December 2009

Monthly Archive

“We Would Almost Think That God Loved Us More Than He Loves His Son!”

Posted by on 28 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Sinclair Ferguson, The Cross

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I Love You This Much

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit . . . .

1 Peter 3:18 (ESV)

How can this be? “You would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son.” Amazing! This is the Good News! This is the Gospel!

When we think of Christ dying on the cross we are shown the lengths to which God’s love goes in order to win us back to himself. We would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son! We cannot measure such love by any other standard. He is saying to us: I love you this much.

The cross is the heart of the gospel. It makes the gospel good news: Christ died for us. He has stood in our place before God’s judgment seat. He has borne our sins. God has done something on the cross we could never do for ourselves. But God does something to us as well as for us through the cross. He persuades us that he loves us.

Sinclair Ferguson, Grow in Grace (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1989), 56, 58.

Hearing God for the New Year (Part Two)

Posted by on 27 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: A. W. Tozer, E. Stanley Jones, Hearing God, Oswald Chambers

A Burning Heart to Hear God

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper (emphasis mine).

1 Kings 19:11-12

Yesterday, we discussed hearing God as an on-going conversational relationship. We determined that it was God’s heart to speak to us and be spoken to by us. God treats us as friends not slaves: he does not desire to order us around. The Lord draws us into his presence tenderly, leading us by his love. He wants a relationship with us, not a command/control robotic dynamic, but a moment-by-moment conversation.

Relationship

God’s voice rarely speaks in the midst of the noise and chaos of worldly distractions. Most often, the Holy Spirit leads in thoughtful silence, physical repose, and reflective prayer. He is not a “chatty Cathy;” he will not overwhelm us, but will speak to us in unguarded moments. Recognition of God’s voice is not automatic, but is developed over time in love relationship. Remember, God desires you; therefore, he will withhold information in order to keep you near. As we yearn for direction, he will lead us step-by-step to keep us dependent on his wisdom and fatherly care. Christ said that we are his friends, not his robots (John 15:13-15). He desires our love far more than we desire to love him.

The development of character must be the primary purpose of the Father. He will guide us, but he won’t override us. That fact should make us use with caution the method of sitting down with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper to write down instructions dictated by God. Suppose a parent would dictate to the child everything he is to do during the day. The child would be stunted. The parent must be guide in such a manner that character, capable of making right decisions for itself, is produced. God does the same.

E. Stanley Jones, Victorious Living cited in Dallas Willard, Hearing God through the Year (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 19.

Ways and Means

The Lord uses numerous means to communicate to us his will and his direction: sovereign circumstances, Holy Scripture, Christian biographies, dreams and visions, audible voice, faithful counsel (Prov. 15:22), church leadership, and even silence. These “lights” will operate by confirming one another, adding means upon means, making God’s will and desire clearly known (2 Cor. 2:14-17).

Common Sense

Oswald Chambers encourages obedient believers; God’s word is “yes” until we hear a “no.” Since, Christ is living in us by the Holy Spirit then he will be faithful to lead and guide us. Not all “words from the Lord” are dramatic and overtly supernatural; often God does use our sanctified common sense to direct our path.

In the life of a child of God, the human motive is the disguised Divine. Sanctification means that I become a child of God, consequently my common-sense decisions are God’s will unless He gives the check of His Spirit. I decide things in perfect fellowship with God, knowing that if my decisions are wrong, He will check. When He checks, I must stop at once. It is the inner check of the Spirit that prevents common sense being our god.

Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Where (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1996), 154.

Burning Hearts

God’s voice is precious to those who are members of the fellowship of the burning heart. This fellowship is made up of men and women who love God above all else. Broken and consecrated, they yield in simple surrender to God’s will.

To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1993), 14.

The “burning heart” ones passionately desire God’s glory over and against the world’s passing pleasures. God will repeat his guidance repeatedly to those who love him and long to do his will. The Holy Trinity’s goal in guiding us is not to bring us into a painless life of ease and comfort. The Father’s ultimate goal in speaking is to develop a deepening love relationship with us. He will lead us step-by-step to keep us dependent on his help and assistance in the midst of the surprises and difficulties of life.

The Basics

Basic truths about God’s guidance: if you are born from above, you hear God. The Father knows you by name and is personally concerned about your personal concerns (1 Peter 5:7). God speaks through a variety of means: each designed to act as a confirming agent of his direction. In addition, a believer instinctively knows the difference between God’s voice, the sinful nature, and Satan’s deception.

