction between the language used concerning Israel [Gods wife] and the language used concerning the church [bride] but if you see the mystery that Paul is speaking about you see that the fulfillment of this bride [both Jew and Gentile] being joined unto Jesus includes both people groups. What I’m saying is the New Testament teaches us that all these Old Testament promises of God rejoicing over his bride are being fulfilled thru the ‘eternal purpose’ spoken of by Paul in the letter to the Ephesians. God has his bride! This chapter also speaks of the sons coming to this new land [the church-people of God] and being joined to her as a bridegroom is joined to his bride. Recently I have had some good brothers express a desire to ‘join up-team up-partner with us’ in some way thru the ‘ministry’. These are Pastors from Pakistan and are doing a great work reaching out to Muslims. They are doing a very dangerous work, pray for them [they just got out of jail; they were thrown in jail for preaching the gospel]. Anyway somehow they found this site and really like it, that’s great. But I gave them the same response that I give to everybody who contacts us with the well meaning intent to ‘join up’ with us; I simply told them that there is nothing to join, no money to ‘partner up with us’ we are simply a voluntary group of Christ followers who are trying to spread the kingdom by doing what the Lord tells us. In essence if you are blessed by the teachings, just do your best to follow our example and let the work grow on its own, no need for me to come and preach, take offerings, or anything along those lines- just take the word of God and run with it! The point is sometimes ‘our friends/sons’ [those we are reaching out to] are so excited about the stuff they are learning that they want to be joined to us. It’s our job [and yours] to lead them in a way that they are joined to Christ and find their identity in him. God promised his people that he would ‘marry them’ Jesus spoke about the great marriage supper of the Lamb. These are intimate images; Paul said this was a great mystery when speaking of marriage and how it was a sign of our union with Christ [Ephesians] we need to remind ourselves that we are joined unto the Lord- not to men and their well meaning organizations.
(1311) FOR YOUR SHAME YE SHALL HAVE DOUBLE [PORTION/BLESSING] AND FOR YOUR CONFUSION THEY SHALL REJOICE IN THEIR PORTION, THEY TOO WILL HAVE A DOUBLE PORTION IN THEIR LAND – Isaiah 61:7 In the book of Acts Peter says God has highly exalted Jesus and he has received the promise of the father [Spirit] and because of this he has poured out ‘this which you see and hear’. I like that, God gave 2 types of testimonies; things you see and things you hear. That spoke to me because I do both radio [hear] and blog [see]. I was watching a prophecy brother the other day, he’s a good man, comes from the strong Dispensational school. As he was reading the declaration of the angel in the book of Luke- that Jesus will sit on the throne of his father David, the wife said ‘gee, I never saw that before, Jesus has never yet sat on David’s throne’. And the husband said ‘see, your theological training is kicking in’. If you actually read all of Peter’s sermons in the book of Acts, you will see that the apostolic witness sees Jesus as presently ruling on the throne from the exalted right hand of God. They do not see an idea that the promise from the angel about Jesus has yet to be fulfilled. I am familiar with the distinctions that dispensationalist’s make, I just think they go too far in postponing the ‘actual/literal’ rule of Jesus to some future date. The apostle’s language includes the fulfillment of the Davidic rule with the present ruling position of Jesus at Gods right hand. I do not totally discount the reality that at the Second Coming there will be literal future aspects to that rule, but scripture already ‘sees’ Jesus ruling in Gods kingdom. Well anyway Jesus received this high position because of the shame and confusion [agony] he went thru. He now has the right to pour out things both ‘seen and heard’. He poured out the promise of the Father on his people and they became this great kingdom of Priests and Kings unto God and his father [Revelation and Isaiah]. In this present kingdom we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Jesus is the Lamb as it were slain sitting on the throne- he’s not waiting for some future date to receive the throne, he’s already there!
(1310) In Isaiah 61 the chapter starts with the famous scripture speaking about the Spirit being on Jesus to preach and proclaim to the people. At the end of the chapter Isaiah says ‘as the earth brings forth the plant/bud, and the garden causes the things that are planted in it to grow, so the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before the nations’. In the earlier verses it also said ‘they will be trees of righteousness’. Those who were in mourning, those who were oppressed and suffering, they are the ones who are given beauty for ashes and the spirit of praise and joy in return for the garment of heaviness. Jesus said ‘blessed are they that mourn/suffer’ these things are the currency of the Kingdom; you can trade them in and ‘buy’ the true riches. Notice also how the earth/garden causes the things that are planted in it to spring forth; as Protestants many times we emphasis the importance of the ‘preached word’ sort of like the art/profession of preaching is the vital thing. To be sure it is important [how can they believe unless one is sent- Romans, as well as the first verses of this chapter] but the chapter closes with the ‘ability’ of the garden itself to bud, to cause the things that were preached/sown to become reality. The field/garden is more important than we think [that is the people groups are the ones causing the things taught/preached to be fleshed out, in reality we can’t just ‘preach’ and be successful anywhere, sort of like the gift/talent itself is the important thing. In these verses the important thing is the garden/earth]. So for all of our leaders/pastors, your role is important, but God is the one cultivating and taking care of the garden [John 15]. You [me!] are expendable, God is the one who is going to make the praise spring up before all nations- we either partake of it or not [woe is me if I preach not the gospel- Paul] but the praise is going to come!
(1309) Got up early today, around 1:30, I usually try and lay down until around 2:30, but this morning I felt like the Lord was saying ‘no, today you need to start early’. So as I went outside to pray it was barely drizzling, but it’s really cold. I do pray in the rain often, but when it’s cold I adjust my prayer schedule. Right when I was wrapping up the prayer time at around 4 it started raining, I’m glad I started early. This morning I read ‘your people shall all be made righteous, they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting the work of my hands’ Isaiah 60:21. I felt like the Lord was saying to leaders/pastors ‘these people are my work, my planting. When I made Adam I put him in the garden that I created. He had responsibilities to take care of it and be a faithful steward over it; but it was my garden, not his’. We often worry about ‘the garden’ [the work/people that God has called us to] but the lord says they are his people, his ‘branch’ the work of his hands and he simply allows us to enjoy the field/garden with him. Paul told the Corinthians that they were God’s field, that some water and others plant but God alone makes it grow. Jesus said the kingdom was like a man who planted some seed and when he ‘slept’ God made it grow. ‘What, you mean I was sleeping when the thing was really productive’? Yes, humbling isn’t it. Isaiah said ‘I was in difficulty, oppression, going back and forth and then I said “ who are all these children that I have born, where did they come from?’” sort of like when you are at a stage in life where you can’t micro manage the thing, God says ‘there we go, now I can do a thing thru you that you can’t take credit for’. God said the people would ‘all be righteous’ that the garden was his responsibility and he simply put ‘you in the garden’ sometimes your most productive seasons are when you’re sleeping! [when your hands are off the thing].
(1308) I caught an interview last night of an Indian author who wrote a book, the title is ‘truth and transformation’ it deals with how India and much of the Eastern world has a great degree of economic dishonesty and hiding of money from the govt. and so forth. But that the Western world has less of this dishonesty going on in a large scale. It was interesting to hear the point of view that because the west still had a degree of Christian morality that this had a lasting effect on society. You rarely hear this view from Easterners. But the brother warned how we are fast approaching the rest of the world in the area of economic/corporate corruption. Any way he mentioned how in the book of Revelation the church is described as ‘a city’- the city that comes down from God out of heaven. I always liked this imagery, in Isaiah we read how this city of God has it gates open ‘day and night’ that there is never a moment where life and transactions are not happening. How can this be? Recently as I have been praying over stuff, and also have posted various requests on the blog I realized that we have people praying and reading and ‘partaking’ of the stuff we are doing, this happens on a 24 hour basis because we have friends from around the world who are connected to us. So Gods ‘city’ is one that consists of believers the world over. There are Christians ‘in church’ 24-7, you don’t have to start a 24 hour prayer service to accomplish this, God has done it by having a worldwide community of people who he describes as ‘my House of Prayer’. This house/temple is open all the time, Isaiah also says that the city will have ‘no walls’ because of its great size, the multitude of men and cattle within is so large that it doesn’t need to wall herself off from society! As a matter of fact a river flows from this temple to the nations and all the kings of the earth will bring their glory and riches into her. I like the city imagery a lot, Revelation says this city has no need for a sun or moon, because the Lamb is the light of the city. No need for a temple either, we are the temple! [as well as Jesus, we as his Body join with him in the temple imagery] When reading scripture it’s important to see things thru a correct lens. I am half way thru the book by Carl Olson ‘will Catholics be left behind’. Carl is an ex Fundamentalist who converted to Catholicism and he gives an excellent overview of the history of Eschatology [end time stuff] much of my teaching agrees with Carl’s view. But reading thru it reminds me of some of the silly views that people hold about end time things, how some see the city ‘coming down from God out of heaven’ as an actual physical city that will be suspended above the earth during the Millennium and that believers will be living in ‘the sky’ while having access to the planet and interacting with Millennium citizens. Silly stuff, the city is called ‘the bride, the Lambs wife’ it’s quite obvious that John is using prophetic imagery to describe the church. But this is a problem among certain Fundamentalists and this view is quite popular in our day. When we grasp the ‘better’ view of these things then we can apply them in practical ways that effect society in a positive way- Gods people/city being open/available for light and help and mercy to all the ‘kings/nations of the earth’ Jesus who is our light can also enlighten the nations who are willing to hear. Stuff like this is helpful, while also recognizing that there are real/literal things that Revelation deals with, like the 2nd coming and resurrection and final judgment. Well anyway we are all part of this 24-7 community that has things happening all the time, we belong to a great worldwide church, the city of God, let’s let our light shine to the nations as much as possible.
(1306) DARKNESS SHALL COVER THE EARTH AND GROSS DARKNESS THE PEOPLE… BUT GODS GLORY SHALL BE UPON US AND THE GENTILES SHALL SEE THIS LIGHT/HOPE AND BE DRAWN TO US- Isaiah 60:1-3 Tonight the president will give a speech at West Point and tell the nation that we will be sending another 30 thousand troops to Afghanistan, pretty serious stuff. But the news media has been stuck on another story, the couple who crashed the White House party the other night. Oh how they have mused about the fact that even though they passed thru metal detectors, they still could have hurt the president. Some have espoused that they could have picked up a fork and gouged his eyes out- others said they could have spiked his drink with Anthrax; the theory I found the most amusing was they might have been trained in Martial Arts and could have had the purely human ability to kill or mame the leader of the free world. Sort of like if the woman with the red dress was a black belt that somehow this would have enabled her to decapitate the president with her bare hands! Like what Will Farrell did in the highly acclaimed movie ‘Glory Blades’ the plot was Farrell was banned from the Olympics but they found a glitch in the system- he could get in as this top ice skater if he registered under the couples rule. So he and his partner [Napoleon Dynamite] get on the team. One problem, the famous move that they need to perform has been tried in the past by their coach- as they show the clip of what happened in slow motion, the skater does this move where as he jumps in the air and flips he accidently decapitates his partner! So you can see the serious dilemma that the movie engages in. I just thought it too funny for the media to have spent so much time on this story. Isaiah said ‘gross darkness’ shall cover the people, they would be consumed with stuff that has absolutely no value [like watching Glory Blades] but that the people of God would be this worldwide community of people who had purpose and hope in the midst of a fallen world. Yes the world system will get worse, but the kingdom of God and its witness in the nations will grow brighter. As the world obsesses about whether or not the woman in the red dress might have been some secret mixed martial arts expert [Royce Gracy in drag?] we have true things of value to share, hope and light and peace; as the Christmas season is upon us let’s do our best to share it.
(1305) I’M USING YOU FOR THEIR SAKE, NOT YOUR’S! Isaiah 59:21 says ‘this is my covenant WITH THEM’. I have been quoting the last part of this verse for years, I am sure I have said it in prayer at least 10 thousand times over my life- ‘ the words that I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth from this time forth and forevermore’ God says your ‘seed’ [offspring] and your seeds seed will quote and teach them. Good promise for church planters—but when I recently read it I felt like the lord was saying ‘leader/pastor- listen up- I am going to consistently use you and speak thru you, not out of some favor to you, but as a promise TO THEM!’ In Isaiah God says ‘I will give him as a covenant to the people’ [Jesus]. God takes people and uses them to fulfill his promises to nations/people groups. He has covenanted with these people groups, made promises to them that he would teach them and show them things that they never saw before. The Message bible says when Jesus preached in his hometown, the people said ‘we knew he was a preacher, but we didn’t know he was this good’! God promised that the people who sat in darkness would see great light. That kings/leaders would ‘shut their mouths’ because they were learning things that they never saw before. Jesus told his men ‘many people wished they were seeing the things that you are seeing/hearing, yet they never had the chance’ [Message bible again] God used Jesus to reveal truths that were hidden from the foundation of the world, he promised this to the people. When God uses leaders/prophetic people to reveal things that were previously hidden, he is doing this out of faithfulness to the people. He is keeping his promise to the people, he has made a covenant with them and God does not break his promise.
