The World Looks Different Now

People have written books about ‘Worldview’ differences based on foundational ideas of socialism, new age, Christianity, materialism, etc. People interpret what they see based on their worldview so it’s valuable to understand their point of view when understanding them or interpreting their messages.

The Christian Worldview has two dimensions to it that I would like you to consider. One is the basic Christian concept of the world, with belief in God and man’s accountability to God, the saving work of Christ and Christian living.

Christians see people, material goods, meaning of life, value of life, what truth is, and many other things quite differently to those who are from a non-Christian perspective.

However, that Christian Worldview can be conceptual on the one hand and experienced on the other. That’s what I mean by the ‘two dimensions’ of that worldview.

When a person understands Bible truth and Christian concepts they can subscribe to them and use them as a grid through which to see and understand the world. In western society a century ago the prevailing worldview was Christian, and that influenced many aspects of society, such as law, morality, social mores, and so on.

However, to experience salvation and a living relationship with God through Christ is vastly different to subscribing to Christian ideas and values. A real faith experience not only influences our mind and understanding, but it transforms who we are.

For example, it is one thing to say we should be kind and forgiving, and quite another to have the Holy Spirit’s power within prompting us to respond like we’ve never done before. That’s far more than a matter of conceptual understanding. That’s the power of a transformed life.

“Do not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so you can prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

“I will give them a united heart and put a new spirit in them, and I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 11:19

“Anyone belonging to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone. All things are new for them.” 2Corinthians 5:17

It is no use trying to explain that difference, since it is experiential, not cognitive. It doesn’t come by analysis or practice, but by simply being transformed by God.

Many people who have come to faith have found that ‘The World Looks Different Now’. They not only see things differently, they feel different, and they have different stirrings within them, not just their own self at work, but God’s Holy Spirit at work within them.

Being ‘spiritual’, as in being born again and having God’s Holy Spirit within us, gives us capacity to see things from God’s spiritual perspective, aided by the promptings and insights provided by the Holy Spirit.

“People who are guided by the Spirit can make all kinds of appraisals of things” 1Corinthians 2:15

Spiritual people step off the treadmill of this life, where people try to make things happen based on their own efforts, and they rest in their relationship with God. 

“Why do you spend your money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” Isaiah 55:2

“They carved for themselves cracked water storage, unable to hold water” Jeremiah 2:13

Life is not about getting ahead, or being happy, or finding oneself, or proving ourselves to others, but life is about glorifying and serving God and enjoying the blessings of God, now and through eternity.

Now that you are God’s child your whole orientation of life is changed. Your attitude to what you do, think and say is seen in the light of your relationship with God. Your attitudes to this world and its trinkets and pleasures, it’s money and allure, changes. Your attitude to doing what is right, even if you don’t find any good in doing it, changes. Your attitude to sharing your faith and building God’s Kingdom changes. Your heart toward people, including the unsaved, those who are abandoned, those in need and those who are your enemies changes.

The years stretching ahead of you and the litter of your past life look different now. The goal for the end of your race looks different now. The value of shiny new things or the latest and the greatest gadgets looks different now. The value of sharing with people who love God deeply is different to what it was. The worth of studying the Bible or praying is different now.

Your life takes on new purpose and meaning, abandoning the idea that life is all about you, your happiness and you achieving what you deem important. You now have a world of new possibilities, new joys, new things to do, new people to meet, new prayers to pray and new faith to live out.

I trust for each of you that the joy of your salvation courses through you and you can continue to say, The World Looks Different Now.

Ask Me For the Nations

God has a global objective on the earth. Sometimes we can be blind to that, due to our narrow focus on what is happening around us. For instance, I have often heard people talk about what they think the spiritual tide might be today, either in decline of the church or in revival, based solely on what is happening in America or in their own country. While at the same time the very opposite might be happening on the other side of the globe, possibly impacting far more people than what they are focused on.

Let me share two scriptures to remind you of God’s global focus.

God made a wonderful promise to Abram when He called him. The promise was that through Abram (who was renamed Abraham) all the families of the earth would be blessed. The word ‘families’ is also translated as ‘nations’ since all the nations sprang from the family lines of Noah’s sons.

“I will bless those who bless you and curse him who curses you: and in you will all families (or nations) of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

Apostle Paul referred to that promise, explaining that the blessing God spoke of was the release of the Holy Spirit to all who put their faith in Christ.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’. In order that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13

So God’s salvation plan is not for His chosen people only, but for all the families of the earth. That’s why the good news about Jesus is to be preached in all the earth.