Let it be made known, God always leads us to be actively engaged in personal ministry, corporate worship, responsible relationships, and sacramental participation. We have an individual relationship with the Lord, but we are not individualists (1 Cor. 12:27). We value other believers for they see our blind spots: they assist us in hearing God by reminding us of our weaknesses. Last, the Holy Spirit will never contradict his own written Word, the Bible.

Summary

As believers, we should all expect to hear God. His speaking may be as low-key as a nudge in our spirits or as dramatic as a face-to-face encounter with Jesus himself. The expectation of the Christian life is a personal, intimate, communicative relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Hearing God for the New Year (Part One)

Posted by on 26 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Dallas Willard, God's Love, Hearing God, Sanctification, Surrender

Hearing God

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

John 10:3

As believers, we enjoy the Blessed Trinity’s personal presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore, we should experience an on-going conversation with God: speaking to God and being spoken to by his Spirit. The normal Christian life is God speaking, directing, and guiding us by his love and through his Spirit. In turn, we can respond in delight by honoring his leadership through obedience to his will. This process of being directed, guided, and led by the Holy Spirit in the affairs of everyday life is called hearing God (John 10:25-30).

Personal Presence

Dallas Willard affirms that as believers, we were meant to live in God’s presence and fellowship.

People are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with God, speaking and being spoken to by him. God’s visits to Adam and Eve in the garden, Enoch’s walks with God and the face-to-face conversations between Moses and Jehovah are all commonly regarded as highly exceptional moments in the religious history of humankind.

Aside from their obvious unique historical role, however, these moments are not meant to be exceptional at all. Rather they are examples of the normal human life God intended for us. God’s indwelling his people through personal presence and fellowship. Given who we are by basic nature, we live—really live—only through God’s regular speaking in our souls and thus ‘by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Deut. 8:3).

Dallas Willard, Hearing God Through the Year (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 9.

Inward Call

God’s voice may be an inward drawing, an internal prodding, or a wooing sense in one’s spirit. On occasion, God’s direction may come as an outward audible voice, which sounds much like our own human voice (1 Sam. 3: 1-21). Mostly, God speaks in our hearts as a thought that is much like our own reasoning. God’s thought appears to come out of nowhere and is not an idea we normally would have conceived. Dallas Willard calls this type of inward direction, “a God characteristic type of thought” (1 Kings 19: 12). God is not playing a cat and mouse game disappearing when we most need him. He is no trickster playing with our lives while we stumble around in the dark. The Lord will make his will known even if he has to repeat it continually.

Sin’s Dullness

God’s guidance is restricted and hindered by unrepentant sin. Many believers do not hear God because they are unwilling to do God’s will. If God is silent, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal hidden sin.He will be faithful to convict us by exposing our sin, so that, we might find forgiveness and mercy. Continual disobedience hardens our hearts, thereby inhibiting God’s personal and direct guidance.

If we desire intimacy, we need to open our spirits to Christ’s Lordship expressing to God our willingness to change. God’s direction may be correcting, even rebuking, but his voice always contains the enabling grace to obey. If sin is not the reason for God’s silence, then move forward, knowing that God has promised to be with us (Matt 28:20, Heb.13:5). God especially works through our sanctified reasoning as we grow in maturity and Christlikeness. Remember, the voice of God will not lead us to be disobedient to his Word, the Bible (Psa. 119:105).

To be continued: “Hearing God for the New Year: Part Two” will be posted tomorrow.

A Child Born, A Son Given

Posted by on 25 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Charles Spurgeon, Christmas

The Mystery of the Incarnation

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon revels in the incarnation. Spurgeon’s text is Isaiah 9:6 .

As Jesus Christ is a child in his human nature, he is born, begotten of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary. He is as truly-born, as certainly a child, as any other man that ever lived upon the face of the earth. He is thus in his humanity a child born. But as Jesus Christ is God’s Son, he is not born; but given, begotten of his Father from before all worlds, begotten—not made, being of the same substance with the Father.

The doctrine of the eternal affiliation of Christ is to be received as an undoubted truth of our holy religion. But as to any explanation of it, no man should venture thereon, for it remaineth among the deep things of God—one of those solemn mysteries indeed, into which the angels dare not look, nor do they desire to pry into it—a mystery which we must not attempt to fathom, for it is utterly beyond the grasp of any finite being. As well might a gnat seek to drink in the ocean, as a finite creature to comprehend the Eternal God. A God whom we could understand would be no God. If we could grasp him he could not be infinite: if we could understand him, then were he not divine.

