Thursday, August 10, 2017

OK... I'm still a poor blogger - not very "with it" at my age, am I, posting things months apart?!  Time continues to fly by faster and faster - my mom said it would when I 'got old'!   

God still calls me to medical-evangelism (5-6 teams a year) and guards my age-68 health. Although I am often weary in the work of mobile-clinic ministry overseas I'm, by grace, never weary of it... praise Him.

If you appreciate Beth Moore's teachings to women as I do, and love her honest musings-prayers-cries to the Lord on her blog site, please be encouraged and challenged by what I'm copying and pasting below from her August 7th post.  I certainly was... more strongly the latter feeling.  It's long but so worth the time.  Thank you, Beth!  Oh come, Holy Spirit - revive Your church, for Christ's sake and the hope of us all!

Is this it? Is this what Jesus meant?   Posted: 07 Aug 2017  by Beth Moore
The following article is a tweaked version of a message I gave recently. It’s something God has really been pressing on me in recent months in my personal time of prayer and Bible study. I cannot shake it. I can’t shake the feeling that He may be waiting for many of us to admit to our dissatisfaction and lift our chins toward heaven and have guts enough to ask, “Is this it, Lord? Is what we are seeing of the work of Your Holy Spirit all we can expect? Is this what You meant?”  If it is, then may God give peace and acceptance and understanding to those of us who are unsettled. But, what if our dissatisfaction isn’t inappropriate? What if it’s God-stirred? What if it has nothing to do with cynicism? 

What if God is sitting on His Throne, shaking His head with our willingness to accept so little evidence of His promises and He’s waiting for a number of us to say, “Is this all we can expect of the outpouring of Your Spirit 
in our day and in our part of the world?”  We’ve seen drops. Even seen a few showers but I’ve taken longer showers than those on a Monday morning running late for work.

I just keep staring at accounts of those early Jesus followers then into the mirror, bewildered over the dissimilarities.

Hebrews 10:32-39, for example.                                                                                                                          
32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your
property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38  but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. 

And Acts 5:27-29, 40-.42                                                                                                                                      27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem 
with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.  40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. 

This is our heritage. The early followers of Jesus were unstoppable and not just unstoppable in works but unstoppable in faith and unceasing in joy. Do we look joyful to us? But what was given to them that drove their unstoppable work, unstoppable faith and unstoppable joy is the exact same thing we have been given.
Same exact Savior. Same Holy Spirit. “The promised Holy Spirit” (Eph.1:13) whose indwelling power turned fumbling followers of Jesus into unstoppable forces of the Kingdom of the living Christ. My daily Bible reading has recently had me in the pages of Jeremiah. The twelfth chapter records the prophet Jeremiah registering a complaint with God. He’d done so earlier and received reassurance from God. This time, God met Jeremiah’s complaint with a different response:

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? (Jer. 12:5)

Something about it rang true to me concerning our present Christian atmosphere here in the west. We’re so preoccupied competing with one another for the spotlight that the real darkness rages on undeterred. We have lost our tolerance for discomfort and renamed it pain. And we have upgraded pain to torture. The least insult and we cry persecution. Because we react to every day frustration at a 10, when we encounter real opposition and oppression, we’ve got nothing left. We’re too exhausted from carrying our purses to move mountains. I don’t think we meant to be reduced to this. We were just picnicking by the brook of culture, wading knee deep when the flood came and engulfed us. We’ve had an outpouring alright but it’s the spirit of the world.

The thing is, we like it. It offers instant pain relief for our paper cuts and microphones for our ceaseless opinions.

And, anyway, why get ourselves all scratched up in the thicket when we can perform in costumes on stage?
We’ve atrophied in our affluence. In some respects our quality of life has diminished our quantity of Spirit. We 
need less so we pray less, plead for less, believe for less, live for less. I’m not proposing we go sell everything we have but I am proposing we not sell our souls to everything we have.

The earth is quaking with peril. Injustice abounds and we throw it pennies and post selfies doing it. We’re preoccupied with our race against one another while the eyes of heaven search the earth for servants of 
Elijah’s ilk willing to pay the price, pray earnestly for rain with such fiery faith that, at the sight of the first
fist-sized cloud, they’d run like the wind, leaving the chariots of the world’s proud and mighty in clouds of dust.
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently…” (James 5:16b-17a)

We’ve lost our tolerance for pain and given way to whining and it does not look good on us. But here’s the 
question that keeps needling at me: Could it be possible that our habitual whining is the result of failing to wail when we should have? There’s stuff to wail about. The condition of the world, the sufferings of the masses, the hemorrhaging of the truth and the colossal loss of Christlikeness in the church are wail-worthy. What would happen if there was less long term whining and more rightly timed wailing?

Over the course of the last five years, one of the things I believe God has consistently made clear to me is that He’d require more in my later years than less.  Coasting was out of the question.  If I wanted to teach and
minister under an increasing anointing, for instance, or bear fruit more profusely or see bona fide breakthroughs in the Body of Christ and true wonders of God in the midst of ministry, I’d have to press in further, go deeper with Him in His Word, get bolder in love, service, prayer and get mightier in battle. Humbler in spirit. Some of the need for pressing in further as time goes on can probably be explained by Revelation 12:12.  Satan is furious because he knows his time is short.  Each generation will either get stronger in battle or sink further and further into defeat.  But I also think God’s increased requirement was for my good. What once came a little easier, I’d now have to fight for. I’d have to want it desperately. Cry out for it.

This has been the gift of my older age, not the curse. I bring it up only because I wonder if I’m not the only one to whom Jesus is, in effect, saying, “It’s going to take more than this.”