For those who hear God’s heart for the nations there is another Bible verse that is very encouraging. It comes from Psalm 2 where God speaks of Jesus as God’s begotten Son.

“The Lord said to me, You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and you will possess the ends of the earth. You will break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a clay pot.” Psalm 2:7-9

Here we see that Christ will be given all the nations of the earth as His inheritance. He will rule over them, as is described in other places, such as in Revelation 20:4-6.

Note too that the Book of Hebrews refers to the Psalm 2 picture of Christ as God’s Son, confirming this is talking about Jesus.

“Christ did not take for Himself the glory of being a high priest, but He was called by the One who said to Him: You are My Son; today I have begotten you.” Hebrews 5:5

What makes the promise in Psalm 2 of great import to Christians is that we walk in Christ’s ministry and power. The things promised to Christ are accessible by us as we minister in His name for His kingdom purposes. We are Christ’s ambassadors, operating in His authority.

“Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God was making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God.” 2Corinthians 5:20

“I will do whatever you ask in my name, so the Father will be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13

So, let’s look at the promise of nations given to Christ in Psalm 2.

“Ask of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and you will possess the ends of the earth. You will break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a clay pot.” Psalm 2:7-9

Firstly note that there is to be prayer – asking God for the nations. Do you have a heart for the nations? Then ask God for them, or for specific nations in particular.

I have heard of people who felt impressed to pray for nations they had not previously taken any interest in and either found themselves able to go there, or found people from that nation coming into their circle.

God has a heart for nations and intends for them all to be blessed – and every family in each nation. So it is only reasonable that, as God’s children, yielded to Him, you will find a calling in your heart for the nations or for some place among the nations where God wants you to take interest. You may be called to pray for that nation, or the people of the nation, or to go there, or to support those who can go there. Or maybe it’s to touch people from that nation who God brings across your path.

For some there will be a dispensation of authority to challenge evil in the nations.

“You will break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a clay pot.” Psalm 2:9

Through history God has raised men and women with divine authority to speak into nations and challenge wrong behaviour to some degree or other. This doesn’t mean we can be arrogant and cause trouble, but it means we can seek God about being given divine authority and influence, even in foreign lands, so that evil practices are checked – such as corruption, immorality, abuse, exploitation, theft and so on.

So as you wait on the Lord and seek Him, let me remind you of God’s instruction, given to Christ, and so available to us, ‘Ask Me For the Nations’.

Healing the Nations

Here’s a prophetic thought for you to think about.

The Word of God can speak to us as a prophetic inspiration. The Bible is the Word of God and it is the Sword of the Spirit.

“Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” Ephesians 6:17

The Word of God speaks to us in many ways. The Bible contains clearly stated truths and instructions for us to accept and act on. There are also symbolic meanings which can be applied more broadly – such as a principle, like living by faith or resisting the devil. These things don’t come with specific instructions on how they are to be done but are truths we apply as the Holy Spirit prompts us.

At times the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word as a sword to pierce us in some way, maybe bringing conviction or encouragement. 

For example a verse says that the wicked do not repay what is borrowed. The Holy Spirit might use it to convict someone to return a borrowed item.

“The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous are gracious and give generously.” Psalm 37:21

Some people find the Holy Spirit directing them by bringing a Bible verse to mind.

Care needs to be taken about random ideas people get from the Bible. Humorous writer Adrian Plass describes a man who felt led to Israel since every time he opened the Bible he found reference to Israel. Since the Bible principally focuses on Israel it’s only logical you would find many such references.

That’s why the Bible principle is that we are to confirm things by “the mouth of two or three witnesses”.

“Every matter must be established by testimony from two or three witnesses.’” 2Corinthians 13:1

If you think God is speaking to you then seek out godly counsel and confirmation to protect you from a presumption or misunderstanding.

The Bible also speaks figuratively or metaphorically, so a statement might have an apparent meaning but also another application. The Apostle Paul pointed this out, about God’s servants being paid by those they serve. An Old Testament rule is that an ox treading grain should not be stopped from eating it. Paul says that was inserted to refer to Christian ministers, even though it doesn’t say so in the Old Testament.

