Saturday, April 1, 2017

Zechariah 8:9-23 "One Day Soon"

A song based on Zechariah 8:9-23, which reads:

"This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Now hear these words, ‘Let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built.’ This is also what the prophets said who were present when the foundation was laid for the house of the Lord Almighty. Before that time there were no wages for people or hire for animals. No one could go about their business safely because of their enemies, since I had turned everyone against their neighbor. But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past,” declares the Lord Almighty.

“The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. Just as you, Judah and Israel, have been a curse among the nations, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Just as I had determined to bring disaster on you and showed no pity when your ancestors angered me,” says the Lord Almighty, “so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.

The word of the Lord Almighty came to me.

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth,seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.’ And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’”

"One Day Soon"

The Lord's hand is upon you

Do not be afraid

Go forth and do His will

And He will make a way

Stay faithful to His ways

Just be His little sheep

The times are quickly changing

His Word is His to keep

Speak truth to one another

Make judgments true and sound

Don't plot evil, let your promises

Be made on solid ground

The time is quickly coming

When nations near and far

Will gather at the Temple

They'll come just as they are

Will you be among those

Who must strive to know Him more

Or will you be the one

Who leads them to the Lord?

The Lily knows her Gardener

The Bride knows her Beloved One

She's despised now as a curse

But her wedding day will come

Monday, March 13, 2017

Is It Really For Jesus?

A song based on Zechariah 7:1-12, which reads

"In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melek, together with their men, to entreat the Lord by asking the priests of the house of the Lord Almighty and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”

Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? Are these not the words the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?’”

And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backsand covered their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry."

It's important for us to ask the Lord what He thinks about our spiritual habits and traditions, like the people of Bethel did. Things are not automatically from the Lord because they seem ok and we've always done them. He is a person, and He has specific desires. Our own plans will always fall short. Our flesh only gives birth to flesh, and our stony hearts only give birth to more stone. Jesus alone gives us life.

Verse 1
Is our fruit from Jesus?
Is all our life in Him?
Are the streams we live by
The streams of His grace?

Every man will do
What is right in his own eyes
Unless he goes to God
To receive his life
So whatever you do

Ask yourself this:
Is it really for Jesus?
Is it really for the Lord?
'Cause flesh gives birth to flesh
And stone gives birth to stone
Until the Lord gives us life
And shows us the way to go
And then it will be, really, for Jesus.

Verse 2
All this fasting
And all this feasting
Don't matter much if they don't 
Come from the Lord

So come to your Shepherd
And learn of His ways
As Him how He
Wants to be served
And whatever you do (chorus)

Verse 3
Carry out justice
Show mercy and compassion
Do not oppress the widow
Or the orphan

Don't you oppress
The foreigner or the poor
And do not plot evil
And wait and listen to the Lord (chorus)

The Name of Jesus

A song based on Zechariah 6:9-15, which reads

"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Take silver and gold from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jozadak. Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: "Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two." The crown will be given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the Lord. Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord, and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God.'"

Here, Joshua represents Jesus. The names are indistinguishable in Aramaic, and both have the same meaning: God is Salvation. Praise Jesus, who has all the qualities mentioned in this passage.

Verse 1
Jesus is the Builder of the Temple
Jesus left His glory to be my Priest
Jesus is the Branch who was raised up
Shepherd for the lost and wandering sheep

Jesus is the Priest
Jesus is the Sacrifice
Jesus is the song I sing
Full of joy and peace
Full of all His life
Jesus is my only King

Verse 2
Take my heart and let it be Your temple
Welcomed in Your glory, I need no other Priest
Send me as a branch to raise You up
And carry Your heart to the other sheep (chorus)

The Plans I Have Made

A song based on Zechariah 5:5-11 and 6:1-8, which reads,

"Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what is appearing.”
I asked, “What is it?”
He replied, “It is a basket.” And he added, “This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.”
Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.
Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.
“Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me.
He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.”
I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze. The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled—all of them powerful. I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these, my lord?”
The angel answered me, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south.”
When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, “Go throughout the earth!” So they went throughout the earth.
Then he called to me, “Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north.”

When I read these words I was struck by how inevitable the Lord's ultimate plan is. He is the eternal conqueror of sin and death, and I am invited to share in the certainty of His victory over all these things. There is so much reassurance in knowing that it is finished in eternity.

