The Fear of the Lord and Revival

I have been duped; maybe you have been fooled.  For many years I have been taught that the “fear” of the Lord is not what we would associate with terror or being scared.  We have heard the “softer, gentler” version from the pulpit as not to offend.  We have listened and accepted our teachers’ idea of “fear” meaning a “profound respect”…not so much a scared to death fear, but a placement in our hearts of God being above us…something like, “God is God, and I am not”.

As I was reading in Acts this morning, I noticed in chapter 2, verse 43, that as the first church began to grow that part of their rapid growth was due to signs and wonders.  These signs and wonders in the context of the chapter are as follows:

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.  Then FEAR came upon every soul, and many WONDERS and SIGNS were done through the apostles.  Acts 2:42-43

In this context, can we not see that the prerequisite to the manifestations of God’s glory was indeed fear?  Also notice this verse in Acts 5.  The context of this verse is where Ananias and Sapphira “cheated” in their offering and lied to the assembly (essentially lied to God) about giving all that they had.  As most of us know, they died on the spot when their heart was exposed:

So great FEAR came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

O.K.  Now that is fear!  The people looked on as a person’s heart was exposed and then struck down.  Wow, that’s harsh.  So I decided to look up the Greek word for fear in Acts 2 and compare it to the word for fear in Acts 5.  Because let’s face it, I know I desire revival in my country and know that a major part of revival is signs and wonders (the manifestation of the glory of God).  I see clearly that before the manifestations of the glory there must be true repentance.  That was the case then, that was the case in all revivals (or great moves of the Spirit), that was the case in the Great Awakening in America, that was the case in the Second Great Awakening, and that must be the case if we want and pray for another revival in America.  So I had to see what this fear means, for without the fear of the Lord….there can really be no true repentance.

The word “fear” in both cases in transliterated Greek is phobos (Strong’s 5401) which means TERROR, DREAD, THAT WHICH STRIKES TERROR.  Why has the preacher skipped this part?  Why do we shy away from the reality that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge”?  The previous quote is Proverbs 1:7 and the transliterated Hebrew word for fear (Strong’s 03374) is Yir’-ah and means the same as the Greek word phobos…literally terror and dread.  So, to even begin to have wisdom or to even entertain the idea of revival, we must fear (be terrified, be full of dread) the loving God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

Not too long ago, I had a taste of this fear.  It was not poetic, it was not joyous, but it was profound…and it scared the crap out of me!  I stood trembling under this spirit of true fear.  I told my wife and some friends that it was like a horrific car crash:  it wasn’t like I was in the car driving and then being obliterated; it was like witnessing the car crash just inches from the impact.  If you have ever witnessed an accident up-close and personal, then you know what I mean.  If you haven’t then I can give you another example.  Remember the horror of 9/11?  Remember how helpless you felt, how you could only watch and be carried away in the dread of it?  It was like that.  Knowing that people were being burned alive, knowing and watching people plummet to their death, and knowing that the cruel hand of terrorists was behind all of the death and destruction.  Helpless, frozen in terror, frozen in time, it all felt so very surreal.  That is what the Lord allowed me to experience in the spirit.  By the way, just in case you are wondering, God did NOT cause this horrific event…I’m just drawing on your experience.

Now I ask you, do you remember how our communities responded?  How people banned together?  How prayer vigils broke out all over town, and how people flew the American flag off their vehicles and in their lawns?  Whether it was a BMW sports car, a soccer-mom minivan, or a rusted out pick-up truck…we all flew our flags!  After great tragedy, we all had an acute and powerful sense of unity.  This is how revival will feel.  After great tragedy, we stop caring about another’s denomination, we don’t have time to discuss theological, traditional, or doctrinal differences, and we honestly don’t have the interest in drawing lines and building walls between ourselves.  We simply hold hands in unity!

One thing in our country that causes me great sorrow:  nobody seems to fear God anymore.  Our society has basically given God “the finger”.  Nobody it seems respects the Almighty as the Almighty; we would rather paint a narrow version of a benevolent God.  I know the Lord is love, the Lord is light, and the Lord is Spirit; but He is also the God of judgement and demands that His people fear Him!  It is what most learned teachers call “Divine Tension”…it is what it is…and I cannot rewrite the Bible or paint a different picture for us.

