Sunday, 24 May 2020

Don't Give Up

The Biblical word for ‘calling’ (the Greek word ‘Kaleo’) literally means an invitation. Jesus speaks to us primarily through the Word (As He is the Word (John 1:1)), delivering an invitation to join Him in the harvest. He will invite us into a specific harvest activity that requires a specific gifting that we are being equipped with.

He invites us into His plans by giving us words, concepts, directions and messages. All this requires is faith. As Romans 10:17 says, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  We receive faith by ‘hearing’ His Word with our spiritual ears. We are to hear His personal words to us. In this verse the Greek word used for ‘word’ is ‘rhema’. It’s interesting that this word is used rather than the usual ‘logos’. ‘Rhema’ is the revealed spoken, personal word of God to us that is living and life giving, whereas ‘logos’ is the general written Word of God.

So, true faith, to do His good works that are prepared for us, only comes by hearing the ‘rhema’, revealed personal word of God to us, which often comes as we read the ‘logos’ , the written word of God. Unless we are taught how to hear this, we will be like Samuel who at first, as a boy, was unable to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of man (read 1 Samuel 3:1-10).
Eli was the priest of God but had failed in his duty to teach Samuel how to hear God’s voice, as he himself was unable to do so. In fact, it says in verse 1 ‘the word of God was rare in those days.’ Why was this so? Because ‘there was no widespread revelation. 

They had lost God’s big vision for them and even the lamp in the tabernacle was going out as a reflection of the spiritual state of God’s people. Eli’s physical eyes were dim (verse 2), also reflecting the condition of His spiritual eyes.  God called Samuel four times before he realized it was God calling! 

As a church, we need to learn afresh how to hear the ‘rhema’ call of God after our spiritual vision has been restored, like Samuel did and he received a specific call that his whole life was founded on – to be a prophetic voice in Israel and raise up God’s leaders. Like Samuel let us say “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:9)

There is a story of a man who was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly he heard a voice that trembled like the thunder. It was God’s voice and He told the man he had work for him to do and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. God explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. At first the man thought it was not really God and did not respond until the fourth time when He finally rose to do the Lord’s bidding day by day.
For many years he toiled from sunrise to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore, and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's weary mind: "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it." Thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure, these thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. "Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort and that will be good enough."

And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to God. "God," he said, "I have laboured long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"

God responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me, with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed.”
“But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back is sinewy and brown, your hands are calloused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have.”
“Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock."

 When He moved the rock, the man saw a chest full of shining treasure and God said; ‘Now go and use this treasure to bless those whom I lead you to.’ The man realized that he would not have been able to carry the heavy treasure before he responded to God’s call, but now his muscles had been developed he was well able to carry this chest.
At times when we read the Scriptures and hear the Lord speak to us, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him.
By all means exercise the faith that Moves Mountains, but it is still God who actually moves the mountains and reveals our true calling, providing the resources to fulfill it.

Consider Isaiah 11:2-4 which says, “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.”
This is talking about Jesus, but because we are to be 'in Christ' we too are to display the same characteristics. We are not to ‘judge by the sight of’ our eyes or ‘decide by the hearing of’ our ears. This means that we do not depend on physical sight or hearing but on our spiritual senses. It is the anointing of the Spirit that enables us to see and hear spiritually and therefore rule and reign in our calling on this earth, for it is “not my might, nor by power but buy my Spirit says the Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

During this time, as Paul says in Galatians 6:9, “let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”. As we consistently read His Word, we will be sensitized to hear His voice and, often in the reading, God will speak specifically to us as to what we should do. Do it with all that’s in you. Don’t give up.

In 1986 on my 21st birthday in the Sahara desert God spoke to me through Genesis 12:1-3 that, just as Abraham was to leave his family and homeland and go to a place He would show him, I was to do the same. That brought me to Singapore in 1988 and I am still here to this day doing what God has called me to do. But, like the man in this story, there was a season I grew weary of doing the same things day in day out with no seeming change, even though I knew it was within God’s will. Many times, I felt like giving up.

However, in 2016 as I took it into deep prayer at the prayer altar, the Lord removed that rock and showed me the treasure to distribute to the nations. Because of all the previous year’s pushing the rock I was ready and prepared for this mandate and since then, particularly after writing the book “Building Prayer Altars”, my ministry has gone to the next level.

