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Archive for May, 2009

 

John 11

 

“This sickness will not end in death.”  If Jesus says it, it can be counted on.  No matter how deep a thing may be buried; no matter what tries to seal it shut; no matter how ‘over’ it seems to be. 

 

All 12 disciples heard Jesus say this, yet when Jesus “came to the tomb”, which “was a cave with a stone lad across the entrance”, I believe all believed with Martha—“but Lord, by this time there is a bad odor”.

 

Can you imagine if just one of the twelve disciples would have elbowed one of the others and said, ‘watch this’?  Oh for the individuals who can first hear Jesus speak and then believe what He has said in spite of all the facts that seem to point to another end.

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John 10

 

“His sheep follow him because they know his voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

 

Remember how one end of a magnet repels while the other attracts; I thought of that as I read all that is said here about the sheep, the shepherd and the stranger. 

 

The sheep are so familiar with the shepherd’s voice, and trusting, that they naturally follow him around as he leads.  It says that the shepherd goes ahead of them.  I believe, knowing what they need, he goes ahead of them searching for the best pasture he can find for them.  All is well; no worries.

 

But the stranger attacks and scatters.  The sheep do not recognize the stranger’s voice and run from him.  It is foreign to them.  Their trust is turned to fear.

 

Oh to be so familiar with our Shepherd’s voice, and trusting, that we simply follow.  Knowing He knows what we need, we have no worries.  So familiar with His voice that when we hear the voice of the stranger that suggests that all will not be well, it will be foreign to our ears—thet we would not recognize it and would therefore run from it.

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The Altar

 

A couple of weeks ago, I had an experience that I wrote about in a piece called ‘What’s Missing’.  In it I refer to a poem I had just read called ‘Oh Altar’.  The two combined has redirected my entire focus.  My Bible reading was telling me that unless the Father draws or enables a person, they cannot come to Him.  Everything was pointing to one thing—the need for an awakening.  Nothing mattered more than finding the way in which peoples lives could be radically changed. 

 

A little over a week ago a good friend of our family died.  In the mind set I was in, I had a thought I had never had before in relation to someone’s death.  I kept thinking—he knows.  He has passed from this life to the next and he knows.  In light of his knowing, I kept thinking how much he must be wishing he could come back and tell those he knew what he now knew.

 

I couldn’t, and still can’t, escape that thought.  The more I thought about it, the more clearly I could see what he was seeing and feel what he was feeling.  It was as if God was stirring me to speak on his behalf.  For him it was too late.  It would take someone who was still here, that had as clear a vision as he now had, to be able to convey with the same conviction the message he would proclaim if he himself were here.

 

It has occurred to me over the past couple of days that the above is what we’re to be doing.  We should be close enough to God, as Leonard Ravenhill put’s it, “to have eternity stamped on our eyeballs”.  Jesus had it stamped on every fiber of His being; because of it, He was willing to go to the cross. 

 

We must see eternity that clearly.  We must have a fresh vision of it.  I believe that as we return to the alter, God will give us this new vision.  Without it, the people will perish.  The awakening begins at the altar.  Only there will we be radically changed.  Only there will we find the life through which God will be able to draw man.

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John 9

 

Everyone seems to be divided today.  Not only does our nation seem to be drawing clearer lines of distinction than have been drawn in many years, but it appears our churches are doing the same thing.  I and many others sense God is in the new while many are drawing lines in the sand since it does not line up with what they believe.  Both cannot be right but both are sure that they are.  So we are divided.

 

They were divided in John 9 also.  ‘As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth’.  ‘As he went along, he saw…’  He took the time to notice, as was pointed out by someone a few days ago.  He took the time to notice.  He took the time to heal.

 

The Pharisees were not ‘going along’.  They were stationary.  ‘They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been born blind.’  Forever looking for fault, they realize the healing took place on the Sabbath and accuse, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’  It was not in line with what they believed so they rejected it.  But others asked, ‘How can a sinner do such miraculous things’?  ‘So they were divided.’

 

Because the Pharisees were forever looking to find fault, they not only missed what God was doing, but also, they instilled fear in those they were supposed to be shepherding.  When the blind man’s parents were questioned, ‘they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone that acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.’  When they questioned the blind man, ‘they hurled insults at him’ and, ‘they threw him out.’

