A BELIEVING PROBLEM

John 5:46-47 – “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?

Israel had a believing problem. As a people, their problem of believing was ingrained in the core of their being. Throughout their history, unbelief was at the forefront of the nation’s problems. The unbelief of their leaders kept them out of the Promised Land for a generation. They spent forty years wandering in the desert. Part of Jehovah’s purpose was that they might learn to believe and trust Him as their King.

Throughout Israel’s history, they rejected the words of the prophets. They not only rejected their words, they killed many of the prophets. Jesus charged His generation, “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation’” (Luke 11:47-50).

It is very important to understand all that took place in the generation in which Jesus was born. Truly, it was “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). The Lord brought everything to a head in one generation. Even though the covenant people had done despicable things throughout their history, God had been merciful to them. Now, in a final attempt, He reaches out by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh in order to redeem those under the law. He first sent John the Baptist to witness of His coming Lamb who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Jesus came in the power of the Spirit. He healed, He delivered from demonic powers, He fed them, and He taught them, but still they did not believe. Their leaders were determined to kill Jesus, the Christ.

In one final attempt to draw Israel into a relationship, God’s wrath was poured out on His own Son for their unjust deeds. This time He included all the nations through His redemptive work. The Father gave Israel a generation of time to believe Him. Only a remnant believed, which left Him no other choice than to fulfill His word through His Son, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34).

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son continue to reach out to this present generation with the redemption invitation and promises. Will we believe what He has declared and all the prophets gave testimony concerning? What the apostles witnessed and testified? What history itself witnesses? Jesus is Lord! His Word is absolute! He loves us and wants to fill us with His precious Holy Spirit so He can have daily fellowship with His redeemed people, Jews and Gentiles, who believe on Him. He is the one who rose from the dead and is coming again in power and glory.

Father, I thank You for all Your promises that are Yes and Amen to Your glory of God. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief. Give me grace to trust You in all things.

GREATER THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST

Luke 7:28 – I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

John pointed to the greater, Jesus. John recognized his call and purpose in God. John said, “He who is coming after me is mightier than I” (Matthew 3:11). Jesus was the mightier one. John went on to recognize that Jesus would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit and fire. John only baptized to prepare the way, but Jesus was the way. He who is the way has equipped each believer to manifest His life in the world. Believers, filled with the Holy Spirit are the greatest witness to the fact that light has entered the world.

We can be critical of the church and perhaps there is much to be critical about, but reality is, without the Lord’s church in the earth, this world would be steeped in unimaginable darkness. That is not an excuse to be at ease, but a call to rise up and be “greater than John the Baptist.” The greater than John, Jesus, is living in us through the Holy Spirit. Throughout history, the church has been the greatest witness to the fact that light is in the world. Individually and corporately we are to testify to Christ’s resurrection life and power. “Even when we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised up in Him” (Ephesians 2:5).

Many of God’s people are slumbering. Many churches are focused inwardly rather than outwardly. The church can be more like a theater than the model Jesus gave, which was a Vine (John 15). It is time to awake from slumber. It is time to throw off the theater mentality. It is time to become “greater.” As the people of God, let us come back to God’s original intent, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Week after week, God’s people listen to the message of truth, but are they filled with the Holy Spirit in order to do the message? The greater is not in the listening, but in the doing. The Spirit of God is calling to the church of today, be the light of the world. He is calling to God’s Shepherds, preach the word and be instant in season and out. He is manifesting His power and making us know that we do not have to go it alone. He is with us to equip and reveal the greater than John. He is with us as we witness Jesus, the Christ, alive from the dead who delivers from darkness and fills all who will believe with His Holy Spirit, dispelling darkness and manifesting light.

Father, awake me from slumber. As I listen, fill me with Your Holy Spirit of promise. Cause me to be greater than John as Jesus declared. Thank You for making me part of the vine. I ask You to allow me to bear much fruit and that the fruit will remain and multiply.

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

John 1:6 – There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light that all through him might believe.

Two thousand years ago “Light” came into the world. Not ordinary light, but light that lights every man. This verse strongly implies that before “The Light” there was only darkness. Men were filled with darkness. The prince of darkness ruled throughout mankind.

John was God’s prophetic instrument who pointed to the Light. The Light was a man, Jesus! John testified of Jesus as “the Light.” Later, Jesus testified of Himself as being the light of the world. “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’” (John 8:12). Only through Christ is it possible to have light. It is only in the following of Jesus that one can walk in light. To the world this is an offensive view.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). The Holy Spirit was sent to indwell each believer as the source of this light. When Jesus told His disciples that they “are the light of the world,” He was not saying light originated in them, but by being joined to Him, they too became “the light of the world.” The Holy Spirit has raised up lights in each successive generation. Today, those who follow Jesus are “the light of the world.”

