Devotionals, Letters

Do We Still Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?

Recently, a friend asked me, “Are we still required to pray for the peace of Jerusalem?” (as Psalm 122:6 says). I stopped to think about that question, and about Zionism in general. Here’s how my thinking went.

When the Old Covenant was in place, it was between one family – the children of Jacob – aka Israel) and God. (In fact, they resisted being called a “nation” until the 20th century.)

When the Old Covenant was in place, that family was the vehicle by which God related to the rest of the world. We’ll overlook the fact that Israel failed miserably in that task: it was their task. (Note that “The Law” was the “terms & conditions” of that Covenant. Note also that Israel failed so completely at that, that God was required by the terms of that covenant [which the people proposed, it was not God’s proposal] that he was required to judge them and punish them for failing to keep their covenant with Him. See http://nwp.link/1Ggenc6.)

And because Israel was the one primary means by which God related to humanity, they were the victim of many attacks, both political and demonic.

In that context, praying for the peace of Jerusalem – Jerusalem being in proxy for the nation/family of Israel – was praying for peace in the conduit between God and man. If Israel was at war, then Israel could not well represent God to the nations.

The Old Covenant is now over. It was “obsolete and growing old [and] ready to disappear,” [Hebrews 8:13] two hundred decades ago. And it was completely obliterated, totally eliminated when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70 (the mortal wound: the destruction of all genealogical records of who’s qualified to be priest or Levite).  

Fortunately, 40 years earlier, the Old Covenant was replaced by a New Covenant. In contrast, the New Covenant is not between God and one family, or between God and one nation, or between God and ANY nation. The New Covenant is between God the Father, and God the Son, and we’re included in the Covenant by being “in Christ,” in the Son.

In the New Covenant, there is only one commandment: John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” That’s it.

Paul, expounding on our covenant, urged Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” This is, in his estimation, part of how we “love one another,” and he’s right.

So the question is: “Is Jerusalem part of “all men”? Are there leaders who qualify as “all those who are in authority”? Do they need prayer? In my perception, the answer is “Yes!” to all three.

So yes, we pray for Jerusalem, for the same reason, and in the same way that we pray for Tehran, or New Orleans, or Milan or Pretoria.

We pray “on behalf of all men,” and we pray “for kings and all those who are in authority.”

But really (and I suspect some people won’t like this), Jerusalem is no more special than your hometown, and Israel is now no more special than Iraq or Dubai. And simultaneously, no less special.



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Prophecy

Do We Still Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?

Recently, a friend asked me, “Are we still required to pray for the peace of Jerusalem?” (as Psalm 122:6 says). I stopped to think about that question, and about Zionism in general. Here’s how my thinking went.
When the Old Covenant was in place, it was between one family – the children of Jacob – aka Israel) and God. (In fact, they resisted being called a “nation” until the 20th century.)
When the Old Covenant was in place, that family was the vehicle by which God related to the rest of the world. We’ll overlook the fact that Israel failed miserably in that task: it was their task. (Note that “The Law” was the “terms & conditions” of that Covenant. Note also that Israel failed so completely at that, that God was required by the terms of that covenant [which the people proposed, it was not God’s proposal] that he was required to judge them and punish them for failing to keep their covenant with Him. See http://nwp.link/1Ggenc6.)
And because Israel was the one primary means by which God related to humanity, they were the victim of many attacks, both political and demonic.
In that context, praying for the peace of Jerusalem – Jerusalem being in proxy for the nation/family of Israel – was praying for peace in the conduit between God and man. If Israel was at war, then Israel could not well represent God to the nations.
The Old Covenant is now over. It was “obsolete and growing old [and] ready to disappear,” [Hebrews 8:13] two hundred decades ago. And it was completely obliterated, totally eliminated when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70 (the mortal wound: the destruction of all genealogical records of who’s qualified to be priest or Levite).  
Fortunately, 40 years earlier, the Old Covenant was replaced by a New Covenant. In contrast, the New Covenant is not between God and one family, or between God and one nation, or between God and ANY nation. The New Covenant is between God the Father, and God the Son, and we’re included in the Covenant by being “in Christ,” in the Son.
In the New Covenant, there is only one commandment: John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” That’s it.
Paul, expounding on our covenant, urged Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” This is, in his estimation, part of how we “love one another,” and he’s right.
So the question is: “Is Jerusalem part of “all men”? Are there leaders who qualify as “all those who are in authority”? Do they need prayer? In my perception, the answer is “Yes!” to all three.
So yes, we pray for Jerusalem, for the same reason, and in the same way that we pray for Tehran, or New Orleans, or Milan or Pretoria.
We pray “on behalf of all men,” and we pray “for kings and all those who are in authority.”
But really (and I suspect some people won’t like this), Jerusalem is no more special than your hometown, and Israel is now no more special than Iraq or Dubai. And simultaneously, no less special.
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Devotionals, Letters

