...ponderings on the journey of following Jesus Christ...
..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)
"Then he [Herod] questioned Him in many words but Jesus answered him nothing." Luke 23:9
Your character determines if the spirit of mockery will find a home in you. Your character also determines how you will respond to the spirit of mockery.
The final days of Jesus earthly sojourn overwhelm us with the brutal accounts of mockery flung at our innocent and graceful Lord. It is here that we find strength and learn what it means to stand in the face of mockery and to react in the Spirit of Jesus, the One who, in all ways, has gone before us to show us the Way.
Those who mock, mock most loudly and publicly when they feel retaliation is not possible. Part of the spirit of mockery is the false feeling of superiority. Mockery thrives on a false sense of power and a skewed view of reality.
Satan hates God because God rules in humility. God allows human freedom, He does not parade His power and poke us with it. Satan believes that power should be wielded with an iron fist. If he had power, he would wield it in a completely different way then how God does. How he handles the limited power he is currently allowed shows us that clearly. Be careful with how you handle power! Who are you modeling, Jesus or the Evil One?
Satan feeds on causing people to fall and feeding on the strife, vengeful feelings and hatred that is often produced when people react wrongly to being mocked. The most wonderful thing is this: Satan got nothing to eat when Jesus was mocked, for there was none of these things in the heart of Jesus when mockery tried to belittle Him. In the midst of His worst trials, nothing could take away from who He was or is!
The spirit of mockery has no legitimate strength or authority. It has to pump itself up by means of humiliation--by causing others to look less or be diminished in its own warped eyes. Thus, it is a manipulative and lying spirit. When one has the true authority of God, there is such a solid knowing of one's place that there is no need to demean another.
Let us look at the gospel accounts of Jesus' final days and the spirit of mockery that tried to act against him. The pages of the gospels are filled with accounts of mockery from every side.
Herod, the king, was glad that Jesus was delivered into his domain for it said, "he hoped to see some miracles done by him" (Luke 23:8). In Jesus Christ Superstar, Herod sings, "Prove to me that you're no fool, walk across my swimming pool."
Such is the spirit of mockery. Mockery is only impressed by a show of power as it understands power. It wants signs and wonders. It wants to see miracles not so that it can believe, but so that it can be entertained. Herod must assume that Jesus will produce a miracle at this most crucial moment to "save His skin."
How little does Herod understand! Jesus remains silent, but speaks and lives volumes in and through that silence. The silence inflames Herod to even more mockery for it unnerves him. Jesus answers him nothing because he will not comprehend: darkness has not and cannot understand light, neither can it overtake light.
Jesus had already appeared before Pilate, where He had already stood victoriously in the full and powerful silence of God's response to the mockery of man. Herod got no further in getting Christ to defend Himself. Our Lord knew He was safely and ultimately in the hands of His Father.
Although they would not admit it, both Herod and Pilate were unnerved by this silent Galilean. It is said, "And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends for before they were at enmity between themselves" (Luke 23: 12).
How interesting! These two leaders needed to feel bolstered up by each other so badly that they put aside their differences. Strange and dangerous bedfellows are made when people band together to save their egos. Here is acknowledgement albeit, subconscious, of God's greater authority. Deep, deep within they must have sensed that their "authority" was no match for the One who had stood before them. That kind of authority they had never seen before. But the spirit of mockery can never admit this, it must simply find others who agree with it so that it might feel strength in numbers and reinforce its position.
The chief priests, scribes, and elders of Israel also mocked (Matthew 27:41). Religious spirits always do so, and do so with great fury. They dared Jesus to come down off the cross and perform a miracle, indeed--they begged for him to destroy the temple and raise it up in three days. They tried to throw His Words back in His face, but it was only their twisted words that they were able to throw. They would get a miracle, but not in the way they expected it. The miracle they would get would determine "the falling and rising of many in Israel" (Luke 2:34) and indeed of all men and women every birthed.
The spirit of mockery lays in darkness. Its understanding is darkened by its unwillingness to see the humble way of God and to value that above all things. I cannot imagine what Jesus endured emotionally, much less spiritually, during those difficult, last days. Front and center was the spirit of mockery trying to cause Him to be provoked to act like the devil would act: to respond as evil would respond.
There would be little chance of that. Praise God! And what of us? Will the spirit of mockery find a home in us? Will we mock that which is of a humble and good God? If we use our power to mock goodness then we are in very grave eternal danger.
When we are reviled against shall we seek to defend ourselves using the weapons and ways of darkness?