We know that we live under grace in what most refer to as the “Church Age”, we know that it is the “goodness of God that brings a man to repentance”, we know that Christ Himself said in John that He did not come to condemn the world, but to save it, we know that God loves us so very much that He made the sacrifice of His Son for us, and we know that it is love that ultimately saves our souls.  However, to reject that love and God’s offering is of terrifying consequences.  Hey, I know this isn’t “sexy”, I know this post will inevitably be my “least popular”, I know that no one wants to contemplate judgement, but if not me…then who?  Who will stand up for truth?  Even our loving Savior told us to “not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).  Notice the wording in Matthew, “is able”…whew!  Dear God, we know You are able, but have mercy upon us!

One day, sooner than later, the Church Age will pass.  One day, judgement will follow.  How important is it to understand the terror and dread that awaits?  Is it important to focus on love or fear?  The answer ironically to both is…yes.  It was the fear of judgement that brought Nineveh into repentance, it was the fear of judgement when Jonathon Edwards delivered the famous sermon “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God”, it was fear that descended on Jerusalem at the inception of the church, and it will be fear that ushers in the next revival.  Don’t shoot the messenger!

So how does this reality in Scripture play out in your church?  When was the last time we had a reality check in this matter?  How long will we tolerate apathy in the church?  How long can we tolerate America’s rebellion against God?  What should we do, or say, or how should we act, in the light of what is to come?  How many warnings and symptoms must we point to so as to bring us into a true repentance?  Is it too late?

Look, I’m not trying to accomplish anything here other than remind my Christian brothers and sisters that Christ’s sacrifice was for a reason.  I want to help bring into perspective the reality of what has played out over the history of time.  Nobody wants to stand up and say, “Hey, wake up you adulterous church and repent of your sins!”…I know I don’t want to.  How many people would join a church that preached God’s wrath?  How popular would you be at your Bible Study if you ranted about God’s judgement?  How long will we be O.K. picking and choosing parts of the Bible that appeal to us instead of painting our Creator in the light already provided?  We want revival, but are we willing to accept God’s terms for that revival?

So I challenge the people of God:  Do you know the fear of the Lord?  If you don’t, then I suggest taking a little time and facing the reality of what it means to be a Christian.  Are you a fan of Jesus or are you a true follower?  Have you accepted the “terms of the covenant”?  The problem here is that this is NOT the “fine print”…it is scrolled across the top of the covenant in bold, bloody letters!  The blood of Christ was shed and His body beaten beyond recognition so that the Father could dip His pen in the blood and write a new covenant…we can’t appreciate and embrace grace without first appreciating and embracing judgement.

We do not live under judgement at this present time; we live under grace.  But when the Church Age has passed, we are going to be held accountable as to what we have done with this grace.  We must be vigilant to present the Gospel in black and white…no more grey!  We have the Scriptures as a guide, and should not pervert the gospel one iota.  We must present the gospel in love, for that is a great commission.  But if we truly love someone, then we should not lead them astray or give them a false sense of security or a pleasant picture of God only.  There are some deep and sometimes confusing mysteries in the Bible, the gospel is NOT one of them!

Hope I didn’t ruin your day.  I hope that God will speak to your spirit and remind you that He is still God and He will never change.  The next time you take Communion, think about how profound His sacrifice really was…

Be bold my brothers and sisters, clothed in righteousness, and bathed in love,

Gideon

Consumed by Fire: A Vision

holy spirit fire4

 

Please Note: This vision was recorded years ago, but I felt it was important to re-publish it. The content is actually more important now than when it was written. Enjoy and let it edify you and your commitment to personal revival.
I walked into the prayer and worship meeting 30 minutes late. I took a seat as the worship team lifted up the song “Pray for Rain”. The song was melodic and hypnotic, and I sat with my eyes closed simply letting the song work its way from my ears and mind into my heart. The man seated behind me began to sing along, and I could hear the emotion in his voice and could sense that his tears were soaking the words as he begged the Lord for revival. After a long, hard day at work, I was not exactly in the right frame of mind yet and my back was protesting the way in which I had abused it that Friday. I had spoken to my brother in Christ earlier that evening and confessed that I was too tired to make the 30 minute drive to the 7pm to midnight prayer vigil, and for that very reason had decided to come. When I am too tired is the perfect excuse to participate. It didn’t take long for the Spirit to wash away a challenging week and I found myself in inward silence. I tried to force myself to pray but the words just would not come, so I just became passive in my spirit. After a while, the words still would not come, but the Spirit gave me utterance in a language I have yet to understand, so I let the Spirit take over and let it flow.

