What The Lord Said To Me Today
Passion For Jesus

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I've been carrying some words from Martin Luther around with me today: words about how the Holy Spirit operates in our lives; how He gives us a new dispostion; how he makes it possible for us to serve God willingly, cheerfully and with joy and gladness. Martin Luther had no charismatic movement in 1520, but he knew some truth about the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit takes a man who does not care about God and cares even less about having a Lord to obey and makes that man a willing and eager worshipper and servant of God. Such a man has the living Torah, Jesus, living on the inside. Luther said that when this happens, the man doesn't need a book to read and obey.

Perhaps it is because I view myself to have never been a part of the charismatic movement that I do not share the dissatisfaction that many seem to voice with it. I did not join something... Jesus pursued me and caught me. I was not in a movement...a living Holy Spirit came into my life and changed me. He gave me passion for God. I asked, and sought and knocked, and Jesus delivered in my life. Then, as with all of us, came the valleys.

The valleys come, when we feel as though we are dry bones. We have no joy, no cheer, no passion. In those times, we blame everyone but ourselves: the pastor isn't teaching right, the worship team needs to play new songs. We may go for days, or even weeks, feeling weary and run down and not knowing quite why we have lost our passsion and our zeal for God. Why do they come? Is it because of our own neglect? Perhaps. Is it attack of the enemy? Perhaps that as well. In any event, we find ourselves in these lowly predicaments, not feeling like mighty warriors and not coming close to being more than conquerors.

Jesus came to that Asian church of Ephesus and made such a charge against them: they had lost their first love. Yes they had works and concern for the commandments. They labored in the Lord and they were discerners, separating the true apostles from the false. Wow! They were doing a better job than the American church. Jesus told them "repent, and do the first works". He didn't tell these people to become Torah experts. They were to do the first works. Well, what were those?

Well, for one, they did radical acts in public. Acts 19:18-19 says that "many that believed came and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. A tidy sum, concerning our Lord was sold for thirty pieces of silver. As an accountant, I had fun calculating that the value of the Lord had increased by 1,666.6666666 times. Interesting: a whole lot of sixes there, extending out into infinity.

They were doing other things in Ephesus at first: this city of Diana. Everyone in Ephesus, great and small had silver shrines for Diana in their homes. But as verses 26 and 27 indicate in Acts 19, the profession of the silversmith in Ephesus was being endangered. The people weren't buying these silver shrines anymore. I dare say it, even though the scripture doesn't point it out, that they were probably beating those silver shrines to pieces with hammers. The scripture does hint at it when it says of Diana that the teachings of the apostles were causing that "her magnificence should be destroyed." Apparently, a whole lot of destroying of silver shrines of Diana was going on. How do I know? I've done the same. I've burned my books and destroyed my idols before, and it was glorious.

I owned a diamond ring when I came into the Kingdom. It had some connections which, for me, were not Godly. When I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I was led of the Lord to smash that gold ring and that diamond into dust, and I did. Oh how silly people thought I was! Why didn't you sell it, and give it to a charity, or to the church, they asked? How long has it been since I've had that kind of zeal in my life to smash idols and rid myself of anything with a taint? How about you? How long has it been since you did something like that? Oh to do something that the people of the world would think was crazy. Lord, help us.

What else was going on in the early days of Ephesus. Acts 19:9 says that they were meeting DAILY for a space of two years. It also says that everyone in in Asia heard the word of the Lord: there was a whole lot of witnessing and preaching and sharing going on, and no shortages of meetings to bring people to. The church met every day: you didn't have to have the schedule to find a meeting of believers.

So, what do we need to do, when we feel discouraged and even depressed, and we lack joy: In that time, what we need is to get down on our knees, and cry out for our first love: that passion for Jesus that filled our heart at first. God can restore it, and has restored it to me; over and over again. He did it again tonight for me and He will do it for you.

Then, do something! Something that smacks of being passionate. For me, it was asking my pastor if we could have another meeting: a meeting in a home on Tuesday night. For me, it is going to be to keep asking, until it happens. It may be that I'll even host the meeting in my home. So be it if that's what the Lord wants.

Yes, let us repent and do the first works. Let us ask God to restore our first love. Let's do it by the spirit and not by the letter. Let's do it by the living torah who dwells in our holy temple and not by works of the law, from which we should have rested by now. Let's ask Jesus to light a fire in us that will cause us to burn brightly again. Revive us, oh Lord.

Stephen L. Bening
a servant and prophet of our Lord Jesus Christ

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