A PASSION FOR THE PRESENCE OF GOD!

“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…”  Psalm 27:4a

The prophet-priest Samuel told King Saul concerning David, “The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart…”  What was there about David that caught the attention, affection and admiration of the Lord Himself?  David wrote many of the psalms, and he frequently revealed his heart’s passion in these writings.  Clearly, David’s life was largely directed by his passion to “dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life…”  Keep in mind that the house of the Lord represented the place where the Lord dwelled among His people in that day.  Thus, David longed to live each day in the awareness of the presence of God!

Now let us fast forward to our day.  Our modern-day churches seem to have everything we could possibly  need.  We have theologically trained pastoral staffs, a committed core of dedicated lay people that carry on the various ministries of the local churches, recognized organization skills, a world-wide printing and distribution arm and cutting edge social media.  Seemingly we have everything…but the one thing we can least afford to be without…passion, specifically a passion for the presence of God!  Please do not misinterpret what I am saying.  No doubt the vast majority would prefer to see a mighty moving of God in our day, but do not fail to understand there is a world of difference between having a PREFERENCE for God’s presence, and having a PASSION  for the Lord’s presence!

Listen to David again in Psalm 63:1, “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water!”  Two things of note:  1) The man or woman who would have a passion for the Lord’s presence must seek the Lord resolutely.  David said, “I shall seek You!”  At some point we must come to the place where we decide what we are doing is not working!  It is time for me to spend my days seeking the Lord!  The old puritan preachers used to preach that if you desire a blessing from the Lord, “Put yourself in the way of blessing!”  If you share with David the desire to live each day in an awareness of the presence of God, put yourself in the way of blessing.  Seek the Lord where He is:  In prayer, in the Word, In personal worship and in worship and prayer with other believers!

2)  The man or woman who would have a passion for the Lord’s presence must seek the Lord relentlessly.  Remember your school grammar lessons!  Seek is a verb, and verbs are action words.  All the resolve in the world is pointless if there are no corresponding actions.  We all know where the road leads that is paved with good intentions!  It is time to put feet to our prayers and seek the Lord!

One day a young man sought and received an audience with Augustine, a fourth century Christian leader.  Augustine asked the man what he could do for him.  “Can you help me know God?”  Augustine asked, “Do you really want to know God?”  Yes, the young man answered.  Augustine led the man to a beautiful garden of trees, flowers and a pool of water.  He walked to the water, dropped to his knees, bowed his head and closed his eyes.  The young man did likewise.  Without warning Augustine reached over, caught the man by the arm and back of his neck and plunged his face into the water.  After a while he let the man up long enough to get a couple of gasps of air, then plunged his head back under water.  Eventually he let the man up again, turned him face to face and said, “Young man, when you want to know God as bad as you want to breathe right now, then you will get to know God!”  What would happen in your life, in your family, in your church, in your town if YOU had a passion for the presence of God?

Jon Moore

JonMoore1 (2)

A MEMORIALIZED MINISTRY!

“Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her!”  Mark 14:9

 

It is often said that there are different “seasons” in one’s life, one of which is funerals!  It is a time when there seems to be a stream of deaths of childhood acquaintances, family members, longtime friends, neighbors, etc.  We seem to be in one of those seasons.  I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I think about standing before my Lord someday and longing to hear His words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” Matthew 25:23a  That brings to my mind that Jesus highly commended Mary of Bethany for her service more than He did any of His earthly disciples, and it causes me to ask questions.  What was it that she did, and how did she go about doing it that caught the attention and admiration of the Lord?  I believe I see three distinct characteristics of a ministry that pleases the Lord!

 

1-It is always costly!  Mary broke a vial of very costly perfume and poured it on the head of Jesus (v 3).  The value of the perfume was over three hundred denarii (v 5).  One denarius was equivalent to one day’s wage, so this perfume was worth a year’s wages.  Add to this the fact that Mary’s sister, Martha was serving in the kitchen (John 12:2).  Wealthy people of the day did not serve in the kitchen, so this family was among the poor, which adds to the value of the perfume.  Mary’s gift was costly, and that is true of all ministry.  The cost may be in money, or time, or effort, but it is always there.