I had come tonight to bathe an endeavor in prayer, and that endeavor is a revival a friend and I are trying to plan. This undertaking of a city-wide revival is daunting to say the least and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that under my own power and even with some help, that without the Lord leading and making a way, that the revival would never even get off the ground. I need God; I need Him so much that sometimes I just fall backward into His grace and admit that I am completely powerless. He is a good God, for He always catches me and comforts me in a way that can only be described as tender. I knew I needed to lift this up to Him in a very serious manner and in my own intellect was completely incapable of forming a wise and strategically sound game-plan to execute a city-wide revival. Who am I to make such large plans? God always reminds me that it is never about me, but always about Him, for Him, and by Him; hence, the need to lift it up to Him.
It wasn’t long before the Spirit began to clarify that it is not so much the event that needed to be lifted up, but rather me that needed to be lifted up! “But this isn’t about me, Lord”, I mumbled under my breath. He answered me in a most lovely manner. I began to lift away from myself, I became detached from “self”, and I felt I would simply faint from lightheadedness. Then the vision came.

I am suspended in the air, my head is back, my arms stretched out at my sides with palms up, and my legs are bent back like someone who has just jumped with all their might. Now I am speeding through the air; I can’t tell whether the world is falling away from me or whether I am speeding past the world. The air is rushing so quickly past me that my body begins to heat up. My skin begins to melt as I burst into flame; I am being consumed by fire.fiery for god Once the flesh has fallen away from my body in a contrail of smoke, I see myself as a spirit of flame; there is still a distinct, human shape, but I am now a man of fire with the flames tapering off behind me. Then the Lord asks me, “Are you willing to be consumed by My fire…Are you willing to leave all for Me?” I began to think of my family, I began to think of my friends, I began to count the cost of really, really going “all-in”. I became anxious and sad and wondering what would happen to all my earthly wants, needs and desires. But after contemplating the price, I answered, “Yes, Lord…anything for You.”

At the moment I answered “Yes”, a peace filled me and a love that makes a man’s knees shake overtook me like a limp body tossed in the ocean. I knew I had made the right decision. As I am watching my now enflamed body flying through the air at an incredible speed, I noticed I was alone. In this vision, I was looking around for others, but there was no one else. Then the Spirit spoke: “Don’t worry about others…this is our decision, just between you and Me.” When I realized the individual nature of the question and the reality of the decision, I thought about why. I was here to pray for revival, I was here for others, and I was here to lift my city up in prayer. It seemed somewhat selfish to be focused on myself, but that is where the Spirit took me. All alone, just me and His mighty hand. God was asking me for a personal commitment; He wasn’t allowing anyone else in the picture.

Now I see that I am flying through the atmosphere and approaching the ground. The earth is dark except for the occasional flicker of a street light or a lit window. I approach the ground at breakneck speed and crash into the ground.fiery streak of light Now I am seeing myself at a distance, like viewing a meteor flashing for a moment in the sky, then landing with a great impact, and finally bursting into flame and a cloud of smoke. Now I see what can only be described as a meteor shower; people like me, as flaming meteors, are crashing off in the distance near and far. The rhythm of the impacts is picking up pace and now I am beginning to understand. I turn behind me to the East and see a great, red, glowing cloud. My heart leaps in joy as I sense a great wall of fire approaching. Like looking at a mountain top whose other side is aflame in a wildfire. It was simply glowing and I could sense the awesomeness of it and the finality of it as well. The great cloud of fire is coming.

firecloud

I came to my senses almost 2 hours later. I had been praying in tongues for close to 2 hours, but it had seemed like only a moment in time. But I was exhausted and decided to make my way home. As I stood up to leave and try to make sense of this vision, I was accosted by a few friends and gave some hugs and handshakes. It wasn’t until the drive home that the gravity of the vision began to make sense.

