Monday, July 29, 2019

A Clear Path

     The path God will lay out for us associated with His return will be a clear path. It will not be something hard to see. Look at how clearly God manifested Himself before the children of Israel and gave such a powerful demonstration of His commitment to them. He poured out the ten plagues on Egypt which culminated in the Passover Feast. He parted the Red Sea, saved His people, and destroyed Pharaoh and His armies by closing the Sea back in upon them. He fed them, clothed them, and gave them water to drink. Finally He came down on Mount Sinai and entered into a covenant relationship with His people Israel. A clearer path could not have been made for Israel to see that God was with them and was preparing the way before them. 
     The same thing happened when Jesus came to His people with all the signs and miracles He performed before them. It was clear Jesus was sent from God.
     Jesus' return will entail a much greater move of God than when He brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt. It will also be greater than when Jesus first came. And since it will include the full Revelation of Jesus Christ it will be greater than any other previous revelation of God. The path God will lead us on associated with Christ’ return will be much clearer to see than during the time of the Exodus or any other previous time.
     We might think since God is going to manifest Himself in such a mighty way and in such a clear way, certainly everyone will follow Him. But if we look back at what happened during the time of the Exodus, this was not the case. One month after God came down on Mount Sinai the people were worshipping a golden calf. And only two out of probably more than two million people actually made it into the Promised Land. Even Moses himself did not make it. And this is after God had done so many wonderful things for them and His visible presence was with them and going before them in glory!
     The same thing happened at Jesus’ coming. Even though He had performed so many miracles, so many that John said "if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written." The people who saw Jesus perform these miracles rejected Him and the religious leaders handed Him over to Pilate to be crucified. 
     When God put this on my heart I was thinking, “Even still, surely everyone will want to be a part of what God will be doing. It will be so massive” (consider Revelation 5 and 6). But just like the people of Israel who started worshiping a golden calf right in front of God’s face, there will be those from our time who will not get on board with what God is doing — even though it will be so powerful — even though it will be so unmistakable — even though it will be a clear path. Even now the prevailing popular culture embraces things that are in obvious error and in rebellion against God. Those who believe in and who promote evolution, homosexuality, and abortion are living examples of gross rebellion and blatant disobedience. They are purposely turning away from what is obviously a clear, godly, and true path to follow (creationism, heterosexuality, and choosing life) to that which is obviously a false path to follow. My people perish for lack of vision — for lack of knowledge (Proverbs 29:18). When people don’t believe God or choose not to believe what is obviously true they in a sense give permission to Satan to blind their eyes spiritually to where they can’t “see” what God is doing, can’t “hear” what God is speaking, can’t see, can’t hear, or can’t know the truth., 

     And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving.                                                                                        — (II Corinthians 4:3, 4)

     It’s not too difficult to see how the antichrist will have a huge following even after God moves so mightily in the earth with a clear path being laid out for everyone to see and to follow. 

     And it will be a clear path — it already is — and most are not walking on it. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Spiritual is More Real than the Earthly



     Consider how piercing the presence of the angel was that appeared to Daniel in Daniel 10, or when Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus. Satan tries to discourage us by giving us a false sense of what Heaven or the spiritual realm is like. We sometimes think of spiritual things or beings as some kind of gaseous globs floating in outer space with little or no substance. Some kind of vague ethereal electrical energy force with no identity (Star Wars, “the Force” a perfect example). The ultimate expression of this is in Buddhism where the goal is to attain to Nirvana which is to attain to nothingness. Jesus refuted this concept by stating that the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were with God after death and that God was the God of the living, not of the dead. Moses and Elijah themselves appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” All indicating that we don’t lose our identities in Heaven but we maintain them.      
     Heaven, or the spiritual realm, is a place of substance and truth and meaning and purpose. It is not a place of vague esoteric symbolic meaninglessness. If any place is symbolic and enigmatic, it is the earthly realm, not the heavenly. In Hebrews 8-10 it describes how God had Moses, David, and Solomon build the Tabernacle and the Temple according to the pattern He had showed them. Indicating the earthly was a pattern of the heavenly. Indicating the earthly is symbolic of the heavenly, points to the heavenly. The heavenly is higher and of deeper meaning and substance than the earthly. If any realm is of meaninglessness, obscurity, anonymity and darkness, it is the earthly realm, not the heavenly.
     It is in Christ that we receive meaning and purpose to life even in this earthly realm. Imagine how much more clarity, meaning, substance, purpose, identity, and spiritual light we will have in Christ in the heavenly realms. We are not becoming one with some kind of vague, anonymous, energy force. We are becoming one with Jesus Christ Himself in a very clear, tangible, real, identifiable way.