(1302) Isaiah 58- This is one of the chapters that I quote from a lot when praying. God rebukes his people because they were fasting and practicing religious functions but were neglecting the ‘weightier matters of the law’. They forgot about the poor, doing justice and showing mercy, the same themes you hear in Jesus teaching. But God does say if his people will return to acts of charity, to lifestyles of humility and not trying to ‘get their voices to be heard’ [seeking fame and promotion] then he will exalt them, he will allow their ‘light to rise in obscurity’ [great influence with little personal fanfare and glorying over men]. We will be like ‘a well watered garden and a spring of water whose waters fail not’ God will cause us to ‘ride upon the high places of the earth’ [positions of influence]. This chapter is a great chapter, but it comes with some strong correction- if we heed the warnings the blessings will follow, but sometimes we keep looking for the blessing and never receive the correction, this my friends will never work.
(1300) HE KNEW WHAT A SHAPE-SHIFTER WAS! Isaiah 57- This chapter contains a strong rebuke against God’s people for their ‘working knowledge’ of idolatry; the people were well taught in patterns and ways that were empty. I was watching an episode of Scare Tactics and they did a scenario where they had some oriental kid in a trailer out in the boonies and they set up a fake meteor crash. Part of the skit had the pranksters asking the kid ‘do you know what a shape-shifter is’ and to their surprise the kid answers yes! He then explains that shape shifters are humans who have the ability to transform themselves into animals; the kid knew the definition to the fake word! That’s funny. God rebuked his people for knowing wrong things, in Revelation one of the churches are commended because they were not familiar with the ways of satan. Over the years I have found it troubling that many young believers were taught things that were flat out wrong, it was plain to see that the interpretation of the scriptures that they were taught were wrong, and yet many of them clung to an obvious mistake. The problem was the teachers were continuing to propoagte a wrong view, even though they were told time and time again that the view was wrong. I am not talking sincere differences of belief, but blatant false stuff. In some ways we have trained God’s people to know and understand and believe definitions of stuff that do not exist! They know what shape shifters are for heavens’ sake! In this chapter God rebukes the people and also offers mercy. He says he will raise people up who will remove these stumbling stones, who will clear the way for God’s people and lead them back into paths of peace. When God’s people return to a trust and dependence on him once again, they will feel less troubled when the economy tanks. But when the people of God trust in material riches, they too feel a loss when the things they trusted in begin to fail. Jesus said ‘you believe in God, believe also in me- peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth give I unto you, let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid’.
(1298) THEY ARE GREEDY DOGS WHICH CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH AND THEY ARE SHEPHERDS THAT CANNOT UNDERSTAND: THEY ALL LOOK TO THEIR OWN WAY, EVERY ONE FOR HIS GAIN… THEY SAY TOMORROW SHALL BE MUCH MORE ABUNDANT- Isaiah 56:11-12 In the mid 18th century we had what is commonly called ‘the industrial revolution’. In Europe there arose a new class of people that never existed before, these were the capitalists that were making lots of wealth and the laborer was drawn from an agrarian type lifestyle [country/hamlet living] into the strong industrial cities like London. These poor workers were thrust into a system of profit that consumed their days and surrounded them with a new atmosphere of industry/factory. The invention of the steam engine by James Watt was one of the catalysts of this new era. Men like William Booth [founder of the Salvation Army] would see the hopelessness of these Londoners and start a ministry to help them. Even in our day the effects of the industrial revolution still impact us, as a boy growing up I listened to Black Sabbath, Ozzy came from an area like this. Contrast his songs with Kiss and you can see the difference! There was an observer of this scene who would write a document and launch a revolution as a result of what he saw as the encroachment of capitalism on the common person- His name was Karl Marx, his document was called ‘the communist manifesto’. Many people resent the western mindset because of its seeming inability to never be satisfied with finally having enough, we are a consumerist nation. I caught a quick few minutes of religious channel surfing the other day and of course I heard the normal preaching on ‘this year is the year of more abundance than any other year’. Have we ever asked ourselves when we will have enough? Seriously Isaiah is pronouncing a judgment on ‘greedy dogs- those who are never satisfied’ one of the condemnations in Revelation is to believers who say ‘I am rich and increased with goods’ yet they were spiritually poor. Jesus challenged his followers on many occasions to forsake all to follow him. Now I am not advocating irresponsibility, but I am challenging our western mindset and our inability to say ‘that’s enough’. We preach a message that never seems to leave this option open; we create an insatiable desire within the church to live each day with an obsession to gain more. The bible condemns this attitude over and over again, yet we as westerners never seem to get it, if we ever want to truly have peaceful relationships with the rest of the world, then we will have to change our mindset in these areas. Many Muslim countries see our materialist arrogance and use this as an excuse to reject ‘the Jesus of the west’ [though he was technically from the east!] We as the people of God need to return to our own ‘manifesto’ [the gospels] and live them out in reality, if not there will always be a Marx waiting in the wings with his own.
(1297) LET THE WICKED FORSAKE HIS WAY AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS MAN HIS THOUGHTS AND LET HIM RETURN UNTO THE LORD- Isaiah 55. Yesterday I took my daughter to the doctor and they admitted her into the hospital, she possibly has swine flu and a bladder problem. They won’t tell us if its swine flu because they say the treatment is the same for swine or regular, sounds fishy to me. Then the nurse tells me that the whole family should get checked. This is the second time in the last month that I’ve had to explain that I personally don’t have a doctor because I don’t have health ins. They seem surprised that a retired fire fighter does not have insurance, when I retired I asked the city how much it would cost to cover my family. They told me a figure that was equal to half of my check; there was no way I could do it. So sometimes I have to reject ‘my thoughts’ and simply return unto the Lord. The bible says ‘thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on him’ ‘I hate vain thoughts but thy law do I love’ meditating on God’s word like this does help, it’s good to read the bible like a book, but there are times for Christian meditation- focusing on specific scriptures and practicing a form of contemplative prayer. I hope my daughter gets home today but please keep her in your prayers. Thanks, John.
(1295) FOR AS THE HEAVENS ARE HIGHER THAN THE EARTH, SO ARE MY THOUGHTS HIGHER THAN YOUR THOUGHTS; AND MY WAYS HIGHER THAN YOURS Isaiah 55:9 the other night I caught an interview of Frances Schaffer on the Rachel Maddow show. Frances is the son of the famous Frances Schaffer senior, the prolific author/speaker of the 20th century who dealt with Christian worldviews. He wrote Christian Manifesto and How shall we then live, among other titles. Frankie and his dad were key leaders in the rise of the religious right and the moral agenda type groups. Frankie eventually converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and is now a vehement opponent of the religious right. First I want to commend him on his conviction of not being willing to abandon Christianity all together; some children of famous Christian leaders have taken that route, but Frankie [he calls himself Frances now, but for this entry I’m using the old title] has chosen a great Christian tradition to place himself in and for this he should be commended. But he is so vehement against the religious right that he equates it with the Muslim extremists. Now I believe that there are dangerous ideas that the religious right holds to, and that there are extreme elements that shoot abortion doctors and stuff like that. But to lump all the religious right with the radical Muslims is going too far in my view. Just like it would be wrong to lump all Muslims with the few who commit acts of terror. There have been Muslim Americans who have died on the battlefield defending the American side, we should not forget this. But Frankie just tore into all the religious right in a way that does more harm than good in my view. One of the reasons his father was so popular was because he dealt with Christian worldview issues, he was filling a void in the Evangelical world. After the Fundamentalist movement of the 20th century many Protestant believers were lacking a stable diet of ‘higher learning’ [to be nice about it]. There was this religious angst against many types of higher learning. The history of Protestantism in America shows a period where many of the great Protestant theologians [Edwards, etc.] accepted the idea that the mind and faith went hand in hand, but Protestantism for the most part would walk away from this heritage and begin seeing higher forms of learning as bad. The one bright light in the migration from Europe to the Americas was the teaching of the Dutch Reformed theologian Abraham Kyper; he wrote extensively on the Christian worldview and gave Protestants a good foundation to build upon. Well anyway Frances Schaffer also labored in this field. Isaiah said Gods ways are on a higher plane than ours, we often think and function for years at a certain level, and then God comes in and causes us to rethink the whole platform. It’s not so much more information at the current level, but it’s an overall paradigm shift from a previous way of seeing things to a whole new view of things. The philosopher William James describes it like this- He has a study much like my own, with maps and globes and books all over the place. He says when his dog comes into his study the dog sees everything that James sees, but the dog has no ability to understand what these things mean. Even though he ‘sees’ the stuff, he really doesn’t ‘see it’. Sometimes God opens our eyes to the things we have been staring at for years, when this happens we then see more fully what it means when Isaiah says ‘Gods ways/thoughts are higher than hours’ it’s like seeing stuff again for the first time.
(1294) EVERY ONE WHO IS THIRSTY, COME TO THE WATER AND BUY WITHOUT MONEY AND WITHOUT PRICE. HE THAT HAS NO MONEY, LET HIM BUY AND EAT FOR FREE! Isaiah 55:1 my own paraphrase. Last night I caught Larry King interviewing T.D. Jakes, I always liked brother Jakes. Larry did ask him about prosperity preachers and Jakes rejected being associated with the movement. He said his ‘good news’ was that Jesus rose from the dead- bravo for Jakes. King did say that Jakes was ‘selling God’ and Jakes did a rare mild rebuke, he flatly said he does not ‘sell God’. Many years ago I was a fan of the late Keith Green [still am]. I love Keith’s music and read his book and used to send money to his ministry in Lyndale Tx. Keith was one of the original Jesus movement brothers, though he was a musician he really saw what he was doing as ministry and you could tell he meant it. Keith struggled with whether or not he should sell his music, or just give it away. He read this verse from Isaiah and began offering his albums for free, something unheard of in the business. He would eventually settle on a policy of making his music available to those who couldn’t afford it. One time I went to a ministry site that I liked, I saw the on line teachings and thought ‘great, I’ll listen to a message’ after the first minute of listening, you were cut off and if you wanted to hear the rest you had to cough up money- what a shame on the gospel. Though I like brother Jakes, I have come to reject the entire media sensation type personality that comes with the territory of modern ministry. Many modern scenarios have huge budgets and often times ‘the ministry’ becomes a clearing house for the highly charismatic personality; millions are spent on broadcasting the personas of the talented leaders. The whole scene violates the New Testament concept of servant leaders and selfless living. If any of the churches in scripture were becoming platforms for one single personality in the group, this would be rebuked. Paul actually does rebuke this in Corinthians. So anyway Isaiah said let those who have no money come and buy and eat, we need to offer the gospel for free, we need to make Gods truth available for free. I realize that these concepts are often overlooked in today’s world, and people like Larry King sincerely view what we do as ‘selling God’ I think too often we are to blame for this perception. NOTE- If you go to U TUBE you can find a bunch of Keith Green stuff, if you never heard Keith I suggest you give it a shot.
(1292) I HAVE CREATED THE SMITH [blacksmith] THAT BLOWETH THE COALS IN THE FIRE AND BRINGS FORTH AN INSTRUMENT FOR HIS WORK, AND I HAVE CREATED THE WASTER TO DESTROY- Isaiah 54. God made the man who figured out if you get the steel hot enough you can shape it into a tool that will be effective. If God made the man who figured out this ingenious process, where do you think the man got the idea from? God will turn up the heat, so to speak, so he can re-shape some stuff in us. This last year I have tried to read up on some of the trends that go on in the world of Christianity. Sometimes I wonder if after all the great ideas, new ways of seeing things; lots of talk about the church needing to get back to social justice issues, all types of stuff I agree with, but at the end of the day I wonder how many of us are actually doing the stuff. Have we been duped into a system that enables articulators to have a forum, that produces a class of professional hearers of the articulators; but at the end of the day a great majority of us have not really been moved to act? Sort of like I can tell you how important it is to reach out to the poor and hurting, you might really belive me when I tell you this [in all sorts of ways- books, pulpit, etc.] but if all we have accomplished is to have come up with another subject to talk about, and for people to listen- then have we really accomplished anything? God wants ‘instruments’ for his work; tools that really function! It’s okay for the church to have great articulators and for people to have an attentive ear to hear- but it doesn’t stop there. After so much hearing and so much speaking, we then need some volunteers to get into the action! And this means more than just finding some ‘mission to the poor’ ministry that we can write a check to. I fear that the thing that’s lacking with most of us is the willingness to act, to get involved, to be the tool that actually works. Over the years I have bought tools that looked good, but were not well made. They might have been priced cheap, but they did not function well. Like buying the pens from the dollar store, what good is it if you got 50 pens for a dollar and none of them work? So in the kingdom God will often allow the heat to turn up because he wants to fashion some instruments that work, that do more than just speak or listen, but instruments that really get the job done. I have learned over the years that lots of people mean well, but if you want the job to get done you need people that don’t blame everything on others. People who are not professional victims, who find their whole identity in faulting others for their lot in life. I hired a guy to do a small job, to remove some wood from behind a rental house I owned years ago. It was maybe a 20 minute job, he had a truck. He was one of the guys I knew from working with addicts and ex-cons. I made the mistake of paying him the 25 dollars before the job was done. After a few weeks would pass I’d ask him ‘did you move the wood yet brother’? He would have some excuse why he didn’t do it. Finally I drove by the alley and saw the wood was gone. Great! I then found out that the renter got tired of the wood in the alley and hauled it off himself. We need people in the kingdom that act, that function and do what God tells them to do. We already have enough able articulators; enough people willing to buy the books and read about how the church should do more. We simply need some brothers who will actually move the wood.
