Wait Lifting

Hebrews 4: 11

Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

No, I didn’t misspell the word “wait” in the title. There is a concept imbedded in those two words. It is the precept that in our quiet contemplation with the Lord there is power to lift great weight and succeed in every calling of the Lord.

I was speaking with some friends last week when this idea, this principle came to the foreground of my thoughts and I have been unable to shake it. The awareness that we are meant to glean from this passage is that our labor, our effort is in entering into the rest of the Father whereby we cease from our striving. In Him, we are able to do all things (Philippians 4: 13). Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15: 5). Therefore, the purpose of our effort is to become integrated with Him and thus be “in Him.” The King James Bible says it this way, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

We have become such externalists that our faith and the expression of our faith has become largely external rather than internal. Contrast this ideology with some of the great historical icons of our faith. People like Thomas á Kempis, Martin Luther or Julian of Norwich. These and others, noticeably the Apostles John and Paul, believed and argued that the labor of our faith was to come to know God in the quietness of our spirits. Our faith is not in the things we do but in our connection internally with the Father, Son and Spirit. This is our works, extending our faith, believing with our hearts. Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6: 29).

We should not “do” works at the cost of sacrificing the quiet contemplation of our souls. Instead, external work should be at the direction of our Father and as an extension of the quiet, meditative connection with the Father. As in all things, balance is key. I know people who are so spiritual that they are no earthly good. What do I mean? They spend all of their time feeding themselves but it never has any expression beyond their own gorging. The true unity with God ought to show. It ought to spill over on to others but not by mere works but rather from the overflowing grace of the Lord.

When we rest in the presence of the Lord we gain substantively. This is not all subjective. It has real world consequences that can be objectively observed. We are empowered in the presence of the Lord and through communion with His Spirit we are guided; directed. He imbues us with power and then directs that power to His good intentions. “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40: 31). He fills us up to overflowing, speaks to us in our spirits and directs our paths. He gives us the power to do all things. All of this comes from spending time and investing our effort in “knowing Him” and the power which flows from just such a knowing (Philippians 3: 10). 

When Moses died and Joshua was appointed by God to take over the leadership of the nation of Israel God’s advice to Joshua was, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1: 8). I think that same advice will serve us well today. We should wait upon the Lord in the meditation of the Word, prayer and in the contemplation of the Lord. In that waiting, that quiet communion spent with the Lord, is great power; great strength. As we rest in Him, as we wait in His presence and in prayer He performs the works; His power goes into action rather than our limited power. He assigns angels and directs ministering spirits. His is the power which does all of the heavy lifting while we meditate in Him and the authority of His grace. In Him, in our rest, we become powerful ministers of the gospel of grace. In Him we become mighty “wait lifters”.

Please share your thoughts with me. How did this Word of the Day impact you? We always appreciate your comments. Thank you.

Fountain of Knowledge

Proverb 1: 7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I have been blessed to sit under a teaching where we are learning how great men of science have relied on God for their scientific inspiration and discovery. We have learned that we can be as brilliant as Einstein if we will avail ourselves of the same tools he used. No, perhaps we won’t have an IQ as high as Einstein’s but we can receive the knowledge of God through meditation and reliance on the Holy Spirit just like he and others have.

Revering the Lord is what connects us to that unlimited source of wisdom and knowledge. It is almost like hooking up a water hose to the faucet. There is constant availability for each need. All we have to do is turn on the tap and the knowledge flows. Interestingly enough, there is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit called the word of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12: 8). The same verse tells us that there is also a word of wisdom. The point is that God isn’t withholding wisdom and knowledge. He is trying to get them to us. So much so that part of the Holy Spirit’s mission in the earth is to help us to receive them.

In James 1: 5 we are told if we lack wisdom we should ask of God “who freely gives to all men generously and without reproach.” There is no reason we should go through our days, our jobs or our lives lacking the knowledge and wisdom we need. In fact, Solomon tells us that only fools despise wisdom and instruction. Which brings up another point, although the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is a reverential attitude towards the Holy One, there are multiple avenues through which God will deliver wisdom and knowledge. We have already seen that the Holy Spirit is equipped with multiple tools for conveying God’s wisdom but we must recognize that those gifts are exercised by the Holy Spirit through a human being. The anointing of God speaks through people just as God spoke through Solomon when Solomon wrote this proverb. God has also set teachers and others in the body for our edification and instruction. The Lord has given wisdom to people who can transfer those divine insights to us if we will not be foolish.

Lastly, let us not forget two other important ways God conveys His knowledge and wisdom to us. One is meditation. As we meditate on God and His Word the Holy Spirit speaks directly to our spirits giving us precise information for our specific need. Secondly, God speaks to us through His Word. He will lead you to a scripture that speaks to your situation or cause a scripture to practically jump off of the page at you. The main point to appreciate is that God wants to get His wisdom and knowledge to you. It all begins with a heart turned to God, seeking Him, seeking His face.

