One Desire Above All

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord.
Psalm 27:4, NKJV

Our lives have the tendency to be filled with so many things: family, relationships, career, finances, health. Many times, most of us could spend hours talking about the many things happening in our lives.

Here we find David declaring out his single focus and single passion—God I need you more than anything. Not that David was always perfected in His focus, but when he was distracted, he was quick to repent and return to this one desire.

We are all born with desire. Babies from birth want to be held and nurtured by their mother and cry for this affection. Babies communicate their desire for food when they are hungry. Desire still motivates us to action as we get older. We see and experience things in life that are pleasing and pleasurable and thus desires are formed.

How are spiritual desires formed and fed? David answers this in Psalms 27 also. The fulfillment of the desire of His heart also feeds the desire from which it springs forth: I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord. Observing God in His house and gazing upon His beauty ignites a desire for more of Him.

Observing God in His house is to enjoy His presence in your private times of prayer and worship. Seeing and savoring His sweetness happens as you see Him move among your spiritual family in church or small groups. Delighting in God can be done as you see Him revealed in Scripture. Observe Him in His splendor in the avenues by which He reveals Himself and you will desire to see Him more.

Gazing upon the beauty of the Lord will leave you in awe and wonder. Like Jeremiah, you will say, There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is great in might(Jeremiah 10:6, ESV).

Have you been awakened to the Lord’s beauty? Like David, is your heart beating with a single desire to know Him passionately and intimately? If not, let this be your goal before God: to observe Him in His sanctuary. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Like Moses, be bold enough to ask God to show you His glory. God never disappoints, and one moment of revelation will change your life—it will change your desires. Like David, be quick to repent and return to your first love.

As you see Him, allow desire for Him to rise and continue. Do not be like to foolish virgins that are lulled to sleep when the Master is calling. The world and your carnal nature will tell you that desiring God is emotionalism, irrational, or radical. The writers of the Bible will tell you another story. The Holy Spirit will reveal something greater. Allow your passion for God to grow. Deepen your desire for more of Him!

 

 

 

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For Such a Time

Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for sucha time as this?
Esther 4:14, NKJV

How wonderful is the call of God on our lives! He brings us out of our orphaned state, adopts us as His children, and makes us His instruments of praise. Esther’s story is a great example of the life-transforming work of God. She became the instrument of praise to declare the salvation of God for her people.

Have you considered lately the work of God in you? He has awakened you to His love. He has immersed you into His presence. He has purified you and washed the stench of sin from you. God has anointed you with His fragrant oils, and placed within your mouth a new song of joy. He has brought you to the Kingdom for such a time as this! Alexander MacLaren expounds on this verse from Esther here:

Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? There speaks the devout statesman, the court-experienced believer. He has seen favourites tended and tossed aside, viziers powerful and beheaded, kings half deified and deserted in their utmost need. Sitting at the gate there, he has seen generations of Hamans go out and in; he has seen the craft, the cruelty, the lusts which have been the apparent causes of the puppets’ rise and fall, and he has looked beyond it all and believed in a Hand that pulled the wires, in a King of Kings who raiseth up one and setteth down another. So he believes that his Esther has come to the kingdom by God’s appointment, to do God’s work at God’s time. And these convictions keep him calm and stir her.

 No man receives the Gospel for his own sake. We are not non-conductors, but stand all linked hand in hand. We are members of the body that the blood may flow freely through us. For no loftier reason did God light the candle than that it might give light. We are beacons kindled to transmit, till every sister light flashes back the ray.

Now is the time for you to arise and radiate the glory of the Lord. His message is redemption and His plan is salvation. He is baptizing people in the Holy Spirit. He is breaking bondages and cleansing the captives. God has positioned you, given you power, and filled your mouth with praise. Now is the time to release the sound. Now is the time to minister to the broken. Now is the time to freely give as you have freely received.

Do you lack assurance in His assignment? Do you lack confidence in His commission? Have you felt that you are incapable to minister to the broken? What timidity keeps you from speaking to the hurting? Be reminded of how God has orchestrated your steps, redeemed you from the pit, washed you from faithlessness, and immersed you in the boldness of His Spirit. Let your light shine so that all men might see your Father’s radiance. You have come to the Kingdom and now you have been made an ambassador of the King.

