Archive for January, 2012


Our only qualification

So yesterday I had my waiting time later in the day.  It seemed to be the best time I’ve had in a while.  It’s like I could feel the Lord near. I wasn’t really seeing anything, hearing anything, but I just felt like something was there, like there was a love there holding onto me.  There was another truth that I believe was being given to me, I even sat down and wrote a bit of it out on my phone, only to realize I hadn’t saved it and now it’s gone.  Note to self, if God is giving you something, write it down.  That way you can come back later and remember, and not have to look back and wonder how important it was and why you just can’t seem to remember.  I’m reminded of the seed on the road, where the devil came by and took the seed away.

Back to topic though.  Part of why I think I was having a more successful time was that I begin to believe a little bit in what enables me to come before God.  If God were taking resume’s for His service, most of our qualification would mean nothing.  Remember the verse, our righteous is as “filthy rags”.  If you don’t actually know what those stand for, ask and I’ll tell you, just don’t like writing that bit out.  I believe the Lord reminded me of my one and only qualification, His blood.  You see, the blood of Christ has paid for and covered all my sin.  We intellectually talk about this, but do you really believe that in your heart.  I had this verse in my last post..

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:19-22

We can come in confidence, not because of our works, who we are, where we live, what denomination we are.  We can come with confidence by the blood.  The blood gives us access to the holy place.  That is the place where God took up residence upon the earth.  When I come before Him and feel not worthy, feel like I’ve done something wrong, feel like I’m not enough, I remember His blood.  His blood has pulled down every obstacle.  It has paid the price, I just stand under it and walk in.

My dad had said that God wants to release a new understanding of the power of the blood.  That we as a church have somehow glossed over it, we’ve missed what all it means.  I believe him.  I believe there’s so much more the blood does for us, and this is just a small part.  I hope to find some time to make a study of the blood through the Bible.  Maybe He’ll be gracious to reveal more to me.

Advertisements

Do you believe?

There is a one truth that I’ve overlooked which I believe to be the first step upon this journey.  This point was reiterated in “The Father’s Love” by Richard Sodmont.  He has had some amazing encounters with the Lord, and was talking through some of the things he believes are important to getting there.  Simply put, we must believe that this can happen to us.

And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. – Matthew 27:51

The veil separated the holy place from the holy of holies.  This was where the presence of God rested in the temple.  Only the high priest could enter and even then only after sacrifices and special offerings were made.  Yes, the blood of Jesus has broken that separation.  We have access into the place of God now.  We preach this, but do we really believe it.  Too often I’ve heard it taught, but only as another ideological point, not a reality.

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:19-22

First, we can enter the most holy place.  This isn’t an imaginary land where our prayers magically go, this is our spirit stepping into the Kingdom and coming before the throne itself.  How can this be, because of the blood.  This is only one thing that I can think of that separates us from an intimate relationship with God.  An encounter with Him is not based upon where we live, who we are.  It doesn’t matter if we’re a pastor or a layman.  If we’ve been to seminary, or studied theology.  Most importantly, our sin does not affect it either.  All too often I hold back from trying to draw into God because of things I’ve done, but I overlook the most powerful thing out there, the blood.  Jesus blood has already covered over my sins, they can no longer separate me from God.  So it doesn’t matter what I’ve done as to whether God will move.  What does matter, is what I’m willing to believe.  You see, if I don’t believe that God will respond to me, He won’t.  If I don’t believe enough to commit myself to His care, I won’t come near.

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” – Revleation 4:1

God opened a door for John to come up to Him.  I’m coming to believe that each of us have that same opportunity.  That is part of what I want to prove with this journey.

Do you believe?

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. – Revelation 3:20

This last message was about God knocking upon our door.  Part of waiting is to make yourself more open to the Lord.   He will come and talk to you, often in a way you wouldn’t expect.

How is it that God talks to you?  Here’s responses I often hear ( and answer with) in groups:

  • The Bible
  • Other believers – Books, friends, family, etc
  • The spirit

But when you come down to it, we often don’t have answers for that Spirit piece.  It’s just a feeling, or a nudge, but that isn’t very good at defining things.  What sort of feeling is it?  Are you sure it’s not just heartburn?

