Saturday, April 22, 2017

Loving Justice and Righteousness

Psalm 106:3 Blessed are those who keep justice, and he who does righteousness at all times!

Having grown up in a religious, church-centered culture, the words “justice” and “righteousness” were part of my vocabulary, nearly from the beginning. However, I had virtually no comprehension or understanding of what those terms actually mean – they just became synonyms for “behave yourself, and you won’t get in trouble with God.”

I’ll acknowledge that there is a nugget of truth there, but the reality is far more appealing and fulfilling. “Righteousness” and “justice” are words that refer to the essence of who God is, and how He sees reality from His eternal perspective. God creates everything – including you and me – from His perfect vision of what we will be when the process of our lives is complete, when mercy and grace have had their full effect, and we are fully transformed into the likeness of Jesus.

In Psalm 45:7, the Messianic King (Jesus!) is said to “love righteousness and hate wickedness.” This is not primarily speaking of behavior, but of loving the perfect essence of every person and situation that is in God’s heart, and hating the sin-caused distortion of that perfect essence. So, “righteousness” is essentially the true nature of who you are in God’s vision of you.

“Justice,” then, is the process of bringing you and me into that perfect state of righteousness. According to Isaiah 42:4, King Jesus will not rest or give up until justice is established in the entire earth – in other words, until all things are fully conformed to the vision God had when He created it and called it “very good.”

Here’s some really good news – Jesus’ righteousness (His perfect alignment with the Father’s design and will) is given to us as a free gift (Romans 5:17-18), which includes the power to become what we were created to be! He has infused into you and me the desire and the capability of being fully conformed to God’s design, and loving the process!

This is why Jesus says in Matthew 5:6 that those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” will be fully satisfied! He’s not just talking about learning to love good behavior, but receiving the revelation of who we are in the mind of God, and then pursuing that reality with everything in us. The result? Full satisfaction, every longing fulfilled, every desire realized!

Psalm 106:3 tells us that if we “keep justice” and “do righteousness,” we will be blessed. In other words, guard and protect this understanding, live in line with the revelation of God’s heart concerning you, your family, your friends, your city, and full joy and blessing will be the result.

Gary Wiens

Saturday, April 8, 2017

It Takes Light To See Light

Psalm 36:9 – “In Your Light We See Light”

I’m drawn to this little phrase from Psalm 36 this morning, because it is one of those short, pithy sentences that articulates a deep and powerful truth – it takes light to see light. Seems obvious, but this is the revelation of one of the basic principles of how the Holy Spirit works, both to initiate relationship with individuals, and to help us understand how we as followers of Jesus approach life in contrast to those who have no relationship with Him.

C.S. Lewis said something like this: “I believe in the truth of God’s Word for the same reason I believe in the sun; not only because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else clearly.” When God, in His mercy, sends the Spirit of revelation to someone, the eyes of that person’s heart are “enlightened,” and they are able to see things as they are.

In the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus encountered a blind man seeking healing. He described Himself as “the Light of the world” (v.5), and then healed the man’s eyes. When questioned about the miracle, the man simply said, “One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” (V.25).

In Luke 15, Jesus told the story of the prodigal son, who left his father’s home to attempt to find fulfillment in the far country of self-indulgent living. When he became bankrupt in every way, he “came to himself,” and went back to his father’s home, where he was restored. One interpretation of that phrase is that “he saw things as they really were.” In other words, it dawned on him, a light bulb went on in his head, the shadows cleared away, and he woke up to reality.

In 2 Corinthians 4:6, the writer tells us that salvation has come to us because God the Father shined in our hearts the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ. He sent the light of truth, and those who believe in Jesus woke up and saw the light, and decided to follow Him.

By the mercies of God, “those who walk in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2, quoted about Jesus in Matthew 4:16). Because our Father takes the initiative to shine the light of the Gospel of Jesus, anyone who chooses to see can see. The seekers of Light will find Him, even though there are many who will remain in darkness because they love it (John 3:19). That is the choice that condemns people – in love with darkness, they reject the Light, and nothing can be done for those who refuse to see.

Jesus, in Your light we see light, the freedom to choose truth and goodness over evil and darkness. Send Your Spirit of revelation, awaken the hearts that still sleep in darkness, and let brightness of Your Kingdom fill all the earth. Amen.

Gary Wiens

Monday, April 3, 2017

Gaining Access to the Presence of God

In Psalm 15, the question is asked, “Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?” The writer is identified as David, who has touched God’s presence in such wonder and amazement that he longs to not just go there from time to time, but to stay there, to live and remain in the presence of his God.

So the Lord responds to David  with some powerful statements of the character qualities that He is looking for in those who would enter into His Presence and remain there. I want to focus this article on two of the phrases that God speaks in verse 2: the one who wants to be in the presence of God all the time must “work righteousness,” and must “speak truth in his heart.”

It’s really important here to be clear on the meaning of the word “righteousness.” This is not primarily good behavior; rather, righteousness is being aligned with God’s definition of reality, conformity by the power of the Holy Spirit to God’s design of your life and character. Right behavior arises out of being aligned with His definition of your life, and living out of that true place.

