THE PLACE OF AFFECTION WITH THE LORD JESUS

The following quotes were taken from my personal studies of the life and ministry of Smith Wigglesworth. They speak of the deep personal love and devotion that this choice servant of God possessed for the Lord. These quotes define what it really means to love the Lord with all our hearts.

“Move into a greater hunger for holiness and purity. The moment you look up when you are in the place of affection with the Lord Jesus, the heavens are opened.”

“If you can be fascinated by anything else in the world you don’t have what God wants you to have.”

“To hunger and thirst after righteousness means that nothing fascinates us so much as being near to God.”

“Worldliness is anything which cools my affection toward God.”

“When a child of God ceases to hunger after righteousness and purity, Satan gets in.”

There are many things that will rob, steal, and plunder our love and affection for the Lord Jesus. It is not just obvious sin and acts of carnality and disobedience which spoil us of the nearness of His presence, but it is the good and acceptable things, which while having their proper place in the Christian life, have a tendency to make one devoid of the real mind of Christ. Such things as meetings, communions, baptisms, buildings, programs, doctrines, finances, or other things that concern the church system, apart from the mind of Christ, will dry up the real heart of the Christian life. Often it’s these very things which rob us of the hallowing intimacy which we are to experience with God’s throne of grace and seat of mercy.

Here is the question you must ask yourself in evaluating your love and devotion to God: What are you doing on the inside? Where do your innermost energies flow?  Toward what are you directing your will and desire? That is what marks your life in relation to God.

“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” (John 5:21 LB)

We are admonished in scripture to guard our hearts (Pr 4:23), to seek God with our whole heart (Ps 119:2), to sanctify the Lord in our hearts (1 Pet 3:15), to return to our first love (Rev 2:4-5), and to beware of being cheated in our relationship to Christ (Col 2:8). There are a lot of things we can do in this life to gain success, wealth, prestige, a name and reputation, a church and a ministry, but there’s nothing more fulfilling to the human heart than having an intimate, personal, and growing relationship with the Lord Jesus. Spiritual hunger and thirst is the place of affection with the Lord Jesus.

The following utterance was received during a time of ministering to the Lord. Let it speak to you and edify your inner man.

“I love you, son. How could you think for one minute that I would even fail you? Take time always to praise and to love Me this way in song. For this is the entrance into My treasures, the most precious treasures hidden in My divine nature. This nature shall be manifest in thee as a result of your praise and worship to Me. A well of life, a fountain of life, and waves of glory shall flood your heart and soul as you pull away from life’s turbulences, and concentrate on Me. There you will find rest and refreshing, pleasure satisfying to thee, and peace. Then direction shall spring forth even in the minor details of life as you wait on Me. I AM your Source of all you need. The wisdom of men is foolishness to Me, and their days are shortened because they do not take time to wait on Me. But if you will continue this delightful practice, it shall not be so for you. No, I say instead that your days shall be lengthened, your revelation of Me shall be wider, and your wisdom deeper.”

God has made it real simple for us, hasn’t He?  See the simplicity of the greatest secret of the Christian life. Love the Lord with all your heart. That’s it. But love is not just words. Neither is it just deeds. Love is the very motive of your life. It’s not only what you say and do, but who you are in your heart of hearts that reflects your love for Jesus.

May He multiply His grace in your life to hunger and thirst for Him, to know Him, to love Him, and to seek Him until you come to abide …

In His place of affection.

Advertisements

A PSALM: INTOXICATED NOT CONTAMINATED

Speaking in psalms should be normal practice in the Spirit-filled life. It was the norm in New Testament times.

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord… (Eph. 5:19)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  (Col. 3:16)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. (Jam. 5:13)

I was a part of a church and a Bible school early in my Christian life that taught and practiced being filled with the Spirit through speaking or singing these supernaturally inspired utterances. These are not lyrics from a song book that are rehearsed, but they come from within a believer’s spirit by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Anyone who has been baptized in the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues can train his spirit to move in these inspired utterances.

The way I do it is by first praying or singing in tongues at length. As I do this, my spirit is fine tuned and often I will hear a word or a phrase in English. I then step out in faith and begin to speak or sing those words out before more words are given. As I yield to the unction of the Holy Spirit I move into prophecy where the words flow like water from my heart.

As I said, this should be the norm in the Spirit filled Christian life. As you practice these things you will find yourself moving into a higher realm of edification and blessing. It is so wonderful and I wish to help others get into the flow of it.