God wants to talk with us, but He doesn’t speak out loud that often.  He speaks through our spirit, but that’s not something we have used and are sensitive.  This can come to us through many ways.  We can feel things, experience emotions, hear things, smell things, all sorts of stuff.  Neville spoke of times where someone might smell the presence of God.  In my case it’s often a pressure, that someone is there with me.  Have you ever had a time where you thought you heard someone say your name, but you look around and no one is talking to you.  Who do you think said that?  What about that song that gets stuck in your head even though you haven’t heard it recently?  Or the night you woke up wide awake, but there was no noise or movement?  Could it not be God knocking on your door?

I’m starting to thin of it this way. Whenever something spontaneous happens, whether I think I heard something, a thought, a song, waking, I stop to see if it’s the Lord.  From what Neville said, this will start in a way or two, and you’ll find God is using a couple ways regularly with you.  You can come to recognize them.  But to do so, you must respond.  This is where we miss so often.  Just as the love in Song of Solomon came to his love, she didn’t respond immediately, then couldn’t find him for a long time, if God comes knocking and we don’t respond, we miss that opportunity.  God’s not on our schedule.  He’s not going to come only when we find it convenient to speak with Him.  Maybe this explains why I can end up in such long periods of drought, because I’m looking for God, when I should’ve been responding when He came.

It’s funny how this is all starting to fit together.  If you want to recognize God moving, you have to start practicing His presence.  Otherwise, you aren’t thinking about Him to notice that it’s Him.  And then move aside, and wait for a little bit.  Stop what you’re doing to listen for the Lord to speak.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

So the last few days have been tough.  I get to my waiting time, and I start but my mind will not focus.  Next thing I know I’ve either almost nodded off, or I’ve completely gone to a different subject.  Today I tried as well for a while and it wasn’t working.  The longest I seem to make it without losing focus is a couple minutes.  It seems to have gotten harder. I know I’m training myself to let my mind relax and open up, and to focus.  Unfortuantely, I think 30 minutes isn’t enough right now.  I will stick at it.  I’ll continue to work on focusing first.  Until I can sit for this period and feel that my mind has mostly been focused upon the Lord, I don’t know that I’m being successful.  I can only hope that my efforts are building something up in the spiritual realm or in my mind.  That I am very slowly pulling stuff away from my eyes.

I hit this verse today and remembered it from one of the lessons.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, jast as from the Lord, the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

and again in John

“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You ave give Me, for you loved Me before the foundation of the world.” – John 17:24

God wants us to see Jesus’ glory.  Jesus wanted us to be where He is.  I’ve always taken this as Jesus wants us to be up in heaven with Him, but that would mean He wants us to die.  And how can the one who came to bring us abundant life hope that we lose it so we can see His glory.  No, it makes better sense that He wants us to come in the Spirit.  That our Spirit could be with Him, just as His Spirit was able to be with the Father, so that He could do only what He saw the Father doing.

The veil has been torn.  We can come to Jesus with an unveiled face.  The translation for mirror fits better as a looking glass.  Basically, we can see his image as if looking through glass.  We can see an image of the Lord, not just read about it.  And as we look upon that, like we come to a mirror to look at our physical selves, we will be changed by what we see.

So I just listened to this teach from Neville’s series.  He spoke about the language of heaven.  The initial point is that it’s not just words.  God speaks to us through all sorts of things.  He can speak through words, through pictures, visions, feelings, even smells.  In a fallen world, our language has a lack of ability to express what it is that God is expressing.  Ever heard the saying a picture is worth a thousand words.  Same sort of deal.  God wants to communicate, but He can’t do it all through mere words.  On top of that, He’s communicating to our spirit.  If it were in words, it would have to go through our mind first which just doesn’t translate things correctly.  Often a feeling or picture can go through better.  Think on how many times in the Bible God communicated through a dream or vision, and not just through the words of a prophet.

So how do we begin to perceive this?  By staying in His presence, by knowing that He’s always talking, always working, and being open for anything coming.  Don’t just assume everything thing you hear, say or feel is just normal.  Perhaps that headache yesterday was a warning that you’re about to get in trouble.  Maybe that random pain in your knee was telling you that someone you’re about to meet has a problem with their knee.  Maybe that time you could swear you heard someone say your voice, it was God trying to catch your attention to tell you something.  Keep your eyes open, always be aware for something out of place and consider it.  Don’t be too busy to miss God moving.

