Here again, we have what Jesus warned about in Matthew 16:6 to beware of these groups. In Jesus’ day, one group used religious control, and the other used political power. Is this not unlike today in many churches? We have churches that use a strict interpretation of scripture to control the congregation. This control comes in many forms, such as only one version of the Bible, only traditional music or hymns allowed, dress codes, and the list goes on and on. What you have here is the leaven of religious control. The Apostle Paul warned a young pastor named Timothy about the religious spirit when he said; They may pretend to have respect for God, but in reality, they want nothing to do with God’s power. Stay away from people like these! 2 Timothy 3:5
When I speak of intimacy, I’m not necessarily speaking of human attraction between a husband and wife, but rather God’s creation or the gift God gives the man on so many levels. A gentle breeze on a summer day or the smell of fresh gentle rainfall, stopping to observe a beautifully sculpted statue or the brush strokes on a painting canvas. To me, intimacy can be something as simple as a perfect cup of coffee and the aroma it gives off while reading scripture or writing in my journal in the quiet early morning hours. What is intimacy? The definition given is the following; close familiarity, friendship, closeness, or a cozy private atmosphere. I like and can identify all of these definitions with, but honestly, as a father, at times, it’s not easy to attain or even find the time.
What does God say about intimacy? And why do we find it so difficult to do? These questions have always been an issue since Adam’s creation when, in Genesis, it says Adam walked with God in the dew of the morning.
Then Adam and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh-God passing through the garden in the breeze of the day. So, they hid among the trees concealing themselves from the face of Yahweh-God. Genesis 3:8 tPt
There’s a fascinating insight given in the Passion Translation about the “breeze of the day” (note:d). It says the implication is that God had been doing this daily, wanting friendship and intimacy with the newly created couple.
When man sinned in the garden, it set the entire human race on the trajectory of opposing God and forsaking any intimacy with him. It’s no different now where we fill that void with all types of distractions and try to deny there is a God at all. The apostle Paul writes;
“In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart.” Romans 1:19 tPt
We have a generation crying out to be understood, and deep down, looking for a true meaning of love that only a loving Abba Daddy can provide. Badly needed is the Daddy that comes running with a clean robe, ring, and loving embrace—giving a holy kiss that melts the heart of the lost son or daughter. It’s a supernatural love of the heavenly father that goes so deep into the heart and says, welcome home, my beloved child. Quick let’s celebrate my son’s return home, gathering everyone together to rejoice his homecoming. Such a picture of love Jesus shared about forgiveness, redemption, and restoring all that was lost.
Early one morning while I was praying in the Spirit which is often my practice daily and out of no where the words to a song came to mind. The words were this “ I Have Seen the Needle and the Damage Done” a song penned by Neil Young in the early 1970’s. So I asked God if this was him and what was the reason? And the answer was a clear yes and he said the “needle” was religion and you have seen and felt the damage done by religion. So I sat in quiet pondering the revelation God had just given and what he had revealed, it was an aha moment where I realized I’d gone through the valley and come out the other side stronger.
It wasn’t always this way and once upon a time I had held to the more conservative views of a certain denomination. But as time went on as I studied out scripture Holy Spirit began showing inconsistencies to what was taught and what scriptures actually say. The problem was when you started asking questions about things taught the ugly side of religion would rise up quickly and try to extinguish the fire burning within believer who wanted more than a powerless and controlling faith.
Over time I began to ask Holy Spirit for the correct interpretation on such issues like prophesy, tongues, five fold ministry, etc; And as one might expect it was very much different then what I had been taught and held to over many years. But as I continued to study scripture and pray the inevitable would happen at special meeting my wife and I attended. As it was a powerful evening of worship and as the evangelist preached he asked anyone who wanted prayer to come forward to which we both did. During prayer we both continued sense a heavy presence of God in the room with oil showing up on my wife’s hands with an unusual aroma wafting in the air. As I was in prayer and soaking in the presence it suddenly happened someone who was assisting and praying over people came by and just blew a short burst of air at me. At which point a sudden bright flash of very white light and I lost all sense of surroundings and ended up on the floor next to my wife. This lasted over 30 minutes where I couldn’t get up and actually hadn’t really realized the Holy Spirit had just powerfully came over my wife and I. This was a book of Acts occurrence for sure and we cherish the night fondly.
