From an early age I began praying, “Lord Jesus, save me and forgive me.” While trusting Him I have sought to honor him in my earthly pursuits. Through the years I have sought to be successful for Him of course, and hoped to be able to enjoy the finer things of life. But neither marrying my dream wife, nor having amazing kids, nor working my dream job, nor enjoying incredible vacations, has ever brought the sense of meaning and fulfillment that I though it would. Paul David Tripp says, “God (is the only place) where my heart will be satisfied… The heart of every human being looks for pleasure, fulfillment… because the heart of every human being is looking for God… Physical pleasures… are like the sign that points me to Disney World. When I see the first sign… I don’t stop there and have my vacation, because a sign is not the thing – a sign points me to the thing. I go on to Disney World and I have an awesome vacation.” I’ve been to Disney almost every year of my life – it’s one of my favorite places – but even Disney has not brought satisfaction that can last the trip home. Disney is an amazing pleasure of this life that is a road sign pointing us to the ever more amazing pleasure and satisfaction we are to find in Christ. “All my life I had a longing for a drink from some clear spring, that I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within. Hallelujah! I have found Him whom my soul so long has craved! Jesus satisfies my longings, through His blood I now am saved.” Bill Gaither
But how do you find this satisfaction and pleasure in the Lord? So many times following Jesus through the years I have found myself in a valley of loss and trouble. It’s dark sometimes, and full of fear. But I have met Him in the valley. And I have learned to abide in His anointing. I John 2:27 talks about this anointing saying, “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” His anointing has taught me the way and leads me through every time.
Do you want to find Him whom your soul has craved? Do you want to find the satisfaction to all your longings?!
How about you join me for family devotions tonight? No I’m not hosting a Facebook live… But you can take a Bible and read aloud I John 2:27 with your loved ones.
Then you can pray aloud with me…. “Lord Jesus, please save me and forgive me of my sins. You promised in your Word that you would baptize or immerse us continually in the person of the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8, Eph. 5:18), and I want the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) with me today. I want to abide in your anointing Lord Jesus! Abiding in your anointing is all I need. When we’re in the valley or the enemy attacks, Lord we know you surround your servants (Psalm 34:7). We know you’ll provide everything we need (Romans 8:32, 2 Peter 1:3). Lord we know you deliver us from every fear (Ps 34:4). Lord we know you promised that those who take refuge in You will not be condemned (Ps 34:22), but You will deliver them from all their troubles (Ps 34:19). Lord Jesus we magnify you (Ps 34:3) in our family, and pray that the goodness of God will pass before us (Ex 33:19) in ways that we will never forget. We pray that our loved ones will taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps 34:8). Lord we abide in Your anointing. Lord we bless You at all times (Ps 34:1) and our faces are radiant (Ps 34:5) with Your goodness in our lives. We have tasted and seen that You are good and we praise You. You’re a good God and we love You. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Please play https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfW2mkkMTAg
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.
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?!
When 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.)
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…
- Who are You, Lord? -Mt 16:15-17
- Which of Your attributes are important to me currently?
- 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?
- What am I to do, Lord? Where are we going? Mt 16:19
- What are the boundaries, Lord? -Mt 16:20
“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.