Sunday, July 21, 2013

The following excerpt was taken from "Experiencing God's Presence" by Chris Tiegreen: 

"As the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an AWARENESS OF THE GLORY of the LORD." Habakkuk 2:14

Scripture is filled with majestic, sweeping verses like this one. Some of them envision nations streaming to Jerusalem for worship or every knee bowing before Jesus. Many portray a level of victory for God's Kingdom that, in light of the headlines we read, seems hopelessly far-fetched. So what do we do? We take the really good promises and defer them to that "one day" after Jesus comes back - the millennial kingdom or the heavenly city. We modify an old adage with a spiritual twist" 'If something seems too good to be true, it probably is - this side of heaven.'

We've been conditioned to not believe extravagantly. We've been disappointed too often, even by other Christians and our own perceptions of God. So if an extravagant declaration from Scripture doesn't seem realistic to us, we assume it belongs to another age. The problem is that in doing so with something God plans for this age, we forfeit any meaningful participation in it. To be specific, we don't pursue great manifestations of His glory because we don't believe He will give them now. In our beliefs, we default to the status quo.

Do you really want to experience God? Then have big vision - a vision that honors what He has said prophetically and that fits His heart for the world. Small visions don't capture his heart and don't reflect who He is. He doesn't fill nearsighted hearts with faith because they don't really need it. But those who lift up their eyes and envision God's victories in this world will find HIs strong support within and around them. He Presence accompanies His agenda.

Father, I not only want to see Your glory fill me, I want to see it fill the earth. Increase my vision to believe such things and to pursue them. In my lifetime, let me see Your Kingdom advance in ways I never imagined.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

a call to a community of unity.

We were made for COMMUNITY. We were meant for a shared journey with one another. We are a body. We can’t do it on our own. We need each other. There is a reason why we gather as believers. There is a reason why we share testimony to build up each other’s faith in what the Lord is doing.  Traveling here there and everywhere over the past year (or being out of college for that matter) has made the word “community” translate something in my heart like never before. It has bubbled up a thankfulness in my heart from a deep deep well for the people that I’m surrounded by and live life with. He has entrusted something beautiful to me. Community - It makes you come alive. We all ache for real community that knows us, that understands us, encourages us, and yes pushes us. Believe it or not, we want to be pushed and challenged. We want MORE.

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to PROVOKE unto love and good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.“ [Hebrews 10: 23-25 KJV]

I love the word provoke here. It’s edgy. It pushes. It challenges. By definition it’s to stir up, or call forth (feelings, desires, or activity), to give rise to, induce, or bring about. In essence, to leave the so-called vision state we are in for an expanded vision of another. Provoke each other to what? To love, and yes good works. I know a lot of us think good works, and our mind immediately goes to service projects, or have like a “good deed” mentality. However, there is more here than just meets the eye. I learned something here going over this text. By the original Greek translation the word used for works here is “ergon” and is translated in this passage into “God works.” Wow. SO…. Let us provoke each other into God works. Amazing. This altered my thinking all together and dropped something in my heart that just stirred me to overflow. God works --- the kind of things that ONLY GOD CAN DO. Let us provoke each other into things that only God can do. To push each other past ourselves and to things that there is no way we can do in and of ourselves; things that if God doesn’t show up will not happen. This takes big faith. And even just saying that makes me want to jump out of my seat with excitement. We all want to be apart of something we cannot do on our own - something far greater than ourselves. It’s exhilarating. However, this cannot happen on our own. This takes other people coming along side us, to join us in vision and faith. To provoke us. There are times when I can’t believe, when I am filled with doubt, or quite frankly scared out of my mind. We need each others’ faith. We are a line walking together as a community toward a goal and when I weaken and fall behind I need someone to push me back to the line, and not only to the line but forward. I need someone to provoke me. There is a beautiful responsibility we take on for each other as a community of believers - it’s about the physical representation of the church, CHRIST, on this earth – His glory; His renown, and that is our united aim.

What is our expectation? What is our vision? What is your God given calling? The questions arises shouldn’t our aim be high, our vision be huge if we know and understand we have the spirit of God that raised Christ from the dead and that that same power resides in and is working through us? And not only if we understand that individually, but take hold of that corporately– the power in that to do the immeasurably more He promises in Ephesians 3:20-21 astounds me.

We need to leverage our faith for each other. In moments when one can’t see what’s ahead, we can be their eyes. In moments when someone can’t believe the capacity of what the Lord has called them to, we can believe for them. When someone can move anymore, we can be their legs. It is more about awakening each other to what is already in us: what He has spoken- calling out gifts in each other to use for the kingdom, reminding each other of the authority we have in Christ and ultimately pushing and helping each other grow into the likeness of Christ.

Going back to the Hebrews 10 verse above, I love the mention of encouraging the body as well as provoking the body. We need to be encouraged, but we also need to be pushed for more… into a fullness of life that we could not attain without the power of Christ. As a community, as a body, we are entering a new frontier of risk and faith. Let us take the safety net out of our prayers and pray boldly, believing and trusting the Lord to do what He has promised. Let’s in unity spur and provoke each other into things that only God can do.

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” [Hebrews 10:39]