 

2-It is often criticized!  Some said it was a waste (v 4).  Others scolded her (v 5).  The Cross of Jesus Christ offends those who refuse to accept Him as the Lord who hung on it, and sometimes even those who believe on Christ can be misled by arguments that sound reasonable and right.  However, what initially sounds socially and culturally right doesn’t always turn out to be right!

 

3-It has One concern!  Jesus said, “She has done a good deed to Me!” (v 6).  On the morning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ a group of women came with ointments, spices and bandages to anoint the body of Jesus for burial, but they were denied that privilege, because the Lord was no longer in the grave.  He had risen!  The only woman who had the privilege and honor of anointing the body of Jesus for burial was Mary of Bethany, and it was because she came ‘beforehand’!  The blessings of ministry are reserved…for those who minister ‘beforehand’, before it is convenient, or affordable, or acceptable, etc. etc. etc. 

 

Each one must answer the question, “Will I be the one to minister/serve beforehand?”

 

Jon Moore

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REVIVAL: DIVINE DEW!

“I will be like the dew to Israel.  He will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.”  Hosea 14:5

 

I looked out the window of my study one morning recently, and there was a thick fog.  I could barely make out the house across the street!  Immediately I thought of the book of Hosea where God is dealing with the northern kingdom (sometimes He refers to them as Ephraim, and sometimes Israel).  Through the first thirteen chapters he catalogs their many sins using figurative language.  The Lord says they are “joined to idols” (4:17); they have “mixed themselves with the nations” (7:8a) ; they are a “cake not turned” (7:8b); “strangers have devoured their strength” (7:9a); “gray hairs are sprinkled on them” implying deterioration (7:9b); they are “swallowed up” having lost their unique identity as God’s people (8:8a); “a vessel in which no one delights” (8:8b) and “a merchant in whose hands are false balances” (12:7)!  Yet in the final (14th) chapter of the book God presents to them an invitation, “Return, Oh Israel, to the Lord your God!” (v 1).  Then in verse 5 He says if they return, “I will be like the dew to Israel!”

 

What a picture of revival, and what a hope that provides us in America today.  Surely it is obvious that we as the Lord’s people have turned aside from the principles and practices of our spiritual forefathers.  Surely there is agreement that we desperately need to return to the Lord our God!!  Surely the Lord’s promise to be like the dew to us will be a dramatic and powerful motivation for us to do so.  Notice three things that correlate between physical dew and spiritual revival.

 

1-Dew is typically found early in the morning!  Atmospheric conditions for the formation of dew are best following darkness.  In 14:1 God said, “You have stumbled because of your iniquity.”  The time has come for each believer to quit blaming others for the conditions of our day, confess one’s own sins and repent.

 

2-Dew collects heaviest in the lowest places!  Conditions for the formation of dew are best in low areas.  In 14:2 the Lord said, “Take words with you and return to the Lord.”  The Bible has a lot to say about the value God places on humility when it comes to those who come to Him, and we must humble ourselves if we are to truly agree with our heavenly Father (confess) about our own sin and repent.

 

3-Dew does not form in windy weather!  Wind keeps the moisture laden air away from the cool surfaces of grass, leaves, etc.  14:3 reads, “Assyria will not save us (reliance on political alliances).  We will not ride on horses (reliance on rentals from Egypt); Nor will we say again, ‘Our God’ to the work of our hands (reliance on self-made idols).”  Remember that Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing.” (John 6:63)  Anything man-contrived is doomed to failure.  Only God-initiated brokenness, confession, repentance and reconciliation leads to God’s blessedness!

 

Jon Moore

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THE GIFTS OF GOD!

Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Matthew 2:11b

 

For several days prior to our family’s Christmas gathering I had been thinking of the Lord’s gifts He has given to all mankind, but for the sake of our time together (and the attention span of small children) I limited my remarks after reading the Christmas story from Matthew’s account to three specific gifts.  One gift God has given to us is the gift of family.  The Bible says, “Behold, children are a gift from the Lord.”  (Psalm 127:3)  One of our grand-daughters told us that her family would be attending six different family Christmases!  It takes commitment to take time to celebrate and embrace God’s gift of family.  Don’t let the season slip away without expressing your love and appreciation to family members and to the Lord for His gift of family.  Another gift from the Lord is the gift of friends.  The wise man Solomon wrote, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  (Proverbs 17:17)  It has been said, “When life begins to fall apart, one finds who their real friends are!”  It is wonderful to know many people, but a true friend is a rarity.  The last seventeen months have borne that out in my own life, and it has been an incredible blessing to be blessed by God with friends!  It would be good to start off a new year by expressing your love and appreciation to those who are friends in your life.