Here is an example of a psalm I received from the Spirit of God.

INTOXICATED NOT CONTAMINATED

(When you stay intoxicated, you are not contaminated)

Be not contaminated with the spirit of this world,

Nor with the lusts thereof of the muck and mire

Of a world without God,

No, be not contaminated with things that do defile,

And cause even one born of God to be dormant and stagnant after awhile,

Be not contaminated with the unclean way of an unclean world,

But instead be filled with the Spirit of God,

Be intoxicated, yea, be drunk with the Spirit,

And enjoy thyself with the presence of the Holy One,

The undefiled One, the One who has never been contaminated,

Be intoxicated and enjoy thyself by drinking in of the wine of new life,

The very life that comes from God,

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Speaking extensively in other tongues is the key. So get started and get going. Some of you have some catching up to do (smile).

HOLINESS DOES NOT HIDE

Have you ever met someone you knew who was hiding something and not telling you the truth? Hiding is a manifestation of sin and pride. The first thing Adam and Eve did when they sinned in the beginning was to hide. This is just the opposite of holiness. Holiness has an unveiled and open face. It doesn’t hide because it has nothing to hide. In the day of reckoning and accountability and the revealing of all things, nothing can be hidden from the fire of His holiness.

Pride hides. Holiness is transparent. The more transparent a person is the greater holiness he is walking in. When people have ulterior motives and a certain self-seeking agenda, they will twist their words or an event to their own advantage; they will use people for their own gain, courting words to their own favor, often shading the truth to put themselves in the best possible light and to protect themselves. Almost every human being has something they hide. The only ones who don’t are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our goal should always be the image of Christ; to be like Him, to be pure and transparent, to be holy, and to love with a pure love.

Many profess belief in the Bible but don’t really believe that its words will have any bearing on their eternal destiny. The Bible has much to say about works. Certainly we aren’t saved by works, but they shall determine our eternal reward. After all, it is written that faith without works is dead. Works are the way we prove the sincerity of our faith. But I’ve met so many people in my years of walking with the Lord who seem confident that no matter how they live their lives on the earth they will somehow make it to heaven and even receive their eternal reward.

“Now if anyone build on this foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones, wood, hay, and straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15).

For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil, [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]. (2 Cor 5:10 Amp)

What will make each of our individual works clear is the fire of God’s holiness. It will take holy fire to reveal the motives behind our works. Our motives play a big part in determining if our works are gold, silver, and precious stones or wood, hay, and stubble. Some believer’s works shall be burned, and he will suffer loss. Yes, the Bible says loss! We don’t often think that there will be any loss for the believer who makes it to heaven, but the Word of God tells us differently. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that to be my lot and portion.

Every believer needs to live with a daily consciousness of finishing his race and fulfilling God’s plan for his life. I sort of have this picture in my mind of two graphs in heaven; one represents what I actually did with my life in God, and the other tells me what the fullness of God’s plan and will was for me. And my constant pressing is to shorten the gap between the two.

At this point certain people may be thinking, “that’s alright if I lose my reward because I’ll still make it to heaven, and that’s what’s important”. I’ll be plain here and tell you that this is a loser’s mentality. A wise man considers the afterlife and his eternal reward, but a fool does not. A wise man realizes that his life on earth is very temporal, but eternity is forever. The issue in not just one of salvation, but of your personal love for Jesus and your standing throughout eternity. Will you have a seat close to Jesus for all of eternity?

There’s a reason why the mother of James and John requested that they sit on the right and left hand of Jesus (Mat 20:20-23). There’s a reason why Jesus promised His disciples thrones where they would be judges (Mat 19:28). To those who overcome He grants a seat with Him on His throne (Rev 3:21). There’s a reason why Jesus promised more authority to him who is faithful both here and the hereafter (Lk 16:10-12). Paul spoke of crowns being laid up for him (2 Tim 4:8). He spoke of attaining unto a certain resurrection (Phil 3:11) that included more than just the general resurrection of the righteous.

Heaven is for the saved. No one without the new nature can enter into the holy atmosphere of heaven. But rewards are for the sanctified and for those who refused to deviate from the pursuit of their first love.

On the other hand, hell is for the devil and his demons and for all those who chose to live independently of God.