Do We Still Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?

Recently, a friend asked me, “Are we still required to pray for the peace of Jerusalem?” (as Psalm 122:6 says). I stopped to think about that question, and about Zionism in general. Here’s how my thinking went.

When the Old Covenant was in place, it was between one family – the children of Jacob – aka Israel) and God. (In fact, they resisted being called a “nation” until the 20th century.)

When the Old Covenant was in place, that family was the vehicle by which God related to the rest of the world. We’ll overlook the fact that Israel failed miserably in that task: it was their task. (Note that “The Law” was the “terms & conditions” of that Covenant. Note also that Israel failed so completely at that, that God was required by the terms of that covenant [which the people proposed, it was not God’s proposal] that he was required to judge them and punish them for failing to keep their covenant with Him. See http://nwp.link/1Ggenc6.)

And because Israel was the one primary means by which God related to humanity, they were the victim of many attacks, both political and demonic.

In that context, praying for the peace of Jerusalem – Jerusalem being in proxy for the nation/family of Israel – was praying for peace in the conduit between God and man. If Israel was at war, then Israel could not well represent God to the nations.

The Old Covenant is now over. It was “obsolete and growing old [and] ready to disappear,” [Hebrews 8:13] two hundred decades ago. And it was completely obliterated, totally eliminated when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70 (the mortal wound: the destruction of all genealogical records of who’s qualified to be priest or Levite).  

Fortunately, 40 years earlier, the Old Covenant was replaced by a New Covenant. In contrast, the New Covenant is not between God and one family, or between God and one nation, or between God and ANY nation. The New Covenant is between God the Father, and God the Son, and we’re included in the Covenant by being “in Christ,” in the Son.

In the New Covenant, there is only one commandment: John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” That’s it.

Paul, expounding on our covenant, urged Timothy, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” This is, in his estimation, part of how we “love one another,” and he’s right.

So the question is: “Is Jerusalem part of “all men”? Are there leaders who qualify as “all those who are in authority”? Do they need prayer? In my perception, the answer is “Yes!” to all three.

So yes, we pray for Jerusalem, for the same reason, and in the same way that we pray for Tehran, or New Orleans, or Milan or Pretoria.

We pray “on behalf of all men,” and we pray “for kings and all those who are in authority.”

But really (and I suspect some people won’t like this), Jerusalem is no more special than your hometown, and Israel is now no more special than Iraq or Dubai. And simultaneously, no less special.



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Devotionals, Letters

On the Implications of Progressive Revelation

We preach it in church. We teach it in Bible School: God has progressively revealed more of who he is and how he works as history has progressed. King David knew God way better than Noah or Job or Abraham did, even though Abraham was God’s friend. 

In theological terms, “The progressive character of divine revelation is recognized in relation to all the great doctrines of the Bible. What at first is only obscurely intimated is gradually unfolded in subsequent parts of the sacred volume, until the truth is revealed in its fullness.”*

We’ve just forgotten that he’s still doing that, today. Think about it: we have more revelation today than Charles Finney did, or Martin Luther before him, or Augustine before either of them. 

And as heretical as it sounds, we actually have more revelation available to us today than did the Apostle Paul did in his day. And he wrote half the books in the New Testament! (Of course, whether we’re accessing all that is available to us is open to discussion.)

The principle of progressive revelation is not controversial. The application of that principle just might scare us. 

Two specific applications that strike me today: 

* If God is still revealing more of his character and his ways, then we shouldn’t be surprised if people discover things about him that we’ve never been taught in church or in Bible School. It’s stunningly egotistical to think that “I know all that God has revealed about himself in this generation! If someone thinks they know something that God hasn’t shown me, they’re in deception.” This is not clear thinking. 