This can be true for you too! One word from God can change your life forever! You will not have the same calling as me but one that is unique to you. Soak in His Word and hear His call by faith. Then sow your life in obedience, not giving up, for he will come to remove the rock and reveal His treasure for you to give out to the multitudes. Don’t give up! Give it all up to Him!

(Taken from Chapter 6 of Picture Perfect (Part one of Big Picture series) by Tim Gibson).

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Keep the Fire Burning

“The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” Leviticus 6:12-13

The fire on our Prayer Altar must never go out. These verses repeat this refrain twice such is the imperative of this action. The fire must be kept burning…it must not go out. As Melchizedekian priests we are to make sure the fire on the altar of our hearts is burning bright!

Every morning (the Hebrew word used is ”boqer” meaning dawn) as we set aside our time with the Lord to build our Prayer Altar, we are to add three things: firewood, the burnt offering and our fellowship offering.

Firstly, the Firewood –Without the wood there is no fire to burn the sacrifices. The wood on the altar points to the Cross. Isaac’s wood that he carried up Moriah (Genesis 22:6) is a type of the Cross just as Isaac is a type of Christ being offered up by the heavenly father. The cross speaks of denial of self. It is not self-denial where self is still on the throne and we give up things for own glory. It is putting our self to death on the Cross and allowing the resurrected Christ to live through us.

As Jesus says in Luke 9:23, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Daily coming to the Prayer Altar is part of this taking up of the Cross. It is laying aside our fleshly screams for comfort and instead sacrificing time and effort in reading big chunks of His Word and pressing in to seek His face, pouring out our life in intercession for others. As we do these things, we keep the fire burning on the Altar of our Hearts.

Secondly, the Burnt Offering – The Burnt Offering was an offering of all the animal. The Hebrew word for this offering is “Olah” meaning an ascending stair, a going upwards as all the offering was to be burnt and the smoke ascend to heaven. It was giving an offering to be totally consumed on the altar.
The Burnt Offering focused on the satisfaction of God’s righteousness because of the sacrificial death of the animal offered and had to be the best quality animal. This was fulfilled in the total offering of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Now we offer a Burnt Offering when we offer our lives fully to God through what Christ has done as we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is what Romans 12:1-2 is talking about:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

For us, becoming a burnt offering means we must daily offer our bodies for His glory, so we live holy and acceptable lives for Him. That is walking in purity in our bodies as they are Temples of the Holy Spirit.

It was to be in proper arrangement and order. The Hebrew word used here is “arak” meaning to set in a row or arranging in proper order. According to Romans 12:1-2 that proper order is that we must offer our bodies to Him because of His mercies and not to earn His mercy. Then we must be transformed by renewing our mind and not being conformed to this world.

As we walk in greater holiness and transformation of the mind, we are stirring up the fires on the Altar of our heart.

Thirdly and lastly, the Fellowship Offering – This is also called the Peace Offering (“selem” in the Hebrew) as it is an offering to celebrate the peace we have with God and with others. Christ is the fulfilment of the Peace Offering. Through Christ’s death we have peace and fellowship with God and peace and fellowship with man (Ephesians 2:13-18).

Today this offering speaks of our sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise as we see in Hebrews 13:15:

” Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

In this offering the fat (that is the richest and best part) was offered to Lord, and the meat would be eaten by the priest (Leviticus 7:31-33). In fact, it is the only offering where the person offering gets something back (that is the meat). The emphasis here is on the benefits to the person offering.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the offering of the fatted calf was a peace offering where the father was thankful to God for the return of His son and the peace and reconciliation that had happened between them. They would have celebrated by eating the meat of the sacrifice in a celebratory meal.

As we offer up regularly our best praise and thanksgiving to God we are feasting in His presence and being built up and sustained in Him and the fire on the Altar of our heart burns brighter. Also, as we make peace with others through the day, we are stoking the fires of revival in our heart with this offering.

If we put all this together we can say that we keep the fire burning on the Altar of our hearts by daily taking up our cross in sacrificial reading of His Word, living in praise and thanksgiving with hungry and desperate prayer and intercession, walking in cleansing and holiness and reconciling with others.

