Friday, December 16, 2016

The Keeper of the Keys

The Keeper of the Keys

In the “olden days” they would have gatekeepers who sat at the entrance of a city. These people would guard the city and keep those who would bring harm from entering. However, these people weren’t just protecting against physical harm, they were protecting their manner of living. More specifically, they were guarding what they held sacred—the commandments of God.

Nowadays, at least in America, we don’t have people standing guard at the entrance of a city. We use other means to protect ourselves physically. But spiritually speaking, who ‘holds the keys’ to the things we hold sacred--those gems of truth God has shown us from the hard lessons we’ve learned?  The things that have taken us a lifetime to learn that we want to pass down to the next generation so they don’t have to spend their lifetime learning the same things? The ‘rabbit trails’ of life we have uncovered that get us off track and become dead ends? This is the job of the elder generations.

As the oldest generation in a family passes away there is a shifting that takes place. It was the elders of the city who sat at the gate, and in the same way, the oldest generation today is the ‘Keeper of the Keys.’ This elder generation should seek God for both the wisdom and the passion to guard the family spiritually. The second generation will do more of the ‘enforcement’ of these truths as they raise their children. The way we perpetuate the sacred things in our family is by guarding the hearts and minds of our little ones. They are the doors. They are the entrance way into our families, and our society. As the Keepers of the Keys we want to be sure to share with them the lifetime of wisdom and insight we have learned. We want to teach the ways of God to them, giving them the keys of life.

Of course the gatekeepers didn’t just guard the city, but they also welcomed newcomers. One thing we don’t want to do is to label a fresh perspective on life as heresy. The elders had enough discernment to know the difference between what would harm and what would refresh. When we become a condemning skeptic instead of a properly discerning judge, then we stifle what God wants to do in our families. We must recognize the fresh gifts and talents that He has placed in our young ones, and encourage them to grow in those gifts. Of course, at the same time, we teach them the standard of truth that God has established, and encourage them to continue to seek His truths throughout their lives and embrace it.

The Keeper of the Keys---these are those who guard the spiritual truths that God Himself has given to a family. As we stand at the gate, our little ones--our family’s future and our heritage--will grow and become a foundation for future generations to build on. When the gates are properly kept, the truths discovered over the years will remain to guide and to bless each generation.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Guarding the Home Base

One day, David and his men returned home to Ziklag and found that the Amalekites had burned their city and kidnapped their families. Needless to say, they were quite upset. David sought the Lord to see if they should go after them, and He said go. David and 600 men went on the rescue mission. At one point 200 men were too exhausted to continue, so they stayed behind with the baggage. The 400 men continued, won the battle, rescued their families, and recovered all their stuff. Now, some of the 400 didn't want to share the spoils with the 200. In fact, they wanted them to leave with their families. But David said no. He made a law that whoever stays behind with the baggage receives the same share as those who fight the battle. (1 Samuel 30).

David had learned something. Who was guarding their families while he and his army were off fighting? Was anyone? Their families were kidnapped and their homes burned. He wouldn't make that mistake again. Someone needs to guard the families. Some people are called to go on the mission. Some people are called to guard the stuff.

We hear a lot, in America, about missionaries who go out to preach the gospel and do good Christian works around the world. This is good, and many are called to do this. In fact, we've been able to do this because of the home base support here in the States. However, I think we have not properly recognized the call of some to guard the home base. In fact, we've neglected it to some degree. I believe God is making people aware of their call to guard the home base. Like the families in Ziklag, America is in need of those to guard the homes and families. We need people to properly fill their home base posts to protect and rebuild America!

To do this, we must first identify--How does the enemy come in?

First, through the womb. Thousands of people enter America every day through the womb. These people are sent from God so they are not meant to be a threat. Children are like fresh waters flowing through America, keeping us alive and vibrant. Many have been killed trying to enter through this gate through abortion. These people are meant to be a blessing, yet if children are not taught the ways of the Lord, they are in grave danger of falling prey to deception and false teaching, and becoming a threat to our home base. What was sent to us as gifts from heaven, become used against us and God's work. Children are an entrance gate.

Next, people enter America physically from other countries. Many of these are threats because they want to conquer us and impose oppressive laws. Our immigration policies and military should properly assess and address these threats. If those at this post properly adhere to the Constitution of the United States, our Christian home base is protected. Physical borders are an entrance gate.

Lastly, the enemy infiltrates our people through untruthful thoughts and ideas, such as through the internet, media, or false teaching. We combat this by bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Governmental censorship is not the answer to stop potential threats through this gate because that gives the government power over families. God's design is for parental authority, under God's authority, to govern families, not a governmental entity. Parents and ministers need to teach people, and kids especially, to know the Lord and be filled with His Spirit so they enter into a relationship with Him, share His heart, and develop proper discernment. There are lies all over the internet--cartoons telling kids that Christians and Muslims serve the same God. False religions and ideologies are going after young kids on-line and in schools, trying to indoctrinate them with beliefs contrary to the Word of God. Thoughts are an entrance gate.