God wants to bless us with a revival to eclipse all revivals, but that revival will not start with a body of believers or a church or an institution; that final, great revival starts with individuals answering the call to forsake all for Him. I had intended on praying for my city and the Lord flipped the focus onto my personal commitment to His calling. The Lord is looking for people to step up and heed His personal call on their lives. If you need to look around for help or for support or for a group, then you are not ready! I must confess that I am guilty of this; I want to step up and heed His call, but I am always looking for others to join me. This notion makes sense, and in fact, is quite biblical! But alas, when the Spirit speaks, I can’t argue and point out to Him what He wrote. For the words that He writes on the tablets of a man’s heart are just as powerful and profoundly more personal than the recorded words found in the sacred texts. On that drive home, He reminded me that if I make that personal commitment in faith, not needing anyone else but Him and Him alone, that He would provide the others…not the other way around! Oh my God! You are so amazing…

My little church in Knoxville is getting quite shaken up these days; people are beginning to sense that something is coming. We can feel the earth shaking all around us. I was led to share this vision with the congregation this past Sunday. After hearing the prophetic vision, several people spoke wisdom and interpretation into it…I love this process! One of my brothers said he saw this as a picure of re-entry, like something returning back to earth that is heated up in the re-entry process as it hurls through the atmosphere. He said it was a call to re-engage in passionate ministry and to fully commit. My pastor spoke of the immediacy of the call, the clear statement of personal decisions for God, and he pointed to the clear evidence of a world in desperate need of a Spirit-empowered Church. Now, after God speaking grace and wisdom into the vision, after praying over this revelation, and after receiving input from dependable Christian leaders, here is the message for you:

The time of fulfillment is coming; like the cloud of fire on the eastern horizon, it is approaching. Revival is coming, and God is calling out people to begin the great outpouring of His Spirit. It will start with a fire here and a fire there, like the meteor shower in the vision. It will not start out as a sweeping movement; it will start in your hometown or your home congregation, but it will spread quickly for the land is dry! If you are in the “wait and see” mode, you will be left out of the primary and most potent part of this symphony. The approaching cloud of fire is judgment, and the meteor shower of revival is the “last call” for humankind. Your part in this is totally up to you: you can either heed His call and get totally committed, or you can partake of the revival after it is started. The question posed to me was whether I was willing to give it all; I answered “yes and amen”. I challenge all who read this to take this matter up in prayer and implore the Lord to give direction as to how and where He wants to use you. I cannot tell everyone to “sell-out” to the Lord; that is not my place or the purpose of this record. The purpose of this recorded vision is to reveal what will take place shortly and to let those who read it understand that the time of waiting is over. Get your house in order and be sure to have your heart right with the Lord. Maybe this vision was just for me; maybe this vision is for you as well…

After an amazing Sunday night service that was simply overflowing with the presence and power of the Spirit and as I sat with my Bible in my hands, my hands parted and the Book opened to a scripture found in 2 Chronicles 16. My mouth dropped as I read verse 9. I had never read this verse before, I had never heard it preached on before, and I was stunned at the acute effect it had on me. 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NASB) says:

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

This is a momentous time in the history of humankind; can you feel it? Are you in tune with the Holy Spirit and dancing to His rhythm? If you are, then you would already know that something is afoot. I exhort you to seek His face more earnestly than ever and to discover His clarion call for your life in the immediate future. When all is said and done, we all desire to hear our Savior utter the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Be blessed, be sober, and be brave. May the peace of the Lord rest upon you,
Gideon

The Book of Life

book of life

Let’s go back in time, you who are older; and let’s maybe see in the present, those who are younger. I want to help you grasp a great truth, whether by invading your memory or by stirring your present desires. I hope all who read this can understand first the emotional elation of being recognized, and secondly the overwhelming joy that could be yours.

Can you remember a time in your life when you anticipated your name being on a list or called out in front of a gathering? Maybe you waited for the teacher to read aloud the names that made the honor roll, maybe you rushed to the bulletin board to find your name on the list of those who were selected to be in the school play, maybe you waited in agony to see if your name would be called to receive an award, or maybe you tried out for a sports team and your heart beat like a hummingbird going to the list of names that made the team. If any of these apply to you, do you remember how that made you feel when you saw or heard your name? Don’t think of the disappointments; think of the elation you felt when your name did appear or was read aloud. Most of us can find that time in our lives.

