How Can You Have Any Pudding If You Don't Eat Your Meat?
What an amazing morning I am having today. Coffee…sun’s out…quietly thanking God for how amazing He is.
I was thinking about an article I just recently posted. How I had kinda “gotten into some things” that on purpose were meant for us to consider principles a little deeper than “see…spot…run”.
In my experience, some of my most rich encounters with God were after seasons of digesting concepts that had made me work the “grey matter” to really get a grasp on their meaning. Eventually, “revelation” came…and what seemed at first so difficult to understand, became not only something so obvious, but had opened the doors to even more blessed experiences in God.
So here a few thoughts…shorter than my previous post…but a good follow-up. Actually…just finished editing. Nope. Not shorter…but soooooo good!
THAT’LL MAKE YOU THINK
"...as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." II Peter 3:16
Let’s start our discussion by taking notice of the comments made by one of the premier apostles of Jesus. Someone who had not just heard the testimonies, but personally walked with the Lord. For well over three years he walked with Jesus as He powerfully ministered and taught prior to His death and burial and resurrection. Peter had “hands on training” concerning raising the dead…casting out devils…healing the blind and crippled. He experienced late nights hearing from the lips of God Himself in the flesh…principles of how the kingdom of heaven works and is impressed upon this world. Peter also witnessed firsthand the resurrection of the Lord. He was part of the Lord’s audience for 40 days after the resurrection and was instructed personally by Someone Who had risen from the dead and could teach clearly in minute detail about it!
With that “resume” of education…taught by none other than God in the flesh Himself…Peter had to admit concerning the Apostle Paul, that within his theology were things “hard to understand”. Peter conceded there were things Paul talked about that are going to make folks scratch their head in wonderment saying “What in the world is he talking about?” He also said clueless people would take those things and mess them up so bad they were going to get themselves in serious trouble…as they do the rest of the Scriptures.
Did you ever catch that…that Peter equated Paul’s writings as equal to the Scriptures themselves? And as with the Scriptures, they can be so misunderstood that folks can take those principles and make an ugly mess of both their own lives and those who wasted their time listening to them!
But even with this…
It is important we consider that “difficult” or “hard to understand “does not mean something's not true or shouldn't be written and/or taught!
Peter didn’t tell Paul to stop teaching “hard to understand” principles because people will stop coming to his church or will really botch things up because he was offending them by making them think!
The Scriptures are clear that there are times we need to be challenged conceptually and grow in our ability to understand the things of the Spirit.
The writers of the New Testament were clear that we should understand that the capacity of the born-again spirit to understand by “revelation” is infinitely able to grasp the principles of God…no matter how “deep” they may seem. And that the knowledge we have been designed to understand is the result of God Himself interacting with our spirit resulting in the unveiling of things we could not have understood any other way.
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…” Ephesians 1:17
I have heard Pastors talk about people in their congregations and how they can be just “dumb sheep”.
God’s children are not dumb sheep!
We are all sons of the Most High God with a capacity to both think and act like Him. And for me personally…as a Pastor…I have decided I will address my congregation and those I minister to when I travel as the “sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 3:26) that they are. I have no qualms placing a demand on them to learn how to cooperate with that “spirit of wisdom and revelation” the Apostle Paul prayed that God would give to His people. To the end all of us would live “otherworldly” as ambassadors of God in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Paul commanded that we are “…to be renewed in the spirit of your minds…” Ephesians 4:23.
The “spirit of the mind” is the “seat” wherein the greatest feasts of wisdom and knowledge will be enjoyed. And an able minister will understand how to get the most effect by reaching that place with his instruction in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
It is important to me to continually remember that as a minister, I am ministering to actual spirit beings that happen to live in and through a body…which one day is going to pass away. It is true my words must pass through synapses and neurons to get to the heart or “spirit man”. But His words that are “spirit and they are life” (John 6:63) have that very ability…that very nature to reach deep into the spirit of man…take root…and produce the life of God contained in them. And as a minister…I am supposed to understand this process and be educated to cooperate with it fluently.
It is here within this process that the most wonderful “mysteries” unfold and become incredible blessings to anyone who will have the stomach for them! Those sayings that are “hard to understand” will take their delight within a man’s spirit and what can seem difficult eventually will find their meanings and their power released exponentially within the heart of the man.
The Word of God deals with spirit and material/earthly interaction. The principles that involve the spirit realm interacting with this one through the human spirit does take understanding that is by necessity going to be a little bit more involved than "Jesus loves me this I know." This makes it imperative that the able minister bridge these things in his instructions.
We have lost many battles individually and corporately as the Church because our people have not learned that “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (II Corinthians 10:4)
In other words, we are to be educated and trained concerning this other worldly equipment. That it is necessary to do so and if we do not understand these things, we cannot possibly be as successful as we are meant to be. These weapons are infused with divine power. These things are not going to be understood if our church services are only concerned with self-help principles and are so watered down out of fear of offending anything that breathes!
