By This Time Tomorrow II

By This Time Tomorrow You Can Do It

In part one, we discussed how as disciples of Jesus, we’re called to participate in the great spiritual battle of soul reconciliation called “The Great Commission.” The Bible reminds us our battle is not against a flesh and blood opponent, but against the spiritual forces of evil (Galatians 6:12). Oftentimes after a great spiritual victory, we hear a spiritual taunt telling us to, “Back off the intentional relational transformational discipleship!” What should we do?!

We read in 1 Kings 19 that after Jezebel had taunted Elijah, the Lord recommended a few things to Elijah, to ease his state of distress.

Two times the angel says to Elijah, “Arise and eat (1 Kings 19:5,7).” Elijah ate, drank and rested, caring for his physical needs. I could take the spiritual approach and tell you this means we should read the Word. That would be great advice! But I think it’s important to recognize that, in the words of John Ortberg, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.” These spiritual battles are physically draining. We need to take heed of ourselves, and realize when “the journey [has been] too much (1 Kings 19:7).” Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating nourishing foods, and drinking enough water.

The second instruction given to Elijah was, “Go outside before the Lord… and listen for His low whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12).” I used to go to a fitness club to use the treadmill and elliptical machines. But I noticed my time with the Lord at the gym was not like our times together when I went outside and walked. I’m always looking to hear that Voice behind me saying, “This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:2).” And maybe like Adam heard the physical sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8), I hear Him better outside? I now bundle up and walk outside in the cold all winter long! It’s where I hear God best. His gentle whisper strengthens me day by day. I’m so thankful that like David, I can say I’ve learned to strengthen myself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)

Finally, Elijah was told to “Go back to the wilderness and anoint” three leaders (1 Kings 19:15). Sometimes the places we’re called to serve can begin to feel like the wilderness. And those that serve with us may privately feel a spiritual dryness, or battle fears and insecurities themselves. When the Lord told Elijah to anoint three leaders, his job was to affirm God’s call on their lives. In a recent “Last Man Standing” episode Tim Allen’s character said, “I call those who I know can do it.” When we affirm God’s call on someone, we’re reminding them that God called you because He knows you can do it. The Bible says we should encourage one another every day. No matter how dark and overwhelming the taunts may seem, let’s not forget to encourage those who are courageously trying to serve the Lord.

By This Time Tomorrow

By This Time Tomorrow Running Scared

As disciples of Jesus, we’re called to participate in the great spiritual battle of soul reconciliation, called “The Great Commission.” The Bible reminds us our battle is not against a flesh and blood opponent, but against the spiritual forces of evil (Galatians 6:12).

Elijah, in I Kings 18, had been diligent to engage in a spiritual battle. He was outnumbered 450 to 1. God sent fire on a water-soaked altar, and Elijah slaughtered all the prophets of Baal by his own hand! Elijah experienced a tremendous victory won by God, right in front of his own eyes.

Then came the taunt, “BY THIS TIME TOMORROW… (1 Kings 19:2).” Like Goliath in the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17) who came out every day to shout and defy the armies of the Living God, Jezebel unloaded on Elijah.  She said, “I’ll make sure you’re dead by this time tomorrow.”

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. He cries out, “Enough already! It’s too much, Lord! I would be better off dead. I am insignificant, no better than my ancestors (1 Kings 19:4).” In the same way, in the battle with Goliath, the Israelites had been shaken, and paralyzed with fear, and they had run away (1 Samuel 17:24).   And so it continues, one generation after another, century after century, Satan and his mouthpieces do their best to intimidate God’s children.

I’m noticing a pattern in my own life. I’m watching God win big victories: I see a man repenting of pornography addiction. I watch a couple take steps to reconcile after adultery. I sit with another leader who shares a struggle and invites God to help him overcome. These are significant spiritual victories that hit the enemy where it hurts.

And then I hear it… the intimidation, the taunt.  “BY THIS TIME TOMORROW….” I experience a dark cloud of emotions following God’s biggest wins. I used to think it was physical fatigue, and I’m sure that’s part of it. But I have become more systematic to journal this experience, and this darkness seems to come about exactly 24 hours after a spiritual victory, or after a discipleship battle, like seeing someone delivered from sexual sin, or overcoming a stronghold of resentment in leadership.

When this happens I feel all alone, exhausted, overwhelmed with fear, battling despair, like I’m trapped and there’s no way out. It feels like this must be the end. When I try to sleep I am restless. It’s a feeling of being vexed.   Sometimes it’s not until I find myself praying like Elijah, “It’s impossible Lord. It’s too much… I can’t do this anymore. I want to run away…” that I realize this is more than fatigue.