* Having more revelation than Silas and Timothy the rest of the boys (the ones who didn’t actually hang out with Jesus during those three years), our expectations should be for bigger results, better revelation than what they walked in. Saying, “I wanna be like the early church” is kind of like saying, “I wanna wear diapers and suck on a bottle all my life!” This also is not clear thinking. We are expected to far exceed their exploits.

In addition to the growing revelation that God is pouring out, there’s just the basic principle that God is infinite: infinitely big, infinitely complex, infinitely beautiful, infinitely knowing (aka omniscient). Anybody who thinks their little mind can hold all there is to know about an infinite God (“That can’t be true! I don’t know about that!”) is on an elevator that doesn’t go anywhere near the top floor. 

Be ready, dear ones, to learn things about God that the guys who wrote the textbooks never imagined.

Be ready to let God blow your mind a little bit. 

(He’s not a tame lion.)

-----

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Prophecy

On the Implications of Progressive Revelation

We preach it in church. We teach it in Bible School: God has progressively revealed more of who he is and how he works as history has progressed. King David knew God way better than Noah or Job or Abraham did, even though Abraham was God’s friend. 
In theological terms, “The progressive character of divine revelation is recognized in relation to all the great doctrines of the Bible. What at first is only obscurely intimated is gradually unfolded in subsequent parts of the sacred volume, until the truth is revealed in its fullness.”*
We’ve just forgotten that he’s still doing that, today. Think about it: we have more revelation today than Charles Finney did, or Martin Luther before him, or Augustine before either of them. 
And as heretical as it sounds, we actually have more revelation available to us today than did the Apostle Paul did in his day. And he wrote half the books in the New Testament! (Of course, whether we’re accessing all that is available to us is open to discussion.)
The principle of progressive revelation is not controversial. The application of that principle just might scare us. 
Two specific applications that strike me today: 
* If God is still revealing more of his character and his ways, then we shouldn’t be surprised if people discover things about him that we’ve never been taught in church or in Bible School. It’s stunningly egotistical to think that “I know all that God has revealed about himself in this generation! If someone thinks they know something that God hasn’t shown me, they’re in deception.” This is not clear thinking. 
* Having more revelation than Silas and Timothy the rest of the boys (the ones who didn’t actually hang out with Jesus during those three years), our expectations should be for bigger results, better revelation than what they walked in. Saying, “I wanna be like the early church” is kind of like saying, “I wanna wear diapers and suck on a bottle all my life!” This also is not clear thinking. We are expected to far exceed their exploits.
In addition to the growing revelation that God is pouring out, there’s just the basic principle that God is infinite: infinitely big, infinitely complex, infinitely beautiful, infinitely knowing (aka omniscient). Anybody who thinks their little mind can hold all there is to know about an infinite God (“That can’t be true! I don’t know about that!”) is on an elevator that doesn’t go anywhere near the top floor. 
Be ready, dear ones, to learn things about God that the guys who wrote the textbooks never imagined.
Be ready to let God blow your mind a little bit. 
(He’s not a tame lion.)
—–

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Devotionals, Letters

On the Implications of Progressive Revelation

We preach it in church. We teach it in Bible School: God has progressively revealed more of who he is and how he works as history has progressed. King David knew God way better than Noah or Job or Abraham did, even though Abraham was God’s friend. 

In theological terms, “The progressive character of divine revelation is recognized in relation to all the great doctrines of the Bible. What at first is only obscurely intimated is gradually unfolded in subsequent parts of the sacred volume, until the truth is revealed in its fullness.”*

We’ve just forgotten that he’s still doing that, today. Think about it: we have more revelation today than Charles Finney did, or Martin Luther before him, or Augustine before either of them. 

And as heretical as it sounds, we actually have more revelation available to us today than did the Apostle Paul did in his day. And he wrote half the books in the New Testament! (Of course, whether we’re accessing all that is available to us is open to discussion.)

The principle of progressive revelation is not controversial. The application of that principle just might scare us. 

