Friday, 26 November 2004

Another November Blog

The following passage from Deuteronomy 11:10-15 was a word which the Lord used some twenty years ago in initially opening my eyes to see that there was something more and better than the institutional church life in which I had been involved for nearly half a century;

"For the land which you are entering to take possession of is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it with your feet, like a garden of vegetables; but the land which you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land which the Lord your God cares for , for the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it , from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. And if you will obey my commandments which I command you this day to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your soul, He will give the rain for you land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be full."

For me the garden of vegetables in the land of Egypt was a picture of institutional church life in which I had spent most of my life. It demands so much human input like planning programmes, raising finance, recruiting personnel, advertising etc. It is all hard work, like irrigating the desert plot with a treadmill waterwheel. And the result is a small patch of productivity in the wilderness, which needs constant work just to keep it alive and going.

The land of God's promise on the other hand was to be entirely His care. He said He would provide the water by the rain from heaven in its due time, and He would see that the vineyards, the fields of crops and the cattle would all flourish. What a contrast!

What would be required of us? Just three simple things:
" Our wholehearted love.
" Our unquestioning obedience to His word.
" Our willing service.

It is these same three simple things that Jesus asked of His disciples in John 14:15-24. Read these verses for yourself.

It is my prayer that, for some out there who read this blog, these words spoken to Moses in the distant past of Israel's history, and the words of Jesus recorded by John will do for them what they did for me, and open for them a door of release from the realm of religious obligations to the institutional church system into the joyous freedom of living in the land which the Lord Himself cares for, and in which their only obligations are to live each day in close love-relationship with Him, and to obey His voice.

Note too that this land of promise is NOT LIKE what we have come out from. It is sadly possible to come out of the institution and end up with something just like what we had left. I see more and more evidence of this in some branches of the current so-called House-Church Movement We need to lay aside our ideas of what we think the land should be like, and simply walk into it in humble trust, letting the Lord determine the form and structure of our relationships with others who share our venture of faith. God's thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are our ways God's ways. His thoughts and ways are much higher than ours.(Isaiah 55:8-9)

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