Category Archives: God

Elder Brothers: Clear Your Ears and Go In

father pleads with olders sonThe Father pleaded (‘parakaleo’) with the Elder Brother to come in and enjoy the feast with his brother. It was a call to fellowship, it was a call to relationship, it was a call to repentance from his selfish and unloving ways. Much the same way our paraclete (Holy Spirit) comes alongside us each and every day. We can have the same reaction that the Elder Brother had. His reaction is described in Zechariah 7:11: “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.

cover ears upHard to believe isn’t it, that this Elder Brother refused the Father’s pleadings. Not really. Most people are good at stopping their ears at times. Sometimes we’ll even murmur to cover any sound. This is why Jesus mentioned several times “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

hands-over-earsPaul experienced people covering their ears, but one instance was notable and recorded in Acts 28:

For this reason, therefore, I have asked (parakaleo) to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: “ ‘Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” Acts 28:20-29

he_who_has_earsThis was a watershed moment in Paul’s life. He realized that from now on it was a waste of time to preach to the Jews. Their ears were closed up. The Gentiles would listen. So he would concentrate his efforts with them.

The Jews could not consider that God had changed, that the Messiah had indeed come. They were stuck in their traditions, in the past. They held tightly to their LAW.

He that hath ears let him hearJesus said “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Jesus wanted His people to see that God is Living, God is in the Present, God is not in the past.

Jesus is constantly speaking to us, through His Holy Spirit. If we live in the past, we will cover our ears, or simply ignore what He says TODAY. Several times Jesus pointed out what the Jews thought was right according to the Law and traditions, and Scripture records: “BUT I SAY UNTO YOU!”

Here are the “But I say unto you” passages:

  • But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22
  • But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5:28
  • But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Matthew 5:32
  • But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Matthew 5:34
  • But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39
  • But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44
  • But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. Matthew 11:22
  • But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. Matthew 11:24
  • But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. Matthew 12:6
  • But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36
  • But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Matthew 17:12
  • But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Matthew 26:29
  • But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him. Mark 9:13
  • But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Luke 6:27
  • But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Luke 10:12

do not listenJesus wants us to realize that He is always speaking, and that we must always be listening. If we believe we already know what we should do, we are being an ELDER BROTHER. We are stopping our ears to what the Holy Spirit is saying TODAY!

As Watchman Nee said: “If I do today what I did a month ago because the Lord leads me to do it TODAY, that is life; but if I do it today simply because he led me to a month ago, that is law. The law can be a week old or centuries old, but the SPEAKING of the Holy Spirit can never be more than 24 hours old”

The Elder Brother lived in the past, and held tightly his conceptions of righteousness and acceptance. But the Father was speaking to him TODAY, and calling him to a FRESH experience of LIFE with the Father and the younger brother.

listen intentlyDo we know the freshness of today’s walk with the Father? Are our ears listening to Him, or are they stopped up?

I am listening, and am ready to go in. I want that fresh daily experience with the Father!

Father: Wake me every morning with the ears of a disciple, willing and wanting to listen and obey!

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Four

peter the elder brotherElder brothers are never lost for an opinion. Too often they shoot first and tend to the wounded second. The elder brother’s words must have hurt the father deeply. They were spoken in anger and with attitude.

Peter was an elder brother. He was quick to spout his opinion, right or wrong. His mouth often got him into trouble. How did Peter learn to be slow to speak his mind? He was interrupted by God! On the Mount of Transfiguration, God interrupted Peter and said, “This is my beloved Son, HEAR HIM!”  In Capernaum, Peter spoke quickly and committed Jesus to paying the temple tax. When he was about to tell Jesus, Jesus interrupted him and “spake first to him” to correct his false ideas on the matter. Then in Caesarea, while Peter was still preaching, the Holy Spirit shut Peter’s mouth by an amazing miracle, so that Peter’s six companions were “amazed”. Father, Son and Holy Spirit each interrupted Peter’s speech.

transfiguration-of-JesusThis elder brother, who was so quick to speak his mind, learned valuable lessons at the interruption of the Divine Trinity. This is why he could write of the value of good speech:

To sum up, you should all be of one mind living like brothers with true love and sympathy for each other, generous and courteous at all times. Never pay back a bad turn with a bad turn or an insult with another insult, but on the contrary pay back with good. For this is your calling – to do good and one day to inherit all the goodness of God. For: ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile: let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil’. 1 Peter 3:8-12

peter speechPeter knew all too well that the eyes of the Lord were upon him. He had seen Him intervene when he was rushing foolishly headlong. Are you an Elder Brother like me? Learn to listen to the Lord before you speak. Be slow to speak and quick to love.

