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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Identity Crisis

I have been told quite often that I tend to complicate things and reach conclusions that may not be intended for certain texts. I can handle the criticism! In that regard, In prayer yesterday I asked God to speak to me from His word; because His word is truth.

In times of uncertainty, distress or confusion, reading is one of the most relaxing and rewarding things I can do. In the Book of Zephaniah, Chapter 3, there is a concept that I can identify with. I am sure many Believers my age will understand my thoughts. For those that are younger without an extensive church background, I hope and pray I explain my thoughts correctly.

God promises to gather those who are sorrowful for a solemn assembly, those who suffer reproach, are burdened and afflicted in this regard. I remember as a child attending church meetings with my Grandparents at a small, rural Pentecostal Holiness church in WV. I distinctly remember the presence of the Holy Spirit in those meetings. It was a manifest presence that could not be denied.

I have been in meetings as a child where people went to the altar before the service was over (churches still had altars then!). I remember people raising their hands during song service and weeping and praising God out loud, without permission to do so. I remember people under conviction turning away and walking out of the doors.

As a child, our vacation in the summer was going to Church Camp and washing dishes for our keep and going to morning Bible Study at the tabernacle, afternoon service to hear missionaries, and evangelist meeting at night. The Spirit of God would manifest Himself in very distinct ways. There was no question as to who was in charge of the meetings.

Now, I am in my mid 50's. I look back on these days of solemn assemblies and yearn and ache for them. In our community there is a church on every street corner but very little evidence of the Holy Spirit. It is as if He does not even exist. In conversations over the past 20 years I have brought up the seeming lack of a serious move of God and people, even ministers look as if I am from another planet. Those that do understand seem to say by their actions, words or lack of words that God does not work that way anymore. " God cannot be that serious, can He? "

Where this verse in Zephaniah spoke to me is God's promise that He will undo all that afflict those who are serious about Him. The word " undo " here as used means that He will be busy on our behalf, He will have charge and commit Himself and provide, fulfill and furnish what we need.

He promises to save those that halteth (those that limp, fall or are in adversity). He says He will get them praise and fame in every land where we have been put to shame. He will bring us again and turn back our captivity, not in some distant future event, but even now, right before our eyes!

I know a man whose love of God is unquestionable. He is 89 years old and has been rejected by the very people he ministered to for years. He takes the gospel "too seriously..." Church people think, perhaps not out loud but by their actions that "God cannot be that serious, can He..."

This dear saint is sorrowful, suffers reproach and burdened for a solemn assembly. It seems for local churches it is a thing of the past. If the assemblies on every street corner are not solemn, serious and inhabited by the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit, what spirit do they represent? Why are those who are serious cast out so readily?

God has been faithful to me. I experience His presence right at my dining room table as I read, pray and meditate upon His word. Those who are serious about His ways will be brought again and the name and praise that God gives these are not material, worldly or financial, but the name and praise upon them will be that they know God!

He is bringing back the captivity for those who have a sincere heart for Him. This is our duty, our job, our destiny. To shine as men and women have never shined before in the history of the church. He will have a Bride that is spotless and washed in the blood of the Lamb.

I want to be resting in His love when He returns. I want Him to be in my midst and joy over me with singing. I can handle the reproach because I know in whom I have believed; and I am fully persuaded that He is able to do all that He has promised.

It is time to get serious about God!

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