Two specific applications that strike me today: 

* If God is still revealing more of his character and his ways, then we shouldn’t be surprised if people discover things about him that we’ve never been taught in church or in Bible School. It’s stunningly egotistical to think that “I know all that God has revealed about himself in this generation! If someone thinks they know something that God hasn’t shown me, they’re in deception.” This is not clear thinking. 

* Having more revelation than Silas and Timothy the rest of the boys (the ones who didn’t actually hang out with Jesus during those three years), our expectations should be for bigger results, better revelation than what they walked in. Saying, “I wanna be like the early church” is kind of like saying, “I wanna wear diapers and suck on a bottle all my life!” This also is not clear thinking. We are expected to far exceed their exploits.

In addition to the growing revelation that God is pouring out, there’s just the basic principle that God is infinite: infinitely big, infinitely complex, infinitely beautiful, infinitely knowing (aka omniscient). Anybody who thinks their little mind can hold all there is to know about an infinite God (“That can’t be true! I don’t know about that!”) is on an elevator that doesn’t go anywhere near the top floor. 

Be ready, dear ones, to learn things about God that the guys who wrote the textbooks never imagined.

Be ready to let God blow your mind a little bit. 

(He’s not a tame lion.)

-----

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Devotionals, Letters

I Don’t See It That Way

We confuse two very different thoughts, and I wonder if maybe we do this fairly often:

We begin with "I don't see it that way," and that's well and good. It might be “I don’t see why that baker wouldn’t bake the gay couple a cake,” or "I don't understand why a gay couple would come to a Christian bakery for a cake," or even, “I don’t see why Christians would want to drink alcohol.” It's good to be able to see things differently than others; that’s a sign of health, of our ability to think for ourselves and not just rely on the opinions of others around us.

But it’s easy to take that one step too far, to impose the way we see it on others, and we expect them to see the situation the way we do. This very seldom reaches the point of words, but it works out like this: "I don't see it that way, so they shouldn't either." or something along these lines. Fundamentally, it’s about “They need to think like me!”


I’ll be honest, I don't see how baking a cake or not baking a cake speaks of Christ. Either one sounds to me more like it speaks of flour and frosting. But those bakers don’t have the benefit of my perspective. They are working with their own conscience. And I applaud them for doing that; it happens so seldom these days.

This issue of “You should think like I think” is pretty rampant in our culture. Regarding the story where a Christian baker declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, the intolerance of certain members of the homosexual community were identified (by a lesbian) as “the Gay Gestapo.” But it happens in other realms as well. There’s an “Abortion Gestapo,” an “Evangelical Gestapo” and many others.

I’ve seen the cry, “You need to think like me!” in both sides of the homosexual movement, both sides of the abortion conversation, both sides of several race conversations. I’ve even heard evangelistic sermons based on this way of thinking.

Note that this doesn’t apply to every conversation in these areas. There’s a world of difference between “Abortion is murder, and I’m going to stand against murder,” and “This is the way I oppose abortion, and you should do it this way, too!”

I get it when the unredeemed think and act in unredeemed ways, like this. I don’t understand when Christians, particularly Christian leaders (who are supposed to be mature) tell each other, “This is the way I see it. You should agree with me!”

Fundamentally, this is an argument about which side is the right side on this issue. And fundamentally, Christians aren’t called to take sides, especially not political sides. We’re called to love people. We’re called to heal the sick and raise the dead, whether literally or metaphorically.

It’s particularly frustrating when Christian leaders declare “If you see it differently than I do, then you’re guilty of breaking the unity of the saints!” Not so. Unity doesn’t come from agreeing on doctrine (it’s about being part of the same family, but that’s another conversation).

But it’s just plain foolish when Christians expect non-Christians to think Christianly. (That’s called “hypocrisy,” people. We don’t like hypocrisy.) At no point does the Bible command us to make non-believers act as if they were religious. Let’s get over that right away, shall we? 
Instead of looking for the “the right side of the issue,” I’m going to recommend that when we find ourselves saying, “I don’t see it that way,” to follow that up with “…but you do, and I respect your thinking for yourselves. Look for a way to love those who don’t agree with you. (I think you’ll find that love converts more people than arguments, any day of the week!)

Or we could push for extra credit, and try to see it their way, try to understand why they see it that way, even if only for a moment. Seeing like they see is one way of loving them.