Peaceful Mediations

Joshua 1: 8

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Let us talk about meditation a little today. Yesterday we looked at Psalm 62:5 and Psalm 46: 10 which teach us to be still and quiet in the presence of God so that we may know Him as God. In the still, quiet peace of our souls is where we most easily connect with God. However, it is quite one thing to agree that you need to be still or that you need to meditate and another to actually do it. At least that was my experience. 

I decided one year that I was going to pray for an hour a day and I actually did it for quite a while. Now, you would expect my life to have exhibited a dynamic metamorphosis after praying for an hour a day. There is, however, an element of prayer that is necessary for it to have any power at all. That would be God. My prayer was an endless stream of syllables but I believe it lacked substance. It probably was noise in the ears of our Lord. I never bothered to connect with Him or the Holy Spirit so it was a soliloquy rather than a dialogue and prayer is not meant to be one-sided. Prayer is communication with God through the three persons of the trinity. My spirit, soul and mind were rarely quiet, still or silent. So, I would try with all my strength to be still and quiet. I would try to meditate. How many of you know that when you try that hard and apply power that you just create more noise. There is no effort in stillness. Remember, Psalm 46: 10 says to cease striving. So striving to hear the voice of God or striving to meditate is just not going to work. I was in violation of the principles of prayer and the kingdom of God. God teaches us that we connect and have deep fellowship through peace and ease. David commanded his soul to silence so that he could hear what the Father would say. David knew in whom his hope rested because he had many times experienced that saving grace of the Lord. 

It is exceedingly unfair for teachers to constantly intone about meditation and never teach us how to meditate. For some of you I understand this comes easily. I cannot even fathom. Others of you may have struggled with me. How then do we enter that rest that we often hear about? 

My revelation was not my own. A dear friend and mentor led me, this year, to two ministries which in conjunction have opened the prison doors and set me free. The first of those ministries is Communion with God Ministries whose founder is Dr. Mark Virkler. How appropriate. Now, do you think a ministry with that name may be able to help you find God and assist you in communing with him? Absolutely! And it was certainly true for me. Dr. Virkler’s foundational program is 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice. If you want to hear God’s voice speaking directly to you, then this program will make it happen for you. Dr. Virkler very subtlety teaches us left brained people to stimulate the right side of our brains bringing us into greater balance and causing us to experience the other half of the world (maybe more than ½). His website is a great beginning place and it is loaded with tons of free content. Free is good. I learned how to use the 4 keys just from his website and had an immediate breakthrough. The website is www.cwgministries.org

The other ministry that has radically altered my life this year is Impact Ministries with Dr. James Richards. Dr. Richards has many areas of expertise which can impact your life but the Heart Physics program is what has taught me how to be still. It was amazingly easy too. I was absolutely astounded at how quickly I began having significant breakthroughs. In fact, during the first week I had several major ideas just “come to me.” That which Dr. Richards teaches can alter every area of life. And while it takes a few minutes to go through the heart exercises, that time and more is added back in productivity and creativity. He also teaches you how to have more energy. You will be amazed at the peace you gain through heart physics and I guarantee you will learn how to calm yourself down and to meditate. It is a very fruitful program. Find all of Dr. Richards’ resources at www.impactministries.com or www.heartphysics.com.

We can all have peace. We can all find God in the stillness of our hearts. These two ministries can help you find that place of calm serenity where Jesus is waiting for you. Be still and know your God and savior. Find peace and truth in meditation.

Be Still

Psalm 62: 5

My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.

The first thing I needed to understand about this verse in order for it to minister blessing to me is that David is actually addressing his own soul. I think there is an entire message in the truth that sometimes we need to speak to our souls commanding them in a particular direction but what I really want to talk about today is being still before God so that we can enter into deep communion with Him. 

This has been a contemplation of my heart for a long time now and a focus for this year. I have never been very good at being still. Psalm 46: 10 tells us, “Be still and know that I am God” or as it reads in the NASB version, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Either phrasing is equally difficult. Being still relates to both physical stillness and mental quiet. I found being still and quiet physically challenging but mental quiet near impossible. I would sit down to pray and my mind was all over the place. I thought I had a quick, active mind but in truth I had an undisciplined mind. In my experience, it is very difficult to have an active communication with God when my mind will not shut up for one moment. Something, therefore, really struck me about the silence David commanded to his soul.

It turns out that this “silence” is an interesting word. It is the word “damam”. Its primary meaning is “to be or grow dumb, silent or still – ceasing.” Not surprisingly, we see the expected silence but there is also the concept of stillness that is found in Psalm 46: 10 as well as the mandate to cease striving. This is a profound silence then, akin, in my mind, to peace. When we look at all of the definitions and synonyms for this word “silence” we find the words relax, rest and wait. There is an imperative tense too in made silent, kept silent, stand still, stay still, wait in silence. These are the commands David spoke to his soul. He tells his inner being to be still, quiet, relaxed, etc. knowing that God will speak into the silence.