I know sometimes I’ve looked down upon those that seem to find God in every mundane thing in life, but perhaps I judged to harshly.  Perhaps they had known something all along I missed, and that’s God is always there.  To this end we must practice His presence.  This is from the book I spoke of previously.  A monk whose job was to wash dishes found himself with a vibrant relationship with the Lord.  He lived back in the 1400’s, yet we still talk about him.  His key, to live in continual acknowledgment of the presence of God.  He made it a goal of his to never forget about God.  To always keep Him on his mind, to think about Him as he did every-day things.  He would meditate upon His goodness while washing dishes, or doing other chores.  You can read many of his letters encouraging others to do the same.  When we read about what he felt, the level of love he could feel from God, why don’t we all go after this.

Because there’s a cost.  We must give up our minds to His love.  We have to put aside all the pointless day-dreaming and the idols we’ve created and apply our mind to the Lord.  Most of us don’t have the determination to see this through to the point that our mind begins to become renewed by Him.  We like our comfortable spots too much and don’t push.

Bobby Connor released a post about pushing to the next level.  He was talking about God releasing something new to a part of the church, to those who are willing to take it and are ready.  The key is again our devotion to following the spirit, being willing to lay aside our lives and follow Him.

So obviously, today I’m starting to practice His presence again.  I’ll give updates as I go and try to talk about how it’s going, how successful I am at keeping my thoughts upon Him through the day.

I think maybe what is one of the most important parts of this will be to just get real with it.  For example, I’ve heard lots of people talk about the book “Practicing His Presence” by Brother Lawrence, but I hear of few people who really stick with it. I’m guessing most people do like I’ve always done, that’s a great idea, I’m going to somewhat try, but then after a couple days of seeing how hard it is, I’m going to move on to something else that seems promising.

Few of us really stick with something tough.  At least something like this where the results are hard to see until you stick with something for possibly months.  That’s how I expect this Waiting on the Lord to go.  I expect to not see any real results for months.  I’m hoping for at least some small stuff, but the real results, the seeing into the Kingdom, walking in the spirit, I don’t expect for a year, even more.  My guess is that much of it depends upon my commitment.  If I’m committed along the way, God can work through my problems.  If I’m not, I may never even get there.

That’s part of what this blog is for.  To push myself to continue with it.  To that measure, I want to be committed to the course.  When I mention something like I need to find a quiet place away for my waiting time, then I’m going to do it from that point on.  None of this words and no actions deal.

Today, I fell asleep.  When you’re sitting still for 30 minutes, with your eyes closed trying not to think too much, it seems perfectly reasonable to fall asleep.  I do believe I remember Neville mentioning to find a position that’s comfortable, but not too comfortable, apparently like leaning back in your car seat.

So I’ve continued to find my time.  I’ve only had one day I cut things short, but most days I find time.  I’ve had a tough time focusing though.  I’ll start by thinking about Jesus, by focusing upon Him, visualizing Him, but next thing I know I’m off in la-la land.  It’s amazing how quickly it happens.  For now it’s a matter of a force of will.  I have to train my mind to be able to do this.  I thought lunch today would be better than early morning like most days where it’s so easy to fall back into sleep, but I guess I just ruled that out.  I think for now I need to keep my head from leaning back on something, that should cover the sleep portion.  Then I need to just focus on Jesus.  When my mind tries to wander, just come back and say Jesus.  Ask Him to speak, and listen.  Try to also picture him sometimes as well.

The second message in the series was about spiritual deafness.  There’s a process that as we reject something from God, we begin to hear less.  Think of it like a noise you here, if you ignore it, it starts to blend into the background.  So at one house I lived at, we lived close to the airport.  Planes would often fly overhead and were fairly load.  After a couple weeks, I’d barely notice them.  That’s because I chose to ignore them.  In a similar way, we become deaf to the Lord when we choose to ignore Him.  It’s probably a mixture of we stop hearing Him, but He also stops talking.  Why waste time on us when we don’t care.  Many Christians end up here.  We here the things He says that are convenient, but so much more of our lives He’s asked for, we’re not willing to give to Him, and over time if we persist, He gives up and moves on.  Then we get stuck and wonder why we fill so unfulfilled in our lives.  Because we’ve chosen this.  Another reason why we need the bond-servant commitment.  When God talks, we are attentive to His voice, so we move.

Listened to Paul Keith Davis message from the latest school of the spirit a couple days ago, and it has validated what I’m searching for here.  He said one of our focuses this year should be on “contemplative prayer”.  He had also mentioned that on the last message of 2011, to spend time waiting on the Lord to hear from Him.  It’s good to hear him saying something we should be working on, and to have already been trying to focus on that.

