This morning I’m struck by the thought of how much more tight and compounded our little world and our rhetoric is today than it was just a year ago. I’m also moved by great desire for our minds to be pierced by the light of God’s eternal revelation and truth. Let me explain:
Those who have spent little time over the last year(s) humbling ourselves before God have ensconced ourselves in self-justification, two and three layers deep. We’ve developed “theologies” and “narratives” that keep our hearts in the “snow-globe” of unrighteousness, rather than letting the Holy Spirit shatter our paradigms and take the plow to the (Isaiah 40:3-5) whole of our ways. In 2021 we’ve now repudiated alternative media sources, and plugged into those that reenforce our world-view, we’ve unfriended FB friends who won’t think like us, and dine and gather with spiritual heroes and their assemblies who will tell us of the nobility of our common cause and the valiant nature of our brand of morality. We listen for catch-phrases that denounce the right issues and people. We use the right buzz-words to prove that we’re a part of the gang.
We’re in what social psychologists call “echo-chambers”, and all the more prone to engage in “group-speak” – meaning, we say it and believe it because we hear others around us say things that reenforce our world-view. (Historically speaking, group-speak and echo-chambers are notoriously poor at nourishing the ways of righteousness.) This is all instead of giving ourselves to the thorough work of cultivating ears that learn to hear and live-out convinced, illuminated, Holy Spirit informed truth.
Family of God, all the more, I hear the Spirit calling us to the place of Psalm 27 prayer in “the time of trouble”. In the storm of belief and opinion that’s mounting on the earth, we, His people must anchor ourselves to the place where we seek His face, prioritize one thing, behold Him in His beauty, and inquire in His temple, until He “proves” from the scriptures where we are, and how He’s calling us to trust Him, day-by-day.
If we do not pray, we will see neither our need nor our God aright, and in an hour of cascading confusion and tribulation we will not give ourselves to Him as we ought.
Particularly, we must not be deceived by the people around us who will rage against the storm. We must understand that the Lord isn’t about salvaging ourselves, our church experiences, or our nation. We must become scholars about the fact that what’s happening in our world is not primarily about us at all.
It’s about Who’s coming; Who’s at our doorstep; Who’s shaking our world; our circumstances and our hearts – and then learn to tremble at His greatness. He’s a Bridegroom returning for His Bride who’s making herself ready – for HIM!
He’s a King Who’s coming to establish His Kingdom on the earth.
He’s a Judge who will execute real human beings who oppose Him and the way He will choose to rule our world. (Psalm 2:12)
This is no hour to spend 95% of our time feeding on news articles (and friends’, pundits’, prophets’ and teachers’ interpretations of news articles) and asking, “What do I need to do to strengthen my barn?” (Luke 12:18)
This is an hour to cultivate a holy gaze upon the One we say we trust (Psalm 2:12), and ask “What must I do to be in line with the sure transfer of power, and the increase of the Man’s approaching government? What must I do to align my mind, heart, life and soul to the Father’s promise to give His Son a Kingdom? How do I do life? How do we do Church? How do I relate to our world, my family, and especially my enemies?”
Jesus said: “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)
In this hour, don’t look for the preacher and the ministry that will teach you how to “save your life”. Look for the people of God who are on the pilgrimage to learn how to lay their life down and give everything up to the worthiness of the perfect Leader Who is coming.
He is our light of truth and saving focus, beloved. And the tempest around us is God’s tempest. It is His refining pressure to secure our hearts to His sufficient strength; the intimate strength that has the peace-filled capacity to see us through the tumult and into the Lord’s reign of righteousness.
At the same time, the tempest threatens to move many of us off our mark with a near-endless list of issues to intoxicate our hearts: pandemics, masks, racial issues, liberties, elections, prophecies, etc.
Does this mean these issues are not important? Quite the contrary. They are extremely important. But unless we’re in the Word and in cross-applying prayer we won’t see how the Lord is wielding these issues to perfectly purge and purify the Bride for His Son.
Practically speaking, this means that we don’t look for winning arguments for the church to stay open that bear no cross nor engage in no prayer.
• we don’t lodge theories about COVID…
• we don’t respond to the proliferation of LGBTQ transgenderism confusion…
• we don’t give ourselves to the problem of racial injustice, (much less an argument that says there is no racial injustice)…
• we don’t take up the cause of becoming a righteous nation…
• we don’t even seek to end abortion…
• we do not champion prophecies, promises of revival, political hopes, or success in the Church…
…if they don’t have a cross, the humility of prayer and the incarnation of Christ attached to them.
The crossless way is the devil’s way.
The way of little prayer is the “broad way that leads to destruction”. (Matthew 7:13)
In the intensity of judgement, above all else we need the close, Word-speaking presence of Jesus in our lives. That’ll take more than sentiment and clever FB memes. It’ll require the long, deep way of corporate prayer, cultivating spirits that respond to His voice, and a lifestyle of bearing our cross. Without these realities forged into our lives we’re trying to work a system that will not work. We should expect no light, no consolation and no revival in the days ahead.
“Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:9-12)
The scripture above is more than holy story-telling. It is Spirit. Truth. Power. The passage itself comprises the very first sermon we hear in the New Testament. It’s the message through which the Lord chose to pierce the mind-set of His own people and inject His new order into Israel, and then the whole world. It’s the message the Lord is speaking to us today, to graciously break the people of God out of our myopia, and into the eternal mind-set of our coming Lord.
Father, speak Your Word into our lives. We agree with Jesus. “Sanctify us in Truth. Your Word is Truth!”
JSB • February 2021