Saturday, June 17, 2017

It's Time To Praise The Lord!

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m preparing for our monthly Pavilion Worship Gathering tonight at Peninsula Baptist Church in Gig Harbor (by the way, if you're free tonight at 6:30, come join us!).

As I was praying over this time this morning, the Holy Spirit brought to mind a worship song that I learned in the 1980’s called, simply, “Praise The Lord.” I looked it up on the internet because I couldn’t remember all the lyrics, and the words of the chorus impacted me in a fresh way. It goes like this:

Praise the Lord! He will work through those who praise Him,
Praise the Lord! For our God inhabits praise!
Praise the Lord – for the chains that seem to bind you,
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you,
When you praise Him!

Then the second verse of the song goes on to make some powerful declarations:

Now Satan is a liar, and he wants to make us think
That we are paupers when he knows himself we’re children of the King!
So lift up the mighty shield of faith, for the battle must be won
We know that Jesus Christ has risen, and the work’s already done!
Praise the Lord!

This is why we gather as the people of God in a city to praise Jesus Christ, to declare His power and worth, and to agree with Heaven concerning who we are as His children, and with His desire that the will of God to be done on the earth as it is in His presence.

Worship is the essential element of spiritual warfare, and when we gather together as God’s people, not separated by denomination or theological position, we stand as one in agreement with Him and with His purposes on earth.

Wherever you are today, whatever physical location or spiritual condition you’re in, give yourself to worshipping the King of Glory. If you can find other believers to join with in this, all the better! It’s more important than any other activity you can give yourself to, for the worship of Jesus and the glory of God is the eternal priority of Heaven.

Let it be so! Amen.

Gary Wiens

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Deferring to the King of Glory

Psalm 24:3-5 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. 5. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

These verses from Psalm 24 have long been a challenge to my own heart, one that on my best days calls me to a standard of holiness and purity that leads to the powerful place of encounter with the Living God. On those good days, I find myself with some measure of confidence that I, too, may stand on the holy hill of God’s Presence, and live in the full blessing that He has promised to the generation that seeks Him with a whole heart.

However, like Joshua standing before the Lord in Zechariah 3, the enemy of my soul is right alongside, even on my best days. Satan does his job well, pointing out that my hands in fact are not clean, that my heart is not pure, that I have in fact lifted up my soul to false things, looking for fulfillment where it can’t be found. Again, like Joshua, I’m faced with the fact that my garments are soiled, and that I too, on my best day, am disqualified, and need the cleansing that only God can provide.

As the enemy’s voice echoes in my ears, the hope of Psalm 24 seems very distant, unreachable for me. If on my best day, I stand accused and disqualified, where’s the hope?

This past week, I was meditating on that Psalm, again in that familiar place of being weighed in the scales of righteousness and found wanting. Suddenly, another voice came into my mind, and the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me. He said, “There is One who ascended the hill of the Lord, with clean hands and a pure heart. He never lifted up His soul to anything false, He was never deceitful, and He has inherited all righteousness and all blessing from His Father. And He carries you with Him into the Father’s Presence, qualified by His life.”

Something quickened in my heart in that moment, a new ray of light and understanding. Psalm 24 is speaking, primarily, about the entrance of Jesus, the King of Glory, into the exalted place of the Father’s Presence. He alone is qualified to do so, He alone has been weighed in the most exacting way and found to be worthy. He has opened the way to the Father, and He carries me, and He carries you, with Him into the Most Holy Place of the Presence of God.

Because He carries me, because I am in Him, my best days and my worst days are the same. I need Him, and He is willing. I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is for me; therefore, every day He  washes me, He gives me His own garment of righteousness, He places a new and clean covering on my head, and enables me to stand with Him in the Holy Place, before the Father, having been qualified by the King of Glory.

So, I will no longer measure myself against Psalm 24. Rather, I will worship Him who is the fulfillment of that Psalm. I will defer to the King of Glory, receive His merciful cleansing, letting His Word wash me every day, and receive the grace I need to live like a son of God, a brother to the King.

That’s a good day.

Gary Wiens

Friday, June 2, 2017

Jesus' Gift To The Church

It's Pentecost Sunday this weekend, and I wanted to share some thoughts on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I read this article in my prayer time this morning, and realized that I couldn't say it any better. 

The Father's Gift in Christ – St. Hilary of Poitiers

Our Lord commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism, then, we profess faith in the Creator, in the only-begotten Son and in the gift which is the Spirit. There is one Creator of all things, for in God there is one Father from whom all things have their being. And there is one only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist. And there is one Spirit, the gift who is in all. So all follow their due order, according to the proper operation of each: one power, which brings all things into being, one Son, through whom all things come to be, and one gift of perfect hope. Nothing is wanting to this flawless union: in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is infinity of endless being, perfect reflection of the divine image, and mutual enjoyment of the gift.