This was start of many manifestations to come over the years, but what happened at times were the old religious doubts would creep in and try to cast doubt about what Holy Spirit had been doing and showing. So God was reminding me during the early morning hours of the day about the “needle” of religion trying to control me like heroin controls an addict and over time the addict incurs physical damage to their body. The same is true of religion it causes spiritual harm that only the great physician Jesus can heal. The scriptures speak of this in the New Testament gospel of Mark chapter 8:15 Jesus states; “ Be on your guard against the yeast inside the Pharisees.”
Okay what was Jesus saying? It was quite simple actually he was warning them and us today about the dangers of religious hypocrisy and control. And like yeast or leaven it only takes a little to effect the entire lump of dough. So like dough a group people, church or entire denomination can come under the influence of religious works and false humility which is really nothing more than pride. It’s a sneaky covert spirit of religion when it goes unchecked will and cause damage to unsuspecting believer.
So what God was showing me was beware of the “needle of religion” and the “damage of leaven” and to move on from the past of religion and embrace relationship with Jesus. As you pray and read scripture ask Holy Spirit to help you to understand and most importantly to release forgiveness over the past pain caused by the spirit of religion.
Blessings to all who may read this and may you find true freedom in Christ starting today.
As we are now almost half way through January 2020 with so much being said inside and outside the Christendom what the new decade will bring. It can bring so many emotions from excitement to fear and it’s so easy to be overwhelmed with the obvious problems and issues going on, be it politically, natural disasters, wars, etc; We live in a world that’s drowning in information that is at times simply too much, especially with explosion of handheld devices that give us info 24/7 and keep us connected no matter where we are.
So where does that leave us who claim Christ? Do we always dwell on the negative and never see the positive?
I would propose that is exactly one of the tactics of Satan to get well meaning Christians to dwell on all bad things happening which then causes them to take their eye off the prize. Once we become distracted, then we become powerless to do the Kingdom work.
The Apostle Paul gave us a wonderful charge in Romans 12:1,2 that I would like to share from the Passion Translation Bible:
“Beloved friends, what would be our response to God’s marvelous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship. Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will power you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.”
Yes….But how does He speak to us in these crazy days? Growing up in the King James toting conservative, fundamental Baptist world they would have you believe that God no longer speaks to us as in the first century church. And when anyone even dared to question them on the offices mentioned Ephesians 4:11 or better yet brought up the Spiritual gifts of tongues or prophesy mentioned in the book of 1 Corinthians 12 it would quickly set in motion a tirade of all types of remarks and furled eye brows. To which you would get the very typical barrage of indoctrinated Bible verses such as 1 Corinthians 14:33 that God is not author of confusion and often in a very condescending tone of voice. As to say how dare you?
But now years later I have come realize it’s just not that easy to write off strange occurrences in scripture that obviously caused a great deal of confusion. The Acts 2 day of Pentecost is the most obvious in the New Testament, but scripture is packed full of gems from Old Testament too with a prophet walking around butt naked, or another prophet cooking food over excrement whilst laying on his side for months at a time, or another prophet marrying a harlot. All these were directed by God for a reason of warning, but at the time did they Hebrew people scratch their heads in confused manner? We now have the privilege of scriptures to give understanding and direction. So I would argue the 1 Corinthians 14:33 passage has often been used out of context in a universal manner when Paul was addressing issues specifically to a Greek culture church not the entire early New Testament church. Please don’t quote the passage in 2 Timothy 3:16 about all scripture is given…. Another favorite of the Fundie crowd : )>
So back to the question does God still speak today? He most certainly does ! And with the new year quickly approaching I will definitely be expecting an increase in hearing God speaking through signs, dreams, and wonders to the entire church. Will you be waiting, watching and listening? Keep your spiritual eyes and ears open. As in Revelation 3:20 “Behold I stand at the door and knock” ….Will you hear him knocking?
Blessings, Chuck 🤓
"So lift me up and lead me out, and we will run away together – to Your cloud filled chamber!" Song of Songs 1:4