We are the Lord's lambs. We are firmly in His Hands and no man can snatch us out of those nail-scarred hands. May we come to know the height and breadth and depth of what that means. Before our accusers may we stand in the powerful and authoritative silence of God. The devil may mock, but his time is limited and his days are numbered.
This is part 3 of a series on the spirit of mockery.
Here is another wake-up call for Christians. Three evangelical Christians were recently brutally murdered at a Bible publishing house in Turkey.
Turkey is on my list of places to go to see some of the ancient Christian historical sites including Antioch, Tarsus, Cappodocia, and the seven churches of Revelation. I have hesitated even thinking about it because of the increased persecution of Christians in Turkey.
These brutal murders of Christian workers announce an increasingly downward spiral in an increasingly militant and predominantly Muslim country. Christians make up only 1% of the population in Turkey. Turkey has applied for membership in the European Union but some are afraid that Turkey would not be able to protect religious minorities. Indeed.
While certain factions of Islam become more militant, and while the world in general becomes increasingly intolerant to the "offence" and "scandal" of the gospel, we Christians must fight this battle in the only way we are called to: on our knees.
With militant Islam firmly entrenching itself even in London, France, and the corridors of western Europe, we need to heed the signs that more violence toward Christians is most certainly on the way.
Pray for the persecuted church. Prepare your heart for difficult times. We, in America, may be, and most certainly will be, next. Let him who has ears, hear. Let those with a heart for the persecuted Church, pray.
True Worship & The Spirit of Mockery: David Dancing before the Lord.
The spirit of mockery always trys to pass off the fake, inauthentic, and even satanic for the genuine. Its does so by casting a shadow of doubt on the authentic.
In 2 Samuel 6:14-23 we have the well-known story of David dancing before the ark of the Lord. David's heart before God in worship was genuine. He worshipped God with his whole mind, heart, and body. David was not worshipping to impress or shock men, he was focused entirely on God. He had lost self-conciousness--he was God-conscious.
Saul's daughter, and David's wife, Michal, did not understand David's pure heart of worship. The spirit of mockery, rising up within, made her interpret David's actions as foolish acts of the flesh. It was flesh seeing the only thing it can see: flesh. The fleshly man or woman cannot see spiritual things (I Cor 2:14,15).
Only the spiritual person can discern that which is of the Spirit. Michal's heart caused her to judge David wrongly from her limited point of view. It was not that she just observed and did not understand, she observed and mocked and her mockery led her to falsely judge.
The flesh opposes the Spirit to this day. Michal was the flesh of Saul. Saul was everything that the flesh admires: tall, handsome, politically powerful, full of "bling."
When Saul found out that Michal was attracted to David, he gave her gladly to David to marry so that she might be a snare to him" (I Samuel 19:21). There was already treachery and mockery at work.
Perhaps Michal's initial attraction to David was made in the flesh: perhaps she saw him as an attractive man of war rather than a man after God's heart. For when he showed himself to be a man after God's heart she despised and mocked him. Perhaps it was tainted and wrong from the beginning or maybe she caused it to go wrong by a process of judging wrongly.
When true worship is witnessed the secrets of people's hearts are revealed. Does witnessing true worship cause true worship to arise in us or is our response scorn? Are we looking at the person worshipping and and judging whether they are without fault or are we looking at God?
Michal's history with David may have gotten rather rocky. Much muddied water may have gone over their marital bridge. Did David's humanity cause her to stumble into judgment? Did human shortcomings in David's life cause contempt to spill over and corrupt her ability to discern a holy moment?
If God judged our humanity when we worshipped then no one would stand before Him. We cannot wink at sin or hypocrisy but judging what a man or woman offers to God, despite their short comings, is none of our business because of the snare that we then set for ourselves.
A spirit of mockery will not humble itself. David replies to her tauntings by humbling himself even further: "I will not just be a fool in your sight, but in my own sight also, and in the sight of everyone who watches me" (vs.22).
He may be a fool in human terms but David wisely makes a wonderful acknowledgement of God's ultimate sovreignty: "It was the Lord's choosing over and above your father's that chose and appointed me as king and I will play(worship) before Him".
David sees God above and in all things. David acknowledges God over all earthly powers. He knows what true worship is: worshipping God alone, for it is God who rules over all and by His hand appoints the destinies of all men.
