Monday, August 26, 2013

Living and Active

I get a kick out of reading instructions for things......especially instructions for appliances. Take for example a curling iron I bought recently. Tucked somewhere between how to turn it on/off and how to plug it in were the careful instructions, "Do not use while sleeping".

Some other favorites would be "Do not use while showering" found on my hairdryer cord label, or "Do not drive with sun shield in place" found on the cardboard sun shield that keeps the sun off the dashboard of my car.

If the Bible came with instructions, what would they say?   Could Heb. 4:12 be God's way of giving us some useful instructions for using His word?  A playful paraphrase might read, Warning: The substance you are about to injest is living and active.  Caution!  It can be sharp like a sword.  Once injested it goes deep inside you forever and is able to judge the thoughts and attitudes of your heart.  Prepare to be changed.

I'm so thankful that the word of God is alive and active.  I'm not sure what that means to you, but to me it makes the scriptures a one-of-a-kind phenomenon.  I've had the benefit of having a life-long relationship with the word of God.  I grew up memorizing scripture, playing Bible games, and doing 'sword' drills.  What I didn't understand as a child, and still don't completely, is that the word of God is alive.  Once inside you, it goes to work.  The words on the page are not just ink but the spoken words of God.  2 Tim. 3:16 says that all Scripture is God-breathed.   We know that His words are powerful.  Very powerful.  In fact, the very universe was set into place and now sustained by His words.

But, we can't help but remember the Pharisees. Here were some guys who knew the word.  And yet, they did not experience the life-changing benefits that many of us experience today. The reason? They knew the word, but not The Word. 

It's always been interesting to me and kind of mind boggling, that Jesus is called, "The Word". Surely there could have been a better description of our Savior?   But, a closer more thoughtful look reveals that 'The Word' is an absolutely marvelous and fitting title. Words convey thoughts and a message. Jesus coming and His very life and death here was His message, but even more, it was the Father's message. It was in the Father's thoughts to send His only Son as the perfect sacrifice to redeem His lost children. Set in full motion, those thoughts became words. Not just any words, but THE WORD.  

Though I've been taught that I'm to value the written word of God, I've also been taught that my real relationship is with the Author of the book. But, I'm finding sometimes that the lines get a little blurry. This is no ordinary book, the words are 'active and living'. When we read it and partner with The Word, allowing Him through the Holy Spirit to interpret His message and thoughts to us, the results are explosive. The Word empowering the word in us.  Amazing!

The word of God. Warning:  Live contents enclosed.  May cause radical change in anyone who comes in contact. Use with extreme anticipation and excitement. 

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Encountering the Prophetic

I remember the first prophetic word I ever received. A young, single, college student at the time, I was attending a John Denver concert.  Not sure exactly how I developed a love for this mountain loving minstrel, but it may have had something to do with a guy friend I had at the time. That's another story and has nothing to do with this one.

We had sat spellbound through the first hour of music and intermission was underway.  I found myself in the crowded lobby waiting in line to look at Denver memorabilia when a woman approached me.  Her message was simple but I remember it well to this day, "God wants you to know that He loves you very much".  Then she walked away.

I had never had anything like that happen to me before, so I wasn't sure what to think or how to act. I didn't have a charismatic background and was part of a church where people didn't do things like that.   I remember feeling a combination of embarrassment, fear, and wonder.

I made my way back to my seat and though I'm sure 'John-boy' was just as amazing in the 2nd half of the concert, my mind was very distracted.  "Was that really God speaking to me?", "Does He really care about me enough to find me at a John Denver concert?", and "What if it's true?", were just a few of the questions bombarding my mind.  But, my spirit was doing something entirely different.  My spirit was feeling good.  Really good.  It was the first 'heaven-touch' aimed right at my heart that I remember receiving and I desperately needed to hear it.  Though I had felt embarrassed and a little afraid of the messenger delivering the word, wonder began to overtake my inhibitions.

After the last chorus of 'Rocky Mountain High' was sung, we left and made our way back to the college dorms.  As I lay in my bed that night trying to relax enough to sleep, it wasn't the folksy music of the evening that kept running through my mind, but the simple message of love given by an unknown woman.

This was the first of many times that God would interrupt my world with His.  I liked it very much.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Revelation and Expectation

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.  Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.   Habakkuk 2:1-2

Habakkuk stationed himself at the highest point, a place used for watching, in order to hear the revealed word of the Lord.   

Expectation is part of the journey into greater revelation.  If revelation is 'lifting the veil' on truth, then a life of eager expectation acknowledges that there is 'veiled truth' waiting to be discovered.  Part of the Father's joy I believe is in watching His children enter into this journey of discovery and delight.  If we are not looking for or expecting the Father to reveal anything to us, we will be much less likely to see or experience it when He does.  Our paradigm and experience of revelation is greatly influenced by our expectation.

When we are together with our kids, we tell them secrets that we wouldn't tell anyone else.  Our not-so-frequent times together are usually full of each of us sharing our journeys and 'inside info' that only family would share.  Their relationship to us positions them and gives them access to our family secrets.  As sons and daughters of the Father we, too, are already positioned for access to Him and the secrets of His heart.

With revelation comes an invitation, "come up higher".  Revelation sheds light on what was previously in darkness and we choose whether or not we will step into that light.  Revelation always requires a shift.  The new revelation brings an enlargement of our thinking that often feels uncomfortable at first.  We struggle to find our footing.  The temptation is to go back to the old and familiar.  We often delight in the discovery of revelation, but not always the process.  New revelation must be received, worked out, and stepped into.  Our careful handling of the revelation we receive positions us for more and advancement.

Testing comes in the areas where we have received revelation.  We must demonstrate that we have laid hold of the truth through our tests.  We move upward and onward as revelation is worked out in the day to day realities of our life.  

Much of the modern day church is starved for revelation.  Like gaunt holocaust-like dwellers existing on yesterday's bread, they live unaware of the abundant supply available for them.  Proverbs 29:18 tells us that 'Where there is no vision(revelation), the people perish'. 

The Children of Israel lived off the daily manna given to them with strict instructions not to store it for another day.  Exodus 16:4 says that the 'manna rained down like bread from heaven'.  They were totally dependent on this other worldly supply.  Jesus told us that 'man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'.  Our life source is the word that comes from His mouth.  Without it we perish.  Without it we stumble in the dark.  Without it we resort to man's wisdom and man's best attempts to live in the light.

Man's attempts will always fall short.  Man's attempts leave a hollow void.  A void always cries out to be filled and the temptation is to make up what is lacking with day old manna. 

Our insistence on living on yesterday's manna produces an effect similar to the rotting smell of the Israelites attempt to store the manna(Ex. 16:19-20).  There's just something stinky about it. 

The mark of revelation is the light and life it brings.  Our spirit leaps and responds to revelation because it is the nourishment we are wired to need.  As believers, it is written into our DNA. Receiving new revelation is one of the greatest joys and privileges we can experience.  Like Habakkuk, I want to position my self to look, watch, and expect revelation.