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you all.

Advent, Mary, and Prophetic Hope

Posted by on 16 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Advent, Blessed Virgin Mary, Gift of Prophecy, My Sermons

The Blessed Virgin Mary Receives Personal Prophetic Words

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’

Luke 2:34-35

On this blog, we have discussed the word of prophecy (1 Cor. 12: 10), its importance during the season of Advent, and how to respond when given a confirmed prophetic word. Today’s post focuses on the Blessed Virgin Mary as a model for receiving and acting on prophetic words. Luke 2:25-40 describes two prophetic ministers, Anna and Simeon, reaching out to Mary when the baby Jesus is being presented at the Temple for circumcision.

Simeon was united in Christ in righteousness, “righteous and devout” (v. 25a), yielded to Christ trusting his delay, “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (v. 25b), and remained in Christ enjoying his manifested presence, “Holy Spirit was upon him” (v. 25c). Simeon was intimate with God for Simeon knew his voice, “you would not die” until he sees Messiah (v. 26), and Simeon was led by the Spirit for he was directed by the Spirit “into the Temple courts” (v. 27).

Simeon’s prophetic word consisted of two parts: public in Temple (v. 29-32) and private to Mary (v. 34-35).The public pronouncement focuses on Jesus–God’s salvation found in the baby. This salvation is for the Gentiles and the Jews bringing about the healing of the nations.

Simeon’s personal word to Mary is strangely negative: the proud, self-absorbed, self-assured, and hard-hearted will be revealed (v34-35). Israel will resist Jesus’ ministry, and as result, their worldly, unbelieving hearts will be exposed.  In turn, Israel’s rejection of Mary’s son, the Son of God, will break her heart as well. [Stephen D. Swihart, ed., Logos International Bible Commentary (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1981), 439.

Some may ask why Simeon’s word of prophecy is negative in tone, “Are not all prophecies to be ‘strengthening, encouraging, and comforting'” (1 Cor. 14:3)? “Are not all prophecies to be positive and uplifting”? A prophecy can contain a rebuke, correction, or warning and still be comforting and healing. When Jesus corrects or rebukes, he also gives the grace, the Holy Spirit’s enabling power, to obey his word of command. Jesus gives prophetic words to the seven churches of Asia: five of the seven are rebuked or corrected for their lack of holiness, obedience, or perseverance. Yet, all five are encouraged, graced, and offered a reward for choosing obedience (Rev. 2 & 3).

Simeon’s warning to Mary is the Holy Spirit’s way of helping Mary avoid the pain and shock of unexpected suffering and rejection. It is good that Mary knows now that her precious child’s future death will break her heart in the painful of ways–the Cross.

Anna, a female prophetess, lived her entire life in the Temple courts: she was dedicated to worship, fasting, and praying. Anna represents wholehearted devotion to God and his presence (Luke 2:37). Like Simeon, spending time in God’s presence means knowing God’s heart, and to know God’s heart is to hear his voice, and to hear God’s voice is know his ways. Immediately after Simeon’s word, Anna confirms that this child will bring about the redemption of Israel (Luke 2:38). To be the redeemer of Israel is to be the Messiah, the chosen one, who would free Israel from her bondage. Anna’s word further confirms to Mary and Joseph that the God of Israel has major plans for their son, bigger plans than they can imagine.

Luke does not record the Blessed Virgin Mary’s response to these two words, but we know that in another situation, she chose the “ponder these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19 KJV). Pondering is not passivity. Pondering says to God, “I trust your prophetic word, I may not understand it, therefore I will not talk about God’s instruction until he reveals its meaning to me.” Pondering is faith, pondering is waiting on God, pondering is giving God opportunity and time.

Mary’s humble acceptance of the divine will is the starting point of the story of the redemption of the human race from sin.

Alan Richardson, The New Book of Christian Quotations, comp. Tony Castle (New York, Crossroad, 1982), 158.

