PODCAST – A Bible Study on the Church of the Laodiceans – Part Three. (Revelation 3:14-22)
Quote for Today
“Prayer requires more of the heart than of the tongue”
Quote for Today
“That is a solemn fact worth making very clear to ourselves, that the profoundest spiritual decline may be going on in us, and we be all unconscious of it. Samson wist not that his strength was departed from him,’ and in utter ignorance he tried to perform his old feats, only to find his weakness. So the life of our spirits may have ebbed away, and we know not how much blood we have lost until we try to raise ourselves and sink back fainting. Like some rare essence in a partially closed vessel, put away in some drawer, we go to take it out and find nothing but a faint odour, a rotten cork, and an empty phial. The sure way to lose the precious elixir of a Christian life is to shut it up in our hearts. No life is maintained without food, air, and exercise. We must live on the bread of God which came down from heaven, and breathe the breath of His life-giving Spirit, and use all our power for Him, or else, for all our name to live, and our shrunken, feeble imitations of the motions of life, the eyes which are as a flame of fire will see the sad reality, and the lips into which grace is poured will have to speak over us the one grim word – dead.”
– Alexander MacLaren
Quote for today
“A revival almost always begins among the laity. The ecclesiastical leaders seldom welcome reformation. History repeats itself. The present leaders are too comfortably situated as a rule to desire innovation that might require sacrifice on their part. And God’s fire only falls on sacrifice. An empty altar receives no fire!”
– Frank Bartleman – Participant of the Azusa Revival
“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”
Thought for Today
The Fire of God
“For our God is a consuming fire”
The Fire of God is not only a Holy Fire it is a consuming Fire. It consumes the wood, hay and stubble of men’s works and offerings. It consumes anything which is not of Him within the life of His own. Though eternal, like the natural fire in this world it consumes until there is nothing left.
Many in our day minister out of the precious gifts of the Spirit yet few there be who know of the true Baptism of the Holy Spirit which fell upon the early church accompanied by the Fire of God Himself. The selfish ways of men were consumed in the fire which fell, every life touched by the fire became living sacrifices unto God. They lived for His Glory, they sought no following or faction of their own disciples, they were mortified if any attention was diverted from Christ unto themselves. The Fire of God is His answer for the Church in this day. His fire will not only consume the dross of self in our midst it will also be the very flame which welds us into One Body and One Loaf.
His Fire falls on the sacrificial hearts of those who live in the desire and life of the Lamb. There is only one fire accepted by the Father and there is only One sacrifice which pleases Him and it is in the Living Christ where we discover both!
“For of him, and through him, and to him,
are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen”
Offerings by fire,
from lives aflame,
hearts lifted by holy hands,
To worship His Glorious Name.
Thought for Today
Stirred in Spirit
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens,
his spirit was stirred in him,
when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry”
The religious know not of this stirring. The ways and temper of religion remains superficial and shallow. Religion is a state of holding His words without being held of His Spirit. Wherever God is, in whomever He dwells, the fire burns with the intensity of all who God is. Salvation is revealed in His hold on us not our hold on Him. The spirit of Paul was stirred because God ruled in Paul’s heart; the stirring was the evidence of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Within the heart of His own the stirrings of God are not the result of a religious fervor to accomplish man-centered purposes; rather they are rooted and grounded in God’s heart and compassion. They who know not God, know not of His stirrings and His intensity; because appearance and reputation are the governing factors of conduct. It is only by abiding in Him where our hearts are stirred with His stirrings.
To hold to His words without His Life beating and ruling within produces an artificial temperament with an appearance of being godly (like God) but void of the power, the life and the wonder of Christ.
“And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, “The zeal of thine house hath consumed me” John 2:13-17
The religious are not bothered by the tepid condition of the things of God. They are not concerned with the shallowness of the business of religion nor the inherent lack of the heartbeat of God in their “works”. It is as we abide in the life of all that He IS where we see and feel His stirrings within our own heart.
The passion and fire of God is reprehensible to the religious and the sedated followers of the reputable and pragmatic doctrines of men. To those who are held in Him His fire is the very lamp of His leading and expression.
The Fire of God will only be found in hearts where an altar burns with fresh and daily offerings of ourselves unto Him.
