There is something so beautiful that can happen as we set ourselves before the Living God to worship Him. When we lift our gaze to Him, our perspective changes. And, when a group of people come together to lift up His name, sometimes He will weave together an amazing tapestry. Through the prayers and thoughts of our hearts, combined with the songs that are sung and the prayers that different people pray all weave together into something that is clearly a theme. You are left in awe of the way God is able to communicate with His people.
This is what happened at our Lampstand meeting in June. We spent time worshiping, led by Bethany Oakes, and the songs, prayers, and scriptures all flowed together to bring great encouragement to our herats.
Bethany sang a song called Conquering Lion that led us into praying about how the Shepherd leads us so well to fountains of living water. Bethany didn't know when she chose the song Conquering Lion that we would be talking about Psalm 23:2 which refers to the Lord leading us to quiet waters. This is an illustration of the way the Lord can weave things together as we seek Him. I love to see His Holy Spirit work in this way.
At the end of worship, Matthew shared about a recent experience in which he went to the eye doctor who told him his eyes were dry and needed oil. He played a song by David Ruis called “True Love.” There is a spontaneous part of this song on the CD where David Ruis shares about people with contact lenses and how they get dry. He said spiritually sometimes our eyes get dry and we need the gift of tears. God gives us tears to cleanse our hearts.
As Matthew played this song for us, I personally felt such encouragement and healing. It's easy to get frustrated, dry, and irritable. Times of focus on the Lord bring such healing and restoration. I think this was a time for many of us to find refreshing tears and just encouragement in the Lord.
We are in a series about Psalm 23 using the book A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm by Phillip Keller. We highly recommend this book to anyone! This is a powerful look at the way the Lord Jesus is our Good Shepherd. This Lampstand we were focusing on Psalm 23:2.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.
Some highlights from the message are:
-Sheep do not lie down unless they are free from fear, friction with other sheep, pests, and hunger. In each of these circumstances the presence and ministry of the Shepherd makes all the difference.
1.He protects us and His nearness reminds us that we do not have to fear.
2.When He is near, we don't tend to fight with one another!
3.He applies the oil that frees us from pests that distract and destroy us.
4.He works to ensure we are fed and nourished.
-He leads us to quiet waters. He knows where the water is and has provided the watering places!
Sheep have 3 main sources of necessary water.
1.Dew! Getting up early and beginning our day with the Lord is like drinking dew from the grass.
2.Deep wells! He digs these out and provides them for us. Jeremiah 2:13...let's drink from the sources He provides and not from unhealthy substitutes.
3.Streams! Are we drinking from potholes along the path or are we drinking from the beautiful streams He leads us to?
As Matthew shared about these things, we were all encouraged to trust the excellent leadership of our Good Shepherd who always leads so well.
Taking time to respond to this message helped to seal these words in our hearts.
In December of 2017 I battled some annoying and prolonged eye infections, mostly on my eyelids from sties. People joked about my wife clocking me. I had to defend her constantly. Ha! Anyway, after weeks of warm compresses, ointments, drops, and visiting the eye doctor, my eyes (more accurately eyelids) cleared up. The pain and the irritation subsided. People stopped accusing Julie of spousal abuse.
Yet after all that my eyes have not seemed to be as they were before. They seem to dry out easier. My eyelids seem to get red around the edges more often. I have gotten what seems to be small sties that do not last long.
At a recent appointment to get new glasses, the optometrist shed some light on the subject. He described the dryness I was feeling as not stemming from a lack of tears but a thin layer of oil that covers that tear layer. Without that layer, the eyes dry out. He said that layer comes from oil glands on the edges of my eyelids. Long story short, I have some oil glands that have been damaged on my eyelids. I need a little help from some specific eye drops that contain mineral oil. WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT HAS MADE. My new glasses have helped my eyes to not be so strained, thus less rubbing my eyes when they have trouble focusing and are tired.
This oil thing has really “opened my eyes” though.
Let me share a little context about “oil.” We have been focusing on “getting oil” at our Lampstand meetings (growing in the knowledge of God, developing a secret life with God, growing in connection and communion with the Lord). Oil is the fuel for our lives so that in hard times we are not burning our wick but the oil source we have stored up. It causes our light to shine brightly.
We also have recently studied the oil used by shepherds with their sheep; to protect against highly irritating insects that can greatly annoy the sheep and even can lay eggs in their nose. Thus the larva can drive them crazy.