Father: Teach me that you are always listening to my speech, and to let your love guide my words.

Have You Seen the Lord Lately?

Isaiah VisionIn the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 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. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah did not have a vision until Uzziah died. Uzziah was a man of flesh, of fleshly means, of fleshly confidence. And until the flesh is dead, we cannot see a vision from God! When Isaiah saw his vision, he cried out three simple short words:

  • WOE – a word of confession

  • LO – a word of cleansing

  • GO – a word of commission

woe is meIsaiah’s Vision was Three-Fold

  • It was an upward vision-he saw the Lord
  • It was an inward vision – he saw himself
  • It was an outward vision – he saw the world
  • It was a vision of height – he saw the Lord high and lifted up
  • It was a vision of depth – he saw the recesses of his own heart.
  • It was a vision of breadth – he saw the whole world.
  • A vision of Holiness – Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts:
  • A vision of Hellishness – I am undone
  • A vision of Hopelessness – who will go for us?

Isaiah before throneWhere there is no VISION the people perish, but you can say where there is no PASSION the church perishes, even though it is full of people.

  • A Vision without Passion soon becomes a distant memory..
  • A Passion without a Vision becomes an emotion that fades away.
  • A Vision united with a Passion will produce a Light that fadeth not away.

A Vision of Hell will produce a Passion for the Lost.

Richman in HellJust think of the rich man. He was in Hades, he saw hell, and he wanted someone, anyone to run and tell his brothers about hell. No man lives beyond his vision. Your life will only have as much significance as whatever your focus is on. If you are only focused on yourself, you will be significant only to your self. If because of a VISION from God you focus on the needs of others, you will be significant in ministering to others.

We don’t need to pray for sinners to have a vision of Hell, they simply need a vision of the reality of Calvary as seen by the way we live our lives.

We need to see a Holy God! We need to tremble before Him. We need to let that Vision burn in our souls and ignite a Passion for Righteousness, a Passion for Jesus, a Passion to reach out to those trudging on the road to Hell. Each one of us has an appointment with God. He awaits us in eternity. We had better be at peace with Him here and be in the center of His will NOW!

In chapters 1 through 5 Isaiah has a lot of woes for a lot of people. But in chapter 6 he sees God and sees himself as God sees him and cries WOE is ME! Satan loves to get us looking at other people and all their problems. But God’s Holy Spirit wants us to look at God and realize we are so far from Him!

Its me, its me O Lord, in need of prayer!

Chagall_Bible_Vision_IsaiahIn your soul there are many”rooms“. Are there secret rooms in your life that are shut off from God’s Holy Spirit? Are there rooms where the Holy Spirit is not welcome? Is there a room cluttered with unclean pictures? Are there any skeletons hanging in your closets? Can you invite the Holy Ghost to walk down the corridors of your thought life? Can you invite him in to see the hatred in your heart toward others. Can you invite Him to listen in as you speak evil of others?

isaiah lipsThere are three people living in each of us:

  • the one we think we are,
  • the one other people think we are,
  • and the one God knows we are.

Unless we are desperate to pursue after the Righteousness of Christ, we can be so easy on ourselves and so hard on others. Self loves self. Too often we hide ourselves from ourselves lest the sight of ourselves should sicken ourselves. Let us invite the searching eye of God to locate this corrupted, stinking self in us. Let it be torn from us and be “crucified with Him, that henceforth we should no longer serve sin (Rom 6:6).

It does no good to call sin by another name. You can criticize someone for having a devilish temper, but say that yours is only righteous indignation. You can criticize someone for blatant gossip, but excuse your own negative words about someone as “prayer concerns.” You can excuse your not speaking to a brother or sister or father or mother because of their “ungodly influence and lifestyle” yet God sees your Judging heart and says your are guilty of ungodly pride and un-forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit will neither spare us nor cheat us if we will expose ourselves to His infallible scrutiny.Jesus touches eyes

In Mark 10:51 Jesus asked the blind man “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” He replies “Lord, that I might receive sight!”

