To your offspring I will give this land. – Genesis 12:7
Abraham is seen in Genesis as the great man of faith, laying hold of God’s promises. In reality he was a weak man. All he had to do was produce an heir to claim the promise, but he couldn’t even do that right on his own.
Yet, it is not solely to Abraham that the promise is made, but to Abram’s offspring. This is God’s renewed commission, not this time to all mankind to go forth and multiply, but to a chosen people. The promise would not be achieved in Abram’s lifetime, but in his descendants.
Just as to Abraham, God’s promise is also to our offspring. We are Abram’s offspring in the Spirit. We are just as weak; just as in need of God to work in our lives; just as responsible to produce offspring.
Reproduction is part of God’s plan. We can’t do it ourselves, just as Abraham couldn’t, but by faith in God we will see fruit borne, offspring produced, disciples made and nurtured.
We need to admit our weakness, and seek by faith godly offspring to inherit the kingdom.
The family history of the human race begins with God. The book of Genesis is history, not fantasy and the story of Genesis chapter 2 is the story of our beginnings.
- We are of God: God formed man (Genesis 2:7) and God breathed life into man. Only then did man become a living creature.
- The world was made for man: we are not merely one small part is the vast machine that is the universe: we are special!
- We are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26,27).
- Eden was created just for Adam as his special environment.
- The special attention given to God’s creation of man and woman shows their special place in God’s heart and in God’s creation.
To fail to live in this knowledge is to deliberately chose insignificance and despair over eternal significance and hope, hope that can only find its realisation in God our Creator!
Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches
Two things are mentioned to each of the six churches mentioned in Revelation chapters 2 and 3: conquest or victory and listening to the Spirit.
Conquest: It is expected that we be conquerors, overcomers, victors. The example given is that of Christ (Revelation 3:21). Just as Jesus overcame and conquered so can we. The result of Jesus’ overcoming was that He was raised from the dead and declared to be the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4). He is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. We too will receive blessing and honour as conquerors (cf. Revelation 3:12). But we must realise that the overcoming comes in repentance and submission; in obedience to God, just as Jesus submitted to the Father’s will. Our place in God’s kingdom is based on abiding by His rules.
Listening: And how do we live by His rules? By listening to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. An army looks to its commander before taking action. An orchestra follows one conductor, yet we fail to even stop and listen, never mind obey!
We need to believe that God by His Spirit is speaking to us and we need to start listening.
Revelation 3:20 sums it up. Somehow we have managed to push Jesus out of our lives like some door to door salesman who is no longer welcome. But Jesus stands at the door of our lives and our churches knocking, seeking a real encounter with His people on a personal and a church fellowship level.
If we listen we will overcome!
“Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early.” – Hosea 6:4
This is God’s assessment of the nature and endurance of our love for Him. God is likened to ‘the spring rains that water the earth’, ‘his appearing is as sure as the dawn’, but as for us, we have more in common with that wisp of mist in the first breath of the morning that so quickly evaporates with the first hint of warmth from the sun.
Is our love so fragile today? Yes! We go to our special revival weeks, or weekend retreats to get ourselves all fired up, but it doesn’t last. We are convicted by sermons, but fail to make any headway past Monday morning. In Hosea 11:7 God says that ‘My people are bent on turning away from Me.’
But for God’s sake He says: ‘I have been the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt; you know no God but Me, and besides Me there is no Saviour.’ (Hosea 13:4).
Despite our infidelity and wanton turning away, yet God still proclaims: ‘I will heal their disloyalty, I will love them freely.’ If anything can turn us back to God it is His determination to love us freely regardless of our sin. This doesn’t equate to ingnoring our sin, but to loving us despite it. His love should prompt us to return to our God, to hold fast to love and justice and to wait continually for our God’ (Hosea 12:6).
For your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people bear your name! – Daniel 9:19
We get prayer the wrong way round. To us prayer is for us, or for our loved ones; it is for health or for help or for blessing. Even when we are being spiritual we pray for Christian maturity or for growth, but all this is still about us!
Our prayer should instead be all about God. Yes, it will involve talking about us and our loved ones, but only because their care has a bearing on who God is. Their care and wellbeing matters to Him.
We find God, and in Him we find forgiveness, and then rather than focus on Him we turn around and think we were righteous all the time. We become self righteous when all we can ever be is ‘Christ righteous’.