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Prophecy

I Don’t See It That Way

We confuse two very different thoughts, and I wonder if maybe we do this fairly often:
We begin with “I don’t see it that way,” and that’s well and good. It might be “I don’t see why that baker wouldn’t bake the gay couple a cake,” or “I don’t understand why a gay couple would come to a Christian bakery for a cake,” or even, “I don’t see why Christians would want to drink alcohol.” It’s good to be able to see things differently than others; that’s a sign of health, of our ability to think for ourselves and not just rely on the opinions of others around us.
But it’s easy to take that one step too far, to impose the way we see it on others, and we expect them to see the situation the way we do. This very seldom reaches the point of words, but it works out like this: “I don’t see it that way, so they shouldn’t either.” or something along these lines. Fundamentally, it’s about “They need to think like me!”

I’ll be honest, I don’t see how baking a cake or not baking a cake speaks of Christ. Either one sounds to me more like it speaks of flour and frosting. But those bakers don’t have the benefit of my perspective. They are working with their own conscience. And I applaud them for doing that; it happens so seldom these days.
This issue of “You should think like I think” is pretty rampant in our culture. Regarding the story where a Christian baker declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, the intolerance of certain members of the homosexual community were identified (by a lesbian) as “the Gay Gestapo.” But it happens in other realms as well. There’s an “Abortion Gestapo,” an “Evangelical Gestapo” and many others.
I’ve seen the cry, “You need to think like me!” in both sides of the homosexual movement, both sides of the abortion conversation, both sides of several race conversations. I’ve even heard evangelistic sermons based on this way of thinking.
Note that this doesn’t apply to every conversation in these areas. There’s a world of difference between “Abortion is murder, and I’m going to stand against murder,” and “This is the way I oppose abortion, and you should do it this way, too!”
I get it when the unredeemed think and act in unredeemed ways, like this. I don’t understand when Christians, particularly Christian leaders (who are supposed to be mature) tell each other, “This is the way I see it. You should agree with me!”
Fundamentally, this is an argument about which side is the right side on this issue. And fundamentally, Christians aren’t called to take sides, especially not political sides. We’re called to love people. We’re called to heal the sick and raise the dead, whether literally or metaphorically.
It’s particularly frustrating when Christian leaders declare “If you see it differently than I do, then you’re guilty of breaking the unity of the saints!” Not so. Unity doesn’t come from agreeing on doctrine (it’s about being part of the same family, but that’s another conversation).
But it’s just plain foolish when Christians expect non-Christians to think Christianly. (That’s called “hypocrisy,” people. We don’t like hypocrisy.) At no point does the Bible command us to make non-believers act as if they were religious. Let’s get over that right away, shall we? 
Instead of looking for the “the right side of the issue,” I’m going to recommend that when we find ourselves saying, “I don’t see it that way,” to follow that up with “…but you do, and I respect your thinking for yourselves. Look for a way to love those who don’t agree with you. (I think you’ll find that love converts more people than arguments, any day of the week!)
Or we could push for extra credit, and try to see it their way, try to understand why they see it that way, even if only for a moment. Seeing like they see is one way of loving them.

Standard
Devotionals, Letters

I Don’t See It That Way

We confuse two very different thoughts, and I wonder if maybe we do this fairly often:

We begin with "I don't see it that way," and that's well and good. It might be “I don’t see why that baker wouldn’t bake the gay couple a cake,” or "I don't understand why a gay couple would come to a Christian bakery for a cake," or even, “I don’t see why Christians would want to drink alcohol.” It's good to be able to see things differently than others; that’s a sign of health, of our ability to think for ourselves and not just rely on the opinions of others around us.

But it’s easy to take that one step too far, to impose the way we see it on others, and we expect them to see the situation the way we do. This very seldom reaches the point of words, but it works out like this: "I don't see it that way, so they shouldn't either." or something along these lines. Fundamentally, it’s about “They need to think like me!”


I’ll be honest, I don't see how baking a cake or not baking a cake speaks of Christ. Either one sounds to me more like it speaks of flour and frosting. But those bakers don’t have the benefit of my perspective. They are working with their own conscience. And I applaud them for doing that; it happens so seldom these days.

