Seen

In the classic movie, “Casablanca” Bogart says to the beautiful Iisa “Here’s looking at you kid”. These must be some of the most well remembered of all the most meaningless words ever spoken.   But it does matter if some people are looking at us or not.  If you have ever been to an optometrist you know the feeling of having another peer through an instrument into your eyes.  We don’t see their eyes and even their face is sometimes obscured by the instruments of purpose.  But our confidence is not in the fact we can see their eyes but in the fact that we know they can see deeply into ours.

Seeking God’s face is not meant to be the new “works”. Rather it is our greatest delight and privilege but it is still by faith and sometimes we don’t see His face that clearly.  Our faith is not established by how well we think we see His face or seek His face but our confidence is established by the fact that He sees us.  Our God is the God who sees.

Hagar running away from home in the desert finally put her boy under a bush and walked away.  She didn’t want to see or hear her little boy as he died.  God saw and heard them both. Hagar called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You-Are- the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13).  He saw Israel’s trouble and came down to deliver them. “And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt…”( Exodus3:7).  He sees his followers before they are following. “And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen”( Mark 1:16)  He saw us in our need then and in our need now. “Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them so he came to them” (Mark 6:48). None of these people were good at seeing or even looking but He is awesome at seeing and revealing Himself and He did.   When we do get to “see Him” it is because He saw us first.

Plainly it is more important that God sees us than us seeing Him. Yes, looking is vital for he says  “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).  But ultimately our salvation is not based upon our ability to see or to look but is based on the fact that he already looked upon us and decided to be our Saviour. If we are saved by looking upon Him how much more when He looks upon us.

One woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus. After Jesus silenced her accusers Jesus asked the woman who was left to accuse her. “She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more”(John 8:11).  A woman prepared to commit adultery in that society knowing the consequence was public stoning or at least lifelong public shame was a woman desperate for value, not sex.  He said to her to go and sin no more, and because she had met Jesus she found she was able to live differently.  With one look, Jesus the King drove away evil with His eyes. (Proverbs 20:8)   Just one look from her creator told her she was born for better things. She now knew she could live equal to her value because when you know the King has seen you-you can see yourself differently!

Friend, it means a lot to know that He is looking at you kid. It changes everything.

Friends

Jesus headed out of Jerusalem and walked toward a small town called Bethany. Of all the places Jesus went, Bethany was one of His favourite places. He went there often and he liked to lodge with His friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It was a place where He could receive refreshing and support from friends. Bethany had the sort of friends, that Jesus is was looking for.
One was Mary. She was wasteful in her worship. Worship that isn’t wasteful, probably isn’t really worship. Worship is an over flow of devotion to God. It’s not measured out or a set quantity, it not an offering of 27.5 minutes of worship. That may be an offering but it’s not worship. The ointment she poured on Jesus feet was expensive and wiping His feet with her hair was shocking. Worship is costly; it costs you time and it costs you your pride. She worshiped the God who had no need because her need was to give worship and when needy one, gave to the One who had no need she found herself richer.

Not everyone there was happy. Extravagant worship always exposes the cold, pragmatic and practical mindset. While the thief was willing to be generous with someone else's money, the worshiper was generous with her own. Judas the betrayers' question was "why"?… Mary's question and every worshiper's question is "when and how do we get to?" but never why.

Friend, why don’t we make a Bethany for Jesus. He will turn up - He loves to be at Bethany and Hes still looking for friends.

Seven Locks

Samson enjoyed Delilah but while he was asleep in the lap of compromise, he was shorn of his hair; and along with his hair, the strength of anointing that clothed his weakness. We are all weak without Him. We don’t we like weakness and we want to be in control; we don’t want things to be too big for us. We want the walls to be small enough to climb with a ladder if the shout doesn’t work. We don’t want to have to trust God; we want concrete, not water under our feet.
But nothing about being a disciple of Jesus is possible without miracles. It is impossible to live as Christians without supernatural intervention.   The task of changing hardened skeptics into people who will die for Jesus Christ, is, of course, impossible, apart from miracles from God and miracles only happen in the circumstance of weakness, need, and impossibility.

Gods plan is to work through weak vessels so he gets the credit. In fact, he even says “My power is made perfect in your weakness.” When Paul understood this he said, “Therefore I will gladly boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Can we say too, that we are more interested in Gods power being released through us, than in our comfort or ease?  Trials and troubles pull us to our knees but when there is no pressure, we drift toward the arm of the flesh and our spiritual effectiveness withers. Samson was a man who forgot where his strength lay. (Judges 16:17) Without God, he was as weak as any man.

Friend, it takes the full 7 locks of Gods anointing to fulfill our destiny. The saddest thing is that many of us are happy to live with one or two locks. Let's grow some “hair” in His presence today.

The Visit

Some people can’t remember the home in which they were raised and no one can remember the room in which they were born.  The Saviour probably couldn’t remember the farmyard smell of His lowly birthplace. Jesus did not become humble in order to visit the planet but was already humble before the cross. He only demonstrated His humility on the cross and continues to be as humble after the cross.

Humble people are secure whereas the proud will never be because security doesn’t come from a position but a disposition. Of course, everyone wants to be valuable to somebody but when we don’t gain our sense of value from God we tend to give the approval of people, too much weight. If not from people, maybe we will seek to gain it from our own performance or from a position or title.

Jesus did not grasp His position or glory but He made himself of no reputation and became the servant of others – us.  He wasn’t afraid of losing something nor was He trying to keep up appearances or maintain His social standing. He could have stayed among the Angels and bathed in praise but instead, He chose to dwell with us.  He got down among the dirty. He walked with crooks and racketeers and sat with the spineless and the spiteful.  Jesus had no one to impress so He acted Himself.