“It is an empty altar which receives no fire”
Fresh fire falls upon those who bring fresh offerings unto Him. Love is the fire, the light and the heat of God’s Life in His Own.
Passion and purity,
Love and Fire,
Reveal the heart
Filled with His desire.
Called with Purpose
“Whereunto I am appointed a preacher,
and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles”
2 Timothy 1:11
Those appointed of God know definitively His divine call upon their lives. The “Christian” experience is not to be one of aimless wandering in some religious wilderness. Those who know their God feel the weight of His call; they are not left to their own ways and choices. There is a sense of accountability deep within their being. While others may go and do, seemingly at will, such is not the life of the called.
Paul in his Epistles declares over and over that his apostolic expression is “not by the will of men”. It is a call that requires separation and obedience. It is a call to God Himself and not to an organization, ministry or selfish motives. God’s call leaves room for no one but Himself. Without hearing and responding to His call we will wander in a barren land without a sense of purpose.
It takes little effort, even in casual conversation, to recognize one who knows the Call of God. There is a fire, a passion and a desire for an apprehension of those things to be accomplished in their lives. There is an intensity that transcends the status quo of attending meetings, hearing messages and having casual religious conversations. Paul cries out with this intensity that he might “…apprehend that for which he had been apprehended”. This cry is not the result of a teaching. The cry is the result of the call. Without the call there is no drive to apprehend; no sense of being held accountable to fulfill His call. Meetings, conferences and sermons will easily satisfy those to whom the call has become distant and dim. The fire fades and the need to obtain and fulfill His purpose loses its hold upon the reins of their life. Retirement and comfort becomes more important than fulfilling the call. Those in whom the fire has gone out distance themselves from those who challenge them to rise up and press into their call.
How good and precious is the fear of the Lord! It holds us to our course. It keeps us attentive to the things of Him in our life. We are constantly stirred by the keeping power of His Spirit to stay on task concerning our portion in Him. It is here, as we seek out others with this fire and intensity, that we discover the real purpose of fellowship. The glory of knowing the call of God brings a sense of walking in an appointed way. This brings a certainty of purpose in the challenges of life.
“And we know that all things work together
for good to them that love God,
to them who are THE CALLED
according to HIS PURPOSE”
The Word of Fire
“Is not my word like as a fire?
saith the Lord;
and like a hammer that breaketh
the rock in pieces?”
God’s Word is not only an expression of Himself it is also an extension of Himself. He is His Word and His Word is Himself (John 1:1). We read in both the Old and New Testaments that our God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29). They who bear His Living Word within their hearts know in a corresponding measure to their walk the truth of this. For His Word is the very expression of His Nature, His Thoughts and His Ways. Words without fire are words without unction. Men cannot touch His Presence and remain unaffected, apathetic and unconcerned about His inheritance in the earth. His presence is fire and glory. His zeal for His House (Psalm 119:139, John 2:17) in the earth is a consuming fire within the hearts of those who have His Word.
His Word is a fire which consumes, purifies and impels those who bear it to speak with intensity to all who would hear. This fire cannot be quenched, compromised or contaminated by the tepid atmosphere of religious men who would desire something less than God Himself. This Word is antagonistic to the comfortable, to those who would seek a complacent and more popular approach to God; yet to those who desire to walk and live within the fiery presence of a Holy God it is the necessity of life itself.
It is the work of God to bring His people to such expressions…
“But his word was in mine heart
as a burning fire
shut up in my bones”
Men without fire have not yet touched His Presence. It is ever the work of the Holy Spirit to bring men to such places (Exodus 3:2) where the Fire of God burns like the Holy Lamp did in the days of the Tabernacle/Temple of God in the Old Testament. The Word of God declares “ye are the temple of the living God” and as such there ought to be the fire of His Presence burning within our hearts.
The Priesthood of Eli
Eli was a priest who through neglect became blind in His service to God and as a result the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle! This lamp of fire had been preserved and watched over by the priests of God for over 450 years! His sons had become immoral and loose in their walk before God. This was a day of no accountability. Men did as they pleased and the ministry was silent concerning God’s Righteousness. The outward observance of God’s law continued but the fire went out and men did not lay these things to heart.