In summary; Advent is a unique time for hearing and obeying God’s prophetic word. Like Simeon and Anna, we are called to Spirit-waiting, Spirit-listening, Spirit-anticipation, and Spirit-obedience. Like Elijah and the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are called to Father-directed submission, Spirit-led action, and Christ-follower trust. The Holy Spirit still speaks through the gift of prophecy. As we anticipate Christ’s second return, we can expect more guidance from our heavenly commander.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

What Do You Do With a Personal Prophetic Word?

Posted by on 14 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Charismatic Movement, E. M. Bounds, Gift of Prophecy, My Sermons, Spiritual Gifts

Active or Passive Response?

Here and here, we defined the word of prophecy as a spiritual gift and how during this season of Advent, we especially need to seek the prophetic word. Today, we reflect on how to respond when a prophetic word is given by the Holy Spirit.

What should our response be to a confirmed prophetic word (1 Cor. 14:29)? Do we just sit around and wait? Do we just discuss it, debate it, or analyze it? Is it possible that the Holy Spirit desires for us to pray this move of God—an inbreaking of the kingdom—into existence?  The Holy Spirit calls us to obey Isaiah’s injunction, “Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near” (Isa. 55:6, NLT). We seek the gift of prophecy for we hunger for God’s direction in the midst of the chaos and confusion of this world (1 Cor. 14:1).

The prophetic word is an invitation to enter God’s promises, to receive God’s provision, and to release God’s kingdom (1 Cor. 14:1-5). When a prophetic word is given to us, we are called to pray the promise’s fulfillment, believe the promise’s pledge, and obey the promise’s command.  In other words, we are not to sit passively waiting for a prophetic word to come true, but we are called by God to be actively cooperating with the Holy Spirit to see that word fulfilled.

Elijah is a biblical example of responding to God’s prophetic word: he acted and prayed into existence God’s promise of rain (1 Kings 18:1, 41-46).

Elijah sought the Lord even when the word of the Lord was clear and unequivocal; he did not wait passively, but pursued Yahweh while he could be found. God promised Elijah, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth” (1 Kings 18:1, NKJV). First, Elijah obeyed the word of the Lord and was immediately obedient to the heavenly command. For in verse two, Elijah went and presented himself to his greatest enemy King Ahab. He obeyed despite the threat of rejection, persecution, and even possible death.

Second, Elijah grabbed hold of the word of God and believed it for he heard “the abundance of rain” before it was ever visible (v.41). Third, Elijah sought the Lord in prayer basing his request for rain on the promise of God (v.1).  Fourth, Elijah humbled himself before the Lord, not demanding, but requesting that God honor his promise of rain. “And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees . . . ” (v. 42). Fifth, Elijah was earnest; he wanted to see the word of the Lord fulfilled (James 5:17). He persevered until the answer came, for “seven times” he looked longingly to the sea for rain (v.43).

Sixth, Elijah was undeterred for he continued to believe God even after six times of seeing no results from his prayers. Seven, Elijah acted on God’s prophetic word for he gave Ahab instructions to drive through the Jezreel Valley before rain flooded the area. Elijah based his orders on seeing a cloud as small as a man’s hand, thus Elijah was a man of faith (v.44). Elijah saw his prayer answered (v.45) and became an example for us all (James 5: 16a-18). [F. B. Meyer, Elijah: And the Secret of His Power (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1978), 90-100.]

Conclusion, Elijah is biblical example for receiving a prophetic word: we should pray until the promise is fulfilled. The great prayer warrior, E. M. Bounds, instructs us in the same manner:

All revivals are dependent on God, but in revivals, as in other things, he invites and requires the assistance of man, and the full result is obtained when there is cooperation between the divine and the human. In other words, to employ a familiar phrase, God alone can save the world, but God chooses not to save the world alone.

E. M. Bounds, Purpose in Prayer found in The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 360.

Advent and the Gift of Prophecy

Posted by on 13 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Advent, Gift of Prophecy, Holy Spirit, My Sermons, Spiritual Gifts

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Prophetic Hope

“Eagerly desire . . . the gift of prophecy”

1 Cor 14:1

In a previous post, I defined the spiritual gift of prophecy as spontaneous, Spirit-inspired, intelligible speech, orally-delivered to the church gathered intended for the building up of the people of God. Prophecy can be both foretelling; insights into the future plans of God, and forthtelling; God’s word for our present circumstances.

