Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Promise - “In my house Ishmael would be a waver!” John Wimber

From The Driven Quill

“In my house Ishmael would be a waver!” John Wimber

Abraham! Yes, Lord? Stop staring at the walls of your tent, you are only getting discouraged. How did you know that? I know your heart - better than you do. You do? Yes, I do! I know you are starting to doubt My promise to you. I might have expected you would know that too. I want to show you something. Now step outside your tent. But its dark, I won’t be able to see anything. Just do what I tell you. Oy Vey! But its still dark? What do you see? Nothing, but a bunch of stars in the sky. That’s it! It is? Yes, it is! I have given you a promise and I want to remind you of something. How many stars can you see? Too many to count! Can you see where they begin and where they end? I can’t do that either.

I have given you a promise concerning your descendants. I remember. But you must know that I am greater than my promises. The stars will remind you of who I am. You can’t see where I begin and you can’t see where I end - nor can you measure my greatness. I am able to complete that which I have begun in you.

Thank you Lord, that is wonderful. But what if it is not night and I can’t see the stars? Then look at the sands of the sea. You cannot see where they begin, not can you see where they end - and they cannot be measured.

I am not giving you a vision of my promise to you. I am giving you a vision of Myself. That is the only thing that will sustain you when your faith begins to waver. For I have chosen you so that you will direct your children and your family after you to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. In this way I, the LORD, will do what I have promised to you.

And so you shall be remembered from generation to generation, that your faith did not waver. But Lord, what about Hagar, Ishmael and all of that? I know, but I am greater than that. Curses endure but for a season - My Promise lasts until it has accomplished the purpose for which I have sent it. Then it will return to Me without perishing. Remember, the blessing always comes first for it originates in My creative initiative.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Promises or The Promise - the many or The One

“Why does the New Testament declare that the faith of Abraham did not waver? The key is in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.”

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ. Galatians 3:16

The Promise to Abraham is singular - faith in the One true God. In this Abraham did not waver. He did not see many descendants when he looked at the stars of the sky or the sands of the sea, he saw the One who was able...it is God who has promised. When his eye focused on his seeds - the temporal - he wavered. When his eye is fixed on His Seed - the eternal - he did not waver. The eternal promise defines the temporal - not visa versa - for it is God who cannot lie. In Him there is no variation, no shadow of turning (James 1:17-18).

Indeed, Abraham had many sons - of whom Isaac was not the first nor the last: but he was the first born of The Promise - its surety. In God, the seed of the woman - the Promised One - is singular: “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father's heart. He has revealed God to us.” John 1:18NLT (There is indication that the seed of the serpent is plural, while the seed of the woman is singular: “I will make your descendants and her descendant hostile toward each other. He will crush your head, and you will bruise his heel." Gen 3:15 GOD’S WORD) Oneness is the immutable characteristic of the Eternal God and the defining witness of those that name the Name of His One and Only Son (John 17:23-24).

Abraham’s testimony of faith is thus recorded by Paul: “yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,...” Romans 4:20 In the Messiah the writer to the Hebrews encourages us: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;” Hebrews 10:23

At the end of the day Abraham has a lasting testimony of faith and that is what passes through the Cross to the Glory of God. “for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:10 And of Sarah it is written: “because she was convinced that the one who had made the promise was faithful.” 11:11 ISV

In his letter to the Galatians Paul writes of the futility of trying to make it happen by our own efforts: “for if by law be the inheritance, it is no more by promise, but to Abraham through promise did God grant it.” Gal 3:18 Young’s From his commentary on the same book Martin Luther writes: “the promise of the seed offers us the spiritual and everlasting benefits of God, and that freely for Christ’s sake.”

In Christ we have a sure and unwavering promise to the glory of the Eternal God: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Cor 1:20 NIV

The New Testament as a witness to faith testifies to the great truth of the Shema of Israel, the beginning and ending of daily prayer: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one," Deut. 6:4. Paul writes to the church and to his young disciple Timothy: Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. Gal. 3:20 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim 2:5

The promise is singular, the focus of faith is singular - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Hebrews 12:2 NIV The eye is the window of the soul or the mind. To be double-minded is to doubt. Thomas is referred to as Didymus which means to be twin-minded.

