Invasion of Light

Discovering God's Glory One Day at a Time

Month: January, 2012

Don’t Fall Alseep in the Wilderness – Day 78

The dry land is good. But if we’re not careful we may abide in this goodness instead of pressing forward. As human beings we have a tendency to latch on to what is good and stay there. We also have a propensity to take the part as the whole––to only hear a part of God’s message and not listen to the rest. We gravitate toward certain themes and subjects that agree with our nature and personality. Those who are melancholy may even want to dwell in the wilderness when God says, “Move on!” On the other hand, the sanguine wants to run immediately when God gives a mission or vision.

After Jesus told his disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples,” He said, “Wait until you are clothed with power from on high” (Matt. 28:19, Luke 24:49). If the disciples went into the Promised Land without waiting they would have encountered utter failure. If they only heard the first word without the second they would have gone out naked.

Just because we have read or heard something does not mean we should run out to do it, even if it is a good thing. When God speaks to us, it is time for us to ask him specific questions like, “Is there anything more? How do you want me to carry this out? When do you want me to do this?”

Before we carry out any command we need to wait, allowing the Spirit of the Word, the very Spirit of God, to saturate us. Without the Spirit of God filling and clothing us we cannot really carry out God’s Word. We cannot just be content with the letter of the Scripture, or even the God’s outward command, we must be soaked with the very nature of God (2 Cor. 3:6). Obedience is something inner not just outer, and it flows out of those who wait in the presence of God and live in the baptism (immersion) of God’s Spirit.

The infilling of God’s Spirit is essential to being a witness. Why? Because being a witness is much more than “witnessing” or preaching. The true witness is one that emanates from our spirit, it is a fragrance and a light that communicates more than words. Words will always follow this witness, but it transcends our verbal articulations.  This type of witness means that our presence brings the Presence of God. We are clothed with God, but not only that, God has also clothed himself with us (Jdg. 6:34).

Jesus said to his disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV). Moses also knew this way of God. When Yahweh threatened not to go with him (but rather send powerful angel) Moses sought the Lord (Exo. 32:1-2). The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to Him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exo. 33:14-16, NIV).

True fruitfulness stems from the fullness of the Spirit. This is why the experience of Pentecost, both individually and corporately, is necessary if we are going to put into practice Jesus’ words. It is possible for us to have success, the fulfilling of a vision and a measure of blessing without the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit. But the disciple who is hungry for Jesus will not settle for anything less than abiding in his manifest presence by holding on to his Word and living in his love.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing…You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain” (John 15:5, 16a, NASB)

Father: Let us not stop in the wilderness, but take hold of everything you have taken hold of us for. Fill me with your fullness, Holy Spirit. We only want to go as your presence saturates us, in Jesus’ name.

What Seems to be a Curse, May Be a Blessing – Day 77

“God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:10, TNIV). God saw that the dry ground and the restricted waters were good. How do we see the wilderness God brings us through? How do we interpret the boundaries God has established in our lives? Until we see them as good we cannot progress any further; neither will we hear the next word that brings fruitfulness.

All through our lives God is working so that we see like him. He is continually saying, “Do you see what I see?” Our vision is often in conflict with the Lord’s. What we often label as a curse, God sees as a blessing, and what God sees as a curse we often claim as a blessing. To see as God sees is critical to spiritual growth and it is our blindness that causes us to wither away in the wilderness.

God sees the light as good, even though it startles and blinds us. God sees the dryness as good, even though it exposes our true nature. God also sees boundaries as good, even though they limited what we can do. The word “good” in Hebrew is a very simple word––tov. It does not primarily mean something that we like, rather it means something that is beneficial. A Rabbi explained it to me like this, “If the doctor needs to cut off a gangrene-infected leg, it is tov. It is not pretty, but it is necessary and beneficial.” Medicine is tov even though it may not taste good.

We are reminded of Paul’s classic words: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). All things may not be good in and of themselves. But because we are in Christ, God redeems each thing we experience and every situation we are in ––there is nothing in our lives that will ultimately harm us, it is all for our benefit. The devil can launch his greatest attack against you and God will turn it for the good. The Lord is the redeemer!

At issue in all this is the cross. The fact that both Jews and Gentiles joined together to murder the Son of God was not good. Yet the greatest of evils was turned for the good. There is nothing greater than the cross. There has been no experience––and there will never be one––where more goodness has flown out of. We are saved by Christ’s blood! His blood is good!

Prayer: Father, today let me see as you see. Open my eyes to see your goodness. Let me delight in the things you delight in. Transform my vision, in Jesus’ name!

The Epic Conflict Between Two Kinds of Fruitfulness – Day 76

There are two main ways of fruitfulness. The story of Hannah and Peninnah effectively demonstrates these two paths. Peninnah is a woman who is naturally successful. She continually gives birth to new children and in pride she points the finger at Hannah because the Lord has closed her womb. The Scripture says, “And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her” (1 Sam. 1:5-6).