During the church season of Advent, the word of prophecy is important for Advent is the period of the Christian year dedicated to prophetic hope. Prophetic hope is believing and expecting God’s inspired promise of Jesus’ soon return. Advent means confident waiting: waiting on God to fulfill his word that Jesus will return in a physical body to bring his church home and judge the world (2 Peter 3:8-10). Advent is a prophetic season for we wait for the prophetic fulfillment of Jesus’ second coming while marveling at the Old Testament prophetic fulfillment of Jesus’ first coming. The Old Testament prophets spoke of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death (Gen. 3:15; Micah 5:2; Isa. 7:14. 53:4-7) and years later these promises were fulfilled. Today, we read the prophetic words of Jesus, Paul, John, and Peter concerning the Second Coming (Mark 13:26-27; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Peter 3:8-10; Rev. 19:11-16) and with confidence we expect the prophetic words of scripture to be fulfilled again.

The word of prophecy is hope: knowledge that God is aware of our need and actively working to meet that heart-cry. The gift of prophecy points the Church to Christ, calls for obedience to his commands, and brings healing and restoration. The gift of prophecy reminds believers of their call to holiness, their dependence on God’s grace, and the faithfulness of God’s promise. Corporately, the prophetic gift calls forth repentance, restoration, and renewal in the Body of Christ. The prophetic gift builds up the Church in her call to be God’s witness to the world (1 Cor. 12:31, 14:1, 39; Heb. 2:3-4).

During the season of Advent, the church can expect the Holy Spirit to encourage, comfort, and strengthen all believers for the coming year.

True Prophets are the healers, preachers, and teachers who are “binders of wounds,” because they call people to genuine transformation and repentance. True prophetic words point to sin, to what is amiss in a life or in a culture; they warn of the consequences if one fails to repent (here a predictive element can come in); they console; they encourage. They do all this in conjunction with the fundamental truth that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 12:10).

Leanne Payne, Heaven’s Calling: A Memoir of One Soul’s Steep Ascent (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 116.

Our One and Only Savior

Posted by on 05 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Jesus Christ, John Stott, Salvation

Salvation Found Only in Christ

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

To the post-modern mind, no one religion can claim to have all the truth. No one way can be the only hope of salvation. No one person can claim to be the sole means to living life in all its fullness. Post-moderns assert that those individuals who make such an exclusive claim are intolerant and arrogant.

Yet much to their dismay, Jesus makes that very claim: He is the exclusive Savior of the world, the only means to salvation, and the only one who can bring true fulfillment (John 14:6).

To claim that Jesus Christ is unique is not to say that there is no truth in other religions and ideologies. Of course there is. For we believe in God’s general revelation and common grace. The Logos of God is still ‘the true light’ coming into the world and enlightening every man (Jn. 1:9). All men know something of God’s glory from creation and something of God’s law from their own nature, as Paul argues in Romans 1 and 2.

But how does this argument continue? Not that their knowledge of God saves them, but the very opposite! It condemns them because they suppress it. Indeed, ‘they are without excuse, for although they knew God they did not honour him as God   . . . .” It is against this dark background of the universal rebellion, guilt and judgment of mankind that the good news of Jesus Christ shines with such dazzling beauty.

There is salvation in no other, for there is no other mediator between God and man but only Jesus Christ who died as a ransom for sinners (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5-6). Firmly to reject all syncretism in this way and to assert the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ is not ‘doctrinal superiority’ or imperialism, as it has been called. Conviction about revealed truth is not arrogance. Its proper name is ‘stewardship’, the humble and obedient stewardship of a church which knows it has been ‘put in trust with the Gospel’.

John Stott, “Response to Bishop Mortimer Arias,” International Review of Mission (January 1976).

HT: Langham Partnership

“Again”: A Prophetic Word

Posted by on 03 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Charismatic Episcopal Church, Gift of Prophecy

Bishop Charles “Chuck” W. Jones Shares a Prophetic Word from the Provincial Council of the Southeast Province of the Charismatic Episcopal Church

On Sunday night,  Nov. 15, 2009,  the Archbishop’s Council and the Provincial Council of the Southeastern Province (CEC) met for dinner in Thomaston, Georgia, before visiting with Bishop John Holloway and his family. After our visit, we drove to Peachtree City, Georgia, where we began a twenty-four hour fast. Monday was designated as our day of fasting and praying for our Province, each Diocese, and the CEC in general. Tuesday was set aside as a day of business, but Monday was committed to prayer and fasting. I do not think I am stretching it to say that our time on Monday was profoundly important and encouraging.