The fundamental thing that every believer in Jesus must understand about this passage is that Jesus Himself has done this perfectly, and is now in the Father’s presence as the perfect fulfillment of every demand of righteousness and truth. Through the miracle of the new birth, by the Holy Spirit’s presence in us, Jesus has infused His righteousness into you and me, and given us the raw material we need to walk in righteousness even as He did.

Practically, this simply means to seek out, from the Word of God, by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, what God’s definition of your life really is. The more we comprehend what He intended when He thought us up, the more we are able to be aligned with that reality, and live in agreement with His thoughts – namely, live in righteousness.

Speaking the truth in the heart, then, is simply the outworking of internal righteousness. We agree with what God thinks, the truth concerning ourselves, those around us, the world situation, and we speak in our hearts, and then through our lips what He thinks. The more that our minds and hearts are in agreement with Him, the freer we are to simply stay in His presence, to abide there.

This kind of person is a world-changer. We think of ourselves and others according to righteousness – agreement with God’s opinion – speak those things in the secret places of the heart and then in the open places of our relationships, and the atmosphere begins to change by the power of the Word of the Lord.

Jesus has done it. He is in the Father’s presence, speaking the truth about you and me, and about everything else. He has invited us to listen in, and to agree with what He is thinking and saying. As we do, the influence of the Kingdom of God changes our environment, His presence increases, and the glory of the Lord begins to fill the earth, just as He promised it would.

Gary Wiens

Friday, March 24, 2017

I Believed, Therefore I Spoke

Psalm 116:10 I believed, therefore I spoke, "I am greatly afflicted."

Last Sunday, Marie and I had the privilege of attending Harbor Life Church in Gig Harbor, Washington, where we live. Tyson Lash, the pastor of this congregation, brought a strong and helpful message from the Book of Lamentations, a message focused on giving the people permission to grieve and mourn, and help in understanding how to do so in a way that actually brings comfort to the soul.

Through this week, I’ve reflected on that topic, and this morning’s reading from Psalm 116 brought another insight that seems profound to me. The Psalmist writes in verse 10: “I believed, therefore I spoke – ‘I am greatly afflicted.’”

Here is a powerful understanding of true faith in the presence and goodness of God – the one who believes is the one who can truly be honest and real about the troublesome situations of life. The individual who knows God has the freedom to be brutally honest and transparent in the midst of dark days because he is firmly planted on the rock of intimate relationship with the Living God. No pretense in this relationship, no “putting on a game face,” no slight comfort here – my Heavenly Father is real, and true, and present, and good, and faithful. He has promised to me the sure mercies of David (Isaiah 55:3), which He enacted most powerfully in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (see Acts 13:34).

When faith is shaky, or when my perception of God’s character is inaccurate, I cannot afford to be real about difficult times. If my belief in a good and powerful God Who works all things for my good is not settled, then I am forced to pretend that all is OK, that I’m on top of things, and that hard situations don’t really bother me. Strong emotions get pushed down under the surface, with all manner of predictable and negative results.

The Psalmist knows God in a different way than that. He knows that God’s mercy and love are unshakeable, permanent, and never wavering. The God of Psalm 116 is not subject to mood swings, nor is He impatient with His children when they acknowledge weakness in the face of difficulty. Rather, this God is the Father of our Lord Jesus, who faced the deepest and darkest pressures of the enemy, and emerged victorious yet compassionate.

As I write this, the song playing on my Pandora station is repeating this phrase: “I believe in God the Father, I believe in Christ the Son, I believe in the Holy Spirit – our God is Three in One. I believe in the resurrection, that we will live again, I believe in the Name of Jesus.”

Because this is so, I can confidently speak about the realities of my life, knowing that I am loved, I am understood, and like my older Brother, I will emerge victorious.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Pavilion Gig Harbor - Why We Worship

Misty Edwards wrote a song a few years ago that arose out of an awareness of something transcendent that is happening right now, and has been forever. The lyrics:

There’s something bigger going on, there’s Someone bigger than me,
There’s something bigger going on – “Holy! Holy!”
Take me up in the Spirit! O-oh!

Day and night, night and day the incense rises in the Heavenly worship center. Angels, saints, elders, and living creatures are all gathered around a throne complex in Heaven, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. The seven Spirits of God move all around like flaming torches, and ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands upon thousands of angels minister to the Lord, exalting the worthiness of the Lamb who was slain for the redemption of all humanity.

Jesus told us to pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in Heaven. A significant part of that will is unending, heartfelt worship focused on the greatness of God, magnifying His Name, declaring His holiness, His goodness, His beauty, His righteousness and justice.

When we gather to worship at the Pavilion, we come as saints from across the spectrum of the Body of Christ in our area. It is our purpose to enter into that heavenly atmosphere, to fix our gaze on the One who is worthy of our full attention, and the undiluted affection of our hearts. As we do that, our spiritual eyes are opened to the majesty and power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We grow in the knowledge of His will, and in the confidence to declare aloud His purposes for ourselves, our churches, our city, our nation, and the earth.

