PREACHED BY PHIL ARNOLD ON JULY 23, 2017 AT JCC, HEREFORD. A FURTHER MESSAGE IN THE SERIES ‘OUT OF THE WILDERNESS’
God is doing a new thing, Isa. 43:19, and He wants us to join Him in it. That is a call to ‘come out of the wilderness’ and raise our expectation of what He will do in our lives. Part of that is taking back time and opportunity for Him – reclaiming spaces.
As disciples of Jesus, we make space in our busy lives – or at times, fail to make space – for Him.
- There’s a need to be intentional about this
- We’re learning to take this call to a new level.
The term ‘ring-fenced’ is used of something which is separated and protected.
- Should our time, devoted to God and His purposes, be ring-fenced?
As we move into the new things God is doing in this new season, we will meet resistance.
- There’s always opposition to extending the kingdom
- Some resistance we know is not external but about us – internal resistance.
- We need to let God work in us more deeply, reshaping us. Creating space.
1. Creating space
1 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labour! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.
2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.
3 “For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.”
- A time of expansion is coming.
- We need to create the SPACE for what is coming, before it arrives.
2. Reclaiming space
In home life we reclaim space when something is occupying space we need to use. So it is with God – when other things are occupying what God wants to use.
Jesus ‘reclaimed space’ after the Triumphant Entry, which we remember on Palm Sunday:
8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and He healed them.
15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and they said to Him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,“ ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
We do what we do, live our lives and we assume He is OK with it. But there are things He is passionate about where we often remain quite passive.
His heart… if we make room for it, energises us.
Why was Jesus so angry at the temple merchants? It was not the first time He had been there. He was reclaiming space – for the people it was intended for.
The Temple outer courts, the area also called ‘Court of the Gentiles’, was intended to be accessible to everyone.
In Mark’s account of this, Jesus said: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations [or peoples]!” – see also Isa 56:7
- All people would encounter was religious stuff.
- He reclaimed that space FROM the religious stuff.
THEN the blind and the lame came to Him and He healed them. There was room for needy people, to come to Him. There was room for children crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David”.
This starts to look like a major shift.
God’s plan was, and is, that everyone should have space to find God for themselves.
- In what we do, we need to identify space that needs to be cleared, so that He can have our undivided attention.
There are thousands and thousands who are seeking God, but outside.
Are they occupying secular spaces? There is no such thing in God’s view – no sacred vs secular.
For so long, there has been an Old Covenant overlap remaining in the minds of the people of God.
- We compartmentalise.
- But to the Hebrew mind set everything is one.
God is incredibly passionate. He wants us. Defences in our minds which have kept Him out are creaking in their resistance.
In the temple we see Him driving out the people of the religious and world order, and reclaiming that space.
(4) Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God…
(5)…He jealously desires the spirit He has put in us.How do we process that difficult word ‘jealous’? Especially when it is used in connection with God. A negative word for us, a sin, the possessive desire of what another has, with wrong motives. For God, whose motives are pure, it denotes an intensity of desire for us to respond to Him. Especially if we have given our hearts to other things, that have compromised our love for him.
We need to set aside time.
We want to walk with God; He wants us to walk with Him.”
He wants to redefine for us what it means to love the Lord our God with all our heart, strength etc
3. A seismic change: change the default
This change is a change of mindset that is seismic in proportions.
- Great effort is required, because what we come against is so established.
- This is a challenge to the default position. We are talking about changing the default.
God used Elijah to change a season and a dynasty. Then later came John the Baptist who was heralded as another ‘Elijah’.
A big change is required. It will meet with resistance. Where will that resistance be? One of the main places is in our minds.
Many of God’s people are battled out and tired!
Read again Matthew 11:27-30
27 All things have been handed over to me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.
28 Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest
29 Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” If you are weary and heavy laden, come to Me!