Receiving the Prophet

If you had a tap which could pour good things into your life, would you close the tap? No-one would do that! You’d be stupid to block a pipe that brought you good things. You’d be an idiot to turn off a tap that brought liquid gold into your hands.

But people do that very thing all the time. People shut down the supply of good things God has for them, without the slightest hesitation. They even do it with arrogance of heart, feeling good about it.

Don’t look at me like that! If you’ve been reading these posts long enough you’ll know that I don’t make such assertions without a valid point behind it. So, put off your scepticism and let me poke a pointy stick at your heart.

The Spiritual Spout

God’s tap or supply line into our lives is often through an anointed person who comes as God’s agent. In fact the church is established on a set of such anointed and appointed people. The Apostle Paul listed five specific types of ministry person in the church: apostle; prophet; teacher; evangelist; and pastor. These people are described as “gifts” to the church. So individuals are picked up by God, given a specific ministry task by God, and then sent into the church world as God’s gift to the Christians.

“When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” Ephesians 4:8

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” Ephesians 4:11 [Christians refer to these as either the ‘ascension ministries’ – because verse 8 mentions Christ’s ascension – or the ‘5 Fold Ministries’, because there are five of them]

These men are simply that. They are human. Their mission is divine, but they are only human. This means they will bring their human limitations into their role and tasks. They will be subject to the same foibles and issues which are common to everyone else, such as pride, fear, insecurity, error, reactions, ambition, greed, forgetfulness, foolishness, and so on.

So God’s spiritual spout is often a clunky pipe that we have no difficulty finding fault with. And that sets us up for turning off the tap.

Limiting the Flow

We measure out the level of flow from God’s taps. We either open or close the tap, based on how we receive the person who God sends along as His gift to us. When we welcome a prophet, as a prophet, we have the tap wide open and we receive all that the prophet has to give us. When, on the other hand, we become offended by the prophet’s manner, speech, message, or whatever, we may choose to not accept the prophet as a prophet. We may rather choose to see him as the limited human that he is. We could be justified in finding fault with the prophet’s humanity. But we may also pay a price by our choice to limit the flow. Note the warning given by Jesus

“He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.” Matthew 10:41

When you choose not to receive the prophet as a prophet, but just as a man, you get a lesser input than the prophet’s input would have been.

Biblical Example

A blind man, named Bartimaeus [bar = son, so he was the son of Timaeus], heard that Jesus was passing by so he called out to get healed. The result was a miracle of healing as his sight was fully restored. What I want you to note in this situation is that Bartimaeus opened the pipe to receive his healing, while everyone else walked along without a miracle.

“And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passes by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, you Son of David, have mercy on me.” Luke 18:36-38

Note that the crowd called Jesus by his human designation, as “Jesus of Nazareth”. Jesus was from Nazareth, where he grew up with his family. This was an accurate title and description. But it was also a limiting title and description. Jesus is much more than a man who grew up in Nazareth.

Jesus came as the Son of God, in human form and as the fulfilment of the promise that a descendent of King David would come with power and rule on God’s behalf. Bartimaeus had faith that Jesus of Nazareth was that descendent of King David, so he called him “Son of David”. By doing this the blind man was opening the pipe – he was receiving Jesus as a prophet and a man of God, not just a bloke from Nazareth.

If Bartimaeus had respected Jesus as a good teacher and a wonderful man from Nazareth, he would not have been miraculously healed. He received the “prophet’s reward” only because he received Jesus as a prophet.

What About You?

If you had a tap which could pour good things into your life, would you close the tap?

If God had people around you who were called of God as His servants, would you receive from them? Do you receive from those who God has called? Do you respect them and honour them as God’s servants? Or are you more distracted by their human failings and the fact that they don’t completely fit your requirements?

Do you receive your mum and dad as the people God gave you to honour? Do you respect and honour the minister of your church? When you hear of people who are being mightily used by God, do you find fault with them or do you thank God that a pipe of blessing has been opened up?

You may already have missed out on amazing graces from God, just by your opinionated attitudes about the humans who God has chosen to use. God may even specifically send some rather human people along, just to challenge your pride and force you to humble yourself in order to get a blessing. Remember that God gives grace to the humble, but He resists the proud. If you are too proud to honour your father or to receive from the servants of the Lord, then you are the one who is turning off the tap and closing the spout where the blessing comes out.

Building Faith or Sharing Doubts

Do your friends build your faith or pull you down with doubts? Since you desperately need ‘faith’ in your life, in order to please God, you are wise to protect yourself from those who will pull it down.