This issue of “You should think like I think” is pretty rampant in our culture. Regarding the story where a Christian baker declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, the intolerance of certain members of the homosexual community were identified (by a lesbian) as “the Gay Gestapo.” But it happens in other realms as well. There’s an “Abortion Gestapo,” an “Evangelical Gestapo” and many others.

I’ve seen the cry, “You need to think like me!” in both sides of the homosexual movement, both sides of the abortion conversation, both sides of several race conversations. I’ve even heard evangelistic sermons based on this way of thinking.

Note that this doesn’t apply to every conversation in these areas. There’s a world of difference between “Abortion is murder, and I’m going to stand against murder,” and “This is the way I oppose abortion, and you should do it this way, too!”

I get it when the unredeemed think and act in unredeemed ways, like this. I don’t understand when Christians, particularly Christian leaders (who are supposed to be mature) tell each other, “This is the way I see it. You should agree with me!”

Fundamentally, this is an argument about which side is the right side on this issue. And fundamentally, Christians aren’t called to take sides, especially not political sides. We’re called to love people. We’re called to heal the sick and raise the dead, whether literally or metaphorically.

It’s particularly frustrating when Christian leaders declare “If you see it differently than I do, then you’re guilty of breaking the unity of the saints!” Not so. Unity doesn’t come from agreeing on doctrine (it’s about being part of the same family, but that’s another conversation).

But it’s just plain foolish when Christians expect non-Christians to think Christianly. (That’s called “hypocrisy,” people. We don’t like hypocrisy.) At no point does the Bible command us to make non-believers act as if they were religious. Let’s get over that right away, shall we? 
Instead of looking for the “the right side of the issue,” I’m going to recommend that when we find ourselves saying, “I don’t see it that way,” to follow that up with “…but you do, and I respect your thinking for yourselves. Look for a way to love those who don’t agree with you. (I think you’ll find that love converts more people than arguments, any day of the week!)

Or we could push for extra credit, and try to see it their way, try to understand why they see it that way, even if only for a moment. Seeing like they see is one way of loving them.



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Prophecy

With Every Increase of Freedom…

This is quite a season we’re in with God. We’re seeing new freedom, new understanding of his ways, new revelation. The kingdom is making pretty significant advances right now.

And like every other time that we experience new freedom in Christ, there’s also a fresh resurgence of legalism trying to take away our freedom. I can’t remember ever seeing so many people pushing an agenda of “Return to the Law.”

You may have run into people online who warn you about “going too far” in experiencing the infinite grace of God. Some are concerned about holiness and believe that holiness is the result of their good works. Others appear to have invested so much of themselves in making themselves acceptable that they resent those who are made acceptable without the same effort.

I’m finding more books than ever, arguing for a return to an obedience-based covenant, some emphasizing dietary laws, others emphasizing whom you may associate with, others focusing on Sabbath law, or using Hebrew names for God, or celebrating Jewish holidays instead of the “pagan” holidays of whichever culture you live among.

It is EXACTLY this environment into which Paul writes Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This is also the context in which Paul writes, “… some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.” (Galatians 2:4)

The apostle Paul was in the midst of the first great outpouring of the Spirit of God, the very first expansion of the Kingdom of God, and then, like now, there was a great surge towards returning to legalism, whether by circumcision, or by obeying Old Covenant rules about food or fellowship. The “Judaizers” who are promoting this legalism often call it a “restoration,” but the Bible calls it a “Yoke of Slavery.”

This is also the context into which Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

This is a normal response of hell (often through people who don’t have freedom) whenever God’s people are moving in freedom: try to drag those who are escaping slavery back into slavery; if they can’t do that, then they’ll persecute the free ones and say all kinds of evil against them. Rejoice when that happens to you.

My encouragement is NOT to focus our attention on the people or the influences trying to drag us back into slavery. That’s an unworthy focus for our attention. Rather, be aware that some want to draw you back into their “yoke of slavery;” avoid them, as you avoid potholes in the road, while we “[fix] our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

As you follow Him (who IS worthy of our attention!), He’ll lead you “along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3) Trust the freedom that he’s leading you into; it really is for freedom that he has set us free!

Let us “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

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Devotionals, Letters

With Every Increase of Freedom…

This is quite a season we’re in with God. We’re seeing new freedom, new understanding of his ways, new revelation. The kingdom is making pretty significant advances right now.

