Thursday, November 7, 2019

How do we determine success?

Option 1: Living in unbelief with the strength of man 

  • Is it built? 
  • Has it grown? 
  • Have they come? 

Option 2: Living in faith with the knowledge of God 

  • Did I hear and remember? 
  • Did I believe and remind?
  • Did I obey?

The freedom to be sanctified

In the pursuit of freedom, we’ve forgotten the freedom to choose to be sanctified — 

  •  To freely choose to give up our will for any pursuit other than the glory of God. 
  • To freely separate ourselves from the desires, hobbies and past-times of the world in order to live as pilgrims and wanderers on this earth. 
We’ve pursued freedom from the law, from traditions, from external works of holiness — pushing the boundaries and demanding no judgment for this lifestyle. Using blanket words such as, “religious spirit,” we’ve pursued these freedoms as though they were necessary salvation from bondage. 

 In reality, these new “freedoms” become bondage for us. A prison built with the walls of demanding the right to live compromised and still be called a container of God’s holiness, righteousness and Spirit. Pure deception! 

We can choose to live a life set apart and still be free from the demands of the law. This is the freedom for which Christ has set you free.

Jeremiah 33:3 - Strength in the unknowing

What great mystery lies in front of you? What impossible task?

Are you confronted daily with the immensity of your unknowing? Or are you content in your knowledge? 

Can you explain, define, and defend every aspect of God’s working and nature? Is your faith for defending, or is it for defying?

Is there anything left in front of you which you see in part, but cannot grasp?

Can you any longer claim an urgency in your unknowing? A desperation to call unto the Almighty God for sight you do not yet possess?

Have your eyes then been opened completely, or dare we say they are now shut soundly? Content in your blindness or dependent on Him because of it?

Does your arrogance allow for mystery, or does your humility require it?

You say, "If I cannot perfectly define every detail of my foundation, then how could I possibly stand on it?"

The trouble with a foundation of this sort is it serves to lift ourselves higher, and thus is prone to crumble.

The path to strength lies not higher, but lower. Not more definition, but more mystery. Not in our own words of human wisdom, but in mysteries unsearchable — that a God eternal, perfect, all-knowing, infinite, would extend an invitation such — call to Me and I WILL ANSWER.

Humbled in our unknowing then, or exalted in our certainty? Lord, let it never be the latter.

The paradox of the Bible - Leonard Ravenhill

“Isn’t it a paradox this book. if you want to go up, go down. If you want to gain, throw everything you have away. Lose your life, you’ll find it. Keep your life, you’ll lose it. If you ascend, you’ll be humiliated. If you humble yourself, you’ll be exalted. If you want to be a somebody, be a nobody. So foolish isn’t it?”
Leonard Ravenhill, sermon audio here

Re: vain repetition of "holy, holy, holy"

We will remember Your name in this place.
We will never forget that You are the one who caused us “to be.”
The I AM God caused us “to be” with His breath in our lungs and His word hidden in our hearts.
In response, we set our “yester” [creative, forming, imagining mind] on the “zeker” [memorial, remembrance] of Your name. (Ex. 3:15, Is. 26:3–9)
This in contrast to those who put their yester on false gods, idols, created things, and self. (Hab. 2:19, Rom. 1:22–25)
We serve a Creator God — a creative God. The endless complexities of nature came from Him; both the creation we know about and the undiscovered depths of nature that even after 1,000’s of years of searching and documenting we have yet to reach the end of.
Re: vain repetitions, crying out, “Holy, holy, holy” for all of eternity.
How can this not be vain repetition?
It’s not because of its truth, as in God is holy, and thus it is not vain repetition to say it over and over.
No, it’s because each time they say it, “Holy, holy, holy,” they say it from a brand new place of understanding — as in, we never knew Him as holy like this before.
For eternity we sing, “Holy, holy, holy,” and never run out of deeper revelation into this single attribute of God. Why? Because He is a mystery to be revealed for all eternity. There is no end to the depth of the mystery of Your holiness.
Yet we’ve settled for an imitation, a moment in time definition, formed and fashioned in our own image — what makes sense to us. And as with anything fashioned by human hands, we’ve grown old with it.
We say, “We’ve heard it all before.”
Our lives are stale. We’ve satisfied ourselves (grown fat) on moldy bread. It’s no wonder then that all our efforts for righteousness feel like striving. That we find them wearisome and thus find ourselves burnt out, fully consumed by the trials of life.
“I’m just trying to keep my head above water.”
“I just don’t have the capacity for much else right now. It’s been a long season.”
It’s no wonder our marriages suffer, that we’re sick in body and unordered in the head. We’ve hidden an inferior word in our heart, one full of mold and familiarity. Thus, our only recourse is to chase “new” and to seek fascination in the depths of “self.”
  • my gift
  • my calling
  • my ambitions
  • my passions
  • my dreams
We’ve lost the wonder of the depths of God because we no longer allow ourselves to fear Him. Reverence keeps us from sinning. Yet we don’t know how to reconcile this God with the sacrificial love of Jesus. So we choose friend over fear, entering into agreement with familiarity.
We begin to serve a God who can be known, defined and fashioned to serve our will. This is an idol. “Holy, holy, holy,” is our saving cry. Fascinate us again Creator God! Let fear replace familiarity. I take off my sandals, take my hand off the plow and turn aside from my task to see about this great and wondrous sight.

