Invasion of Light

Discovering God's Glory One Day at a Time

Month: March, 2012

Child-like Wonder – Day 119

What amazing glory lies hidden in the depths of the oceans and seas! The common traverser of earth remains ignorant of this amazing unexplored world. It takes someone willing and trained to dive into the watery depths to observe the beauty that lies below. Those of us on dry land only share in the sight of its magnificence because of the mercy and work of another who has uncovered and brought back the mysteries of this underwater world.

I will always remember the time our family visited Underwater World in Maroochydore, Australia. My son Gideon was captured by the stunning beauty of the many kinds of fish and sea creatures we observed. There was such a broad spectrum of effervescent and florescent colours, such a plethora of awe-inspiring patterns. My son was only six and so everything he saw was breathtaking. He was so full of joy––not just happiness, but inward joy. During the visit he said, “If anyone says there is no God, I will tell them: ‘Look at the fishes.’” He left the aquarium visit exclaiming, “God is so awesome!” There in the middle of a small sampling of the “swarms of living creatures,” we were filled with a new sense of worship at the splendour of God. It is amazing that many people miss it.

This is why Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, NIV). A little child sees things with fresh eyes; everything is new to them and their hearts are very tender. As we become older we develop the “been there; done that” mentality. This type of thinking robs us of true worship and joy. To my son, everything he saw was new and exciting, and it was all a witness of the glory of God.

Prayer: Father, give me child-like eyes again, eyes that see your wonder and glory.

The River is for the Harvest – Day 118

Where was the river flowing in Ezekiel’s vision? To the Dead Sea. And its purpose was to bring life:

“Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing” (Ezekiel 47:9-12, NIV).

As the Scripture unfolds we learn that God often uses fish as a symbol of people. Jesus said to his future disciples (who were fishermen), “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17). The sea is like the nations and God desires people to be pulled out of the darkness of the nations into his Kingdom. This was the call of Jesus’ disciples and still is the call of every disciple.

In Ezekiel’s vision we learn that there will be “large numbers of fish” because the river of life is flowing into the deadest and lowest region of earth. Clearly it is a picture of the great harvest of lost souls being saved from the nations. The purpose of the river is not so we can get “drunk,” but so we can win the lost (cf. Eph. 5:18). Ezekiel goes on to say that there will be fishermen along the shores and that there will be many kinds of fish. These many kinds of fish represent what John saw:

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9-10).

As Ezekiel’s vision unfolds he communicates that there will not only be fish but healthy trees and fruit. Scripture also uses the image of trees as a picture of man. A person can either bear good fruit, bad fruit or no fruit. And if they are unfruitful they are in danger of being cut down (Luke 3:9, 13:6-9; John 15:1-17, etc.). The function of the river is to supply life to all the various kinds of fruit trees, enabling them to produce continual lasting fruit. So we see that God has given us his Holy Spirit not merely to heal us and satisfy our deepest needs, but to make us fruitful, enabling us to feed those who are spiritually hungry and bringing healing to the nations. Therefore Paul says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23b). The fruit of the Spirit is not just for us, it is for others to enjoy and for us to be transformed.

Mere Refreshing vs. Obedience

The Israelites of Moses’ generation made the mistake of not drinking the right way. “They drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness” (1 Cor. 10:4-5). They did not drink in order to be refreshed and obedient, but only to be refreshed. They let God satisfy their needs but they did not let him empower them to surrender to his will. The result was that they never made it into the Promised Land.

Today God is choosing an elite army that has been trained, equipped and prepared. He is more interested in the quality of the army rather than the size. Those who drink the living waters in a self-indulgent manner will be left behind. The Father has given his Spirit for a purpose: to refresh and revive his obedient people. Those who drink without being watchful and ready to war will be left behind. They may share in the end victory (like the nation of Israel did after Gideon’s battle) but they will not be the ones who rout out the enemy.

Prayer: Father, let me drink in your refreshing Spirit in order to be obedient. Save me from basking in the blessing in order to indulge my own self. Make me watchful, alert and ready to fight the good fight of faith. May I have the quality that you were looking for in Gideon’s army.

 

The Small that is not Small – Day 116

But we need to take this question––“are you drinking?”––one step further. It should be joined together with “how are you drinking?” How they drank was the determining factor in selecting Gideon’s army. It is also one of the essential elements in God’s last days army, the army we are called to be.

“But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley.” (Judges 7:4-8, NIV)

Here we see the God who sifts. His separating is based on their manner of drinking. God is not interested in size but desires to assemble an elite army, and his choice of who makes it is based on what would seem a small and incidental thing. But that which is minute often issues from a man’s core and is a sign of something far greater.

My father was a paratrooper in America’s Special Forces. When I was young he taught me how a soldier drinks water. After brushing my teeth I used to put my whole head under the faucet to rinse my mouth. “No, no, no,” my dad said, “I will teach you what I learned in the army. A soldier cups his hand and raises the water to his mouth rather than putting his mouth straight to the water. Then he sips the water in his hands.” This was exactly what the Lord was looking for: “Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouth. All the rest got down on their knees to drink…With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you.”