Our Lord has described the purpose of the Spirit’s presence in us. Let us listen to his words: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. It is to your advantage that I go away; if I go, I will send you the Advocate. And also: I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth. He will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine.” (From John 15).

From among many of our Lord’s sayings, these have been chosen to guide our understanding, for they reveal to us the intention of the giver, the nature of the gift and the condition for its reception. Since our weak minds cannot comprehend the Father or the Son, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our intermediary and advocate, to shed light on that hard doctrine of our faith, the incarnation of God.

We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odor our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature if they were not used; rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.

This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world, and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favors it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendor that irradiates our understanding.

May the Lord bless you this weekend with His great gift of the Holy Spirit!

Gary Wiens

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Still Waiting On God?

Psalm 105:17-19 (God) sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave. 18 They hurt his feet with fetters, he was laid in irons. 19 Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.

Every person I know who loves Jesus and lives with the desire to follow Him and be pleasing to Him has something in common with me, and probably with you: we are waiting for some dimension of our word from Him to come to pass. Let me ask you that question – are you, or is anyone you know, living in the complete fulfillment of what the Lord has spoken to you?

Waiting for God to fulfill His promises to us is a challenging thing. Although I’ve certainly never had the experience of Joseph (recorded in Genesis 37-50), with my feet fettered, nor have I been laid in irons like he was, I’ve endured times of waiting for the words spoken over my life to be fulfilled. So have you. In fact, we are still waiting, and in the waiting, being “tested.”

What is the waiting and the testing all about?

For Joseph, the word of the Lord came to him through a pair of dreams when he was seventeen years old. It was a stunning word about his destiny as the savior and deliverer of not only his family, but the nation of Egypt as well. There was no way Joseph could produce his own destiny by his own efforts; as a matter of fact, when he shared the vision, he was mocked and reviled by the very ones he was destined to save. If you are willing to hear it, Joseph’s story was clearly a prophetic picture of the life and work of Jesus Himself.

Joseph had to endure a time of “testing” while he waited for the promise to be fulfilled. The method of testing that would prove him worthy of the reward was brutal: family rejection, being sold into slavery, false accusation of sexual harassment and attempted rape, imprisonment, neglect by self-serving prison inmates – probably 20 years of hassle and abuse that the Holy Spirit terms “testing.”

How would Joseph respond while he endured the firestorm of the proving process? The word “testing” here literally implies a fire – it’s the word that means to be melting in an extremely hot fire so that any impurities will be forced to the surface to be removed. For gold and silver, the fire is that smelting furnace. For the believer, that Fire is God Himself – see Proverbs 17:3.

During the testing time – 20 years of hassle during which Joseph was being trained to rule – his response to his brothers was being forged: “You meant this for evil, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). I am convinced that Joseph must have repeated this phrase a thousand times during the 20 year testing process. As he waited, in prison, in pain and confusion, he would have battled the enemy’s accusing voice:

“Where is your God now? What about your word, that promise? It’s nothing, and you’re nothing, so give in to bitterness and hate, and plan the revenge that your brothers deserve, just in case you ever get a chance to repay them.”

Joseph never gave in to that voice. He knew God, and knew that his word, his destiny, was a certain thing. So, Joseph commanded his soul, declared the truth of his word from God, chose the long view, and waited until the time for fulfillment came.

You have a word from God. His view is the long one – eternal in its scope. Declare His word over you every day, let the testing, refining process of waiting do its work, and know that the day will come when your word will come to pass in full measure, to a degree that you do not imagine. The God of Joseph is your God – He is faithful, and He will do what He said.

Gary Wiens

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Enlisting the Help of Angels

“Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” – Hebrews 1:14

Over the past few months, the Holy Spirit has been shaking us awake regarding the ministry of angels in our everyday experiences. Beginning with a blog entry from Kris Vallotton, in which he challenged us that believers have neglected this very Biblical resource, there has been a steady stream of reminders from many sources that God is emphasizing the ministry of angels in this season.

The first thing we became aware of is the almost 300 Biblical references to angelic activity in which these heavenly messengers are sent to assist humans that need help from Heaven. Two of those situations struck me personally – both involving angelic ministry to Jesus Himself when He was at a point of need. Once in the wilderness, after His season of testing by Satan, and once in Gethsemane as He was strengthened for His ultimate test, the cross by which He provided salvation and everything involved in that reality for us, angels came to minister to Him.