In Melchizedek Abram recognized the Presence of the One True God and he worshiped. “But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them (the many) collected a tenth from Abraham (in the New Testament he is not remembered as Abram) and blessed the one (One) who had the promises.” Hebrews 7:6 In Melchizedek there was no beginning nor ending - he existed eternally. “That person is a priest, not because he met human requirements, but because he has power that comes from a life that cannot be destroyed.” 7:16 GOD’S WORD

The Lord gave Abram a vision of Himself - His Seed - that was as of the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea. As they cannot be counted, nor can their beginning or their ending be determined - so is the One True God. In this revelation Abraham wavered not.

If by His Word we have received a revelation of the Glory of His Oneness the following passage does not cause us to stumble, but to rejoice. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 And certainly it cannot be degraded to dreary dogma for its wisdom is transcendent.
And in Him, we who are many become one. The result is a testimony to the nations: And since He is One, we who are in Him are one with one another. “for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:28b “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;” John 17:21-22

The Glory of the One True God is revealed in His Oneness. Before this revelation we can only worship - and all the nations of the world will worship. And this is the revelation of Himself that the Lord God gave to Abraham and by it his faith was sustained.

It is this that passes through the Cross of Christ and leaves an unyielding testimony. “yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” Romans 4:21-22

And at the end of days - the consummation of all things: "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." Rev. 5:13

Returning to the passion of our ancient Celtic forebears:

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

And The Final Word as sung by Michael Card:

The Lord God said when time was full
He would shine His light in the darkness
He said a virgin would conceive
And give birth to the Promise
For a thousand years the dreamers dreamt
And hoped to see His love
The Promise showed their wildest dreams
Had simply not been wild enough

The Promise was love and the Promise was life
The Promise meant light to the world
Living proof Jehovah saves
For the name of the Promise was Jesus

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Journey Toward Relationship, not Real Estate! - Part 1

The Driven Quill...A Journey Toward Relationship, not Real Estate!

“Along with MY journey others were beginning a journey themselves. A journey of discovery. They were realizing that GOD is real and can and does answer prayers. We aren't just praying to someone in heaven rather the God that is among us, and loves us where we are, for who we are.” The Unexpected Journey...not mine by Charessa Wilkinson on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 4:49pm

Church, where are we going? To understand where we, a Pilgrim People are going, we must know where our savior went. This is not a unique question. It was asked by one of the Lord’s disciples. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” John 14:5 NIV

Where was he going? And where would he take them - and us? Sonship is the answer! He was not taking them to a place, but into the Presence of the Eternal I AM of whom he is a part. Our existence in Him is not about real estate, but relationship. As Paul said to the Athenians, “for in Him we live, and move, and are (a form of ‘to be or I am’);” Acts 17:28 Young’s Literal. The issue is not one of place, but of presence.

To the self-righteous Pharisees he said: “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” John 8:21 “That is why I told you that you will die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." John 8:24 International Standard Version (ISV)

Almost all other translations have a variation of “for unless you believe that I am He,” for John 8:24. The word He has been added - it is not in the original. This makes His words concerning himself a statement of what is he, instead of whom he is. There is no direction to go other than error when we attempt to define the I AM as a what or a where, rather than a whom. By making this statement as to whom he was he connects himself to the identifying statement of Elohim to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM” Exodus 3:14. (We cannot escape noticing the use of the pronoun WHO in this statement.) Christ is thus announcing his efficacy to proved eternal salvation to all who would believe that he indeed was and is the eternal preexistent I AM. To borrow from C. S. Lewis, if this statement is not true then he is either a liar or a lunatic, but not the Lord of Glory!

He took human frailty into the presence of the Father. In that relationship he always lives to make intercession. The scars of his suffering, his identification with our Adamic nature, continually plead on our behalf. In Christ the True Believer begins to slip the bonds of the temporal, stepping into the eternal. The tempter’s strategy is to get Pilgrim to step back - appealing to carnal understanding and desire.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Building of the House of the Lord - The Place of His Presence

From the Driven Quill of an Evangelical Agnostic....

The Building of the House of the Lord - The Place of His Presence

A major part of my “evangelical agnosticism” stems from our tendency to pluck scriptures completely out of context - using them for purposes for which they were never intended. We move from context to proof-text which results in pretext - profaning the Word of God.

