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A lot of folks get a little melancholy around Christmas time. Thinking about Christmas’ past makes them get a little whimsical. Nothing wrong with this as long as you don’t stay in that place.
Christmas always reminds me that a new year is coming. It is a fresh opportunity to start new… to get a fresh word from heaven… to get new revelation and relevant marching orders for the new year. I don’t want to be stuck in Christmas past. I want to live in Christmas present with hope in Christmas future.
Don’t get me wrong… I believe we should learn from the past. But when you hear believers constantly chirping about the past…”what God did” or “how the Lord used to move” …. It is easy to get stuck worshiping, talking, and focusing upon what God did yesteryear. We must remind ourselves that our God is the great “I Am“!
When we get stuck in the past, we only examine “What God did.” We lose focus on “what God is doing right now.” I love hearing stories about evangelists, pastors, missionaries, and saints of old. They inspire me. But, what about today…isn’t God doing anything fresh and relevant now?
Yes! He is for those willing to get their head and spirit out of Christmas past. The hardcore faith of Noah, Abraham, and others is still available to each and every believer willing to seek the Lord for a fresh revelation. Stop saying, “I wish I had so-and-so’s faith.” Allow the Lord to speak into your “now”. The Lord will speak and move if you are looking for Him in your present.
All this reminds me of the young nun who was on a much desired mission assignment to the Apache Indians. She was so excited that she drove past the last gas station without noticing she needed gas. She ran out of gas just a mile down the road and had to walk back to the station. The attendant told her he would like to help her, but he had no container to hold the gasoline.
Sympathetic to her plight, he agreed to search through an old shed in the back for something that might suffice. The only container which would hold fuel was an old bedpan. Not to be detained any longer, the grateful nun told him the bedpan would work just fine. She carried the gasoline back to her car, taking care not to drop an ounce. When she got to her car, she carefully poured the contents of the bedpan into the tank.
A truck driver pulled alongside and noticed the care given as the nun was emptying the container into the tank. He rolled down his window and yelled to her, “I wish I had your faith, Sister!”
See, you don’t need someone else’s faith. I believe the Lord has a fresh word for you today. This word will change your life and those around you. Maybe you will be the one we all will be telling stories about next Christmas. Lets all strive to be “children of the burning heart.”
Can God really trust you with His presence? You are probably answering in the affirmative. We should want it. If He can trust you with His presence, then where is it? You see, the Anointing is the presence of God. It is not a vague reality that only certain “spiritual people” can discern about you. No, the Anointing should be a matter of fact about us. God’s presence can become so THICK in your life that people can’t help but be affected by it.
It is all about the relationship we have with the Lord. Our relationship with God’s Holy Spirit is of primary importance. You might get away “stiffing” God for a few weeks. Some neglect to pray for weeks and months. They put their whole relationship with God in neutral. Afterward they seek and receive forgiveness and are gladly welcomed back into the family of God.
But when you neglect and “stiff” your relationship with the Holy Spirit, He is not so easily found on the back side. It is not that He will never come back. It is not that He will stop filling you. But you have offended the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit takes your neglect personally. You are the one who sought a relationship with Him and now you have bailed out of the relationship. The Bible exhorts us to not “grieve” or “quench.”
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
Do you think the Holy Spirit is going to continue to leave Himself in a vulnerable position so that you can continue to walk in and out of a relationship with Him. It is a dangerous thing for a believer, church, or organization to grieve and quench the Holy Spirit . In many cases, the Holy Spirit has left the building and we do not even know it. This is why many have had to place their trust in “man-made” programs. The Spirit departed long ago.
The Holy Spirit desires a continuous, harmonious, enduring relationship with each believer and each church. “Quench and Grieve” are words no one would want to use in talking about a relationship they might have. Think about the things we have done to other believers that have absolutely grieved the Holy Spirit. Think about the things we have done in churches that have absolutely grieved the Holy Spirit.
The primary question we need to ask before doing any activity or church business is not, “What will old Uncle Harry think?” No, we should be asking, “Will this course of action quench, grieve, or invite the Holy Spirit’s work in my life and the church?”