We know David to be a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14). We also see in David a person who fully expected God to be an active player in his life. I have to conclude that this internal discipline that David exercised and his core belief that God would speak into the silence were critical factors in the enviable relationship that He enjoyed with God. There is nothing, however, that God did for David that He will not also do for you and me. Therefore, it may be wise for us to look into this man’s behaviors and attitudes, no, not to observe only but rather to model his behaviors so that we may enjoy the same fruit. For I am convinced that if we sow the same seed that David sowed, we will reap the same fruit, that of a close, personal, Psalm 23 kind of experience with the Father of lights, the God of the universe, our very own dear father.

Finally, for some of you quiet contemplation may come easily though that is beyond my comprehension. Others of you may find this topic challenging. All of us probably need to meditate (think on, cogitate, ponder) over this topic. Quiet spirits, still minds and bodies are not the stuff of modern society. If, however, we want to enjoy daily communion with our Father, if we want to hear His voice speaking into our everyday life then we are going to have to master the art of silence, the skill of still.

Tuning In

Matthew 21: 22

And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.

You might say that you have not received all that you have asked in prayer. I have a question then. How is your receiver? Or maybe your believer is broken. The scripture says that what we believe when we ask in prayer, we will receive. If that is true, then perhaps we have received exactly what we have believed. So, we need to work on our belief. The way to increase belief is to spend more time with the Father and his word. The more time you spend hearing, seeing and reading the word related to the subject of your prayer, the more your belief will grow. When you find a really key scripture, one that goes right to the heart of your prayer, you should meditate on that one. Meditate just means that you are thinking on it in a concentrated manner. Think about each word in the scripture. Why did the author use a particular word? Look up the key words in a dictionary. Look up synonyms for the word. Talk to your heavenly Father about the scripture. Ask him what the scripture means to him and ask him to shine even more light of meaning on it for you. As you do this, one day the faith will just jump in your heart. All of sudden you will know that you know. Then the facts won’t count. It will not matter what the situation around you looks like because you will have a revelation of the truth. Truth is above facts and the truth always trumps facts. Once you know the truth, you will truly be free.

The Contemplative Life

Proverb 20: 15        NIV

Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

In reading this verse, I am struck by how out of place it is in today’s culture. First of all, who would say such a thing? Preachers, I think, might still say these sorts of things but that is probably the limit of it. I ask myself why and find many answers vying for my attention. The most pronounced, though, is that this speaks to ideals that are outside our value system. So, what is in our value system or more plainly stated, what is it that we value? That question is most easily answered by observing what we, as a culture, spend our time, energy and money on. The contemplative life does not seem to make the list and seeking out the one person who has made meditative study a priority is even of lesser importance to us.

Individually we get swept up in the tide of the culture, few of us ever stopping long enough to ask ourselves what is really important. There are images painted for us in media, advertising and literature and we integrate those images into our psyche’s and begin to hotly pursue them without ever questioning whether those things have any real value in them or if they add value to our lives. The first realization we have is that we have no time in our lives. Everyone is so busy. We have no time for the real friends so we have to have virtual friends. Our friends and family are nothing more than social media entries. We have no time them much less for quiet study, meditation and contemplation because we have three other places we need to be. But if we could be honest with ourselves for one minute we would have to accept that we are only as busy as our value system allows. We do what is important to us. If we say that we are too busy for any particular thing it is only because we have not placed a high enough value on that item. So, now when I hear someone say they are “too busy” for something in particular I understand that they are really saying that it just is not important enough for them.

I have this picture in my mind of people sitting at the feet of the sage listening intently to words of wisdom. It is a very tranquil image. It is also a fallacy. Even if we purposely slow our lives a bit then ego interferes. We have become a nation of egomaniacs. Who knows better than we? Is there anyone smarter, wiser or more informed than I? If so, do I value that person or shun them? This is not true for everyone for there are some of you who really do have humility but for many of us we ostracize one who has answers and wisdom because our self-esteems are so low that we see their wisdom as a threat. So those of you who do seek out teachers keep gaining knowledge while those of us who so desperately need guidance cannot receive wisdom because of our outsized egos.