John the Baptizer said Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
But where IS our fire?  Where IS the Holy Spirit?                                                                                                 It LOOKS like the Holy Spirit.                                                                                                                                 It SOUNDS like the Holy Spirit.                                                                                                                             It often ACTS like the Holy Spirit.                                                                                                 

But here’s the pertinent question: Does it WORK like the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit is effectual.  His work bears abundant, lasting fruit.

I keep reading and reading the New Testament.  I keep studying those early followers, noting how the Holy Spirit looked on them and operated through them.  I don’t think this is it.  I think we’re settling for woefully less than Jesus promised us He’d do.  He is unfailingly faithful so He’s not the problem.  Where are the “greater works than these” among us?  Don’t tell me they were meant for those first followers alone. I won’t believe you and I won’t because I don’t think the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation supports it.  We’ve lowered the bar and exchanged the spring of living water for the spiked Kool Aid of cool cultural Christianity.

Yes, it is incumbent upon us to be relevant because we are not the church of a century ago.  We are the church here and now.  But what will make us relevant is the fact that our faith actually works.  That we really are who we claim to be. Evidences that Jesus does what He says He does.  To have an appearance of godliness but lack its power was a sign of fraudulence in 2 Timothy 3:5.  We’re called to a fearlessness in the Spirit that results in authentic power, love and self control.   Good Lord, where is an ounce of self control among us???

If we were experiencing more than a few splatters of the Holy Spirit, we’d see evidences like…
Repentance of sins, then FRUIT of that repentance. Salvation of souls. Freedom from bondage that outlasts the weekend. Release from oppression. Transformation. True humility. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. The impossible made possible. Deliverance from addiction that takes less than 20 rounds of rehab. Remarkable reductions in pornography. (I’m talking about among US. The church. Forget preaching it the world when we’re neck deep in it ourselves. Pornography is leaving us impotent spiritually as much as physically.)  Real, live healing from brokenness and brokenheartedness.  JOY abounding even in suffering.  Some hint of real unity.   
   
I just keep looking around, reading, watching podcasts, listening, trying my best to pay attention and I keep thinking, “is this it?!                                                                                                                                               Looks like the Holy Spirit.                                                                                                                                       Sounds like the Holy Spirit.                                                                                                                                   Acts like the Holy Spirit.            
                                                                                                                      
That’s not enough.  We cannot let up until we see the EFFECTS of the Holy Spirit. And if we’re not seeing them, let’s have courage enough to ask why. Galatians 3:3 says we can start something genuinely in the Holy Spirit but finish it in the flesh. Sometimes we lose heart but most of the time we just lose interest. Oh, to fall back on our faces that the Holy Spirit would fall back on us.

Leadership keeps talking about our corporate need for repentance but have we led the way? Are we even really praying anymore? Do we read our Bibles anymore? As hard as this is to accept, reading a blogpost does not qualify as reading the Bible.  For crying out loud, we’re getting push notifications on our phones for our daily Scripture readings and calling it spiritual discipline.  The way to the altar of repentance is so overgrown with the weeds of neglect, it’s not even visible. It’s up to us to hack the way through it and make the way clear again. It’s up to us to weep and wail for the church who has lost her way.

We are suffering from anemia. We need iron back in our blood. Calcium back in our bones.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul refers to “the word of God which is at WORK within you.”  If we were in the Word of God, it would be at work in us.
In Colossians 1:29 he says, “For this I toil struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.”

Many of us are working hard in the Body of Christ. We are exhausted and unfulfilled and perhaps for any number of reasons but maybe chief among them is that we are empowering the powerful instead of the powerless.  Is this what the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was supposed to look like? The powerful keep getting more powerful? We’ve become wolves among sheep rather than sheep among wolves.  There are many upsides to the access the internet gives us to see innumerable events and concerts and church services where the Holy Spirit is powerfully at work but one downside is that we can inadvertently create the same atmosphere but without the authentic anointing of the Spirit.

Our biggest hindrance can sometimes be the fact that we’re just good at what we do. And we know how to do it. We’re huge on hype and hype is posing as the Holy Spirit.  A few weeks later when the adrenaline fizzles out and we’re back to our old selves and the environment is back to its old climate, why aren’t we asking,
WAS THAT IT?  Is that all there is to it?  All we can expect?  All we should expect?

It’s risky to wait on the Lord and rely on His Spirit. It’s so much easier to default into what has worked before. The crowd-pleaser. The crowd-rouser.  But what if we got the nerve to quit defaulting?  What if we risked feeling the lack of His Presence if that’s what it took to send us to our knees to cry out for Him?  What if we no longer relied on what we know would rally and we started admitting to Him in corporate and personal prayer that we’ve grown inept and ineffective and we’ve faked half of what appears to be working and we want Him back in the worst way?

I want holy fire.  Bona fide holy fire.  I don’t think what we’re seeing is what Jesus was saying.  I want to see the real thing.  Feel its heat.  See its effects.  There are glimpses here and there – a few campfires smoking – but I don’t think anybody’s got gall enough to say that the Body of Christ is glaring with the evidence of the Holy Spirit.  In the words of Moses, what else but His Presence will distinguish us from the rest of the world?

“O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us,                                                                            what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old.” Psalm 44:1

Be blessed with measures of ever-increasing faith, my dear friends, and pray-pray-PRAY for revival.  
Oh let it begin with me, Jesus... Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!  Psalm 139:23-24
 
With love in Christ, Betsy 







No comments:

Post a Comment