“BY THIS TIME TOMORROW…” is a spiritual taunt whispered by the enemy of souls. He is communicating in every way he can, “Back off the intentional relational transformational discipleship, OR ELSE.”

When young David heard the taunting, he said in 1 Samuel 17, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight.” He recalled victories God had previously won and declared, “This uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God…This day the Lord will deliver (him) into my hand…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, For the battle is the Lord’s.”

My fellow disciples of Jesus, we have to wise up and remember this message is a spiritual trick. The Blood of Jesus is greater! We will see the enemy run in Jesus’ name. The Bible says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So I’m not running, I’m standing right here (Ephesians 6:13). And I’m not backing off the intentional relational transformational discipleship, either. By God’s grace, I intend to see the captives set free in Jesus name (Isaiah 61:1). Who’s with me?!

 

Moldy Milk and a Stressed Out Honey

Honey Maid Graham CrackersWhen someone says milk and honey… I think honey maid graham crackers and milk… or chocolate milk… or ice cream! MM makes me hungry!

About 20 times in the Bible the Promised Land is referred to as a land flowing with milk and honey.

But I don’t think I ever remember hearing about moldy houses and leprosy in the Promised Land. In Leviticus 14:34 we read, “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mold (or leprosy) in a house..

WHAT?!! Seriously? So let’s review the Israelites story. They were oppressed so God sent 10 horrible plagues to release them from slavery. They were almost killed by the Egyptian army right before the waters of the Red Sea parted and they crossed through between intimidating walls of water about the height of the Sears Tower in Chicago. They thought they would starve in the desert but God provided manna every day. They thought they would die of thirst but water was provided out of rocks. Then, after their angry ancestors had died in the desert, it was time to enter the promised land. So the priests stood for at least 2 hours in the Jordan waiting for God to dry it up so they could cross, and they dug up rocks out of the riverbed as memorials, and then they were circumcised. To complete the journey they had to overtake the fortified cities like Jericho and defeat the giants like the Anakites!

And after overcoming 45 years of adversity, after their families had moved in and unpacked, and thrown away the moving boxes, they faced another challenge.   The husbands had to go tell their wives, “Honey, I’m sorry, this house has mold. We have to pack everything back up and move out for at least a week!”

The challenge for the Israelites was to remember how God had already provided.  They had to remember His deep love for them, like a father carrying a son (De 1:31).  They had to hold onto His desire to continue to be their Redeemer. Truly, as it says in Deuteronomy 6:11, they did live in houses filled with good things they did not provide. They were still exceedingly blessed, even with moldy milk and a stressed out honey! Do you see life’s hardness or God’s goodness in your circumstances this month? (Blog from September 15, 2014.)

Day Away With God Resource

 

Thanks for committing time to seek the Lord.  Please find a place that inspires you and plan to spend time in solitude.  Just you, the Holy Spirit, a Bible, and a journal.  If you take your computer commit yourself to no surfing and no work.  The goal is to hear from God.

Please read Matthew 16:13-20.

Jesus asked His disciples “Who do you say that I am?” And then He said to Simon, “You are…” and He described what kind of person Peter would be and how he would function in the Kingdom.

Jesus cares about who we think He is.  And He cares about who we think we are.  He also wants us to have direction, guidance, and a clear sense of calling.  We are the church, the called out.  Who we are and what He calls us to transcends the circumstances we find ourselves in.  It’s also important we keep the boundaries in the right place.

As you spend time with Him please start a saved document entitled “Listening.Yr.Mo.Da.Location”.   Please ask Him these questions and then listen… just a Bible, a journal, and quiet…

  1. Who are You, Lord? -Mt 16:15-17
  • Which of Your attributes are important to me currently?

 

 

  1. Who am I, Lord? -Mt 16:18
  • Who have You created me to be?
  • What kind of son or daughter do YOU intend me to be? Our understanding of who He is will determine much of who He wants us to be as His sons and daugthers.
  • What kind of spouse do You want me to be?
  • What kind of parent do you want me to be?
  • What kind of professional do you want me to be?
  1. What am I to do, Lord? Where are we going?  Mt 16:19

 

  1. What are the boundaries, Lord? -Mt 16:20

 

Reasonableness of Reconciliation

Grand Canyon

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  1 Peter 2:2-3

In the United States, Christians are often stereotyped as being critical, condescending, and unreasonable. Is this what God intended for His disciples?  Often times among churchgoers, we watch resentments and unforgiveness grow into estrangements.  Is this what Jesus wants for His body?