     The things that deal with the spiritual realm and our heart (where our spirit resides) are things that are invisible to our earthly eyes. It is what is invisible, what is spiritual, that is really real not what is visible or natural.      By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:3, see also Psalm 33:6, 9 and II Cor. 4:18)Every invisible characteristic of God is clearly seen by what He has made visible (Rom. 1:19, 20). The ultimate demonstration of this is Jesus Christ, Who is the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15; I Tim. 1:17, 6:16; Heb. 1:1-3)
     When we are in someone’s presence, in someone’s face, it is here we behold their heart, their spirit. We are presented with their presence, their heart, their spirit, when we look into their face and especially when we look into their eyes. We are presented with their spirit when we listen with our ears to the words they speak. We receive their spirit when they allow us to touch them physically or when we allow them to touch us. Touching is intimate. Physical touching is holy. Like seeing and hearing, touching is a gateway to the spiritual, to the invisible.
      We perceive that which is invisible through that which is visible.
     Our mind is the gateway to and from the visible world into our invisible heart. We make decisions in our mind that allow spiritual things to enter into our heart. The heart is the repository of the spiritual things our mind meditates on. It is in our heart that the spiritual things we cater to in our mind find their home. And we make decisions that allow these spiritual things residing in our invisible heart to be broadcast to the visible world outside. Our mind allows access to our heart or denies access to our heart. Our mind decides what will be broadcast from our heart and it decides what will not be broadcast from our heart. 
     It is through our mind that we release what’s in our heart back to the world and to those who are around us.
 Jesus said:
“The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” 
“The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil” (Matthew 12:34, 35).
    The heart of everything is the heart. It’s in the heart that we are defined. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NLV). It’s what takes place inside the heart – hidden away from the eyes of the world that defines who we are. It’s what we believe in our heart that is really who we are. It’s in our heart where our strength lies, where our spirit lives. It is in the invisible decisions we make with our mind that define us inside. Inside us is who we are. Who we really are. What people see on the outside is the reflection of our heart, our spirit inside us.
     Our invisible mind and heart hidden inside define what we are visibly both to the natural world and to the spiritual world.
     A person could lose their arms, their legs, their ears, their eyes, their nose, but they would still be here. In fact when someone dies, their spirit leaves their body and their body becomes lifeless, (spiritless) and begins to decay - because their spirit has left their body (James 2:26). Our spirit lives inside us, inside our body. Our body is clothing for our spirit (Matthew 6:25, 28-34).
     When we look at another human being we are looking at the outward visible manifestation of that person’s invisible heart. All their actions, their words, their gestures express their heart, express what’s in their heart, what’s in their spirit.
     It is what is inside, invisible to the world that is real.
     When we bask in someone’s presence, in someone’s face, we receive their spirit. We receive their heart. We enter into their spirit. We enter into their heart.
     This is where true love is. This is where true love lives. This is greater than any ministry, any gifts of the Spirit, any healings, any deliverances. It is what these ministries are for. 
     Consider this:
     In eternity, in Heaven, will there be a need for healings or for deliverances? 
     No.  
     Will there be a need to raise someone from the dead? 
     No. 
     So what will we be doing in Heaven? 
     We will be abiding in one another’s presence. There will be no sin to hinder our spirits from interacting with each other. There will be no sin to interfere with the free flow of God’s Spirit between us.
     But, we are already tasting that.
     God put on my heart one day, when I was asking Him about spiritual gifts and healings and deliverances, etc., and why the church was not moving in these powers like the NT Church. He said, “I’ve got a gift for you. I’m giving you this evening to spend with three of my daughters, your wife, your mother, and a friend.”
     When He put that on my heart, I realized what He was showing me. The greatest thing of all, the greatest gift of all, the greatest spiritual gift of all is to spend time with those we love. This is the heart of everything. This is the ultimate goal of every ministry. It is what ministries are for. What they lead to. Being with those we love in Christ is what it is all about. It’s what life is all about, whether it is earthly life or spiritual life. Being with those we love is even what Heaven is all about. It is what Heaven is. It’s very easy to take those who are in our lives for granted. It’s very easy to lose appreciation for the tremendous spiritual value they are to us. Our loved ones are the greatest spiritual gifts we have. And ultimately it is our love relationship with Christ that transcends all others and makes all other love relationships possible.
     But we have to be careful:
     We have to watch over what we allow our mind to meditate on and what we let into our spirit.
     If we overindulge in something bad in our mind, then what is bad that is stored in our heart can override our mind. Paul taught:

