Friday, October 30, 2015

Things Are Heating Up!

“As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37) means more than most people think.  Beside the fact that people will be behaving the same way, completely obtuse to anything above indulging their flesh, they will be like the proverbial frog which does not jump out of the boiling water before it is cooked because it doesn’t boil straightway; it rises in temperature at a rate not discerned by the frog.  And we, walking in the spirit, and as flames of fire, are an agency of God: we are being used to escalate or heat up their judgment by our words and lifestyle; they are sitting like those frogs, unaware that they are already being cooked by us.  Most don’t consider the story of Noah closely enough to remember that God flooded the earth not only by rain (sent down from heaven) but by breaking up the deeps (sent from the bottom of the seas; sent up from the earth—sent up from us!).  “All the fountains of the great deep were broken up and burst forth, and the windows and floodgates of the heavens were opened” (Genesis 7: 11).  The ancient world got it from both ends; the modern world is too (only with fire).

But how greatly and sorely was Christ urged to go to the cross so that the Holy Spirit and fire could come!  Right before He talked about how impelled He was to accomplish the task of dying for mankind on the cross, He said: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12: 49).  Indeed, “EVERYONE shall be salted with fire” (Mark 9: 49).  His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out” (Matthew 3: 12).  But only those who have already allowed this process to occur, having judged themselves so as to not be judged when God comes to examine His work, are ready for His day.  Only those who have been sanctified, those fully immersed or baptized into the water of the Holy Spirit, can handle the fire of the Holy Spirit.  Indeed,

"Set me like a seal upon your heart, like a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy is as hard and cruel as Sheol (the place of the dead). ITS FLASHES ARE FLASHES OF FIRE, A MOST VEHEMENT FLAME [THE VERY FLAME OF THE LORD]!  MANY WATERS CANNOT QUENCH LOVE, NEITHER CAN FLOODS DROWN IT” (Song of Songs 8:6-7).

Our God, who is a consuming fire, and vehemently jealous, can only be endured by those protected by baptism.  The fire beneath the flood (both judgments combined) is a compound judgment: a judgment unto condemnation for any residue or lingering sin not put to death, not repented of, and a condemnation unto victory to the whole of those who are dead, but resurrected (a flame beneath a flood, a fire with nothing more to consume; this is the picture of a Christian walking in the Spirit, walking in resurrection life).  Flesh was condemned to a watery grave at the flood; spirit is the fire which cannot be quenched by floods.

But for the wicked and unrepentant it is like this:

“Just as the darnel (weeds resembling wheat) is gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age” (Matthew 13: 40).  “Those who are fencing me in raise their heads; may the mischief of their own lips and the very things they desire for me come upon them. Let burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the fire, into floods of water or deep water pits, from which they shall not rise.  Let not a man of slanderous tongue be established in the earth; let evil hunt the violent man to overthrow him [let calamity follow his evildoings]” (Psalm 140: 9-11).  “He has bent His bow like an enemy; He has stood with His right hand [Jesus Christ] set like a foe and has slain all the delights and pride of the eye [carnality]; on and in the tent of the Daughter of Zion He has poured out His wrath like fire [He loves us with a jealous love, and that love has the effect of being angry at our outer man to condemnation while being happy at our inner man to victory at the same time with the very flame of who He is by His intrinsic nature]” (Lamentations 2: 4).

For the righteous and repentant, rather, it is like this:

Because the…commandment was urgent and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame and sparks from the fire killed those men who handled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  And these three men…fell down bound into the burning fiery furnace.  Then Nebuchadnezzar [saw] four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they [were] not hurt! And the form of the fourth is like a son of the gods!  And the satraps, the deputies, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered around together and saw these men—that the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed; neither were their garments scorched or changed in color or condition, nor had even the smell of smoke clung to them.  (Daniel 3: 22-27).

Just like the flood came from both heaven and earth, so shall the fire be.  It will be thrown down from above (“And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given to it to scorch men with fire”—Revelations 16: 8) and erupt from beneath (those ministers of His walking in Holy Ghost and Fire upon the earth); God and His ministers both will be fire, and will be walking about like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the “fourth” one within, and upon this furnace-of-affliction earth.  We, along with our God, will be judging mankind by simply being who we are.  Our God is a consuming fire; so made in His image, we are too.  Finally,

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish (pass away) with a thunderous crash, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.  Since all these things are thus in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought [each of] you to be [in the meanwhile] in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities, while you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire?  (2 Peter 3: 10-12).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

God’s Cure for Depression

Before this cure for depression is revealed, let us be certain we understand exactly what depression is.  The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines depression as (1) “a state of feeling sad,” and (2) “a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way.”  In scripture, the definition for depression is “worship”; yes, you heard me right—worship.  I will explain later, but first, the dictionary definition only defines what depression is at a symptom level.  So what is the root cause of depression?  The bible is clear: “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression” (Proverbs 12:25 NKJV).  Anxiety or worry is the root cause of depression.

The sad and seemingly hopeless state of depression as defined by the dictionary is both obvious and helpless; however, the scriptural definition, that of “worship,” is both surprising and helpful (once it is understood).  The word “worship” in Hebrew, according to James Strong (S7812), is “shaw-khaw’; a prime root; to depress, i. e. prostrate (espec. reflex. in homage to royalty or God):—bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.”  Now let’s make the connection.  Looking again at that specific verse of scripture, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression” (Proverbs 12:25), and then wording it instead with two of its definitional terms, we get, “anxiety in the heart of man causes it to depress or worship.”  It is noteworthy that the physical phenomenon of depression or worship is virtually synonymous in outward appearance, but vastly different in inward reality.