“It is written in the Law of Moses, Do not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain. Is God concerned for oxen? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for us, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.” 1Corinthians 9:9,10

The Holy Spirit can show us in the Word of God a hidden principle or application. God hides things and wants those who are diligent to dig them out, like digging for treasure.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” Proverbs 25:2
So in God’s Word there are things that can be missed. The enemy missed understanding God’s plan of salvation, even though it is hinted at in the Old Testament writings. So we too can miss things that are in the Bible. The Holy Spirit can prompt us to see those things and make connections that have significance to the way we serve the Lord.

This latter category is a prophetic insight, brought about by the Holy Spirit showing the connection or significance in God’s Word.

The great prophet Ezekiel had a prophetic vision from God about a river flowing from the Temple, described in Ezekiel 47.

“I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east” Ezekiel 47:1

Beside this river were many trees.

“Fruit trees of all kinds grow on each side of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” Ezekiel 47:12

This same river vision was given centuries later to the Apostle John and is recorded in the Book of Revelation.

“Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city street. On either side of the river stood a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit and yielding a fresh crop for each month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:1,2

Ezekiel saw many trees, but John saw one tree, or one type of tree, which was called the Tree of Life. 

That name takes us back to the Garden of Eden where God had planted the Tree of Life.

“Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is good looking and good for food; the Tree of Life also in the centre of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9

We can assume that the many trees seen by Ezekiel were all of the same type as the Tree of Life, which is what John called it.

And that brings us to the idea of trees. The Bible calls those who follow God as trees.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also will not wither; and what ever he does will prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3

“they will be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3

So putting those things together let me speak this prophetically for God’s people. Those who love the Lord and are led by God’s Holy Spirit carry God’s life, so they are a branch of the Tree of Life. Their ministry is to being ‘healing to the nations’, which might principally refer to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but which could also refer to the rescue and restoration of communities, as God enables.

Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit within you and see if you resonate with God’s call to do more than occupy your local space, but to step out and to touch the nations with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and bring healing to lives, families and communities, as people sample that which grows on your life, your testimony, your expression of the fruit of the Spirit.

You may be being called right now to the ministry of Healing the Nations.

Call Me, Lord

A wonderful thing we see in God’s dealings with mankind is the situation where God calls a man or woman to do His will and those people’s lives are transformed in response to that call.

Many of us are called, the Bible tells us, but not everyone responds to the call.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14

We know, in fact, that everyone is called by God to repent.

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now declares to men that all people everywhere should repent” Acts 17:30

“The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17

What I want you to see is the power of God built into God’s call. When God calls us all the power we need to fulfil the call is released in the call itself. When we respond to the call the power of God is released in us to enable that call to be fulfilled in us.

Here is a simple example of what I mean. The Apostle John was worshipping God one Sunday and God called John to “Come up here”, calling John into heaven where John was to receive divine revelation.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard sounded like a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up here, and I will show you things which must yet come to pass.” Revelation 4:1

Now this particular call was a pretty special one, but notice what happens. A heavenly voice calls John to ‘Come up here’. There is no way John can go to heaven any time he wants. He could only do it when invited. But the invitation also contained the power to make the thing possible.

“Immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Revelation 4:2

If John had not been called he would not have been transported to heaven. The call and the power to make the call possible were intrinsically linked.

When men in Old Testament times were called to become prophets the very call included God’s power to enable them to be prophets. We see that in the life of the prophet Amos.

“Amos replied to King Amaziah, I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. But the LORD took me from following the flock and said to me, Go, prophesy to My people Israel.” Amos 7:14,15

When God called Gideon to go to war with Midian the promise and power for victory were embedded in God’s call. Gideon took a lot of convincing, putting out fleeces and even needing the enemy to convince him that God had assigned him the victory.

God called Moses to set Israel free from Egyptian slavery and the power to make that happen was released to Moses in that call. Moses resisted the call and struggled through the early days of fulfilling God’s call, until he had seen so much of God’s sovereign power at work that he ended up being bold in God’s service.

Saul was called to be King of Israel, even though he felt quite inferior in himself. Yet he led Israel into battles and won decisively. He was called and anointed as king and God gave him all he needed to fulfil that call.

When we think God may be calling us to do something, we can be like Saul or Moses and try to get out of it. We might well fear the challenges we will be forced to face in responding to God’s call. But remember that with the call comes the power to fulfil the call.

So let’s look at some things that you have been called to do.

You are called to repent, and to love God and love your neighbour and love your enemies.

You are called to work the works of God, even greater works than Jesus did.

You are called to resist Satan and have him flee from you.

You are called to preach the gospel in season and out of season.

You are called to endure to the end and not be weary in doing the right things.