Last couple days have not seemed successful, but I’ve stuck with it.  First suggestion I have, make sure you’re alone in a quiet place.  Just the noise of someone can easily knock you out of focus.  I’ve also spent a lot of that time day-dreaming.  I try to focus upon Jesus, but that can be tough.  I believe later in the messages, Neville talks about trying to visualize Him, to get your imagination in on the effort, so I try to do that but it’s tough for me, I’m not as much of a visual person.  What does usually seem to work to start with is to imagine Jesus from stories in the Bible.  Like imagining him upon a mountain side preaching the sermon on the mount.  Or walking across the water.  Thinking of Him doing those things that I associate with who He is in my mind.  Today I was able to focus a little better.  I’m going to try to really use some self-discipline and focus to keep my mind from straying.  Even if it means I’m not as relaxed, I want to get the pattern set, and see if that helps me as I go along.

I did have one thought come today.  Jesus said he only did what He saw the Father was doing.  How could He see what the Father is doing?  He saw into the spiritual realm.  He could see and hear from God to know what to do on the earth.  Would Jesus expect less from us when He said that His disciples would do even more than He did?

Well, I remembered correctly.  The first teaching was laying the foundations, and it seems the most important is the role of the bond-servant.  The Hebrews had servants back in the Old Testament.  You could by them ( sounds sort of like slaves ), but they were to be freed after 6 years.  This kept them from being put into slavery.   But, a servant  could choose after those 6 years, that he wanted to stay with his master, if so, his ear would be pierced and he would give up all his rights and possessions and serve his master only for the rest of his life.  There was no turning back, there was no longer any freedom.

In the same way, as we become Christians God places upon us certain burdens, but often does not immediately call us into full service for Him.  We may spend years, but at some point we get the realization of what it is to follow Jesus.  Then a choice is presented to us.  We can choose that we will follow God no matter what.  No matter what we are called to give, the choices we may make before others, we will follow.  As Jesus says, we must “carry our cross” to follow Him.  And this is but the beginning of the journey.  Yikes.

I have been struggling for this for probably over a year now.  I’ve felt that God has been preparing me to be ready for this dedication of my life.  I have seen the many ways it can cost me.  You see, we have a new house, and what if God were to ask me for that, would I give it up.  I have a young daughter, what if God asks me for time apart from her.  What if I must make a decision my wife doesn’t like, will I choose Him over her.  I think it’s a typical thing for parents, but I’m ready to give much of my life up for Him, but I’ve found it much harder to sacrifice things for my family for Him as well.  Yet, He is my Lord.  I have chosen to follow Him, to become a bond-servant to Him.  What he asks, I give.  And I know He provides the grace.

I’m sure I’ll have some examples of this as time goes along, I’ll try to remember to post them as I go.

Ok, so day two, let me say where I am so far, the things to figure out.

First, when do I wait.  This last couple years I’ve been waking up earlier to find that alone time with God.  With a child, it’s not like you have a lot of options in your house to get quiet.  The morning seems to be my best bet.  I’m the only one up, the house is quiet and I can focus.  To get into specifics(which is not always a good rule of thumb) I’m initially shooting for 30 minutes of time just being quiet and focusing upon the Lord.  My problem right now is the focus.  In the morning my mind is sluggish, I can easily fall back asleep.  If I sit in my chair with my head back like I want to, I might fall sleep.  If I sit up somewhere else, I’m not comfortable(my body aches some from sleeping, my back is a bit tight).  But I need to be comfortable and awake.  Such mundane things, but so important.  Night time would probably be better to have good focus(less on my mind) but harder to work out.  So we’re starting with this for now.  Using that time in the morning means less time in the word, and less prayer time about other things.  The prayer time is easier to make up, and I know I’ll be using some of my lunches to keep up with the group I help lead.  When it comes down to it, if I want it bad enough, I’ll make time for God.

Tomorrow a group of men I’m involved with is having an extended prayer session.  I look forward to this to have some time with no other worries. I find that I want that time, but I also have lots of other cares and things that require my time.  So getting a block of time without feeling guilty of taking it away from others can be tough.

Tomorrow I’m going to start over again on the series I spoke about.  “The quest to walk with God”.  This will be like my 3rd or 4th time through, but obviously I will be more focused this time as I’m making this such a focus for my year.  I know coming up soon will be the bond-servant relationship.  I’ll speak lots about this as we go, but I know this is such a key from the beginning.  If I’m not willing to walk where He says, how can I expect to keep seeing more.