             For what I am doing, I do not understand;  
          for I am not practicing what I would like 
          to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 
                                                                                                                      (Rom. 7:15)

     We must work to allow that which is good to override that which is bad. We must overcome the evil in us with that which is good in Christ. We must become rooted and grounded in Christ our Rock, our Foundation, our Mighty Fortress, our Strong Tower, our Corner Stone, our Living Stone. We must become living stones ourselves—pillars in God’s Temple. We must get to that place where the Lord pours out His Spirit upon us and our cup overflows. To where God’s Spirit becomes rivers, and streams, and fountains of living waters springing up from our invisible innermost being out to the visible world.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Holy Land

I have had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Holy Land. In my visits I have gone through three different stages as to how I look at Israel. I imagine most who visit Israel do so as well.
The first is the deer in the headlights. When I was first in Israel, I felt like I was in a spiritual Disneyland. Here were the actual places so many Bible events took place. This was the Holy Land! This is where Jesus walked! God's people and God's capital city were here! I know I looked like a deer in the headlights.

The second reaction is getting to know modern day Israel. Unfortunately Israel today is as worldly and ungodly as my own country, the US. As a nation they still do not see, they still do not hear. Israel has a terrible drug problem. Tel Aviv is called the pink city of the middle east. It is the pornography, homosexual capital of the middle east. Even though through Yad Vashem Israel promotes the theme to never forget, never again. Israel has forgotten. It is happening again. Israel is doing it to themselves. Israel has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. Abortion has killed more innocent Jewish babies and children than the holocaust. I no longer look at Israel as a deer in the headlights.

The third reaction is to see how God is on the move. God is on the move in Israel. God has not forgotten His people Israel even though most of them have forgotten Him. Israel is one of the, if not the only nation on earth that has a growing, thriving, Christian population. Although still small (15,000 or more) it is a significant remnant and is increasing every day. Which follows Bible prophecy. When I realized all this I still was stumped. How could God bless or work with or reenter into a covenant relationship with Israel like the Bible teaches with Israel being so godless?
Then My pastor preached on Ezekiel 36.
God is going to step in to bless Israel and reenter into a covenant with Israel not because of their righteousness but because of His Name's sake.
Therefore, say to the house of  Israel, "Thus says the Lord God, It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord," declares the Lord God, "when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight." (verses 22, 23)

God is going to bless Israel and bring forth this final seven year period ushering in the Kingdom of His great Son Jesus Christ in spite of Israel's faithlessness. God will not be denied.

Israel is the Holy Land.

The Word of God is a Seed





I was sitting on a bench under a tree. A seed berry happened to fall out of the tree and landed right in front of me. It just barely caught my attention as it bounced into the grass. I thought about it for a second and then picked it up. It was very small. I turned around and looked at the tree it had fallen from. It was huge. I was amazed how large the tree was in comparison to how tiny its’ seeds were. How could such a large tree come from such a small seed? 
This reminded me of Jesus’ Parable of the Mustard Seed: 

          “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, 
            which a man took and sowed in his field; and 
            this is smaller than all other seeds, but when 
            it is full grown, it is larger than the garden 
            plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds 
            of the air come and nest in its branches.”                                       
                                                                                                                 —Matthew 13:31, 32  

Then God put on my heart, “Consider the seed I have given you.” The Bible says the Word of God is a seed (Luke 8:11). The seed which He has given us is the Bible. At the time of Noah and the Flood, the Bible was only five chapters long. At the time of Abraham, eleven chapters. At the time of Moses, it had grown to be one book. At the time of King David, it was about ten books long. During Jesus’ day, the Bible had grown to be the whole Old Testament. Today we have not only the Old Testament, but the New Testament as well. We also have two thousand years of church history where the Holy Spirit has been moving and speaking the Word of God to us for centuries. So consider the seed we have today!  
Later back home I was walking through our garden looking at all the blooms which had come up because of the rain we had just had. I especially noticed the rain lilies and how they were blooming so profusely. It was like God reminded me of what He had just shared with me in the park and He spoke to my heart, “Consider again the seed which I have given you and it hasn’t rained yet.” 
    