The devil’s mistake was thinking that “God likeness” was positional, not dispositional. He thought God’s gloriousness came from the position He held at the pinnacle of the universe, instead of recognising that God’s glory came from His disposition of perfect and humble holiness.  He aspired to God’s “heights” rather than to His heart.

Friend, God has always been humble and continues to associate with those of low degree. That is why we know He is not looking to see if our house or our heart is perfectly clean before He visits.

JIM Shaw
Watching Signs

While on holiday last week I noticed on the Internet, an expectation of some imminent global events.  The general elections in New Zealand where we live were on the 23rd of September but this was not the event being discussed.  Instead, a global catastrophe was expected as Nibiru led a trail of comets to the earth. But this is not new; the internet is a cornucopia overflowing with delights on the Shemitah effect, prophesied floods, days of Elijah, meteors falling, trumpets blowing and judgments coming. The net has the ability to wow watching believers with its warnings and prophetic announcements. While a few are no doubt relevant,  some prophetic announcements are pathetic and some warnings wane as the time scheduled for disaster passes by, but still, a more obvious concern remains.

I wonder if the increase in signs ever translates into increased prayer. I think about whether the increased understanding of the last days ever increases my own seeking of God over the state of the church and the lost? Has it produced an increased passion to live holy for God or a growing cry for intimacy with our King?  Has it increased our readiness’ to share Jesus with all we meet? Where are the saints that are obediently making disciples for the one who gave it all? The fact is, it is easier to watch another clip than to stand in the gap for the church whose walls are broken down and whose gates are burned with fire.

We have become more discerning of the signs of His coming than we have been of the signs of His “leaving”.  Not His leaving theologically – the Holy Spirit, of course, is always with us but where is the evidence of His increasing influence in our lives. Have we become so used to His faithfulness in spite of our own unfaithfulness, that like Samson, we are unaware that the Lords influence has left our lives? The images of glowing rocks searing through space, don’t seem to change the temperature of our hearts from cold.  If we believe that Jesus is at the very door, where are the priests weeping between the porch and the altar?  Where are the tears for neighbours and sinners still blind and still dead in their sin?  Has as much time been spent asking God to stir up the fire in our hearts and to show us the state of our own souls, as has been spent gleaning the next interesting warning from Youtube. Has the net caught us and kept us from the closet?

Friend, are we the generation that knows more about the coming of the Lord than we do of the Lord who is coming?  When was the last time you spent more than just a few minutes on your knees seeking and seeing the face of Him who has already come? Our Lord Jesus Christ is already here and He is already waiting in our secret place to meet with us, speak to us and transfer the fire of His own heart into ours.

JIM Shaw
Time at the Table

In the leafy home of Eden, God provided abundant food for Adam and Eve; a table for them in the presence of their enemies.  But Satan convinced them not to restrict themselves to the Lords table, but to eat from things forbidden.   The serpent was only allowed in the garden, to strengthen Adams resolve and faith in God, by testing.  We have an enemy – it’s a fact we need to get used to.  Our enemies are not given to defeat us but to strengthen us. We are not praying about how can we escape them but how we can overcome them?

Sometimes God is able to do His best work, in our worst times. When we’re in trouble we pray the most. We usually build increasing intimacy with God, in times of difficulty. So having no enemies, may be a “curse” more than a blessing” Even people that oppose us can help us grow.   God wants our confidence in Him to grow and even get to the place where we can see maybe some of our “enemies” as friends.  Judas brought soldiers to take Jesus to the cross and Peter sought to keep Jesus from the cross. Jesus called Judas His friend and He called Peter the devil because Judas was helping Jesus get to His destiny, and Peter was seeking to hinder Him.

While Adam and Eve looked elsewhere for food, David looked only to God.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Psalms 23:5.    David was confident His Shepherd had prepared a table for him in the presence of his enemies!  The word “prepared” literally means, to set provisions, in readiness for battle.  Faith and intimate fellowship with God had filled his heart with confidence.

You are at war but God has prepared His table long before the enemy of your soul shows up and everything you need to win is on the table. We have to feast before the battle!  God has provided for your delight and sustenance Jesus’s power and grace on the table of fellowship with God.  This is the way God does it. We don’t fight the battle then enjoy the celebration.  God says to savour and enjoy the victory feast that He has prepared and then join the battle.

Friend, don’t enter your daily fight, skinny in the Spirit – go full and strong.  Too many saints turn up to the battle hopeful but famished.  Most of our struggles in life, are not because the enemies are too big, but because our time at the table is too small.

JIM Shaw
Secret Place

Solomon was quite the romantic. One of his lines was “I have compared you, my love, To my filly among Pharaoh’s chariots. (Song of Solomon 1:9)   I’m not sure how women today would feel being compared to shorn sheep, horses and doves but it seemed to work for him. Solomon had noticed the doves living high up in the craggy rocks around his home. The courting doves lived their lives in secret.
Subsequently, Solomon says to his bride. “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.”( Son 2:14)
The king calls his bride a dove but surely we can all hear the Divine cry as well. The Father wants to see our face in the secret place. Father wants to hear our voice from the secret place in the rock. The secret place is where He sees us and hears our voice. (Matthew 5)
What we do in secret will touch our Father the most. It will affect our family the most. It will stamp your children the most. It will affect the life of your church the most. It is always that which we do in secret that our Father is most interested in. We might pray but it’s our prayer in secret that he notices most. We might give but it is the secret giving that he sees.
It is our hidden life, our secret life that matters. It is the hidden roots of the tree that make it fruitful. It is the hidden foundation of the building that makes it strong.
Friend, let’s meet Our Father in the secret place today. He’s waiting to hear your voice and see your face.

JIM Shaw