Depression in picture form is a pothole in the street, a sunken aspect of the whole, and in spiritual reality, every soul is gravity effected and pothole bound.  Worship is nary a whit different to the carnal eye; it too sinks lower than the ground it stands on.  But the difference in inward reality is worlds apart.  So, what’s the difference?  There is no difference—except in heart attitude alone.  Gravity depresses every soul and body upon this globe; just living in this demon possessed valley known as earth tends towards decay and death and utter deflation, e. g, depression.  We are ever flattened out and made like pancakes before God—either with a good attitude about it or not; hence, we either lose our souls temporarily by giving them to God or we lose them permanently by not giving them to Him.  Where else can we go?  He has the words of eternal life!  Thus we see two souls dying, their outward appearance differs hardly a whit; one dies beautiful and gloriously in the eyes of the Lord while the other dies hideously and shamefully.  The key is that one worships as he dies while the other curses as he dies.

“By faith Jacob, when he was dying…worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21).  I believe the picture drawn in our imagination—that of Jacob dying and leaning upon his staff—is the perfect picture of worship, expressing exactly what true worship looks like.  It simultaneously epitomizes both the proper external posture and the correct internal condition of worship.  Jacob’s posture (leaning upon a staff in a dying state) is the very essence of worship.  His natural life waned—depressed—and as he succumbed to the downward pull of death’s onslaught, he placed all his weight upon his staff (a symbol of his God given authority).  In other words, dying is worship, and to willingly die, to die by one’s own authority—to become a sacrifice in the process—is the highest form of worship.  Every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, either willingly (spiritual) or by force (flesh).  Every man is appointed once to die, but how we die, and for whom we die, determines our destiny.  Beast and man alike die (see Ecclesiastes 3:18-21); indeed, in regards to the death of flesh, we share parallel fates.  But to speak of man and beast together—to juxtapose our fates like that—is only to demonstrate our affinity with flesh.  In other words, if our death does not transcend the significance of the death of a beast we are of all men most to be pitied.  Any fool can die (and will), but to die with purpose and for a purpose is what worship is all about.

“All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul (Psalm 22:29).  Thus, worship is essentially acknowledging one’s inability to keep one’s self alive—how ridiculously elemental and primary is that?  He is God and we are not.  His people that die for lack of knowledge are those that think they own eternal life without having to endlessly go through death to get there (those that sadly and erroneously avoid the cross—true worship—as a necessary component of genuine Christianity); those that do understand, however, die daily to draw from the Lord’s resurrection life—the only possessor of it and therefore the only one who can give it to others.  This only occurs when we see Him as He is and He fully manifests Himself to us.  When Christ said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3), He is saying that happy or joyous are the ones that do not claim anything as their own—even the upkeep of their souls.  When we realize this, we cease to sorrow over something we never really had; our life and possessions are not our own.  We have indeed been bought with a price.  We are all flattened out and completely deflated, but some are depressed about it while others are simply worshipping.  Remember, worship is dying and dying is worship; one begrudgingly stoops and the other stoops out of a sense of heartfelt adoration and love.

Now a little digression.  Recently on someone’s Facebook post I read that “anxiety occurs when we think we have to figure it all out.”  Somewhere else I read that “disobedience causes depression.”  First, the idea that “anxiety occurs when we think we have to figure it all out” is merely speculative.  Some might very calmly think they must figure it all out and hardly be flustered at the immense—nay impossible—challenge, while others might be anxious over the prospect of figuring out one single innocuous thing.  Two variables (temperament and intelligence) makes this first saying suspect.  Second, the idea that “disobedience causes depression” is correct for one very simple reason: worry or anxiety is disobedience.  Again—and for the third time—I quote Proverbs 12:25: “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,” but now I add the remaining words of that verse: “but a good word makes it glad.”  Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him; worry/anxiety in the face of all the promises being yes and amen in Him is disobedience.  Ultimately, circumstances are never the issue, but how we respond to them is.  Consequently, the inward reality of a grateful attitude in worship is the key to overcoming depression.  Worshipping God in Spirit and truth is the cure for depression.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Something Momentous and Ominous

Before a tsunami hits, the sea retreats, birds fly away, creatures hide, and an ominous stillness—like that which is experienced within the eye of a storm—overwhelms the atmosphere.  My sense is that is where we are right now in spiritual reality.  Something momentous like a giant wall of water is building height and strength at the margin of our existence, and the corresponding silence of God has an ominous edge.  Notwithstanding this edge, however, the whole of the matter at the center is about God Himself arriving on the scene in the fullness of His Presence and glory.  Still the old prophet’s words ring with divine portent: “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?” (Malachi 3:2).  In the book of Amos, the prophet laid out five specific instances of disastrous happenings to the children of Israel, and each time the Lord said, “Yet you have not returned to Me” (Amos 4:6, 8, 9, 10, 11).  Finally, after the fifth time, He said “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12).

When mommy corrects the children, and it proves unsuccessful (usually after the “nth” time), she declares, “Wait until your daddy gets home!”  Then the fear of the Lord grips their little hearts.  In fact, the sheer magnitude of the threat of daddy’s presence begins correcting the children in their hearts before he even gets home.  Such, I imagine, is what God hoped for in the case of the children of Israel in Amos’ day.  But alas, children are children, and therefore it is nearly inevitable that heads must roll!  But not if we discern the times and sober up in time to meet Him properly.  Indeed, “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.  Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins”; also, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation”; “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:7-8, 12-13, 17-18).