I think you know what I’m talking about; if not, no need to fret, your time will come if you understand and embrace this teaching. To be recognized, to be set apart, to reach a goal, to be appreciated for a job well done, is a longing in our collective hearts that no one can escape. We all long for significance, a feeling of somehow being special. To rob any person of this pursuit is to rob them of their self-worth. Oh, we may say to ourselves, it doesn’t really matter to me. But deep down, if you are honest with yourself, you must realize that every person has this desire…even you.

If you peel back the layers of who you are and break down the walls of self-defense you have built to protect your heart, you will find that the most compelling and magnetic desire in life is to be loved. A person that attempts life without love is a person forever lost. When we know we are loved, the whole game changes. We spend much of our time looking for love from others, from a significant other, from our friends, from our children, and the list can go on ad infinitum. Once we find love in others, we eventually discover that all people will eventually leave us disappointed. Either love was lost, or loved ones pass on to the other side of eternity; one way or another, earthly love comes to an end.

So my point is that we all crave to be remembered, to know our lives matter, to someway become special, or to leave an imprint or legacy for our time here on this tiny planet we call earth. Let me ask you a question: Who won the Pulitzer Prize last year? Who won the James Joyce Award 5 years ago? Who in your sophomore class in high school won the science award or the math award? And one more question: Who do you think remembers any of your awards or promotions or accomplishments? If we are being brutally forthcoming, then we probably are disappointed by either our lack of recall or can count the one’s that remember our achievements on one (maybe two) hands. Again, don’t fret. I’m taking you to a lovely destination!

In Luke, Chapter 10, in verse 20, Jesus makes an incredible statement. Let’s set the scene. Our Lord had just sent out 70 disciples ahead of Him to enter cities and announce His impending arrival. During this campaign, the ones that were sent saw incredible miracles happen. Not only did they witness these miracles, but they were the ones doing the miracles! Technically, God did the miracles, but He allowed these disciples to be the instruments through whom He accomplished these mighty works. They brought the Kingdom of God to people by telling them of the good news of Christ, they healed the sick, they opened blind eyes, and they cast out demons. When this particular campaign was over, the ones returning were marveling, relishing in joy over the miraculous power they had seen and had personally participated. Can you imagine what that would be like? You go out, following the orders of the One whom you had seen do miraculous things, and you come to realize early on in the journey, that you too are doing the works of the Master! I don’t know about you, but I would be on cloud 9 as well! These guys were literally trippin’, to use modern vernacular.

Our brilliant Teacher in essence is unfazed, like, whatever, no big deal; that is nothing really. Then He continues His thought recorded in verse 20; He basically says, “Don’t get all excited about having this power, but I tell you what: DO GET EXCITED that your name is recorded in heaven.” Huh? I’m sure the disciples looked at each other and marveled at such a statement. You have to understand, none of them were reared in an evangelical home and church! Most of the Jews in first century Palestine only vaguely knew of such an idea; in fact, the Jewish population was basically split into two groups: the ones who believed in a resurrection from the dead (a Pharisaic “yoke” or interpretation of the Torah) and those who did not believe in the resurrection from the dead (an interpretation of the Scriptures by the Sadducees). It was a “hot topic” of the day, and the arguments, I’m sure, were fierce and passionate by both sides. It would be like us today arguing about whether you believe in a pre-tribulation rapture or a post-tribulation rapture. Proponents from both sides are equipped with their biblical proofs and could argue into the wee hours of any night without losing a bit of zeal! So this concept went from an unclear mystery to a divine reality in their very hearing!

So these disciples most assuredly were joyous for two very good reasons: number one, there IS a heaven and an afterlife; number two, their names are recorded in that place. Hallelujah! Praise God! This moment for them was one of complete awe…it had to be overwhelming. Then, right after this statement, our Lord goes on to rejoice in the Spirit when He cries out to the Father, “Father, thank you for giving this power and understanding to the weak, uneducated, and simple folk! Thank you for being so awesome and unpredictable in hiding these great truths from the educated, strong, and wise! Your plan Father, is a wonderment to even Me!” (This is my own paraphrase; read it yourself and see that I’m not pushing the content or intent).