 

The third gift we have been given by God is indeed the greatest, the gift of His firstborn.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)  Unfortunately many people have misunderstood the meaning of the word, “believes”.  Translated from the original writing of the New Testament, the word means, “To trust in; To cling to; To rely on.”  To believe in Jesus means to trust Him for forgiveness.  We have all sinned (Romans 3:23), and Jesus has satisfied every demand by heaven for the payment of our sin debt (1st John 2:1,2)  Secondly, to believe in Jesus means to cling to Him for faith.  The Christian life is a life impossible to live for anyone but the Lord Jesus Himself, so we cling to Him for the faith to function freely.  Thirdly, to believe in Jesus means to rely on Him for fulfillment.  Jesus told His followers, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”  (John 14:3)  When the time comes to leave this earthly life, we rely on Jesus to fulfill His promise to come again to us and take us with Himself to our eternal home in heaven!  Don’t fail to receive and claim your gifts from the Lord:  Your family; Your friends; and His firstborn, Jesus!

Jon Moore

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The Blessing of Sight!

“…I saw the Lord…Then I said…Then I heard…”  Isaiah 6:1b,5a,8a

 

The month of October has been a memorable time in one respect.  On the 20th I had surgery to remove a cataract from my right eye.  A number of people had shared with me the positive results that they had with this surgery, and I looked forward to better vision.  Sure enough, I now have clearer sight with the obstruction of the cataract removed!  For that I am very grateful.

 

As I prayed about what to write for this month’s devotional I thought about Isaiah and his vision as it is recorded in the opening verses of Isaiah 6.  Just as I experienced some natural anxiety prior to my surgery, Isaiah was in a time of anxiety over the death of his friend, King Uzziah.  As is often the case when His people are going through trying times, the Lord revealed Himself to the prophet in a special way, and the vision Isaiah saw was spectacular.  He saw the Lord in His authority (seated on the throne of heaven), His majesty (lofty and exalted), surrounded by His family (filling the temple of heaven), His sanctity (Holy, Holy, Holy), His glory (the whole earth full of His glory), His energy (the foundations of the thresholds of heaven trembled) and His reality (the temple of heaven was filled with smoke).  Wow!  Double wow!!

 

Some quick thoughts about this passage:  1) It was here that Isaiah heard and answered the call to ministry (verse 8).  2) Before the prophet could hear and respond to God’s call on his life, it was needful for him to be cleansed (verses 6,7).  3) Before he could be cleansed, Isaiah had to see for himself that he was in desperate need of cleansing (verse 5).  Before Isaiah could see his imperfections, He had to see the only One who is perfect (verses 1-4)!

 

So we come back to the title of the devotional this month, “The Blessing of Sight!”  This is true in the natural world, and even truer in the spiritual world.  Before any spiritual advancement, or growth takes place (beginning with salvation) there must be Light, or Vision.  It is always and only the starting point, and John tells us in 1st John 1:5, “…that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

 

The old Puritan preachers used to say, “If you want to be blessed, put yourself in the way of blessing.”  If you  want to see more of Christ and be more like Him, spend time in prayer with Him and in His Word.  Put yourself in the way of blessing!

 

Jon Moore

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Back to School!

“…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge…”  2nd Peter 1:5

 

Well, it is back to school time for children and adults alike, and nearly everyone agrees to the value of education in a person’s secular life.  However, many of God’s people tend to forget that growing in the knowledge of God is absolutely essential in one’s spiritual life as well?  The Lord spoke through Solomon in Proverbs 15:14, “The heart of him that has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness…”  The Bible teaches that true knowledge comes from God, but only through our diligence!  It is only when we determine to make the study of Scripture an ongoing discipline that the knowledge that comes from heaven is imparted consistently to us.  Each of us would do well to study the Bible earnestly and get knowledge, because the knowledge of doctrine will largely dictate our attitude and actions!

