I Press In

Brandy Monnerjahn

But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” Luke 8:46

 

We all want to be touched by God but many stand in service week after week wondering, “When, when is God going to come and touch me?” I can remember being one of those people. I stood watching others get touch and wondered, “When would it be my turn?” “When would God come and touch me?” One day as I sat in service, the guest speaker began to teach on the woman with the issue of blood. He talked about the crowd surrounding Jesus and how they were all pressing in to receive something from Him. Then he began to speak of her desperation. She was painfully conscious of her need for a touch. A feeling of desperation began to pound in my chest. I knew that there was a desire in my heart to be touched but God always seemed to be passing me by. Then the Lord began to speak, “She pressed in.” The woman with the issue of blood acknowledged her need and acted. I had sat in service after service waiting for a touch but had I never taken action? Had I ever pressed through and touched Him instead of waiting for Him to touch me. Matthew Henry states, “A poor woman applied herself to Christ, and received mercy from him by the way. If we do but touch, as it were, the hem of Christ’s garment by living faith, our worst evils will be healed;” I needed to apply myself. I needed to push through my crowded flesh and reach out for Him. I began to take steps to touch Him. I spent my morning bible time reading about people who were desperate for a touch; Zacchaeus climbed a tree, Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night, a woman who was not to be in a public place pushed through a crowd. I stood in every prayer line not wondering when He would touch me but excited about when I would get the opportunity to touch Him. My walk became less about why He hadn’t touched me and more about what I was willing to do to touch Him. That moment in my life has made all the difference. When I feel far away from Him, I know He hasn’t moved so I begin to shake myself until I reach the hem of His garment. I deliberately touch Him and His power consumes every inch of my doubt.

WHAT DOES DESPERATE LOOK LIKE?

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” Mark 9:25

We all hate the dreaded phone call. You know, the one that the nurse calls back and you have to come in and talk to the doctor because something showed up on the X-ray? Or the door bell rang in the middle of the night and it’s the police telling of the nightmare you never dreamed of. I will never forget getting “served” January 1st one new year indicating a lawsuit. God has a way of getting our attention through such a thing called LIFE! At some point we just have to hit the wall and become desperate.

In the above passage there is a story about a demon possessed boy and even after the disciples prayed for him, he was not delivered. His father had reached the desperate stage and called out to Christ to help his unbelief. I can’t imagine watching as a parent over a child that tries over and over again to kill himself. Sometimes Christ gives Satan full advantage so the victory will become Christ’s alone. Human agency is utterly powerless and only when we’ve spent it all that His glory shines the greatest.

How does desperate look to you today? But look here, the master comes soon enough. It is almost as if Christ surveys the field of battle and begins to strategize which way He will begin the attack.

He comprehends the difficulties of the case in an instant. Our part is to yield and turn to the Lord with all of our heart. And like this poor father, cry out and say “help my unbelief!

Spurgeon says, “for my Master will soon stoop over you, and take you by the hand and lift you up, and your comfort shall begin, because the unclean spirit is cast out. “Ah! he means to destroy me,” says the soul under conviction. Nay, soul, God does not destroy those whom he convinces of sin. Men do not plough fields which they have no intention to sow. If God ploughs you with conviction he will sow you with gospel comfort, and you shall bring forth a harvest of his glory. His matchless grace can encounter no rival.”

God honors the desperate and there is no shame when we call out to him confessing our unbelief. Let him survey the battle and soon enough deliverance will come!

HAPPY

Phil.3:8 – More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

This verse gets to the very heart of life, the pursuit of happiness. That basic motive in everyone’s heart is often that huge elephant in the room. Everyone knows it is there but no one would ever acknowledge it. That is except for Paul, he had been chasing that elusive elephant all his life. If you still don’t know what I am talking about let me be really specific; all humans are directed, motivated, and empowered in the pursuit of happiness as the basic drive of their life. Many are not even aware that this is what motivates them but it is always present. Paul is saying he found out why that desire for happiness is the common denominator in everyone’s life. The businessman in pursuit of success is pursuing happiness. The athlete in pursuit of a championship is after the happiness that would bring. Even the prostitute in her humiliation is looking for happiness at what lies after the next trick. Drug addicts, alcoholics, policemen, and politicians (and preachers too) are looking for happiness they hope their choices will bring. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this verse.