Let’s live like these things are true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BELIEVING THE LORD AND LOVING HIM

There is a difference between believing in the Lord and loving Him. God loves everyone unconditionally, but how you respond to His love is what marks your Christian life. Let me illustrate this point with a little parable the Lord gave me. A father had three sons living under his roof, young twin boys and an older son. One day the twins got themselves in severe trouble which required a severe punishment from their father. They were grounded for an entire year. That’s a very long time for any boy. But it came to pass that the older brother had compassion on both of them and propositioned to the father that he would take the punishment for them. Now watch this very carefully. Upon hearing the great news of their deliverance both of the twin boys expressed appreciation, but one was so grateful that he remained to serve his older brother for the entire year. Which of the twins believed his older brother? Both of them did. But which of them loved him? The one that served him. The difference in the twin boys was in their heart, and in their depth of response to their elder brother’s love and sacrifice.

“We love Him because He first loved us.” (John 4:19)

I believe the above verse is the great key to loving and serving God. We love and serve God according to the measure of revelation we have of His love for us. Love is pure because of choice. In our little parable, the elder brother did not require the twins to love him, but to only believe in what he did for them. Believing set them free. But in the light of the elder brother’s sacrifice, the one twin saw his own value and worth, and responded with love. His servant’s attitude and willingness to give back to his brother distinguished him from the other twin. This too is what distinguishes a loving Christian from only a believing one.

Furthermore, while we understand that God is no respecter of persons, we must understand that He has favorites. Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Let me explain. Those of you who have children will understand this clearly. Any normal parent loves his children equally, but will have a more determined love toward the obedient child. A parent will naturally want to extend himself and his own goodness more to the obedient one. Compare the following two verses and set your own understanding.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

God loves the world unconditionally, but has a determined love for His obedient children. The loving Christian obeys God, not because they have to, but because they want to. Obedience is not based on law, but on love. God is not interested in perfect deeds, but in a perfect heart. The one who truly loves God is guaranteed God’s determined love and manifested presence.

How wonderful is His beauty and grace!

 

HASTY FEET: A WORD FROM THE LORD

Take the steps I tell you to take and leave the results to Me. Don’t try to figure it out in your head, but follow Me with your heart. Don’t be concerned about what is next until you’ve fulfilled what is now. Disentangle yourself from the next and entangle yourself in the now. Remember your tendencies to run ahead. Guard against this hastiness, for I do not order the steps of hasty feet.

Hasty feet are untimely feet. They move before the time. They are out of sync with heaven’s rhythm and rhyme. Slopes they come down on, but on hills and mountains they cannot climb. They are strong in the flesh, but weak in the Spirit. Do not put your trust in hasty feet. I alone will order your feet to run and not be weary as you wait on Me. And I will cause you to walk on high places and not faint.

You are in the school of discipline and part of the training is to break the bondage and yoke of hastiness off you. You must be cleared of this to fly. For they that wait upon the Lord shall mount up their wings as eagles. Wait on Me, and you will see My favor and My glory.

 

FIRST LOVE LOVERS

Jesus said that His Word would judge everyone who rejects Him and fails to receive His words (John 12:48). Conversely, His Spirit is like a fire that burns the present hour speaking of His Word into our hearts.

Rev 2:1-5 is such a word. This message of returning to your first love is an end-time theme and one the Church so desperately needs.

The church at Ephesus possessed some noble characteristics. Jesus commended this church for many things. By today’s standards this church would be thought of as a strong and even dynamic church. They had doctrinal and moral purity, labored without growing weary, the people were active in the affairs of the church, had exercised patience and perseverance etc., but there was one thing Jesus had against them; they had forsaken their first love. Jesus called this position a fallen place or in today’s terminology, a backslidden state. What a lesson to learn that Jesus, the Head of the Church, does not see as man sees.

What does the Lord of glory see in today’s churches? What of those who boast in great attendance, occupy large buildings, and have dynamic programs for their members? Jesus does not esteem things as a man esteems them. He so often regards as least that which men esteem highly. On the other hand, those things that men often esteem lowly are so highly regarded by the Master. You see, it doesn’t matter what size building, attendance, or organizational powers and abilities a church possesses. If first love has passed, then it is a fallen church, and one in danger of having its lamp-stand removed from its place (Rev 2:5).

The lamp-stand represents the church, and the stars are the angels (Rev 1:20). Every church ordained by God has an angelic covering that symbolizes the power and anointing for that church to operate. The lamp-stand being put out represents the angel leaving and being assigned elsewhere. There are churches that still exist today whose angel left 100 years ago; sad, but true. There is no longer a covering or an anointing for that church to operate. They lost their love for Jesus. Over a period of time religion had hardened their human spirits and left the hidden places of their hearts untouched. Thus, intimacy with Jesus was lost, and by failing to make the adjustment the church lost her power.