(1286) ISAIAH 53- This chapter is without a doubt the most Messianic chapter in the Old Testament; I find the character of Jesus described in this chapter to be a challenge to many modern concepts of ministry and leadership. Jesus is described as a ‘tender plant’ who grew up out of dry ground [type of virgin birth] we a have tendency to want well watered ground, we do all we can to create a favorable environment around us, Jesus thrived in ‘dry ground’. He is described as someone who had no outward flash that would attract us to him if we saw him; he was not the type of personality that sucked all the air out of the room when he showed up. I was listening to a testimony of a minister who attended a ‘preacher’s convention’ he shared how he felt being in an environment where everyone spoke in a baritone type voice, putting on a preachers garb/persona. How when the pastor/preacher of a group showed up amongst the regular crowd, that there was an expectation of the leaders persona to take over and become the central voice in the group. While there are many well meaning men who fall into this category, yet Jesus was someone who when you saw him was unpretentious, there was no ‘beauty- outward persona’ that would attract you to him. Isaiah says he was acquainted with grief and was not respected, as he bore the problems and failures of others he remained faithful to intercede for the transgressors. God would give him a portion with the great men because he was faithful in obscurity; many judged his difficulties as being a sign that God rejected him. He would make no effort to hide his trials, contrary to the media image that the modern church presents. Jesus was truly a Lamb led to the slaughter who would not open his mouth or defend himself when maligned, his entire style of leadership goes contrary to what we see in the modern day. You read in the New Testament that certain authorities were excited when they found out that Jesus would appear before them, thinking ‘wow, here’s my chance to see him perform’ type of a thing. Yet they would be let down because Jesus didn’t play that game, he was not seeking an audience. I like this chapter a lot, it makes us re-think many of the things we do in our day, things that we associate with ‘successful ministry’ I think Jesus’ pattern is the way to go.
(1284) FOR A LAW SHALL PROCEED FROM ME AND I WILL MAKE MY JUDGMENT TO REST FOR A LIGHT OF THE PEOPLE Isaiah 51:5 I found out last week that one of my friends converted to Islam, he spent some time in New Jersey jails and rehabs and the Muslim influence is strong in Jersey. He explained to a friend how ‘God doesn’t share his glory’ and that he was taught that the Christian view of Jesus violates this truth. First, it would take too much time to overview the entire history of various beliefs and questions on different expressions of the Trinity, suffice it to say that there have been Christian groups from the first century up until today who have had difficulties with the Orthodox expression of the Trinity. I am Trinitarian, but understand how these various groups have had difficulty. Just to name a few; the Ethiopian Orthodox churches reject Trinitarian language. The Oriental Christian churches in general reject the language. The invading barbarians who attacked the Roman Empire were eventually converted to a form of Christianity that would reject Trinitarian language. The great Blasé Pascal thought it to have been a false teaching. I could go on and on with many groups who believed in God and Jesus but did not accept strong Trinitarian language. The point being, if someone thinks that all Christians hold the same views on the language, they are mistaken. I wrote a letter to my friend who converted to Islam, I simply shared the main difference between Christianity and Islam [and all religions], that Christianity teaches forgiveness and acceptance with God as a gift that comes thru the Atonement of Christ. Jesus died for men’s sins and rose again as a sacrificial atonement for man, Islam has some well meaning teachings in it but at the end of the day it is a religion that is legalistic. People attempt to gain Gods favor thru their own efforts; this is opposed to the Christian view of grace. I basically think it to be a red herring to use the language of the Trinity as a reason to reject Christianity and become Muslim, as I already stated there are many Christian groups who would agree with some of the issues that Muslims raise; this does not deal with the fact that man cannot atone for his own sins, man is unable thru any religious works to make himself right with God. The ‘law that proceeds from God’ to the nations is a law based on grace, not works. Paul calls it ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ [Romans] he contrasts it with the law of works. Now the whole history of Justification by faith and how different Christian groups see it is another intramural war that rages within the church, N.T. Wright recently put out a book on it, John Piper wrote one in defense of the historic Reformation view- Wright’s view has some excellent points, but would be considered New Perspective. So there are differences in the way Justification by Faith is seen, but all groups agree that man is accepted by God based on the free gift of Grace that comes thru the Cross. Yes, Catholics and Protestants agree with this language, though there are other differences. The point today is I believe we as believers need to make clear the differences between law based religions and Christianity, Jesus offers free forgiveness based on his death burial and resurrection. Law based religions might seem noble at the start, but at the end of the day they lead to condemnation and frustration, they are a vain attempt by man to make himself pleasing to God- an impossible task.
(1281) THE LORD HAS GIVEN ME THE TONGUE OF THE WISE THAT I WOULD KNOW HOW TO SPEAK A WORD IN SEASON TO HIM THAT IS WEARY…HE OPENS MY EAR IN THE MORNING- Isaiah 50. I was reading John 17 earlier and Jesus speaks about giving the words that the Father gave him, Jesus then communicates these words of value to his men. Jesus says ‘these are yours and yours are mine… you gave me these men out of the world and I have shared with them your truth’. There is a Divine sense of value on the words that God speaks. I read an article a while back written by a person who sold documentaries to TV stations, the person shared how they presented a valuable series of programs to one of the leading Christian stations. She was surprised that the station said they were not interested and would never pay a person/producer for a program. She explained to the station that these shows were high quality and that she would normally get paid for these shows, but the network said the only criteria they ever use is simply whether or not the church/ministry pays the required amount for airtime, the station never decides what to air based on quality. The person said they finally worked out a deal where the station accepted the programs but would not pay for them; the producer ran them for free. When we in the ‘Christian world’ operate along the lines of simply speaking/teaching words based on whether or not people can pay for the broadcast, then we are not even living up to the standards that the secular world uses. The same goes for Christian ‘movies’ many are done on a scale that’s quite frankly embarrassing. I rented a DVD a few months ago that was promoted by a Christian network, I got it for the girls and had them watch it. I asked them how it was, they said ‘it was okay dad, but you can tell it was cheesy’. Now there are excellently done movies with Christian themes, movies like ‘the mission’ with Robert Deniro, or ‘Les Miserable’s’ with Liam Neesan, these are high quality works of art. But much of what we call Christian broadcasting is simply the broadcasting of church meetings, very limited stuff. I simply want to encourage you today; God has given you a ‘set of words’ and a group of people that you are to communicate these words to over your life. Jesus understood that he was doing more than just ‘giving sermons’ he was getting the specific message across to the men that the father gave him out of the world, his ear was open to hear what the father was saying and he spoke those words. Let’s reevaluate what we as leaders/believers say and do, let’s strive for quality and be sensitive to what we are communicating, if the level of Christian programming that we are releasing is either low quality or low value [some high tech shows still teach silly stuff!] then lets reevaluate the stuff and if necessary pull some words back. It does no good to the minister/church or to the people when we speak words that are not coming from the Father.
(1279) THE ROSE OF SHARON- Last Sunday I tried to catch one of the services on TV that I watch every so often, but when I checked the channel guide it wasn’t on. So instead of reading I thought I would see if there was anything else on that would be profitable. They were showing the classic movie ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and I always try and watch it annually. Back in New Jersey we read Steinbeck’s classic in high school and I have the novel sitting here in my office. I asked the Lord to show me something that would have some spiritual meaning, I focused on a few things- Tom Joad [Henry Fonda] says about ‘preacher Casey’ [John Carradine] ‘He was a lantern/light, he made us see things differently’ and the name of Toms younger sister is ‘Rose a Sharon’. This term comes from the bible [Song of Solomon chapter 2] and most preachers use the language to describe Christ and his bride [the church]. So anyway I like the image of wild flowers and stuff, so it was good. The last day or so one of the Christian TV stations has been broadcasting some prophetic type meeting out of Kansas. I have written on these brothers before and over the years there have been some interesting prophetic type signs that I received from these guys. As I’m watching the meeting they are recalling their ‘prophetic history’ and they share how one of the key images that was given them thru a prophet was the image ‘Rose of Sharon’, I thought that was cool. In Isaiah God says ‘I have engraven you on the palms of my hands, your walls are continually before me’ ‘you will spring up like wildflowers/lilies along the water ways’. God uses lots of ‘flower’ imagery when speaking of his people. Paul uses the language of us being Gods garden. Jesus said he was the vine and we are the branches. The verse in Song of Solomon says that the Rose of Sharon is like the lily of the valley. God’s community of people are a natural outgrowth of the message and life of the kingdom going forth into all nations. We do a disservice at times when we [theologians/teachers] emphasize that the church technically started on the day of Pentecost; I really don’t disagree with this idea, I understand it was the day the Spirit birthed the church in a sense, but the problem is we tend to neglect the actual style that Jesus used when making disciples. That is Jesus is going around preaching the kingdom, healing people, doing all these great kingdom works and he is instilling in the disciples this free flowing mindset of simply sowing the seed and allowing God to ‘make them grow’. Jesus even says in his parables that when farmers plant seed, they sleep and rise day and night and the seed produces on its own. The disciples ask him once ‘these other guys are using your name and we forbid them because they are not part of our group’ and Jesus rebukes them and tells them to leave them be. He was challenging the ‘ownership mentality’ the idea of ‘local church’ and ministry as being things that we own/oversee as some sort of business enterprise. You never see Jesus trying to recruit people’s loyalty in a way that modern church scenarios do in our day. He was sending his men out to preach the kingdom, those who would believe and become followers would be part of his kingdom- no need to create all sorts of ways to tell people ‘if you are committed to this work/this vision- the vision of the man of God who oversees this house’ all well intended language that is often used to try and instill loyalty, but this type of mindset is really not seen in this free flowing ‘wild flower’ ministry of Jesus. He knows his followers will ‘spring up like wild flowers along the waterways’ they will be like ‘lilies in the valleys’ beautiful things that seem to spring up outside of the constraining barriers of man. Sure the potted plants at Wal Mart have some value, but then when you leave the store and see all the natural lilies springing up along these roads and high ways, you think ‘wow, these things look great and they need no maintenance and seem to be unstoppable’. The plants in the garden centers are high maintenance, the ‘Rose’s of Sharon and lilies in the valleys’ seem to have a life of their own.
(1277) These past few weeks I have been adding a bunch of new verses to memory from Isaiah. Every so often I will read chapters 40 thru the end of the book and I always see new stuff. This morning I was reading the first few verses in chapter 49; the Lord is confirming the special calling on Israel as well as speaking about the Messiah- ‘It is a small thing to me to use you to restore the nation of Israel, I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles’ Paul uses this quote in Acts [I think it’s Paul]. One of the responses of Israel to seeing the truth of Messiah is ‘I have labored in vain; all the years of my efforts were worthless’ [these are all my own paraphrasing]. I find this interesting, Paul says the same thing in the letter to the Philippians, after his conversion and revelation of the grace of God he actually viewed all of his previous efforts to advance what he thought was Gods cause, he now saw his own energies under the law as vain. He called them ‘dung’ his efforts at trying to produce a self righteousness were working against the actual grace of God. Often times in ministry we believe that the key to success is much effort ‘try harder’ ‘if we just had more money Gods work would get done’. One of the great dichotomies of the kingdom is that our efforts often work against Gods purpose, this is not to say we shouldn’t work and function for Gods kingdom, it’s just not a matter of self effort. This passage in Isaiah also talks about Jesus being despised and hated with a passion, yet he will touch kings and nations. A previous chapter says ‘men of stature shall come over to thee- you will influence kings and princes’ God will give us great influence to touch nations and kings, but we need to also embrace the words of Jesus in Johns’ gospel ‘how can you please God, you who are trying to please men- spending energy on the glory that comes from being recognized by man’. Let all our efforts be based upon the grace of God, this thing is not about us or are gifts being put under the spotlight, it’s about entering into the true purposes of God and ceasing from our own labors ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding’ we often lean too heavily on our own understanding.