“Young people commonly seek pleasure in company, and oftentimes spend much of their time in mirth among their companions; but none have such delightful company as those that live in the exercise of religion, and virtue, and holiness, for they have their conversation in heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ has become a friend and companion. Oftentimes when they are alone and seem to the world to spend their time solitarily, they indeed have company enough. It is their delight to withdraw from all the world, the more freely and intimately to converse with Jesus Christ…. The Father and the Son come to seek young people and walk and make their abode with them, and manifest themselves to them. They have an intercourse with heaven by meditation, and prayer, and other duties of religion. They with a spiritual eye do see Christ, and have access to him to converse; and Christ by his spirit communicates himself to them, so that there is a spiritual converse between them and Christ Jesus. And must not this needs be the pleasantest and the happiest company?”

Edwards spoke about young people in their pursuit of happiness among friends. Edwards said that even the youth could find their greatest happiness in the pursuit of the Lord. So Paul and Edwards came to the same conclusion, ultimate happiness is found in Christ alone.

TO KNOW HIM

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.

Do you know Jesus? That is a common phrase heard amongst evangelical believers. The problem with this is it is easily misunderstood. What does it mean to know Jesus? Does it mean have you answered an altar call, or prayed the prayer ? Or does it mean you have answered the question right when you are asked are you going to heaven when you die? Paul talked about “knowing” Jesus in today’s verse. For Him it wasn’t a casual statement or something that happened once upon a time, it was a deep, intimate relationship with the Lord that was increasing throughout his life. It wasn’t an add on in his life, for Paul knowing Christ was his life. Paul said that to know Christ was the most valuable possession that he owned and the very pursuit of all his energy. His ministry seemed to be an overflow of his pursuit. Here is how Steven Fry describes Paul’s statement.

“From a prison cell in Rome, Paul pens this personal letter in which he comes to terms with an accomplished past and a confining present. After his past as a persecutor of God’s people and through his “superior” religious activities as a Pharisee, Paul came to the liberating conclusion that all is rubbish compared to knowing the Lord! Freed from the stagnation of yesterday’s victories and the emotional paralysis of yesterday’s mistakes, Paul knew that the only thing that ultimately counted was knowing the Lord and being obedient to His will. Not only was his past subsumed by this singular passion, his present imprisonment could not snatch from him the joy of knowing Christ. Prison chains could not keep him from pursuing God, nor dull his effectiveness in ministry. Paul’s desire to know Christ sprang from no other motive but to enjoy Him. He wanted Christ for Christ’s sake, not his own. He was a lover of God, not a user of God.”

I love that statement, He wanted Christ for Christ’s sake. So let me ask that question once again, do you know Jesus? Do you know Him as your passion, your goal in life and your friend? Answering this question is where life begins.

AMBUSHED BY GOD

Is.30:18 – Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.

This is a very precious promise from Isaiah the prophet. In the original language there is a powerful shade of meaning in the word “wait”. This word implies some sort of ambush. Isaiah pictures the Lord waiting at strategic places in our lives to ambush us; He wants to ambush us with His compassion and mercy. It’s easy for us to get restless when we are waiting for some sort of breakthrough, the Lord uses those seasons to teach us why we are seeking Him after all. The breakthrough involves intimacy with Him, His gifts and provisions became secondary. I can imagine Him as the Lion of the tribe of Judah waiting in the bushes of the turns in our lives waiting to pounce on us to devour us with His love. Here is how Dick Mills sees this verse.

“The mercy in store for them is very affectingly expressed. He will wait to be gracious; he will wait till you return to him and seek his face, and then he will be ready to meet you with mercy. He will wait, that he may do it in the best and fittest time, when it will be most for his glory, when it will come to you with the most pleasing surprise. He will continually follow you with his favors, and not let slip any opportunity of being gracious to you. He will stir up himself to deliver you, will be exalted, will be raised up out of his holy habitation, that he may appear for you in more than ordinary instances of power and goodness; and thus he will be exalted, that is, he will glorify his own name. This is what he aims at in having mercy on his people.”

So maybe you feel like you have been forgotten or forsaken. Let this season in your life increase your hunger for Him. Rather than forgotten you are remembered. He is looking for the perfect moment to ravish you with His love and bring restoration to the broken places of your life. Let this verse be a word from the Lord for you, “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him”.

