For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.1 Corinthians 13:12
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”- Matthew 10:16
One danger of civilized faith is that we become so domesticated, we begin to live as shrewd as a dove. We are blind to the spiritual nature of life and the unseen reality in which we reside.
Another danger is that we become as innocent as a snake. For far too long, sincere followers of Christ have had to live with the consequences of those who use religion to manipulate others and camouflage hypocrisy.
Jesus made it clear to those who were choosing to be His disciples what kind of leader He was and what kind of followers He required.
It says in John 2:24-25 “But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.”
Jesus both understood the inner parts of man and the spiritual realities which contributed to man’s bondage. He was not fooled by them. He was as shrewd as a serpent! He knew the hearts of man.
Jesus, knowing this, still went to the cross. He still died a sinners death to purify us from our sinful condition. He was in His actions as innocent as a dove.
The expectation Jesus has for His followers is to model His words, actions and behaviour.
Are you using discernment when dealing with people? Do you acknowledge the depravity of man? Are your eyes open to the spiritual realities that are present in your conversations; to the actions of the people around you? Do you recognize what rests in the heart of man? Do you see how utterly vile human nature is without the nature of Christ coming to rest within?
Seeing all you see, knowing all you know, can you turn around and love your neighbour? Is it within your will to love your enemy and to pray for those who persecute you? Can you give sacrificially to those same people who do only what is right in their own eyes?
Do you believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform these broken vessels? Do you trust in the blood shed by Christ to wash away the old nature and leave your brothers and sisters spotless and clean?
Jesus asks us to be like Him. Do not be fooled, be as shrewd as a snake, yet in love, be as innocent as a dove.
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”Luke 1:38
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It is illegal in the Kingdom to be born again and yet carry on with the carnal mind. We will not be able to grow in intimacy with God if we are continually mixing the ‘old man’ with the ‘new man’. The ‘old man’ is suppose to be dead. The ‘old man’ is limited because it is fuelled by human nature. The ‘new man’ has no limitations because he is fuelled by the living Spirit of Jesus Christ.Jasmin Frank
“And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”1 Kings 18:24
There are many false gods today: wealth, popularity, sex, drugs, admiration and worship of others etc., etc.
None of these will sustain us in our needs or rescue us from our dead-end lives. All they do is increase our death drive. All they do is increase our hunger and thirst for that which does not satisfy.
In 1 Kings Chapter 18 we find the story of Elijah and his challenge to the prophets of Baal.
The prophets of Baal called and called, begged and pleaded to their false god. He gave no answer.
“They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response.” – 1 Kings 18:29
On the flip side, The One True God answered in fire and in power:
“Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!– 1 Kings 18:38
This passage testifies with evidence to the legitimacy of The One True God. The Living God comes in Fire and power!
He answered Elijah that way. He came upon the early disciples on the day of Pentecost in this way; with fire and power! Baptizing them with the Holy Spirit.
He comes upon all believers in the same way.
This is the evidence of God in every believers life: Fire and Power.
The fire of the Holy Spirit manifests it’s self in peculiar ways at times.
Jasmin said something to me once, along these lines, “If you are not involved in the Church, all this stuff would seem weird. We must look like mad men to those looking in on this” (paraphrase)
Does the power of God look strange to those on the outside looking in? Yes it does!
Does the fire of God manifest itself in strange ways at times? For sure!
So how are these things not strange to believers? What makes the difference?
Relationship and revelation.
There are several ways that one can react to God’s manifest power.
The people who gathered on that hill with Elijah saw the fire of heaven fall down. Many of those present reacted to this fire by following Elijah as he put to death the prophets of Baal. (verses 39 & 40)
King Ahab reacted by running back to his wife Jezebel with his tail between his legs. He told her what had happened and together they plotted Elijah’s death. (1 Kings 19:1-2)
Some reacted to the power they saw that day by acknowledging that Yahweh was truly God. (Revelation)
Some reacted to the power they witnessed with fear and anger. Fearful, that THERE IS INDEED A TRUE GOD; angry that their false gods were exposed for what they were. Angry that their prophets (keepers of their lies and falsehoods) were slaughtered.
It is the same today. One can see the Holy Spirit move in mighty miracles and react in fear and anger.
Many of those who violently oppose the teachings of Jesus fall into this camp. Many others who claim to be Christians are guilty of the same fear and anger. They discount the works of the Holy Spirit because they would rather make an idol out of a book so they can use it to control and manipulate others.
They are fearful of a Living and Active God. They are angry that He would dare move apart from their say so. If the Bible can be used as a static object, rather than “living and active”, then it can be dissected and misinterpreted to give men power over others.
When the God of the Bible shows up in power, this disrupts these leader’s “teaching” and exposes them as the charlatans that they are. Their natural response to these disruptions (the power of the Holy Spirit) is fear and anger. This is the same religious spirit that moved in King Ahab and Jezebel, the same religious spirit that moved within the Pharisees and Sadducees who put Jesus to death.
Some of those who witnessed the fire of God fall upon Elijah’s sacrifice continued on in their sin and pride while others humbled themselves and submitted and committed their lives to the One True God (Relationship).
“And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”– 1 Kings 18:39
And God told Elijah, “... yet I will preserve 7000 others in Israel who have never bowed to Baal or kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)
How will you react to the Living God today? How will you react to His calling, to His power?