There is also in our day a ministry in the earth which has neither fire nor unction; a ministry which has resulted in the fire of God going out in His house. There is a religious environment in which men hold the Word in the form of teachings and doctrines rather than in their hearts by the living fire of His presence. These are they who hold His Word in unrighteousness, who seek to fill their churches and fellowships with kind and comfortable words but have no actual concern for the condition of His people or their walk in righteousness. The Word speaks of the fruit of such a ministry:
“And because iniquity shall abound,
the love of many shall wax cold”
The reason the fire goes out is because of iniquity and sin. The Love of God beating within a man’s heart will cause him to forsake sin. A Gospel which does not have the very fire of God within it is not God’s Living Word. In contrast to this unholy ministry we read of another.
The Stranger and the Words of Fire
Two disciples walking down the road to Emmaus in deep despair and perplexity were joined by a “stranger”* who spoke sternly to them concerning their plight and their lack of faith. Their eyes where blinded to the One who spoke with them as they journeyed. Would our hearts receive such words from a stranger?
“O fools, and slow of heart to believe
all that the prophets have spoken…”
After realizing the stranger was in fact the risen Lord who had spoken to them these hard words the disciples remarked to one another:
“And they said one to another,
Did not our heart burn within us,
while he talked with us by the way,
and while he opened to us the scriptures?”
Empty words proceed from hearts lacking fire. The words of the religious are different than the Words of Jesus and they who serve at His Altar will speak His Words and seek His Glory and not their own.
“And it came to pass,
when Jesus had ended these sayings,
the people were astonished at his doctrine:
For he taught them as one having authority,
and not as the scribes”
Burning Words flow from burning hearts!
Even so Lord draw us to the fire of your presence and cause that fire to burn, purify and consume all that is unholy and carnal in us. Make us to be “ministers of flaming fire”. Men who will not abide in such words now will perish in the fire of His return.
“If a man abide not in me,
he is cast forth as a branch,
and is withered; and men gather them,
and cast them into the fire,
and they are burned”
* Men reveal by their response the true condition of their hearts. Here a stranger came and spoke hard words, yet these two downtrodden disciples resisted not the admonition for they were men who desired truth and loved it. Men who refuse the fire and the hammer of God’s Word are not abiding in His Spirit. They have not the love of truth burning within their heart. They appear religious and will seek to build and do religious things but in their inner heart truth is not desired nor pursued. It is the day of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and in the revealing of Him men’s works will be made manifest even as by fire.
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest:
for the day shall declare it,
because it shall be revealed by fire;
and the fire shall try every man’s work
of what sort it is”
1 Corinthians 3:13
AN ACROSTIC PSALM
(*See Psalm 25 Introduction Part Two)
Another aspect of the inspired Acrostic writings of the scriptures is one where we see the very rudiments of the language of the people of God being sanctified and set apart to describe God’s Glory and His ways.
It is estimated that there are 75,000 – 80,000 meaningful words and word compositions in the Hebrew Language* (see reference). All of these are formulated out of just 22 Hebrew characters (and a few added “jots and tittles” of which Jesus upholds the sanctity of His Word; Matthew 5:18)! The Spirit of God in these Acrostic writings takes each letter to Glorify God and to make known to us the wonders of His ways. It is in such attention to detail of the very language of men that God would make Himself known to us. He ever seeks to reveal to us the importance of common things. Things, which by themselves are thought to be incomplete and insignificant, can, and do, become vehicles for revealing His thoughts and purposes.
By His grace He endeavors to bring us to the realization that in Him everything is to be Holy and filled with His wonder. His desire is to bring us to a pure language wherein every word we utter, think and sing is filled with the worship and praise of Him. A pure word can only flow from a pure heart. The grace of God is to have such access to our hearts that even the very bits and pieces of our language will be sanctified and set apart for the Master’s use. His Spirit desires to touch, purify and sanctify the very core of our being so that we can fully express and honor Him. All creation is groaning and travailing for such a people to come forth (Romans 8:19).
The Prophet Isaiah stands in the heavens surrounded by the unspeakable Glory of the Triune God, and is instantly aware of the “uncleanness of his lips” to such an extent that he is only able to utter “Woe is me”. However, in God’s economy even the very lips of man are to be purged by the burning coals from the Altar of Heaven. He has an answer for every need of the redeemed to walk in the Holy, Holy, Holy Presence of our God. A sanctified heart will result in sanctified words “for out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak”.