(1274) VISION FOR THE CITY? As I’m doing the Kings study I have also been reading Isaiah, they kinda fit because in Isaiah God uses the prophet to rebuke and correct his people; in Kings we see Gods actual correction. In Isaiah 48 God tells his people ‘I showed you the future before it happened, I am doing new things with you; these are things that never existed until right now. I am revealing things to you for the first time ever; no one has seen these things before’. God really gives them some great promises, he also tells them ‘don’t you think I foresaw all the sins and mistakes you were going to make? I knew that you were going to be stubborn and not listen, I chose you anyway- not as some favor to you, but because this whole thing was my purpose from the start’ [my paraphrasing]. Over the years my thinking has changed/grown in certain areas, I remember a time when it was popular to focus on the ‘destiny of your city’. Many books written on the subject, studying the history of your city and looking for clues to Gods purpose. Now I want to be careful here, I do believe in the concept of God wanting to use his people to have a real impact on society, God does want our cities and nations to experience him. But now as I look back I feel some of the over emphasis on our cities was a little off balance. it was common to read/hear ‘what is happening now in our city [any name can fit] has happened before in other places on the earth, we are now living in a time of unbelievable destiny’ and yet as you looked at the actual scene, things pretty much were chugging along at the same pace as years gone by. In the New Testament you never see this type of emphasis on your particular city, there is a transitional mindset that went from ‘natural Jerusalem’ [your actual city where you live] to the New Jerusalem that comes down from God out of heaven [the church/people of God]. So instead of Paul writing letters to the churches and saying ‘you have no idea how great a destiny God has for Corinth/Ephesus/Philippi’ you read what a great purpose God has for those who name the name of Christ who live in these areas. So you see some excitement over what God is doing in these cities, but the actual emphasis is on the spiritual development of the communities of God dwelling in them. Got it? I say all this not to ‘pop anyone’s bubble’ so to speak, I just think we need to rethink some of the excitement that comes along with wanting God to work in our cities. God told his people he was going to do some awesome things thru them, he was going to show them things that no one has seen before- he would establish purposes and ministries that he had planned long before we were ever born. Just don’t confuse natural Jerusalem with spiritual Jerusalem. Earthly kingdoms and nations [and yes cities] will all pass away, but we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be removed, we are being built into a habitation for God, we look for a city that hath foundations whose builder and maker is God [Hebrews].
(1272) THE O’RIELLY FACTOR- The other day as I drove past the auto store O’Reilly’s I had the sense that I would be going there soon. In the old days I used to do all my own work on the junker cars I purchased. I remember many days in Kingsville going to every auto store in town, I used to frequent a little rinky dink place called ‘GAF auto’. They had a real nice older Mexican brother named Red; he always helped find me just the right part in their disorganized store. So any way my daughter’s radiator on the Mustang had a few problems and I managed to take off the overflow reservoir and patch the leak. But then the electric fan motor [I hate them!] would not turn on. I actually replaced the fan motor a few years back and was not sure what the problem was. I told my wife ‘Look, I am not going to start replacing stuff [like the old days] until I hit the jackpot, this time you guys need to take it to the shop’. I am trying to get away from doing stuff like this nowadays. So she looks on line and says ‘it might be the resistor’ [type of fuse]. As I pull out these fuses you really can’t tell if their bad or not so I think one sounds bad as I shake it. I am also trying to check the connections themselves to see if I loosened one when fixing the reservoir. So any way I really can’t tell what’s wrong, I’m running the engine to see if the fan will turn on and messing with everything. I go into the garage to look if I have the repair book for this car [1998 mustang]. I have bought books over the years for the various vehicles we have owned but couldn’t find one for this car [I have one for my 66 mustang but not for a 98]. As I pull the books off of a top shelf a resistor falls down. It says ‘ford’ on it and it looks like the part I’m looking for. As I think back I must have replaced them when I originally changed the fan motor a few years ago and I guess I kept a good one. So I stick it in and sure enough it’s fixed. What are the odds that this loose part just happened to fall down off a shelf? Red would have been proud of me. I bought these original parts at O’Reilly’s auto a few years ago; I guess the lord was telling me I would be fixing a car with an O’Reilly part soon. In Isaiah God says ‘ask me about the future of my sons, concerning the work of my hands command me’ ‘these people I have formed for myself, they will show forth my praise’ ‘before stuff happens I show it to you, before it springs forth I reveal it’. God is telling us ‘look, I am the one who has brought you to the place where you are at today; I have guided your steps. I have the power to manipulate the environment to give you a favorable outcome- you have not chosen me but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit and that it will last’ God is on our side, even little things like allowing a part to fall off of a shelf in the nick of time, God does stuff like this. I want to encourage all of our leaders who read this blog, be sensitive to the little ‘impressions’ God gives you on the journey, they might not seem significant at the time, but God does speak to us in simple ways. Look for the confirmation on stuff, I was really ready to give up on the car but I knew the lord had impressed ‘auto shop’ on my mind just a few days earlier, I had no idea how the details would work out but knew that God had spoken in this seemingly minor way. God is the one who brought us here, he will help with the little [and big] stuff along the way.
(1265) Almost finished Brian McLaren’s ‘everything must change’ as is my habit let me close my comments before I read the last chapter or 2. First, I really agree with Brian’s stance on challenging western capitalism; he does it in a way that simply holds true to the biblical ethos of ‘beware of covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses’ [Jesus]. Yesterday I went thru around 5 news papers that built up at my doorstep this past week, if I don’t read them the day they come I try and go thru them on Saturday in one lump sum. I read some articles on the world’s poor, that every 6 seconds a child starves to death somewhere in the world; how there are a little over 1 billion people on the planet today who are malnourished. How many of the countries who can’t feed their people are paying back interest payments to the rich countries who lent them money. These kids starve because the country must pay the interest! In Isaiah God tells us often that one of the main functions of the church is to do justice; to speak out and also act in society as a plumb line. Too many times the American church has been aligned with a political ideology and has defended that view at the expense of doing what is just. As I close my comments on McLaren, I agree 100 % with him on these issues and appreciate his willingness to be branded as some ‘loony liberal’ for speaking out. I also would disagree on Brian’s seemingly ‘low church view’ when it comes to the classic doctrines of Christianity [Atonement, Original sin, etc.] There is a tendency among believers to either reject everything a person says, or accept everything he says; In Brian’s case I think we should take what is good and leave the bad alone.
(1261) THE ALABASTER MAN- The other day my daughter was telling us a funny story, how she was looking for her pizza pan and asked her fiancé if he knew what happened to it, he admitted that he used it to cover a hole in the yard to keep the dogs from getting out. She was recounting the story to my wife and saying ‘just like dad used to do’. Boy did they get a laugh, I felt like rebuking them for not honoring their elder, but as I contemplated my best defense I realized that right now there sits one of my wife’s baking pans on top of the chimney on the roof, tied with bailing wire to keep the rain out; I figured I would just let it slide. I have been reading Isaiah along with the Kings study we are doing, Isaiah 40 thru the end has been one of the most prophetic portions of scripture for me in my own personal life. ‘I will make you like a new threshing instrument having teeth, you will thresh [cut apart] the mountains and beat them small; the wind shall carry them away’ ‘who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot and gave the nations before him; he will rule over kings’ ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight in the desert a highway for our God’ I like all these verses, they have given me direction over the years. Here at my house I have a few things that I kept from my childhood, one of the mementos is a 1 inch figurine of an oriental wise man that is made out of Alabaster, I simply call it ‘the Alabaster man’. My dad bought it for me when I was around 10 years old; he used to take me over to the city [New York] and when we went to China Town one year he bought it for me. I have it in the yard next to a prayer area where I pray. I also have written various verses all over my yard, on the wooden fence and on my gazebo, it does look a little trashy but my wife learned to live with it. The verses ‘his fan is in his hand’ ‘before it happened I showed it to you’ are from Isaiah, one of the verses is right next to this man, as I was looking at the verse ‘before it happened I showed it to you’ I realized that this statue of the sage [wise man] has a fan in one hand and a staff in the other, these images have been significant to me, I have been praying with a staff in my hand for many years. I just never really noticed the little fan in the hand; I felt like the Lord was simply confirming these many various promises, I bought this statue in New York City when I was a boy, the wise man represents authority and these past few years we have been reaching into the New York City area in a greater way than ever before. In essence the Lord gave me a wise man from New York with a staff and fan in his hand, years before I would ever even contemplate anything along these lines. Isaiah said ‘before it happened I showed it to you, so when it would come to pass you would know that it was my work, not yours’.
(1258) WHAT LASTS? – These past few weeks while praying early in the mornings, I have been meditating on verses like ‘the steps/paths of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delights in his way’. David said he desired to always dwell in Gods ‘tabernacle’, while thinking on these verses I felt like the Lord was speaking to me about the effects we have, the planting of his word in regions. I even began thinking about the fact that we will die, and the people we minister to will pass away, but in some sense the words we taught will remain. In essence the thing that will last is the gospel and truth that is sown, not the institutions, or even the people, but the word. Now John says because we have the word in us we will abide forever, that is the word of God will raise the dead up some day and they will endure forever; but it’s the word of truth that is lasting. So anyway I felt like the Lord was directing me to read Isaiah, I read the first 10 verses of chapter 40 and the theme goes like this ‘all flesh is like grass, it will pass away; but the word of God endures forever’ basically exactly what God was speaking to me. This section also speaks of John the Baptist ‘prepare the way of the Lord, make a straight highway/path for him in the desert’ this was along the lines of ‘creating a path/ place for God’s word to flow’. Isaiah also has the famous verse ‘you will be called the restorer of paths to dwell in’. I felt like God was telling us to lay down some paths, have consistent areas where you faithfully teach and speak truth and these areas will ‘abide forever’ that is your impact will affect many generations to come. Right after the 16th century Reformation you had what is referred to as the Enlightenment, or the ‘age of reason’. Many thinkers began to challenge the institutional church [and institutions in general] and believed that reason and rationality would lead the way. In France [1700’s] Paris became a center of thinking for these Deists. These men were smart enough to realize that the total denial of God was too ridiculous to accept, they instead embraced Deism. Deism is a type of belief that said God started the ball rolling, but he left the rest on auto pilot; the same belief that the Greek philosophers embraced. Now, one of the famous ‘Philosphes’ [sic] was a man by the name of Voltaire, he is well-known as an infamous atheist today, but he did not totally reject God. These men did have tremendous influence and they produced the French Encyclopedias which backed up their cause. Eventually they would overthrow the Catholic Church and kill the king in their mad rush towards ‘reason’. They were wrong on their basic understanding of reason and rationality as they applied it to the church. They believed that rational thought meant ‘naturalistic thought’ that is in order for things to be rational, they could not be supernatural. They were wrong, in fact those who would later take the next step into full atheism would deny the laws of reason and logic all together. I saw Richard Dawkins do an interview the other day, he is one of the popular atheists of our day. These men who reject God accept a view of creation that violates the laws of logic; they teach/believe that all things came from ‘no-thing’ a scientific impossibility. This idea violates the law of ‘reason’ known as the law of ‘non contradiction’. This law states that a thing cannot be and ‘not be’ at the same time and in the same relationship. For all things to have come from nothing [self creation] would mean that all things created itself. It would have to ‘have been’ before it was. This common system of belief is absolutely irrational, even though the atheist believes it to be rational. To believe that God is a self existent being who created all things does not violate the laws of logic, you might think it does, but it doesn’t. For someone to have existed forever does not violate the classic laws of logic. So these thinkers who thought that their rejection of God was ‘rational’ were in fact wrong. Their ideas led to effects that were horrendous, they in effect ‘planted seed’ [bad doctrines] that would outlast them and their generation, their bad ideas had bad consequences. But the truth of God and his kingdom have also been ‘planted’ in the world, these seeds will last forever. If you want to effect society for good, then plant the seeds that will have an eternal impact, for ‘he that does the will of God will abide forever’ [1st John].
(282) Reading Isaiah 44. The Lord says the people made idols out of that which God provided for their sustenance, that is Gods resource to them [trees in Isaiah, money and Gods provision now]. They ‘deck it with gold’ [in Jeremiah?] they worship that which God gave as provision and made it their God. They ‘prayed to it’ and saw it as the answer to their dilemma [if we just had this transference of wealth we could accomplish our mission!] They became just like that which they worshipped. Their idols were blind and deaf and dumb. They became blind [unable to perceive] deaf [unable to hear reproof] and dumb [God took away their voice from society, the church at large]. Because of their worship of the idols they ‘became foolish in their understanding and were ashamed’ their foolishness was seen by all [many even from the secular media have said ‘how can you think Jesus was this money focused mega star, he was a carpenters son!’ Even Larry king, a Jewish talk show host said this about the modern money preachers] HE FEEDETH ON ASHES, A DECIEVED HEART HATH TURNED HIM ASIDE The fact that they ‘fed’ off of their own shallow belief system, caused them to become shallow in their understanding of scripture, unable to see the most obvious things! GOD FRUSTRATED THOSE WHO WERE LYING AND TURNED THESE WISE MEN BACKWARD AND MADE THEIR KNOWLEDGE FOOLISH and at the end God forgave those who were willing to repent and he restored them. First comes strong rebuke, but then a true restoration to the original purpose of God. NOTE: It says they fell down and worshipped THE STOCK OF A TREE paper money is made from the ‘stock of a tree’ the way you worship something is by seeing that thing as your goal, confession, desire. Just thinking about it gives you great satisfaction. You spend a great amount of your thought life strategizing and dreaming about making more of it. It’s a deadly pursuit. Jesus says you don’t have time for God and mammon, the worship of mammon consumes too much time! NOTE It also says that a judgment on those who are held captive by idolatry/covetousness is they are unable to see the most obvious things in scripture. One of the strangest things I have seen from the more extreme prosperity brothers is the inability to read the passages of scripture that PLAINLY deal with covetousness and to SEE what these passages are saying. I heard a brother teach on 1st Timothy 6 [both a local brother and 2 national ones] I guess they were getting some heat from guys like me who tell people that 1st Timothy 6 totally deconstructs the modern prosperity gospel. When they were done trying to teach the chapter they were making it say the exact opposite of the plain meaning of Paul’s words. Paul in Timothy warns Timothy about a ‘coming’ group of preachers who will teach that gain is godliness. At one point Paul says FLEE THESE THINGS AND INSTEAD LAY HOLD ON ETERNAL LIFE. The context of this passage was explained by a prosperity guy to mean Paul was telling Timothy to ‘lay hold of abundant material wealth’ he exegetes the word ‘eternal life’ and showed that one of the definitions speaks of ‘wealth in every area’ he then made the conclusion that Paul told Timothy to ‘lay hold of wealth’ This brother didn’t see that when you exegete [study the meaning] of a word you can find many different definitions that apply at different times [Jesus says ‘save a sheep’ or a coin in his parables. This is the same word for ‘save a soul’ in salvation. The text shows you that Jesus isn’t saying ‘save’ in the same way when he talks about sheep and humans] this basic mistake caused the prosperity guy to take the actual warnings in scripture that deal with covetousness and made it teach covetousness. I have seen this twisted interpretation over and over again from many of these guys. This is a judgment from God on those who choose to preach a wealthy Jesus. God says those who distort his Sons image are committing idolatry. One of the judgments on those who commit idolatry is that there wisdom becomes foolishness; they are held captive by their own distorted views. I do pray that these brothers would repent from this stuff. I have personally sent them books and things over the years. It’s just it got to a point where they refuse reproof and we are now at a stage where we are trying to keep a whole new generation of believers from going down this path.