Religion is the crowning work of Satan. He works to extinguish the intimacy of the Lord from our lives so that everything we produce comes out of works not born of love, but of duty. These are dead works. The spirit of religion always causes us to produce outside of the new nature, which is love. This results in a form without the power. Falling in love with Jesus and staying in love with Jesus is your sure foundation for protection against the deception of having a form without the power.

The apostle Paul’s heart cry to know Jesus (Phil 3:10) was like the loaded gun he carried in life and ministry. He called it a prize to be won. Here is a man who had come to visions and revelations, some not to be uttered…he had come to a place of great power in ministry where handkerchiefs were taken from his body and placed on the sick and demon possessed, and the diseases and demons left them…angels had visited him…mighty churches were raised up by him…and nearly two-thirds of the New Testament was written by him. Yet, Paul’s chief aim was for the prize of knowing Christ, and having a privileged seat next to Jesus for all of eternity (Rev 3:21). Do you want that seat?

Not all saints will sit on thrones in the holy city (Rev 20:4). That beloved city is the Bride of Christ, called the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:2). It is the wise virgins, the first love lovers, who will receive that privilege. No wonder Paul was so passionately consumed with being a first love lover of Jesus. Within the realms of that love is an eternal glory, position, and ranking which shall never be taken away.

First love lovers are those who have stayed close to the heart of Jesus thereby keeping their vessels full of oil and their lamps burning bright (Mat 25:1-13). Their first love produced first works that translate into gold, silver and precious stones, which are in turn, used as building materials for our eternal home. The New Jerusalem is an ongoing construction project being built from the works of those who lived surrendered and consecrated lives to Jesus. Thus the reason for the call to the church of Ephesus to repent and return to her first love so that she might do her first works (Rev 2:5). My heart burns with these words.

There will be sorrow and regret among many saints for the wood, hay, and stubble that will be burned up at the judgment. Their works, when tested by fire, will be found wanting. What would Jesus find today in many of our prominent churches and ministries across the globe if all our works were exposed? With fear and trembling we must serve the Lord. Jesus is at the door.

The mountaintop Christian life is one of first love. Anything short of that is a fallen state (Rev 2:5). From that heightened place of first love flow all first works. This is a great position of power. It is a place of sometimes almost silly but such pure delight. This is such a lovely place to be, a place of continually beholding the face of Jesus, of seeing His glory with the eyes of your understanding, of blessed rest where nothing un-nerves you.

You can buy this place with no money. You can pursue it without any earthly craft or ability. It is not a place exclusive to anyone above another. It is purchased with your heart only. It is purchased with a spiritual hunger for living bread, and thirst like a deer that pants for the water. It is a place available to the lowest status human being on the earth as well as the rich who will encounter difficulty in pursuit of this prize. Can you count the cost as Paul did? Count all things dung for this holy knowledge? Cast aside all other pursuits? How much is it worth to follow the Lamb wherever He goes throughout eternity (Rev 14:4)? Do you want that seat (Mat 20:21)? Will you enter into that holy city (Rev 21:2)?

Behold the Bridegroom cometh!!! Are you His bride in patient waiting? Do you long for His face? Is He your first love? If not, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works. If true repentance works its course, in the end the glory revealed shall be so much greater than any of your present sufferings.

All the love of our glorious Bridegroom is backing the pen of this ready writer. May He bless these words to your ears, and multiply His grace in your life to love Him.

This is an excerpt from my book, The Real Spirit of Revival.

WHAT MATTERS MOST

One day Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, “We can’t keep some Christians from going to church. We can’t keep some of them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from cultivating an intimate, abiding experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.

“So let them go to church. Let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time so they can’t gain that experience in Christ. This is what I want to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!

“How shall we do this?” shouted his angels.

“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered.

“Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then, borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.

“Over stimulate their minds so they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or CD player whenever they drive, to keep the television, the DVD player, and their CD’s going constantly in their homes. Entice them to be on the internet and to engage continually on their social networks. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.

“Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering, free products, services, and false hopes.

“Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week. Don’t let them go out in nature. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and movies instead. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions.

“Let them be involved in soul-winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes that they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family unity for the good of the cause.”

It was quite a convention in the end. And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments, causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy, and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful? You be the judge.