Verse 1
The sins of all time
Though seeming now to spread
Like sickness across the land
Are gathered and fixed
And one day their time
Will come to the end that eternity rests upon
So have faith

I hold your times in My hands
And I teach the winds with My voice
Though clouded in your eyes
Though generations go by
Nothing can hold back the plans I have made

Verse 2
Wrath is poured out
On the idols of men
Now it pursues like a flame
Straining until
I give it leave
To go through the world and give my Spirit rest
So have faith (chorus)

Take comfort My child
The burdens you bear
Are already overcome
In eternity's coming day of glory
You will know and see
So now rest and believe (chorus)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Battlefield

To you who are still afraid to live boundlessly in the Spirit--to go wherever He goes, to stay wherever He stays, to rest upon His whispers and trust Him to help you know the Truth--here is my message.

You claim that by opening yourself fully to the leading of the Holy Spirit, you open yourself to too great a risk--the risk of being hijacked by some other spirit, the risk of being hijacked by your own flesh.

Well, you are right.

The decision to give yourself over in surrender to the Spirit is the first step you will take onto a battlefield.  Out of the shelter of the ancient trees, onto the exposed plains where missiles fly to and fro and the ground is drenched in blood.  You will come face to face with demons.  You will do battle with things you weren't sure existed beforehand.  Principalities will war over your affections and your trust.  You will cry out in anger against your flesh like you never have before, beating it down again and again.

But you will be with Jesus.

Friend, Jesus is on the battlefield.  He is not a Captain that watches over the battle silently from the shelter of the trees.  He is out there in the mud and blood and sweat, and as long as you stay with Him and hear His every order, you will survive and you will be led into all wisdom and understanding.  He is the best strategist.  He is the Captain.

Soon you will find that fighting next to Him on the battlefield is the safest place to be!  The doctrines and rumors and thrones and kingdoms that drift and sneak among the ancient trees are deadly.  These silent predators ensnare the hearts of those who nobly desire to be wise and informed and steady, but who fear to rest upon the whispers of the Spirit, and thus they do not abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  To really abide, to really walk in wisdom, you must join the Captain on the battlefield.

Go to Jesus in your prayer closet today.  Ask Him to speak to you by His Spirit--in words, in dreams and in visions.  Wait upon Him there.  Ask to be brought onto the battlefield to wage war alongside the Captain.  His is the only victory cry!  Go to Him, beloved!  Even the youngest will not be turned away from boundless devotion to the blazing Life of Christ!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Catching the Foxes: Song of Solomon 2:14-15

"My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hiding places on the mountainside,
show Me your face,
let Me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom."

Dear sister, the Lord delights in you. You bring joy to His heart and His desire to have your whole heart is fierce. In this passage the Bridegroom asks for the Bride's vulnerability toward Him, and for her honesty and companionship. She is hiding in the clefts of the rock, but she is silent and distant toward her Bridegroom. He is seeking her out.

There are many reasons that we may close off our hearts to Jesus. We may feel guilty, or we may fear being abandoned by Him as we have been abandoned by so many others. My sister, you can lift your eyes and your voice to the Savior, for He delights in you! To Him, your voice is sweet. Just talking to Him about how you are feeling, what your worries are, what you love and look forward to--these are precious offerings that bless His heart! To Him, your face is lovely. Come to Him without a veil to cover those parts of you that you are embarrassed or offended by, or the parts that weigh heavily on you as you journey through life--remove the veil and turn your face fully to Jesus, my sister. He will cleanse you and He will bind your wounds.

The Bride is asked to catch the foxes that ruin their vineyard. Remember that the vineyard represents your heart, and specifically your relationship with Jesus. What kinds of foxes are trampling your heart, my sister?

Catching foxes is more simple than we might realize at first. The Hebrew word that is translated "little" means insignificant, easily overcome. Our role in catching foxes is simply to call them what they are. For me, I must recognize that what I insisted was "righteous anger" was actually bitterness. What I had been calling "responsible awareness" was actually worry. What I had sheltered as "caution" was actually unbelief. And what I had guarded in my heart as "my needs" were actually selfish demands.

Each of these was a fox in my heart, and once I called them by name they were ensnared by repentance! I asked God what to do with the foxes once they were caught, and He said so clearly, "bring them to Me." You don't have to fix your vineyard, my sister. That's the Bridegroom's job. He does ask you to catch the foxes, though, through repentance.