(424) I WILL MAKE THY WINDOWS OF AGATES, THY GATES OF CARBUNKLES, AND ALL THY BORDERS OF PRECIOUS STONES [Isaiah] Windows speak of ‘portals of sending’ [like this blog! Or radio and stuff like this]. I felt like the Lord was saying he is going to bless your ‘portals’ of sending. ‘Cast your seed upon the water, for in many days it will come back to you’ [message in a bottle- the Police]. God is going to increase you. He will expand your borders. He will not only ‘bless your gates/borders’ but he will ‘bless your windows’. Windows let light out of a house. They allow the ‘brightness’ to go out into the dark. They also allow light to come in and lighten up a room in a way that no ‘man made’ light could do. God is going to bless ‘your windows’. You will see things that you have never seen before, and you will reach places that are far away with the light that is ‘in your house’. ‘I have given you an open window that no man can shut’ God to John in the book of Revelation.
(431) Isaiah 56 ‘Keep judgment and do justice, for my salvation is near and my righteousness is ready to be revealed’ God says he is about to do some major things. He wants you to ‘judge right’ actually stand strong in discernment with mercy. It’s easy to give up on the things God has shown you and to fall into the status quo. God says stay true to what I showed you because it’s for a purpose. ‘Blessed is the man that doesn’t pollute my Sabbath and keeps his hand from evil’. Remember what we recently said about the Sabbath? God says ‘blessed are those who remain in my rest. Those who abide in me and allow me to bring forth the fruit’ this is the only way we can keep our selves from ‘doing evil’. In Gods grace! ‘These are the ones I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in MY HOUSE OF PRAYER’ we also just discussed Gods house of prayer. God will gather all those who are in grace and make them ‘joyful’ as they join in intercession for the nations. You are a ‘house of Prayer’ you will only be fulfilled when you are doing what you were created to do! Remember, we are corporately his facility, our ‘use’ is to be a habitation thru whom God intercedes. ‘His watchman are blind, they cant see. They are greedy, they can never have enough wealth. They are all out for personal gain, they look for it to come to their areas. They say ‘tomorrow will be much more abundant’. Here God rebukes the leadership for always wanting more finances. They live day by day with the goal of ‘great material abundance’. They have usurped Gods purpose for his ‘house’ and made it into a den of thieves! [These are the leaders who teach it obsessively, they have made the goal ‘material wealth’ not so much the Pastors who are raising money for unselfish things! Also see the specific rebuke to those who say ‘tomorrow we will have more wealth’ the actual confession and excitement of seeing more wealth as the goal is being rebuked here!]
(459) ‘ISAIAH 57’ ‘the righteous perisheth and no man takes it to heart, none considers that he is taken away from the evil to come’ God has/is removing some of you from familiar territory. This ‘land’ has been a source of provision in the past, he is now moving you away from it. You seem confused as to why others can receive income/resource from this land, but you cannot. God is saying ‘I am removing you from these sources because they will not be their for ever, they will dry up. Others put their trust in them, they will fear when the source dries up’. ‘He that putteth his trust in me shall posses the land and shall inherit my holy mountain, and shall say cast up, cast up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people’ those who trust in the Lord as opposed to their own wisdom will be used to remove the things that have been causing Gods people to stumble. Don’t rejoice in the fact that you see it when others don’t. You only see these stumbling blocks because of Gods grace, a man can receive no ministry unless it was given to him as a free gift from God. ‘I dwell with him that is humble and contrite, I will revive them’ ‘I will not contend forever, nor always be wroth’ God says there are things he wants to remove and change in us. The things he has shown us should produce humility and a contrite spirit. Don’t ‘kick against the pricks’ don’t rebel against the things God has shown you to change. Don’t blame the prophets, they are just seeing/saying the words of God. ‘For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth and smote him. I hid [stopped correcting him for a season] and he went on forwardly in the way of his heart [this part of the Body excelled and went forward in the ways that they chose, even though the Lord had previously said no more] I have seen his ways and will heal him and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners’ Many who have become renown in the area of ‘covetousness’ will be healed. They will see how off track they have been and God will forgive and restore and continue to use them [Jim Bakker] but first there will be a humbling. NOTE: All true ministry is really not about us ‘fulfilling our dreams’ or ‘achieving our goals’ it’s about being faithful to God. Saying and doing the things he wants. You will be fulfilled by doing this, but this is a result, not the goal.
(468) ISAIAH 58 ‘Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins’ When prophets go thru difficulty, the first thing they question is ‘have I been too hard on your people?’ God is going to deal with this in this chapter. He starts by first of all telling Isaiah ‘I have called you to reveal to my people their sins, it is my calling for you to show them the areas they don’t fully see yet. Their ‘sins’ of ignorance. They often ask for me. I am going to show them things about church and the way they worship me that are limited. Showing them ‘their sins’ is not a function of judgment, it is a necessary ‘uprooting’ that they need in order for their prayers to be answered.’ God is basically telling Isaiah ‘when things are hard and difficult, don’t question my basic revelatory ministry thru you. You don’t have the right to stop speaking what I am saying!’ ‘Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, they ask of me the ordinances of justice and take delight in approaching me’ we as believers take the act of seeking and asking and learning, and we turn it into ‘doing what God wants’. In essence we have developed a mindset that says ‘I go to church, I learn all the bible tricks on how to have a happy and prosperous life. If I am ever confronted with teaching that doesn’t appeal to me, or requires sacrifice, I have already learned to ignore it, you cant fly with eagles if you think like a turkey’ we basically have bypassed the instructions on self sacrifice and giving our lives away for the Kingdom. We simply think the ‘acts’ of going and learning from bible truths, even if it is all based on self, that this in itself is pleasing to God. God says why do my people by pass all my instructions and then delight that they are going to approach me? It’s because our ‘approaching God’ in the present mindset of the western church is simply for self-fulfillment. We approach him like a cosmic Santa Clause and this delights us. God says I want to show you things that I require from you and I want you to do them. Don’t simply think that you are pleasing me by ‘approaching me’ I want the action/obedience to be the fruit of your ‘approaching/church going’. [NOTE: It is not totally wrong to seek God for self help/improvement. It’s just many of us in today’s church have made this the priority. When people watch the ‘get rich and famous’ infomercials on the weekends, there is a feeling of ‘hope and self fulfillment’ that simply comes from surrounding yourself in an environment of ‘maybe that can be me someday’. Its OK to hope, but scripture does teach us [1st Timothy 6] to ‘not desire to become rich’ as well as Jesus many other warnings in the gospels. So I just want to warn you to not fall into the trap of making ‘church/approaching God’ a format for self help. It might ‘feel good’ to see Christianity thru this materialistic lens, but in the end it can be dangerous] ‘Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo heavy burdens and to let the oppressed go free, that you break every yoke. Is it not to feed your food to the hungry, that you bring the poor to YOUR house. You should clothe the naked, and help your own natural family. If you do these things you will get healed, your goodness will shine like the morning sun. You will call to me and I will hear. Take away from you the bondages, the blaming of others and speaking vanity. Draw out your soul to the hungry, feed them and satisfy them [even with your ministry/teaching] and your light shall rise in obscurity and your darkness will be like day’ you find all the elements of Jesus earthly ministry contained here. The Pharisees lived for religious ritual. They fasted and afflicted themselves [and others] Jesus reached out in love and poured his soul out for the needy, Isaiah is prophesying the heart of Jesus here. God accepts a lifestyle of giving your life away for others. Jesus would teach that this type of love is the greatest commandment. Here we see the heart of ministry. I want to challenge everyone [especially leaders] to re examine your ‘ministry’ does it contain these most fundamental elements? Do we carry out ministry in a way that simply tells the world ‘hey, look at us, we are a highly motivated business and we can compete with any other organization in our area’. Do we view ministry this way? Jesus values the souls of those who lay their lives down for others, don’t fall into the trap of establishing religious functions for the purpose of impressing men. This is what 1st century religion digressed to, even though one of their own prophets [Isaiah] warned against it centuries before! ‘thou shalt be like a spring of water who’s waters fail not. They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places and make the desolate cities to be inhabited [I added this last part from another place, I am so used to saying it like this] Thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in’ God is saying when you give yourself away for others, when you obey him. When you show compassion. When you do not view ‘ministry’ as trying to attain some degree of respect in the ‘corporate world’ when you approach it like Jesus, then the Lord will allow your influence to go far. The people you impact will be used to spread the Kingdom to various cities. The people will be ‘faithful to the things you spoke’ because they are enjoined to you like a ‘band of brothers’. There memories of you will truly be that of a friend who gave himself away for them. These also will ‘repair breaches, restore paths’ there are so many true Christian values and principles that Jesus taught were the foundations of his Kingdom, things like self sacrifice and laying down your life for others. God will use your ‘seed/offspring’ to restore these ‘lost’ teachings back into the Church. We are so consumed with ‘self help’ that we have lost the foundational principles of the Cross. ‘ If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing what you want on my holy day’. In context God is saying ‘if you rest in me, and stop doing your own works in my day of grace, then I will move mightily on your behalf’. If you remember I already showed you on this blog how the Sabbath is a type of entering into the covenant of Grace. When you cease from your own legalistic attempts to do Gods work, then God will come in and do them thru you! ‘not doing thine own ways, nor speaking thine on words’ much of modern ministry [especially Pastoral] is under the burden to ‘come up with something to speak on for an hour on Sunday’ many of these brothers are well meaning, but because we have structured the church in today’s world around the ‘Sunday meeting’ it has put a burden on Pastors to come up with something to say every Sunday at a certain time. The New Testament churches didn’t function like this. Therefore we have a lot of ‘speaking our own words’ we don’t realize that we are doing this, but in essence we are. I would simply encourage all Christian teachers/speakers to speak only what you hear God saying. If God has a certain vision or direction that he has planted in your heart, then build that into the people. Don’t go thru 20 verses all over the bible and then try to make them fit some theme. The bible has plenty of ‘themes’ already. Focus on whole portions of scripture and teach them as God directs. A lot of the unbalanced teaching in the church today is a result of teachers jumping all over the bible in a 30 minute time span and then making the bible say something that it never meant! ‘If you do all this, then I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth’ lets conclude this chapter with an overview. If you do all the things in this chapter: give yourself away for people. Have true religion as described in the book of James. Don’t point the finger in accusation at people, when reproving, which is a function of the prophetic, do it in love. When you speak and do what God is saying, instead of coming up with your own ‘peculiar brand’ of seeing everything, then God will exalt you to a high place. In essence this is the ministry of Jesus, who lowered himself more than any man, who did all the things you read about in this chapter and then God gave him a name that is above all others. Do the will of God my friends and he will exalt you in due season.