It's time to guard the gates! We've done it sporadically, but not in a systematic, intentional, and consistent manner. We need to be diligent in standing at our assigned post and remain watchful. We need to train and become excellent in the skills needed for the post we are called to.

How do we watch for the enemy at our assigned post?

1. Recognize your call to guard the homeland.
2. Seek God for your specific assignment. (For example, are you called to have an on-line presence looking out for threats to young kids? Or maybe you're called to teach the basics of the Word of God in a Sunday School class. Maybe you're a parent or grand-parent and called to nurture your own kids in the Lord. Maybe you're to stand guard in the schools--through prayer, legislation, or keeping an eye on school policies and practices.)
3. Prepare. Be diligent to receive education and practical skills needed for your post.
4. Take your post. Watch diligently. Don't slack off. Don't sleep on duty. Do it!
5. Remember that your place is not insignificant, stay encouraged.

The treasures we are guarding are living treasures-people. Some may have the primary task of watching for threats. Those who do must take care not to allow paranoid suspicion to cloud out proper, loving, discernment. Otherwise, we become oppressive towards the very treasures we are trying to protect. Some may have the primary task of nurturing the living treasures. Those who do need to be careful not to criticize those who are standing guard, thinking they are too harsh in their stance against potential threats.

How do we guard without being oppressive?

1. Pray for the treasures (people) you are guarding, pray in the Spirit.
2. Be an example of the Lord to them, and of the Christian faith.
3. Teach the ways of the Lord--discernment, guidance, and discipline when necessary.
4. Allow creativity and free will.
5. Ultimately, they need to grow in relationship with the Lord and be filled with the Holy Spirit themselves.

Parents, don't just teach your children the ways of the Lord, but teach your children how to teach their children the ways of the Lord. Peter said, "I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind." (2 Peter 1:15). Those under our care need to be able to call to mind the things we've taught them after we're gone. Our children need to know how to train their children in the ways of the Lord, helping them to call to mind the things they've taught them. Our faith is not to end with our generation!

We have neglected guarding our home base to a certain degree, but we've not completely vacated our posts. Our enemy has snuck up on us through gaps in the wall. But now, he's being exposed. As he is, we see that we've been surrounded and infiltrated. It may be shocking to see the extent of the infiltration. However, the Lord hears our cries and our prayers. As we encourage ourselves in the Lord, and inquire of Him like David did, following the words He speaks, we will rescue our families and rebuild our homes. But we must never forget the importance of having those who will guard the home base. we can't send out all of our resources and leave our homes unprotected.

Lift up your head--above the cloud of your own daily distractions--and ask the Lord what part you play in guarding the home base.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Tower of Babel Dream

I was dreaming and I was at the tower of Babel. Everyone was making sounds, guttural-type sounds and no one understood each other. It wasn't what I had always imagined. It wasn't that some groups understood each other. It was like no one could speak a language.  No one could say any intelligent words. They had to learn to understand each other in ways other than words, and "create" a new language. As I stood there watching, some were just starting to understand very basic things with a few people close to them.

It seemed to be a frightening experience. However, it caused families to come together. People were looking for those they cared the most about. Mothers looked for their children, and husbands looked for their wives. Families would gather together for survival and comfort. They were forced to get to know each other in a much deeper way in order to understand one another, communicate, and survive.

Up until this happened the vast majority of the people were just making bricks, making bricks, making bricks. They were enslaved to this one thing. There was no exploration. No individual creativity or discovery. But there was talk. Talk of what it was going to look like. Talk of what this tower would do for them. Talk of where to put the next brick.

Once they couldn’t speak to one another, there was no joy in making the bricks or building the tower. No excitement. No sense of purpose. There was no organization or direction either. Without the words of the one driving them, there was no desire for the people to do this. There was frustration and there was fear. And then, there was a gathering together of people with those they loved and cared about. There was exploration and creativity. There were talents discovered and new skills developed. 

They had been speaking—planning, envisioning, and working to accomplish this one thing. Who's idea was it? One man's? They all spoke the same thing. This empowered them. But empowered for what purpose? Just about one hundred years earlier they were told by God to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 9:1). Instead, they had gotten themselves stuck in this project.

It's interesting that during Israel's slavery in Egypt later on their job was to make bricks.

