Category Archives: Revelation

Your ‘Aha’ Moment…

Despite the title, this post doesn’t have a lot to do with a certain 80’s band, but it’s about an experience that I’m sure everyone who’s read the Bible has had at one time or another.

It looks like this: You’re spending time reading the Bible, and you come across a passage or Scripture that’s confusing – you’re not sure what it means.

Now the temptation can be just to ignore it and move on…. pretend it’s not there and put it in the ‘too hard’ basket. Or you could take the option to disagree with what it seems to be saying because it doesn’t make sense to how you see the world or what you value.

But the truth is that there’s gold sitting right in front of you.

God has made His Word to be like a treasure hunt, and the difficult parts are actually designed to be doorways rather than dead-ends.

If you’ve been around church for a while, you’ll have undoubtedly heard the word ‘revelation‘. It might sound like a very super-spiritual word – but it simply means ‘to reveal’ – to take the veil away. It’s the ‘aha’ moment that comes when something that was mysterious becomes obvious. It’s like when an illusionist does a trick and you sit dumbfounded… until he shows you how he did it! Then the ‘aha’ moment… the ‘revelation’ comes.

So when you hit a Scripture or passage that looks like it’s a dead-end for you, rather than get discouraged, get excited… you’re looking at an opportunity to understand who God is and how He works in a greater way. An ‘aha’ moment is waiting!

So how do you go about the process of getting a stream of water out of a brick wall? Here’s what I’ve found works for me:

  1. Look at what’s around the verse or passage.  What’s before it and after it?  What context is it being said in?
  2. Look at the key words in the verse or passage and find where they’re used elsewhere in the Bible.  This is where a concordance or a Strongs Dictionary comes in handy.  Discovering how the words in the verse are used in other parts of the Bible can help shine light on understanding what the passage is saying.
  3. Ask God to show you what it means, and journal what you feel like He’s saying.  Write down any thoughts you have, questions that it makes you ask, conclusions that reading the passage and looking at the words brings you to.
  4. Look at what other great Bible teachers and commentaries say about this verse.  The awesome thing about the day we live in is that we have such easy access to wisdom and insights from brilliant Bible teachers through the ages.  Some great online resources include the Blue Letter Bible,  the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (really good for historic Christian writings) and I also really appreciate John Piper’s writings on DesiringGod.org.   If you’ve got e-Sword or a Bible program on your computer, Matthew Henry, John Gill and James, Fausset & Brown are great commentaries too.

There’s nothing wrong per se with going straight to a Bible teacher or commentary to discover what a Bible verse or passage means. But something I’ve discovered is if I go through the first three steps and use the last as a ‘check’, then I develop my ability to mine gold from the Word of God. And it’s MY gold too! Not just something I heard from someone else.

So the next time you hit a passage or verse you don’t understand – remember, it’s not a dead-end, it’s a doorway. There’s treasure to be found… and an AHA moment waiting for you!

Advertisements

The Key To Becoming Prophetic

“Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?”  – Genesis 18:17

 

There was nothing seemingly special about Abraham.  His claim to fame was that he simply believed God.  When God spoke, Abraham listened and obeyed.

This simple obedience proved to be the key for Abraham increasing in his ability to know what God was going to do next.  A person with faith is a God-magnet, and so supernatural activities began to occur around Abraham’s life.

But the key is a very simple one – have faith in, and obey what God has already shown you.  Many people want to grow in prophetic power to know what God is saying about the future, or to have supernatural experiences with Him.  But God won’t necessarily bring greater words to those who haven’t listened or responded to his smaller words.

Training in the prophetic starts with obeying the small promptings of the Holy Spirit.  To believe God for something impossible, to turn away from a particular sin, to share a seemingly insignificant word with someone.  Abraham had become so good at believing God, so reliable at walking out what God wanted… that God said to Himself… “can I really hide from Abraham what I’m going to do next?”.

As we learn to be faithful with the little things… this same question will grow in God’s heart towards us too.

Thoughts On Job 28 – Mining Gold!

Job 28:1 – Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for gold which they refine.

Job 28:2 – Iron is taken out of the earth, and copper is smelted out of the ore.

Job 28:3 – Man sets an end to darkness, and searches out, to the furthest bound, the stones of obscurity and of thick darkness.

Job 28:4 – He breaks open a shaft away from where people live. They are forgotten by the foot. They hang far from men, they swing back and forth.

Job 28:5 – As for the earth, out of it comes bread; Underneath it is turned up as it were by fire.

Job 28:6 – Sapphires come from its rocks. It has dust of gold.

Job 28:7 – That path no bird of prey knows, neither has the falcon’s eye seen it.