In true worship we see our shortcomings compared to a perfect and holy God, but in true worship we move past the knowledge of ourselves to be lost in Him! All that is of flesh is left behind, but if we decide that we must hold onto judging the flesh of another, then we can never enter into true and holy worship. The Holy of Holies is no place to bring a self-consciousness of our own flesh, or a judgment of another's. The Holy of Holies is all about God alone.
Let God alone judge the hearts of those worshipping Him. It is folly to ourselves to judge with the eye of the flesh.
The story concludes with this statement: "Michal, the daughter of Saul, had no child to the day of her death" (verse 23).
The spirit of mockery is ultimately barren. It does not give life nor does it receive it. It is a spirit of death.
"Be not deceived: God is not mocked, what a man soweth that shall he also reap. He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. So let us not be weary in well-doing for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6: 7-9).
Beloved, guard your hearts against a spirit of mockery.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that my blog was ranked #2 on the Rich Tatum's Pneuma-Blogger List. Rich has been an invaluable help to me as a newbie in the blogging world. Check out his site! Thanks, Rich! --Rose-Marie
Do we welcome the true spiritual worship that God ordains, or is a spirit of mockery at work amongst us?
[2 Chronicles 30: 1-27]
Hezekiah was a good king of Israel who reigned after his father, Ahaz, who "did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord."
Because of Israel's idolatry and backsliding, the Passover had not been correctly observed in some time. Hezekiah sent out a decree asking the remnant of Israel to return to the Lord. The sad comment of Scripture tells us this: "but they laughed [the decrees]to scorn and mocked them" (vs. 10).
Some of the tribes of Asher, Manassas and Zebulun did come to Jerusalem to celebrate, but the ways of God had been so long forgotten that they did not know how to worship properly and Hezekiah had to ask the Lord's pardon for those who came to God with a willing heart to worship but did not know how.
Although this story ends well, it is a sad reflection about how easily we stray from the Lord, and how quickly we forget the ways of God. It is a story that parallels much in our present day communities, both outside the church, but also, sadly, within it.
In the years preceding Hezekiah's reign "new spirituality" was "in." Worship of any god but the Lord was the rule and not the exception. True worship was out-of-vogue. A spirit of mockery toward the things of God had set in. So when Hezekiah implored people to return to the Lord and His ways, he was met with outright laughter: a spirit of mockery, scorn and derision.
Increasingly, there seems to be a spirit of mockery toward the things of God and toward true worship. What do you laugh at? It will tell you alot about yourself. There is a spirit that plots and purposes to demean the true ways of God.
The spirit of mockery leaves no room for repentance for it finds the ways of God, and God Himself, to be of no value--something to be laughed at.
It sets itself up as the new and better model: the "relevant" way to worship, but really the it causes us to worship ourselves: our minds, our ideas, our preferences. It is lauded as the faith of the "movers and shakers" and the "up-and-comers."
Mockery does not tell you that it will indeed leave you moved out of God's Presence, and shaken to the very core. It does not warn you that it takes "up and comers" and makes them "down and outers."
The spirit of mockery is still hard at work laughing at the things of God: belittling His ways, His character, His servants, His people.
It leaves such a wake of spiritual poverty and ignorance that soon even the people that want to seek the Lord do not know how to seek Him, for it corrodes all inclination of the heart toward its Maker.
Romans 1 tells us that even in our sinful condition, something of God can be known, if we care to look. But something awful happens when we don't care to look and deliberately turn our hearts away from God. We are spun around in confusion until we do not know which way points to the true and living God.
The world is dangerously lost, but what of the church?
Is the true and living God being presented in revealed, biblical truth? Do we yawn at what the bible says or are we doers of the Word?
Is the power of the Holy Spirit accompanying the preaching of the gospel? Or do we quench the genuine works of the Holy Spirit as being unnecessary, controversial, or a stumbling block to modern sensibilities or doctrine?
Are the fruits of the Spirit, the fruits of genuine repentance, manifest in the lives of those who profess Christ? Or do we wink at sin?
Are we serving a god of our own design or the Living God?
Do our hearts burn within us for holiness or has a spirit of mockery at the ways and things of God taken over, even in subtle ways?
My list, sadly, is just getting started. Thank God that Hezekiah stood up to call people back to God and to intercede for the spiritual ignorance of those who wanted to go deeper with the Lord but did not know how.
May we have the heart of Hezekiah to call out for true worship, despite the spirit of mockery that abounds. May we have the heart of Hezekiah to intercede for the spiritual ignorance and complacency that abounds in these troubled days.