One passage that may well suffer this abuse more than many others is 2 Chronicles 7:14. I am sure that the mention of that reference triggers immediate remembrance of the words themselves - “If My people, who are called by My Name...” I will not quote the full verse for I believe it suffers from the contempt of familiarity. We have had so many campaigns, initiatives, programs, “words,” etc. with this verse as their raison d'tre, that its original intent and purpose have been eclipsed.

The context of this passage is the building of the House of the Lord under King Solomon - and the adversity that the Lord had brought upon His own people. “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,...” 2 Chronicles 7:13 NASB

Repentance - not Remorse

God is calling His people to authentic repentance, not just momentary remorse. They cannot just be sorrowful for the situation He has brought upon them - they must show a willingness to change patterns of behavior. To turn from their wicked ways means they must exhibit a lifestyle of change. It is not just enough to pray more, to sing more, to attend more solemn assemblies–God’s people must show forth fruitful deeds of repentance.

I was recently watching the webcast of a young worship team musically pleading with the Lord to “rend the heavens and come down.” Their passion and desire were undeniable. I do not want to take away from that, but do we sincerely believe that He will come because of what He hears us vocalizing or because of what He sees us doing?

The mortar that binds each stone together in the building of His House is expectant hope: “whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Hebrews 3:6 KJV If we are truly expecting Him, then how shall our actions be formed? “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3 NASB True Biblical hope produces commensurate actions. As we are being built together - one living stone fitly formed and joined together - we will encourage (provoke) one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:23-24).

As the people of God we are often well-meaningly exhorted to come together as a group and Hebrews 10:25 is given as the proof-text: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” KJV. One of the most insightful messages I have heard on this passage is called “Some Assembly Required.” We not to be just crowded together, but fit together with bonds of love - genuine relationships. As John Wimber used to say: “We can have a crowd, but not have a church.”

What is our anticipation if the Lord does see our humility and hears our cries? Will we do anything different? Here is the type of consecration that the Lord is looking for: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—” Isaiah 58:6-7a NIV

Another passage that also suffers from similar unilateral misinterpretation is Ezekiel 22:30. This is the “stand in the gap” exhortation through the prophet to the people of God. Although we can never take away from the importance of prayer, this charge is not just about praying more–but about correcting injustice. The House of the Lord is the place of His providence, yet a breach of self-indulgence was resulting in a lack: “they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice.” Ezekiel 22:29b If His people practice injustice, they will become the objects of His judgement: “So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done,...” 22:31

the Lordship of Great David’s Greater Son

Under Great David’s son the House of the Lord was fashioned by the hand of man. Now, under the Lordship of Great David’s Greater Son, the House of the Lord continues to be a reality, but it is no longer fashioned by the hand of man. Brick and mortar have been superceded by flesh and blood - living stones. “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22 NIV The Father’s purpose is that the full stature of the revelation of His Son would be revealed in the community through the church (Romans 8:29, Ephesians 3:10; 4:13).

The Father is looking for faith-filled stewardship before He will release His resources required to transform society. His House must be built true - the plumb-line is righteousness and the level-line is justice. “And I will make justice the (level) line, and righteousness the plumb line;...” Isaiah 28:17 ESV

If the house has not been built level and plumb - just and right - it will be structurally deficient and will not be able to contain the blessing of the Lord. Should the Father begin to release His sufficiency, the resultant outpouring would be unsustainable–both the house and the blessing are lost. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine needs new wineskins.” Mark 2:22 NLT We cannot keep doing what we have been doing and expect different results.

In this House the Son - the Firstborn - is both the cornerstone/foundation (Matthew 16:18); of the building as well as the capstone/keystone. Each living stone is being fit together - one with another. The sound of the tools of man cannot be heard, for the architect and builder is none other than God Himself. It is upon the Rock of Revelation that He is continuing to build His Church - a prevailing Church. And it is also this Church of which He is the Head and by which He will accomplish the fullness of His purposes in the earth: “not only in the present age but also in the one to come...and appointed him to be head over everything for the church...the fullness of Him who fills all in all” Ephesians 1:21-23

His resources are His very presence. The House of the Lord is the place of His All-Sufficiency. He is looking for the place of His habitation in our communities. It has been said that we are not looking for revival, but arrival - not just reformation, but habitation.