You are called to be holy as your Heavenly Father is holy.

There are many other things God calls each of His children to do.

None of those things is impossible for you, because with each call God is giving you the capacity, even the supernatural release of His power, to make it possible. You can turn to God and say, “If You have called me to do this then I believe You are releasing Your power in me to accomplish what You asked me to do.”

And then there are specific things each of us is asked to do by God, often through the quiet urging of the Holy Spirit within us.

Next time you sense one of those special promptings talk to the Lord and ask Him to release to you the power and grace to do the thing He is asking you to do.

God’s call on us is like God’s call on John to ‘Come up here’. If God is calling you to do it, God must be making a way for it to happen. Look for God’s grace and then go and do what God is calling you to do – in the power of the Lord. And, in view of the grace God gives with each call, you might like to pray, “Call Me, Lord!”

We Humbly Bow

Humility is not the way of our world. Each of us is constantly encouraged by our culture to think or ourselves, have things the way we want them, make the best impression, spend much on pleasing ourselves and looking successful and so on.

The advertising industry relies heavily on making people feel dissatisfied and then directing them to spend in certain ways in order to resolve those feelings. So people in our culture are overwhelmingly self focused and urged to stay that way.

In that environment it is easy for Christians to be caught up in that self focused thinking and to automatically sideline God in their lives, putting achievement of cultural values first.

Yet the Bible calls us to live humbly before God.

“God has shown you, mankind, what is right, and what the LORD requires of you. It is to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1Peter 5:6

“As God’s elect, holy and greatly loved, activate a heart of compassion, kindness, humility of mind, meekness, patient enduring” Colossians 3:12

That call to humility makes us misfits in our own culture.

As a movie trailer might put it …. “In a world where self is king one group of people live in defiance of all self interest and humbly bow their lives before an unseen God. What will become of them?”

How would being humble before God make you a misfit? Here are some possibilities.

Imagine God asked you to do something or to live in a manner that cut across the cultural norm. That would make you a misfit. 

Maybe that would be to sell all you have and give it to the poor.

“Jesus told him, To be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will create for yourself treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” Matthew 19:21

Maybe it would be to leave your comfortable environment and go to a place where your quality of life is compromised, such as the mission-field.

“Now the Lord told Abram, Get out of your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to a land I will show you” Genesis 12:1

Maybe it would be to forgive a great debt of money you could use to make yourself happy.

“The master summoned the servant and declared, You wicked servant! I forgave all your debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you?” Matthew 18:32,33

Maybe it would be to invite into your home those people no-one else wants to have around.

“When you put on a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, for they cannot repay you” Luke 14:13,14

Maybe it would be to devote yourself to helping the helpless, as Job did.

“I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. I was a father to the needy, And I investigated the case which I did not know.” Job 29:15,16

Maybe it would be to remain faithful to an unfaithful spouse, because that’s what you promised in your wedding vows.

“The LORD God of Israel says he hates divorce and when one covers violence with his garment, says the LORD of hosts. Therefore watch your spirit, that you don’t deal treacherously.” Malachi 2:16

Maybe it’s that you respect your parents’ wishes and follow their guidance, even when you want to go your own way.

“Honour your father and mother (which is the first commandment carrying a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2,3

How would it go if you said to people, “I’m sorry, I can’t join you in your plans because my God doesn’t allow it.”

Some might react as if you are accusing them. So I like the statement one dad came up with for his children: “Others may do those things, but we may not”. That way there was no sense of judgement of others, but maintaining of godly standard in the home.

People don’t like it when you don’t go along with them, such as Jesus reflected in his commentary about His generation.

“They are like children in the marketplace calling to one another, We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.” Luke 7:32

Your culture will not readily respect you for having values and standards that differ from theirs. Most people don’t tolerate ‘difference’ very well. So when you live humbly before your God you will be a misfit.

You don’t have to own the latest and the greatest, or live in the right street, or drive the right car, or have the right fashion. It’s much more important that you live humbly before your God. It’s much more important that you humble yourself before Him and leave your reputation in the eyes of others in His hands.

It’s more important that you seek God’s Kingdom as your first priority, leaving the other things in God’s hands because you know He will look after them.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these other things will be provided to you.” Matthew 6:33

The key here is not what you ‘do’, but what is in your heart. Humble yourself, not by what you do, but firstly by presenting yourself to God as His servant and giving all of your life to Him, willing to do whatever He asks of you.

It begins when ‘We Humbly Bow’.