Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

The Provision and the Passion

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As I was sitting under a beautifully blossomed apple tree in our garden, my thoughts turned to the teaching on intimacy with God that I had been sharing in our church.

We had been looking at the various degrees of intimacy which God illustrates through wonderful metaphors – almost sacraments, in His Word. We are his “workmanship” – from the Greek “poema”, his listening and learning “sheep”, his obedient “child” and beloved “bride.”

The last two images of relationship lead us to the intimate embrace of the Father receiving back His repentant son, but also to the passionate embrace of the Bridegroom for His Bride.

I suddenly began to wonder in whose embrace I was in?

For many years I had been cultivating a growing experience of the “Father heart” of God. Like the son in Luke 15:20, I had learned to receive grace, provision and restoration in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

But it was harder for me to feel the tender touch of the Bridegroom. I had discovered something of this a few years previously when I realised that my heart needed to deeply submit to the love of God. This submission is still leading me on a journey of discovery – limited of course by the now/not yet tension of experiencing God’s Kingdom in this fallen world, a journey of intimacy into the embrace of the Beloved.

“His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.” Song of Songs 2:6

“But who is embracing my soul?” I wondered. The Father or the Bridegroom Jesus? That’s at least 2 embraces in one God!

I found a measure of answer in coming back to a Trinitarian God. God is indeed three in one. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You have the Father and you have the Heavenly Bridegroom Son Jesus. The Holy Spirit applies their embrace to our heart in the appropriate context.

The context of intimacy with the Father leans more to that of Provision – The Father knows what you need, He provides for all creation, He sacrifices the fattened calf, the Isaac, the redemptive ram – He is Yahweh Jireh, my loving Provider.Baptism-of-Christ

We see the Holy Spirit bringing this intimacy to Christ Himself at His baptism in Luke 3:22 –

“…and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

The context of intimacy with the Bridegroom is very much with a revelation of the resurrected Son. The Beloved in the Song of Songs is no “pièta” at the bloody foot of the cross. She is an ecstatic worshipper, enthralled with the beauty – as was John in his Revelation vision of Christ, of an eternal King. Compare Song of Songs 5:10-16 with Revelation 1:13-16 – Obviously the earthly Solomon is no match for the truly divine but the key here is to fall in love with the vibrant, eternally living love in Christ which transcends all things.

The context is that of Passion as the Holy Spirit once again applies this intimacy to the heart of the Church – both individually and universally, as she cries out for the Bridegroom in Revelation 22:17 –

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”

We indeed tread on holy ground as we explore such things. Both “embraces” are important, but it seems that there may well be a whole new paradigm to discover in the embrace of the Bridegroom Son. For example:

A passionate view of mission.

The Father/child paradigm, as in Matthew 21:28, says “Son, go and work…”

The Bride in Song of Songs 1:4 doesn’t need asking: “Take me away with you – let us hurry!”

A passionate view of identity.

1 John 3:1-3 talks about how the Father has lavished His love upon us calling us “children of God.” Such hope calls us to “purify ourselves” in Holy obedience.

The Bridegroom’s perspective on His Beloved Church/Bride – she with no stain or wrinkle, takes us into a whole new dimension concerning our identity.

“All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7

embrace_II_1A passionate view of my prayer.

As the Prodigal son I have the privilege of “metanoia”, thinking again and turning back to the Father. The essential component of repentance is often found in our prayers and liturgies. We beat our breasts and say, “I have sinned…I am no longer worthy…” Luke 15:18-19. All very necessary and edifying this side of heaven. But while genuine repentance is useful, beware of getting locked into a repetitive ritual of superficial religious repentance which brings no lasting change and no living hope.

And if heaven should suddenly invade our human space? If the Holy Spirit applied the Bridegroom’s embrace in the midst of our everyday encounters? What might we pray?

“I am faint with love.” Song of Songs 2:5

 

 

If you enjoyed this article you will find its ideas developed and expanded in the e book or PDF file, “The Three Powers of the Kingdom.”

Why not find out more or order your copy now by clicking on the link?