When I was a mere lad (8-9 yrs. old) I had an old battery in one of my toys go dead. It was a “C” or “D” sized battery. I desperately wanted my toy to work once more. I knew that electricity ran through batteries. I also was aware electricity flowed in the wall plugs. I figured out a plan to get electricity from the wall socket into my battery. My mother was a beautician and had bobby pins all over the house. So I made a V out of the bobby pin and stuck the two ends into the socket while connected to my battery.
REJECTION —- I learned that day there were certain principles that needed to be applied to harness the power of electricity. No matter how I might want to cheat, shortcut, believe, or somehow get around those fundamental laws governing electricity — THE LAWS WERE STILL IN OPERATION AND I MUST ABIDE BY THEM. I eventually learned, if you fail to abide by these laws you can be shocked, caught on fire, or destroy an otherwise working appliance. I was blown across the room and sparks flew all over the place. Those sparks politely burned holes in my bed spread. I FELT THE POWER! The problem was I did not want this type of power. I was trying to invent the battery charger before there were battery chargers. If I had just been a little more persistent, I could have been a millionaire by inventing the first battery charger.
The truth is God wants us to experience and share His power. You must believe this truth. Jesus said, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.“
He is not trying to keep us from power, God is trying to get us to use His power. But there are Fundamental Spiritual Laws at work in the spiritual realm concerning the power and anointing of God. It shouldn’t surprise any of us that the Lord only shares His power with those who can be trusted with it. Can God really trust you with His presence and power?
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God wants to test us before and after He blesses us.
After these things God tested Abraham. Genesis 22:1
Unfortunately, we do not get to choose our test. It would be much easier if we did. Usually our test is related to, but not limited to, our blessing. In Abraham’s case, he was tested before and after his blessing. What Abraham was asked to do was something most of us would find nearly impossible…Sacrifice his son of promise.
He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Genesis 22:2
Our text tells us that “some time later” God tested Abraham. We don’t know how much later. If you remember, at the end of chapter 21 Isaac was two or three years old. From the text we know for certain Isaac was strong enough to carry the wood for the sacrifice and that he was old enough to understand that having a sacrifice without a lamb wouldn’t work.
A well-to-do merchant stood on the dock watching as final preparations were made for a ship to sail. As he stood there, he was joined by a stranger whose clothing revealed his poverty. Finally the stranger spoke up. “You seem mighty pleased about watching this ship sail,” he said. “Yes,” replied the merchant. “I have seen many ships leave this harbor, but this one gives me more satisfaction than any other I can remember. You see, on this ship I am sending ten thousand dollars worth of equipment for a mission hospital in China. I just had to come down and see that it got off safely.” “Then we have something in common,” said the stranger, “for I, too, have a gift on that ship.” “And what is that gift?” asked the merchant somewhat incredulously. “My only daughter is on that ship. She’s going to China as a missionary.” “Then my gift is nothing compared with yours,” came the merchant’s quiet reply.
Like this merchant, Abraham was a man of great wealth. His faith was so strong he would readily have given any or all of his wealth to God. However, Abraham’s material wealth was nothing compared with the gift God asked of him — his son Isaac. Yet Abraham passed even this test of faith in noble fashion. How much deeper do you think Abraham’s walk with God became after this time of testing?
Why would God test Abraham? It seems that if anyone had a good track record, it was Abraham. (sort of) But he had been through so much and now he was old man. Give him a break! He believed God regarding the promise of a son. He obeyed God’s command for everyone to be circumcised. He even sent Hagar and Ishmael away when God commanded him. Hadn’t Abraham proved his faithfulness? But there are some reasons God tested Abraham. . . and why He sometimes tests us.
One of the reasons God tests us is to combat half-heartedness. I don’t know if Abraham was ever half-hearted in his faith, but we certainly are at times. Like the student who was so consumed to get an assignment done in the quickest way possible, rather than to do the best job possible, we tend to look for the minimum requirements necessary for discipleship.
