Sunday, December 22, 2013
We are guilty of making our 'church' experience a 'high place' before God. The Israelites had the tabernacle and then the temple, but they also had what was called the 'high' places. These were places that began on hill tops and mountains for the worship of pagan gods, and later were connected to any place that became a place of worship. A valley could even be called a high place as in Jeremiah 7:31. There were times that Jehovah was worshipped in these high places. Several times it was written of a king who would remove the idols from the land, but would leave the high places. These places were allowed for the worship of Jehovah, but were still against the Law of God. It was much easier to turn a blind eye to these places, but they were a thorn for the whole nation. The church today has its high places.
Why the high places? These were places of gatherings to experience worship. Man is made with a need to worship. We have objects of worship today. The North American worship is more of people; sports figures, Hollywood stars and such. There are shows called the 'American Idol' and the 'Canadian Idol' to set people up to be admired and create a fan base. Of course there are those who idolize their cars or trucks, some, works of art. And then there is religion. Anything and everything abounds and is acceptable. Many will say that every religion is acceptable except for Christianity, but the religion of Christianity is acceptable; the Christianity that is not religion is not.
Yet as believers, we can and have made our gatherings more of high places than not. Some may say that our gathering are to be 'high' places. That is where we worship the one true God and He deserves our worship. Yet I find that we often gather for the worship experience and miss the God of our worship. What do I mean? Only that we gather for the experience, the ambiance, the atmosphere created by our worship together. The cathedrals of old and many of our new places of worship were and are designed for sound. They are designed to create a worship experience. It was thought that this is what God desired, even demanded. He is God and we must worship Him.
With the charismatic movement came the worship teams that have spread into most denominations. The music is designed to move the congregation and again give them a wonderful experience of worship. It is a wonderful experience, but is it the definition of true worship? If people can come into this experience and yet leave, only to be carnal in the parking lot, then I would say their experience is faulty. They were touched by a spirit but not the Spirit of God. A brother once shared that worship started in the flesh is only flesh no matter how good it feels. There is nothing spiritual in it. There is nothing of God nor for God in it. We must be careful in how we approach the Throne of God or we may miss it altogether. Jeremiah 12:2b “You are near to their lips, but far from their hearts”. We can proclaim, shout and sing with our lips, but where are our hearts and our minds?
I want to be careful to not condemn the buildings. There are fellowships that view owning a building for the church to gather as an instrument of evil. But they in turn can create high places in their own homes. There are definitely buildings that are monuments of men; the church is guilty of constructing such. The debt in mortgages is huge. Yet we cannot condemn all buildings. It is what we do that makes a high place. It is always a matter of the heart. No matter where a believer meets he/she can make it a high place experience, and in the same meeting have a touch with the throne.
What is the Lord after in our coming together? Isn't that the real question? So ofter we are looking for what we can get out of the meetings. We want to be satisfied, to be entertained, to come away with a good feeling. There will always be those who have this at heart. But the Lord is after much more in the gathering of the saints. The gathering is to reveal the fulness of Christ Jesus His Son. After all, the saints corporately are the body of Christ. The assembling together is to express Jesus in a fulness that cannot be done individually. Each one is to bring their gifting for the benefit of the whole body. There are no Lone Rangers in Christ. We need each other to be the full expression of Jesus before the Heavenly Father. This is the testimony of Jesus here on earth. The Lord is looking for His Son being fully expressed through the assembling of the saints. Out of that expression will come true worship and adoration of God the Father.
Friday, December 20, 2013
Our response to the revelation of the Lord and the Saints.
A number of years ago I read the book Spiritual House, printed by Christian Tape Ministry (now Christian Testimony Ministry) It is a transcription of messages from a conference in 1992. I found the question and answers quite good especially the last page which I printed out and carry in my Bible. It is a reminder that no matter what the Lord may do with and through me, I am still to be mindful that all who belong to Christ belong to me and I to them. The following is what I took from the last page (145) of that book.
What is our relationship with our brothers and sisters in our vicinity, our locality, our neighbours? We must be true to the light the Lord has given to us. We cannot impose the light, the revelation the Lord has given to us upon people. We can pray for them, but we cannot impose on them what we know. We should pray that the Lord would enlighten them and give them the revelation. On the other hand, we are not cutting ourselves off from them because we are standing on the oneness of the body of Christ on behalf of all the saints, not just locally, but universally. So if we take the stand as a local testimony, we do not stand just for ourselves, we take that stand on behalf of of all those who belong to the lord. Our hearts should be large enough to include them all. They may not meet with us, they do not see what we see, but in our hearts we stand on behalf of all God's people; we are representing them, just like the Levites. The eleven tribes failed, but the Lord raised us up to stand in the gap not just for ourselves, but for the eventual recovery of His place in all of His people. That will keep us very humble and that will make us to know the tremendous mission the Lord has given to us. He has given us light and revelation not just for us to know; that is not good enough for the Lord. We are to know so that we can stand in the gap for all that God wants; and that is our purpose.
The Lord is really after something in the local fellowship. It is a very precious treasure. Today, as you look around, where is God speaking out of His heart to His people? Where can you hear that prophetic voice of the Lord? Where can He speak from His heart? Where is He free to unveil His burden? Where can He speak to those who are really after Him? God will speak to those who have divine discontent for the Lord to secure what He is after. So it is heart attitude. We are so thankful; our eyes are blessed, we see something of what the Lord is after. Our ears are blessed because we heard something from the very heart of God; and we should carry that burden with us to secure what He wants – and He will because He is God and He will do it.
So, I believe the Lord is after a local expression, but locality is not the issue; it is the expression of His life in a corporate way that really matters. And as far as our relationship with other brother and sisters, we are not any better but, somehow, the Lord, in His sovereignty, allows us to see some light, and we are there for His interests on behalf of all His people. So we are not detached from God's people. Those who are redeemed, those whom He loves are part of our family. They do not have the privilege or the understanding to take that ground for the Lord, but we take that ground for them before the Lord and that is our place.
Pg 145 of the book, Spiritual House.....spoken messages by Stephen Kaung, Ernie Hile and Dana Congdon
with Michael Woods and Hoseah Wu answering some questions.