Do we truly love Him?

True love demands sacrifice.
This is not judgment, condemnation or legalism, it’s simply a recognition of what we’ve come to know about love.
Love is the most powerfully motivating force in the universe. It stays longer than a choice made in fear. It gives more than a choice made out of self-interest. It asks for less than a choice made in fairness or equity.
And thankfully, the Bible gives us the clearest picture of love’s greatest demonstration — the sacrifice of one own life for another.
True love demands sacrifice.
With those who are in love, you will notice a rearranging of priorities, a giving up of outside interests, a change in spending habits, new language and topics of speech — and the one constant through all of these changes? They will all be done willingly and cheerfully.
There is no more influential and motivating force for lasting change than true sacrificial love.
When true love compels me, nothing will stand in my way.
What do we say then of those who demonstrate no change, who refuse to sacrifice existing habits and priorities, who cannot commit to absolute faithfulness, while their significant other extends both hands openly, holding nothing back?
  • Think of the husband who places work as a priority over his family. Dedicated at all costs to the job, but impatient and checked out while at home.
  • Think of the girlfriend who keeps the boyfriend strung along, never committing but knowing she is the center of his universe and loving the feeling she gets from that.
  • Think of the marriage where the two never become one. Sure they live together and perhaps even raise kids, but neither has surrendered their will and independence to the other. They still make decisions as if they were single, and this has become their norm.
The answer to this question is obviously clear when we ask it in human relationships. We have all sorts of names, opinions, words of caution and book recommendations in these situations where the lack of reciprocal love is “obvious”, yet the answer becomes murky when we compare it to our relationship with God.
Any perceived strings attached to our love from God is instantly rejected as legalism and Old Testament thinking.
Why the shift in sentiment? Why so clear in human relationships and so uncertain between man and God?
What would those in our examples above say when confronted with their lack of true love?
  • I do love my family, see how I provide for them. See how hard I work. Why do they expect more than that? I work harder than almost any other man I know.
  • I like him, but I’m just afraid of commitment. I mean how can I be sure he is the one when there are so many other options? So many other things bring me happiness and comfort, why do I have to choose only one?
  • Don’t judge me. The way we do marriage is just different from your interpretation. We all get to interpret things for ourselves and this is the version that works for us. We have accepted this standard and now you need to as well.
Are we really much different when it comes to God? Do we not have perfectly logical and justifiable reasons for our lack of sacrifice and commitment? Don’t we have examples we can point to, both in our experiences and the experiences of others, which validate our lifestyle?
And yet deep down there is something missing: an inability to gladly and willingly surrender everything for our Beloved. Why?
Is it because we have not yet found true love?
There is a true love, as described above, the kind which elicits sacrifice, and if you asked them how they could possibly give so much, their answer would be, “Sacrifice? I’ve only willingly and gladly given what I have. It is no great price to pay for the love of this One. He deserves so much more.”
Oh let it be so for all of us. Let us not be found “unknown” as a lover of God in the last day.

Fearfully is wonderfully

There is a fear that comes when we leave Egypt.
Not to mention the leaving behind of our normal, our comfortable, our controllable. This fear is far above and beyond these momentary discomforts.
The fear I’m speaking of is a trembling, a shaking to our core as we are presented with a situation that is far too great for us to undertake on our own. The trembling is a coming to terms with our frailty. Our complete lack of ability to succeed.
And in this moment of shaking — a choice appears. A first step. Will you take it? Your promised land lives on the other side of that step, but you’ve never felt fear and inadequacy as you will in the moments leading up to that step and in all the steps that are to follow.
Have you worked out your faith with this kind of fear and trembling? Have you come face to face with your frailty yet? Have you fallen upon the stumbling stone, begging for mercy — completely dependent on Him to turn from heaven and hear your cry.
Fearfully and wonderfully made happens in these steps — as we leave Egypt for a promised land that we’ve yet to see. Not in our strength, but in our trembling.
Perfection of our faith happens when rejoicing joins with our trembling to produce a sound which delights He who hears, “Yes! Yes! Yes! No matter the cost, yes!”
Can you live as Moses — forsaking the wealth, comfort and power of Egypt — content to wander this Earth as a stranger, living for a city you cannot see?
How far up the hillside can your eyes lift? Do you yet see His help coming?
This is no safe place for the qualified, the gifted, the special, the chosen, the recognized, the wise, the clever, the strong. No, it’s quite dangerous for those who are blinded to their absolute and utter dependence on The Maker of heaven and earth in order to arrive on the other side.
See have I not prepared a place for you? A place where God and man can once again dwell as one. By faith, you enter in. By endurance, you remain.
I live today for a day when God and man will once again dwell as one. When I’ll finally see Your face.
I pray Lord, in those last days when you return, that you would find me faithfully wandering in Your rest, fearfully content to be a stranger and a pilgrim on this earth! Keep me until the end!