 

‘Jesus heard they had thrown him out, and when he found him…’  Again contrast with the stationary Pharisees, Jesus is out doing and while out doing, He finds the man and invites him in.

 

While those who are set on finding fault will always find a reason to exclude, those who are focused on finding whatever light they can find will find a way to include.  Verse 4 states, ‘As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me’.  Jesus was telling His disciples that He and they must be about doing the work.  And then He says of Himself something that I think we should get a fresh vision of and be able to say of ourselves, ‘While I am in the world, I am the light of the world’. 

 

Our focus is not on finding fault; that is the work of our enemy.  Our focus is on finding the light and then shining it for all to see.  There are distinctly two groups, and, ‘so they are divided’.

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John 8

 

In John 1, John refers to Jesus as being ‘full of grace and truth’.  Here in chapter 8, I think we see a perfect example of John’s claim.  Beginning with the end of chapter 7, John records, ‘Then each went to his own home.’  Beginning in chapter 8, ‘But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them’.

 

‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.’  After being with the Father for most if not all of the night, Jesus comes humbly with grace and truth.  The Pharisees, after each went to his own home, comes arrogantly with accusations and lies. 

 

Fine; Jesus stops and takes time to deal with it and then turns His attention back to the people.  “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world…’”  No sooner had those words come out of His mouth that once again, ‘The Pharisees challenged him…’ 

 

Once again, Jesus stops and takes the time to deal with it.  But this time, Jesus is a little firmer with them.  As He has been with the Father it is clear to Him that they have not and tells them that they do not know the Father.  If they really knew the Father, they would know that Jesus was from Him.

 

So He makes His point and again turns His attention back to teaching; “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’”.  And yep, once again they interrupt Him.  And yep, once again, Jesus stops to deal with it, but this time He is even more direct.

 

‘You belong to your father, the devil.  He who belongs to God, hears what God says.  The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.’  

 

It is interesting to me, that Jesus, after being with His Father, came to the temple full of grace and truth to teach, while the Pharisees, after being with their father, came full of accusations and lies to disrupt.  I am challenged, as everyone else goes to his own home, to go to the Mount that I might hear from and see God, and that as I do, I would be able to come away from that encounter, as Jesus did, full of grace and truth.

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The Damage Done

 

He came a knockin’

at your cellar door.

He knew you’d open

as you’ve done before.

Oh, oh, the damage done.

 

You hit the site

and fulfilled his plan.

He watched the scenery

take another man.

Gone, gone, the damage done.

 

I wrote this song

because I love the man;

though I know that

he don’t understand;

spilt-blood

to prove what, loves about.

 

I suffered much

for the damage done.

My heart went out for everyone

in hopes that they

could know the Son.

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A few days ago, a severe storm blew through our area.  With winds exceeding 100 mph, it caused a fair amount of damage.  I was on a farm when it hit.  After the storm passed, the owner and I checked for damage.  The roof of one barn was gone.  We could see another one in the distance was completely gone and would later find that he lost a third one.

 

We drove as far as we could to check the one we could see.  A lot of downed trees blocked the way.  When we got to the site, we found some of his cows standing by the fence eating hay as if nothing had happened.  Some had gone into the barn to get out of the storm and were standing in two clear spots also eating hay.  The barn had somehow collapsed around them. 

 

Two were not so lucky.  Three wall sections were on top of them.  They were still alive but the weight had pushed them down into the mire.  We went for equipment to lift the wall the sections.  Once lifted, both struggled to free themselves and eventually made it, but the one which took most of the weight and was the farthest back naturally had a lot more trouble.  It felt good to see them both finally up. 

 

On the way home, which was another ordeal cutting and pulling trees off the roadway, I kept thinking about the cows.  I thought of the ones out by the fence and then the ones that were standing in the openings of the downed barn.  The latter were not more than 10 feet away from the ones that were trapped, but all just stood there eating hay.  None of them cared about the two. 

 

The Lord reminded me of a poem I had just read.  The first stanza goes as follows:

Oh altar, tell me of the day
When saints would tarry, weep and pray
When you were drenched with holy tears
As all the saints of God drew near

Are we guilty of standing by the fence enjoying our hay, not caring that so many are hemmed in by sin or worse yet, stuck deep in its mire?  Are we among those who are hemmed in yet content as long as we have our hay?  Are we among those who are stuck deep in the mire, hoping that someone would come along to help? 