Job 28:8 – The proud animals have not trodden it, nor has the fierce lion passed by there.

Job 28:9 – He puts forth his hand on the flinty rock, and he overturns the mountains by the roots.

Job 28:10 – He cuts out channels among the rocks. His eye sees every precious thing.

Job 28:11 – He binds the streams that they don’t trickle. The thing that is hidden he brings forth to light.

Job 28:12 – But where shall wisdom be found? Where is the place of understanding?

Job 28:13 – Man doesn’t know its price; Neither is it found in the land of the living.

Job 28:14 – The deep says, ‘It isn’t in me.’ The sea says, ‘It isn’t with me.’

Job 28:15 – It can’t be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for its price.

Job 28:16 – It can’t be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire{or, lapis lazuli}.

Job 28:17 – Gold and glass can’t equal it, neither shall it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.

Job 28:18 – No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal. Yes, the price of wisdom is above rubies.

Job 28:19 – The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, Neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Job 28:20 – Whence then comes wisdom? Where is the place of understanding?

Job 28:21 – Seeing it is hidden from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the birds of the sky.

Job 28:22 – Destruction and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’

Job 28:23 – God understands its way, and he knows its place.

1)     There is a place where gold and silver are found

It’s not found everywhere.  True treasure is hidden, and it has to be searched for.  But it is SOMEWHERE!

There is treasure in our ministries… but we have to look for it.  It’s often not found just lying around in the easy places.  But it IS there!

2)    Iron is taken out of the ground and copper is smelted

That which is of great value doesn’t start off as great value.  There’s work to be done to turn it into great value.  You don’t just pick up iron & copper – it has to be worked with and processed.

There IS WORK in our ministries to be done.  We co-labour, co-ergo with God.  Just because God’s in the equation it doesn’t mean everything comes easy!

3)    Man sets an end to darkness, and searches out the furtherest bounds

There comes a point in our lives and ministries where we say ‘there must be more’.  I’m not happy with what I’m seeing, with where things are.  I’m going to go exploring.  I’m going to try some things.

Our quest for gold begins with our dissatisfaction at what we currently have.  Settlers never find gold, only explorers do!

4)    Gold is far away from people, and you have to hang there a while

The place where gold is found is away from the crowds.  There’s no signs pointing to it!  Not only that but you have to be prepared to ‘hang’ for a while, swinging back and forth.  Can feel like a pointless endeavour – is anything ever going to happen?

But that’s the process to find gold.  And it’s the same with our ministries.  The most valuable thing we can be doing is exploring.  Our settlements process the gold.  But our mines and explorations discover it.  If the gold starts to dry up, so do our settlements!

5)    No bird of prey / falcon has found it

Those who are looking for a quick feed and an easy path won’t strike gold.  Gold isn’t found by the birds of prey – the scavengers.

6)    He puts his hand on the flinty rock

There is something very tactile, time-consuming, and involved about looking for gold.  It takes time.  YOU have to do it.  You can’t just delegate it to someone else.  Your hand has to touch the flinty rock.  You have to cut the channels.  You have to stop the water flowing (a difficult thing) so that you can find what’s hidden beneath it.

It’s like that with people’s lives.  We have to touch them.  We have to be prepared to bury deep with them, and to stop up the distractions that are flowing over the top so that we can get to the gold.

7)     The thing that is hidden is brought forth to the light

Finally, after all of the process – the gold is found, and brought from the darkness into the light.

THEN HE SAYS… now, what about wisdom?!  Where do you find it?  The answer… God knows the way.  He’s the only one who can direct us in the things that we’re facing today.

The Call Of A Prophet

In 1 Kings 13 there’s this strange little story about a prophet who goes to Bethel to speak against the altar that Jeroboam had set up there.  On the surface it seems like a bit of a weird account – but there’s some insights in it as to how we follow the call of God, and how we treat those who have made mistakes in their ministry.

1 Kings 13:1-32 (NIV)
1 By the word of the LORD a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering.
2 He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD: “O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.'”
3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the LORD has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.”
4 When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back.
5 Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the LORD.
6 Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.

There is no doubt this man is a prophet – he has spoken out against the idols and altars that Jeroboam has set up, and his word immediately comes to pass.  This would have been a very clear sign to the king that God wasn’t into what he was doing.

7 The king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift.”
8 But the man of God answered the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here.
9 For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.'”
10 So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.

This prophet not only had a message from God, but he had a METHOD that God had given Him concerning that message.  He was not to eat or drink in the land, and he was to return by a different route.  When it comes to us walking in our ministries – it’s not just our message that’s important, but it’s also those things that we feel like God has told us to do or not to do as we bring that message.  There are things that God drops into our hearts and consciences – and these things are of vital importance as we will see.