Listen to what goes on around you. What is being laughed at? Sometimes blatantly, sometimes covertly, sometimes with a spirit of snobbery, sometimes with a spirit of self-righteousness or contempt. What are YOU laughing at?
Our Lord deserves our worship in Spirit and in Truth. May the flaming Sword of the Lord, even the living Word of God, make us into spiritual men and women who will not settle for anything less than Christ reigning supremely and exclusively, without compromise, in our hearts.
"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection."
Co-Resurrection. The proof that I have been through crucifixion with Jesus is that I have a decided likeness to Him. The incoming of the Spirit of Jesus into me readjusts my personal life to God. The resurrection of Jesus has given Him authority to impart the life of God to me, and my experimental life must be constructed on the basis of His life. I can have the resurrection life of Jesus now, and it will show itself in holiness.
The idea all through the apostle Paul's writings is that after the moral decision to be identified with Jesus in His death has been made, the resurrection life of Jesus invades every bit of my human nature. It takes omnipotence to live the life of the Son of God in mortal flesh.
The Holy Spirit cannot be located as a Guest in a house, He invades every thing. When once I decide that my "old man" (i.e., the heredity of sin) should be identified with the death of Jesus, then the Holy Spirit invades me. He takes charge of everything, my part is to walk in the light and to obey all that He reveals.
When I have made the moral decision about sin, it is easy to reckon actually that I am dead unto sin, because I find the life of Jesus there all the time. Just as there is only one stamp of humanity, so there is only one stamp of holiness, the holiness of Jesus, and it is His holiness that is gifted to me. God puts the holiness of His Son into me, and I belong to a new order spiritually. --Oswald Chambers
Lord Jesus, may your Spirit of Holiness invade our hearts and lives completely. Rise up within us: conquer and invade us with Your Life-Changing Love!
I like Robin Roberts. She is just salt-of-the-earth kind of folk. When I tune in to Good Morning America I always look for her. I've liked her all the more since her coverage of Hurricane Katrina in her home town of Pass Christian in Mississippi. I like her gentle way of both having faith in God and sharing it in such a personal, unassuming way.
Robin has written a book: From the Heart, Seven Rules to Live By. In it she shares parts of her life journey and the principles that she lives by. This is not Karl Barth kind of theology, it is the kind of simple, hard won advice that comes from keeping at things, striving to be excellent, and just going on despite-the-odds.
Sometimes the most profound things are the simplest. You will find no stunning new revelations here, no earth-shattering new discoveries, just the plain old tried and true fundamentals written with Robin's down-home flair and heartfelt love.
What I got out of the book was this: Keep at it. Don't make excuses. Press past your comfort zones. Don't blame others. If you fail, pick yourself up and keep going. Live by your faith. Value your roots. Surround yourself with the kind of people who will be there when you fall.
We don't have to be famous to make a difference, we just have to be faithful to what God has called us to do.
So if you have a few hours, like I did sitting in the airport, try reading, "From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By."
As the age moves toward its consummation - the manifestation of Christ - two features will become increasingly evident. On the one hand things, men, movements, institutions, organizations, etc., will predominate and draw multitudes after them, and will attach the crowds to themselves. On the other hand, with a growing disappointment and disillusionment over these, a minority will turn to the Lord Himself to find Him alone as their life. --T. Austin-Sparks
Lord Jesus, be EVERYTHING in our hearts! Lord, it is YOU ALONE that we desire and hunger for. Dissallusion us with everything else!
Now by a hard heart, is plainly meant an unaffected heart, or a heart not easy to be moved with virtuous affections, like a stone, insensible, stupid, unmoved, and hard to be impressed.
... We read in Scripture of a hard heart, and a tender heart; and doubtless we are to understand these, as contrary the one to the other. But what is a tender heart, but a heart which is easily impressed with what ought to affect it? God commends Josiah, because his heart was tender; and it is evident by those things which are mentioned as expressions and evidences of this tenderness of heart, that by his heart being tender is meant, his heart being easily moved with religious and pious affection:
2 Kings 22:19, "Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me, I also have heard thee, saith the Lord."
And this is one thing, wherein it is necessary we should "become as little children, in order to our entering into the kingdom of God," even that we should have our hearts tender, and easily affected and moved in spiritual and divine things, as little children have in other things. --Jonathan Edwards
Long with me today for a tender heart toward God and toward His bruised and needy creation.
Its Holy Saturday, and we are awaiting Resurrection Day. I began to think about Jesus and what He was doing on this day so long ago as He awaited His complete resurrection.