If our anticipation is that when He shows up, He will merely bless what we are already doing and we will just do more of it - then we are sorely mistaken, for when He comes He will transform everything. He will start first and foremost with the manner in which we live out our community in Him and our witness before the world: the Church. If we are not ready for Him to begin with us, then we need not be praying for His arrival - for we will not recognize Him when He comes.

As they were returning from the Feast of the Passover, Christ’s earthly parents thought that He had become lost. But He was not lost–He was found, for He was about His Heavenly Father’s business. The NKJV says: “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49. Other translations such as the NASB and NIV have it this way: “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” These versions are not contradictory, but complementary. Most literally He was saying that He had to be about the affairs or things of His Father. The House of the Father is the place of His divine activity among men–this is His business. “But they did not understand what he was saying to them.” Luke 2:50 NIV Will we understand what He is saying to us or will we continue to do what we have always done?

a priestly function

His House is a holy priesthood. It is not for a holy priesthood. “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be (italics added) a holy priesthood,” 1 Peter 2:5a NIV This passage is not just prepositional, leading to something else - it is the sum total of the Father’s activity in our lives as a community of believers. It is linked inextricably with the great “I Am” (to be) statements of the Word of God. That this is strongly indicative of responsibility is inescapable. He is the living Stone (NIV), we are living stones. He is the Firstborn, we are His many brethren being conformed into His image - “and The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,” (Hebrews 1:3).

We are being called together to a priestly function. Representation of the One who is the All in All is our essential function in our communities. “that you (all) may show forth the excellences of Him who did call you (all) out of darkness to His wondrous light;” 1 Peter 2:9b Modern Young’s Literal Translation. The House of the Lord is now dynamic, not static. It is about relationship, not real estate.

It is the driving conviction in our community that in Him, everything we need for transformation, has already been supplied. It is only about stewardship - the function of a royal priesthood who will do justice and righteousness. As this priesthood arises the Lord will build them together into the place of His habitation. This position is a place of intercession.

"Intercession is more than prayer, but it always starts as prayer. Christ's crucifixion was an act of intercession; His prayer, 'Father, forgive them,' (Luke 23:34) was perfectly united with his sacrificial action. God will give us intercessory actions that are the consequences of our intercessory prayer life." Pastor Francis Frangipane This is the divine activity of this House: “offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5b NIV

true worship

This is the true worship that the Father is seeking (John 4:21-24). When He hears its harmony, smells the fragrance of its incense and sees in it the beauty of His Son - He will come. These are the things that attract His Presence. Our Lord is adamant that this worship - in spirit and truth - is not about a static location, but about a dynamic attitude. “Have this attitude in (among) yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 2:5 NASB This mind set of the Savior compelled Him to leave the security of the Father and become one of us–thus He is always living in intercession for us that He might save us to the uttermost and present us to His Father wholly (holy) and complete in Him.

In prayerful contemplation the lilt of a classic charismatic chorus found its way into my mind: “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the House of the Lord and we offer up to You the sacrifices of thanksgiving...” This refrain takes its origin from the Word of the Lord through the Prophet Jeremiah concerning the days of restoration: “and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the LORD.” 33:11b KJV In that same pronouncement the Lord says: “I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.” 33:15B NASB We cannot escape the obvious here that this fullness has not yet occurred in the earth and that is inextricably linked to the restoration of His covenant people - His House.

Where there is true worship, the Lord will provide for Himself. As Abraham prepared to sacrifice the son of the Lord’s promise to him, he said to his attendants: “I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” Genesis 22:5b To Abraham the place of sacrifice - of returning back to God what was given to him - was an altar of worship. The lad inquired of his father: “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” The father answered with an answer that by faith still speaks: “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” 22:8 NASB He will resource His activity and His alone.

“And Abraham gave that place the name Yahweh-yireh: as it is said to this day, In the mountain the Lord is seen.” Genesis 22:14 BBE It is upon this mount that Solomon built the House of the Lord. It is here that the Lord will be revealed, for it is from here that He hears and answers prayer. And in our day, from this place of the eschatological expectation that all things will be made good once again - He is revealed to mankind for this House of living stones is His dwelling among men. “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them (and He will be their God),” Revelation 21:3 NASB

There is no true worship without a sacrificial offering. Paul charged the Church at Rome: “I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1 NASB As society is permeated by the House of the Lord - true worship takes place. If we are not willing to sacrifice - to see the House of the Lord come into its fullness - then we need not pray!