I’m in Need of Him Alone

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God
Psalm 42:2, NKJV

Charles Price in his book The Real Faithtells the story of a cripple man who was continually brought into the services for healing. Many times, Price and others spent much time praying for the man. Days went by and there was no sign of healing.

One afternoon they wheeled him to a corner in the building. He asked the people to leave the two of us alone, and then said something that has lingered in the chambers of my memory. “What a failure I am,” he declared. “I came here strong in what I thought was my faith in the Lord. As I look deeply into my heart I find something about which I wish to confess. What a poor, miserable failure I have been. I have been spiritually proud of the fact that people have pointed to me as a man who suffered without complaining. They pointed me out as the man who never grumbled, although he had a cross to bear. I grew proud of my reputation and I can see now that what I termed my goodness has been self-righteousness in the sight of my Lord.”

“Dr. Price,” he said, “I don’t need healing half as much as I need Jesus. I am so hungry for His presence. More than anything else in my life, I want to know Him better, and I am content to spend my days in this chair if only He will flood this self-righteous heart of mine with His peace and love.”

Dr. Price describes how he watched the cripple man in the wheel chair disappear around the corner of the building after that conversation. A few days later this man came back to the church for the evening service. He described to Dr. Price how Jesus had met him the night before. He spent the night in prayer and praise and worship. He described how the fog had lifted from his heart and mind and he became conscious of an infusion of Life Divine.

“Why does this man have to wait until tonight?” “He does not,” I replied. “The Great Physician is here now. Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” A moment later it was over. Out of his wheel chair arose that man. He ran and jumped and praised the Lord for his deliverance.

Our God is the Great Physician and He desires to heal. Just as much as He is our healer, He is our creator. If you were to be admitted to Heaven’s triage, the first condition of healing to apply would be that of your heart. What offense lingers there or spiritual pride? Oh, the cancer of your heart that must be cleansed for the life of God to flow into every spiritual extremity. Jesus wants to heal every brokenness and of great importance is that your inner man be made whole.

Do you desire to be healed only in the external, or is there a desperation for utter deliverance–spirit, soul and body? Let the sickness of vanity and pride be cleansed and love-sickness for your first love return. Let your inner man be restored from its blockages that it may be moved with compassion for the lost. Cleanse your soul from every hinderance that the rivers of life may flow freely from within. The Healer is able to heal your physical body, but He also has great concern for your spirit man and soul. May the cry of your heart be:I don’t need healing half as much as I need Jesus. I am so hungry for His presence.

It’s Easy to Receive

Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3, NKJV

What is it that you need from the Lord; is it direction for your path? Do you need divine healing, divine providence, divine wisdom? Where you lack, He can supply. There is a bountiful, surpassing overflow of perfect gifts available to you in Christ.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17, ESV).

We can come to our Father knowing He will not give us a stone instead of bread (Matt 7:9). He has gracious and wonderful gifts to bestow upon His children who will come in faith. He is the Reward and Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him in faith (Heb 11:6). Our Heavenly Father is neither changed by circumstance or diminished by need. With Him there is no variation or shadow due to change. He is always at His zenith. The brightness of His glory is always brightly radiant and continually flowing forth like a perpetual spring of water that neither ends nor is quenched.

Have you become as a humble child with the persuasion of your Father’s love? Might we not receive at times from Him because we withhold ourselves in timidity before Him? Does sickness linger in your body because you understand Him to be a loving Father, but have yet to come to Him in faithful assurance that you might receive of the Father’s love which is continually pouring out in crashing tides that might catch you away like an ocean’s billowing waves.

Healing is not dependent upon the development of a perfect faith by any process of self, but rather contact with Jesus (Charles Price).

You may humble yourself before Him and request the faith to embrace Him. Like the woman with the issue of blood who had heard of Christ’s power, you may come trembling and unclean into the crowd, and leave completely whole as you make contact with Him through faith. He is willing that you come to Him, and He desires that you come to Him. It is through simple childlike faith that you obtain Him and the precious promises He has made available to you. It requires no striving or power of the mind to obtain. The promises of His blessing are not spells that can be chanted until some magic occurs. His Word concerning you is His promise—His declaration concerning you. If He has spoken a word of healing in His Word for you, then healing can be received. If He has spoken a word of salvation in His Word for you, then salvation can be received. Ask the author of His Word to reveal His promise in it concerning you, and may the Revealer of this Word impart the faith to obtain all that He has spoken.