 

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Prayer – Wisdom protects the promise

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bouncersAfter last week’s post we need to call in the second bouncer who protects the powerful promise of prayer for those in the 41414 club!

How do you build up prayer power? Jude gives us a possible option.

“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” Jude 1:20

But what is praying in the Holy Spirit for you? Is it being zapped by some charismatic gift from heaven? Is it praying from the Spirit inspired Scriptures or praying with holy,  sanctified character? While you’re deciding on an answer, here’s another question!

How did Solomon pray?

One day he had an amazing encounter with God who invited him to join the 41414 club.

“That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” 2 Chronicles 1:7

What would you ask for? What do you want?

To coin a once popular phrase from Harry Enfield, you might ask for “Loadsamoney.” Number two on the list might be fame, and then a healthy long life, and protection from enemies. You could no doubt find various forms of such prayer aspirations on most pages of the glossy “How to be happy” Christian magazines, and their self-centred echo resonates in even the most orthodox prayer meetings.loadsamoney

We must stop putting the cart before the horses! Take five minutes to tame the fleshly prayers and listen to Solomon’s answer.

 “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” v.10

Like Solomon, we need to constantly call in Wisdom to our prayer lives.

Someone, disappointed, may then ask: “Does that mean I can’t ask for all the other stuff?” On the contrary, God is generous and loving, wanting to shower you with intelligent blessings. Once the wisdom is in place we are safe to receive the measure of “Shalom” appropriate for our growth and personal situation. Wisdom adds, like sonship, the necessary component of discipleship. The promise says “Yes.”

 “…therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honour, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” v.12

Practical James also sees the ongoing character building qualities of heavenly wisdom.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

So ask for wisdom:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

True wisdom is not simply “clever thoughts”, wisdom is a person. Wisdom shared the creative process with God and is always a source of inspiration and joy. Wisdom was born of Mary in a stable. Solomon used his lifelong revelation of wisdom to write Proverbs. The eighth proverb is an ode to wisdom and well worth a meditative read in our quest to be wise.

“Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” v.30-31

Not many of us could claim to be wise in the harsh judging eyes of the world. However, as we have seen, the source of true wisdom goes beyond intellectual capacity to the ability to receive a living relationship. God is constantly calling us to a living relationship with Christ, the true wisdom from heaven.

“…but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24

God's wisdomGod confounds the world’s wisdom, by making wisdom a gift, a person, to be received by the weak and humble in grace.

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God– that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” v.30

So, indeed, build yourself up in faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, praying for more intimacy with Christ, praying for wisdom.

 

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him…” 1 Corinthians 2:9

 

 

 

 

Prayer – Protecting the promise

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Two bouncersWe saw from last week’s post the incredible power in the prayer promise to those who find their identity in the 41414 Club.

This promise and power must be protected from wrong or immature use. This is why there are two major “bouncers” on the door to this promise club guarding the entrance.

The name of the first “protector” is “Sonship”.

The power of prayer is protected by the proven character of Jesus, the Son, modeled and built into our lives. Like a baby’s first cry as it leaves the womb, so our first Holy Spirit inspired prayer, which births us into the environment of faith, reveals the Son in us.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

Jesus underlined that this was the first requirement for learning to pray in answer to his disciples request  to teach them how to pray. He gave them the key to the prayer door.

“This, then is how you should pray: Our Father…” Matthew 6:9

Matthew 7:7 – another elite club – “club 77”, also emphasises the strong “sonship” element needed to seize the power filled promise of “Ask and it will be given to you.”

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11

God is working to create within us the character of His Son.

One way of doing this is to spend time remaining, abiding, in His presence. Spending many hours imbibing the character of the Son through His Word in the Bible is a vital part of this process of daily transformation.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:7BarMitzvah

Like Daniel in the Old Testament, we need to be able to fuel our prayer through a vital understanding of God’s prophetic word and purpose. ” In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” How long will the “desolation” of our churches last? At least until dutiful sons give themselves to prayer and understanding of the Word of God. We need a genuine Bar Mitzvah – we must become true sons and daughters of the commandment, entering into the maturity of ministry and prayer.

