You Are My Witnesses

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Revelation, chapter eleven has been a very complex chapter throughout the history of the church. In this chapter we see John measuring the temple. There is the forty-two month period of witnessing by two unnamed prophets. They are then killed by the beast who arises from the abyss. Their death is celebrated with gift giving and merriment for three and one-half days. Then God breaths life into them and they stand upon their feet in the sight of everyone. They are then caught up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies watched in terror.
Much has been written concerning this passage. Views range from literal to conventional to representative. Are the two witnesses Elijah and Moses or Elijah and Enoch? Is this story to be found in the middle of the Great Tribulation? Is this the ultimate show down between the beast and God's prophets? The answer to the questions vary according to which commentary you read.
However, I wonder if we are not missing something with all our charts and timelines? Could we be overlooking our present commission of being God's witnesses? Are we lost in the fog of discerning the future of God's plan? The following are some observations while musing over this important passage.
1. We Are The Temple of God. In the New Testament, it is the people that make up the temple. 1 Cor 3:16 "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
1 Pet 2:4 "you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood..."
Rather than focusing on when the temple is going to be rebuilt in Jerusalem; let us focus on being the temple of God in this present world.
2. The two witnesses prophesied for a stated period of time-1,260 days. Also the beast did not kill them until they had finished their task (11:7). Satan cannot stop the task given to these two witnesses. This tells us that Satan cannot stop our witness - that he is not in control - God is.
3. Too much time and energy has been expended trying to figure who these witnesses are. Instead of reading Moses, Elijah or Enoch into a future story; why not read ourselves into the narrative? "You are my witnesses" declared our Lord. In the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established. In Luke 10:1 Jesus appoints 70 others and sends them out two by two into the cities where He planned to go.
4. Satan's victory is always hollow and short lived!
Ezekiel saw this principle in a valley of dry bones!
So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. (Ezekiel 37:10 NASB)
Stephen's martyrdom was the seed bed for the conversion of one who wrote much of the New Testament.
"Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'" (Acts 7:54-56 NASB)
Church history is full of such moments. Seasons of seemingly defeat only to have the Breath of God renew the lifeless.
So instead of looking for the end time story: Be the Story.


Walking Through an Open Door

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:
'I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. (Revelation 3:7-8 NASB)
The church at Philadelphia understood closed doors. Those Jewish believers would have the door to the synagogue
closed to them because of their faith in Jesus Christ. To choose Jesus might cause the door to business or job opportunities to shut. To be baptized in Jesus name would close the door to friendships and even family relationships. Jesus said to this feeble church. "I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. (Revelation 3:8 NASB)
However, Jesus assures this feeble church that He has a door no one can shut. All they have to do is remain faithful and walk through this door.
He places us into situations to bring about His kingdom into our world. All we have to do is remain faithful and walk through the doors He opens, or we trust Him when He closes a door; believing that He knows what's best for us.
The end result of this kind of faith is seen in His next words: "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name." (Revelation 3:12 NASB)
You and I have the opportunity to become pillars in God's about strength and security! However, it doesn't end there, we also are branded with God's name and God's city...All because we were faithful. As Philadelphia, we may be feeble but we can still be faithful!
Go ahead, Walk Through The Door!


And it came to pass

Thursday, April 19, 2012

When I was a young boy I often heard my father say his favorite verse in the Bible was, "And it came to pass". How often I witnessed him use this phrase to encourage people when they faced difficult situations. "Whatever we face", he would say, "Will pass". It will become a part of our history. We will overcome and get through it; It will come to pass.
That is what our Lord told the suffering saints at Smyrna. To these believers, who had already faced severe persecution, Jesus said, " will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).
Trouble does not last forever. Suffering does not have the last word. Difficulty does not have endless access to you. There is a set limit to the trouble you are encountering. While the term 'ten days' seems mysterious to us, as to it's full or original meaning; it's comforting to know that suffering will end.
"God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13).
Do you see the principle? "It Will Come To Pass". The way through this trial has already been made. Be faith-full. Don't give up and never give in. The glory will far surpass this present suffering!
"For our light affliction, which is but a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17).


The Flesh Profits Nothing

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jesus said the Spirit gives life and the flesh profits nothing (John 6:63). This has been a hard saying for most of the church's existence. We think there is something within us that is useful for the kingdom of God. It is difficult to convince us that 'the flesh profits nothing'. I grew up hearing phrases that sound spiritual – biblical even; such as, “Heaven helps those who help themselves” or “You do your best and God will do the rest”. These statements may sound biblical but they are not. Nor do they reflect the truth of the Gospel of Christ!

Recently the Holy Spirit has reiterated this truth to me that the flesh profits nothing! The temptation to continue to operate in the flesh is very strong. We grow up doing what comes natural and therefore fool ourselves into believing that our natural abilities are useful in building the kingdom of God. They are not! We (that is, our flesh) has to be moved out of the way in order for the Spirit to have free course in this Kingdom. This action took place at Calvary where Jesus died for our sins and at the empty tomb where He was resurrected for our life in the Spirit.

It is very possible to 'spiritualize' the flesh; appearing to want the Spirit to move among us, when all the while it is an attempt to promote ourselves. Paul stated: “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight,” (Rom 3:20). He went on to say: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells;” (Rom 7:18).

Listen to Paul's instructions concerning the flesh: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:5-8 emphasis added) NKJV

Listen again with 'ears to hear'; the fleshly minded cannot please God! Our good intentions and best efforts at righteousness are filthy rags in His presence (Isa 64:6). Only the Spirit can produce life. The carnal mind is death dealing. The spiritually minded find life and peace. The contrast between the flesh and the Spirit is as great as the contrast between Romans 7 and Romans 8. The flesh produces “O Wretched Man That I Am”(Rom 7:24).. The Spirit produces “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom 8:1). KJV

If we truly believe that the Holy Spirit makes all the difference then we will welcome the slaying of our flesh in order for the Spirit to produce life and peace. Welcome I say, yet resist when He comes; because the flesh desires to be in control. Eph not get drunk with wine...but be filled with the Spirit (NASU). The Apostle Paul's emphasis here seems to be; as one who is drunk on wine loses control to the alcohol...we are to lose control to the Spirit.

We must not continue to give an affirming nod to the statement: “The Holy Spirit Makes All The Difference” and yet continue to live in the flesh and thus hindering His work in our personal or corporate lives.



Monday, January 9, 2012

Another year is unfolding before us. It offers hope, change, opportunities, challenges, delight, and heartbreak. Prognosticators abound with their foretelling of the future. Whether it be economic, political, climate change or world events, the news is usually negative. Truth is, not one of us can see into the future. However, as believers, we can have an understanding of the times and know what to do.
As believers in Christ, we eagerly anticipate the fullness of His promises despite our circumstances.
When our eyes are opened to the truth of the gospel we, like the Apostle Paul can say, "None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24). Uncertain future? Mountains and valleys? The tide of tribulation will indeed ebb and flow. However, we are the Children of God and because we are His children, we can rest assured of His grace for the moment.
How often we read in the Book of Acts the phrase, "then.....(Peter or Paul) filled with the Holy Spirit..." Isn't that what we be filled with the Holy Spirit? That is the reason Paul was unmoved by the uncertain future that awaited him in Jerusalem! The more we are tuned in to God through His Holy Spirit the less we will be tuned in to the trials of this present life. Therefore, we go into this new year seeking those things which are above....(See Col 3:1-3).