 

The great majority of times the failures in a saint’s prayer life, in both personal and corporate worship, in giving, in witnessing and a whole host of other aspects of Christian life and service is due to the failure to continue to study the Word of God!  Years ago Andrew Murray wrote a book entitled, “With Christ in the School of Prayer”.  The title says it all!  Just as children need get back in school, our heavenly Father’s children need to do likewise!

 

The U. S. Marines have a reputation for meticulously training their soldiers, and most recruits don’t understand why!  While holding their trays in the food line, each is required to hold their hands in a certain position.  When failing to do so, they are verbally chastised and ordered to do push-ups!  It is not until later, when they are issued their weapons, that each one learns this is the way they are to hold their rifle, whether marching, or running to combat.  What seems like meaningless repetition in the dining hall is actually critical training for the battlefield!

 

The fact is our heavenly Father has us in a similar mode of training.  We are instructed to study God’s Word, abide in the Truth and let the Lord’s teachings abide in us.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem that certain truths have any bearing on where our life is being lived.  Although the truths of God may appear to be far removed from our daily experience, the Lord may be using that truth to train us for future encounters!  Therefore, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge…”

 

Jon Moore

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THE SOLUTION TO SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION!


 “Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”  Psalm 42:11

 

I think it is safe to say that we are living in a time when more and more people are discouraged.  Many are showing evidence of depression.  There are obviously many things that contribute to this condition, such as personal temperament, physical and emotional health, and challenging circumstances (economic, political, family, etc.).  The devil uses all of these things to attack the child of God and tempt him or her to act in unbelief.  If it were not for unbelief the devil could not be successful! It is because Christians listen to the devil instead of listening to the Lord that we fall before his attacks.  That is why the psalmist said, “Hope thou in God!”

 

Years ago I read a book entitled, “Spiritual Depression” by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  In that book Dr. Lloyd-Jones made a simple statement concerning the psalmist that has had a profound effect in my life ever since.  He said, “We must learn to take ourselves in hand.  We must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us!  Most of our unhappiness in life is due to the fact that we are listening to our self instead of talking to our self.”

 

Periodically (more frequently for some than others) we need to recount for ourselves who we are and what we have been given in Christ!  For example I often remind myself of the following truths from God’s Word:  I am a child of God (John 1:12); My body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (1st Cor. 3:16); I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3); I am always being led in triumph in Christ (2nd Cor. 2:14); The Holy Spirit teaches me all things (John 14:26); I am in Christ, and Christ is in me (John 15:4); I’ve been granted everything pertaining to both life and Godliness (2nd Peter 1:3); and My God supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19).

 

I offer you three recommendations I believe will help you when the enemy comes to attack you in a difficult time in your life.  1) Put to memory these and other verses of truth and promise.  2) In the meantime make a copy of this list and include it with the Bible you use in your personal devotion time.  3)  Go on a “treasure hunt” looking for Bible verses that give hope to your heart and discipline to your mind to add to your list!

 

Blessings,

Jon Moore

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The Activity of God!

From time to time I ask church leaders, ‘Have you recently seen either in your church, or in your area any “activity of God?”’  Often following a time of ministry in a local church, I will ask the pastor to notify me of any “activity of God” he sees in the coming days.  Sometimes I will be asked to explain what I mean by the phrase, “the activity of God.”  What I do not mean is activity stirred up by people, whether emotional, political or mere religious fervor.  What I do mean is that which is clearly initiated and empowered by God!  Something that has only one explanation, “That is of God!”

Oftentimes I have to further explain it is not always what some to consider to only be “positive” things, like obvious blessings such as the salvation of a hell-bound sinner, the deliverance of one from a longstanding besetting sin, the restoring of a relationship that seemed forever broken asunder, etc.  Many times the activity can be overlooked, because the activity is seen as “negative”, not a blessing, but a bruising!  Remember what the Lord told the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, “I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity.  I am the Lord who does ALL these things!” Isaiah 45:6b,7  It was the wise man Solomon who cautioned us, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”  Proverbs 3:11,12  The writer of the letter of Hebrews quoted this Scripture, then the Holy Spirit led him to add a statement.  “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful, YET TO THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED BY IT, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  Hebrews 12:11

The Lord has been reminding me lately not to miss His activity by only associating it with pleasant experiences, but often His activity in us, and around us is painful in the short term, but leads us to the peace only He can provide!