Flawed character leads to wrong motivation and a frustration of the whole prayer experience. The apostle James puts it very clearly:

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3

Hedonism and love for the world will take us out of the genuine prayer experience.

True intercessors are in the “word system” not the “world system”.

The road to sonship is paved with discipline and correction. Hebrews 12: 5-12 puts this very clearly.

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?…No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Allow the painful experience of life to train us for prayer.

DisciplineThe apostle John never gave up on the prayer promise theme, and, even in his old age, he was constantly coming back to the theme. He emphasised that prayer was all about having the right character, the right heart. Being an obedient and pleasing son was far more important than having intellectual gifts or charismatic prosperity formulas.

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.” 1 John 3:21-22

And what then ultimately pleases God? What must I do to please Him and obey his commands?

“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” v.23

Faith and love – Pistis and Agape. Two essential qualities of character which release the power of the prayer promise to us.

And the greatest of these is love…

The Little River

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The little river said,little river

“I can become big river.”

It worked hard, but their was a big rock. The river said, “I’m going to get around this rock.” The little river pushed and pushed, and since it had a lot of strength, it got itself around the rock.

Soon the river faced a big wall, and the river kept pushing this wall. Eventually, the river made a canyon and carved a way through. The growing river said, “I can do it. I can push it. I am not going to give up for anything.”

Then there was an enormous forest. The river said, “I’ll go ahead anyway and just force these trees down.” And the river did.

The river, now powerful, stood on the edge of an enormous desert with the sun beating down. The river said, “I’m going to go through this desert.” But the hot sand soon began to soak up the whole river. The river said, “Oh, no. I’m going to do it. I’m going to get myself through this desert.” But the river soon drained into the sand until it was only a small mud pool.

Then the river heard a voice from above. “Just surrender. Let me lift you up. Let me take over.” The river said,

“Here I am.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sun then lifted up the river and made the river into a huge cloud. He carried the river right over the desert and let the cloud rain down and make the fields far away fruitful and rich.

There is a moment in our life when we stand before the desert and want to do it ourselves. But there is the voice that comes,

“Let go. Surrender. I will make you fruitful. Yes, trust me. Give yourself to me.

What counts in your life and mine is not successes but fruits. The fruits of your life you might not see yourself. The fruits of your life are born often in your pain and in your vulnerability and in your losses. The fruits of your life come only after the plow has carved through your land. God wants you to be fruitful.

The question is not, “How much can I still do in the years that are left to me?” The question is,

“How can I prepare myself for total surrender so my life can be fruitful?”

Our little lives are small, human lives. But in the eyes of the One who calls us the beloved, we are great-greater than the years we have. We will bear fruits, fruits that you and I will not see on this earth but in which we can trust.

Solitude, community ministry-these disciplines help us live a fruitful life. Remain in Jesus; he remains in you. You will bear many fruits, you will have great joy, and your joy will be complete.

Inspirational snippets from Henri Nouwen

New oil for a new season…

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“Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” Matthew 25:8lamp

Matthew 25 opens with the challenging parable concerning ten virgins going out to meet the bridegroom. The foolish have only their shining lamps with a first deposit of oil while the wise have brought along jars in which to carry fresh oil.

I fear that many times we may be more like the foolish maidens if we only spend our time on the instant satisfaction of ministry and meetings rather than on the lengthy cultivation of a deep relationship with the Lord. In an ideal world we no doubt do both, but it seems that the coming emphasis may be more on the “jars” than on the “lamps”.

In Matthew 7:21-23 we are presented with the stark reality of a ministry in action without the corresponding intimacy of relationship. “Lamps” may have burned in casting out demons, or shone brightly in prophetic revelation, but the terrible final verdict is, “I never knew you…”

A midnight hour awaits this world; when, like the disciples at Gethsemane, the Church will become drowsy and even fall asleep. Let’s make the most of our ease and happiness while it lasts, as difficult times may well be ahead.

