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Thursday, July 25, 2013

intimacy or deception

Art Katz introduced me to the concept of penultimate and ultimate things.  It would seem we are in need of great grace when discussing end times  things, because the penultimate 'peace' of Jerusalem is actually the setting for the launching of the anti-Christ.  The ultimate peace of Jerusalem CANNOT  be accomplished by man.  It occurs when the Prince of Peace enters through the Eastern Gate.  So praying for the peace of Jerusalem is praying for the "Day of the Lord."
It seems most everything goes back to intimacy with God.  "Those days" will be filled with a deep deception.
Only as the prayer of Jesus in John 17 is answered in our lives are we able to be a light.  Only as we are intimate with God can we spot deception, that will pull in all those not fully relying on God.  

Bring us to a place of intimacy with You, Lord, in Jesus' name.

That is my prayer for us.

Matthew 16:22 ESV  
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord!* This shall never happen to you."              Footnote:* Or “[May God be] merciful to you, Lord!”

Peter here displays a penultimate concern for Jesus, even cloaking it in spiritual language, "May God be merciful to you, Lord!"
We need to learn from this, without intimacy with God, we are prime candidates for deception, and could end up speaking the words of Satan, not the Word of the Lord. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Zechariah Bible study # 6 Zechariah chapter 4

Zechariah Bible Study # 6

Zechariah Chapter 4
The Golden Lampstand and Olive Trees
4:1 Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from his sleep. 2 He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; 3 also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side.” 4 Then I said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, “What are these, my lord?” 5 So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” 6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lordto Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. 7 ‘What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”
8 Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 10 For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—these are the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.”
11 Then I said to him, “What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?”12 And I answered the second time and said to him, “What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?” 13 So he answered me, saying, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” 14 Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.” NASB

The author of the commentary I am using, David Baron, considered this a good time for a review of the book up till now, and since context is an important key to being able to understand scripture, I agree.
The first 3 visions conveyed “good and comfortable” words through the prophet to the people, by giving them God's perspective on their history, their current situation and their future. Even though oppressed by a Gentile world-power, God was in control and working things out. Vision #1 – It is okay, God is in your midst. Vision # 2 – God is watching over the afflictions and sorrows and is angry with those who are adding to the afflictions of the judgments that He is commanding. Vision # 3 - Jerusalem will yet again, be established by God and made more glorious than ever. The chosen nation will fulfill the God-given purpose among the nations, to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Vision # 4 answered the un-spoken question, “How can this be?” How can this fallen, failed people be a conduit for the thrice Holy God. This vision showed the power of God to remove the filth and clothe His chosen people in the rich apparel of His righteousness, the priestly apparel, the kingly apparel, all given as a free gift never to be removed. The vision in this study is a follow up to Joshua and the removal of his filthy garments and the giving of those new garments. Now Joshua representing both Israel and the church is made right with God to do the work of ministry but how will that work of ministry be done. This vision gives us the answer and once it is put in its proper context it is a very powerful revelation of “true ministry.” One that is referred to in the end times, with some modifications. Revelation 11:3-5
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.

Verse 1- This 'state' that the prophet is in is, “fully awakened.” He is not passively sleeping and being given these visions, he is interactive with them. He plays a role in being able to ask questions and get clarification.
Verse 2- The angel initiates the vision with a question. He sees a full view of a lampstand, with a bowl on top of it supplying oil. It is a 7 branched candle stick, the same as the one in the temple in the Holy Place. Israel's call is to be a light to the nations. The church's call is to be a light to lost souls. Spouts are important they carry the oil to each lamp and each lamp has its own spout. Also it should be noted 7 churches are chosen for being spoken to in Revelation. 7 lamps but all on the one candlestick.

Verse 3- Two olive trees, loaded down with olives to provide the oil for the bowl that supplies the lampstand.

Verse 4- It is a good policy to never assume that you know something especially around God. Ask questions even when you think you know the answer. He is smarter than you.

Verse 5- Part of the meaning of the vision is found in what is not there, no priests filling and trimming the lamps, no offerings of the people providing the oil. God is the unending, overflowing supply. It is embarassing to 'not have the answers', humbling, and that is right where God wants us, this verse just emphasizes the emptiness of our finite understanding and of our deep, deep, need for revelation from above.
Verse 6- How does true ministry take place – NOT by might, NOT by power but by MY Spirit says the Lord. ….....WOW we need to stop here for awhile. What does God have against might and power. 'Might' is the strength of many, like an army, and 'power' is the strength of one man, human strength of every description, physical, mental, and moral; all cast aside. Weakness and dependence upon His speaking and His moving are greatly valued in His eyes. Waiting on the Lord, not rushing ahead of Him. Being content to “look silly” because if God is not speaking, you refuse to speak. Refusing to push ahead in the 'doing' that is so greatly admired... but not by God. “Being” in His presence and not moving until He says so, somehow being able to say no to the pressure to perform on cue, and just resting, until the Spirit moves. There is so much we have to 'un-learn' in order to get to the place where God can use us. Oh the incredible stregth that is ours when we are 'out of the way' and God's Spirit is working through us! The power that enables true ministry is His power and it is only available when our power is abandoned. As Paul states it,
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Cor. 12:10
True ministry is clothed in His righteousness and powered by His Spirit.
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36

