How Bad Do You Really Want It?

How Bad Do You Really Want It?

Often I find myself asking the Lord to reveal Himself to me.  In fact I find myself, like Moses, continually pleading for God to “show me Your glory” or to at least let me experience a little of what the early church experienced back in the book of Acts.  “Lord, give me something.  Anything. Just give me a glimpse, maybe just a tiny taste of Your awe and Your power and Your majesty.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I really don’t know what I was expecting God to do.  Maybe a flash of light like Peter and John saw when Jesus was transfigured before them.  Maybe a chance to see the Spirit of God move in the wind and fire like Elijah did at the mouth of the cave.  Or maybe to feel the very foundation of the house shaken by the power of God like it did when the early church prayed.  I don’t know.  Maybe something memorable.  Maybe something out of the ordinary.

Something more than this.

Have you ever felt the same way?  Have you looked at the life of the church portrayed in the Acts and then at your own life and wondered what went wrong?  What’s missing?  And if you have, did it drive you to the Scriptures or did it drive you to a church service that made you “feel” electrified with pulsating music and long, drawn out periods of spiritual aerobics?  You know what I mean.  Churches that try to imitate what they think the Spirit “feels” like by manipulating the flesh.  We’ve all seen it done and we know how superficial it is at best.  It’s a bad copy of the real thing.  A counterfeit.  A mirage.  Smoke and mirrors.

Which brings us back to the Scriptures.

“Lord, is there somewhere in Your Word that will show us how to know You more?  Is there some passage that can give us the key to unlocking the secret of getting close to You?  Is there somewhere in Your Word that will satisfy our desire to know more of You?  Lord, can you please help us out?”

And, of course, His answer is, yes.

First, you must understand that His Word is full of places that show us what is necessary to have intimate fellowship with Him.  But many of these have to do with living right and striving for holiness, which is not a particularly popular topic in today’s Laodicean church.

So before we tackle the Graduate Level stuff like sanctification and “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) or “walking by the Spirit and not according to the flesh” (Gal. 5:16) or “not being conformed to the image of this world” (Rom. 12:2), we need to take a step back and examine our level of commitment to living a life of intimacy with the Lord.  It’s not something to be taken lightly.  It’s a radical change of existence where you will daily die to yourself in order for Christ to live larger and stronger in you.  It’s a trade, all of you for all that He is.  It will be an adventure of great heights and deep valleys, of pain and hardship and failure— but it is also an adventure of breathtaking seasons of sheer bliss.  “Is the pain and hardship worth it?” we all ask.  Absolutely!  But there’s a price to be paid to hear God speak and understand the knowledge and wisdom of God.

And the question before us is this:  Are you willing to pay the price?

If so, let’s begin with some Scriptures that speak of the required level and intensity of our desire necessary to know the wisdom and knowledge of our God.

Proverbs 2 begins this way:

My son, if (a conditional clause) you receive (or, snatch, hold, get) my words and (implied – if you) treasure (or, hide, store up) my commands (not suggestions) within you (2:1).

Uh, question.  What does it mean to receive Your words?  Can You give me some examples?

So that you incline (or, heed, hearken, be attentive) your ear to wisdom, and apply (or, stretch out, extend) your heart to understanding (2:2).

Ok, got it.  But to what extent?  In other words, do I apply my heart like I did to high school algebra or is it something greater than that, something more intense?  How much do I need to seek the wisdom of God and His understanding in order to experience true intimacy with God?

Yes, if (conditional clause) you cry out (or, call, summon) for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding (2:3).

So am I to cry out for Him like a fan at a football game or like Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire when he cried “Stella!” at the bottom of the stairs or Rocky Balboa when he cried out “Adrian!” in the ring?  Or is it more like the two blind men that continually cried out to Jesus, desperate, refusing to be silenced, begging to be heard and healed, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matt. 9:27).  Or is it something more?

Can you feel the rising level of intensity in these words?  It’s more than simple mental assent or wishful thinking.  There’s a sense of dire urgency, of helplessness, of reckless abandonment in these words.  The Lord tells us we must seek discernment and understanding like a drowning man seeks one more breath.  We must want it more than anything else, more than life itself.

Does that seem a stretch to you?  Does it seem too radical, too over-the-top?  Then let’s read on.

If (again, conditional clause) you seek her (wisdom, discernment, understanding, knowledge of God) as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasure (2:4).

Got it, we are to seek and desire and crave the wisdom and knowledge of God more than the very treasures we spend our lives trying to accumulate.  We must want it more than gold and silver, more than comfort and ease, more than our own pleasure.  We must seek it like the man in search of fine pearls (Matt. 13:46) or the woman with the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) or the man who finds the treasure in a field (Matt. 13:44).  We must be willing to sell all that we have to possess the very wisdom of God and the knowledge of God and experience the very presence of God.  After all, nothing else really matters, does it?

Then (the result of all the previous “ifs“) you will understand the fear (or, reverence, awe, terror) of God and find the knowledge of God (2:5).

Simple truth.  Clear path.  Wonderful reward.  But are you willing to pay the price and fulfill the “if’s“, the conditional clauses, to receive the “then” at the end?

I know that I am.  Are you?  And, if so, will you join me on this grand adventure?

Adveho quis may.
Come what may.

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Podcast 246:  A Warning to the Shepherds of His Church

Podcast 246: A Warning to the Shepherds of His Church

Today we often forget the condemning indictment God levels against those shepherds of His flock, those pastors of His church, that have forsaken the call and left their first love and followed after the things of this world. We forget God’s anger against them, but we see this kind of church apostasy and defection all around us.

So what does God say about a shepherd that cares not for the flock? And, more important, what does God promise to do to those shepherds?