There is a critical moment in time just before the return of the Bridegroom. The virgins stir from their slumber and “revival” seems to be in the air. A wonderful time of opportunity presents itself as light pierces the darkness to illuminate a path for the Beloved’s return.

But is it sustainable?

So often it is easier to light a lamp than to sustain its burning. Early enthusiasm can wane in the lonely darkness of the midnight hour. The love of most can grow cold as wickedness increases.

Burn outBurn out or burn on? That is the question!

Whatever the eschatological time frame you use, many of us, here and now are confronted with this question. As John the Baptist sought to prepare a way for the Lord and rejoiced at the sound of the bridegroom (John 3:29) so churches and missions throughout history have trimmed their lamps in active ministry.

The oil may be running out of some our present structures and ministries. Excellent books have been written about the various paradigm shifts in history and the need for a different approach to an ever-changing world. (Transforming Mission – D.Bosch; The Shaping of Things to Come – Frost and Hirsch)

The lamp of our own minds and bodies can also ebb and flow in the natural rhythms of life and, rather than drift into the inevitable entropy of burnt out broken dreams, we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit shine on into a new season of usefulness.

How? Well, we need to be wise. We need to be able to draw on the stored resources of fresh oil.

We need new oil for a new season.

The bad news for the foolish Church, nourished on the instant “junk food” capitalist gospel, which says that you can just go and buy it, is that “You can’t!” Don’t miss out on the King’s return by losing your way on the consumerist religion road.

In fact, it would be better to wait in the acknowledged bankruptcy and darkness of our oil less life, trusting in the ultimate grace of the Beloved, rather than lose the whole thing by trying to buy our way out of the situation.

So where do we get this oil?

We need to take another road, the road that leads to the oil press, Gethsemane. Gethsemane means oil-press in most Hebrew interpretations.Oil Press

Gethsemane is the place of suffering, stress, and prayer. It is the ultimate place of obedience.

“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  Matthew 26:42

We store up this new oil in our jars as we follow Jesus into costly obedience. We take responsibility for the lot in life that has fallen to us and push through the pain barrier in vulnerable prayer, finding our strength at the cross. This is the oil of intimacy that will burn in the “end time” church and which has always burned in the faithful throughout history.

Do you remember the Jewish “Hanukkah” story which is inspired by the books of 1&2 Makkabees in the Apocrypha?

Under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes the Jewish temple had been destroyed and desecrated by the invaders. The “hammer” of the passion of the Makkabee family struck back and regained the temple, only to find that everything had been polluted. They so longed to light the lamps but only enough oil was found to burn for one day. It would take eight days to make and consecrate new oil. Then the slow burn miracle happened. The lamp, instead of burning out, burned on into the eighth day.

It burned on into a new beginning.

menorahMy prayer as I write these lines is for the costly oil of Gethsemane and the miraculous Hanukkah oil of new beginnings.

May none of us be foolish and “burn out”. Even though the midnight darkness closes in and our brows are damp with pain, may we continue to say “yes”. Even though we feel desecrated, broken and oil less, may we know the miracle of burning on to the transcendent eighth day of new start.  Dean Stanley writing many years ago about Gethsemane mentions eight olive trees. This is indeed a fitting image of the Hanukkah new beginning and the Gethsemane oil together.

“In spite of all the doubts that can be raised against their antiquity, the eight aged olive-trees, if only by their manifest difference from all others on the mountain, have always struck the most indifferent observers. They will remain, so long as their already protracted life is spared, the most venerable of their race on the surface of the earth. Their gnarled trunks and scanty foliage will always be regarded as the most affecting of the sacred memorials in or about Jerusalem.”

The time to fill your jars is now!

Fat and perfumed…

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 “In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck; the yoke will be broken because you have grown so fat.”  Isaiah 10:27

 “You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me.” Psalm 92:10

Lent simply emphasises the ever-present opportunity we have to pray together – feasting on God’s word and perfumed in intercession. Passport_to_Perfume_Logo%20(1)

The Lord is constantly questing to  take us into a deeper anointing. Like a car that comes in for an oil change, the Holy One is filling us with a fresh dynamic. We are maturing, throwing off the old yokes that have chafed, receiving healing, comfort, and looking forward to a new “Rehoboth” yoking to our Beloved.