Verse 7 – In light of the Power of God, comes the slightly sarcastic question, “What are you...? Fill in the blank with any difficulty that stands in the way of the follower of God accomplishing what God has ordained will be accomplished. 'O great mountain' don't look now, but you will become a plain, a 'piece of cake' when God rolls through and by His Amazing Grace brings to pass all that He said. 15 years before, Zerubbabel saw the foundation of the temple laid, and after numerous set-backs and problems internally and externally, here comes the top stone with shouts of “Look at what we've done” NO, with shouts of “Grace, Grace to it!” The word “grace” makes an appearance 9 times in the Old Testament. 2 of them are here and there is one more in chapter 12. Joshua as the kingly representative was given the robes and the covering of righteousness. Zerubbabel as the priestly representative is given the anointing to be the intermediary between God and man. Work definitely gets done, but no man receives applause.
1 Cor. 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Verse 8 – This is the word of the Lord, directly from the pre-incarnate Christ. The words that in themselves contain the power of fulfillment. This is no angel, this is no simply encouraging word, this Word has power and life.
Verse 9- When what the prophet says comes to pass, against all odds, overcoming all discouragement, the validity of the prophets ministry is confirmed. This is no, “little work” because the Lord of Hosts is behind it. We need to have our eyes opened to God and His work in the world.
Verse 10- This 'small' temple was the most important work going on in the earth at that time, because its rebuilding was a necessary step in the fulfillment of God's purpose for His candlestick, Israel and later the church. Discouragement was killing the rebuilding, “It is not as big, nice, expensive as the old temple.” “We are a subjugated people, with limited resources.”
The 'seven' would be the 7 eyes of God from the previous vision. God is focused on this, His resources are available for this, His grace is sufficient for this.... see how those kind of declarations defeat discouragement. They crush it. Zerubbabel still has in his hand the tools of rebuilding, but in God's eyes it is as good as done.
Verse 11- Dig deeper, ask questions, search for answers.
Verse 12- No answer, keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. His question does get a little more specific, going from trees to branches.
Verse 13- And when the answer is in the form of a question, “Do you REALLY not know?” Don't give up, keep on asking, humbly seeking, “Yes sure enough, I REALLY do not know!”
Verse 14- Anointed ones, literally 'sons of fresh oil.' Kings and priests were anointed with oil. Civil authority and priestly authority, Joshua the civic leader and Zerubbabel the priestly leader. God usually works in this way, in the Old Testament and in the millenial kingdom, Rev. 20:1-6. Jesus combined these two offices in Himself, like Melchizedek, another pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.
In Zechariah 6:13 “Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices."
These two anointings are to characterize the church as we work in the world, displaying God's love through miracles and acts of humble service. All of it empowered by the grace of God, for the glory of God.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

anti e-harmony

After 13 years and one month, I feel I can give this marriage advice.
These are the words on the card I gave my wife for her birthday this year.
She loved it.  It chronicles my progressive understanding and unfolding of "marriage."

Once upon a time I had a good idea.  I was such a good "me" that it would be even cooler to have two of me! (There is a way that seems right to man...)  For years I tried every method to make you another me, but God and you were not very cooperative.  So I gave up and became an island - since I can't swim I should have known that was a bad idea. Nevertheless, I pushed onward until the words "We've gown apart, "  finally landed on my heart. 
 Broken... how had this happened. 
 Grace came and revealed the beauty in who you are - not another "me" but a completing of me - rising up in areas where I fall short, holding together where I fall apart and vice-versa.  Each one of our differences is a blessing.  
Together we make a whole.  We can relax and laugh about this anti-e-Harmony combination that God has brought about.  How long did you say we would come to a point where we rejoiced in our differences.  Very prophetic indeed.  I love you my very different spouse forever. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

You are not... original poem

You are not strong enough
to push Him away
You are not bad enough
to make Him regret the price that He did pay
You are not smart enough
to theorize Him away

Your questions
do not put Him off
The alone-ness you feel
it is not real

He is with you
You are a part of His great plan

Seek Truth, believe in Love, He will show you

the Way

Friday, July 5, 2013

He will be faithful, UNTIL we seek Him.

Some things are starting to come together/  Pieces are starting to come into place in my life, that give me great hope, that God is revealing truth in a way that will enable His power to be accessed for His glory.
"The fear of the Lord", "the Christian walk", "the kingdom now, balanced by the cross life", "submission to the dealings of God, seeking Him, and waiting for His reply".  Those are some of the topic headings that I believe God is revealing to me.  His mercies are new every morning.  He will be faithful if we seek Him, and He will be faithful, UNTIL we seek Him.  All praise, honor and glory to Him.