Let me remind you that faith is the thing the Bible says will “please” God. If you want to please God you must be a person of faith. Faith is not something reserved for the religious. It is vital for everyone who ever hopes to have God’s help or any kind of relationship with Him.

“Without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Sharing Doubts

Many years ago I heard a preacher tell of a conversation he had with a minister who was heading to a conference. The conference brought together theological people from many places, so they could “share their doubts” about the Bible with one another.

Such a gathering is preposterous. It celebrates the very antithesis of faith. And since Christianity is ‘faith’ based, there is no prize for promoting and propagating doubts. If the people around you pull down your faith then you need to shield yourself against that, not dive into it with gusto. It is no wonder that many men of the cloth (priests, ministers and theologians) have empty hearts and a vain religion. They do not value and protect their faith in God.

Building Faith

Faith is found in people in different measures. It is possible to have “great faith” (Matthew 8:10). We can be “weak in faith” (Romans 4:19). We can build up our faith (Jude 1:20). We can have “little faith” (Luke 12:28).

Faith can be built up as noted above in Jude 1:20. We are even told how to build up our faith. The two main instruments we have for encouraging our faith are the Word of God and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Jude tells us to build up our faith by the gift of the Holy Spirit which we know as praying in tongues. Jude calls this “praying in the Holy Spirit”.

“But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” Jude 1:20

The other way to build up our faith is through hearing the preaching of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul points us to this means in his letter to the Romans, explaining that faith is produced by hearing the preaching of God’s Word.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

Build Up Your Faith

To encourage your faith make sure you listen to someone preaching a faith building message each week. You can do this much more easily than in previous generations, thanks to audio-recording. Listen to people who believe what the Bible teaches and who press in to see God’s power in their lives. Those people are seeking to live in faith, so they are likely to boost your faith in God.

Also make sure you associate with people who are moving in the power of God’s Holy Spirit and operating the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Your faith will be encouraged and your life impacted by the fresh experience of God in your life and among your friends.

Oh, and if someone invites you to a conference where everyone is going to share their doubts, don’t go!

The God Who is Not!

What is God to you? How do you come to Him? It may be that you are worshipping a God who does not exist! You may be trying to deal with a God who is Not what you think He is.

I take my case from a favourite text which I have mentioned before, but which tossed to me a refreshing new point of reflection just a few days ago. My text is on the topic of “faith”, which you know is a current theme for me. The text is Hebrews 11:6

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

I have pointed out often enough before that there are two key elements in our approach to God. We must believe two vital things. We must believe that God “exists”, just as the Bible describes Him. This is what is meant by the words “believe that he is” – that He is Exists.

We must also believe that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. That is, that He will act on our behalf.

Putting those two thoughts together, we must believe that God CAN do things and that He WILL do things for us.

That much is part of my regular discussion about faith. Now for some fresh thoughts I only noted last weekend. We are to “come to Him”. Not everyone comes to God. So faith puts us in a place of coming to God. If we have no faith in God we will not “come” to Him.

When we come to Him we should have only two thoughts in mind. We should believe that God exists: that He IS who and what the Bible says about Him. And we should believe that He will reward us if we come to Him: that He WILL do things on our behalf.

OK, are you ready? Here’s my question. What is MISSING from that verse?

“But without faith it is impossible to please him (God): for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Many people who think about “coming to God” hesitate because they don’t think He is a “rewarder”, but they think of Him as a judge, rebuker, annoyed parent or angry God. They think of Him being exasperated, reluctant or having to be cajoled or negotiated into some deal or other.

And so they DON’T have faith. Faith is significant because of what it DOESN’T include, just as much as for what it does include. People who don’t have faith don’t come to God, or don’t get any results from their attempts to come to God, because they are trying to approach a God who doesn’t exist.

They are trying to approach an angry potentate who despises them and is ready to knock their heads off. They think about approaching a God who must be bought with promises, negotiated into deals or fooled with flattery.

And so they never come to God! For those who come to God must believe that He is who the Bible says He is, and that He is a REWARDER! They are not to come to God as an angry God. If they do, then they are not coming in Faith! They are not to come to God as some exasperated, disinterested party, who must be conned into helping them. If they do, then they are not coming in Faith!

So, one of the most powerful ways to activate your faith is to come to an assurance that God loves you and plans to do you good. Even when He judges you for your sins, it is not because He despises you and is keen to throw you into hell. He rebukes and deals with you, only in order to see you blessed, because He loves you.

I exhort you to hurry into God’s presence. But be sure you are not approaching a God who is not! Come “boldly to the throne of grace” Hebrews 4:16, because you are confident that God is a Rewarder!