We see glimpses in the Old Testament of men in whom this truth found partial fulfillment; men who walked so close with God, that God Himself watched over the very words they spoke…
“And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him,
and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
And all Israel from Dan even to Beer–sheba knew
that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord”
1 Samuel 3:19-20
The people of God desire to see the power of God revealed in our day, but men want the power without the purity, they want the signs and wonders without the Holy walk. There are many today who have no desire for righteousness, purity of heart or the cost of entering into these truths. They grow weary of men who speak of righteousness. They prefer to hear pleasant things that enable them to live in sin and be accepted by God at the same time. However, in the midst of such a generation there are those whose hearts are longing for that purity, that righteousness which is real and authentic. It is these who will walk in a salvation that has been kept for this day. God has kept the “best wine for the last” and “the glory of the latter house shall exceed the glory of the former”! Let us be encouraged to seek, pursue and admonish one another in the bonds of love and fellowship to see this come to pass!
“Who are kept by the power of God
through faith unto salvation
ready to be revealed in the last time”
1 Peter 1:5
This salvation can only be revealed in people who have been fully sanctified, fit and prepared for the Master’s use, whose very lips have been purged by the fires of the heavenly Altar. They are His in every sense of the word; the words they speak are His words and they live and walk in the Holiness of God. “Be ye Holy” is no longer a nice religious quote but rather a description of what God has accomplished within His people by the “spirit of burning”.
“When the Lord shall
have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion,
and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem
from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment,
and by the spirit of burning”
While many today declare that we are to judge not and are not interested in the prophetic voice of those who call His people to righteousness, there are those who intuitively know the necessity of such a ministration. There is a cry within the hearts of those who understand the need for His Fire in our midst. Purity of heart is the vehicle or the means by which we can see God. It is in the seeing of Him that this great work of Sanctification is made real. God uses men. He uses the redeemed to minister to one another the fire and glory of His presence. Had Peter not confronted Ananias and Sapphira with God’s Glory the move of the Spirit in their day would have soon become polluted with religion and hypocrisy. Such words of power are reserved for those who walk in the fear of the Lord; those whose hearts have been purified and set apart for God’s use, not their own.
May God do such a deep and eternal work in our lives that the very words of our mouths and the meditations within the secret places of our hearts are pleasing unto God!
“Let the words of my mouth,
and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer”
Only a sanctified heart can speak the Holy Words of our God and King
“Where the word of a king is,
there is power”
“But who may abide the day of his coming?
and who shall stand when he appeareth?
for he is like a refiner’s fire…”
* Reference: “The academy of the Hebrew language estimates 45,000 words, in addition to 30,000-35,000 word compositions (school in Hebrew is book-house בית-ספר, for example), which totals the estimate in 75,000-80,000 meaningful expressions of either words or word compositions. Note that this estimate includes many biblical words still used today.”
VISION AND FIRE
The other day I had a vision of the Altar at which Elijah prayed and of the Fire that fell; I had the sense of HIS INTENSE DESIRE to do so again in the hearts of His Own who fear, obey and follow HIM. Our God is a consuming fire and His Manifest Presence is the cry and desire of all true hearts.
“I am come to send fire on the earth;
and what will I, if it be already kindled?”
“And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice,
that Elijah the prophet came near, and said,
Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel,
let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel,
and that I am thy servant,
and that I have done all these things at thy word…*
Hear me, O Lord, hear me,
that this people may know that thou art the Lord God,
and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
Then the fire of the Lord fell…!”
Words that came today…
Faith without Fire;
Words without the Burden of the Lord;
Prayers not birthed of obedience
and that do not bring a greater obedience;
Are the offerings of a lukewarm heart.
SEND THE FIRE
“God of Elijah, hear our cry:
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To make us fit to live or die,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To burn up every trace of sin,
To bring the light and glory in,
The revolution now begin,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
*NOTE How little we realize the connection between obedience and prayer. We see here that Elijah after he had obeyed the Word of God prayed and the fire fell. Prayers of this nature require prevenient acts of obedience in order for the prayer to be answered. God hears those who obey and walk in righteousness. “The effectual fervent (fiery) prayer of a righteous man availeth much”.