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Hunger for the Word

I was just sitting here thinking about the greatest Bible study I was ever a part of. It was in the USA but with a Laotian community of believers. I was at a friend’s house for a Laotian birthday party. Suddenly right in the middle of it all, it seemed to come abruptly to an end because a majority of the people wanted to go and separate themselves to study the Bible. This majority was the Laotians. It would have never crossed my mind to study the Word at a party, I am sad to admit. I was invited by my friend to join them and very gladly accepted. We sat around a circle on the hard floor of an empty house that was being built next door. The Laotian minister gave each person a verse in a scripture passage that he had planned for their study that night. They came prepared to study the Word. They all had their Bibles. We prayed and then we went around the circle taking turns reading the scripture and then sharing what it meant to us. One interpreted so we could all understand. I believe we studied Ephesians. I don’t remember a lot about what was said that day but I remember the beauty in the hunger in these people and in their posture and reverence toward the Word of God. They didn’t take the freedom to study for granted. There was no hurrying. We sat there and studied for quite a while. I wonder that I have never seen that kind of hunger in any group of English speaking Christians that I have met. I have seen it in one or two people but never in such a large group. Surely it exists…I pray for that degree of hunger and that posture.

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“it will be as a memorial to you”

Today at 4pm I will go to another funeral. Yes, this week I have been dealing with the loss of another friend. A true servant of the Lord with a beautiful heart for Him and for those He loves. Although I know that my friend is in heaven and that is a much better place than this world, I once again had truly believed that the Lord was going to allow an earthly healing. When He didn’t, I found myself in a place of having another reaction of “what?” “what are you doing Lord?” “Help me understand, Father.” I have never been more expectant of  miracles than over these last months and never more (shocked…for lack of a better word).

A couple of days ago, I was reading my Bible and praying about this when I found myself stuck and meditating on 2 Samuel 23:14-17:

And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.  And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord And he said, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men. 

I found this an odd scripture, almost unfinished and yet I know all scripture is God breathed and it is complete and whole whether I can understand it yet or not. When I read this passage I was reminded of the cross. In my mind I see Jesus on the cross dying as His blood and life was slowly being poured out on the ground.

I wonder how the disciples felt…you know, in those days before Jesus was resurrected. They knew what He had told them, but did they have a true understanding? Did they have moments of such confusion over what they had been called to and what their human eyes saw? I think from what we know from the Bible, they did. I wonder how these three mighty men felt. Did their traditions help them to understand what they saw and experienced?

I found the study notes in my Bible regarding this passage very interesting: David poured out the water as an offering to God b/c he was so moved by the sacrifice it represented. When Hebrews offered sacrifices, they never consumed the blood, it represented life. And they poured it out before God. David would not drink the water that represented the lives of his soldiers. Instead, he offered it to God.

Sometimes God does things or allows things that are so deep that we do not yet have a grid to understand. Our human minds just can’t comprehend. Sometimes we pour ourselves into something. We give it our all. We believe. We fast. We pray. We pray in agreement. We encourage ourselves. We praise in advance. We trust. We obey. We submit….but in the end nothing happens or even worse we seem to lose everything we poured in.

The person dies. The ministry shuts down or we are called from it. We lose our job. The business fails. We lose our investment. The marriage fails and on and on.

In Matthew 26 there is written the story of the time while Jesus walked the earth that a woman took everything she had and poured it on Jesus and the response of the disciples (the very closest to Jesus) was like our response so many times and like my response to the death of these precious saints that I had watch pass from this earth. Maybe we wouldn’t admit to such strong accusation but our hearts and our words say otherwise when we question at all God’s perfect sovereign plan. They asked “why the waste?” Here is the account in verses 8-13.

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.  When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.  Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. 

One verse seems to lead to another for me, so I thought of this verse from Revelation 14:13:

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. 

And as I meditated on these portions of scripture I heard the Lord saying to me, “There is no such thing as waste in My Kingdom.”

Nothing! No prayer. No calling. No ministry. No miscarriage. No death. No failure. No endeavor. NOTHING, absolutely nothing is wasted in the Lord.  All that has died, failed, ended or seems to come to an end is poured out to Him as we give it to Him….and it will be as a memorial of you. Yes, YOU!

Have a blessed day and may you be drawn closer to Him and find yourself always pressing on! in Jesus’ precious name. AMEN!

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Matthew

The first time I knew for sure that I had seen the face of Jesus was when I met a boy named Matthew at a Romanian Orphanage. I had been warned of the “horrors” and told that if I didn’t want to see him and others like him that I could stay outside of their special room. I had been warned to say nothing of the experience while still in Romania because it was illegal for me to even be allowed in this particular orphanage and to speak of it put their workers in danger. Internationals and especially Americans were no longer allowed to be in these places. They are not allowed to adopt these children. Americans are allowed in the mission organization orphanages but not the government run facilities. I just happened to be hosted by a wonderful woman that once worked there and she arranged for my visit after a few days of long conversation over morning coffee.