King David also grew into the anointing. This “warrior/poet, lover/prophet” can model many aspects of our own history and future destiny in Christ. He was anointed three times in his life. With each fresh touch of God the anointing drew him into deeper conflict with the enemy. Higher levels…New devils!

We shall take a brief look at these times as they mirror principles that we are called to practice.

David annointed1. The “disciple” anointing of a young man – 1 Samuel 16 & 17

 We are all born in this anointing. We learn to love God’s Word and meditate on his precepts. We strive in prayer and are surprised by joy in intimacy and worship. We smooth our pebbles in the river of revelation and store them as vital weapons in our heart for the coming Kingdom conflicts. Getting up early – winning the blanket battle!, sacrificial giving and serving, praying around the maps – no place for the empty silence of “non-prayers!”, driving miles and trekking together to adventure and challenge. We face our Goliaths, the personal fears and temptations, the crucifying choices, and we get the victory which sets us free to Holiness. We must continue to live in this inheritance and pass it on to each new generation.

2. The “building” anointing of gathering a tribe – 2 Samuel 2

 At some point we need to have a track record of having actually built something. We are not just called to individual fulfillmentField of daggers but rather to the greater challenge of building a family, a team and a church. Any who have put their hands to the plough in this will know that it takes time and effort with many tears on the way. Whenever you look to join a few people together you will confront one of the greatest challenges of the enemy – the spirit of division. Brother against brother. Back stabbing, rejection, hurt and betrayal are all part of the enemy’s demonic cocktail designed to destroy the Body of Christ. We may risk falling in our very own “field of daggers – Helkath Hazzurim.” May God renew our determination and zeal to build. Faced with the challenge of post–modern Europe, and the vast unreached swathes of Asia where the most foul spirits of destruction have reigned unchallenged for years, let us commit ourselves afresh to the long haul of digging in and building brick by brick.

Many tribes3. The “Hebron – Community/Alliance” anointing of many tribes – 2 Samuel 5

It seems that the Lord may well be underlining this aspect of the anointing at this time of emerging missions in the Global South. The astonishing growth of the Church in the non-Western world leads us all to ask for a greater understanding of how to move on, shoulder to shoulder with our brothers, to proclaim Jesus as King of all the earth.

We cannot underestimate the battle and we will no doubt be entering many valleys of giants. However the Lord is with us in the conflict. He is longing to give us victory. We will know a fresh “breaking out” of supernatural power to overcome the enemy and see souls saved and built into church as we step forward in faith.

“As waters break out the Lord has broken out against my enemies before me.”

 Many are longing to strengthen and develop strategic partnerships and alliances with indigenous church groupings and missions. Like David we will need to enquire much of the Lord to understand his unique, creative way of bringing the victory in each situation. However, one thing is sure. Many “armies” are beginning to march! We need to hear in faith the prophetic lead to such armies and march alongside or cheer them on.Giants

“As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean that the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine enemy.”

 The “balsam tree”- baw-kaw’, in Hebrew means the “weeping tree”, and, as we seriously come to terms with the real prospect of martyrdom and suffering that these armies will gloriously endure, our tears will surely flow with theirs.

I’m aware that there is only one true Holy Spirit anointing who glorifies Christ in our lives. However the Lord has given us in that “Christing” the call to be and make disciples, to build teams and churches, and to develop and partner with mission movements from many nations.

Christ’s own life knew the anointing at baptism which led him to the conflict in the desert; the “baptism of the cross” where he was pierced for our transgressions in his own “Helkath Hazzurim,” and the glorious day of Pentecost when His resurrection life was given to the Church and we have heard the sound of marching growing ever louder since that day.

Let us be encouraged and step into all that the Lord has on offer to our faith.

Be fat and perfumed in the anointing !

D.O.E.R

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“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what  it says.” James 1:22

 James instructs us to be more than passive listeners. He wants action. He wants doers! There is a time when the talking has to stop and the concrete action begins.