I want to invite you to crave pure, spiritual milk.   The pure milk refers to the Word, that by it we are nourished to grow up in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus and His grace (2 Peter 3:18).  This word “spiritual” is fascinating to me.  It means literally that we apply God’s logic to become divinely reasonable.  Craving pure spiritual milk means we apply God’s logic to our everyday lives and in so doing become divinely reasonable.

First, pure, spiritual milk helps us to apply God’s logic.  As we grow in our faith we move from understanding the gospel literally to understanding it logically.  When I became a Christ follower in 1979, I understood literally that the wages of my sin was death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord, and I wanted that.  I understood it literally.  But over the years, as I apply God’s logic to my life and I study through the principles of the gospel, I’ve moved from understanding that I need a Savior to understanding that I am the chief of sinners.  My sin caused Christ to experience the pain of God’s wrath.  My sin caused Christ to experience more pain than anyone’s sin on earth has ever caused anyone else.  And so like Paul, I can agree with him in 1 Timothy 1:15: “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.”  When we apply God’s logic, we understand what our sin has cost Christ.  It creates a humility in us that as we’ve been forgiven much, we can love much.

Secondly, pure, spiritual milk creates a divine reasonableness in us.  To be reasonable is the ability to think through things and see across to the other side of a matter.   The Grand Canyon is up to 18 miles wide and over a mile deep. (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).  The rim to rim, top to bottom to top again hike is 23 miles long and takes most hikers two to three days to complete.  The Grand Canyon is a huge chasm.

To paint a picture of the reasonableness of God, I would point to Romans 5.  It says while we were sinners, living in darkness, while we were God enemies, while we were defiant toward Him, God was living in unapproachable light, perfect in holiness and sinlessness, and He was able to see across the chasm that separated us.  He, in unapproachable light, saw us in the darkness.  He, in perfect holiness and sinlessness saw me in my rebellion and sin.  He was able to see across to the other side – that’s what it is to be reasonable.  And He made a plan even while I was separated from Him to draw me back to Him through the death of His Son.  In Genesis it says we were created in the image of the Trinity.  Of the many ways we reflect His image, one of the things that we reflect is the ability to reason.  We are the only creation of God with the ability to reason.  However, when sin came into the world, in our sinful nature, our reasonableness was broken.  In my sinful nature I see everything through my own selfishness and my own pride.  I’m not willing to see beyond myself.  When I’m able to see God’s perspective, which is different from my sinful nature, my ability to reason is reawakened.  Our reasonableness grows as we crave the pure spiritual milk, applying God’s logic to think through things.  As we consider how great a work it was to reconcile the separation that was between us and God, we begin to consider how we can participate in reconciling others separated by a great distance.

Revelation 7:9 says heaven will be filled with people from every nation, tribe, people and language.  These are people different than me!  May we apply God’s logic to become divinely reasonable.  May we come to understand that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

May we have the divine reasonableness to participate in His reconciliation.

Dynamic, Fruitful Charisma 3, Corvettes and Caterpillars

Corvette L88 67 Renewed Restored

After being renewed and restored for 47 years, a $4,240 1967 Corvette L88 sold for $3.5 Million in 2014 at a Barrett-Jackson auction.  We place a high value on having things renewed and restored!

Genesis 1 says we were created in “Our image,” or the image of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  And because of sin, while still looking like Him (being able to walk and talk for example), we have been unable to adequately reflect His character in our sinful nature.  So God the Father sent Jesus as the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), and then following his death and resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit of Christ (Gal. 4:6, Rom. 8:9) to dwell in those who would believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord.  The Bible says that He is using every circumstance of our lives to “conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).”  Titus 3:5 says He regenerates or restores us to our original state, and He renews us, completely changing us for the better.  He restores us to being created in the image of God and renews us by completely conforming us into the image of Christ!

All this may seem mysterious and supernatural, and it is, but it’s also noticeable, specific, and measurable.  When the Holy Spirit’s fruitful and dynamic charisma is at work in a person’s life, the Bible teaches His fruit and gifts (charisma) will be evident.  In Galatians 5:22-23, the Bible teaches the Holy Spirit produces 9 fruits in a believer’s life:  they are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.  In 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 12:4, the Bible also teaches that we should not be uninformed of the variety of “charismas” of the Holy Spirit. You can read about these in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Cor. 12:7-11, 27-31 and 14:12, and Ephesians 4:7, 11-14.  Some of the charismas are service, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, mercy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, helps, and administration.