And like every other time that we experience new freedom in Christ, there’s also a fresh resurgence of legalism trying to take away our freedom. I can’t remember ever seeing so many people pushing an agenda of “Return to the Law.”

You may have run into people online who warn you about “going too far” in experiencing the infinite grace of God. Some are concerned about holiness and believe that holiness is the result of their good works. Others appear to have invested so much of themselves in making themselves acceptable that they resent those who are made acceptable without the same effort.

I’m finding more books than ever, arguing for a return to an obedience-based covenant, some emphasizing dietary laws, others emphasizing whom you may associate with, others focusing on Sabbath law, or using Hebrew names for God, or celebrating Jewish holidays instead of the “pagan” holidays of whichever culture you live among.

It is EXACTLY this environment into which Paul writes Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This is also the context in which Paul writes, “... some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.” (Galatians 2:4)

The apostle Paul was in the midst of the first great outpouring of the Spirit of God, the very first expansion of the Kingdom of God, and then, like now, there was a great surge towards returning to legalism, whether by circumcision, or by obeying Old Covenant rules about food or fellowship. The “Judaizers” who are promoting this legalism often call it a “restoration,” but the Bible calls it a “Yoke of Slavery.”

This is also the context into which Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

This is a normal response of hell (often through people who don’t have freedom) whenever God’s people are moving in freedom: try to drag those who are escaping slavery back into slavery; if they can’t do that, then they’ll persecute the free ones and say all kinds of evil against them. Rejoice when that happens to you.

My encouragement is NOT to focus our attention on the people or the influences trying to drag us back into slavery. That’s an unworthy focus for our attention. Rather, be aware that some want to draw you back into their “yoke of slavery;” avoid them, as you avoid potholes in the road, while we “[fix] our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

As you follow Him (who IS worthy of our attention!), He’ll lead you “along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3) Trust the freedom that he’s leading you into; it really is for freedom that he has set us free!

Let us “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

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Devotionals, Letters

With Every Increase of Freedom…

This is quite a season we’re in with God. We’re seeing new freedom, new understanding of his ways, new revelation. The kingdom is making pretty significant advances right now.

And like every other time that we experience new freedom in Christ, there’s also a fresh resurgence of legalism trying to take away our freedom. I can’t remember ever seeing so many people pushing an agenda of “Return to the Law.”

You may have run into people online who warn you about “going too far” in experiencing the infinite grace of God. Some are concerned about holiness and believe that holiness is the result of their good works. Others appear to have invested so much of themselves in making themselves acceptable that they resent those who are made acceptable without the same effort.

I’m finding more books than ever, arguing for a return to an obedience-based covenant, some emphasizing dietary laws, others emphasizing whom you may associate with, others focusing on Sabbath law, or using Hebrew names for God, or celebrating Jewish holidays instead of the “pagan” holidays of whichever culture you live among.

It is EXACTLY this environment into which Paul writes Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This is also the context in which Paul writes, “... some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.” (Galatians 2:4)

The apostle Paul was in the midst of the first great outpouring of the Spirit of God, the very first expansion of the Kingdom of God, and then, like now, there was a great surge towards returning to legalism, whether by circumcision, or by obeying Old Covenant rules about food or fellowship. The “Judaizers” who are promoting this legalism often call it a “restoration,” but the Bible calls it a “Yoke of Slavery.”

This is also the context into which Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

This is a normal response of hell (often through people who don’t have freedom) whenever God’s people are moving in freedom: try to drag those who are escaping slavery back into slavery; if they can’t do that, then they’ll persecute the free ones and say all kinds of evil against them. Rejoice when that happens to you.

My encouragement is NOT to focus our attention on the people or the influences trying to drag us back into slavery. That’s an unworthy focus for our attention. Rather, be aware that some want to draw you back into their “yoke of slavery;” avoid them, as you avoid potholes in the road, while we “[fix] our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

As you follow Him (who IS worthy of our attention!), He’ll lead you “along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3) Trust the freedom that he’s leading you into; it really is for freedom that he has set us free!