The answer is both chilling and frightening. Keep listening to find out more.

This is a study on Zechariah 10:1-12 and Ezekiel 9:1-11.

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Podcast 245:  A Warning to the Church and the Nation

Podcast 245: A Warning to the Church and the Nation

We are living in troubling, turbulent times… but not unlike the times of the prophet Jeremiah.  In Jeremiah’s day his nation was facing destruction and decay both from within and without.  The judicial system had been perverted and compromised.  Infant murder (abortion) was rampant and the people were engulfed in sexual sin.  Does that situation sound familiar?  I thought so.  Sounds much like today, doesn’t it.

So listen to see what Jeremiah would say today to both the church and the nation.

The following is a study on Jeremiah 7:1-34.

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The Hidden Danger of Doctrine

The Hidden Danger of Doctrine

One of the hidden dangers of striving to have correct doctrine, and then letting that striving become the mark or brand of our faith, is that we can become more concerned and focused with serving the Lord than with knowing and loving Him.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that holding fast to correct doctrine, to truth, is to be minimized or discounted or taken lightly.  Quite the contrary.  Scripture continually exhorts and commands us to teach sound doctrine (1 Tim 4:6), to rebuke those who teach a contrary, false doctrine (Eph. 4:14), and Jesus Himself even said that He was, in essence, truth (John 14:6).  So we can’t really know the Lord until we have an accurate understanding of Who He is and that, of course, comes from a correct understanding of Scriptures, or a study of doctrine.  Hence, true, orthodox doctrine is vital for the Believer and the church.  That’s non-negotiable, it’s a given for the Christian.

Let’s then put to rest the idea that I am speaking against the study of Biblical doctrine and truth.   I am not.  In fact, it is to that study of the Scriptures that I have given the better part of my life.  The issue and danger is not in the study of doctrine alone, but in only doctrine.

Let me explain.

If we focus on doctrine only and let the pendulum of our spiritual lives swing too far in one direction, we inevitably become scholars, professors, smug experts in the Law, proud depositories of Biblical facts, and not passionate followers of the Lord Jesus.  We replace intimacy with the Lord with knowledge about the Lord and then begin to filter the awe and breathtaking majesty of the Lord through the lens of our degrees and theology and orthodoxy.  We think first, and feel last.  We sacrifice heartfelt love for intellectual knowledge and brag about knowing all about Him— but not really knowing Him.

And this a dangerous place for a Believer to be.

Consider the church in Ephesus.  They worked tirelessly for the Kingdom and stood strong and tall against those who were evil in their midst, against those who peddled their toxic, false doctrine as truth.  They tested and vetted those who claimed to be apostles and found them to be liars (Rev. 2:3).  The Scriptures say the church at Ephesus “persevered and labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary” (Rev. 2:3).  From our perspective, they were a church that believed the Scriptures and held firm to sound doctrine.  They prided themselves on being the gatekeepers of orthodoxy, of true, Scriptural teaching.   And this was a good thing.  In fact, it was a great thing.

But Jesus said this to them, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4).  They had done well in the work of the Lord, but in doing so, had failed in their love of the Lord.  They were once in love with Him and now they were in love with what they were doing for Him.  Ministry to the Lord replaced fervency for and intimacy with the Lord.  They, like us today, jettisoned the best for the good, not realizing what it had cost them— or us.

So what are we to do?  How do we keep this from happening to us?

Simply this, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Rev. 2:5).  Remember what it was like when you first came to Christ?  Remember the joy, the excitement, the childlike wonder, the swell of faith that birthed great dreams and confident assurance that you and your Lord could do anything?  Remember when you truly believed that “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world”? (1 John 4).  Remember when you rejoiced that you were a member of His church and that the very “gates of Hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).  Or prevail against you, for that matter.  Do you remember all this?

If so, what happened to that person?  When did he go?  Who ran him off?  How can we bring him back?

Jesus told the church at Ephesus to, “repent, and do the first works” (Rev. 2:5).  The road back to the beginning starts with humbling yourself before the Lord, confessing how you have allowed the world, both sacred and secular, both good and bad, to choke out the love of Christ, and ask for His forgiveness.  And, as He promises, He will “forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  Then ask the Lord to restore your childlike faith and innocence in Him, and let the revival of our lives begin again.

Please understand, it’s really that simple.  All you have to do is ask.

Jesus wants us to stand firm and unyielding for the truth and to also have a heart that beats for Him, moment by moment.  He wants us to know all about Him and to continue to grow in that knowledge, but not at the expense of simply knowing Him personally, intimately, face to face.  It is not an either/or, Door One or Door Two type of choice.  It is both.  We stand in the truth because He is Truth and we love Him with all our being.  We strive to know more and more about Him because we love Him more and more and by knowing more and more about Him we can love Him more and more.  And yes, it really is just that simple.

Choose today to love Him with all that you are and to grow in the knowledge of Him for the simple reason that you love Him and want to know more about Him and watch how the two, doctrine and intimacy, work together as one.

Come Lord Jesus!

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Podcast 244:  How to Experience True Revival

Podcast 244: How to Experience True Revival

We talk much about revival in Christian circles.  In fact, often we schedule an evangelist to come to our church and preach salvation messages for an entire week and call it a “revival.”  But what does revival mean?  What are we trying to experience?  What are we trying to revive?

The Webster definition of revival is:  to restore life or strength, to give new strength or energy.  It also means the growth of something or an increase in the activity of something after a long period of no growth or activity.

So, for the Christian, a revival happens when we have our strength in the Lord restored or have new strength or energy given to us by the Holy Spirit.  Or, it means when we experience an increase in something that we have long let die.  Sound familiar?

Are you in need of revival but don’t know how to go about getting revived?  Then keep listening.

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