So here is the news for you today. I want you to imagine or daydream or meditate or simply embrace the truth that one day, in the not too distant future, you will stand in front of all humanity, in front of all of the angels, in front of Christ Himself, and as the Book of Life is opened and being read from, YOUR NAME IS READ ALOUD FOR ALL TO HEAR!

Your name…yes…as one of His, your glorious name.

As the white throne judgment is being played out before your very eyes, can you imagine the joy that will burst forth from your heart when you hear YOUR NAME announced to every living thing in the presence of the Father Himself? After all of life’s struggles, after all the battles with sin in your life, after many long nights of holding a dying loved one’s hand as they slip away from you, after your own battle with the fear of death, after all the periods in your life where your faith was tested and maybe even lost along the way, after all of the pain and suffering and loss and tears and toil…FINALLY the time has come and your name is announced from the Book of Life, recorded there by His hand many years prior. And Jesus testifies to the Father, “Father, this one is Mine.”

Oh beloved, don’t lose hope in this difficult journey we call life. The climb is so worth the destination. There will be no greater joy than to be claimed by the One who bought you with His own blood. You will be embraced by the Master Himself as your name is read from the Book of Life and he claims you right in front of the Father. What joy! What accomplishment! How special do you think you will feel then? Will you finally feel like your life mattered, that you made a difference, that you were truly significant? You bet! Jesus wraps His arms around you as you shed tears of joy on His shoulder and He whispers in your ear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

So you see, the joy we find here on earth when we are recognized or honored is but trivial compared to the destiny of that incredible day. The day when you are finally home, finally at peace, and finally in the arms of the One you trusted enough to put your faith. So when Jesus makes that statement recorded in Luke 10, do you think He meant it? He is incapable of telling a lie or exaggerating; He says rejoice now in this fact. So embrace it fellow brothers and sisters. Rejoice indeed that your name is written in the Book of Life! And if by chance, you are not sure, then spend the rest of your life seeking that assurance. Is there anything more valuable or precious to find? Is there any event in your life that will eclipse that day? The answer, my friend, is a definitive NO. That day will be the best day of your life. Period.

rapture2

The Good Place

The Crow

The sweet smelling aroma,

the fire within…

love is warm; His love is fire.

Not burning, but…

filling the vast space,

small as the atom,

deep as her waters,

the stars moving further away.

Oh, it is the good place.

Shackled in chains,

the bonds of mortality:

Why must my body die?

Because nothing goes with it…

Freedom follows the uncovering,

Hope slips into reality,

Death is swallowed up by life.

But now, we uncover our hearts

and taste that it is good…

Oh, it is the good place.

All is overcome by the release, the gift, the mystery of charity:

Not able to be held,

not able to be willed…

But only to be given,

the springs of living water.

Completing the circle,

partaking of the soft breeze

that flows from His kiss,

Passing to the generation of longing…

Oh, it is the good place.

Spirit thirsty, spirit hungered,

how they hope deeply and hidden within.

Sometimes it whispers,

sometimes it cries,

sometimes it screams.

Drink my friends and heal the sores,

release the heavy burdens,

eat of the fruit of forgiveness and mercy.

It was right there the whole time because  He loved us first…

Oh, it is the good place.

Even in darkness,

it is light,

The revelation of the landscape,

recognizing beauty unveiled,

Danger looks the beast it is.

No hiding in shadows that do not exist.

Oh my God, keep the sky clear behind blue…

Always, it is the good place.

moonbow

Dear Papa,

waiting on the Lord

Introduction:

This post is from my heart. Most of my readers know that I fill my offerings with Scripture and base all of my teachings on the inerrancy of the Bible. This post is based in biblical truth, but rather like a tea bag infuses water to become tea, so will this post be infused with Scripture. I have had an epiphany. I won’t bother with Scriptural backing. If you need said proof, just ask in the “comments” section.

The Preface:

Today, as I sat and thought about my life and my relationship with God, I realized something very profound. God the Father has totally been ripped off!