Israel had the same problem. People didn’t listen to the prophets even though God spoke to them through the prophet. So they lacked guidance. I am sure they thought they knew it all just as we do today. We don’t need anyone to speak wisdom into our lives because we are the smartest people we know. It is all very cyclical. We think we are wise, or we allow our tiny self-esteems convince us this is so we do not pursue the teachings of those who could, in fact, help us. Secondarily, we have become so deceived by the devil as to what is important that we do not pursue God in our own time. There are few wise people because few people spend time with God. And then those few who actually have made the contemplative life a priority get shunned because they are wiser than the rest of us. Israel suffered greatly because they wouldn’t listen to the prophets but today we are even worse because we won’t even give anyone the title prophet or teacher even when they have been appointed by God to those positions. 

I wish that by writing this Word of the Day I could change the culture but if it provokes one or two people to a deeper life then it will be successful. Those of you who are thoughtful and meditative, pull on your teachers. Make a demand on them. Teachers, your followers have a right to draw on what God is teaching you and you may have to increase your study. It is your responsibility to feed the sheep and Jesus is the bread of life, so study.

If we could just take one month away from our worldly pursuits, away from seeking pleasure and direct that energy to seeking God, we would not only transform our own lives but our families and communities as well. Consider your time, your obligations and your God. Take time to think about what is really important in life. Then allocate some time to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. Seek out teachers. Honor them and make a demand on their knowledge base. Make the pursuit of the knowledge of God a priority in your life.

Dwell on These Things

Philippians 4: 8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Last Friday I went for a bike ride. I had plans to meet some people for lunch at a trailside restaurant 29 miles down the trail later in the day. I thought I allowed enough time for me to cover the distance without keeping them waiting but I have not done many long rides lately so I was a bit concerned about my mph average and arriving at our meeting spot on time.

I started out at a good pace and was really pleased to feel good at that pace. Before too long though, at around 14 miles, I think, I noticed that my average was beginning to drop. I wanted to go faster but I had also noticed that my legs were beginning to enter the conversation with input of their own. I really focused on going faster and that is when I learned this important life lesson. The more I thought about my legs the more tired I felt. But our dear Father switched my thoughts from the fatigue in my legs to thinking about my cadence and to watching the average speed display on my bike computer. I stopped thinking about my legs and began thinking about the mph. A few minutes later when I looked at the current mph indicator I saw that I was going 15 mph which was the fastest I had gone all day. I had an epiphany right there on my bike. I realized that the more I focused on the bad news, i.e. my legs being tired, the more I reaped tired legs. When, however, I put my mind on my goal, my body just achieved the goal despite the obstacles. In fact, I didn’t even feel my legs. I just achieved a new level of success simply by shifting my thinking.

As I rode I thought to myself that this must be what God is trying to teach us in this verse. Whatever is good or worthy, let your mind linger on those things. If you meditate on your tired legs you are going to reap weariness. If you let your mind camp out on the goal, you are going to reap success. I remember thinking as I rode along, “If we think about being tired, we will be tired. If we think about being sick, we are going to be sick all the days of our lives. But, if we will meditate on the healing, the success, the blessing, etc. then we will be healthy, successful and blessed.” Yahoo! Now that was a bit of practical education that I could apply immediately.

I have a few other strategies that I have developed over the years of riding that I think might work in many aspects of life. First of all, I pray at the very beginning of my ride. I say to Dad that this is our time and that I will be glad to listen and He can talk. I love to acknowledge (even out loud many times) that this is something that He and I are doing together and that not only do I invite Him to share this time with me but that He is just automatically a part of it. Then I often tell Him that we will ride together but that the last 3 miles are all His because I have noticed that no matter how far I ride it always seems that the last 2 – 3 miles become difficult. So we start out with an expectation that He is with me and is doing the bulk of the work. Those are two of my secrets but there is a third which is my emergency ration when I am out of gas and I needed it on this ride.

As I continued Friday, I began to weaken again so I put my earbud in my ear and turned on Praise music. Now I did not say Christian music because I need something more specific in these moments and it is Praise music. Say it loud! Play it loud! I start praising the Lord and listening to anointed singers glorifying the Lord and I get revived. The joy of the Lord can pump your legs even when you feel like there is nothing left in them. One caveat – trying to sing along can really be hard on your wind but then again who cares? Well, maybe some of the other people on the trail would prefer I didn’t start singing out loud but it just may make them ride faster too if only to get away from me.

The end of the story is that I did arrive on time. Actually, I was 40 minutes early. I had a great ride. I asked Dad to use the time to fellowship with me and to speak with me and He taught me this brilliant lesson about what we allow ourselves to meditate on impacting our immediate life. He used my leisure time to develop a Word of the Day teaching me that we can work and play. We had time of praise and I got some exercise. I’ve gotta say, that is a good day.

Bottom line, we can affect our lives by what we think about and those impacts are immediate and lasting. There is something we can do right now to change the outcome of today. There is a lot of power in that.

I hope you enjoyed going on this little 29 mile journey with me. To find out what my “out of gas” refueling music was check out the blog post for Sunday, June 29, 2014 at www.iveyministries.blogspot.com.