I started thinking about all the scripture verses I knew and they suggest a number of things, things too weighty to speak quickly of here. I then thought of the line from the Apostle's Creed, "He descended into hell". I bet Peter would have asked Jesus, "Where in the world were You and what were You doing?" upon seeing Him after his resurrection.
Sure enough. Peter has an entry that sounds like he found out, "For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison which sometimes were disobedient when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein a few, that is eight souls, were saved by water (1 Peter 3:18,19).
A lot to understand! Please be aware that my purpose today is more devotional and inspirational then *theological so I am not trying to explain a intricate doctrine in a short post. It appears, however, that our amazing Lord was embarking on a preaching mission into hell or at least to the place where those people drowned during the great flood of Noah's day were staying.
Dear Jesus, what were You doing after You were put to death? The first impression I got was "about My Father's business." I do not believe that Jesus was just passively awaiting resurrection. He was still about His Father's business! He was still advocating for us in Spirit! He was still seeking out those who needed to hear His Word and be saved. One would think that His sacrifice was enough, that now He could just wait for God to raise Him....to rest after His exhaustive sacrifice. Now it was God's turn to work. And it was God's turn, but He was still carrying on His Father's business: being obedient, finishing all that was meant for Him to do, preaching perhaps in Hell itself. Amazing.
Peter, in the verse previous to the one I quoted above, tells us that it is better, if the will of God be so, that we suffer for well doing instead of evil doing (vs. 17). We are called in the same path as our Master. We will all weather the floods of death attacking us, both spiritually and physically. We will all be called to obey God unto death in our own ways. So often we become weak and discouraged after the first round of death come to us: "I cannot go on", "I have suffered enough."
Jesus shows us that even after the first death, there is still more obedience to come. We do not earn God's approval or salvation. We do not atone for our sins, never mind the sins of mankind. But we can follow the Lord down into the depths, even the depths of what feels like hell, and be about His business. We can continue to preach the message of resurrection because it is true, no matter what and no matter where we find ourselves.
We can preach it in good faith to the captives even when we ourselves are still captive. Faith is like that. Faith is built on bedrock trust in God's goodness and His ability to save even when we are miles from the finish line--in the bowels of death itself. Faith is about Resurrection life inside of us, God's Life getting us ready to live forever: buoying us up when we are nearly dead, bringing us into a deeper obedience long after we should have given up.
This has been a long and deadly winter. We all know it. But just outside are the first reminders of resurrection that God has planted in the earth. The sun feeling warmer. The crocus's braving the snow to bloom in purple and gold. The first robin's arrival. And we, in the bowels of our trials, but with hearts steadfast on a long obedience, await our resurrection.
We are still, in many ways, in the depths of the earth, knowing death, but not completely knowing resurrection. Ah, but we feel its power arising in our hearts. May our faith be strong and steadfast. May our hope be in God, and in Jesus, whom God has raised from the dead so that someday soon we might rise with Him. And may we be about our Father's business, no matter what the time and season, in season and out of seaon, come hell or high water.
He is risen, and He has not forsaken us.
*for a quick overview of this subject check out this blog entry
There is healing and a different kind of Life, different from what you have known: God's Life that comes in those times when you cannot see the way, cannot make sense, cannot work. Cannot. In those moments, Unseen Hands carry you. Invisible arms embrace. In those days, Do the things you still can do. Breathe. Pray. Love. Cry. Worship Change. Especially change. God is with you, closer then ever. Overhead, the sky is blue and God is reigning in His Heaven. In your heart, He wants to do the same. Rest in that peacable reign.
(This photo was taken in a church cemetary in New Mexio. The angel, in a jail of iron bars, still praying even though the world is a-tilt.)
When the Son of Man returns will He find faith in the earth? (Luke 18:8)
As always, a remnant shall be saved. Many are called but few are chosen. Abraham searched for 50 righteous but not even 10 were found and the evildoers were destroyed in Sodom. Only Lot and his daughters were saved.
Where are the righteous? Who shall be saved?
I, the Lord, know. I search each heart and all is seen as clearly as by the brightness of the noonday sun.
I warn the righteous. I speak clearly to My Friends. I jealously guard My Bride. I protect even in the midst of calamity. No man can snatch you out of My Hand.
Work while it is yet day. The darkness is coming and then there is no more time for preparation. The darkness is at hand. There are but a few hours of light. Work into the night.
Ready your household. Warn your neighbors. You must make your decision now for when the strong winds blow against the house it will happen quickly. No time then. That time is now. The minutes tick down.