I see this happening in the church today. There are Peninnah churches that are very successful and always seem to be adding new members. However their success is from people’s natural gifts and talents rather than something that is sent down from above. People in “Peninnah style” churches are often called on to use their talents for the Lord even though they may not be living sanctified lives. These types of churches will always get puffed up in pride and look down at other churches that seem to have no fruit. They may even go as far as saying to Hannah churches, “Obviously what you are doing is not working. Follow us, we will show you how to be successful.” Yes, it is true that we can apply certain principles to any organization and see it grow; but are these principles meant to be the source of our fruitfulness?

Hannah churches are those churches that are resolved not to bear fruit by their own natural abilities. Of course, God can use our abilities, but our fruit must come from God through prayer. Hannah churches are desperate to see that which comes down from heaven and not what comes from below. They often weep, and even the religious may think they are drunk (1 Sam. 1:14). But really they are heavily burdened for true fruitfulness. Like Hannah they do not even want to bear fruit for their own benefit. They are willing to give their fruit back to the Lord.

What a difficult and radical decision Hannah made when she dedicated Samuel to the tabernacle. After he was weaned, Hannah could only see her son once a year.

It all boils down to this: will our fruitfulness come from our natural abilities or will it come from a divine Word that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh? ‘Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so” (Gen. 1:11, NIV). The fruitfulness was the fruit of God’s Word. Like the third day, all fruitfulness must have its origins in God’s present Word otherwise it will not last––it will only rot in the fields.

Prayer: Father, give us courage to be a Hannah church not a Peninnah organisation. May our fruitfulness come from your Word. May it be sent from above and not be the product of our flesh (natural abilities), in Jesus’ name.

 

Don’t Get Stuck in the Past – Day 75

God’s Word that came to Israel in Egypt brought them salvation and deliverance––the waters were parted and they walked through the dry land into the freedom of the wilderness. But something went terribly wrong in the wilderness. They refused to listen to the next word God was speaking. Instead they hardened their hearts. As a result, the Israelites of Moses’ generation died in the wilderness. They experienced much, but never entered into the fullness of God’s destiny.

God’s Word spoken into your heart may have done something tremendous in your life, but you cannot stop there. Instead continually anticipate the next Word. Guard your heart with all diligence, keep it soft, always looking forward to that next Word. Pant after that Word like the dear pants for water. Many people die in the wilderness because they don’t listen to the next Word. Salvation may have come to them, but they never enter into the fullness of God’s Spirit, a fullness that produces fruit.

The Father has designed that the ultimate test is found in the inevitable wilderness and the main issue at stake is fruitfulness. In the wilderness the question arises, “How can I be fruitful? How can I be significant? How can I be relevant?” These questions emerge out of one of our most basic drives: the drive to be successful, to bear fruit.

There is a great craving in us to be fruitful; we long and thirst for fruitfulness. This is clearly seen when Rachel cries out to Jacob, “Give me children or I die!” (Gen. 30:1). To the ancient mind lack of natural fruitfulness meant lack of success. It meant one was a failure and unable to carry on the family legacy. It meant dishonour and reproach.

The same sentiment is seen today but expressed differently. In our culture, children are not as important––money, popularity, cars, jobs and accomplishments are. These are what we consider fruitfulness. Many would rather die than be an utter failure in the world’s eyes. Consequently, there is a major emphasis being successful. However, the main question is “How are we going to be fruitful?” In our next post we will explore that question.

Prayer: Father, you have spoken to my heart and changed my life. But keep me thirsty for the next Word. Let me not get stuck in the past. Jesus may I hear your voice today and move forward in you!

From Glory to Glory – Day 74

Creation began in a formless and empty state, in a chaotic hodgepodge of elements. But every day the Word came and brought creation from glory to glory. Everyday its beauty and splendour increased. It was like a bride being prepared for a husband, becoming more glorious for the climatic wedding day. In the same way, the Word that comes morning by morning also brings us from glory to glory. More than the watchman waits for the rising sun we need to be watching and waiting for this Word. The Word is truly transformative.

“Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deu. 8:3, NASB). This was the second main lesson God was teaching the Israelites in the wilderness. He made them hungry and fed them with manna morning by morning to teach them that each day they needed to be fed on a miraculous Word given from heaven.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My Torah” (Exo. 16:4, italics mine). The first key to receiving this bread from heaven is beholding it. We need to see that each day God will give us this bread and that he will only give us enough for the day at hand. God’s compassion to us is new every morning, daily providing us his living Word (Lam. 3:22-23).

The Messiah himself lived as Israel was called to live, continually asking for the Father’s daily bread. His life teaches us what it means to be a true disciple:

“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord God has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient Nor did I turn my back. I gave my back to those who strike Me, and my cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting” (Isa. 50:4-6, NASB)

Are we truly awake if our ears have not been awakened? Daily we need God to open our ears; each day we are dependent on his mercy toward us. Are we open to God opening us? Are we willing to receive his Word even if it means our own outward demise? These are serious questions that we should wrestle with in light of the Scripture.