Let us go and keep the fire burning. Amen.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Revelation From God

Revelation from God
In this time of Waiting for Him the Lord wants us to Rest in Him and be Restored by Him so we can receive Revelation from Him. I have looked at how we can enter the first two, rest and restoration, so that we can receive revelation. Without the first two we will find that God’s revelation will not come strongly to us at all.

In Hebrew, the most used word meaning “revelation” is “hazon”. The best meaning of this is “spiritual sight”. The first mention of this is the Old Testament is 1 Samuel 3:1:

“Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.”

The Hebrew word for “widespread” here is “paras” meaning “break out”. There was no breakout of spiritual sight in the time of the priest Eli as he and the people were far from God. Even the light in the tabernacle was going out as Eli was not functioning properly as a priest. Only as Samuel rose into his prophetic mantle did the spirit of revelation return in the land.

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.” This shows us that revelation was related to hearing and obeying the voice of God, particularly from His Word.

In the New Testament the main Greek word for “revelation” is “apokalayis” meaning “a revealing or unveiling”. This has its fulfilment in the ultimate revealing of Jesus at His second coming (1 Corinthians 1:7 also 1 Peter 1:7,13).

But how does this revelation come to us now? The New Testament reveals that revelation comes to us:

Firstly, From Jesus.
The first mention of “apokalaysis” is in Luke 2:32:
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

Simeon is prophesying over the baby Jesus that He would bring revelation to the gentiles. True spiritual sight and unveiling of the truth only comes through the person of Jesus.

The more we know Jesus the more spiritual revelation we will receive.
Ephesians 1:17 says “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.”

Revelation comes through our knowledge of Him. The biblical term “knowledge” always means more than simply head knowledge. It means an intimate relationship – knowing Him not knowing about Him. This comes through resting in Him and being restored by Him in times of worship and prayer.

Secondly, Through His Word.
We also know Him and have revelation through reading the Word of God in faith.

In Romans 16:25-26 The Apostle Paul writes,  “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.”

The Scriptures are prophetic in that they reveal the coming of the Messiah, both His first and second coming. It was as Jesus expounded the Scriptures concerning Himself to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus that their hearts burned in them and in the breaking of bread (a time of intimacy and fellowship with Him) He was revealed to them.

Through soaking daily in His word by reading big chunks of the Bible and then going into times of worship, prayer, and meditation we will receive His revelation.

Thirdly, To our Lips and Feet.
This revelation is not passive! It is to lead us to speak His words and do His works!

Paul says in Galatians 2:2, “And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.”

The Apostle Paul had received the Gospel out of times of fellowship with Jesus, based on His revelation from the Word (the Old Testament Scriptures in his case) and he went forth with acts of revelation to speak forth this Good News wherever he went.

During this time of CB (Circuit Breaker as the Singapore Government has termed it) God is revealing to us His CB – His Culture of Blessing. This comes from the Word, primarily as a revelation of Jesus who blesses us to be a blessing. We need to soak in His word and presence daily to receive revelation of words and works God has prepare for us to speak and do now and after the Circuit Breaker is lifted.

I have found myself busier during this time as the Lord has been revealing more things to me. I have been learning to not rest from work but rest in work and flow in His revelation rather than flow in my own thinking.
Revelation is from Jesus, through His word and then to our lips and feet as we speak and move in Him. This comes out of true rest and restoration in His presence.

I pray, as Paul did in  Ephesians 1:17-23 “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  Amen

Sunday, 3 May 2020

He Restores My Soul

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

To restore something means to bring it back to its right or original condition. You restore a piece of furniture. You restore a classic car. You restore an old house. But how in the world do you restore sheep? How does God restore us as the sheep of His pasture?
Ezekiel 34 shows how Israel’s political and religious shepherds had failed in restoring the people:

 “The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken”. Ezekiel 34:4a

God is a good shepherd, and, unlike these spiritual leaders, He restores us from every condition mentioned here.

Three kinds of sheep are alluded to in this verse that have conditions God wants to heal and restore each one of us from, especially in this time of lockdown.

