Dear Brothers and now my peers:
I made a promise that I would no longer withhold myself from the Tuesday times together so I am including everyone in on what I send to my brothers and intercessors. I expect feedback from my brothers and would appreciate it from any of you who feel to share.
In my readings for today I read Job 4 & 5 where Eliphaz begins to speak to Job, and he says many accurate things, but his heart was not where Job was at the moment and so his counsel was painful to his friend. God convicted me for my harshly spoken truth and I repent before him and seek him for fresh compassion, especially for the long-time saint who finds himself in unexpected circumstances.
I also read Mark 10:13-16 where people were bringing little children to Jesus for his touch and the disciples rebuked them. Jesus is indignant and welcomed the children to him then took them in His arms and blessed them. I was convicted on the other end for the times I neglect babies in Christ and feel impatient with them. Again I repent and ask for Christ’s compassion in order to remain pure and holy in his sight.
I listened to a song today from Robin Mark “I am Persuaded” that filled me with total joy as I walked. It was a great time with God. Check it out on Itunes.
I’ve included my other devotional readings: first from Wade, then John Eldredge and last from Tozer on Leadership.
Week 3, Day 2
Peter was hungry and trying to pray. He fell asleep and he had a dream – or he thought he was dreaming. He saw animals coming down from heaven in a sheet, and he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat.” But, Peter balked. The animals in the sheet are all unclean – forbidden by law to be eaten. Peter could only assume that he was being tested somehow and he protested, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” The voice, however, surprises him and tells him, “What God has made clean you must not call profane.”
It is hard for us as American Christians to understand the shock Peter experienced. Telling Peter to go and eat the meat of an unclean animal was like telling a Marine to go spit on the American flag. It was a desecration of a fundamental value. Keeping the dietary laws of the Old Testament was not, for a good Jew, mere form, but bedrock obedience to God. It’s no wonder Peter’s first thought was that God was testing him, not directing him.
The vision, however, prepares Peter for what happened next. Cornelius sent servants to fetch Peter (following the instructions of his own vision), but in the normal way of things, Peter would not have consented to go with them. As a devout Jew, Peter might have met with a Gentile, but he would have refused to go into a Gentile house for fear of coming into contact with unclean objects or food (when the accusers of Jesus wanted Pilate to condemn Jesus to death, they still demanded Pilate come out of his house to them rather than go into a Gentile house because of their fear of defilement, see John 18:28). But this vision about God making unclean things clean, and the word of the Spirit to Peter was enough to get Peter to lay aside his doubts and go to Cornelius.
Peter’s habit of prayer (and perhaps also his unplanned fast) gave God space to speak to Peter with a new and surprising word. Peter was open to going and reaching people he would have avoided before. For God to reach the deep places of our lives, God needs time and place. Peter would have never gone without the vision – he would have never had the vision without his prayer and fasting.
Prayer focus: If possible (and healthy) fast today either from food or from some other thing and make your heart more available to God to speak to you.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
A System Of Guilt
God speaks to Israel through the prophet Isaiah when she is surrounded by enemies and making every effort to appease them through diplomacy, gifts, treaties, and bribes, and says this to her:
“You went to Molech with olive oil
and increased your perfumes.
You sent your ambassadors far away;
you descended to the grave itself!
You were wearied by all your ways,
but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
You found renewal of your strength,
and so you did not faint” (Isa. 57:9-10).
God calls Israel to repent by admitting her weariness and fainting. Instead, she looks for ways to use her personal assets to redeem herself. Jesus spoke to the people about rest and thirst. The Pharisees demanded that they obey a constantly growing weight of religious laws and traditions, and chastised them for staggering under the load. They led people in the exact opposite direction from where their salvation lay-in admitting their weariness and fainting. As long as they hoped in their self-sufficiency, they would not call out to God and receive forgiveness, healing, and restoration.
So many of our contemporary churches operate on this same system of guilt. When our people are crying out for communion and rest, we ask them to teach another Sunday school class. When they falter under the load, we admonish them with Scriptures on serving others. One wonders what would happen if all activity motivated by this type of guilt were to cease for six months. Much of organized Christianity would collapse even as the Pharisees saw happen to their own religious system. As Jesus talked about thirst and rest, he brought people to the reality of their own heart.
(The Sacred Romance , 169 )
Revival: The Fire Falls
And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.'” –Revelation 3:1-2
For a long time I have believed that truth, to be understood, must be lived; that Bible doctrine is wholly ineffective until it has been digested and assimilated by the total life….
We must be willing to obey if we would know the true inner meaning of the teachings of Christ and the apostles. I believe this view prevailed in every revival that ever came to the church during her long history. Indeed a revived church may be distinguished from a dead one by the attitude of its members toward the truth. The dead church holds to the shell of truth without surrendering the will to it, while the church that wills to do God’s will is immediately blessed with a visitation of spiritual powers.
Theological facts are like the altar of Elijah on Carmel before the fire came, correct, properly laid out, but altogether cold. When the heart makes the ultimate surrender, the fire falls and true facts are transmuted into spiritual truth that transforms, enlightens, sanctifies. The church or the individual that is Bible taught without being Spirit taught (and there are many of them) has simply failed to see that truth lies deeper than the theological statement of it. That Incredible Christian, 92-94.
“Lord, send the fire today. Amen.”
Today’s “Insight for Leaders” is taken by permission from the book, Tozer on Christian Leadership, published by WingSpread Publishers