(503) Isaiah 59- ‘Gods hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear dull that it cannot hear. But our sins have separated us from God acting on our behalf’ one of the themes we will see in this chapter is God wanting us to speak truth and to stand for justice. He will reprove the times we lie and don’t really speak and walk in truth. There are so many issues with the American church at this season. I saw Benny Hinn speaking to a meeting of Pastors. I have sent Benny my books and stuff. I was encouraged to hear him reprove those who teach that Job [in the bible] was making a bad confession and God recorded his words, but didn’t justify Jobs confession. Those of you in the ‘know’ remember how it was [and still is!] taught that Job went thru trials because of a bad confession, and in essence God doesn’t want us reading Job and believing Jobs confession. You just read Job to see what not to do! I have dealt with this error before. But I was glad to see Benny hit on it in such a public way. This is an example of God telling us ‘Church, I love you guys. I have given you time to overcome this. You can’t keep speaking ‘lies’ and think I am going to move in your country [The U.S.]’ So God is dealing with us in mercy, but he is telling all of us ‘I really want to move on your behalf, you must humble yourselves and repent. I want justice, I want truth. You need mercy and love, but they cannot trump my desire for truth and righteous justice’. ‘None calleth for justice, none speak truth. They trust in vanity and speak lies’ There has been a stubbornness on certain parts of the American church that have consistently ‘trusted fake things, and continue to speak fake things’ we are all guilty of this, Gods agenda is for us to seek him and return to a pure biblical gospel. I am so excited about this younger generation. I have been watching the ‘call’ or the ‘cause’. Basically a group of young people on fire for Jesus. The I.H.O.P. meetings with Mike Bickle. The ‘merchant band’ all of these radical kids seeking the face of God. They put me to shame. And in the midst of this there exists an older generation who insist on ‘speaking lies, trusting in vanity’ the older generation needs to listen to these ‘babes’, out of their mouths God is speaking. They sing things like ‘don’t sell out for the stuff of this world’. ‘They hatch eggs, whoever eats their eggs dies. They will not continue to cover themselves with their teachings’ when we steer off course of Christ’s main message, the things we produce [books, blogs, tapes, etc.] only hurt others. We can’t keep ‘feeding rotten eggs’ to Gods kids. These movements who have veered away from the gospel will not continue to ‘cover themselves’ [hide within their groups] because God is calling for repentance and justice. ‘They have made crooked paths, those who go in them will not have peace’ when teachers establish wrong doctrines and teachings in the church, they become ‘crooked paths’ paths that many will go down. It is very hard to undo this. Jesus actually said ‘let them go down these paths. They will all fall into a ditch’ sometimes God allows the wrong paths to exist until both the leaders and followers see the error of their way. I remember reading how Jim Bakker saw how wrong he was. He started reading the gospels while in prison and couldn’t believe that he was a money preacher who taught that Jesus was rich. After reading the gospels he saw how wrong he was. God is going to take those who have made ‘crooked paths’ and he will use them to go straight again.
NOTE: Let me interject a reminder here. All Christians, especially those who feel the Lord has called them to the prophetic ministry, are required to confront [in love] obvious abuses and error in the church. One of the most difficult things about this calling is the majority of people you are called to speak into will reject you at the start. The gift brings with it an ‘inner mechanism’ that causes the messenger to be rejected initially. Why? Be cause to confront and undo mindsets that have existed in certain areas of the people of God is ‘tumultuous’. You go thru a season where you ‘pluck up, root out, tear down’ and then you get to the place where you ‘build and strengthen’ again. I look at these contractors who buy nice homes on prime lots of real estate. They go in and begin to dismantle the house! Even though it is an ‘OK’ structure, it has provided shelter for many years. Lots of kids grew up in that house. Man, what are you doing coming against all my memories! Well the contractor realizes that it served a purpose, but the time has come to realize that the structure is insufficient for the next level of community growth. So I see the temptation for those whom the Lord has called to prophetic things, to go thru this type of rejection. And when these people go thru difficulty it is only natural to say ‘Physician, heal thyself’ those whom the message is directed will have a tendency to say ‘see, that Isaiah fellow, he thought he was such a voice for God, look at him now’ [or Jeremiah or any of the other prophets]. So as we continue thru Isaiah we will eventually get to the ‘building up process’ but first God has to make sure all the debris is truly removed before the next structure can go up. Remember what I said about the prophecy given to the Virgin Mary ‘a sword shall pierce thru your own heart also, that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed’ God allows prophetic people to be ‘pierced’ so he can see the response of those around them. Note; I have found myself at times thinking ‘If I could just overcome this obstacle, if I didn’t have to deal with these difficulties at this time, I would be so much more effective’ I have to remind myself that ‘when I am weak, then God can be glorified thru me’ natural thinking says ‘why the Cross?’ then you learn to say ‘nevertheless not my will, but yours be done’ amen!
‘Therefore we behold obscurity’ I have found one of the worst judgments in my own life is when I ‘behold obscurity’. When I am in sin in some area of my life, Gods mercy is always there, but there is a real sense of the absence of Gods presence. Jesus said ‘the pure in heart see God’ when our hearts are not pure, we ‘see obscurity’. ‘We roar like bears, and mourn like doves’ Have you ever experienced extreme highs and lows. Days where you were ‘roaring like a bear’ and the next day ‘crying like a dove’. When our hearts are not right, these ups and downs are inevitable. Sometimes we even experience this when our hearts are right, but in this context sin is the main reason for it. ‘our transgressions are with us and our iniquities, we know them’ transgressions are the actual breaking of Gods law, the ‘act of sin’ if you will. The ‘iniquity’ is that tendency in us to gravitate towards certain sins. That ‘bent’ that keeps turning us in the wrong direction. You say ‘why brother, I have no idea what you are talking about’. You’re lying! Here God says ‘we know them’. ‘Truth faileth and he that departs from error makes himself a target’ I find it interesting, when people repent from ‘wrong paths’ they then become the target of those who are still on the path! Why? Because if you can do it, make the change, go to the next level. Then there is no more excuse for those who are not changing. This is at the heart of murder and hatred. The bible says ‘for this reason Cain slew Able, because his own works were wicked and his brothers righteous’ Envy and pride are horrible things. They cause us to want the failure of others who are succeeding. We really don’t want ‘that other church to succeed’ in our hearts. If they get 6 thousand people to attend, then all my excuses of why I only have so many attend my church are no longer valid. Those who start going on the better paths than we have been on become a target! ‘And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, those that turn away from transgression in Jacob’ God will come to those who ‘turn away from sin in Jacob’ like Paul says in the New Testament, it is not natural birth that counts. To simply be ‘Jacob’ [Israel] doesn’t cut it. You need to have ‘turned away from sin’ and accepted Gods sacrifice, Jesus! To those [Jew or Gentile] that ‘turn away from transgression’ [this means the actual act of disobedience!] God will reveal himself. ‘This is my promise to you, the word that I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seeds seed, from this time forth and forever more’ Yesterday we had a good home meeting in Kingsville. One of the ‘sons’ of the fathers I used to preach to years ago in jail. The son is the ‘seed’ [offspring] of the original person from this family that I preached to. His son [the grandson] lives in Corpus and also is a part of what the Lord is doing. God promises that if you speak his words, they will remain in the mouths of ‘the children’s children’ God is always thinking generationaly /dynastically. Man thinks short term.
(525) Isaiah 60 ‘Arise, shine; for thy light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Darkness shall cover thee earth and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee’ Like we said when we spoke on the kingdom of God, though the world is getting darker, the church gets brighter! We are ‘the light of the world’ the world needs us! They don’t want to admit it, but at the end of all atheism, humanism and every other ‘ism’ there is a void. They will be drawn to the light! ‘Gentiles SHALL come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising’ ‘thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side’ though these verses are Messianic in nature [they speak prophetically of Christ] yet they are also fulfilled thru us, because we are ‘extensions of Christ’ in the earth. We ARE his Body! ‘Then thou shalt see, and FLOW TOGETHER, and thy heart shall fear and be enlarged’ When the Lord is magnified, when his will and purpose take precedence, we FEAR him and are enlarged. We also flow together as Gods people. There is a real sense of your success being found in your brothers and sister’s success. We flow together. ‘In my wrath I smote thee, but in my favor I have had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually’ in the ‘New Jerusalem’ [the Church] our gates are ‘open always’ people find access to come in and rest in God. But open gates also allow for there to be exit. Not ‘damnation’ here, but a going into all the world to preach the gospel. The people of God are made to find rest in him and be by still waters. Then there comes this churning, this ‘inner pull’ to go out ‘is it from God’ yes! God allows you to have seasons of rest and refuge, and then he calls you to the example of Christ. He compels you to look at the harvest and say ‘here am I, send me’. ‘The glory of Lebanon shall come to thee, the Fir tree, the Pine tree and the Box tree together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, AND I WILL MAKE THE PLACE OF MY FEET GLORIOUS’ God will bring great diversity [Pine, Box, Fir tree’s] into one corporate function and purpose. We will no more say ‘I am Charismatic’ I am Baptist, I am Catholic, I am this or that. We will truly bring our diversity together and lay them at Christ’s feet. He makes the place of his feet glorious. Jesus washed the disciple’s feet; he was showing that this place of humility and service will be honored in Gods economy. It is the place of value and exaltation. He offers it to all, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of takers. ‘Whereas thou hast been afflicted and hated, I will make thee an eternal excellency; a joy of many generations’ God allows affliction and hatred for a season. Both natural Israel and her Messiah went thru this. We all will partake of it at one time or another; REJOICE when it happens, because God is preparing you for eternal excellency! ‘For brass I will bring gold, for iron silver, for wood brass and for stones iron, I will make thy officers peace’ we often preach and teach ‘for stones you will get gold’ we ‘skip’ the steps! God’s prosperity comes to those who patiently and consistently give and love and work and invest and do many things in stages. These people are not trying to turn stones into gold. They realize you go from stones to iron to silver and to gold. They have realistic expectations on living a consistent life. God will make our ‘officials’ peace. The verse that says let all your requests be known to God and Gods peace will keep your hearts and minds, this speaks of Gods peace being the ‘officiator’ Christians make good decisions when they cast all their care over to God. Gods peace comes in to officiate for us, we don’t have to worry about the next step, we simply need to rest and walk in it as it is revealed. ‘Violence shall be no more in the land, nor destruction in our borders, your walls shall be Salvation and your gates Praise’ this is speaking of a spiritual/heavenly city. God is already showing that his future place of rest, the ‘eternal city’ that needs no light, because the Lamb is the light, God is showing that it is a place where walls and gates are praise and salvation. Not brick and mortar! He will make this place glorious. ‘The Lord shall be the everlasting light, the days of mourning shall be ended Thy people shall all be righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. A little one shall become a thousand, a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will do it in my time’ God will extend you and cause all the people you work with to be right. A day is coming where the smallest one [least significant] shall have great influence. He will ‘grow you and your people like a branch thru the earth’ thru the people you bring into the Kingdom, God will allow great influence to go forth. God told Abraham ‘thru your seed shall all nations be blessed’ you are simply the ‘instigator/initiator’ of the thing, it will get carried out thru your spiritual children!
(528) Isaiah 61 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me BECAUSE the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound’ Jesus read this verse in the gospel and said it was being fulfilled thru him. God anoints Jesus and us for set purposes. I find it interesting how this coincides with chapter 58 and deals with the hand of God to free people. To actually minister to real needs. In chapter 58 God rebukes Israel for thinking the anointing [Spirit] is for ritualistic religion, he tells them to do justice and reach out to the hurting. Jesus exemplifies this. He ‘proclaims’ liberty to captives. It’s like if someone were in a jail cell and the governor sent a message that said ‘you are already pardoned’. The message of the gospel is ‘you are free, God is not holding your sins against you. Only believe!’ We often preach ‘you must do so and so to get free’ Jesus said ‘you already are’. ‘To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, the day of vengeance of our God’ we must make it clear that a day of judgment is coming. The reality is God does forgive you, but you must come thru the Cross. It must be plain that all who reject Christ face a sure and certain judgment. A few years ago a very famous Charismatic preacher became a ‘universalist’ [someone who believes that everyone goes to heaven, or in this case that hell and judgment do not exist] He shared how when he stopped preaching ‘hell’ that it just made everyone feel better. It might make you feel better, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real! God wants us to tell people about this ‘acceptable time of the Lord’ but also warn them that if they refuse Gods grace, judgment is coming down the road. ‘To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ Now we are going to see a theme thru out the rest of the chapter. God wants to bring you out of mourning and into full restoration. I said in the previous chapters that rebuke and correction lead up to restoration. It is vital that we enter into joy! God wants us to come out of places of ‘heaviness’ [depression] and bring us to places of joy and peace ‘that we might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, and they shall build up the waste places, repair waste cities’ Who will do these things ? Those who have truly entered into praise! This is why it’s vital to make the transition into joy. It is the restoration process that enables us to move on to the next level. God says ‘you will have a scar, but no open wound’ There will be reminders of the desert you were in, that’s good. God says I want you to remember how awful it really was, never forget the ‘pit that I took you out of’ now that you are out, go and do my works! I have claimed these verses for over 20 years concerning building up waste cities and God doing it thru your seed. Yesterday we had a good outreach day in Kingsville. We got with some brothers and met at a park. I have a friend who is a musician, but he only knows the old classics ‘amazing grace’ and stuff. Fine with me, we sang and praised in that park. I felt the Lord said that he was going to restore joy to ‘our mourners’ and it will be thru this restored joy that he will ‘build the old waste places’. ‘You shall be named the Priests of the Lord, the ministers of our God’ this is all of us! No special class here, no ‘clergy’. This is you and me. ‘For your shame ye shall have double, and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion, they shall posses double, everlasting joy shall be with them’ In Hebrews it says of Jesus ‘he despised the shame, looking ahead to the reward’. Here it says God will reward you by giving you many converts and blessing these converts exponentially based on the shame and confusion you experience. Don’t try to get out of the shame/difficulty/persecution, but see it as part of the cost. Know that as you suffer, God is promising to reward you thru your seed. ‘I the Lord love judgment, I HATE ROBBERY FOR BURNT OFFERINGS’ now I want you to pay attention here. In the New Testament Jesus teaches the way people ‘rob God’ is by not meeting the needs of people. He rebuked the Pharisees for tithing to the temple and using this as an excuse to not meet the needs of their parents. Jesus said when you didn’t meet the needs of the destitute that you were NOT MEETING HIS NEEDS, Jesus is God! John says ‘how can you say you love God who you don’t see, when you don’t meet the needs [love demonstrated] of the brother that you do see’. It is common today to use Malachi and teach ‘robbing God’ in the context of ‘not tithing’. Because the New Testament temple are made up of people, the New Testament teaches ‘robbing God’ is done by not ‘giving’ to this temple, which are people! I have taught all this before, but I want to change your thinking in this area. You must see the people as the temple in order to not ROB GOD. ‘I WILL GREATLY REJOICE IN THE LORD, MY SOUL SHALL BE JOYFUL IN MY GOD’ I want to end on this high note, even though the last verse of this chapter is also good [go read it!] I personally believe this to be a key ingredient at this time for us. The joy of the Lord is our strength. ‘But brother, you ‘rebuke’ so much in your writings, you teach correction a lot. How can you have joy when there is so much difficulty and trials and stuff?’ Our joy is not dependant on our situation, it is fixed in God. Read the Psalms, David understood this principle. Paul said his contentment was not based on outward circumstances. Let’s grasp hold of the great reality of what God has done for us; we are going to live forever! Don’t lose sight of the great things God has done. Be joyful in God at all times. I know he is going to do great things for all of us, let’s rejoice in the Lord, and again I say REJOICE! NOTE; ‘for confusion and shame your children shall posses a double portion in the land’ [my paraphrase] this past year my 2 oldest daughters [19-21] both purchased their own homes. They ‘possessed’ double of what I own. I see God doing things in the natural first, then the spiritual. A couple of our friends from the early years have just begun doing home groups in their cities, they have been serving the Lord, but it’s been a while since we really established anything consistent with these guys. I felt like the Lord was saying ‘our seed [yours too!] will begin possessing the Land this year’.