No longer will we be content with worship services–instead we will have services of worship. Then when we are assembled together we will celebrate the goodness of the Lord. The offering of Christ’s body was required. In identification with Him as a royal priesthood no less is expected to “fill up” that which remains. “But a body You have prepared for Me;...Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) To do Your will, O God.” Hebrews 10:5b, 7 NASB This is the manner of sacrificial offering that characterizes His House and it is this that attracts His attention.

Profoundly, the New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce comments: “Christianity is sacrificial through and through; it is founded on the one self-offering of Christ, and the offering of his people’s praise and property, of their sacrifice and their lives, is caught up into the perfection of his acceptable sacrifice, and is accepted in him.”

Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. NASB

He presides from His House

The House of the Lord is not just the place where He abides (for He cannot be limited in this way); it is the place from which He presides among men. “But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: (Isaiah 66:1-2)” Acts 7:47-48 It is here that heaven and earth intersect–the foretoken of the Consummation of all things: “Jesus Who died shall be satisfied, And earth and Heav’n be one.”

As we are being built together into an holy habitation in our community, we look back to this prayer of Solomon - a royal priest - with hopeful anticipation: 1 Kings 8:29 “that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. 30 Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive.” NASB

And looking forward in expectation to the one thing that will not fail - the love of God: “and, being true in love, we may increase to Him [in] all things, who is the head–the Christ; from whom the whole body, being fitly joined and held together, through the supply of every joint, according to the working in the measure of each single part, the increase of the body does make for the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 Young’s Translation

Then we - His Church in our Community - will have a new name: “you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, “Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 2 Chronicles 7:3 NASB

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our Mission - Wheat Tending, not Tare Plucking!

Our Mission - Wheat Tending, not Tare Plucking!

“Oh you just would not believe the oppression that is over our city. Well, our ruling spirit is witchcraft. But ours is drugs.” At one time it was quite in vogue among certain circles to see whose community would out oppress another’s. At conference gatherings across the nation this kind of conversation could dominate - ad nauseam. And then a strategy would be revealed to “come against” these powers and principalities.

I would submit to you that this mind set has produced little or no lasting fruit. Actually by coming into agreement with these negative forces we have often inadvertently exacerbated their malevolent activity.

Let’s direct our attention to what the gospel writer Matthew calls a parable of the kingdom of heaven - the story of the tares sown among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). May we first consider why the tares were sown by the enemy of the one who had planted the crop of wheat. This takes us into the realm of blessings and curses. The tares were only sown because the wheat was already there. A curse is only a reaction to a blessing which is always preeminent. Our God and Father is the only one who is capable of initiative and creativity. The one who would oppose His goodness can only attempt to counter the blessing with a curse. A blessing always contains within it initiative and creativity - a curse is incapable of either of these attributes.

What is the Father doing?

I like to say that I would rather be found blessing what our Father is blessing rather than trying to curse what the enemy is cursing. Henry Blackaby has coined an axiom in our day, “Look and see what God is doing and join Him there.” Of course this is in perfect harmony with the words of Christ himself, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19).

So, what is the Father doing? Is He sowing wheat or tares? The answer is obvious. Why then does the obvious so easily escape our attention? My conviction is the parable of the wheat and the tares teaches us not to put inordinate attention on the tares and by so doing miss the blessing. The owner of the field when informed that weeds had been sown amongst his crop simply replies, “An enemy has done this.” Excitedly, having made a discovery, the servants exclaim, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?” Calmly he answers, “No, for if you do it too soon, you may actually uproot the wheat also. Wait until the time of the harvest when it will be obvious which is the wheat and which is the tares.”

A teaching comes to my mind that at the time of harvest the wheat bows low with a bountiful crop of luscious grain while the tares remain upright for they bear no fruit. And the hue of the bountiful crop is amber - the glory of God. We must expend our energy and resources tending to the blessing of fruitfulness initiated by our Faithful Father. At the right time His handiwork will become obvious. The tares are easily identified and removed to be burned while the wheat is gathered into His storehouse.

An illustration of the mind set of focusing on the tares is right here in our own community - the Great Kanawha River Valley. Many are quick to assert that the name Kanawha is derived from a Native-American word that means death - and that observation quickly precipitates a discussion of the oppression over our area unintentionally coming into agreement with and strengthening the plan of the enemy. The sower of tares receives the attention - might we even say glory - rather than the Lord of the Harvest unto Whom only it is due.