With childlike humility we may receive the faith which receives the reward and the Rewarder. Like the child in Matthew 18, Christ is positioning you in the place to receive all He has spoken. Today is your day to receive!

Vulnerability

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship
Acts 2:42, NKJV

Webster describes the origin of the word vulnerable as originating from the Latin noun vulnus or wound. Vulnus led to the Latin verb vulnerare, meaning to wound, and then to the Late Latin adjective vulnerabilis, which became vulnerable in English in the early 1600’s. Vulnerable originally meant capable of being physically wounded or having the power to wound (the latter is now obsolete), but since the late 1600’s, it has also been used figuratively to suggest a defenselessness against non-physical attacks. In other words, someone (or something) can be vulnerable to criticism or failure as well as to literal wounding.

The word denotes a sense of letting down one’s guard or defenses—becoming open and receptive. Vulnerability is a key in community. To have true community and fellowship, it requires those in the community to let down their guard and become transparent and open. Figuratively, it is not merely allowing others to look at your yard through the privacy fence; it is actually removing the fence altogether and allowing others into your space.

The Bible uses a Greek word Koinonia to help paint this picture. It means fellowship, intimacy, joint participation or camaraderie. It is the sharing of mutual risk and mutual benefit. In Christ’s community this is expressed in the joining of many backgrounds, diversities, and experiences into one Body with Christ as the head.

I used to run a communal living discipleship home for men. In this sense of community, everyone shared not only space and housing, but our lives. If someone in the house was having a bad day, everyone noticed. If there was a success, we all rejoiced. Challenges were faced collectively, not just individually. This environment demanded vulnerability.

Our community in Christ demands vulnerability. When God is convicting and challenging you, community requires vulnerability to share this conviction with others. As James says, confess your faults to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed (James 5:16). Community requires outdoing one another with love and honor (Romans 12:10). This means you intentionally are looking for ways to bless one another. Vulnerability means that you first walk in forgiveness with your community before you offer your worship (Matt 18). There are nearly 60 commands in Scripture that begin with “one another.” Vulnerability requires walking in community with others.

Ask God to help you let down the walls of fear and pride and become vulnerable within your community. There is no command in scripture that you must score 100% on an entrance exam for Christ’s community. Consider those who followed Jesus: drunks, murderers, thieves, prostitutes, business people, religious people. Come as you are into His community. Let down the walls with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. See what power flows in community as it did in the New Testament church.

The words in this verse “continued steadfastly” means to be preserved in; kept from spoiling; or maintain for future use. There is a direct link between your involvement in Christ’s community and your spiritual preservation. The moment you disconnect from divine fellowship within the Body of Christ, you begin to spoil. At this point some may offer excuses such has offense, hurt, wrongful actions by church leadership, and the like. While unfortunate things happen within the Church, the Church is God’s plan for your spiritual life and fellowship. Walking through these difficulties perfects you and shapes you as you humble yourself before God and remain vulnerable in community.

Today is a new day to walk in community with vulnerability. Take the small step of opening up to someone about what God is doing in your life. Share a Scripture that has been meaningful to you. Pray for one another. Look for way to bless others in your community. You might be surprised at the power of God that flows into your life through community!

Faith of a Seed for Healing

So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Luke 17:6, NKJV

To believe in healing is one thing; but to have faith for it is something completely different. To trust that God is able to heal is one thing; but to know Him as your Healer is entirely another. Faith is applicable for more than healing—the very essence of our salvation is founded in faith. For the moment, however, let me address specifically faith for healing.

Consider the faith that was needed for your salvation. Did you create this faith? Were you redeemed from the awful pits of hell because you gave mental credence to a doctrine? Faith was imparted to you through the reality of Christ’s gift by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to hear what the natural ear cannot hear. This is why Jesus spoke of religious leaders having ears but they could not hear. The message of Christ was being proclaimed, and the ministry of Christ was being demonstrated—yet they were still darkened to His reality. It is an awful thing to be face to face with His presence, and still be unaware He is even in the room.