On Monday, it was a wonderful experience to watch these men cry out to God doing battle on behalf of the CEC, the church we all have been called to serve. During our time of prayer, a couple of significant prophetic words (1 Cor. 14:1-4) came forth, and as a council, we wanted to pass these words on to you for your encouragement.

The first word that kept coming was the word “AGAIN”. I am a New American Standard (NASB) guy but for some reason, I didn’t have my Bible with me.  However, I noticed a Bible on the altar rail, I picked it up because the Holy Spirit kept speaking from Jeremiah chapter 18. The Bible was Fr. David Paysinger’s which is the New King James Version (NKJV). This is important because the NASB does not use the word “again” in Jer. 18:4, but the NKJV does.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again (emphasis mine) into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

Jer. 18:1-4 (NKJV)

We have come through a time in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) in America where it seems that the vessel was marred in the potter’s hand. The aftermath of such trauma can be a deep sense of loss and logical doubts. We fear that we might not see our holy dreams realized. The Lord is saying dream “AGAIN”; hear the words you once heard “AGAIN.” Believe “AGAIN.” Labor with joyful hope “AGAIN.” Be excited about your calling, your parish, the three steams of convergence, and the CEC, “AGAIN.”

While sharing this prophetic word with each other, the Holy Spirit spoke a second time. He asked the question, “what day is this,” the answer was the 16th of November. Immediately, the Holy Spirit lead us to read Jeremiah chapter 16. As I read the chapter, I came across verse 16. Jeremiah 16:16 speaks about fishing and hunting for men. For several months now the Lord has been persistently speaking to me both pastorally and prophectically about being fishers of men.

Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says the Lord, “and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.

Jer. 16:16 (NKJV)

The Lord said, we are to be consumed and driven, as all true fishermen are, with capturing the hearts of people with the love of Christ. This prophetic word isn’t just about an evangelism strategy. The word is about asking the Lord to bring us and our  parishes into living union with the thirsting heart of Christ who seeks a fallen and broken humanity. Jesus longs for us to embrace his suffering heart for others. Having a heart for the least, lost, and lonely is where the blessing of God is found, where the anointing of the Holy Spirit is released, and where incarnational Christianity is realized.

God powerfully confirmed his word to us: the word was Jeremiah 16:16 on the 16th day. God’s use of numerical repetition is a common way in which he has spoken and confirmed his words to us in the past. This provincial council meeting was the first time we had met at Bishop David Epp’s church, and as further confirmation, Bishop Epps’ remembered that the 16th was the second anniversary of his consecration.

These events were all amazing coincidences of our Lord. He was shouting to us that we are to ask him to make us and our parishes fishers of men. We are not to stop crying out until our hearts are consumed with the LOVE of CHRIST for all human beings. We are to go forth with hope in our hearts knowing that the Lord has spoken “AGAIN.” The Lord is a second time calling the CEC to fulfill our destiny.

In Christ,

+Chuck Jones

The Bible and Advent

Posted by on 03 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Bible, J. C. Ryle, John Piper

Study the Word of God

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Collect for Proper 28, 1979 Book of Common Prayer

During this season of Advent, we renew our commitment to read God’s word faithfully and diligent in the coming Christian year. We recognize that our growth in Christ is contingent on faithfully reading, consistently meditating, and diligently practicing God’s revealed will in Holy Scripture (Psalm 119: 97-104).

Bible study and meditation is the diligent and careful consideration of God’s Word for the purpose of growing in the knowledge of salvation and in personal, practical holiness. We use own rational abilities combined with Spirit-led illumination and heart-felt participation to engage God’s Spirit-inspired Word. We study the Bible to learn God’s ways, grow into God’s character, and obey God’s commands (2 Tim. 3:16). “God has ordained that the eye-opening work of his Spirit always be combined with the mind-informing work of his Word.” [John Piper, A Godward Life, Book Two (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 1999), 184].

Let us arm ourselves with a thorough knowledge of the Word of God. Let us read our Bibles more diligently than ever, and become familiar with every part of them. Let the Word dwell in us richly. Let us beware of anything which would make us give less time and less heart to the perusal of its sacred pages. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit – let it never be laid aside. The Bible is the true lantern for a dark and cloudy time – let us beware of traveling without its light.”

J.C. Ryle, Warnings to the Churches, “Idolatry”, 167.

HT: J.C. Ryle Quotes

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