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Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Igniting Of Passion

The book of Nehemiah opens with him being informed of the condition of Jerusalem and the people of Judah.  The people were in great affliction and reproach.  The walls were broken down and the gates burned with fire.  The city and the people had been in ruins for years now. Nehemiah 1:1-3

Nehemiah 1:4 reveals how Nehemiah was instantly effected by the somber report he received.  He was deeply moved.  Though not having seen the destruction personally he took it personally.  He allowed himself to be impacted by the heart of God!  When, if ever, has anything impacted us like this impacted Nehemiah.  The condition of our own country, the cry of the untold millions, the moral decay all around us, the disintegration of the family, anything?

 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept.
This was Nehemiah’s initial and intense reaction.  The report he received created an image in his mind that brought tears to his eyes. He was moved immediately at the thought of the people being in great affliction and reproach and the city being in ruins.  Nehemiah had his emotions stirred at a very intense level.  Nehemiah was not a cry-baby!  Anything but!   But here was a man that allowed his heart to be touched with the things that touch God’s heart!   The fact that he was so stirred is probably the first indication we have that here is a man God can use, because he is a man of intense passion.  We are not a weeping people because we are not a passionate people.

 And mourned certain days.
 His passion was not a “flash in the pan”.  His was a passion that while quickly ignited burned continually.  His was a heart haunted by the images of a city in ruins and a people in reproach! He could not shake it.  Maybe we should begin by praying that God would give us a vision we cannot shake.   A vision that will not leave us alone.

And fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
His passion affected his diet.  His passion affected his spiritual priorities.  His passion affected his focus.  When is the last time we were in such earnest we fasted?  Not for diet sake, or health sake, or medical procedure sake, or weight loss sake, but for spiritual passion sake.  To ask it another way, When is the last time you fasted and prayed?  We don’t have many wall and people builders in our day because we don’t have many spiritually passionate people in our day.  It is this level of spiritual earnestness that will get us before the God of heaven.  When is the last time we were more concerned about being before the throne of God than we were sitting at the dinner table?  Fasting is not a very popular topic in a land with super grocery stores and ten million restaurants.  It is not a matter or deciding not to eat but having a burden so great you don’t want to eat!

Where is our passion for the spiritual!  Or maybe a better way to ask it is, What ignites your passion?  Is there no need so great we are compelled to weep, and mourn, and fast, and pray? 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Prophet Among Them

The first few chapters of Ezekiel sets forth the call of the great prophet and establishes the tenor of his ministry.  A recurring theme in these first few chapters is that Ezekiel was to give the nation of Israel a word from God and that he was to do so "whether they will hear or whether they will forbear".  In fact it seems to be implied that most of them would not be likely to listen.

Ezekiel 2:1-5 is a remarkable example of this divine challenge to Ezekiel.  It is here where God reminds Ezekiel that whether they hear or forbear, "yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them".

Where is the spirit of the prophet in these last days?  Those men who whether they or heard or not, the people will know that there hath been a prophet among them.

Yesterday I came across this blog post by Carl Trueman.  It was recommended by Pastor Jeff Carr.  In this thought-provoking article Trueman writes the following:

. . . . the preacher has to understand what he is doing. Understanding what a task is is basic to performing the task well. If you think that preaching is about communicating information or providing entertainment or fostering a conversation, that will shape how you preach. The greatest danger for seminary students is that they assume the lectures they hear in class are the model for the sermons they are to deliver from the pulpit.  They are not. Preaching is a theological act. The preacher finds his counterpart not in the lecture theatre or the classroom or, most ghastly of all, on the stand-up comedy circuit. He finds him in the Old Testament prophets, bringing a confrontational word from the Lord which explains reality and demands a response. 

If we are not careful we can become so  concerned about homiletics that we forget about the importance of spiritual anointing.  We can be so concerned about seeming sophisticated that we sabotage the Spirit.  We are so worried that some will doubt our scholarship that we cannot break free from dealing in obscurities.  We fear the onset of boredom thus we lower ourselves to joke-telling.

I am not arguing for ignorance or incompetence in the pulpit.  But I am arguing for Holy Ghost anointed preaching!  Men who study the word until they have received a word from God and then stand behind a pulpit and preach like they have a fire in their bones that cannot be quenched. (Jeremiah 20:9)

We are proclaiming a word that is "quick and powerful".  The preaching of it should match the reality of it.  Preaching should be "quick and powerful".  When we preach the word we are wielding the sword of the Spirit.  We should preach with an earnestness that is befitting the contest.  Preaching is a challenge to the spirit of darkness it should be enjoined with the anointing of the Holy Ghost and a skillful deployment of the Spirit's own sword.

The New Testament admonition is to preach the word and whether the people hear or forbear they "yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them".

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

O Give Thanks Unto The LORD

Psalms 105:1-5 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. 2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works. 3 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. 4 Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. 5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

 1.       O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name
Today it should be thanksgiving that prompts us to call upon his name.  On Thanksgiving our needs should silence themselves in the hallowed halls of gratitude!  On this day our needs should stand in awe of our blessings!

2.      Make known his deeds among the people
Thanksgiving should not be a day about what we have done but what he has done.  Our resolve should be to make known his deeds!

3.      Sing unto him
 Psalms 147:1   Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
Psalms 69:30   I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

4.      Talk of his wondrous works
On Thanksgiving the talk will center on his wondrous works. On this day we will exercise ourselves to talk not of our troubles but rather tabulate our teeming blessings!

5.      Glory in his name
On Thanksgiving we will exalt him as Jehovah-Jireh – The Lord will provide!  As we recount his provision we will glory in his name!

6.      Remember his works, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth
On this day we will remember what he has done. We will remember how he has worked.  We will remember his wonders.  Thanksgiving is a time to remember the judgments of his mouth.

For one day we are not going to trust him to do something for us; we are going to remember what he has already done for us.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mighty Men As Women

Jeremiah 50:35-37  In these verses of judgement against Babylon there is a very humiliating prophesy written against the Chaldeans. It is prophesied that in the day of their judgment "her mighty men . . . shall become as women:"

Certainly in the text at hand it is presented as a shameful condition for the mighty men of Babylon to become as women.  The New Testament exhorts believers to "quit you like men".  Act the part of men.  Be mature and strong in your Christian life.

One does not have to look very far to see that Christianity has been castrated.  The mighty men that were Christianity have or are becoming women.

Churches have been made effeminate by the world!  The raiment of John the Baptist has been exchanged for the vestments of popularity.
Churches sometimes challenge sin on the outside while suffering scandal on the inside!
Churches in cavorting with the critics have compromised their convictions!
Churches, instead of going into all the world with the gospel, invite the world in with their fads and fashions.
Preachers having led their churches down the primrose path now often find themselves pacifying the congregation rather than Pastoring the flock.

Her mighty men have become women.  Reminds me of another similar declaration spoken in respect to the death of Saul and Jonathan his son.  2 Samuel 1:27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

May God give us grace to recover the masculinity of our faith.  Once again clothe ourselves with camel's hair and a leather girdle.  Learn again to earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.  Recommit ourselves to be a living sacrifice.  Prepare ourselves to be hated by the world and to suffer all things for Jesus' sake.

In a word to "quit you like men"!