Remember that faith, even the weight of a single mustard seed, can do more than a ton of determination or wishful thinking. True faith, when it is present, produces results just as the sun when it has risen produces light. It is inevitable that faith brings God-results.

So many people when needing a healing from the Lord, come to the Lord on the basis of His Word and try and tryto affirm they are healed by repetition or having some mindset of healing. Herein lies a fundamental problem. Faith is not repetition of words nor a mental state. We have made difficult what God intends to be easy.

Galatians 5:22 tells us that faith is a fruit of the Spirit. Who is responsible for this work of faith in our lives? The Holy Spirit! When New Testament saints were faced with persecution, was it the natural man’s tendency to love the unlovely? Of course not. It was God’s love shed abroad in their heart according to Romans 5:5. It was the wonderful fruit of love from God. Belief is an element of faith, but the fruit of faith is more than belief. It is a fruit that is produced as we are connected to the vine.

Instead of operating in condemnation over lack of faith or being anxious about faith—why not ask the giver of faith to impart this wonderful fruit into your life. It does not take much. Even an amount much smaller than the size of a smallest blueberry can remove mountains. Faith is the assurance, conviction, and certainty of God’s promise. Faith is being fully persuaded by God of God’s promise and His work. Faith cannot be produced by people. Faith is God’s warranty certifying the revelation He has birthed in you will come to pass in His way and His time. Faith in God’s Word is the guarantee from God in us that everything He has spoken in His Word will come to pass. I am not confused about my salvation because I have faith from God in God and by God that I am born again. Faith for healing operates the same in that it is from God in God and by God you are healed and restored. Today, ask God for faith regarding your healing.

 

 

Don’t Profane the Holy

By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.
Leviticus 10:3, NKJV

Nadab and Abihu is a shocking encounter with God. It reminds me of the New Testament account of Ananias and Sapphira. In both occurrences the individuals involved were profaning the holiness of God.

The New King James uses the word “profane” to describe Nadab and Abihu’s fire. Some translations call it “strange.” The Hebrew says it is estranged, foreign, loathsome, that of a prostitute. The description here is that Nadab and Abihu were performing what was to be holy worship in the wrong manner—a manner that was offensive to a holy God. What is dedicated to the Lord can neither be taken for personal gain or attributed to another. They took the presence of the Lord as common place and ordinary, and the fire of the altar consumed them. They decided to act according to their own judgment and did not follow the pattern God had given them for worship.

What was God’s pattern? God had already given direction to Moses and Aaron that He is to be regarded as holy and must be glorified. If we are to honor God, we are to recognize there is none like Him; we recognize His heavy or weighty presence, and we exalt Him. This was more than understanding a dogma of God’s holiness. Those present witnessed the reality of God’s glory for themselves. God is looking for worshippers who worship more than concept. He was looking for pure worship that was in order with His holiness. Watching the fire from the altar leap out and burn these two men to death left an unforgettable memory in the minds of those who saw the reality of God’s holiness. Watching Ananias and Sapphira fall to their feet dead left a last impression of God’s holiness upon those who witnessed this account. Let us never forget the holiness of God, and may we never lack in awe and reverence for Him.

Alexander MacLaren continues this thought about Nadab and Abihu:
They have had many successors, not only in Israel, while a ritual demanding punctilious conformity lasted, but in Christendom since. Alas! our censers are often flaming with ‘strange fire.’ How much so-called Christian worship glows with self-will or with partisan zeal! When we seek to worship God for what we can get, when we rush into His presence with hot, eager desires which we have not subordinated to His will, we are burning ‘strange fire which He has not commanded.’ The only fire which should kindle the incense in our censers, and send it up to heaven in fragrant wreaths, is fire caught from the altar of sacrifice. God must kindle the flame in our hearts if we are to render these else cold hearts to Him.

Let your life be consecrated to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth. He calls us today to come boldly into His presence based on Christ’s sacrifice. Efforts to come into God’s holy presence based on any other work will find us in the company of Nadab, Abihu, Ananias, and Saphhira. Literal fire may not come from the altar and consume you, but it will be impossible to delight in God’s presence with dishonor towards Him in your heart.