We hear talk about grace and conclude that we just need to say a prayer and our eternal destiny is determined. To think this way is to misunderstand what God asks of us. Salvation cannot be earned . . . it is a gift. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is to rely on Him, trust Him, and build your life on Him. It is a new orientation for life, not a minimum requirement!
In the book, The Almost Christian Rediscovered (p. 160), Puritan Matthew Mead imagines God asking us some simple questions:
If my commands are not holy, just, and good, then why do you proclaim them as such? And if they are holy, just, and good, why don’t you obey them? If Jesus Christ is not worth having, why do you profess Him? If He is worth having, then why don’t you hold Him tight and draw as close as you can to Him? If the means that I have appointed to convert and save souls (worship, prayer, study of the Scriptures) are not effective, why do you sit under them and rest in the performance of them? And if they are effective, then why don’t you submit to the power in them? If religion is not good, why do you profess it? If religion is good, why do you not practice it?
Simple isn’t it? Much of the Christian life is. When God allows times of testing to come into our lives, it does combat half-heartedness. Tests cause us to remain “lean” in the spirit. It causes us to work-off and keep-off useless fat from our spiritual walk.
God is always calling us to make REAL whole-hearted decisions for the Kingdom. The church in Laodicea was condemned because they were lukewarm. They “believed” but were half-hearted in their belief. God considered half-heartedness to be worse than turning away entirely from Him. (Revelation 3) Both lead to hell but the one is worse because it leads us to hell while thinking we are headed to Heaven!
In the time of Moses, God told the children of Israel He wanted them to “love the Lord their God with ALL their heart, soul, and strength.” (Deut 6:5) This was the creed that every good Jew memorized. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded by repeating this creed and adding the word “mind“. Why? Half heartedness begins in the mind. You must make up your mind..Now! If we neglect to make-up our minds, half-heartedness or lukewarmness will infect our whole heart. God knows the tendencies within men. God sends tests our way to force us to “get off the fence“. They are sent to make our faith real.
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1)
After thirteen years of silence, God appeared to Abraham and said, “I AM God Almighty.” In Hebrew, the name was “El-Shaddai,” which essentially meant “the God who is sufficient” and was used to emphasize His infinite power. It was the first time God had been called by this name in scripture.
How mighty was He? What could He do? The “proof” of Abraham’s faith and Sarah’s faith was just a year away. They had been waiting for 24 years. In the very next chapter God again promised the son and fixed the time for his arrival. The angel said to Sarah and Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:14)
This was an excellent question to ask. “Is anything too hard for God?” The answer was and is, of course, no! He is El-Shaddai, Almighty God.
If we are going to live by faith and receive the precious promises of God, then we are going to have to ask and answer the same question… “Is there anything too hard for God?” If you do not take the time to work through this issue, then it becomes impossible to move forward in faith.
A children’s catechism class was learning the Apostles’ Creed. Each child had been assigned a sentence to repeat. The first one said, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” The second child said, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son…” When he had completed his sentence, there was an embarrassing silence. Finally, one child piped up, “Teacher, the boy who believes in the Holy Spirit isn’t here.” Oooops!
Abraham, the “Father of many nations“, had finally shown himself a true believer. God needed a man to believe He was El-Shaddai, God Almighty. Now Abraham was finally at the point in his life where he could believe and receive this fresh revelation of God. Maybe there was an angel in heaven who shouted, “Father, the man you called out of Ur is finally here and ready to fully believe.” God wants to give you a fresh revelation of Himself. The only question is … Are you ready to receive it? Are you at the place in your life where you can grasp and go with God’s revelation without forgetting and losing that precious revelation? A lot of people say with their lips they want to do something great and grand for the Lord. I hear it all the time. If you and I were ready, we would be receiving God’s revelation of Himself. The time has come where we desperately need to empty ourselves of everything in our lives not of the Lord, so that we might receive the full revelation of the Lord. Nothing is impossible with the Lord. We simply have to show up and believe.