If Jesus needed and benefitted from angelic ministry, how much more do we need the assistance brought by these ministering spirits?

Two stories that directly involve angelic ministry: Last fall, during a transition in our lives, Marie and I had sold our home, and were looking for a different house to purchase. In the interim, we lived in a motor home for two months. The RV had an awning over the doorway that operated by hand, using a mechanism to roll the awning in and out. This mechanism had broken, and when it came time to move into our home, we needed to move the RV, but I couldn’t get the awning to retract. I worked on it for more than 30 minutes, getting more frustrated by the second. It simply would not work, and I couldn’t move the RV until I got that fixed. As I was stewing in my frustration, the simple thought came into my mind – “Ask for an angel to help.”

Now understand – I was not in a particularly spiritual mood, at least not a holy spiritual mood! So I blurted out “God, I need an angel to help me here, right now!” The prayer lasted 3 seconds. I tried the awning again, and it went right into place as though it was new. Bang – done! I started laughing and called Marie to tell her.

Second story (this one just happened within the last ten days) – Marie has a sister, Laura, who lives in Minnesota. She is a horse woman, and has a favorite horse she has ridden and loved for years. Recently, she asked her veterinarian to administer an inoculation against the West Nile virus, and the horse had a severe reaction against the drug. It went into convulsions, thrashing on the ground, unable to rise, its organs beginning to shut down, eyes bulging, tongue hanging out of its mouth. Laura and the vet worked with the horse for several hours, and at around 1 AM the vet told her that there was nothing more to do, that the horse would likely not live through the night.

Now, Marie had been telling Laura about angelic activity, sharing stories with her. So, Laura immediately went into the tack room of her stable, and in her anguish began to call out to God for an angel to help. After some time, she suddenly felt very sleepy, and went to her bed. In a deep sleep, suddenly a “man” came to her in a dream, and said “Wake up! Your horse has been healed.”

Laura went back out to the stable, and her horse was standing in his stall, perfectly well, even looking younger and stronger. Laura insists that he was even a lighter color than before the incident. She called her vet the next morning, explained what had happened, to his surprise and shock. The angel she had asked for did the healing work.

Angelic activity is real and available to those who inherit the Kingdom of God. Marie and I urge you: begin to study out the Scriptures concerning angelic activity. Read books about angels – James Goll and Billy Graham have written two of the best. Watch the movie “I Am Gabriel” on YouTube. God is doing something amazing in our time, and angelic activity is a big part of it.

Blessings on you all.
Gary Wiens

Monday, May 1, 2017

Stones and Bread - What to do While Waiting for God

This morning I’m meditating on Matthew 4, the account of Jesus’ preparation for His ministry that occurred in the wilderness. This story is profoundly important for us, as we are given insight into the ways of God as He prepares His Servant-Son for the assignment laid out before Him. This impacts you and me because in the same way that the Father prepared Jesus to receive ultimate authority over all creation, so He prepares you and me to realize the destiny promised to us as the Bride of Christ.

The first thing to notice in this story is that it is the Holy Spirit who DRIVES Jesus into the wilderness experience! Our Father God specifically designs seasons in the wilderness for our preparation, times where His presence seems to be withdrawn, so that we might make the choices for trust and faithfulness that Jesus Himself needed to make. If the tangible presence of the Lord has been withdrawn from you, it is because He has a purpose in it, and your response in this season is critically important for your destiny to be realized.

The second thing to remember here is that this withdrawal was not related to Jesus’ disobedience in any way. The Father had just declared His pleasure upon Jesus, and now it was time to demonstrate Jesus’ qualification to receive the authority for which He was destined. In that deprived state – fasting from food and water with no sense of the Father’s presence – Jesus was faced with options: “If You are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.”

The question before Jesus was this: would He use His power to comfort Himself, or would He wait for God, trusting Him even when His presence was withdrawn for a season?

The same question comes to us in our “wilderness seasons.” Will we generate something on our own in order to comfort ourselves, or will we wait for God to release His Word and His provision in His own way and His own timing?

Jesus responded perfectly to the tempting situations. He relied on the written Word of God, and chose to wait for His Father to release Him. At the end of His wilderness exam, Jesus was found worthy, and angels came and ministered to Him! I imagine the meal He ate and drank at that moment was worth the wait!

If you are in a wilderness season, take heart from the example of Jesus. Rest in the Father’s pleasure that is over you, rely on the promises in His written Word, and simply wait for God to release you. He wants to entrust you with the destiny He has planned, and your choices in this season will ensure the proper reward.

Who knows – maybe there is an encounter with angels at the end of the story!

Gary Wiens

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