Many years later, after Jesus had come and gone, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came. 120 followers of Jesus were gathered together in the upper room. As the Holy Spirit fell on them they all began speaking in languages unknown to them (Acts 2:1-13). After this experience they were sent out--eventually scattered to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. There were times of gathering together, and times of going out to preach.

The Lord had told them not to even try going out of Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came on them. Anything that is going to be built, needs to begin with a unified language. But a unity that is surrendered to the plans and purposes of God. A unity that allows for the development and expression of the individual gifts given to each one. A unity that is birthed in hearts that care for one another.

If you are going to build anything together with other people---a family, church, business etc—pray in the Holy Spirit TOGETHER. He will give understanding through this. Whether it comes through an interpretation of tongues, prophecy, revelation, or just a knitting together of hearts. He also strengthens and encourages us. He reveals the place and part that each person plays. We must speak together in order to build together.

The Gifts of the Spirit are given so we can SPEAK, UNDERSTAND, and DO the will of God. We speak through tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophesy. We understand through the word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits, and we do through gifts of healing, working of miracles, and the gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

Whatever your group is, gather and pray in the Spirit--together. Get to know each other. Care for one another. Talk to each other. Then the understanding and vision will come, along with the gifts and abilities to build what the Lord wants built--a dwelling place for Him among His people. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Hearing God's Voice in the Words Around Us

He who is of God, hears the words of God.
John 8:47

When I hear my husband's voice in a crowd of people, I recognize that the words I'm hearing are his. In the same way, my desire is that when I hear God's voice, among many, I will recognize which words are His. I know my husband's voice because I'm "of him." I spend time with him and have a relationship with him. I know which words are God's because I'm "of Him," I spend time with Him and have a relationship with Him.

God's words can come to us in various ways. They are written in the Bible, but they can also come as spoken words. The word "words" in the passage above is "Rhema" or the spoken word. Jesus knew the written word, but He also knew the Father's voice when He spoke to Him. He spoke what the Father had taught Him.

For I did not speak on My own initiative,
but the Father Himself who sent Me
has given Me a commandment
as to what to say and what to speak.
I know that His commandment is eternal life;
therefore the things I speak,
I speak just as the Father has told Me.
John 12:49-50

So we hear, and recognize, that the words we hear are of God, because we are "of Him." We spend time with Him and know Him. But let's take that one step further--do we believe the words that we hear? Not just believe that they are of God, but do we believe they are the truth? It's one thing to recognize a person's voice, but another thing to believe what they say.

Truly, truly, I say to you,
he who hears My word,
and believes Him who sent Me,
has eternal life,
and does not come into judgment,
but has passed out of death into life.
John 5:24

Many years ago I heard a minister say that if we knew we were hearing from God then we would instantly obey. His thought at the time was that we need to get to know God's voice better because if we knew for sure He was talking to us then there would be no question in us obeying it. I do agree that we need to learn how to recognize God when He's talking to us. However, once we do, we also need to believe Him. It sounds like something we should automatically do. If it's God, of course I believe Him. But do we? Jesus said if we hear and believe we have eternal life. If we hear the words of Jesus and believe what God is saying through Jesus, then we have eternal life. Do we just believe it's Him talking, or do we believe that what He says is the truth?

Let me give you a very minor example of this. Over a period of weeks, I had a few incidents where I was at the grocery store buying some items. On each occasion I saw something and contemplated buying it. Each time I thought it might be the Lord letting me know I would need this item. Yet, each time I decided I did not need the item, didn't want to spend the money, and didn't buy it. Each time it turned out that I needed the item within a few days. Was I hearing the Lord telling me I needed the item, recognized it was Him, but didn't believe Him? Or did I simply not recognize it was Him talking to me? Did I question my ability to hear God, or did I question God Himself? Do I only believe it's Him when it's something I want to hear, or do I believe Him all the time?

We need to hear, recognize and believe the words from God when they are spoken. We know they were spoken through Jesus, and they are written in the Bible. Yet we also need to hear, recognize and believe the words of God no matter how they come to us. God can speak to us through a number of people.
We are from God;
he who knows God listens to us;
he who is not from God does not listen to us.
By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
1 John 4:6

John wrote that since they were from God, whoever knows God will listen to what they say. Once again, we who are of God, who know God, will hear Him speak through whatever means He chooses to. We hear His voice, we recognize it's Him, now let's be sure that we believe what He's saying to us---not just that it's Him saying it, but that what He's saying is the truth. And then, let's do what He says! I don't want to be one who just believes He is speaking the truth when it's convenient for me. The truth He speaks may be inconvenient or uncomfortable at times. It might cost me something. But we're told to buy the truth, and not to sell it (Proverbs 23:23). Hearing from God, and believing in Him, knowing Him and His truth, is worth whatever price we have to pay!