So, we need to make our prayer to be about God; about His will, His honour, His mercy. Rather than asking God to further our own ends – no matter how pious those ends are – let’s instead pray ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done’. Let’s ask God to build His Church, not because of our goodness, or even because of our need, but because the Church bears His name.
We seek Him for the advancement of His great name, for His wonderful purposes to be fulfilled. It is because of His great mercies that He will act. It is because of His name that He will not delay. Let us, therefore, make our prayer all about God and not about us.
“seek mercy from the God of heaven” — Daniel 2:18
Daniel is one of the great heroes of the Bible. Daniel chapter one tells the story of a young man of resolve. He chose to live right even though it meant living differently to those around him. He chose to do so because of his faith in God. The result was that God confirmed his faith by His provision of health and wisdom to Daniel and his friends.
But, not only did Daniel live resolutely by faith in a foreign land, he chose to live dependently in faith. When trouble came their way he spoke up and then sought the Lord. Yet as he sought the Lord he asked his friends to “seek mercy from the God of heaven”. He didn’t have the answers, but he believed God could and would answer his prayer. Actions such as these proved Daniels faith and God’s faithfulness. Daniel knew his God.
Eve failed when she stopped and considered the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We fail every time we stop and consider sin. We still need to stop and consider, however, we need to stop and realise that sin is not the only option, it is a crossroads.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’” Jeremiah 6:16
We need to stop and consider and choose God. This is our crossroads, our decision must be to ask for the ancient paths – God’s way – and walk in it. Stopping is not sufficient; considering is not sufficient; we must make a definite decision to act in accordance with God’s way, to take the path and walk it. Only then will we find rest for our souls and peace with God.
Satan would have us choose his path; he would have us believe that there is no other path, but it is a crossroads.
The people of Jeremiah’s day refused to walk God’s way and were punished. It’s our choice, but God is still sovereign. We will reap what we sow.
Stand at the crossroads, look, ask & walk – then you will find rest for your souls.
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ – Jeremiah 2:8
The greatest failure in every generation since Jeremiah’s time is the same failure that Jeremiah points to, the failure of the leaders. Each person bears his or her own responsibility before God for their actions and attitudes, yet, leaders who fail to lead will be judged on more than their own personal walk with the Lord. Leaders who fail to lead are worse than no leaders at all.
The place of the leader is not to lay the burden of responsibility on the individual, but rather to actively draw others closer to God and further into their commitment to God. In order to do this the leader must be a seeker himself; asking for himself first and foremost: “Where is the LORD?”. We desperately need as of our churches leaders who are persistent seekers after God. Everything else about Christian leadership is secondary to this requirement for a leader cannot lead where he has not been himself.
Pray therefore for God commissioned leaders who are seeking God first, who say: “Where is the LORD?”.
“but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” Isaiah 40:31
There have been all sorts of suggestions about how to wait, but first and foremost it involves time. Time is what self & Satan conspire to keep from us, self because we want to fill our moments with what pleases us, and Satan because he intends that we never stop long enough to actually consider our Maker.
Our lives are so busy that we get used to the busyness. In fact we get so used to busyness that when we actually get some free time we hunt round for something to fill the gap, something to do.
What we should do is spend time with God: talk, listen, just be still & know His presence. I know people require quanity in order to cultivate that quality time we so desire; how much more important is it to cultivate quality time with God by spending quantity time with Him?
The title was quoted from Peter Wagner in David Beer’s very practical little book Releasing your Church to Grow. So far it is the first statement in the book that I have really ‘clicked with’. I can see how it can be true.
We can write vision statements, we can order our services, meetings, outreaches in line with our road map for our fellowship, but until the congregation grasps the vision with their hearts there will be no passion to see the vision fulfilled. Herein lies the problem, we lack passion, passion for God, passion for His Kingdom, passion for His creation. We lack the heart to win the lost and disciple the saved. We lack the love of God that passes understanding in part at least because we don’t see it in others. When the Church grows cold we have no-one from whom to borrow heat.
Robert Murray McCheyne one wrote: “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” As a pastor or leader of Christians this still holds true. We cannot lead without holiness, personal holiness, a walk with God that is close, honest & life changing. Vision is bound up in holiness: our close walk with God brings us into an understanding of His plans and purposes and into a personal identification with them.
When we are personally living out God’s plan for us then others will see and desire the same. It is the sight of the godly man living out God’s plan that will bring others to join the cause.
If we pray for nothing else, let us pray for godly men who will live out the vision from their personal walk with God and in so doing draw many more along the same path for His Kingdom.