What do I mean?

What I mean is that we are so dull of hearing, so hardened in our hearts, and so totally devoid of holy vision that we miss the whole point.

Most of us, and me included, point to Christ; we worship, dedicate our lives to, and bend to a Savior. This is not bad. This is necessary! Christ is our Savior. Christ is the first-born from the grave. He is our cornerstone. Jesus paid our price that we could not pay. His Name is above all names, His glory above all glories, His righteousness is our free gift through faith, and His atonement is the FINAL price for sin. But…

But…

But…

But what?!

The “but” is that it isn’t about Christ’s glory or our glory. It is about the Father’s glory! If you don’t believe me, then you haven’t truly grasped what the Bible has recorded. In the end, Jesus hands the whole of what He has bought to the Father! Just as we cast our crowns at Christ’s feet, so He hands over the entirety of redeemed creation back to the Father.

So we celebrate Christ, as we should; so we celebrate His sacrifice, as we should. But do you realize that Jesus Himself told His disciples to pray the Lord’s Prayer? In that prayer, it says, “Our Father”; it speaks of “Thy kingdom”, it finishes with the most incredible words in the Bible: “For Thine (the Father!) is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.” It is the Father’s kingdom! It is the Father’s glory! It is the Father’s power! Forever and ever!

Even Jesus Himself speaks many times that He does not speak His own words, but only what the Father speaks, that He does only what the Father says to do, and that the “Father is greater than I.”

Take a breath my friend. Theology will choke you if you let it. Why must I make a distinction between the Father and the Son? And, as you all well know, I am a teacher of the Holy Spirit. So why make a distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Why?

Answer: BECAUSE THE BIBLE DOES!!!

So, if just for a moment, let us focus on Father.

The Revelation:

There is recorded in Genesis an account that points to a great and life-changing picture of a father. His name is Abraham.

Let your mind and heart open to this reality. Abraham always wanted a child, always pined away at the thought of a son. Yahweh promised Abraham a son and promised him that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham so badly wanted this promised son that his wife acquiesced to his desire and actually took things into her own hands by letting Abraham sleep with their servant Hagar. Hagar birthed Ismael, and the rest is history. But this was not God’s plan.

God told Abraham that Sarah, his wife, would birth a son. The problem was that Abraham was very old and Sarah was very old as well. Biologically speaking, Sarah had passed her child-bearing years. But the fact of the matter is that Abraham believed God, against all odds and against the reality of Sarah being way past the time of conceiving, Abraham believed God! In the book of Romans, Paul tells us that because Abraham believed God and believed that God was powerful enough to “make good” on His promise, that it “was accounted to him as righteousness”. God at one point told Abraham to look up into the sky and observe all the myriad of stars; God told Abraham that he would be the father of so many people, that the number would match the number of stars. Can you imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind at that time?

So incredibly, miraculously, and against all odds, Sarah conceived and gave birth to Isaac. The Bible tells us that Isaac was the apple of his dad’s eye. Abraham’s love for Isaac was deep; Isaac was the most important thing in Abraham’s life. The promise of God, the fruition of all that Abraham was about, and the consummation of a covenant that is as sweet as honey to the tongue, was all fulfilled with the birth of Isaac.

So we can all just wonder in amazement, as surely Abraham did, as Yahweh asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Huh? Wha? Did you just ask me to…to…to put a knife to Isaac’s throat and bleed him out on Mount Moriah? Really?

God’s answer: yes.

That night must have been just awful. I can picture Abraham praying and struggling with his decision as Sarah and Isaac slept completely unaware of the carnage and pain about to transpire. I’m sure Abraham was weeping and pleading and seeking a solution from the Lord that would not require that Isaac be sacrificed. The worst part was that Abraham himself would be the one wielding the knife!

As Isaac and his father journeyed to Mount Moriah with some servants helping them along the way, I’m sure Abraham was just dying on the inside. At some point, Abraham told the servants to stay back; the boy and he would finish the journey up the summit alone. As they were carrying all of the necessary ingredients for a sacrifice, Isaac looks up at his father and asks, “Where is the sacrifice”? Abraham answered in a most profound manner; he said, “Jehovah Jirah”, meaning, “God will provide”. Basically Abraham told his son that Jehovah would provide His own sacrifice. Isaac had no clue that he was to be the one offered on the altar. I wonder if Abraham understood the profundity of the now most wondrous name of God, Jehovah Jirah?