In the face of temptation, and in a time of great weakness, Jesus confronted the devil with “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4, cf. Luke 4:4). Satan wanted Jesus to look to natural means for strength, but the Messiah put the importance of spiritual bread ahead of physical bread. This is what God is trying to teach us in the wilderness. The wilderness is the place of the extraordinary power of God––if only we would behold and see. The desert teaches us that all power proceeds from God’s Word. The time of outward depravity is meant to give us a hunger and thirst for God’s Word, which in actuality is God himself given to us. Only in Jesus’ life are we to find fullness and satisfaction. He said, “I am the bread of life, he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35, NASB).

Prayer: Father, take me from glory to glory through your heavenly Word. Open my ears; let me hear your life-transforming voice. Give us this day our daily bread. Feed our spirits, Lord; feed us morning by morning.

God Said And It Was So – Day 73

“And God said…and it was so.” Do we have this type of faith in God’s Word? Do we believe that whatever God says is so? Do we argue and doubt whether God’s Word will come to pass? The principal sin of Adam and Eve was that they lost faith in God’s Word. They did not believe that what he said was so. Moreover, it cannot be changed. This unbelief caused the unravelling of God’s creation under their care. Now all of creation groans (Rom. 8:18-27). Why is creation in pain? Because the Word of God is the principle and foundation of the heavens and the earth (Heb. 11:3; 2 Pet. 3:5-7). By it God created the universe and upholds the cosmos. Opposition to it brings disorder. If there is anything that the creation story teaches us is the absolute necessity and indispensability of God’s Word as the foundation––everything is the fruit of God’s Word.

“And God said…” This is the phrase that is repeated the most in the creation story, the author never gets tired of using it. In Hebrew it is vayomer elohim and the author uses it ten times. I believe that when God spoke it ushered in the dawn of each day. Everyday was a reflection (in some way) of the first day when God spoke and there was light. Each successive day begins with the evening breaking because of the light of God’s Word. Each day commences with the Word and no day gets bored with the “monotony” of it. Why? Because the Word of God is never dead and dry, it is charged with life and power. Even though it comes day by day it never lacks impetus.

How about us? Are we bored with the phrase, “And God said”? Does it lack zest and meaning to us? Are we like the children of Israel who were fed up with receiving manna each day because they longed for something more? Do we realise there is nothing more than God’s Word because God’s Word is himself? Are we really beginning a new day if we have not heard that fresh Word? Or are we just living in the past day?

Prayer: O Lord, let me never get bored of your Word. Let it be fresh to me. May I rejoice in it as a person rejoices over great riches. It is your Word and makes things so. There is no greater power than your Word! May that Word come to me today and everyday, in Jesus’ name.

The Way to the Manifested Presence – Day 72

Let’s remember that all the patriarchs’ had wives that were barren. God wanted to teach them that his fruitfulness does not come from their ability. True fruitfulness only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. Hannah expressed God’s ways when she prophesied: “She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away” (1 Samuel 2:5, TNIV).

This is the lesson of the third day: God in his wisdom chooses to make the earth in two stages. In the first stage he speaks: parting the waters and causing the dry land to appear. However, the land is dry, barren and uninhabited. In the second stage he speaks again; this time he fills the earth he formed with fruitfulness.

Barrenness before fruitfulness is the pattern seen throughout God’s dealings with man. John the Baptist’s call to Israel for repentance was a call to go back to the wilderness. During that time, Israel was in the Promised Land but they were not living in the fullness of God’s blessings; they were governed and oppressed by both the Romans and religiosity.

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”… People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Matt. 3:1-3, 5-6).

This story is loaded with prophetic meaning. About twelve hundred years ago Israel entered the Promised Land by coming out of the wilderness and crossing the miraculously parted Jordan River. Now, John the Baptist is bringing them back to their roots; he is brining them back to the repentance that the wilderness was meant to work in their hearts. Again they had to go back through the waters––they needed to come again into the Promised Land with a right spirit. The wilderness has a way of bringing true repentance unlike any other place. Why? Because there is no pretension there; there is nothing present that is attractive to the flesh. John himself wore clothes made of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. His diet was locusts and wild honey. People going to see him were surely not going to see a man with pomp and circumstance.

John the Baptist’s message in the wilderness was always pointing to the Coming One, the Messiah. It was the Messiah and not the prophet that was the true answer. But how could the people be prepared? It was only the wilderness that could prepare the way for Jesus, the true Promised Land and Vine (Psa. 80:8ff; cf. John 15:1-17). The wilderness leaves us longing and looking for him. The wilderness prepares us for his manifested presence. In that place of weakness and repentance we resolve that all fruitfulness and victory can only be in him.

Prayer: Father, give me courage as I go through the wilderness, but let me not stop until I break into your manifested presence and your full purposes.

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