I have a dear friend of mine…internationally renowned and stands literally in front of hundreds of thousands of people…mentioned there are churches in the US that he is not asked to minister in because he is “too Pentecostal”. In other words, though the Lord through Him is producing devastating results in multiple nations, the American people in those churches will not be able to stomach the “meat” and substance and COST of the Word of God.
That is embarrassing folks…simply embarrassing.
The enemy thrives in areas where the church is solely a place of counseling and self-help and morale boosting speeches. What Satan does greatly fear, are those who understand the ways of the spirit and have learned to be effective in those worlds. And to do this…frankly…we’re going to have to “go to school” on some things and take the time to learn.
DON’T BE SUCH A BABY!
"Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Hebrews 5:13-14
It can seem that a popular trend today with Pastors and the Church Growth Gurus (ooohhh…I think that’s a keeper) …is just keep keeping things "simple" in our services. We spend all our effort to create a church where there doesn’t need to be much effort! We don’t want to lose anyone because they may not keep up or maybe get offended since it’s going to take more than a 15-minute pep talk to get these things across.
And I get where they are coming from…I really do. You don’t shove a thick heavily marbled ribeye steak down the throat of your 3-month-old.
Yet our job as the Church is to “feed as they need” (another keeper). We are not feeding people as they should if we are always "so simple a caveman can get it". Yes…feed the child as they are able. But let’s not leave them where they are at! My children matured because as they grew older I placed demands on them that indeed made them uncomfortable and forced them to grow up.
The Scriptures, as in the verse above, rebuke those who have not exercised through training and then practice…which WILL involve effort by the way…to get to a place where their diet consists of "meat" as well as a quick ice cream cone.
I heard the Lord say clearly and forcefully to me one day...
"My people are starving, and I am not happy about it."
I’ll admit to those out there that have endured endless hours of confusing blather at the hands of ministers that “turn bread into stone” …that there can be at times a lot of hot air with little substance. There is a major difference between "meat" and truth that forces you to have to think and pray earnestly about…verses someone who at worst just doesn't have a clue…or at best has not thoroughly digested the subject themselves.
Long-windedness is not necessarily an indication of understanding and substance…it can very well be the exact opposite!
I have heard sermons that could have been done in a 30-minute session if the minister had digested thoroughly what it was they were trying to communicate. Their talking an hour and a half didn't mean they were deep...it meant they were as confused as their audience!
So then…how did Jesus do it?
Jesus did both! He ministered in simplicity one day…and in another He discussed things that even after 2000 years we are still praying and studying to totally figure out!
The same Jesus that talked about "suffer the little children to come to Me" is the same one Who talked about flesh eating and blood drinking!
When Jesus talked about "...eating His flesh and drinking His blood..." John 6:54...He was talking about "hard to understand" things. A subject that was very rich in meaning and would have been such a tremendous blessing to the audience if they would have hung around long enough to understand, had become to the confused a reason to be offended. Their reaction of offense though did not mean it wasn't truth or didn't need to be said! Just because you or I do not understand something as of yet, doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t fully grasp it and has validated it as true!
"...in whom (Jesus) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge..." Colossians 2:3
The gospel and its concepts can more than keep up with anything the greatest minds of the earth ever produced. In Christ, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found. Wisdom and knowledge are extravagant treasures. Though “treasures” do not necessarily come easy, treasure by definition implies incredible wealth worth the effort of acquiring. Wisdom and knowledge are treasures. They are of immeasurable value. A treasure is not something that comes easily or is for those who have no maturity or appreciation for it.
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7
In the Person of Jesus…the Second Person of the Godhead Himself…are found the principles on which the universe was formed and are upheld. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Hebrews 1:3
It is clear all these things are made freely available, if one has the patience and faith and discipline to apply themselves to it. “Though it costs all you have…” Solomon wrote concerning wisdom. Though it costs dearly to search out and know Him who is the Alpha and the Omega, He is clear that He is available and willing to share all He knows with those “who have ears to hear.”
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” I Corinthians 2:12
And should not our local churches be breeding grounds for those who have learned to search out the things of God as the Holy Spirit instructs them…to have the “eyes of their understanding enlightened” that the world could come and sit at the feet of those thoroughly possessed with heavenly knowledge and grace? Should not a Pastor understand how to instruct those on how to find those “ears” that can hear and understand the wisdom of the ages.
This is my goal…my aim…my purpose in life. The size of my congregation is immaterial…the depth of the peoples’ walk is the goal that He may receive the glory due His name. And to the degree our understanding grows, it will be to that degree He has children that He can be satisfied. A family that can sit around the table with Him…listen to God Himself expound upon priceless things…and then turn to His children and ask if they understand?
Then to see Him smile as they respond “Yes sir…we ‘get it’”.
I’m going to have this…and if you go to my church…so will you.