(532) Isaiah 62 ‘For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and salvation like a lamp that burns’ This is intercession based on natural Israel’s spiritual conversion. He is praying ‘open up Israel’s eyes to true salvation and righteousness’. ‘And gentiles shall see thy righteousness [Christ] and all kings thy glory, and thou shall be called by a new name [the Body of Christ! Spiritual Israel, a ‘new name’ that no one knows but he who gave it] which the mouth of the Lord shall name’. ‘Thou shall no longer be called forsaken or desolate, thy land shall be married’ The great ‘marriage supper of the Lamb’ a day when Israel will no longer be ‘separated/divorced’ from God, but will be part of the ‘bride of Christ’ and thru this holy union be ‘married’ back to God! ‘As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride [this is actually an intimate term ‘rejoiceth over’ God will actually be intimate with us and we with him!] so shall God rejoice over thee’. ‘I have set watchman on thy walls oh Jerusalem, they shall never be quiet day or night, give him no rest till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth’ Pray over Israel/Jerusalem until he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth, this will be at the appearing of her Messiah. NOTE; some theologians today are called ‘New Perspective’ they are giving a new perspective on Paul’s theology. There are some good points they bring out. One area is they are showing how the New Testament offer of ‘faith’ to the gentiles was ‘come and believe and you too will be part of the commonwealth of Israel’ they emphasize that faith allowed gentiles to partake of the community that God already had with Israel. There is some truth to this. The extreme says ‘Israel really is in line with God now, gentiles just need to get in on what she has’ this view doesn’t see that in Christ the TWO are made INTO ONE NEW MAN. God is actually creating one new man [not asking gentiles to come into an old man] and this happens thru Christ! ‘The Lord hath sworn by his right hand, surely I will no longer give thy corn to be food for thy enemies, and the son of the stranger shall not drink thy wine for which you have worked, but they that have earned it shall eat it and praise the Lord’ One of the curses for being disobedient is the wages and things you earn count for nothing. There are different types of judgment on sin, one is you have no power to posses wealth. The other is you have no power to keep it! Here God is saying when people are in judgment they lose the stuff they earned. One of the greatest financial wreckers in society today is divorce. Some high wage people have lived in difficulty because of this. They might earn 10 thousand a month and still be broke! This is common. God is telling his people if we get right with him, not only will he give us great opportunities to earn wealth, but we also get to keep it! [That is use it for right things, not horde it!] ‘go thru, go thru the gates, prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway, gather out the stones, lift up a standard for the people’ A few years ago  I felt the Lord tell me to start driving to work in Kingsville thru a longer route that would take me thru regional cities. During this time they also built all these new overpasses that allowed you to ‘drive on the walls of the cities’ and pray over them from a ‘high place’. This was for 3 years until I would retire [which I am in the process of doing]. I felt the lord gave me 3 intense years of prayer and intercession over a region that we have long prayed for. When I read these verses ‘go thru the gates/highway and take out the stones and prepare a way for the people’ as well as God saying ‘I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the land’ I felt things like this were signifying how God wants us to lay the groundwork thru prayer first. As I drove thru the land and ‘prophesied’ and prayed, God was ‘breaking up the fallow ground’. God has ‘land’ for you, you will begin possessing it as you are faithful to ‘go thru the land’ but also ‘gather out the stones’ this speaks of a willingness to both reprove [in love] and remove the ‘stones’ that are hindering the highway. When a road is filled with obstacles, you can still drive it, but very slow. I felt like the Lord was speaking of ‘acceleration’ a ‘suddenly’ when he acts quickly on our behalf. If we want to ‘advance rapidly thru out the land’ then we must get the stones out of the road! NOTE; I have told you guys in the past that sometimes my ‘spell check’ is prophetic. When I wrote ‘reprove’ it spelt ‘repave’.
(535) Isaiah 63 The first part of the chapter speaks of Gods righteous judgment ‘the day of vengeance’ and then mixes in mercy! ‘In all their affliction, he was afflicted’ this is interesting, God says ‘when you were afflicted, I too experienced it’. Wow, how could our afflictions be experienced by God? In Corinthians you have the doctrine of the ‘sin unto death’. There are various interpretations on this. You see certain believers who are in open sin. God allows judgment on them, even to the point of death, because they are ‘part of his body’. Sort of like God is saying ‘you guys are intricately attached to me, when you, as my Body, sin, then you are dragging me into the situation’. It seems as if God was saying his judgment is a result of them being the church, and at the same time ‘drinking the cup of devils’. You can’t have both! So in this case judgment was pronounced because they were ‘making the Spirit of God partake of evil things’ so to speak. Understand when we go thru things, especially open rebellion, God will eventually judge. It’s not out of meanness, but mercy. You read in Corinthians that when God judges us it is so we will not be condemned with the world. His judgment proves we are his kids and therefore it is really an act of divine mercy! ‘But they rebelled and VEXED his Holy Spirit’ it was ‘vexing’ to the Spirit because they were the temple of the Spirit. ‘O Lord, why hast THOU made us to err from thy ways’ Interesting! One of the prophets said ‘you deceived me, and I was deceived’. A lot of modern translations try to change this. They try to say God wouldn’t be an active partaker in ‘deceiving you’. I see it along these lines, God knows us intimately, he even knows there are fears and shortcomings that prevent us from truly entering into our destiny. He will actively allow us to ‘be deceived’ or cause us to ‘err from his ways’ because he wants us to get to the point of doing his will, he knows it’s best for us. If we don’t do his will voluntarily, he allows us to stray so ‘in the desert’ we will turn back to him. ‘Return for thy servants sake’ after the desert we then are willing! In the day of thy wrath you made us willing!
(536) Isaiah 64 ‘Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou would come down, that the mountains might flow at thy presence’ There are pivotal times in our lives where we have done all the planning we could imagine. We have prayed, read the Word and done all the things that we thought were necessary to see God move. It is often at the end of all of our efforts that we get to a place where we see the futility of it all, apart from God! In the end, like Paul said, some water, some plant, but only God can cause it to grow! Have you seen the need for God to come down and move on your behalf? You’ve done everything else, might as well call on God and believe that he alone can do it. ‘As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causes the waters to boil’ WOW! Jesus said ‘I am come to set fire to the earth, how I wish it were already burning’ [my translation]. We will read in this chapter ‘God is a consuming fire’. Jesus understood the role he was to play. He knew it would end in violence and resurrection. He knew it would be revolutionary in nature. How can you expect to come to a group of people who truly believe in God, and then show them that they have fallen away from the true intent of God and then say ‘God sent me to tell you this’. The role of a Prophet is revolutionary by its very nature. It will ‘burn’ things, things that need to be burnt. Jesus knew the course he was on, he knew he was going to start a fire that would consume everything in its path, he said he wished it were already burning. ‘For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what you have prepared for those who wait for you’ Paul quotes this to the Corinthians. This is not really talking about the great ministries and things that we think, it can include that. But this is speaking of the unbelievable mystery of redemption thru Christ. The things that Angels desire to look into. The story of mans redemption and how God preplanned it before the world began is a tremendous mystery that no man can see unless God reveals it to him. Paul says ‘no man can say Jesus is Lord but by Gods Spirit’ Paul was not saying no one could ‘mouth’ it, he was saying no human understanding can grasp it apart from the revelation of God. ‘Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways’ God instituted things so his people would ‘remember him’. The Passover, the Lords Supper. Often time’s people remember him in these rituals, but forget him in ‘their ways’. This is the main rebuke Isaiah gives to Israel in this book. When religion digresses to a point of ritual, apart from righteous action [justice] then we are not remembering God in his ways. Because his ways are justice and mercy and caring for the downtrodden and oppressed. It is too easy today to associate Christianity with ‘conservatism’. I am neither liberal or conservative, but you will find I hold to beliefs in both of these camps. The danger of aligning Christiantiy with a political cause is then you begin to think the ‘cause’ is Christian. You can fight against the illegal alien, or be against ‘welfare’ and the people on it, and if taken to the extreme you begin to see Christianity thru a lens that says ‘we are moral preachers to a fallen society’ to a point where we no longer practice charity or justice for the oppressed. God says he wants us to remember him in ‘ritual’ as long as we also remember him in deed. ‘But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our good deeds are as filthy rags’ This verse has been a key verse in many of the revivalist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. They focused on mans inability to please God and be good. Later on the ‘Word of Faith/Prosperity movement’ brought out good points when they emphasized that we are now made the righteousness of God in Christ. The balance here is apart from God, we are absolutely unrighteous and unable to please God. In Christ we are ‘acceptable to God’. God sees us as totally righteous. The caveat is Paul will still refer to himself at times as ‘the worst of sinners’ even after his conversion. I see the balance like this; In God we are accepted and God sees his Sons righteousness as being imputed to us by faith. During our journey we are progressively being made actually righteous. We are being sanctified. There are obvious times in this walk where we totally fail God. We then confess and repent and continue the journey. The closer we get to God, the further we see how far we really are. So Paul [and us] can at times see how ‘we are the worst of sinners’ and at the same time thank God that he doesn’t view us that way! ‘Our iniquities like the wind have taken us away’ Jesus says in John 3 ‘those that are born of the Spirit are like the wind’ Paul also teaches that as we once were controlled by sin, now we are to be controlled by righteousness. The ‘wind’ can describe how either we are led by sin or by God. It is an unseen force that cause’s things to turn in a certain direction. You can look at the wind blowing a tree and say ‘wow, that tree is being bent severely’ and yet you know it is a result of the wind. Often times I have seen [and experienced!] the lifestyle of going down paths that you seem to have no control over, friends who are at the stage of being in the street, robbing everything they can get their hands on for the next fix, and then going off to prison. At these stages they are allowing sin to bend them like the wind. I have also seen these same guys later be controlled by the Spirit and serving God. Paul said the way to ‘not walk in the flesh’ is to ‘walk in the Spirit’. Religion tells people ‘don’t do this or that’ while Gods recovery program is ‘do what the Spirit is saying’. The secret to deliverance is for a person to actively give them selves over to God and to do his works. If you ‘walk in the Spirit, then you will not do the works of the flesh’. ‘Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts will be established’ we need a breakthrough in obedience, in getting out and fulfilling Gods will. Most Christians who are running around from deliverance conference to deliverance conference are not yet ‘delivered’ because they haven’t yet fully given themselves into the active service of the Lord! ‘There is none that calls upon thy name, that stirs himself up to take hold of thee’ Why? Because our sins have separated us from God! In Hebrews it says ‘let us come boldly before the throne with a clear conscience’ it says this in context of the work of Christ in redemption. Because legally God refuses to hold our sins against us, therefore we have confidence. One of the most devastating things about sin is it separates us from God. It keeps us from coming to him. We feel guilty and unworthy and we can’t seem to get thru in prayer. God says ‘come’ and he will heal and forgive and restore. ‘But you are our father, we are the clay, you are the potter, we are the work of your hand. Don’t be really mad, don’t remember our sins, we are your people’ Isaiah uses the same ‘strategy’ as Moses ‘we are yours, we bare your name. For this reason please come and help us. It won’t look good on your record if your people don’t make it!’ We are asking God to help us because all we are is from him. He chose us and fashioned us with a specific destiny in mind. Tell God ‘you made me to do your will, move on my behalf Father, help me at this time. I have come to do thy will O God’ he often will ‘take away the first that he might establish the second’ [Hebrews]. Look for God to allow the first works of ministry to ‘dissolve’ as he transitions you into new things. Sometimes we hold onto our Ishmael’s because we truly have an affinity for them, yet God says ‘let go of Ishmael, I will still bless him, but the promise will be fulfilled in Isaac’. ‘Our holy and our beautiful house is burned up with fire’ interesting, we just read how ‘God is a consuming fire’ and how Jesus said ‘I have come to start a fire’. In the New Testament God transitioned his ‘holy place’ from the natural temple to the spiritual temple [the church/Body of Christ]. Thru out Israel’s history the destruction of the temple always represented Gods judgment. That was the significance of Jesus saying ‘destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up’ this was offensive to the Jewish mind. It was like desecrating the flag [even though Jesus was speaking of his body, the Jews were offended because they took it to mean their temple]. The fact that Israel, as a nation, would not make the full transition into the New Covenant left them with their temple and sacrifices that God already said were an abomination to him [Hebrews]. Ultimately this would lead to the temples final destruction in A.D. 70 under Titus. The destruction of the temple again was Gods way of saying ‘I no longer dwell in temples made with hands, I no longer will accept animal sacrifices. I will dwell in those who accept the sacrifice of my son, and I will receive their sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, this is the temple I will build, the temple of the Body of Christ’.