My sister, there is another level to this beautiful parable, and it is a hard one to receive. We are each a Bride of Christ, but we are also members of The Bride of Christ, who is one person, the Church. He hungers for her righteousness more than we can imagine. He fights for her daily. He will not stop pursuing her whole heart until He has what He is fighting for, a pure and spotless Bride.

The Bride of Christ is plagued by many foxes. Daughters and Sons of the Living God are led astray by false doctrine, by temptations, and discouragement. My sister, do you love Christ enough to fight for His Bride? Will you discard social expectations and polite behavior to chase down the foxes so that the Bride might really lift her face and her voice to the Bridegroom, and receive His life?

The modern church ("little c") has been bought by the worldly lie that in order to love someone, you must let them live as they choose. This is a cancer in the church, my sister. The truth is that among brothers and sisters in Jesus, if I have fallen prey to sin it is your duty to confront and restore me. This is the only way to love me. Love means reaching into my life and calling my fox by its name! It is not love, it is hatred toward me if you continue to fellowship with me and refuse to do me this service.

I know this is hard, sister. But it is the truth. We are all hunters of foxes, in our own hearts and in the Church. May we continually strive to turn our faces and lift our voices to the One who loves us, who laid down His life to have our hearts!
"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently." Galatians 6:1

"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18

"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?" 1 Corinthians 5:12

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector." Matthew 18:15-17

"Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."  
Jude 22-23

"For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:4-11

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." Romans 12:9

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ." Ephesians 4:15

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Kirma 2: The Price of Following Man

"Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead"

Galatians 1:1

Have you ever noticed that this theme persists throughout all of Galatians? "Sent not from men nor by a man."

The Galatians were apparently more interested in which men a person was associated with, rather than which Gospel that person preached. Paul systematically breaks down this stronghold throughout the book of Galatians.

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." 1:8-10

Are we so bold? Are you bold enough to declare that you are no longer about the business of pleasing people, but only about the business of being a servant of Christ?

"I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." 1:11-12

Paul is totally disassociating himself and the Gospel from any human origin. How foreign this is from the basic, run-of-the-mill "testimony" we hear so often, where a believer credits another, older believer with being the source of their new found faith. Is our faith built upon someone else's faith, or does it spring from real revelation from Jesus Christ Himself?

"But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being." 1:15-16

How strange this is to the modern Church, which presses each new believer to consult pastors, worship leaders, Bible studies, small groups, and mountains upon mountains of books written by supposedly great men of God who have all of the answers....but are we training our young believers to consult Jesus? To thrust their roots deeply into His grace and His presence?

"Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles." 2:1-2

He "went in response to a revelation." He didn't go because he was somehow incomplete without the approval of the Jewish elders. He didn't need their endorsement. He went because Jesus sent him. Jesus was Paul's only endorsement, and his only source of authority.

"As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message." 2:6

Ha! How proud and haughty these words would sound coming from a pulpit today, where every pastor seems to need connections with a famous teacher in order to appear legitimate!

God does not show favoritism. Do you believe that, son or daughter of the Living God? Do you believe that in Heaven's eyes you are given the same power and wisdom that was given to Paul himself, because you have been given the same Jesus that was given to Paul?

The word "kirma" means an unholy mixture, where the true thing is torn and rendered incomplete in order to be mixed with the lesser, false thing. Church, stop trying to mix the power and authority of Christ with the weak, empty influence of man! The greatest teacher in the history of the church has no more of Jesus than the newest Christian! Jesus spilled all of Himself out for each one. You only need to know Christ. He will direct how His Body moves and builds itself up. All you have is Christ. All you need is Christ.

When someone asks you "what kind" of Christian you are, do not tell them which pastors you listen to, which books you read, which theologians you admire! Tell them Who Christ is!

The price of following man is that you are no longer a servant of Christ alone. Do not let this type of "kirma" infiltrate your life. It's not worth it. He poured Himself out so that you could have all of Him! Do not mix His priceless sacrifice with the safer, more comforting shadow of a "great man." Follow Paul's example in this world, a world which only knows a faded image of Jesus that is portrayed in the sermons of "great men." Disassociate yourself from man's authority. Walk under the authority of Christ. Be His servant, and no one else's.