Isaac must have been absolutely horrified as his own father bound him to the wood of the altar. Isaac must have been weeping and begging and pleading for his life. I’m sure Abraham was weeping as well and shaking his head in horror. Which is worse, knowing you are going to die at the hands of your father or a father about to slit his own son’s throat?! The pain and agony of the whole situation is unthinkable, untenable, and impossible to empathize. All that Abraham was, all that he would ever be, and all that he lived for was about to be removed from his life by his own hand. Every heartbeat, every breath, and every hope was bound up in the child that God Himself had promised to Abraham.

With tears clouding his eyes, with horror coursing through his veins, and with trembling hands, Abraham lifts the knife into the air, takes a deep breath of resolution, and commits to the treachery because of his immense love and devotion to Yahweh. Just as the knife hovered in the air, an angel stops Abraham and tells him that God has provided His own sacrifice. In the thicket, on the ridge behind them was a ram, and this would be the sacrifice…or would it?

Many centuries later, in the same exact spot, God DID provide His own sacrifice, the sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

The haunting I have been dealing with lately revolves around the Father. When we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ. Do we even fathom how the Father felt about His one and only Son leaving the heavens? The angels declare “good tidings and great joy to all people”; but the Father didn’t find it to be good tidings and great joy! Dad just let go of His boy.

As Christ stood before Pilate, He told Pilate that He was volunteering His life, that no man can take My life, and that His kingdom is not of the earth. Paul tells us that it was for the “joy laid before Him” that Christ laid His life down. Jesus could see the full plan of redemption, He could see the future glory of God and man finally ensconced in an eternal embrace of love and communion.

John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son”. That is some serious love folks! Just as Abraham was horrified by the thought of putting his own son to death, so the Father was horrified by the thought of putting His own Son to death. Not only did the Father have to send His Son to die, but the Father also had to take out the punishment of all mankind on His own Son! And even after taking the brunt of all judgment out on His Son, the Father had to turn His back on His Son in His worst moment as Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken Me?!” I’m sure that shout echoed throughout heaven and completely and totally broke the Father’s heart. The pain of crucifixion and abandonment on one side; the pain of forsaking your own Son on the other. Which is more painful?

The Conclusion:

We can never understand how close the Father and Son actually are. In pure truth we must understand that they are literally ONE. Just as the Bible tells us that a husband and a wife “become one flesh”, so is the relationship between the Father and Son, but even deeper than that! All we can compare their relationship to is what we have modeled here on earth: the relationship between a man and a woman in love, the relationship between a child and a parent, or even the relationship of dearest friends that would easily lay their life down for the other. But the Bible tells us that all of these relationships pale in comparison and do not capture the intimacy between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are literally ONE!

So how badly did it break the Father’s heart? How painful was it for the Father to “provide His own sacrifice”? We will never know. But, this has been haunting me and God is allowing me to get at least a glimpse of this unbelievable truth. It makes me weep uncontrollably, it makes me sad for my Papa, and it makes me understand His great love for me…and for you. I fall on my face in undressed shame that God would do such a thing for me. I am undone and wrecked by His unbelievable suffering for my sake. We are so unworthy! But the fact remains, Papa did the unthinkable.

So as we celebrate our King and Savior, remember that it is joyous for us but painful for daddy. Always remember the message of the cross. The cross is awful, bloody, unthinkably painful, and a symbol of a love that surpasses even the best words to describe. The good news of Christ was not good news for dad. It cost Him everything. Get it? IT COST HIM EVERYTHING! He laid His own precious Son down to buy you back. What Abraham didn’t have to do…God did…

Dear Papa, I love you so much. Thanks Dad for buying me back. Thank you Father for not turning your back on this unappreciative mess of a human. Jesus, my brother, my King, and my Savior, thank you for obeying Papa. Holy Spirit, my counselor and guide and comforter, thank you for sharing this truth with me and pouring Papa’s love deep into my heart.

Oh my God!!!! I am so undone.

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