Friday, August 4, 2017

The Mind of God: Unity unto Reformation

Over the past months, the Holy Spirit has impressed on me again and again the central importance of unity of Spirit among God’s people in order for the full blessing of His purposes to be fulfilled. The prayer Jesus taught us – “on earth as it is in Heaven” – can only be fully answered when God’s commanded blessing is released over a city, a region, and a nation.

This blessing is promised in Psalm 133, and is contingent upon the brothers dwelling in unity. A few days ago, a brother shared a prophetic word given to him in March of 2015, declaring that God’s purpose is not merely for revival, but for a new reformation in the Church. That reformation can only be received by those who have cooperated with our Father’s agenda for unity of the Spirit.

Psalm 133 declares that the pleasure in the heart of God over unity is like oil running down from Mt. Hermon onto Aaron’s head, filling the atmosphere with the pleasant fragrance of Heaven’s anointing. Aaron’s head speaks of the priestly ministry of worship, and it is in the context of worship – loving and exalting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together –  that the unity of the Spirit will be established.

I am convinced that unity will not come initially in the arenas of doctrine, of joint activity, or of common purpose. Like the tribes of Israel, each “tribe” in the Body of Christ focuses on different purpose, different assignments to fulfill, different emphases to implement. But in worship, we all come together, we lay down our banners and our ball caps with the names that declare our tribal identities, and we become the people of God, ministering to Him, carrying His presence, and declaring His blessings over one another, our cities, regions, and nations.

It is time for the leaders of the Body of Christ to come together – not primarily to agree on fine points of doctrine, or to strategize on how to evangelize the city or serve the poor – these things are good, but they are functions of the “tribes” more than of the whole people. The place to come together is the place of worship, laying down every other agenda, coming as every tribe, tongue and nation among the people of God, and lifting up praise and worship to the One Lord Jesus Christ who is worthy to receive it all. From that foundational place, the commanded blessing of God will flow, and we will receive grace to participate in the new reformation that our Father has in mind for His Church in these last days.

Gary Wiens

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pressing Past the Lord's "NO!"

I’m reflecting today on a couple of passages where an individual who has a calling and destiny from the Lord is required to push past an apparent “No!” from God in the quest to realize that destiny. The stories in focus deal first of all with Jacob in Genesis 32 where a heavenly Man – who Jacob later called “God” – wrestled with him all night. During that wrestling match, Jacob was demanding a blessing to be given, and the angelic Man was resisting, insisting that Jacob let Him go. Finally, Jacob prevailed through simple persistence and refusal to give up. The Man blessed him, and changed his name to “Israel,” one who prevails with God.

The other story concerns the relationship between Elijah and Elisha, found in 1 Kings 19 and in 2 Kings 2. In both those chapters, Elijah resists Elisha as the younger man attempts to press into God’s call on his life. Now, if I’m a young man, and the prophet Elijah tells me to go home and leave him alone, I’m not sure I’d push past his resistance. This is the guy that calls down fire from heaven – three different times! And not only did he call it down – it came! It’s one thing to declare something – it’s another thing to have what you declare actually happen! That sort of thing separates the men prophets from the boy prophets, and Elijah was THE man of God during that season.

Yet, Elisha pushed back against Elijah’s resistance, followed and served the cranky old prophet, and stuck beside him until the moment the Lord carried him away in the chariots of fire. Only then did he receive his calling and destiny, and only then did God uphold his words in the same way that Elijah’s words were upheld.

The New Testament stories that give the same message involve the Canaanite woman with the demonized daughter in Mark 7, and the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. In both cases, the first answer is “NO,” but that isn’t the real answer. Sometimes when God says “NO” He really means “How badly do you want this promise? Enough to fight for it?”

If what God has promised is worth it to you, you won’t take “NO” for an answer. Instead, you’ll put on your big-boy pants and fight it out with God until He sees that you mean business, that you, too, are part of the Israel inheritance, and that you mean to have His Kingdom manifested in your life and experience here and now.

God’s our good Father. He loves to wrestle with His children, and He loves to have us defeat Him in the wrestling match. Take Him on, and don’t let go until He says “YES!”

Gary Wiens

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Understanding Times and Seasons

I had a cool experience on a very hot day in Redding, California, a couple of weeks ago. Marie and I were there with some friends for the Kingdom Culture conference, the temperature was around 110 degrees, but the cool experience was this:

We went to see the Sundial Bridge, which is constructed over the Sacramento River through the middle of town. By sheer providence, we were there on June 21, right at noon. As we walked across the bridge, the shadow from the sundial tower was moving toward a point on the perimeter markings around the park area. I came across a point on the arc that informed me that the shadow would cross that point on June 21 at 12:30 PM. I realized that we were indeed right there at the right time to see the shadow touch that point. That hot day gave rise to a cool moment!

Yesterday, I was meditating on Acts 1, where the disciples are asking Jesus about the timing of His return and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth. He said, “It is not for you to know the times (kronos – linear time) and the seasons (kairos – divine moments in time) that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you …” (Acts 1:7-8).

As I read those verses, something clicked in my mind. The timing of God’s activity is set by His own authority, just as the timing of the sundial’s shadow is a fixed reality. I can’t make it happen, and I can’t change it by any means. But, by being in the right place at the right time, I can experience and delight in His amazing activity.

By walking in the Spirit, obeying His voice through intimacy of relationship, we will find ourselves in the right place at the right time to see and experience all that He has for us, and the surprise will be delightful, powerful, and more than cool! Stay faithful, stay obedient, stay in intimate friendship with Jesus, and in the fullness of time the moment will happen, and the blessings of God will be poured out on you!

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