We have lost the urgency to pray.  We need to get it back.

Oh altar, you have long been dry
Have we now no tears to cry?

For the entire poem, visit heismydelight.wordpress.com and look for ‘Oh alter’

 

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Anyone

John 7

 

Anyone covers a lot of people.  It covered His brothers – they were there.  Among the crowds were those who thought He was a good man, while others thought He was a deceiver and still others even thought He was demon-possessed.  Some thought He was a prophet while others thought He was the Christ. 

 

To all these different people with all their different beliefs, Jesus stands and addresses them.  With a loud voice, speaking so that all could hear, He said, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink’.

 

Anyone included His brothers.  It included, not only those who thought He was a good man, but even those who thought He was a deceiver or that He was demon-possessed.  It included those who thought He was a prophet and even those who thought He was the Christ.

 

To a people who were divided in their opinions of Him, to all of them – to anyone – He invites to come and drink.  Until you come and drink, all you can do is speculate about who He is.  Even if you get it right, it is still just speculation until you come and drink.

 

It seems to me lately, He is again speaking with a loud voice.  Through so many different sources to so many different people with so many different beliefs, still He calls for all to hear, ‘If anyone’…

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For What It’s Worth

 

There’s something happening here.

What it is ain’t exactly clear.

His truth, He’s begun to declare –

telling me that I’ve got to beware.

 

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound?

Everybody look what’s going down.

 

There’s battle lines bein’ drawn.

It’s time for right to stand against wrong.

We’ve got to renew our minds;

there’s too much resistance for these times.

 

I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?

Everybody look what’s going down.

 

What a field-day we must meet.

Restraint’s been too little to speak.

This light too needful to hide.

His truth we have on our side.

 

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?

Everybody look what’s going down.

 

The love of God strikes deep.

Into your life if you seek.

This truth He wants to proclaim.

To those who will hear, He knows you’ll not be the same.

 

We better stop, hey, hear that sound.

Everybody look what’s going down.

 

Stop, hey, hear that sound.

Everybody look what’s going down.

Stop, now, hear that sound.

Everybody look what’s going down.

Stop, children, hear that sound.

Everybody look what’s going down.

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John 6

 

How much is on us when it comes to someone coming to know God?  In the day to day, how much is it on us to get it all right?  How much is it on the church?

 

5,000 men, along with some of their wives and kids, followed Jesus to a certain hillside.  They had seen the miracles and healings He had performed; that is why they followed Him.  Perhaps some had seen the Him heal the man at the pool.  Personally, they had just seen the miracle of Him feeding all of them. 

 

They had seen all the right stuff.  Jesus could not have done more, yet when He calls for a vote, ‘Don’t work for food that spoils but for the food that endures to eternal life,’ what was their response?  ‘What miraculous sign then will you give us that we may see it and believe you?’

 

How much more could He have done over what He had already done?  Still it was not enough.  Finally Jesus makes the point, ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.’  And again He said, ‘No one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him’.

 

We sometimes do all that we do, thinking that because of it and if we do enough of it, that people will come to know God as a result of it.  We get frustrated when it doesn’t happen.  We are tempted to think we should do more.  It can become quite the monkey on the back.  But this passage suggests that it is not on us.

 

It does not however let us off the hook.  We must still love and do good things for others, but we do those things because we are called to do so.  We do those things because it pleases God for us to do them. 

 

Jesus said, ‘All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away’.  Again He said, ‘And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me’.  Jesus invested Himself for 3 years in the lives of 12 men.  Those the Father gave Him came to Him and He worked to not lose them. 

 

He did good things for others, but He did not work with them as He did the disciples.  He did not work with Nicodemus for 3 years, He simply told him the truth.  You must be born again.  If the Father would draw him, this was his chance.  He did not spend 3 years with the woman caught in adultery.  He was gracious to her and told her to go and sin no more.  If the Father would draw her, this was her chance.  He did not spend 3 years trying to reform the demon possessed man who lived naked among the tombs; He healed him.  If the Father would draw him, that was his chance.

 

God help us not to make the mistake of trying to reform, when all that will really make a difference is You transforming.  In light of all, I pray that You would draw people to Yourself and that You would stir us who already know You, to recognize those You are calling and then with the love You put in us,  that we would work to lose none.

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