How can we become successful doers of the word? Here’s, I hope, an inspired acrostic.

Dreams

We must work from our dreams and not simply from duty. “Tell me your dreams” said Joseph in Genesis 40:8. It seems that the Holy Spirit may be asking us the same question. So many times we are overwhelmed by our problems which grow into mountains that fill our vision and suck away our strength. We need to make these mountains of problems shrink to dots and see our dreams and visions taking their place on our inner horizons. Click the following for more on dreams.

Origins

Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38

We must spend quality time in discerning the origins of our actions. Anything manufactured out of man’s money or ingenuity will ultimately fail. The wreckage of so many wasted efforts, frustrations and “burnouts” fills the history of church and missions. If we do not take the time to pray and seek out God’s word and ways we will pay a greater price later trying to shore up man initiated work against the eventual tide of God’s judgment. So many aggressive appeals for finance are based on this “failure” to truly discern God’s work.

When we get our origins right we are on to a winner! Work from God is unstoppable. This gives us hope to launch out into some of the most dangerous and inhospitable places on the earth. God himself will defend and fight for his purposes. The apostle John in 3:6 puts this principle into other terms.

 “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

 Ekballo

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out (ekballo) workers into his harvest field.” Luke 10:1-2

Jesus was so overwhelmed by the spectacle of the harassed and helpless crowds milling about lost, without leadership that he urgently summoned the use of the gift of prayer to see workers “thrust out” into the harvest fields. The word Jesus used here, “ekballo”, is very strong. It is the same word that is used to “cast out” demons or “chase out” the thieves from the temple. Jesus is not being a nice English gentleman here and politely hinting “Would you mind being sent?” Welling up from of his desperate compassion he is saying, “Get out of your comfort zone!”

So many folks have lost their passion for souls because they have got stuck in a rut of comfort and habit.  Even ministers and missionaries can get caught in the habits of going through the motions of Christian work without really engaging with the crisis of the crowds. If this is the case we need to stir ourselves up again and take on the uncomfortable challenge of connecting with the crowds again. Dare we allow ourselves to be kicked out of our complacency and mind sets to be re-engaged with the uncomfortable reality of the world? True “doers” need the kick of “ekballo”.

Peter needed an “ekballo” vision of a reptile filled table-cloth to take him out of his cultural prejudice and be thrust out into the home of Cornelius. Ananias needed an “exballo” from the Lord to take him through his fear barrier and lay hands on his so-called “enemy” Saul of Tarsus. In Acts 8:1 the whole church needed the “ekballo” of persecution in order to fulfill the command to be thrust out to the nations.

What kind of “ekballo” will it take for us?

Refreshment and restoration

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Acts 3: 19-21

If you are going to be a long-term “doer” you will need times of refreshing and restoration. Keep yourself God centered through the gift of repentance. Don’t be like Samson who didn’t even realize that his strength was gone until it was too late. Keep turning to God in prayer and worship. A long distance runner often needs a “second wind” in his race. The rare Greek word used here for refreshment Anapsuxis, means recovery of breath (second wind), cooling, or reviving with fresh air.

Doing will also involve losing sometimes. Our actions and lives will often encounter a cross on the highway. Sometimes the thief does indeed come to kill, destroy and to steal. In such times we need to remember that our “doing” is only a pale reflection of God’s ultimate working to put the world back in place after its dislocation from the effects of sin and rebellion.

In our action we can look ahead to God’s final victory when, through Jesus, He will restore everything. In another rare Greek word, Apokatastasis, which denotes complete restoration of health (the restoring to its place of a dislocated joint), God is encouraging us to believe and work for the healing of the world.

We are certain that this will be fully achieved at Christ’s return, but as it says in Hebrews 6:5, we can already taste the “powers of the coming age” breaking into our world as we believe for restoration and healing in our own personal and national situations.

May you be truly refreshed and restored as you read these lines so as to be able to persevere in your doing of good works for the Lord and His Kingdom.

So, enough talking, enough meetings, enough conferences…

Just do it!