FOUNTAIN IN YOUR SOUL

Eph.5:18,19 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Being drunk in the Spirit is not some new bizarre twist on Christianity forged in the halls of charismania. Spiritual intoxication is as old as communion or any other sacred part of our Christian faith. Even though this intoxication is often characterized by laughter and extreme joy it is saturated with the very holiness of the Lord. Actually it has erupted throughout church history often scandalizing segments of the body of Christ. It has often been connected to critical seasons for the church, equipping Christians for the persecution and temptations that are rampant in the world. Here is how Augustine described spiritual intoxication and drinking in his day.

“The Holy Spirit has come to abide in you; do not make him withdraw; do not exclude him from your heart in any way. He is a good guest; He found you empty and He filled you; He found you hungry and He satisfied you; He found you thirsty and He has intoxicated you. May He truly intoxicate you! The Apostle said, “Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery.” Then, as if to clarify what we should be intoxicated with, he adds, “But be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart”. Doesn’t a person who rejoices in the Lord and sings to Him exuberantly seem like a person who is drunk? I like this kind of intoxication. The Spirit of God is both drink and light.”

Many have left the church in our generation because of a dissatisfaction that has developed in their souls. Churches have scrambled and morphed into a culturally acceptable model to try to keep the crowds. The changes in church hasn’t helped meet the nagging thirst that is in the dissatisfied souls of this age. The solutions are as old as the gospel itself, man is thirsting for God and nothing less will do. The solution for today’s world is the same as the one that has surfaced throughout history. Man is thirsty for living water, the water that becomes a veritable fountain in our souls.

WITHDRAW THE VEIL

Rev.1:17 – When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.

Have you ever fallen under the power? I used to think it was bogus. To me it was an embarrassing part of the charismatic renewal that I wanted nothing to do with. What changed my opinion? My opinion changed when it happened to me. What is falling under the power anyway? One way to explain it would be this, becoming so aware of the things of the spiritual world that you lose the ability to function normally in this world. It’s what happened to John on the isle of Patmos, Paul when he was converted on the Damascus Road, and Daniel when he was interceding for his nation. Today it often happens when the power of the Spirit falls upon an individual or a group of individuals and they end up on the floor experiencing His glorious presence. Jonathan Edwards often saw this manifestation in his services, here is part of his explanation.

“Let us rationally consider what we profess to believe of the infinite greatness of the things of God, the divine wrath, the divine glory, and the divine infinite love and grace in Jesus Christ, and the vastness and infinite importance of the things of eternity; and how reasonable is it to suppose that if it pleases God a little to withdraw the veil, and let in light into the soul, and give something of a view of the great things of another world in their transcendent and infinite greatness, that human nature, that is as the grass, a shaking leaf, a weak withering flower, should totter under such a discovery? Such a bubble is too weak to bear the weight of a view of things that are so vast. Alas! What is such dust and ashes, that it should support itself under the view of the awful wrath of infinite glory and love of Jehovah! No wonder therefore that it is said, “No man can see me and live.”

There was a season when Jonathan’s wife Sarah was experiencing this phenomenon in her life. He said there were certain words (like Holy Spirit) that he would avoid using at home because it would set her off. Its not falling or not falling that makes any difference. What matters is having a glimpse behind the veil; when that happens you might find yourself as a heap of joy stuck to the floor.

THE SHOCKING WORK OF GOD

Mk.5:15 – They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened.

I have been attracted to the Great Awakening for many years now. This awakening was closely connected to the birth of our nation in 1776, maybe it will be connected to this season we are currently in. We need another national awakening desperately. Jonathan Edwards and his congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts were closely connected to the birth of the Great Awakening. His account of its beginning told of some shocking conversions. Here is one of those accounts.

“And then it was in the latter part of December that the Spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in, and wonderfully to work among us; so that there were, very suddenly, one after another, five or six persons that were to all appearance savingly converted; and some of them wrought upon in a remarkable manner. Among these, I was surprised with the relation of a young woman that had been one of the greatest company-keepers in the whole town, in whom there appeared evident a glorious work of God’s infinite power and sovereign grace; a new and truly broken, sanctified heart. Yet I was filled with concern about the effect it might have on others, and was ready to conclude (though too rashly) that some would be hardened by it in carelessness and looseness of life, and would take occasion to reproach religion; but the event was the reverse to a wonderful degree. God made it, I suppose, the greatest occasion of awakening others, of anything that ever came to pass in the town. I have had abundant opportunity to know the effect it had, by my private conversation with many. The news of it seemed as a flash of lightning upon the hearts, both of young people and others… The noise among the dry bones waxed louder and louder. All other talk but about spiritual and eternal things was thrown by. All the conversation in all companies, and upon all occasions, was upon these things only; except so much as was necessary for people’s carrying on their ordinary secular business.”

