Tonight as I lay sleeping in bed, I was suddenly startled awake by a mental picture that came to my mind! Prior to bedtime I was meditating on the previous post, Elementary School For New Believers (ESFNB). I had been contemplating each of the elementary teachings of Christ found in Hebrews 6:1-2, and I was praying about how to launch into this assigned subject. I was asking Him, “What questions do I need to ask before I begin to read, meditate, and study? What is hidden from my eyes? Is anything missing?” Afterwards, I began to think about the events of the day, and my mind went into that wandering drifting mode, and then to sleep…Zzzzzz.
In my sleep, I was taken back to an early childhood memory that I’ve seen in a photograph. I could see the familiar hills in the background as I stood near a flat, level piece of ground. I could see wheelbarrows, shovels, and bags of cement, gravel, concrete, and such. The men were getting ready to pour a foundation for my boyhood home. They began to pour the foundation, but something was terribly wrong. The mix was running everywhere. There were no footings, containers, or framework for the mix to pour into/upon. You cannot simply just start pouring a foundation, you have to have some type of container, framework, or dug-out area to hold the mix. Where’s the frame for the foundation mix??? I woke up, grabbed my laptop, and began typing. I immediately knew what this meant!
There is an absolute, undeniable frame underneath our Foundational teaching. The Bible says it is the basic frame that holds the teaching and brings it all together. The Greek word used for describing this frame means that it is something upon which you can depend, suspend, and hang. On three occasions, this particular word is also used for the hanging of Jesus upon the Cross (a frame). Listen as you read about the Frame(s) for all that is taught and practiced in the Bible: And Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments DEPEND (hang, sums up) the whole Law and the Prophets.”
These two are the greatest commands and their priority has never changed. They are still our most important personal responsibilities. According to Jesus, they were both the frame and the summation for all previous Bible teaching. You could hang and sum up the entire Old Testament on these two commands..And nothing has changed now because Jesus was confirming and highlighting their importance right then! ALL of our teaching, all of our discipling, all of our emphasis, all of our practices must be held and REINFORCED within this framework that was confirmed by Jesus. Our teaching must continually reflect, remind us, and be heavily flavored with the purposes of loving God and loving others. Those are the two goals in everything we teach and do. There are no greater than these.
If those two commands are not “surrounding” our teaching and our practices, then our teaching and practice is in vain. You can teach and practice the elementary principle of “repentance from dead works” all you want, and then go out and do great works to the point where you sacrifice your body…But if you don’t have love, if love was missing, if love wasn’t imparted, then it is all in vain. You can teach and practice the elementary principle of “faith towards God” to the point that you see mountains being moved…And yet, if the foundation of that was not permeated with love, it will amount to nothing. You can teach eloquently with the tongues of men and angels about the “doctrine of baptisms” and “eternal judgment”. You can proclaim the power-filled teachings of the “laying on of hands” and “resurrection of the dead” with such might that demons are cast out and miracles are wrought…However, if love wasn’t set forth as the basis, the motive, the energy, and the goal, then it will burn. Remember what is written: Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Also, the scripture says, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Whatever you are teaching, learning, or practicing at this time, please make sure that you keep coming back to the great commands. It is so easy to get distracted by many other good motives. Keep bringing your lessons back to the great commands and you will avoid error.
Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…Psalm 37:7
Now, more than ever, the Body of Christ has a dire need to be taught how to rest in His love. We need to be taught how to “draw from the well”. For the scripture is clear that it is a joy to draw water out of the wells of salvation. It is so important that all our efforts are launched from the foundational frame of His love in us…and that we return like they did in Acts 4 to be filled with that love over and over again. If we do not under-gird our teaching with this love, if we do not continually point towards loving God and loving others, then our teaching and practices run the risk of becoming another set of religious, performance-oriented tasks that are accomplished by the sweat of our brows rather than being powered by the grace of His love.
Cease striving and know that I am God–Psalm 46:10 (NASB)
Please allow me to address something that is very sad. Friends, I believe that there are many of us who are driven to study, to witness, to do, to go, to win, to strive, to visit, and perform because something inside us still believes that we must show this great zeal and compassion in order to truly win God’s approval and feel good about our Christianity. We believe that God loves us, but somehow He will love us more, or we will feel it more, if we just do, do, do. Our Adamic nature misinterprets passages like “Study to show thyself approved”, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments”, “I press toward the mark for the prize”, and do this, that, and the other. While it is true that we are to actually do these things, we were never meant to do them from a basis of our striving, needing approval, to feel better, to fulfill our need through purpose, to prove our love, or to gain a feeling of “well done”. Paul talks about “running to get the prize, beating his body”. This may sound like pure fleshly striving, but ask yourself, “Who did Paul say he drew his actual strength from?” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Was this just motivational talk? A mantra to quote? A simple prayer? A way to deflect and give recognition to God? Or was it an actual receptive biblical practice that he did over and over?