11 Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king.
12 Their father asked them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him which road the man of God from Judah had taken.
13 So he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it
14 and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” “I am,” he replied.
15 So the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat.”
16 The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place.
17 I have been told by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.'”
18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.'” (But he was lying to him.)

19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.

So the prophet  again tells this other prophet about his call.  But this is interesting – the old prophet says an angel has told me something different.  And based on this he manages to turn the young prophet away from his call.  The key here is that the word from a visible angel should never be greater than the word of our invisible God.  Paul said to the Galatians to hold fast to what they had originally received from God ‘even if an angel should bring you a message that is different to what we have brought you’.  In God’s word alone is the protection for us as we walk out the ministry he has called us to.

So the young prophet goes home with the old prophet, and eats and drinks – and then the old prophet declares that the young prophet will be judged from turning away from God’s word.  I think it’s important at this point to move around questions such as ‘would God really send a prophet to try to take down another prophet?’ – and look at what happens next.

24 As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it.

The young prophet ends up being killed by a lion – but the lion doesn’t eat his body, nor does it attack the donkey with him.  It simply stands next to the body, which is highly unusual for a lion.  It’s a sign to everyone around that something is happening here which is from the hand of God.

The point which I want to make out of this part is that if the young prophet had ignored the lying voice of the old prophet, and stayed true to what God had originally sent him to do – he wouldn’t have been killed by the lion.  In the same way there are those who are called by God into particular ministries, and this needs to be a sharp reminder to us all that we have to take God’s METHODS that He’s given us seriously.  They may just save our lives and ministries!

26 When the prophet who had brought him back from his journey heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who defied the word of the LORD. The LORD has given him over to the lion, which has mauled him and killed him, as the word of the LORD had warned him.”
27 The prophet said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me,” and they did so.
28 Then he went out and found the body thrown down on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey.
29 So the prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to his own city to mourn for him and bury him.
30 Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, “Oh, my brother!”
31 After burying him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones.
32 For the message he declared by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against all the shrines on the high places in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.”

This final part of the story gives us some insights on how to deal with those who have ‘fallen’ in ministry.  I’ve been aware over the years of people burning the books and resources of those who have made mistakes in their ministry with God – as if because of one mistake they’d made, suddenly all the good things they’d done were tainted.

But the old prophet HONOURS the young prophet.  He says that his words will certainly come to pass.  He asks for his body to be buried with him.  In the same way, there will be times that there are messengers from God who bring a prophesy or a revelation back to the body of Christ – and then make a major mistake that costs them their ministry.  While we don’t condone the sin that has taken place – it’s also important that we remember and honour what God did through them when they DID obey what He was calling them to.

He’s Asleep!

Matthew 8:24 – Behold, a great tempest arose in the sea, so much that the boat was covered with the waves, but he [Jesus] was asleep.

What is funny about this situation is that in the previous verse the disciples all ended up in the boat because they were ‘following Jesus’.  Jesus then promptly falls asleep, right at the moment that a huge storm blows up!

The disciples must have been wondering ‘what was Jesus thinking’?!  We didn’t ask to come on to the boat – He led us here, and now He’s asleep! 

There will be times when it feels like God leads us into difficult or dangerous situations, and then ‘falls alseep on us’ – doesn’t seem to respond to our prayers or cries for help.  Like the disciples, we have been obedient and simply followed him and trusted Him! 

What they didn’t realise was that they were in the middle of a training exercise!  Jesus had led them there to display His power to them.  Your boat will not sink if the King of Kings is in it!  The more we come to see and understand that fact – the more peace we will have when confronting even the most difficult storms that we face in this life. 

God’s Goodness & Grace

Luke 15:17 (NIV)
17 "When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
i

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the son has an awakening moment when his money has run out and he’s eating pig’s food!  Even the servants in his father’s house have it better than this!

The son is motivated by his own need. He now ponders returning to his father but not because he is motivated to set things right at home, or for restoring relationships or anything. He’s motivated by his hunger. He has nothing to eat – and even the least of the servants have more than enough bread in his father’s house.

This shows us two things:

1) It’s vitally important that we have ‘bread in the house’. Jesus refers to healing as ‘the children’s bread’. When healing and life is prevalent in the house of God, it will make what the prodigals are eating in the world seem very, very second rate.

2) When prodigals return, their motives may be less than noble. They may come back simply because they’re starving. But it’s here that the goodness of God is shown – he doesn’t judge the son, but instead he lavishes even more on him!  Our response needs to be the same.  It’s his kindness that leads us to repentance!