Have you seen either in your own life, or in those around you any “activity of God” recently?

Jon Moore

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Back to the Future!

“…and Samuel cried to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him.” 1st Samuel 7:9b

We find ourselves these days in the midst of a hotly contested battle for who will become the next President of the United States. Needless to say this is a crucial time in America, and whoever is chosen faces an overwhelming task in leading this nation to where it needs to be in the sight of God!

That was also the case in ancient Israel after the death of Eli the high priest. At that time Samuel became their unquestioned leader. The nation had become embroiled in idolatry and accompanying immorality that extended into the priesthood (the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, who also died). How would Samuel react? What should he say? What should he do? It is to his everlasting credit that he did not appoint a focus group to study the problem and bring recommendations! Neither did he attempt to create a new strategy, or establish a new paradigm. Rather, he looked to the timeless, matchless Word of God, and declared the first order of business was for the people to repent (vv2-4).

The word repent is a familiar, but largely misunderstood word by believers today. It was the first message that Jesus preached in His public ministry. It literally means, “To have another mind.” It means a change of mind that brings about a change of behavior and attitude. That change is seen in the pouring out of water and the fasting in vv5-6 which is symbolic of rejecting the self-reliance and self-rule that resulted in God’s people straying from the Lord. The request for Samuel to cry out to the Lord speaks of a return to entire reliance on the Lord (vv7-8).

The future looks dim for America. We seem to be headed downhill at an ever-increasing rate, morally, economically, even militarily. The only hope for America is to put aside self-reliance and self-rule and return to entire reliance on the Lord. In the midst of a growing number of voices questioning whether there is a willingness, much less an ability to do so, we need to listen to the word from the pen of David in Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Except the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain!”

Jon Moore

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A Really New Year!

For a number of years I have made it a practice this time of the year to review the year that has just ended, and decide if I need to make some adjustments in my life for the coming year. This is a practice that is common to many people whether one is a professional, businessman, laborer, homemaker or minister. Every year I come to the conclusion that I need to repent!

Before you panic, let’s take a closer look at that word repent. There may be fewer words more misunderstood by Christians than this one. This was the message John the Baptist proclaimed, and it was the first message that the Lord Jesus preached. The Greek word in the New Testament they both used means, “To have another mind”. In Vine’s Greek New Testament Dictionary it reads, “To perceive afterwards, implying change”. In any case a study of the Bible reveals that true repentance is more of a process than an individual procedure.

First of all there must be an acknowledgement that something is missing! After all there is such a thing as doing the right thing in the wrong way. It is possible to attempt the worship and service of the Lord in the energy of the religious flesh. In 1st Samuel 7:2 after the Philistines had returned the Arc of the Lord they had captured for seven months, “All the house of Israel lamented after the Lord”! One would think that with all that is going on in our world today it would not be too hard for believers to recognize that we are missing something!

Secondly, there needs to be an agreement. 1st John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, God will be faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins. The Greek word translated into our English word confess means, “To say the same thing”. That is what Biblical confession means: To say the same thing God is saying. It is so easy to try to put the blame on someone else! Nehemiah did not do that in 1:6 as he confessed the sins of the nation. He started by praying, “Confessing the
sins of the sons of Israel”, but in mid-prayer the pronouns change as he continues, “as WE have sinned against you, I AND MY FATHER’S HOUSE have sinned!”

But there is a third step in this process, and that is abandonment. Agreement with the Truth must be accompanied with adopting the Truth! Years ago there was a tribe of Indians in South America who were dying at an alarming rate from infections. Specialists discovered insects in the walls of their adobe homes that were biting and infecting them. They were presented with a choice. They could continue to stay where they were, or they could move to a new location, build new homes and live. The choice was theirs! We can never know and experience the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus as long as we are content to live in the misery of defeat!

Heavenly Father, help us as your children to face the truth of where we are as believers, agree with You as to why we are here, and move on to the joy and victory you have for us in 2016!

Jon Moore

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