I have begun praying for the working of the everlasting, completely efficient, all powerful Holy Spirit in my life in nine areas…

  1. LOVING SHEPHERD

The Spirit’s fruit of love or agape simply means to prefer what God prefers.  It implies a steadfast goodwill or affection for His creation.

The Spirit’s charisma of shepherd means to care for the total wellbeing of a person or group.

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s loving shepherd makes us consistently forgiving so we may be like our Good Shepherd, not retaining our anger, but preferring to show steadfast love and goodwill for the whole team (Micah 7:18).

  1. JOYFUL MERCY

The Spirit’s fruit of joy means to be full of gladness, delight, or enthusiasm due to our awareness of God’s grace.  Literally we can sense Him kneeling or leaning toward us to rejoice over us.

The Spirit’s charisma of mercy means to communicate God’s covenant loyalty.

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s joyful mercy makes us remember that while we were still in sin, God was at work reconciling us to Himself through the death of His Son. So being in Christ, we experience God rejoicing over us with singing, and He makes us enthusiastically share with others the loyal mercies of God!

  1. PEACEFUL WISDOM

The Spirit’s fruit of peace means undisturbed serenity.

The Spirit’s charisma of wisdom literally means sophisticated interaction.

This dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s peaceful wisdom makes us pray regularly so we can consistently interact with others with undisturbed sophistication.

  1. PATIENT (Long-suffering) SERVICE

The Spirit’s fruit of patience means we are long-suffering or long-tempered.

The Spirit’s charisma of service means God births in us a persuasion creating a willing

attitude.

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s patient service makes us appreciate the

opportunities and people around us so we are long-suffering and continue with a willing attitude.

  1. KIND ADMINISTRATION

The Spirit’s fruit of kindness means having the integrity to do something helpful to meet real needs in God’s way in His timing, without harshness.

The Spirit’s charisma of administration means to steer or govern a ship at stormy seas to a safe harbor, bringing order to chaos.

This dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s kind administration makes us have the integrity to respond to chaos without harshness and help the team make it to a safe harbor.

  1. GOOD LEADERSHIP

The Spirit’s fruit of goodness means we have a moral excellence that resembles God’s.

The Spirit’s charisma of leadership means a well-established character and respected reputation which provides the needed model to inspire and influence others.

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s good leadership makes us have the kind of character that can keep us wherever His charisma takes us, so we can inspire and influence others toward Christ-like moral excellence.

  1. FAITHFUL FAITH

The Spirit’s fruit of faithfulness and the Spirit’s charisma of faith means a God-given persuasion or vision of His plan which leads us to confidently trust that He will come through.  The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers (1 John 5:4).  In Scripture, faith is God’s warranty, certifying that the revelation He birthed in us will come to pass (His way).

The dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s faithful faith makes us confidently hopeful.

  1. GENTLE ENCOURAGEMENT

The Spirit’s fruit of gentleness or meekness means expressing the power of God with

reserve and humility.

The Spirit’s charisma of encouragement means to call close beside to be a legal

advocate.

The fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s gentle encouragement makes us humble and strong

to cheerfully and gently advocate for, and comfort, others.

  1. SELF-CONTROLLED KNOWLEDGE

The Spirit’s fruit of self control or temperance means to have dominion from within for self mastery, creating a balanced or temperate disposition.

The Spirit’s charisma of knowledge means good doctrine, or having a biblical lifestyle gained from personal interaction with Christ and His Word.

The fruitful charisma of the Spirit’s temperate knowledge makes us repentant to change our minds and agree with God’s Word in our thoughts and attitudes, decisions, and actions.

 

A caterpillar needs 10 days inside the chrysalis (pupa) to be transformed into a monarch butterfly.   A 1967 Corvette L88 needed 47 years to be transformed into a $3.5 million collectors’ car.  How long does it take you and me to be transformed into the Spirit’s dynamic and fruitful charisma?  Maybe our transformation is more like trying to figure out how many licks does it takes to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?!!  The Scriptures promises the God of peace Himself will sanctify completely those who trust Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  He’s at work regenerating, renewing, and transforming us, because we have been predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ!  May you and I desire the dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Holy Spirit!

Dynamic, Fruitful Charisma 2, Cameras and Cars

NASCAR-OSS-inspection

In 2018, Nascar used 16 cameras and eight projectors to inspect each race car.  They look for any discrepancies or features that break the rules and give a driver an unfair advantage.