“We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9:4-7). “We must work the works,” Jesus included His disciples in this statement and He also included us. Christianity is rooted in doing the works of God. Light is manifested in the works! Jesus said, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves” (John 14:11-12). It is in doing the “works of God that faith is stirred in the hearts of those yet in darkness.

Church, it is time to arise and do the works of the Father as Jesus modeled. The Holy Spirit has come to empower each believer in the works of God and manifest light to a dark world. Let us say with Jesus, “We must do the works of Him who sent us.” Father, let Your light shine in me. Use me in good works as a light in a darkened world to bring glory to Your great name. Holy Spirit, come and have Your way in me for Jesus’ sake.

GENUINE FAITH WILL BE TESTED

1 Peter 1:6-7 – In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Peter knew what he was talking about, having been through the fire himself. You cannot talk about “fiery trials” if you have not been through them yourself. A known teacher in the body of Christ told the story about sitting with a young man who was talking about doing great things for God. The teacher was intently looking into the young man’s eyes. The young man asked him, “Why are you looking so intently at me?” The teacher responded, “I am looking for the scars.”

The Christian walk is not for the faint of heart. Jesus was “a man’s man.” Peter spoke about being protected by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5). Peter went on to help believers understand that we greatly rejoice in what God has done, even though for a little while we go through various trials. Trials prove our faith. One can evaluate their maturity level based on how they handle trials. Peter teaches believers that the trials of our faith are “more precious than gold which perishes.” Gold is a very precious metal. Peter says that the “trials of our faith” are more precious than gold. Even gold is tested by fire to remove impurities. Is it any wonder that our “faith” is also tested by fire?

It is important to understand that we do not bring glory to God through our success, but rather through our faithfulness. Paul taught us to remain steadfast, “. . . resist in the evil day, having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13-14). Paul and Barnabas strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

As I look back over my life, I am reminded of many trials and tribulations. I did not enjoy the times of testing, but I am grateful for what they produced. It is in pressing through that we find growth. It is similar to a weight lifter. One must learn how to use the weights to gain the greatest benefit. The weight lifter must push through the pain, not to the point of injury, but to the point of breaking down the tissues so they can be rebuilt to a greater strength. I can truthfully say that I increased in faith because of the various trials I have gone through. I rejoice in the Lord because He has proven Himself to be faithful.

Finally, Paul admonishes us, “to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). Aren’t you glad you do not have to trust your strength? He is the source of strength, He is the supplier of all you need, and He is counting your faith more precious than gold, even tried gold that has gone through the fire.

Father, I thank You for all Your promises. I am weak, but You are strong. I give You the distress of trials. I pray that when Jesus returns, every trial I have known will be found to result in praise, glory, and honor to You.

I AM UNDONE

Isaiah 6:5 – Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts (KJV).

The New American Standard Version translates Isaiah 6:5 “for I am ruined!” When one is undone they feel ruined. This is not a bad place to come before God. Job also experienced this deep sense of being undone in God’s presence. His response was “I will ask You and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eyes see You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Job had many opinions about God, especially in defending himself against the accusations of his four friends. Job was well established in his position of being right.

We must become undone before God before He can lift us up to the place He has prepared for us in Christ. Even Jesus, though He had no sin, He humbled Himself before God the Father. The Father lifted Him up and gave Him a name above every name. As we take the same position of Isaiah and Job, the knowledge of being “undone” and “retracting” all our conceited words through repentance, opens the door for a great experience with the Lord.

When the Lord touches our tongue, we will have something worthwhile to contribute. When we repent of our opinions and acknowledge that He alone has the right viewpoints, then God will deal with those who stand against us with their opinions. We are living in a time when many in the body of Christ are repenting of their strong positions which are rooted in self-exalted thoughts. The Lord is granting His body grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to lay down self and be united by pressing into the Lord Jesus Christ to know His plan and will.

It is unnecessary to “defend God” or “our positions.” We are to represent His Word, what He has said, and let Him defend Himself through fulfilling His word, whether by judgment or by salvation. It is in His presence we will find fulfillment and not in peoples acceptance. God will give us acceptance through others, but they are not our source of fulfillment.

If we have been buried with Christ and raised up with Him by the power of the Holy Spirit, then our identity is in Him, side by side with one another for His purpose and glory. It is time to let go of anything that originates in us and spend time listening for the voice of God through His written word and the united word of the Spirit as He works through the body of Christ in the earth. Listen for the themes of Scripture and the themes being spoken in a united way to this generation.

Father, I come to You undone. I recognize that I am most opinionated. Help me, as You did Job, to become quiet before You. Speak to me of the areas You want to change in my life. Give me grace to receive Your correction. Cause me not to defend myself nor You. Help me to be a faithful representative of Your character and will.