We often do these things saying that we are giving love, when in truth we are often trying to get love. We reason by saying, “If I go help someone more needy, then I will feel better.” While that may be true, I do not think that is a biblical motive. Now I may very well be wrong about this, but I think it is a humanistic motive…I don’t care what great Bible teachers may say otherwise, it is not a motive that you can find in the Bible. It is not a motive of agape love. You may ask, “But what about ‘Give and it shall be given unto you?” There were not giving out of their emptiness! Do you see anywhere in scripture where you are supposed to “go and do” with an empty cup hoping to fill it by working? On the contrary, the scripture shows they first got “filled up”, and then went out and did. Later, they got “re-filled” and went out and did things again. “Fill first, pour second” is the consistent biblical pattern. Remember, Jesus didn’t pass out an empty or half-full lunch; He took the kid’s lunch and then multiplied the loaves and fishes.
HOWEVER!!! Let me be very careful to point this out…The Grace of God is greater than our human motives!!! God takes our selfish human motives and will still grace us with his presence and power to do godly works of love and change us in the process. His grace is very big and extends beyond the usual patterns. That is the magnanimous love of God! His love will cover a multitude of our ill motives and sins. What satan meant for evil, God will turn for good! Without His Grace, all of our teachings and works would amount to nothing. His grace is bigger than our failings.
…He will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing
You cannot work for God’s love. You cannot witness to gain more of God’s love. You cannot praise and worship to gain more of God’s love. You “enter His gates” through thanksgiving and praise, but once you are in His presence, your non-stop, mouth-moving worship is not the most ideal way to rest in His love. PLEASE, don’t misunderstand me: We are there to worship Him! Yet, God wants dialogue and not just your monologue. If you are constantly praising, worshiping, and talking…Then you are doing very little resting and receiving (NEWSFLASH: Resting and receiving doesn’t mean listening to your favorite preacher either). You cannot work for God’s love, you can only rest in His love. You have to stop being Martha and become Mary. Unfortunately, many of God’s people have never been taught or mentored about the Mary practice of “resting at His feet”. Portions of Psalm 23 and many other passages are viewed as idealistic to them, and are not something that can be realized and practiced on a regular basis. They simply have never been taught or mentored in this way. They have a mindset of “I’d rather burn out, than rust out!” In actuality they are continually pushing the car non-stop down the road, rather than coming to a complete stop at the gas station, re-filling it with gas, and then driving 60+ MPH down the road.
When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. (Moses waited in God’s presence for six days…I’ll bet he was still and didn’t dare move or utter a word…after six days of waiting in His presence, then God spoke on the seventh.)
After receiving the Great Commission, did the disciples charge out into the streets? No. They WAITED first until they KNEW they had been empowered with the Holy Spirit. Some of you may be saying, “But we already have the Holy Spirit. why do we need to be filled first when we already have the Spirit?” Let’s take a look at the closest thing to a Great Commission passage that can be found in the book of John. Read carefully: Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” They received the Holy Spirit right then! It was powerful; They now had power to forgive or to withhold…That’s some real spirit power! This wasn’t some “greasing the skids, preparatory, hope you get the Holy Ghost, smell my breath move”. The same Jesus who said, “Lazarus come forth” said right then and there “Receive the Holy Spirit”. If Jesus stood so close to me that I could smell Him and He (who had the Holy Spirit without measure) then breathed on me saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit”, I would definitely have the Holy Spirit! Again, they were filled with the Spirit along with power to forgive or withhold. You can’t do that without the Spirit. So they had the Spirit, wasn’t that enough? I answer that with “Can you ever have enough?” If they had the Spirit when Jesus breathed on them, then what was Pentecost??? It was MORE of the same Spirit! Off the top of my head, we have at least three records of Peter getting filled with the Holy Spirit…Here in John, again in Acts 2, and again in Acts 4! Some may say “Impossible! They couldn’t have received the Holy Spirit until Pentecost! And you can’t possibly have multiple fillings.” I would counter, “John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit BEFORE he was born, and had the ability as a fetus to recognize the presence of Christ. Chew on those pickles and let’s talk about that! This same John the Baptist declared that Jesus was the Baptizer of the Spirit. With God nothing is impossible.” (The Charismatics don’t like to recognize this because Peter and the gang DID NOT pray in tongues when they received the Spirit in John. On the other hand, denominational folks don’t like to recognize multiple fillings.) Regardless, you can be filled with the Spirit as often as needed. If we ask for it, He will give it. Can you make room for more? The Spirit is measurable. There is always more for each of us. They had the Holy Spirit, they had been commissioned, they had power, but they needed to wait for even more power. There are countless instances in the Bible where God says “go”, “do”, but first “wait”.
Learn to rest, wait, and receive His love like Mary, Moses, and so many others. I wish that I could write more about this, but that is not my assigned task at this time. If you don’t know how, find someone to teach and mentor this for you. It is VITALLY important to be filled, re-filled, and based in His love. It is from this filled-up basis that you can “go and do” without it being in vain. Thank God for His encompassing grace; Yet, I would rather begin being filled with His Grace then having to receive it “mid-stream”. It is from the frame of being filled with His love that you can begin to truly repent from dead works and start walking on the Hebrews 2 Foundation Stones.
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