Further investigation reveals that Kanawha actually means “white stone” which is a reference to the salt found in this region. Occasionally the salt brine would bleed into the river and cause a fish kill - thus the connotation of death. In the Book of the Revelation a white stone is emblematic of innocense - freedom from guilt and condemnation! That is our blessing which precedes and conquers any “curse of death.”

There is a Hebrew name for God - El Qanah (pronounced Kaw-naw’) - which means the white-hot impassioned one. The reference is to God’s passionate possession in creating and redeeming His people - His chosen ones. This area attracted both original and subsequent explorers because of the abundance of salt which produces a lasting savor. I believe the revelation of the conclusive blessing is unescapable for those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

The choice is ours!

The savor of the Church must be restored. The choice is ours! “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live!” Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT Too often we are still eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than of the tree of life.

We have become identified in the eyes of a watching world for what we are against, rather than what we are for. Often those within the church who have a focus on justice issues rail against injustice while those whose perspective is righteousness crusade against unrighteousness. As a friend and coworker says, “We end up shouting at each other from opposite ends of the spectrum.” We have to come into integrated wholeness around the Father’s blessings if we are to see lasting transformation in our communities. Only then will we come into the fulness of the Abrahamic blessing - blessed to be a blessing. As the Lord Himself spoke concerning Abraham to the two angelic witnesses: “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Genesis 18:19 NIV

The chosen destiny of the Lord for His Church is to come into wholeness thus providing an habitation for His arrival. This is our eschatological hope that winds itself as a scarlet thread from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 NASB What are we looking for? A friend declared recently, “When I open the Bible I see eschatology - from beginning to end.” He was saying that he sees the hope of the blessing - that what the Father created in the beginning and said that it was good He will resurrect and restore on the day of the consummation of all things just as He did the body of His Son. Yet, even this glorious truth has been corrupted by some who would establish a lucrative business by focusing on the supposed activities of the enemy. Emphatically we must confer with the commentator D.A. Carson, “The parable deals with eschatological expectation, not ecclesiological deterioration.”

I cannot express this any better than is done in these hymned words:

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

“For the world is Mine, and all it contains.” Psalm 50:12b

A clash of kingdoms

Yet, we live in the midst of an eschatological tension - a clash of kingdoms. A chief example of this is the importunate prayer of Daniel. He had read in the words of Jeremiah the prophet that the time of Jerusalem’s desolations were at an end. He began to pray in agreement with the revealed word: “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” (Daniel 9:19).

Daniel’s focus was on the blessing - the immutable plan and purpose of God for His chosen people. Gabriel appears to him and tells him: “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed.” (9:23) Daniel did not have to persuade God to act - immediately as he prayed in agreement with God’s intended purpose the answer to his prayer was sent forth. Indeed, even further revelation and insight were given to encourage him to remain constant in prayer.

Yet a period of three weeks elapsed before the messenger arrived with the promise for he had been opposed: “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days.” (10:12-13) During this time Daniel had continued to pray and to humble himself before God in harmony with His intended purposes. As a result help came to the angelic messenger so that he could overcome the opposing forces and bring the message to Daniel - even further wisdom and insight: “Do you know why I have come to you? ...I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth.” (10:20-21)

How then shall we live?

Returning to the parable of the wheat and tares; how then shall we live? We are to live intrinsically among the community in which we have been placed by the hand of God. If our focus is upon the tares our tendency is either toward domination or isolation neither of which serves His purposes in redeeming us and filling us with the power of His Spirit that we might be salt and light in the midst of a world that is desperately seeking answers for their pain. “The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 NLT Darkness cannot overcome light, it only exists where light has withdrawn. When the light comes in the darkness must flee. The primary ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ is not to attempt to remove the darkness (tares) so that the light can come forth. As the light shines the deeds of darkness are reveled for what they are and they are overpowered. “Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.” 1 Timothy 5:25 and
“He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9.

And concluding from Paul’s Second Letter to the Church at Thessalonika:

“And so we keep on praying for you, that our God will make you worthy of the life to which he called you. And we pray that God, by his power, will fulfill all your good intentions and faithful deeds. Then everyone will give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus because of you, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the undeserved favor of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12