These are the questions that the Church and Christians all over the world need to be praying about and over. I know that the answer to these questions seems simple and obvious enough, but in actual fact the “text-book” reply is not matched by the reality we Christians find in our midst today. Where did the fear of the Lord go?
I am reading through the book of Isaiah this morning. Have been asking the Lord to point me in the right direction as to which part of His Word I must focus on at this time, and I have had no direction. The Lord has made His presence manifest in other ways however, and He has been guiding me ever so gently through a discouraging period of spiritual drought. Though I have not abided in His word and prayed as much as I have been doing in months previous, I have felt His grace abounding in my life and carrying me through. I am hanging by a very thin thread which may tear at any moment, but the gravity of my spiritual plight only serves to highlight how truly lost I am without God in my life, how paramount His lead is in my here and now, in my future, in all that I am and hope to become.
It is clear to me now that an old wineskin is beginning to shed for a new one to be revealed, the old is gone and the new is birthed. I feel called to a deeper level of commitment in my faith. I have been here before, but each time the degree of commitment and sacrifice intensifies, and the authenticity required for this glorious journey becomes more apparent, more undeniable.
You may recall my last post about some unwelcome visitors to our house: in particular, the mice and more so the bats. In 14 years leaving in this house, we have never had either, and so I know there is a message in there somewhere. I have often said that things that take place in the natural will often reveal what is happening in the spiritual realm, and I believe this to be such an occasion. Can it be that though I feel the Lord has been distant lately, that His light has moved away from me, He has been there all along but His voice, His message, His calling me to a deeper level of sacrifice, a deeper level of love has become too much to handle, too much to face and act on? He has not really been distant. It has been me who has been reluctant to pick up my bible, to pray because in the spirit I know what is coming. I know that I have got to a point in my faith where remaining where I am is no longer an option and moving forward will mean some radical changes in my life, will mean accepting a challenge which will shake up myself and my family in such a way that nothing will ever be the same after that. Jesus has been whispering the very same thing in my ear for a long time now, but as time has gone by, the whisper has become louder and louder to a point where I know that unless I take action and obey, I no longer can operate in Spirit and in truth, but only in my own strength. I am running out of steam, and the fuel will only be replenished when obedience has taken place. I have reached a cliff edge and God is asking me: will you jump? Will you trust that if you do, I will not let you fall and grow weary, but I will carry you on wings like eagles? I actually had this dream years ago. As I leaned on His wings and we took flight, the views were spectacular, unimaginable, the adrenalin unequalled, the blessing and prize after my leap of faith had made the fear and mighty challenge of taking that life-threatening jump pale into oblivion when gazing into the glory and power echoed in His creation.
I have read the bible in full a few times now, and I am at a loss as to where to begin again. I am sitting here this morning begging God for direction and then after flicking through pages of various of my favourite books in the Bible, it comes. I start right at the beginning of Isaiah, but as I have been going for a few minutes, I just don’t feel the immediate connection and tingling down my spine which I always feel the moment I begin to read any verse in the Bible. I am coming to a halt again and I begin to feel discouraged and upset, and then…..
Isaiah 2, 6-22
The Day of the Lord
You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practise divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots. Their land is full of idols. They bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made. So man will be brought low and mankind humbled – do not forgive them.
Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the Lord and the splendour of His majesty! The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship, and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear.
Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from the dread of the Lord and the splendour of his majesty, when He rises to shake the earth. In that day men will throw away to the rodents and bats their idols of silver and idols of gold, which they made to worship. They will flee to caverns in the rocks and to the overhanding crags from dread of the Lord and the splendour of His majesty when He rises to shake the earth.
Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?
Ok. Mention of rodents and bats all on the same verse. Now God really has my attention. Of all the times I have read Isaiah, I never knew or remembered the mention of rodents and bats, but when it matters I cannot miss it. As I read those words, I stop on my tracks and a solid knot forms in my throat. Non believers will often ask the question: How can you claim you hear God speak, you are in relationship with him and he communicates with you? Well, this is a great example of how He communicates. First, He will place a notion in your heart, a thought as a consequence of a serious of events in the natural world. In my case, my concern for the mice, bats, wasps and maggots present in our house and garden over these last few weeks. Then, you feel a burden in your spirit, a nagging feeling that this is not just a coincidence, a law of nature that all these creatures have decided to take residency in my home all at once, right before we are to have a Thank you party to celebrate the “Help to Feed the Homeless” initiative which has been going and growing for two years now. And then, only then, the stage is set, the heart is ripe to receive the mightily powerful word of God which cuts through bone and marrow like a double-edged sword:
“In that day men will throw away to the rodents and the bats their idols of silver and idols of gold , which they made to worship”
God is crying out within my heart for a deeper level of commitment in my faith to discard all our idols made of silver and gold. God is calling us all Christians in the Western World to rid our lives of the gadgets, the material possessions, the cars, the wealth, the luxurious homes, the national defences, the well paid jobs, the hobbies, football, pleasure, our churches, our ministries, whatever it is that is taking God’s rightful place in our hearts. I feel God is particularly calling the area where I live to lay it all down for the Kingdom, to begin to be fully committed in our faith, and not to give half-heartedly when we have so very much more to give for Kingdom purposes, and note I don’t equate that to giving to The Church, for many churches are ill using their resources and focusing their God-given gifts and resources in the wrong places, for the wrong motives.
This is what I mean when I rant about the call of the Christian to pick up our cross and follow Him. We say the right things, we talk the right talk, display the behaviour which we deem will ensure other Christians see us as worthy of such a beautiful name, but in actual fact how far, how deep are we prepared to go into such a calling? How real is our commitment to the cause of Christ and His redemptive message to this world? Are we prepared to truly die to self so that others may live?
Yes, the “Help to Feed the homeless” initiative is a wonderful display of love in action by a wonderful bunch of people who have a heart for those in need, for the broken, but I know the Lord expects more from us than giving of our food. The calling of the Christian has to go much deeper than that. We cannot stall and become complacent when we feel we have stretched from where we first set off. As we grow in our giving, in our commitment to Kingdom living, the layers of our fleshly desires, pride, selfishness and self-centeredness gently peel off until there are no more layers left, and a gem is revealed to the world which reflect’s the Lord’s glory, which resembles the heart of The Saviour. The Church can and needs to do so much more TODAY, not in a year’s time, not tomorrow, but TODAY. Individual Christians need to heed the voice of God and begin to obey unconditionally, no matter what the cost. We need to live each day as if it was The Day of the Lord, with fear and trembling, knowing that we have done everything we can with what we have been blessed with.
As the word of God says we need to stop trusting in man and in our own ability, to rid ourselves of all our idols and to begin to draw strength, confidence and hope solely from the Giver of Life, the source of all that ever was, is and will be.
I leave you with a reflection: What do you have in your house which can be sold today for a kingdom cause? What treasures are you storing on earth that can multiply a hundred fold if used for God’s purposes? What things do you cherish above God which when the Lord appears in full might and glory, you will in dread throw to the rodents and the bats? What wonderful gifts and character traits have you been blessed with that you could be using TODAY to supernaturally change the plight of others? How are you investing your time each day? What can you do TODAY that does not keep adding to your own comfort, well-being and pleasure, but which supernaturally transforms the lives of others? If the Lord appeared today, would you welcome Him with open arms or would you flee to the caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground with shame and regret for not having sacrificed more than you did; for being inconsistent in your convictions as you profess something but immediately deny its power by the way you live your life?
For those who know me, may I ask that you pray that as I have clearly heard today what the Lord is calling me to do, my family and I are obedient to that call and as we seek to obey, we do not turn to look back. God bless you.