The Holy Spirit falls in fire on the sacrifice of obedience. He consumes the sacrifice presented.
In Elijah’s day the sacrifice was the flesh and blood of bulls and goats. On the day of Pentecost it was the living sacrifice of the early believers. In both cases the fire of the Holy Spirit fell when the followers of the One True God responded in obedience.
Jesus is calling you into relationship with Himself. He died on the cross to purchase your freedom. To free you from the false gods you have aligned yourself with. He died so that you can come into relationship with Him. He rose again so His power can live within you and flow through you.
Jesus is acting right now for your benefit. He is drawing you close to Himself so you can become who He created you to be. Jesus works in power to draw all of His lost children back to Himself.
This is the character of Father God.
How you respond to this fire is your choice. How you respond to the revelation of Jesus is your choice! You can react in fear and anger or you can react by coming into relationship with the One True God—- Jesus Christ!
The Spirit of God falls like fire on those who are open to Him. He will consume you with fire and power if you call upon His name and obediently submit your life to Him as a living sacrifice.
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Covenant keepers, covenant breakers.
Blood of man, blood of God. Covenant Maker.
Rock rolled away. Life with no delay.
Body breaking decay.
Body breaking forward out of the grave.
First among many.
New creation, new nation.
Dirt and breath,
Body and bone,
Enemy under His feet,
Feed my sheep,
Tongues of fire,
Holy Spirit released,
Lord and Saviour,
Alpha and Omega.
Jesus is King.
The veil is torn.
Sin no more.
Salvation in store.
The risen Lord.
We are free.
Life for ever more.
The King of Kings with nail scarred hands.
No grave can keep Him.
No jail can hold Him.
No hell defeat Him.
He rose from the grave.
He rose, grave clothes laid aside, Jesus Is alive!
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”Romans 8:14
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Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lordwill bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”Exodus 14:13-14
Historians can trace lent back to the first century church. Lent means spring, and it is one of the root words of the English word “long” -as in, the days get longer in spring.
When lent was first observed it was done by those who were seeking to get baptized, they would spend the 40 days before Easter, preparing spiritually by fasting and praying.
40 days is significant!
In scripture, in the story of Noah’s ark the waters and the rain lasted for 40 days and nights. The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years.
Jesus fasted for 40 days and was tempted by the devil.
All of these times in scripture were a preparation time for something significant.
The earth rested and was renewed in those forty days while the rain covered the earth. This was in preparation for new life upon the world.
The Israelites heart and minds were transformed in the 40 years of wandering so they would be prepared to take the land that the Lord had promised for them.
Jesus spend 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying to prepare for His earthly ministry.
When you prepare for a test do you study? Or do you just place your math book beside you and hope the information seeps into your brain?
When a solider goes to war, he must first spend months and months preparing himself both mentally and physically.
These are mere physical preparations.
Lent definitely involves the physical. Yet it is significantly more. It is a spiritual preparation!
We enter into lent as our time in the wilderness, seeking what God has promised. Lent is a building of anticipation for the most glorious event that ever took place in human history.
There never was and never will be anything as significant as what Jesus did on the cross.
He took mans guilt and shame and put it to death, He broke the power of sin and death.
He restored mankind’s created value so we could have intimate relationship with God the Father.
Lent is a time when we dedicate 40 days to prepare our hearts for that deep reality.
Where we prepare our heart for deeper relationship with Jesus.
This is what is so beautiful about the Christian calendar. Much like the Lord’s supper, it reminds us to make room in our busy lives to physically take part in the wonderful story of our Lord and King Jesus!
It’s not something we have to do, It’s something we want to do.
I love lent because it is a time when my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ come together to seek the King! Any time in the year is a great time to fast but Lent is unique as you do your wilderness wondering in a community seeking the same goal—closeness with the Father!
We put aside certain foods, like sugar or meat as a way to say, “Jesus you are my richness, you are my meat, you are the true lasting sweetness of my life. The joy of knowing You is much more than my enjoyment of ham, or bacon or a triple pounder burger.
Fill me with the enjoyment of knowing you and you alone!”
And then when we feast on Easter Sunday, it will transform the eating again of rich foods into a bountiful celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
What you give up at Lent could be anything that takes your time and energy away from spending time with Christ. Something, that if you give it up for a season will leave you with more time and energy to seek Jesus.
What has stolen your focus from Christ?
You give that up to spend time with Jesus in prayer, journaling and reading scripture.
The most important thing about Lent is getting to know Jesus, not about the discipline of prayer and fasting though they truly are a discipline.
It cannot be about biting your lip and fighting to go without.
But about your desire to truly spend more quality time with Jesus.
Have you ever had a friend or family member you truly adore come for a visit?
You are so excited to spend time with them you put aside a book you’re reading or a project you’re working on. You don’t pick up your phone or go on social media at all because all you want to do is sit and talk with that person.
Or do you remember when your parents would take you out school to go to a family celebration like a wedding. It’s so important to celebrate your friend or family member’s happiness that you put aside school to go celebrate with them.
That is what lent is: putting aside things so you can spend time with Jesus.
Lent is the physical action of adoration for the King of Kings.
May it be filled with worship, prayer and deeper revelation of His face!
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“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”Matthew 5:11-12
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