Saturday, September 30, 2006

Decision for Destiny...

Some folks are very decisive, and others hesitate, think about it, live in a state of indecisiveness and eventually let someone else make the decision. I am concerned that Christians not live their spiritual lives this way. Joshua challenged the people of Israel, “Choose you this day whom you will serve…” All too often, we have left the choice up to our spiritual mentors, our pastors, our politicians, and those with the loudest voices. It’s time for individuals to make hard and fast choices.
I sense an uneasiness in the body of Christ right now. Perhaps you have felt it too. It feels like we are all on the edge of our seats, waiting for something momentous to happen. Those who take the lead right now, who choose with confidence, will have the advantage. For decades, we have allowed the world around us, to mold and shape our world. Christians stood idly by while prayer was removed from the schools, then abortion was legalized. It would be easy to get on a hobby horse at this time and pick on another ‘issue’ and challenge you to take your stand against government and politicians and educators. But there is an even more serious situation at hand.
The Church in Trouble
Today, the church itself, is sliding backwards, one person at a time, into ineffective whitewashed tombs. This was the state of the religious world when Jesus came. He charged them in Matthew 23:27-28 27. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. “ Today if the pastors don’t entertain us with illustrated sermons, if the worship teams don’t play the most modern beat, if the church buildings are not more comfortable than your sofa at home, then the ‘saints’ mosey on to some place that will make them feel comfortable. The church, the living body of Christ, is dying. It is beautiful on the outside, but inside there is death and corruption. Meanwhile, the lost world is spiraling down into an eternal hell with little or no concern on the part of the ‘Christian’. Grant it, there are a few beacons of light out there who are beaming brightly, but there are more and more who are caving in to the demands of lazy ‘saints’. They are more concerned with what they want than with what God wants. Humanism is the new god of the church. Their cry is: make me feel comfortable, make me feel happy….or we’ll go somewhere else. The church has become so self-centered it has forgotten it’s purpose for being.
What has happened to the church that repented in revivals of past days? What has happened to the church that would spend hours on its knees seeking God? Where are those ‘saints’ who are willing to sacrifice their own comforts for the sake of the lost world around them? Where are the revival services that lasted into the wee hours of the night, and extended into protracted meetings of three to 5 weeks or more? Where are the evangelists now? Sad to say, many evangelists have been forced from the itinerant lifestyle due to pastors and churches and boards that no longer have ‘time’ for Sunday night services, and don’t think their people will support protracted meetings.
Milk and Honey?
Too many have been feeding on milk diets. Milk is good. It is a wonderful food. It is an almost perfect food. But I was shocked to learn that when milk is ‘treated’ with homogenization and pasteurization, it destroys much of the goodness found in fresh raw milk. It kills natural enzymes and vitamins. For milk to do it’s best for us, it first of all must be fresh. Fresh raw milk was made by God to be consumed within the first 24 hours. Yet today, in our modern world, we keep milk , that has been treated to preserve it, for up to a week or more. We do the same spiritually. We soften the message to make it ‘seeker friendly’ so as not to offend the sinner. We don’t take the time to seek fresh ‘milk’ from the Word of God and so we push our ‘stale’ message for all to feed upon. The milk turns sour, and we wonder why the world rejects it.
The children of Israel were promised a land of “milk and honey”. This means that God was promising them a land where all their basic needs would be met with abundance. But He never meant they were to continually live on a diet of milk and honey. Honey is a great natural food. It is a sweetener that tastes wonderful. But a diet of pure honey would be awful. We need balance. Believers today have the best resources that the body of Christ has ever had! We have the written Word of God. We have wonderful study tools, concordances, handbooks, dictionaries, radio, TV and the computer. Yet how many pastors find themselves preaching a message borrowed from some other preacher. How many ’saints’ rely on the pastor to read the Word to them on Sunday. It’s the only time they open their Bibles. It is spoiled milk. The Holy Spirit wants to pour into each pastor’s heart fresh messages, not milk and honey messages but oil and wine messages. He wants to break fresh oil into each heart that will take the time to read the Word of God and pray.
Pour in the Oil and Wine