The work of the Holy Spirit and His anointing are also described in terms of oil in the Scriptures.
So with this eye issue I felt like the Lord was encouraging me that I need the “oil” He gives to see rightly in a spiritual sense as well as with the eye drops that contain mineral oil to see rightly in the natural.
We need the background of His word, knowledge of Him and His ways, daily encounter, connection and communion, and the oil of the Holy Spirit (a supernatural work we cannot do) applied to our vision. It is with that, that we can rightly discern what He is saying and doing, SEEING CLEARLY AND WITH RIGHT PERSPECTIVE.
I don’t know about you but I need this in my life. “Lord, apply the oil to our minds and vision. Help us to see the way you see. Help us to see rightly. Amen.”
We have talked many times at our Lampstand Meetings about the necessity of “getting oil” for our lamps. The oil is the source of fuel for us to have to have burning hearts for the Lord Jesus in every season of our lives. It is about having real revelation of the knowledge of the Lord found in Scripture, growing in connection and relationship with Him, and developing a personal history with God. That fuel is what sources the flame of the testimony of the Lord that others see in us. The oil fuels the ministry that we have toward others in His name whether that is our children and spouses, people in our church, or those who don’t know Him, to give a few examples.
I was listening to a recent teaching by Mike Bickle from His recent Bride of Christ series (Growing in Intimacy with Jesus) and he made the comment that many times we are so busy looking for areas where we can shine our light that we neglect getting oil for our lamps. How true this is! If we think about it, if we have a blazing flame that is fueled by deep intimacy and wholehearted devotion to the Lord, dynamic knowledge of the holy God, and a vibrant, growing heart for Him and the things He values, the impact we desire to have flows freely from us and we don’t have to focus as much on the effectiveness we have on others.
Have you ever met someone who loved to talk about one particular subject? Maybe it was something like trains or cars, or food, or decorating, or some other subject that is important to them. It’s easy to see their passion and fervor. It’s easy to see their depth and dedication. You can’t help but take notice of what they value. If as followers of Christ are deeply engulfed in, preoccupied with, caught up in, immersed in, captured by, enthralled with, and captivated and fascinated by in Him, won’t that be obviously noticeable and impacting to others?
(Sometimes as believers we can get into “run around and do” mode. We are busy with ministry activities. This program or that, this campaign and that. It is often with good motives. We want to make an impact, see people come to Christ, advance the kingdom. Yet many times we forget about the necessary connection with Him. Yet many times I think we don’t see the impact we want to see from those endeavors. We get beyond the reach of our light and we can burn out. This is because we are more focused on “getting our light out there” rather than cultivating the secret life of God that is within.)
I have seen people try to minister Jesus to others without much fuel in their lives, without much life of Jesus on the inside. Not only is it not very effective, it can be damaging to those they are trying to minister to as well as to themselves. How do I know? I have been there. I have stepped out to share and have had a wrong attitude, bad motives, not much to say, and no real desire. I have often done it because I feel obligation to do it. Isn’t this what I should be doing to be a good Christian, leader, etc? I can even see that I wanted the kingdom to grow and I wanted to be used to do it. Yet when I did it without a working knowledge of His love and truth and without much real devotion, the result has been even more lack of desire, more disappointment, frustration, and disillusionment.
But I can honestly say that since I have taken more time to cultivate the connection and communion with the Lord, to grow in devotion and love, to learn more about Him and His ways, I have reached out more than I ever have. I have shared with more unbelievers the gospel of Christ and shared more with believers about a deeper life with Him. I have had less fear and insecurity. I have felt that my words have been an extension of His heart and love. I have shared with more joy and excitement, I have been less selfish and angry in my attitude. I have had more to talk about and I have a growing desire to talk about Jesus.
Not only do I see this reality in myself, I look around at those I see spending consistent time in personal Bible study, prayer and worship times, and getting oil and I am personally encouraged by them and am astounded over the impact they have on others.
Hear me, I’m not saying there aren’t times we share about Christ when we don’t feel like it or that we don’t support outreaches, programs, and service projects. My point is, if we focused more on the oil in our lamps, wouldn’t the outreach, service, proclaiming the gospel, flow more naturally and supernaturally from our lives? I mean, it does say in John 15, if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit.
As I think about all this, I want “getting oil” for my lamp to be even more of my life vision. The Lord will handle the impact of my light. I am certain it will be greater than if I just went around with my dim flame trying to let me light shine.
Matthew or Julie Wine