           Therefore be patient, brethren, until the 
            coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for 
            the precious produce of the soil, being 
            patient about it, until it gets the early 
            and late rains. You too be patient; 
            strengthen your hearts, for the coming 
            of the Lord is near.               (James 5:7, 8)

This applies to the church both individually and corporately. At the appointed time the rains will come and God will cause His seed, His Spirit, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Word of God to be birthed within us. It will grow to be a tree larger than all the other plants that have come before. It will be a greater harvest than the time of Noah, then the time of Abraham, then the time of David. Jesus Himself said we would do greater works than He did (John 14:12).    
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakuk 2:14).
Jesus is coming. The Kingdom of God is coming. His seed is about to bloom. We are about to be birthed. We will grow into a spiritual tree larger than all the other spiritual plants. We will fill the earth.  

         For the whole earth is groaning and travailing 
         with birth pangs for the manifestation of the 
         sons of God.              (Romans 8:19-22)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Be Still

   Sometimes just being in the presence of someone is all you can do:

    There was a generation gap between me and my dad, and between me and my father-in-law. We didn’t have much to say to each other because of our differences, but we soaked up each others’ presence and showed love to each other by just being with each other and working together.
    Being with someone who’s terminally ill or has suffered great tragedy. Just being with them, holding their hand, not trying to answer why or going off on some theological discourse as to the meaning behind their suffering. Not necessarily saying anything – shows great love. Really shows all the love that can possibly be given to them under such circumstances.
    When a parent tells a child, “Be seen but not heard. Don’t speak unless spoken to.” When we’re in the presence of someone greater and wiser than we, we must not come to speak, but to listen and to hear.          
    When an adult accompanies a child - this means the world to a child. From the child’s perspective they feel important if someone as great as an adult chooses to spend time with them. Even when an adult is just with a child and doesn’t say anything, it means the world to a child.
   The love two lovers have for each other can transcend verbal communication. Where words fall short of communicating the feelings they have for each other. They look deep into one anothers’ eyes, saying nothing, but in a sense, saying everything.

   All these examples are applicable to our relationship with God.

        Guard your steps as you go to the House of 
        God and draw near to listen rather than to 
        offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not 
        know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in 
        word or impulsive in thought to bring up a 
        matter in the presence of God, for God is 
        in Heaven and you are on the earth; 
        therefore let your words be few.
                                        (Ecclesiastes 5:1, 2)

         But the Lord is in His holy Temple. 
                Let all the earth be silent before Him.
                                                (Hab. 2:20)  

          Be still and know that I’m God. (Ps. 46:10)

          God spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice.
                                                               (I Kings 17:12)

          Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord 
                                                                                       (Exodus 11:11)     

            This truth is also reflected in the saying:
                    “Those who speak don’t know. 
                     Those who know don’t speak.”

   Sometimes I think what God wants most of all from us is for us to just be quiet in His presence so that He can be with us -- just to be with us. So He can lean His head on our shoulder. So He can lean His head on our shoulder like John leaned his head on Him when He was being betrayed. So that we can minister to Him.

   


   He just wants to be with us. He just wants to be in our presence.
   So I go walk with Him in silence. I just imagine Him tucked into my heart like a baby kangaroo tucked into her mother's pouch. I be still. 
   I believe with all my heart this means the world to God.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Kindergarten Graduation / for Aunt Pat