Oil and wine messages are those inspired by the Holy Spirit, tailor made just for your congregation, fresh from the wine vats and oil presses of heaven. The wonderful thing about wine is, that as the wine ages, it gets better and better while as milk ages, it become more and more spoiled. Wine is produced by crushing and breaking. Each cluster of fruit is placed in a vat for one purpose, that of crushing and breaking, to bring forth that which will result in healing, and strengthening. The oil is also produced by first crushing and then pressing. In the New Testament, oil was used for lamps, as a medicinal agent, for healing, for anointing at feasts, on festive occasions such as the consecration of kings and as an accompaniment of miraculous power or of the prayer of faith. Many folks are not aware that the name “Gethsemane” is derived from the Hebrew word, gat shmanim, meaning “oil press”. It was at Gethsemane that Jesus was in agony as he was ‘pressed’ under the weight of what He was about to endure for us all. His body became the ‘oil and wine’ and He sweat as it were, great drops of blood. Olives are pressed under great stone weights to bring out the oil. The first crushing prepares the fruit to bring forth the golden extra virgin oil, the finest in taste and flavor and purity. It is ‘fresh oil’. Second pressing brings out even more oil.
Our Choice...
God’s people need to place themselves at His feet once again and let his feet crush us and break us, and press us into the fresh oil and new wine to meet the needs of this complacent generation. They are weary of fakery, and want a genuine experience with God. They want to know He is really real. They need to see a demonstration of His power. The heavenly Vinedresser wants our altars restored to places of prayer and worship. He wants our sanctuaries to be a place where we hallow His presence. He wants our homes to be places of spiritual refuge for troubled families needing to meet the Master. We need to learn the ministry of pouring in the wine and the oil…just like the good Samaritan in Luke 10:34. He ministered to the wounded victim of brutal thieves who had beat him, robbed him and left him for dead beside the road. Today the enemy of our souls is doing the same thing. He is a brutal thief, who comes to kill, steal and destroy the lives of mankind. His purpose is to wreak havoc in the home and the church, creating division and disharmony. He steals their finances, their joy, their hope for the future, their health….and leaves them beaten and as good as dead.
But, God…!
God has an answer… a hope! It is Jesus, flowing through vessels of clay…vessels filled with the wine and oil of the Holy Spirit…. Ready to be poured out on a generation that so desperately needs Him. Let’s be the Samaritan that reaches out and touches the unlovely around us, sharing the healing balm of oil and wine.
Wine and oil are both symbols of the Holy Spirit. Wine speaks of joy and healing and refreshing and strengthening. Oil is soothing as an ointment. It speeds healing, and it seals out the corruption, preventing infection. Wine and oil were also traditionally both poured over the sacrifice as it was offered on the altar. As we yield our bodies, our lives as living sacrifices on the altar of God, He, the high Priest, will pour out the wine and the oil over our lives, and then we will be ready to be set aflame for Him.
I feel an urgency in my spirit to press on in the Spirit, a warrior for God. We may face trying days ahead. As your trials come, do not loose heart. Keep your focus. Be faithful. As warriors, we must be familiar with the weapons of our warfare, and ready for battle. We have the power of the blood, the power of His name and the word of our testimony. He will use these to overcome the enemy. We must be familiar with the testing our Commander will be putting us through to prepare us for battle and the costly anointing. This army will be a unique one, tried in the fires, walking in humility, listening intently to the Commanders every word. He demands of us holiness and humility. Absolute obedience is a must! There will be times when you are tempted to question the tests and the trials that come your way, but He is preparing you, strengthening you for that army. To develop muscle, there must be a healthy diet, strenuous exercise, and going a little further each time. It will result in pain. Some will give up and turn away. But we must press on. The enemy will always try to resist the work of God, but remember, resistance builds muscle and makes us stronger.
There will be times when you will be tempted to stand against the enemy in your own strength. You may tell him… ‘I’m a pastor, a minister, a prophet,a deacon or an evangelist. Leave me alone!” Your titles won’t impress the devil. There is one name He respects and fears, and that is the all powerful name of Jesus Christ. If you want to throw around names, tell satan, “ I am a born again, blood washed child of Jesus Christ!” He will be trembling at that name.
We have a vital choice to make… milk and honey or oil and wine! Our choice may determine the destiny of this generation. We have had enough compromise with the world. We have had enough milk. We must ready ourselves to move on to better things, to grow stronger, and take on the challenging tasks God has ahead for each of us. Choose wisely… and let the wine and oil flow over you today! J. Johnson

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