Nothing just happens. It was a part of a great plan.

The orphanages are dark, old, and ill equipped…but their workers love the children and do the best they can with what few resources they have and within what they are allowed by law to do. Many sacrifice food and other things we would consider necessity to supplement the milk and food of these that they have grown to love so.

As I arrived at the orphanage I prayed that the Lord would help me to be able to look into the face of anything and anyone with love and without flenching. I remembered past experiences with people that had been victims of accidents and crime and having a hard time looking into their eyes. I didn’t want that to be what I left with and what I left them with.

Matthew was a little boy with a head so big that he could not sit or stand and could only lay to the side. In America we would call that hydrocelphalus or water on the brain. In America we would have treatments and special hospitals and special therapy. In Romania these children are immediately deserted and put into orphanages where they will spend the rest of their lives or until their eighteenth birthday. In Romania even the mentally challenged are set aside and out of the orphanages to fend for themselves at the age of eighteen..unless a mission organization agrees to take them in.

Matthew lay in his little crib all day, every day. He could not speak and his eyesight was poor. His head was much to big and it caused everything to be much too unstable to allow for us to hold him. He was rotated from side to side every few hours but his head had grown and flattened. His head was twice as big as his little body that had not grown much at all. Matthew’s body look to be about 3 months old. Matthew was three years old.

I remember walking up to him and I all I wanted to do was touch his face…so I did. And he smiled. It was then I saw Him…it was the face of Jesus! I knew it, for sure. I didn’t cry then like I did for so many days afterward and as I do to this day when I think of his smile. His beautiful face. I had a hard time pulling myself away. He was by far the most beautiful child I have ever seen. I was not allowed to take pictures so in the moments I had with him, I memorized his face and his body. I can see him today as though it were yesterday.

I have often wondered why God would allow a little boy to just lay there but I kind of know. I pray that every day someone can see what I saw and I know that one day I will see him again.

Since that very moment I have been able to see the face of Jesus in so many people. God allows it. Sometimes I am in awe and kind of taken breathless and speechless. I wonder if they even know what I can see in them.

The Bible says of Jesus almost what I was told of little Matthew –  In Isaiah 53:2: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

Oh that I could go again and take you to that orphanage to see the face of Jesus in a little boy named Matthew!!! Since I can’t do that yet…I just look around.

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Monday Prayer

I was in prayer this morning and heard part of a song by Luke Wood:

I want to stand in Your counsel

And sit at Your table

And speak to You face to face as a friend…

Before I got past this first verse, I felt like crying.  It was such a necessary reminder of what I’m after and what I feel I have been left alive on this earth to do. Even as I labor in prayer and as I prepare to preach (there, I said it) and with everything else I have going on from day to day, this is the heart of who I am. In all my doing and all my ministry, if I haven’t stood in His counsel, it benefits me nothing. If I haven’t met God and heard His voice and had His own fire touch my heart, not only will my witness be that much less effective, but I will become dull on the inside. I desperately don’t want that to happen. I can’t afford it.

Life is too short to not really know God. The hour is too urgent to babble away with lofty sounding ideas that have nothing of the weight of heaven upon them. As exciting and glorious as it sounds to stand in the counsel of the Lord, it is more than that — it is a matter and life and death for those called to be His messengers. It is a matter of hearts being alive and our witness being powerful, or our hearts growing cold and our words falling to the ground. He is coming back soon, and we must know His voice in that hour.

This journey is a painful one. As other lyrics in the song go, “Let my heart be torn in two until Your will is mine.”

 I personally am hitting head-on the reality that in and of myself – I have nothing.  I’m nowhere near where I want to be as far as hearing God and then responding rightly when I do hear. But by the grace of God, I want to continue to say yes, continue to rise up and follow, once and for all to remove that garment of fear that the enemy keeps trying to fasten back on me.  No more! uh uh NO I will not cower to intimidation any longer and I will continue to cry out to hear His voice until the day I see Him face to face…

I want to stand in Your counsel

to sit at Your table

And speak to You face to face as  a  friend

I want to stand in Your  fire  wherever  Your  eyes  fall

May You find me  faithful  to Your  heart

Let me be  found…

With a heart  after  You

May Your eyes find this  heart  loyal  to  You

May You be all that’s on my mind  all  of  the  time

Let my heart be torn in two until  your  will  is  mine

Dearly Beloved of my  soul