Let us pray for sight-upward, inward and outward. Then like Isaiah, as we look upward, we will see the Lord in all His Holiness. As we look inward, we will see ourselves and our need for cleansing and power. As we look outward, we will see a world perishing and in need of a Savior.Hell Fire burns for eternity

God Plans on Fruit at our Wedding

flowering apricotWe love flowers, but God wants fruit. After all, a dying world needs fruit. Flowers are necessary, but only the fruit gives LIFE. The flower of the vine is meant to last only a short time before it gives way to the fruit. Yet too often we praise the beauty of the flower, and treat the fruit as incidental. Jesus said that “every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). God desires fruit which is a result of the branches being united with the Vine.Girl with Grapes

dying-flowerUnless the flower fades away, there will be no fruit. Fruit brings life. It is for the purpose of the fruit that a vine is planted. The flower is necessary, but incidental. God is the vine dresser, His Son is the vine. We are the branches. Too often we want to emphasize our flowers, our beauty. Most training of Pastors and workers is aimed at the “Flower”, the program, the organization, the promotion, the “soul of natural man”. The aim is to make us independent, confident, quick-witted, slick, organized, confident, self-assured, – beautiful to the eye of the beholder (visitors, congregation).

god vinedresserGod is actively engaged as the Vinedresser of the bride of His Son. He has promised His Son a bride without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph 5:27). As we will be a spiritual bride clothed in NEW Heavenly bodies, these spots and wrinkles are on our soul. Our Eternal Vinedresser must check and deal with these unfortunate growths and wrinkles. He is constantly cutting them off, performing “plastic surgery” on our soul and spirit-that which we will bring to the wedding.

God is actively engaging us on two fronts. First to bring us to the place where we are living by the life of His Son-the exchanged life, the abiding life, planted within us by the New Birth. Second, He is doing a direct work in our hearts to weaken the fund of our natural resources which led to Adam’s sin in the first place. For the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:14)

preparing-bride-of-christEveryday true Christians are learning these two lessons-a rising up of the Life of Christ as our life, and a checking and handing over to death of that natural, soulish life.

In the process, the world may view us as weak, ignorant men who confess “I do not know – but He knows, and that is enough”. After all, it is all about His Fruit, not our flower. May God deliver us from today’s “Arrogance of the Soul!”

From the MudPreacher:Flowers Smell Great, are Less Filling, but Fruit Gives Life!

Do You Smile at Your Enemies?

hannahHannah proclaimed “My heart rejoices in the Lord” (1 Sam 2:1) She had just taken her son Samuel to the temple. He would live there the rest of his youth. She “lent him to the Lord” as she had promised four or five years earlier. Instead of dreading this moment, she relished in it! She had even looked forward to this! For Hannah was fully the Lord’s. She knew the joy that comes to those who are fully committed to the Lord God. Everything she possessed, even her son, was God’s. As verse one declares: Her heart rejoiced in Him, her strength was exalted in Him, she rejoiced in His salvation, and as a result she could smile at her enemies.

When we are confident in God’s Power to the point of giving everything to HIm, we will have continued confidence in His Power no matter who we face! Be it enemy or comrade, friend or foe, we can smile, for we know there is no one like our Lord. In Him the weakest, feeblest, most fearful saint is exalted and made mighty.

Is there anything you own that is worth more than knowing such a God as that? Are you holding on to something so tight that it blocks you from an intimate confidence in the Power of God to protect and control your life? Do you share the confidence of Hannah? You must share in her commitment of all she has to our Lord!

Prayer: Lord, show me what I’m keeping from you. May every fear, worry and concern serve as Your call to rejoice in Your Power! Allow me to boast in You! Teach me to smile at my enemies because You are my God!

Half Way to the Goal is the Same as “No Way” to God

abraham-prayGod told Abram to “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” in Genesis 12:1. This was God’s second call to Abram, while he dwelt in the land of Haran. Acts 7:2 says the first time God called Abram he was dwelling in Mesopotamia, in the land of the Chaldees. Abram had responded to the first ccall of God and had gone forward to a new place. But it was not far enough for God. Abram may have liked Haran, and enjoyed his life there, but it was not the Land God had in mind.

Is it our hope that when we go a little way with God that we have done enough? Do we hope that God will relent and say “OK that’s far enough. After all, you tried hard. Good boy” pathways1

God does not modify His demands. Once His Call is upon your life, He will continue to keep His goal before our heart. We may have let the goal slip from our view, but God has not. From God’s point of view, halfway is the same as saying “No Way” to God’s leading. Abram was satisfied to have made the move, but God had called him to a LAND! All true calling is a HIGH calling!

Never be content to go halfway with God. The question should not be “how far have we gone since we started?” The question we should keep asking is “Is my heart still set on God’s goal?”

Prayer: Father, reveal to me those areas of my life where I have only gone halfway with you. Renew in me a heart that desires your goals in my life. Give me courage to keep on Your pathway of blessing.