(537) Isaiah65 ‘I am sought of them that asked not for me, I am found of them that sought me not’ Paul uses these verses in Romans to show how Gods justification went to the Gentiles and not to Israel. The nation that prided herself in ‘seeking God’ were not accepted because of pride and her refusal to acknowledge the Messiah, the Gentiles were not even thinking there could be a chance of acceptance, and Jesus says ‘to all of you who weren’t even looking, you didn’t even bother to seek me, I am now opening my arms to you’ Wow! ‘I have stretched out my hands ALL DAY LONG unto a rebellious people, which walk after their own thoughts, they continually provoke me to anger, they sacrifice in gardens and burn incense on altars of brick’ God prescribed the way to sacrifice, Israel went another way. In Israel’s history you find times where she introduced a priesthood and system of sacrifice that ‘veered away’ from the ‘orthodox order’. During these times the people still had sacrifice, which they figured was good enough, but God detested sacrifices that were not in his prescribed order. Now all this points to the Cross. In Hebrews God says ‘I will not accept any more animal sacrifices, the prescribed order is now one sacrifice made on the altar of the Cross’. God is showing us here that even though many good people continue to ‘serve God in their own way’ this doesn’t cut it! You must come Gods way, his sacrifice and altar are the only way. It might seem ‘culturally incorrect’ to look at all religion outside of the Cross and deem it useless, but this is what God is saying! Don’t come to me with your own ideas of acceptable sacrifice [Cain/Able] but come to me thru the one sacrifice that I deem worthy. ‘As the new wine is found in the cluster and one saith, destroy it not for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servant’s sake, that I may not destroy them all. I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains’ God said if he found 10 righteous people in Sodom he would have spared the whole city for the remnants sake. This is a theme in scripture. God says he spares nations and people groups for the sake of the few who still have potential in them. God does this with individuals also. He sees remnants of good still left in you. You might have failed miserably, done terrible things. Why in the world does God still stick with you? He sees potential in you still, and knows it’s worth the wait! ‘The former troubles are forgotten, they are hid from mine eyes, for I create new heavens and a new earth, the former shall not be remembered or come into mind’ Now, I don’t want to whitewash what comes before this. God does rebuke and punish the people for walking in their own ways, after their own thoughts. God brings very severe judgment on the people for their sin! But after they turn back to God he says ‘I choose to forget the past, don’t keep going back to your ‘old world’ I am creating a new atmosphere for you to operate in’ I don’t want to over spiritualize this. God will make a real new heaven and earth someday. This is true. But he also wants to make a ‘new heaven and earth’ for you right now. He wants you to come out of your own small world of problems. Don’t spend your whole life surrounded by little insignificant problems. I don’t want to demean you; I want to show you that we have a tendency to see everything thru a myopic view. In the microscope everything looks huge, until you pull your head back and look at everything else around you. Sometimes the solution to our problem is to simply pull back and see the new heaven and earth that God has waiting for you; don’t spend so much time looking thru the microscope! ‘For as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and they shall long enjoy the work of their hands’ I have often used the analogy of a tree to describe Gods people, scripture does the same. Jesus is the vine, ‘the man whose name is the branch, he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord’. God wants to branch out thru you, he wants you to grow and extend thru the disciples that you bring to Christ. ‘I am the vine; ye are the branches’ you ‘branch out’ thru the people you bring to the Lord. Are you branching out yet? ‘They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble, they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them’ these last few passages I have committed to memory. These verses are about as good as any to memorize and pray and claim. I like them better than the prayer of Jabez! ‘It shall come to pass before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear’ A few years ago I was in a Church service and the Pastor asked the whole congregation to pray that the Lord would pay the salary of another staff worker for a campus church in Kingsville [Bay Area Fellowship]. As the Pastor and the congregation prayed this prayer, a few minutes later another staff person came to the front and announced that earlier in the morning, before we prayed, someone already volunteered to pay the salary of the person for one year. Before we asked, God answered!
(539) Isaiah 66 ‘Thus saith the lord, the heaven is my throne and the earth my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest’ Here we begin to see the transition that will take place in 1st century Rome. These descriptions from Isaiah are prophetic of Gods offer to Israel. Isaiah is saying ‘where is the temple that you can build for me to dwell in’? I do not want a man made temple any more. I am done with all animal sacrifices [we read that next!] God will end the prophetic message of Isaiah with his intent to transfer from an earthly natural temple, to a heavenly spiritual one, the Body of Christ! God will show his displeasure with all animal sacrifices, not just certain ones. For Isaiah to claim to be speaking for God, and to say these things seems blasphemous to Israel at this time. You must see that Isaiah is coming against all the ceremony and system that God instituted. To say these things was to put himself in the same category of Paul who the Jews will accuse of trying to destroy the law and Temple worship. But Paul was saying this post Christ, Isaiah was saying it before the Cross. How could Isaiah get away with this while the law was still in effect? The Spirit of prophecy sees and functions in future realities. When God opens up the future to a prophet, he simply speaks what he is seeing. It is Gods prerogative to proclaim his disapproval of the old system in anticipation of the new one that was to come. ‘For all those things hath mine hand made, but to this man will I look, to him that is of a poor and contrite spirit’ God says ‘I will not dwell in the temples of men, but in those who are humble and contrite’. Jesus said unless we humble ourselves and become as little children, we will not enter Gods kingdom. Here we see the ‘stones’ that the new temple will be made of, humble contrite people. ‘He that killeth an ox is like he slew a man, he that sacraficeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dogs neck, he that offers an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood [and you guys think I am harsh!] and he that burneth incense as if he blessed an idol’ In essence Isaiah is saying the same as the book of Hebrews. You must see that in the mind of God, all animal sacrifice, after the Cross[which Isaiah is seeing thru prophecy, he is speaking ‘post Cross prophetically’] is an insult and an abomination. I am going to start a commentary on Hebrews as soon as I finish Isaiah, I want to put the book in proper perspective. When the writer of Hebrews says ‘those who continue to sin after they were enlightened, that God will not allow them to renew their repentance’ it is not speaking of believers, as commonly taught. But it is telling Israel ‘if you reject Messiah, and think you can keep bringing me all these sacrifices of repentance, I won’t accept them anymore. You cant be ‘renewed again unto repentance, you have done despite to the Spirit of Grace and have trampled under foot the sacrifice of God’ The reason the language is so strong here, is because God is saying when you continue to sacrifice animals after the once and for all sacrifice of my Son, then you are doing disgrace to Grace. For Isaiah to being saying this, pre Cross, is amazing! ‘Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out FOR MY NAMES SAKE said, let the Lord be glorified, but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed’ the brethren of Jesus cast him out for what they thought was Gods will. The rejection of Messiah was seen to be an act of Israel’s orthodox belief. They truly thought they were doing the will of God. Jesus even said a time was coming when people would kill believers thinking they were doing Gods service. But in the end God appeared to Jesus joy and they were ashamed. ‘A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple’ Gods ‘city’ and ‘temple’ are the people of God. God has a voice that comes forth out of the temple. Rivers flow from this temple. Jesus said he who believes, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. God speaks thru his church. Some have attempted to ‘de gender’ God. They will say that God is both male and female. This is not so. God is definitively male. Then where is the feminine voice? It comes from what the Spirit is saying thru the bride, the Lambs wife. God has purposed to speak this way. So you have both the male and female sides seen. Paul said that the Jerusalem which is above is the mother of us all. The ‘Jerusalem from above’ is the church, the city of God. Scripture says listen to the voice of your mother and your father. We are to hear what God says [Father] and our mother, the corporate voice of the Spirit that has spoken thru the church, the mother of us all. ‘Before she travailed she brought forth, before her pain came she was delivered of a man child, who hath heard such a thing? For as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth?’ God is saying there is a process to the things he wants to birth from you. Part of the process is travailing, it is the severe pain experienced at the end of pregnancy. We often equate that pain the wrong way. We think ‘well, things are so hard here at the end, I want to quit and go home’ God is saying don’t quit, you are about to give birth. Don’t misread the labor pains; it is a culmination of the long months of waiting. I determined to bring you to this point of extreme pain, it is my process. Don’t abort! ‘Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, be glad all ye that love her’ It is vital for us to enter into joy. Jesus said after the woman gives birth, she forgets all the pain she went thru, because of the joy of bringing forth the child. Begin rejoicing in God, he will do great things. Scripture says ‘when the Lord turned the captivity of Zion, it was like a dream’ God is going to so move on your behalf that you will think it is too good to be true! ‘I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the gentiles like a flowing stream’ Jesus said ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you, let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid’ You have the inner ability to ‘not let your heart be troubled’ the world runs to doctors and drugs, we run to God. ‘As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem’ God comforts us ‘in Jerusalem’. In the book of Galatians the Body of Christ is called ‘the New Jerusalem, the Church, the mother of us all’ in the book of Revelation John says ‘the city that comes down from God out of heaven, the New Jerusalem, is the bride, the Lambs wife’ God says we are comforted in community. John also says [in 1st John] ‘when WE walk in the light, WE have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses US from all sin’ God works in community, as well as with individuals. Some times we as believers go to one extreme or another. Soren Kierkegaard, the great 19th century Philosopher/Theologian wrote as a Prophet against what he saw as the abuses of the institutional church. The Danish state church had a lot of formality and ‘spectator’ Christianity. Kierkegaard emphasized Gods desire to reveal himself to people individually, outside of ‘the church’. He would say things like ‘the congregations are totally useless, there is nothing good to be found there’ and then he would say you can only truly serve God outside of ‘the church’. Well God does see all of us ‘as the church’ and he works thru individuals as well as ‘groups of people’. God wants to ‘attach’ you to people for his purpose and destiny. You need to ‘walk in the light’ with other believers, so God can ‘comfort you in Jerusalem’ the corporate city of God. ‘For I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations… to the Isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither seen my glory, and they shall declare my name among the gentiles’ sound familiar? This sounds just like the day of Pentecost, in Acts. God gathered all types of people groups to Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Spirit, and these nations/people groups went back to their own areas and spread the gospel. God sends those ‘who escape’, out to be evangelists. Many times you will ‘go thru hell’ and barley escape with your life, but the reason God let you escape was for the purpose of sending you out to other places and people. Don’t make bargains with God and not keep them! How many times have people said ‘God, if you get me out of this one I sware to do this or that’ are you out? Then do what you said! [note: in the New testament Jesus and James taught to not even make these types of vows, so I am not advocating doing this, but the point is many of us have, so if you did do it, now fulfill what you promised God you would do!] ‘For as the new heavens and the new earth shall remain before me, so shall your seed and name remain… and all flesh shall come to worship me.. and they shall go forth and look upon the bodies of those who transgressed against me, for their worm dieth not, neither shall the fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh’ I want to end our study of these last 15 or so chapters of Isaiah with a brief overview. God tells us ‘I am going to make all things new’ God has a real future eternal hope for all those who are in Christ. We need to reaffirm the truth that heaven is real! As well as a ‘new earth’ that he will make new some day. God also affirms thru the Prophet that hell is real! Theologians, even good ones, have differing views on hell. I like R.C. Sproul, he is one of my favorite theologians, he believes the references to ‘hell fire’ are symbolic, but he states ‘the real punishment will be worse than real fire’ the reason I wanted to add the above verses on ‘the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched’ is because Jesus himself uses this terminology when describing eternal punishment, the ‘worm dieth not’ indicates that there will be a real physical judgment that lasts forever! God doesn’t want ANYBODY to go there. How many will go? I don’t know, but this I do know, we as believers have the only hope in the world to keep people from going there, his name is Jesus Christ. I exhort all of you to begin doing all you can to reap in a huge harvest of souls for God, we can’t bring our cars and houses and money and stocks and all these other things with us, but we can bring people! Gather up as many of them as you can, so you will have some friends and family when you get to the other side.