All of us, no matter what our service to the Lord may be, must continually watch over our hearts’ affections for Jesus. I read recently about a very well-known minister. He has been all over the world and has personally prayed with over two million people to receive Jesus. His ministry is marked by great signs and wonders. He has seen the dead raised, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the blind see. Early in his life with the Lord, he had such a sweet relationship with Him that God’s abiding presence was upon him day and night for eleven years.

But recently, in tears, he said that in the last few years he had gotten so busy with ministry that he had left that first love he once had for Jesus. Somewhere along the way, he had lost that passion for Him. He was still fervent about winning souls. He was still committed to the call of God on his life; yet he had been drawn away from Jesus Himself.

He hadn’t realized it until a few months ago when he went to conduct some meetings in another country. There he found the Christians aglow with that abiding presence of God. Their faces shone with joy and love for the Lord. When they worshiped the Lord, this minister just wept and wept because he recognized in these people the very thing he once had but lost.

You say, “How can this happen to us?” I don’t have all the answers, but I know one thing—the heart is a very vulnerable place. It needs to be guarded constantly. And the older you grow and the higher you go in your call, the more this is so. Keeping your heart is the biggest job you’ll ever have in life (Pr 4:23).

I know two things about everyone’s life and future. If Jesus tarries, both of them will surely come to pass. One day you will die. And one day you will stand before God. You will only be known by your supreme love for Jesus.

Nothing else will matter then. Nothing else should matter now.

 

 

WORKING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Holy Spirit can bless you when you read the scriptures. The Holy Spirit can direct you as you witness for Christ. The Holy Spirit can anoint you as you preach and teach the Word of God. But if you want to have daily, regular intimate communion with the Holy Spirit you need to cultivate a sensitivity and receptivity to where His heart is leading you.

Opportunities to minister the love and power of God are so often lost due to insensitivity to those around us. Whoever receives the least of these, Jesus said, receives Me. Daily Jesus passes us by and we don’t discern Him. We must be trained to follow the flow of love. When love moves in you, you must stop, yield, and follow that leading. But this love is not a mushy, sentimental love, but a love in the Spirit.

A precious sister in the Lord kept coming to our hearts in prayer. We discerned it and were moved to bless her with a financial gift. How encouraging this was to her when we obeyed! A life was lifted. A life was drawn closer to God. A life became more aware of God’s care for her. Don’t ever despise those small acts of obedience for they are big in God’s sight.

Again a pastor couple came to our hearts in prayer. Through the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit we identified with their struggles. We prayed for them and asked the Lord if we were to help meet the need, and we were led to do so.

Roger is a friend of ours who is a hairdresser. His ministry is to those who sit in that chair all day long. What opportunities to listen to people’s struggles, and then counsel them by the Spirit! And then they return and you develop a trusted relationship with them. One person at a time becomes your ministry. “Go for the one…go for the one… go for the one”, I hear the Spirit saying. Some are not ready to be led to Christ, but all have the need to be loved and encouraged.

I first realized this truth in the early days of my ministry. I tried so hard to lead people to Christ, but with few results. Here is a testimony from someone: As I was in prayer, the Lord spoke to my heart, “How many quail would Israel had caught if they had gone quail hunting in the wilderness?” I responded, “Lord, not too many.” “How did the quail get caught?” the Lord continued to ask me. I then realized God sent the wind, which brought the quail. The Lord was trying to show me the difference between chasing souls without the Holy Spirit’s strategy and working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Then the Lord said something to me that totally changed my life. “You must get to know and work with the Holy Spirit.”

 

 

 

THE TRAINING OF A NEW BREED: A WORD FROM HEAVEN

For a new breed of troops to arise there must be given a new breed of training. For many of my past trainees have only been trained for the easy and the soft, and not for the rigorous and the hard. Many have been trained of the letter but not of the Spirit, and so they stand unequipped for the battle and an easy target for the enemy. Sow to the Spirit and so shall their swords be sharpened for the flesh has made them dull. For in the flesh is weariness and hands that hang down with the shield of faith.

Prepare them to march to a different spirit. Root out the flesh, selfish ambition, and pride and train them to walk by the Lord’s side, for the Lord resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

The training must be accurate and precise according to calling and grace. Do not seek to make them what they are not, but help them find what they are; according to calling and grace, not color or race, everyone in their place. Then shall they learn to use their weapons and overcome the enemy.

And be careful to remember that the trainee is only as good as the trainer. Be skillful in your training and learn to use the Word of God with precision and accuracy, holding forth the word of life and being a shining example of a doer of that word.

