Recently, I had to repent, praying:
Father, I don’t have the all the answers and I confess that I sometimes box you in. Increase my view and understanding of your Church. Let me find brothers and sisters in areas I haven’t seen them before. My greatest desire is to see you Glorified in your Church and in your World.
Yeah, I repented, continued to seek the Lord on it, but I am still limiting my Father! He is awfully big, yet I keep putting limits on His possibilities. Over the years I have realized that repentance is the first step, further cleaning will still be needed.
It always happens when I read King Jim’s version of the Bible. This time it came when I read Psalm 78:41:
“They . . . limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78:41)
I don’t want to limit Him, but I still struggle with this passage. You see, more literal rendering of this verse would be, “They . . . repeatedly challenged God and pained the Holy One of Isra’el with their limitations.”
We are continually drawing lines that limit what our Father can do. We draw our little circles and say, “Certainly Yahweh is much bigger than we can imagine, but He will never go further than this.”
Yep, that pretty much describes how we think, isn’t it? We mark little areas in our minds and say, “Certainly, He doesn’t go beyond this!”
That is exactly what the early church in Jerusalem did! They limited Christ to only be the Messiah to the people of Israel. But if you read about the events that are told in the Book of Acts, Jesus showed them, didn’t He? He hasn’t changed any. He is the still same today! He is constantly breaking out of the borders we keep putting around him. We build our little, confining circles, and he always reaches beyond them.
Let me give an example. Up to about 60 years ago, Pentecostals seemed to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit confined to their movement. Many Pentecostals thought, “We are God’s Spirit-filled church!” Pentecostal preachers complained about the deadness of mainline denominations, “They don’t have the full gospel like we do, WE are Spirit Filled!” Suddenly, God’s Spirit broke out of those circles the Pentecostals had drawn and fell on believers in all kinds of denominations.
Kevin DeYoung, the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina wrote something that intrigued me:
The Spirit is a light to us in three ways: by exposing our guilt, by illuminating the word of God, and by showing us Christ. Or to put it another way, as Divine Light, the Holy Spirit works to reveal sin, reveal the truth, and reveal glory.
When we close our eyes to this light or disparage what we are meant to see by this brightness, we are guilty of resisting the Spirit (Acts 7:51), or quenching (I Thessalonians 5:19) or grieving the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30)
A book that has now become a classic was written about this move of the Spirit, called They Speak With Other Tongues by John L. Sherrill. Another good book for me was The Cross and the Switchblade, by David Wilkerson. I read somewhere that Wilderson’s book worked especially well in Catholic circles. I chuckle about a comment Wilkerson made about those days. He said that like Peter and the early church, he had to “allow God to work in his heart before he could accept what was going on.” I know what he means. When I moved to Ann Arbor in 1985, it took me a little bit to adjust to seeing Catholic priests weeping with conviction, speaking in tongues and crying out to Jesus!
Interestingly, Wilkerson had all kinds of evangelical preachers arguing with him, demanding, “What about those Catholics’ Mariology? How can you minister to people who believe in that?” I guess they thought that Wilkerson was to blame for what the Spirit of God was doing! He found himself answering the same way Peter did: “I don’t know anything about Mariology. All I know is that there are hungry people in the Catholic Church. And there are true Jesus worshippers among the priests. God is filling these people with his Spirit.”
Many are shocked to discover that there are several Mormons who meet to worship Jesus, are spirit-filled and evangelizing other Mormons. There was a time in U.S. history when many believed that Jesus limited Himself to the Caucasian skin. But Jesus proved them wrong, didn’t He? Hey, we need to open our eyes to the fact that God has his people everywhere! He is active in every nation, every Denomination, and every race! We are never to call any of them common or unclean. We have to be careful that we don’t represent Jesus as being small and box him in with our puny thinking. Do you have a problem with that? Good! Go talk to Him about it . . .
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