The woman who was a “company keeper” was probably the least likely candidate in Northampton to be a catalyst for revival. Her life was scandalous but the grace of God apparently made her conversion a sign and a wonder to her town. Who knows, maybe you too can become a sign and wonder to upend your community. What does it take? A life touched by God is where it all starts. From there, it seems to spread like a fire in a dry land. Before long, your whole community can become a raging fire.

THAT BLASTED BURNING BUSH

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS- “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” Ex.3:2 Everyone has experienced it, the day eternity knocked at your door. When our life got divinely, supernaturally interrupted. We were going one way just to turn around and go the other. Life before was dull, the sights and sounds around us boring and offensive. Everyday was another letdown and people just annoyed us. I laugh when I think of poor Moses! He too was leading an idyllic life shepherding sweet sheep, married to a great wife and having wonderful darling kids. He could almost put his past, Egypt, and his kinfolks all behind. Life was good until……that blasted bush chased him down. The commander of heaven and earth who never sleeps nor rests found him and had enough of Moses daydreaming his life away. McClaren says, “His former impetuous confidence had all been beaten out of him. Time was when he was ready to take up the rôle of deliverer at his own hand; but these hot days were past, and age and solitude and communion with God had mellowed him into humility. His recoil was but one instance of the shrinking which all true, devout men feel when designated for tasks which may probably make life short, and will certainly make it hard. All prophets and reformers till to-day have had the same feeling. Men who can do such work as the Jeremiahs, Pauls, Luthers, Cromwells, can do, are never forward to begin it. He works with ‘bruised reeds,’ and breathes His strength into them.”What a precious divine call Moses heard that eternal day! God called him by name and Moses returned the call saying ; “here am I”. Whatever was on the bush jumped on Moses and Moses left his quiet obscure life of peace and tranquility. I wish I could say his wife and kids were skipping right along. I wish I could say Moses spent his next 40 years laying around basking in his success. But in the middle of it all, Moses is looked at as the one of the greatest men of the Old Testament and he did what the Lord asked him to do. He was divinely interrupted! From the moment he was found floating in the river to being raised in Pharaoh’s house he looked for the heavenly reward choosing to suffer affliction. That blasted burning bush saved his life, brought him into his heavenly reward and delivered a whole nation out of bondage. What is your burning bush? Have you’ve experienced it? Embraced it? Or are you running away from your calling out of some stupid offense? Way too many Christians have left the business of the kingdom cause there so called God didn’t jump through enough hoops for them. Let the fire of the bush consume you!

UNUSUAL VISITATION

Acts 3:19 – Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

It seems like everybody knows we need an awakening and many are calling for a Third Great Awakening in our land; I’m not sure everyone knows what they are asking for. Revival often gets quite messy, it never comes the way we think, and many times not in the way we want. The First Great Awakening found great resistance in the American colonies in the 1700’s. Jonathan Edwards published an account of its early beginning in his church called A FAITHFUL NARRATIVE. The folks in Northampton were quite surprised at the way many were effected when that revival began. Here is a glimpse into one woman’s experience.

“There is a pious woman in this town that is a very modest bashful person, that was moved by what she heard of the experiences of others earnestly to seek to God to give her more clear manifestations of himself, and evidences of her own good estate, and God answered her request, gradually gave her more and more of a sense of his glory and love, which she had with intermissions for several days, till one morning the week before last she had it to a more than ordinary degree, and it prevailed more and more till towards the middle of the day, till her nature began to sink under it, as she was alone in the house; but there came somebody into the house, and found her in an unusual, extraordinary frame. She expressed what she saw and felt to him; it came to that at last that they raised the neighbors, [for] they were afraid she would die; I went up to see her and found her perfectly sober and in the exercise of her reason, but having her nature seemingly overborne and sinking, and when she could speak expressing in a manner that can’t be described the sense she had of the glory of God, and particularly of such and such perfections, and her own unworthiness, her longing to lie in the dust, sometimes her longing to go to be with Christ, and crying out of the excellency of Christ, and the wonderfulness of his dying love; and so she continued for hours together, though not always in the same degree.”

What is being described in this account is what often happens when humans come in contact with divine glory; it is just too much to bare. Maybe a dose of this glory would help us move from man centered seeker sensitive services, into meetings where the glory of the Lord is welcomed. Do it again Lord.