In this process, God’s governmental authority is released. Something changes in the atmosphere, the barriers to the Gospel are weakened and torn down, the enemy is seen for what he really is, and the physical return of Jesus to establish His Kingdom on the earth draws one day closer.

Why do we gather to worship? To take another step toward reality, to experience firsthand that we are indeed part of something bigger than we can imagine, to touch the heart of God, to release angels to assist the saints on the earth, and to align ourselves a little closer to the purpose for which we were created.

Come join us – Sunday, March 19, 6:30 PM at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Breaking Down To Build Up

Jeremiah 1:10 “See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

As I sit in my living room this morning, I’m looking at a very disheveled situation in our home. The refrigerator is in the dining room, along with the gas range. The microwave is in the back yard, all the dishes are on the dining table, the coffee maker is in the bathroom, the dishwasher is in the garage, and the comfort of our home is significantly disturbed. (This is the place for a wild-eyed emoji that communicates unrest and dis-ease.)

What is going on? Our kitchen is being remodeled, with new cabinets and countertops going in. The problem is that before the new stuff can go in, the old stuff had to come out. The process is long and somewhat messy, with necessary precautions being taken not to damage existing flooring or furnishings that are not part of the process. At some point, in a couple more weeks, the project will be finished and we’ll be glad we did it. Right now – not so much.

This process reminds me of a dream I had a number of years ago. It was several years after my father had passed away, and I was in the midst of a time of powerful spiritual growth and re-wiring as God was shifting me out of my denominational roots into the move of the Holy Spirit. In the dream, my father, who clearly represented the Heavenly Father, was knocking on the door of my house. As I answered the door, I saw that he was accompanied by two large men, who I knew to be angels.

As I welcomed my Father into the house, I knew in the dream that he was coming to move in with me. A great dread filled my heart as he looked around the house, and then fixed his eyes on mine in a kind but sober gaze. Then he said, “This isn’t going to be nearly large enough.”

As he spoke those words, I felt a fearsome trembling in my soul as I realized that a great expansion was going to take place in me, but that there would have to be much demolition before the construction could begin. His workers would have to break down and destroy many things before they could build and plant. The strongholds of my mind – those old thought processes and attitudes – would have to be broken down, and replaced with new patterns of the mind that would conform to those of Heaven. Familiar habits with long-term negative implications would have to be dismantled, and new patterns installed. You get the picture.

I found myself wishing that remodeling could happen instantly, like on TV, in an hour or so, with no inconvenience, no mess, no discomfort – becoming all new without the pain of eliminating the old stuff. But things simply don’t work that way, either in remodeling a kitchen or in transforming the human heart from its natural state into the glorious reality of becoming the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

As I write this, the workers installing our new cabinets are whistling joyfully as they labor in the mess of our kitchen remodel. They have the blueprint attached to the wall, so they can precisely follow the instructions of the designer. They know that the end result will be good, for our benefit and joy. I imagine the angels are whistling away as well as they continue to tear down, pluck up, plant and re-build my heart, following the design of the Master Craftsman that will transform this old heart into the palace God created it to be. It’s a joyful process after all, uncomfortable though it may be for awhile.

Thank you, Jesus, that you who have begun a good work in me will complete it until the day of your return.

Gary Wiens

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Impossible Things

Luke 18:27 - “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Sometimes a simple phrase in the Word of God strikes both my heart and my mind with a shot of reality that is at once fundamentally comforting, and uncomfortably challenging. I started pondering these few words, and several thoughts began to form.

In the encounter with the rich young ruler, and the subsequent conversation with His disciples in Luke 18, Jesus had just made the observation that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye. The answer from the disciples – “Who then can be saved?” – points to the impossibility of the situation before them. Jesus then responds by saying, basically, “You don’t know the power of My Father’s imagination! Whatever enters His heart and mind can be done – all He has to do is speak the Word, and all will be accomplished.”

My point right now is not to debate the pros and cons of having wealth. Rather, it is to let my mind go to all the things that seem impossible. Jesus is opening the door to limitless potentiality here, because He says “whatever is impossible with men…” That’s everything that is beyond us – He can do.

So, I start thinking about impossible things. Join me? Start with small stuff – some situation at home or at work that seems unfixable. If it’s impossible, He can do it. Move on to something more challenging - that sickness in a friend or co-worker – is it impossible? Then it’s in His realm, and He can do it.

Want something harder? How about unity in the Body of Christ in a city? IMPOSSIBLE!! Good – it’s in God’s hands now. He can do it. Do we dare think about revival in a city, or in a nation that seems hell-bent on self-destruction? Once again, impossible, except it’s not. God can speak, and when His Word comes forth, it accomplishes the purposes for which it was sent.

Here’s the big one – can the Kingdom of Heaven come to earth? Can God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven? Jesus told us to ask impossible things, so that when they happen, no one will be confused about Who brought it about. He thinks it, speaks it, and it happens. So the main thing for us is to disengage from what seems impossible and plug into what He’s thinking and speaking. The more we do that, the more we get to play in the realm of the creativity of God.

Impossible, you say? Not so much.

Gary Wiens