     When I was a little boy in Kindergarten it seemed like I would be there forever. Being in Kindergarten was everything to me. It was my life. I had my teacher and my friends that made up what I was at that time. It was what defined me. I was a kindergartener.
     I remember how important it was to me to sit in a big chair. At the beginning of class we got to pick the chairs we would be sitting in for the day. It was a big deal. I didn’t want a small chair. Small chairs were for sissies.
     Now fifty years have come and gone. I don’t care if I’m sitting in a big chair anymore. I just want one that will support me. I don’t look back to the time I was in Kindergarten. I remember my teacher’s name and some of my fellow students’ names and a few things that took place during that time, but generally speaking that’s over. That’s ancient history. I will never go back. The only person from that time that I have communicated with is a former classmate that contacted me recently who I have not seen for over twenty years. He was very happy to find me and I was very happy to hear from him. Even though our lives have taken different paths we are still on the same page. We picked up from where we left off fifty years ago like no time had gone by at all. It was like we had never been apart these past fifty years.
     I was thinking about all this, this past weekend during my Uncle Junior’s funeral. I was imagining what he might be thinking about now that he was in a different place, a better place. What would he miss the most? Would it be something like me looking back at Kindergarten fifty years later?
     The things that were important in Kindergarten have lost their attraction to me except for one. My former classmate, (his name is Donny), is just as real and alive to me now as he was back then. In fact because fifty years of life’s experiences have gone by our friendship is all that much deeper. We don’t relate to one another as kindergarteners anymore but as mature adults who have lived out most of their lives.
     There are some who say when we go to Heaven we will not relate to each other in the same way. Some say we will not even recognize each other because we will be spirit beings, not earthly beings. I disagree. I believe whatever happens when we leave here we will know each other in a far superior way than we know each other now. The Bible teaches us that this earthly realm, this veil of tears, is wrapped up in spiritual darkness. We don’t see as clearly as we should. But it also teaches us that when we leave here we will enter into a realm of spiritual light, what we call Heaven. It’s my opinion we will relate to each other in a far clearer way than we do now. We will know each other much more intimately than we know each other now. When Jesus returned to see His disciples after He rose from the dead He told them He was not a spirit or a ghost. And he proved it to them. He told them to reach out their hands to touch His wounds. Then He ate lunch with them. It was if He had never left.
     I’m convinced when we leave here many things that are important to us now will lose their value. We won’t care what chair we sit in anymore. We will have something far more important. We will have each other. We will know each other. We will know each other in a much deeper and more complete way. We will pick up from where we left off like nothing had happened. We will pick up from where we left off in a much more intimate way, a fuller way, and a higher way. We will be with our Lord. We will be with our loved ones. We will be with Frank. You will be with Frank. We will be home.

     I love you Aunt Pat. It was an honor to be with you during this tough time. Love Mike

Friday, September 30, 2011

Did you read the owner's manuel?


    On this side of Heaven it appears that to seek God like He commands us to (to be holy as He is holy, to not sin like Him, to love as He loves, and to be perfect as He is perfect) is deemed by most to be certainly unattainable. But if we think it through, I think we’ll come up with a different conclusion.
     God is the one Who created us, not us. He is the designer of our heart, our spirit, our inner man. He knows what we can do and can’t do. He created us. He created us in His image ! We are designed to be like Him to begin with!
     If we buy a car don’t we look at the owner’s manual prepared by the automobile manufacturer to see how everything works? Aren’t the engineers and the technicians the ones who designed the cars we drive? Don’t we have faith in them to explain to us how to drive a car? Then why can’t we have faith in the Creator of the Universe to explain to us how we work, what we’re supposed to become and be used for?
     I believe it’s easier to live life in the way God commands and instructs us to live rather than to listen to anybody else, including ourselves. God is our creator, He is our designer. Whatever we have to go through in this life to be made perfect like Him is going to be an easier path to walk on than any other. That’s because this is what we were designed for. If we use a car in any way that is not according to the instruction manual the car won’t run properly or at best it will run poorly, less than full performance and what it is designed for. But if we follow the instructions the car makers give us the car will run at its peak performance and in the way it is designed to run.
     We think that to go through the necessary work and the sacrifice it will take to allow God to work His full will in us to arrive to that place of the fullness of God, being made perfect in His image, will be such a hard thing to accomplish that we would rather not even try. It’s too hard. It’s too much. It’s only for Bible people.
It’s certainly not for us.
     I believe exactly the opposite is true. I believe in the long run it will be harder to live life not according to God’s commands than according to God’s commands. Just as it is harder not to operate a car according to the carmaker’s instructions.
     I believe just like we think that now it is easier to coast through life and not to attain to God’s full design for us, on the other side (in Heaven) we will understand exactly the opposite. That if we had been obedient in this life and given God full place in our lives to do whatever necessary to accomplish His perfect will in our lives, we would have gotten through this life in a much easier manner and also reap the eternal rewards as well. I believe we will clearly understand this in Heaven.
     If we’re wise, we will understand this now and allow God to do His perfect work in our lives—now.