And as a good army officer knows well the different phases of training so know the end of one phase and the beginning of another. Know the readiness of your troops and the ability I’ve placed in each one. Prove them and know that they are soldiers fit to fight.

JESUS CANNOT BE WHATEVER WE WANT HIM TO BE

“I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Mat 13:34-35).

The deep thoughts of God were always revealed through Jesus, the wisdom of God, as He spoke in parables things hidden from the foundation of the world.

Jesus spoke in parables because the mystery of God could not be revealed to the multitudes. Those who desired to understand those mysteries would draw closer to Jesus in a more private setting (v 36). This way the insincere would be divided from the true seekers.

The spoken wisdom of God embodied in Jesus was like a sword that cut away the fat that made people’s ears heavy and dull. The sword of His word circumcised them to hear and receive truth. Those who yielded to this sword were separated from the popular camp of the scribes and Pharisees, and others who served religious systems that made mention of God, but who didn’t have a true revelation of Him.

Too many in our church pulpits have taken a moratorium on Christ’s identity. The popular, politically correct, and “wannabe” culturally relevant American church is saying of Jesus Christ: “You are the one who makes us feel good. You are the one who understands my sinful issues and addictions. You are the one who blesses us and makes us rich.” Some of that is actually true. He does understand and He does bless, but the image portrayed of a pie-in-the-sky type of god who is never angry, displeased or disappointed, makes the spirit of it false. He cannot be whatever we want or need Him to be.

The Church presents Christ as the therapist, the banker, the philosopher, the friend, the hippie, the social activist, the look-the-other-way zero accountability spiritual figure.

Why are the majority of people in the West so confused or deceived about who Jesus really is? Why do they seem to have so little depth or spiritual substance in their lives? Why doesn’t some people’s Christianity go beyond, “Jesus said, ‘do not judge’”? Is it not in large part due to the distorted message of Him that our pulpits, our preachers, and our churches are presenting? Similarly, much of the reason for today’s current moral and cultural malaise derives from a distorted message of the Christ coming from the Church.

The image of Jesus for many professing Christians has been shaped by the society around them. Unless you have an intimate relationship with the Holy One and His Word, the image you have of Him will be distorted. It will resemble the pop culture you live in and what the people of that culture worship. In the West, self is god. Incorruptible man is worshipped. Humanism rules.

If a professing believer does not want to give up his carnal, worldly, sinful lifestyle and adhere to the Lord’s ways he can just create an image of God that makes room for that kind of lifestyle. It is a very subtle deception that comforts and consoles him in his carnality, worldliness, and sin by saying things like, “God knows my heart,” or “God understands my struggles”. These types of comments, however, are usually made as a way of defending his lifestyle and justifying his carnal, worldly, and sinful appetites. Is the Jesus you serve a product of your own desires patterned after this world, or is He the true presence of the living Word of God in your life?

For example, divorce is now a rampant part of our western culture, and the divorce rate in the church is nearly equal to that in the world. Many professing Christians find an unscriptural excuse to leave their spouses, and in contradiction to the will of God, they forsake the vows they once made. And now that our culture is deteriorating to levels of sexual anarchy, professing Christians are claiming that one can be gay and be a Christian. This is what happens when professing Christians flow with the spirit of the world. The image of God in them changes.

Emil Durkheim, the classic father of sociology, wrote extensively about totemism. Totemism is derived from the word totem which is a natural object or an animate being, such as an animal or bird, assumed to be the emblem of a clan, family, or group. It can be an object or a natural phenomenon that a family considers closely related to, or serving as a distinctive mark of that group or family. Totemism is the belief in the kinship of groups or individuals having a common totem and the rituals, taboos, and practices associated with such a belief.

Durkheim described totemism as the human tendency to form a conception of God in our own image. He said that oftentimes human beings, whether they are jungle tribes or sophisticated city dwellers, will take the values and traditions that they admire most about themselves and project them on a totem. Eventually, they stand in awe of that totem and end up worshipping an incarnation of the things they love about themselves. This is what people do with the image of God. We create an image of a god whom we can relate to and who cares about the same things we care about.

During the days of Moses, Israel was living in an environment that worshipped images of animals and creeping things, and so a golden calf was fashioned from the people’s gold and worshipped (Ex 32). “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom 1:22-23). Their culture influenced and shaped their image of God. If you don’t stay in God’s presence and in God’s Word the same thing could happen to you.

Beware of idolatry and changing the the glory of the incorruptible God into an image of corruptible man (Rom. 1:23).