Jesus said in John 16:8, “And when (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness.”  The word concerning in this context means to go all around and be comprehensive.  The Holy Spirit gives the believer a full regard for his/her sin, or how often he/she misses the mark, and falls short of Jesus’ perfect holiness.  The Holy Spirit also gives the believer a full regard for his/her need to be made righteous in God’s sight.

The Holy Spirit makes us regard ourselves as sinners that are being saved.  We realize that we fall short (Rom. 3:23) in every comparison to the holiness of Christ.  Paul said in Romans 7:18, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”  I remember driving home after meeting with someone who had recently been released from prison.  He had assaulted minors and found forgiveness through Jesus while serving time.  As I drove home I had the thought, “Lord thank you that I have not done that.”  And I felt an almost physical slap on the back of my head and this thought, “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”  That sounded too close to the Pharisee’s prayer in Luke 18:11, “God, I thank you that I am not like others….”   I was reminded the Holy Spirit’s work in my life will instead cause me to pray, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).  Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15 that he was the worst of sinners.  Does that verse apply to us?  The next thought that came into my head was this, “Did that felon kill anybody?”  And I was reminded from 1 Peter 2:24 that my sin was placed on Jesus, and from Romans 4:25 that He was handed over to die because of my sins.  The reality is, friends, that if you have received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit will remind you that you killed God’s only Son.  Do you realize that if you’re still living, no one has hurt you as much as you’ve hurt Jesus?  And yet He forgives us.  The Holy Spirit works in each believer the humility to understand that his/her sin killed Christ, making each one the biggest sinner in the room.  We cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work of salvation in our lives when we daily regard ourselves as the chief of sinners.

The Holy Spirit also makes us regard ourselves as someone who is special to God, and is being sanctified.  We realize that as it says in Romans 15:16, He has made a way for the Gentiles to become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  The word to sanctify means to make holy, to consecrate, to regard as special or sacred.  God demonstrates the value He places on us when the Bible says we were redeemed or bought with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19), because we are God’s treasured possession (Deut. 7:6, 1 Peter 2:9), and precious to Him (Is. 43:4).  Our connection to Him through Christ makes us set apart, holy, sanctified.

In the Old Testament, the set apart, or holy, items in the tent of meeting were handled with special care.  The Lord told Moses and Aaron to train the sons of Kohath how to move the sacred things.  They had to cover them with porpoise or badger skins and a blue cloth.  They were not to look at them or touch them or they would die.  How much more are you and I special to the Lord!  If the temple curtain hadn’t torn in two at Jesus’ death, not only could we not come boldly to the throne of Christ through the blood of Jesus, but we couldn’t look at believers connected to the holiness of God.  We would all be covered by badger skins and blue cloths!

I had met with a Christian leader who had served very fruitfully for many years.  He acknowledged that somewhere along the way his sanctification had gone sideways.  What was at the bottom of his sin?  What speedbump had his sanctification hit?  Underneath it all, he had an inability to believe that he was special to God.  Over and over I hear how the inability to believe that we’re special to God and that He delights in us through Christ Jesus can cause sanctification to detour and we can find ourselves in a ditch of sin.  2 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”  If we are to cooperate with His sanctification in our lives we have to believe that He regards us as special.  1 Thessalonians 5:23 says that the God of peace Himself will sanctify us completely.  We are never more at peace that when we’re sure God regards us as special and is doing a good work in our lives.  If we can’t accept that, we will simply regard ourselves as hopeless sinners, repeating the cycle of repenting and then falling again.  Or we will struggle with self- righteous thoughts, living in judgement and blame of others, and not being able to acknowledge our sin each day, missing the peaceful process of sanctification.  Many Christians understand salvation, but I find far fewer know how to explain or cooperate with sanctification.

How does this play out in relationships?   Or in leadership?  Or with loved ones?  May we slow down our racing souls and bring them into the camera tent for a “Full Regard” checkup.  Do we regard ourselves as the chief of sinners?  Do we regard ourselves as special to the Lord?  If you believe you’re more special and those around you are bigger sinners, you’ll have many problems.  If you regard yourself as the greatest sinner in the room, and you communicate to others that they are as special to the Lord as you are, you will find your relationships experience the warmth and peace that reflects the image of the invisible God.  The more we cooperate with the process of sanctification in our lives, the more we will experience the dynamic, fruitful charisma of the Holy Spirit.  Next we’ll learn 9 specific characteristics of this fruitful charisma.