These three hundred were prepared and trained soldiers. They maintained a posture of alertness and readiness as they drank; they were prepared to spring straight into battle. The others drank in a selfish sought of way, getting on their knees and plunging their heads into the water. They would not be ready if an enemy was approaching; they were too focused on indulging themselves rather than what was to come.

Prayer: Father, I want to drink in your Spirit in the right way––not to indulge, but with the intention of doing battle. Make me disciplined. Let me recognize that the small things are not really small in your eyes, in Jesus’ name.

Beginning to Finish – Day 115

God’s living waters are flowing in the desert of this world and every community that becomes one with the cross (allowing God to strike judgment on their flesh in Christ) will become an outlet for this river. The question is: are we drinking from these living waters? The question is not “have we drunk from this river?” But rather are we drinking from this river? The Israelites of Moses’ generation drank from the river, but died in the wilderness. Why? Because they did not continue to drink from what God had done. Therefore, they did not have the strength to last through the journey. They only began the race; they did not finish.

The only way we can make it through this journey is to continually ask God for his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” The Holy Spirit has been given to us to drink and only as we drink are we filled with the life and nature of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the same Spirit that anointed Jesus. And it is only possible to live like Jesus by his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the power and grace we are given to be Christ’s witnesses. Without him we can do nothing! The good news is the Father is more than happy to give us his Spirit. Jesus taught:

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Of if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13).

The classic mistake that we make when we read this passage is to think that once we have asked for the Holy Spirit, we do not need to ask anymore. Or once we have received the Holy Spirit, we do not need more of him. The Holy Spirit is like the bread Jesus told us to pray for daily: we continually need a fresh flow of his Spirit in our lives. I ask for the Holy Spirit each day to fill and empower me, and I am confident that more than any other prayer, the Father loves to answer this one. Are you asking? Are you drinking?

In the Wilderness the River Flows – Day 114

The wilderness story is a testimony of God’s mercy.  In Rephidim we read once again that God shows his mercy to an undeserving people. The Israelites were ready to stone Moses, but Moses cried out to the Lord (Exo. 17:4). In response the Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink” (Exo. 17:5-6).

This whole scene is a revelation of the cross, the place where true water flows. Notice how God tells Moses to take the same staff that he struck the Nile with. When Moses struck the Nile it turned to blood. Now he will strike the rock and it will turn into living waters. In judgment, the cross struck Jesus and “turned” him into blood. But that same cross was also the source of living waters for all people. Jesus had to be struck, in place of the people who actually deserved the judgment, for the living waters of mercy to flow.

Paul confirms that the rock and waters had a deeper meaning:

“They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ…These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:3-4, 11).

Let’s not assume that only a trickle of water seeped out of the rock. The rock had to satisfy the thirst of about three million people. No it was not a trickle. Rather it was rivers of living water that gushed out of this rock! The Psalmist proclaimed: “He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a river in the desert” (Psa. 105:41).

Prayer: Jesus, you are the fulfillment of the rock. In the hard place of the cross, where you were struck in judgment, torrents of mercy flowed out for us to drink. The cross is the place where the true river flows. Today, I come to your cross and drink deeply of your fountatin of youth.

 

Grace in the Place of Thorns – Day 113

By learning about the Feast of Tabernacle we can understand more fully about the Lord’s living waters. This was a festival celebrating how God led the Israelites through the wilderness. During the feast the Jews remember and rejoice about living in tents (temporary dwelling places) when they trekked through the wilderness’s unknown territory.

During Israel’s journey (after escaping Egypt) the Lord directed them to Rephidim. Yet at Rephidim there was no water for the people to drink. God brought them to a place of dryness and thirst, but it was not so that they would die, rather it was so that they would see his Glory.  The book of Exodus relates:

“The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin [which means thorns] travelling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim [which means resting places], but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarrelled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink'” (Exo. 17:1-2).

As a refiner’s fire exposes dross, the wilderness brought to the surface what lay dormant in the Israelite’s hearts. Yahweh was leading them through a desert of thorns to bring them to a place of weakness and dependency. When Paul had a thorn in his flesh he pleaded with the Lord three times for it to be taken away from him. But Jesus answered him in a very unexpected way: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:8-9). Yahweh desired to reveal his grace to the Israelites, but they did not have eyes to see what he was doing, they did not know God’s ways.

What they should have done was call out to God for grace. Yahweh revealed himself as Lord over the waters at the Red Sea and Marah, but they quickly forgot. Instead of looking to God for living water, they quarrelled with Moses. In their eyes, Moses was the source of the problem; they blamed their troubles on a leader. This is our natural reaction when we are blind to the dealings of God in our lives. Not only did they think that Moses was the source of their problems, but they thought he also should be the solution-maker. They quarrelled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

When God’s people do not discern what he is doing, and when his children do not pray, the only alternative for them is to quarrel, complain and blame. They will look to men to give what only God can. How many churches are like this! God withholds revival from them and they blame their leadership. The leadership may not be the cause. Examine yourself. Are you crying out for living waters?  Or are you demanding that people give you water to drink? The only source of living waters is God and he gives freely to all who ask. As Jesus said to the woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God and who it was that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10).

Prayer: Father, forgive us for looking to man for living waters. Jesus, you are the source of living waters. May we come to you today to drink and be revived.

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