Let us “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

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Prophecy

Insight About Heaven’s Resources

Maybe you’ve had this experience. You’re praying, usually praying protection, for someone – perhaps ourselves, more often we’re praying for someone else. And then it happens: you see or feel the angels that are guarding them. 
Those angels are never wimpy little things, are they? No, the wimpy little things are the demons opposing you, or at least most of those demons are wimpy and little; a few are more capable and are worth another glance before banishing them.
I remember praying for a friend who was facing some legitimately frightening circumstances. We slapped hands on him and began to pray for God’s protection for our friend, Greg. 
As we prayed, it seemed as if Father was chuckling quietly. “Protection?” he murmured, as he opened the veil between realms so we could see the protection that was already in place. Our eyes were drawn up, and up, and up.
Greg is not a small man, but as we beheld the angel that protected him, suddenly Greg appeared minuscule. Standing tall, he didn’t reach beyond the calves of the angel who guarded him. Greg was already very well protected, indeed.
Since that day, I’ve “seen” the guardians of many, many people, and not a one of them is a wimp. And that’s consistent with the nature of the One who assigns these spirit-beings to protect us: He does not do things halfway. If He’s going to send an angel to guard his children, it’ll be a formidable protection!
That’s where I’ve been for years: thankful for these mighty defenders. But the other night, it changed.
In my dreams that night, I was facing a formidable assignment, something I needed to do, that I had no idea how I could ever accomplish that: it was way beyond my abilities, beyond my realm of influence, beyond my… and suddenly Father interrupted.
“I’ve given you a powerful advocate.” He said. “This task is not beyond his resources.” The invitation was clear, but that was the moment that I woke up, with those words ringing in my spirit: “I’ve given you a powerful advocate. This task is not beyond his resources,” and the sense that I needed to share this exhortation with the saints.
God has given you a powerful advocate. Don’t shy away from the dreams He’s given you, just because they’re beyond your own skills and abilities. Heaven’s resources are with you. You’ve seen them act for your protection. Now, don’t get all cocky about it, of course, but they’re working with you for your success, every bit as much as for your protection. This is no longer beyond you. 
Let’s take up the assignment, the dreams he’s laid before us, shall we? For we do not work alone.
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Devotionals, Letters

Insight About Heaven’s Resources

Maybe you’ve had this experience. You’re praying, usually praying protection, for someone – perhaps ourselves, more often we’re praying for someone else. And then it happens: you see or feel the angels that are guarding them. 

Those angels are never wimpy little things, are they? No, the wimpy little things are the demons opposing you, or at least most of those demons are wimpy and little; a few are more capable and are worth another glance before banishing them.

I remember praying for a friend who was facing some legitimately frightening circumstances. We slapped hands on him and began to pray for God’s protection for our friend, Greg. 

As we prayed, it seemed as if Father was chuckling quietly. “Protection?” he murmured, as he opened the veil between realms so we could see the protection that was already in place. Our eyes were drawn up, and up, and up.

Greg is not a small man, but as we beheld the angel that protected him, suddenly Greg appeared minuscule. Standing tall, he didn’t reach beyond the calves of the angel who guarded him. Greg was already very well protected, indeed.

Since that day, I’ve “seen” the guardians of many, many people, and not a one of them is a wimp. And that’s consistent with the nature of the One who assigns these spirit-beings to protect us: He does not do things halfway. If He’s going to send an angel to guard his children, it’ll be a formidable protection!

That’s where I’ve been for years: thankful for these mighty defenders. But the other night, it changed.

In my dreams that night, I was facing a formidable assignment, something I needed to do, that I had no idea how I could ever accomplish that: it was way beyond my abilities, beyond my realm of influence, beyond my… and suddenly Father interrupted.

“I’ve given you a powerful advocate.” He said. “This task is not beyond his resources.” The invitation was clear, but that was the moment that I woke up, with those words ringing in my spirit: “I’ve given you a powerful advocate. This task is not beyond his resources,” and the sense that I needed to share this exhortation with the saints.

God has given you a powerful advocate. Don’t shy away from the dreams He’s given you, just because they’re beyond your own skills and abilities. Heaven’s resources are with you. You’ve seen them act for your protection. Now, don’t get all cocky about it, of course, but they’re working with you for your success, every bit as much as for your protection. This is no longer beyond you. 

Let’s take up the assignment, the dreams he’s laid before us, shall we? For we do not work alone.
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