The first kind of sheep mentioned, the weak, are termed as “Cast Sheep” in Shepherd’s language

1. Cast sheep – A sheep that is flat on the back, weak and helpless.

A “cast sheep” is when a sheep gets stuck on its back and becomes weak, helpless and vulnerable to attack. This is alluded to in Psalm 42  where the Psalmist says, “Why so cast down O my soul”. Usually this is due to the sheep being too fat and lying in a comfortable depression in the ground. As it rolls to the side to relax it loses its centre of gravity and tips onto its back and gets stuck on its back with its legs flailing around. In this state it panics and desperately bleats for help. Left too long like this the gases build up in its stomach, cut off the blood circulation to its extremities and it can die within a few hours, especially in hot weather.

Phillip Keller says in his book “A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23”, “When the shepherd finds a cast sheep, he immediately starts a process to restore the sheep to an upright position. First, the shepherd gently rolls the sheep onto its side. After giving the sheep time to adjust to being back on its side, the shepherd lifts it into a standing position, all the while evaluating its stability. If the sheep has been down for a long time and is wobbly, the shepherd will straddle the sheep while he rubs its legs to get the circulation going. Not until the sheep’s equilibrium has fully returned will the shepherd send it back to join the rest of the flock”.

When God finds us flat on our backs and crying out to Him, usually due to remaining in our comfort zones and becoming spiritually lethargic and fat , He reaches out to lift us up, putting us back on our feet, getting the circulation flowing again, and bringing us back to the protection of His rod and the direction of His staff.

During this time, we need to cry out for His restoring presence so He can put us back on our feet. We do this by setting aside time to praise and worship Him and bathe in His presence.

The second kind of sheep mentioned are the sick.

2. Sick sheep – A sick sheep, usually due to various infestations.

The most common sicknesses in sheep are from infestations of flies, parasites or worms. The Bible shares with us that God anointed his people with oil just as the shepherds anointed the heads of their sheep with oil (Psalm 23:5). This was not just a symbolic ritual. Sheep are easy targets for flies, lice and ticks. A sheep that was not covered in oil on his head could easily become the victim of infestations of these pests. Bugs would crawl through the ear canal of the unoiled sheep and nest in its brain, eating away at it. The pain from the bugs would be so severe for the sheep that it would bang his skull on rocks and against trees to ease his suffering.

Parasites and worms can enter sheep as they eat contaminated grass causing worms and parasites to enter their stomachs, causing great discomfort. In such cases medicine is needed in the form of medicinal plants. For example, Mulberry leaves and fruit are a good treatment for worms.

One name for the Devil is Beelzebub meaning “Lord of the flies”. Our enemy sends out lies into our heart that can enter in our ears by hearing negative words. These lies cause spiritual sicknesses that poison our relationships with God and others. To prevent such lies we need the medicine of His Word and the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. His Word and Spirit bring us a merry heart that is like medicine (Proverbs 17:22) to drive away the effects of all demonic parasites in our life!

During this time, we need to allow Him to apply His Word and Spirit’s anointing upon our hearts to bring restoration. We do this by soaking in His Word and waiting for fresh infillings of His Spirit.

The third kind of sheep mentioned are the injured.

3. Injured sheep – A wounded sheep due to an accident or attack.

In Bible times sheep could be attacked by lions and other wild animals and the Shepherd would fight them off with his rod. Sometimes the sheep would be injured by such attacks or even by freak accidents where the sheep makes clumsy decisions causing it to fall on sharp rocks or hard surfaces. If this was the case, then the shepherds would use cloth soaked in balm to ease the pain and bind up the wound.

We too can suffer spiritual attacks from the ‘roaring lion’ (1 Peter 5:8) and even hurt ourselves due to our own wrong decisions.

The remedy in such cases is to allow Him to bind up our wounds with the balm of His precious blood and the cloth of His robes of righteousness. During this time, we need to apply His blood by repenting of all sin and forgiving those who have hurt us and putting on the new man which is His righteousness.

During this lockdown the Lord wants to lead us into His rest (into green pastures, besides still waters) so He can restore our souls so we can be led into paths of righteousness.  If You are a “Cast Sheep” let His restoring presence put you back on your feet. If you are a sick sheep let His Word and Spirit protect and heal you. If you are an injured sheep let His blood and righteousness cover You and put you back together again!

Rightly Using the Gifts

  Now that we have looked at all nine manifestation gifts I would like to talk about the correct use of these gifts, especially the spoken g...