Earthly Kingdoms

Earthly Kingdoms

(Mark 15:7-15, John 18:33-40, John 19, 1 Samuel 8:6-9, 19-20, 12:19-25)

This was on my mind recently.  The kingdom of darkness has many means, subtle means, to distract us from the purpose of our Father.  In the end, and along the way, God presents choices to us.  For many of us, a particular choice may be obvious, easy to make.  For many however, the choice is not so.  How many were present that day when Pilate stood before them?  It was a major feast time in Israel, and the fulfillment of the Passover, the Lamb of God, stood before them.  Among the crowd were those who had followed Him, who had seen the works which confirmed Him as having come from God.  I am sure that Nicodemus and perhaps others of the priests were not shouting crucify Him.  And others with Mary were in deep distress.

We know that the two on the road to Emmaus, three days later knew what had happened and I think they would have been in the city for the feast time.  They would not have wanted Him crucified.  The Lord’s high ways of working through the corrupted systems of religion and earthly government fulfilled His purpose to sacrifice the eternal Lamb.  As Paul saw and shared with us, the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the cosmos.  Before creation God had provided the Lamb.  On Moriah, Abraham saw it.  At that Passover time, none but the Lamb Himself understood.  God gave the people a choice and many chose Barabbas.  For us as believers, that is sad and distressing.  Or even baffling.  The god of this world had blinded the eyes of the unbelieving.

Today, I continue to hear the subtle draw to work with earthly government to bring righteousness to the earth.  Whose righteousness, I ask?  Ours?  Yes we have seen the Lord and His righteousness and we desire to walk before Him.  But is His kingdom a kingdom of law to be pressed upon others?  Is that how Jesus and the apostles and the early church operated?  Did they rise up to reform the Roman Empire?  Did they request a meeting with Caesar to request the persecution to cease?  On the other hand, did they pray for Peter’s release?  Yes, and they were astounded when it happened.  In Damascus, did Ananias question the Lord before he went and prayed for Saul?  My point there is we don’t always get it perfectly but the apostles knew better than to try to get themselves off the hook.  They knew persecution to the point of death were part of the story of God’s people.

When we look for earthly government to be an ally for the gospel of the kingdom, we are like Israel of the law and prophets looking to Egypt for aid.  We are like them in the days of Samuel, asking for an earthly king, to be earthly minded.  It continues to trouble me when believers equate an earthly nation with the kingdom of God.  How did we get off the highway of God’s purpose in His Son?  Jesus referred much to Daniel.  Daniel lived in a time when the Spirit indicated through his understanding of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that Babylon of that day was the golden head of earthly kingdoms.  It was the greatest.  And today we exalt current nations as great?  Today’s earthly governments are the feet of iron and clay.  That is the Spirit’s estimation.  Are we hearing?  The stone cut from the mountain takes down the entire image.

Jesus spoke of these days as the present evil age.  Do we see it as such?  We speak as if we can fix the world by improving earthly government.  It must be displaced but God’s solution is not a better earthly government.  His solution is to replace it with a heavenly.  God’s solution to Saul’s failure was to raise up David.  That was God’s plan from before Abraham.  David failed as did Solomon.  Each had a purpose and lesson for Israel.  But the final solution is Christ.  If we find ourselves involved with government, may our actions be with integrity to do our jobs well and represent Christ in every task.  May we speak the truth, however the opportunity presents itself. Closing these thoughts I ask you to read John 19 and the passages in Samuel.  Look at the parallel words and consider our ongoing dependence on earthly government and rulers.  I am not speaking against using the provisions of infrastructure, paying taxes, or receiving social benefits.  I am speaking of our hearts and speaking to our spirits.  Do we want Saul, or Barabbas, or some other one who will straighten everything out and make us a great nation?  Pay close attention to the history of Germany in the 1930’s.  Beaten down and humbled after World War I, they voted Hitler into power as he promised recovery of their kingdom.  They rejoiced in his reign.  Some church leaders spoke of him like a savior, that he was God’s gift to the nation.  The Lord still had people who saw through and knew better.  Exalt the true king, Jesus Christ, in your hearts and give careful attention to all He would say to you.  And pray for all those in authority whomever they may be.

A Lamb and a Lion

A Lamb and A Lion

(Rev. 5:4-10, Isaiah 11:6, 65:25, Rom. 8:28-39)

I hear and see much among the Lord’s people of the Lord as a lion.  He is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  He is the root and the offspring of David, of Judah.  A year or so ago I was in a meeting on a Sunday morning and a visiting woman was given opportunity to speak.  I saw her as a teacher.  She also had a ministry to young people and shared a video of the baptisms of some.  As those young ones were dipped under the water, the words of their testimonies were filled with passion and the fire of God’s Spirit.  I thought that’s how every baptism should be.  That is not always the case but it underscored my appreciation for this sister and the maturity of  her walk.

She mentioned that the Lord Jesus is referred to as the Lion once in Revelation and 29 (I think she said) times as the Lamb.  My own research shows the word “Lamb” appearing 25 times.  Do you think the Spirit is making a point?  Jesus Christ was introduced by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God.  John, the beloved one, the apostle, was given a revelation of Christ as he writes in the opening of that book we call Revelation.  So why are we, as so-called prophetic people, seemingly obsessed with a sense of a roaring, devouring lion?  Now that is not true of all that I know as believers and I am careful of being obsessed myself with pointing out our distractions from the Lord’s ways.  The great contradiction (to our natural minds) of God’s great wisdom in spiritual warfare is that the Lamb destroyed death by dying.  Our means of warfare are the same.

He did not in this age rise up as a lion to defeat His enemy and ours.  His ways are higher than our ways.  So we see in Isaiah, a lion and a lamb mentioned together in a place of true peace.  This does not look like a lamb rising up to be ferocious but rather of the lion lying down in peace with the lamb.  Of His kingdom and of peace (true peace) no end will be found.  His peace is eternal and it is powerful in that it stills every storm.  It is never about shouting, although we do shout.  Jesus said He is meek and lowly in heart.  Yes He flipped the tables.  That was in His Father’s house.  And among those who claim to be His, we do well to expose greed and corruption.  And that will never look kind nor meek.  But ultimately, He was crucified before those same ones to pay for their iniquities.

We cannot pay for anyone’s sins but we are called to bear personal abuse and hostility (Heb. 12:3-8) as we are learning obedience by suffering, allowing that abuse.  We share in His suffering.  If we see ourselves as roaring lions, we will always be ready for a fight.  That is not the Lord’s way and no one will receive us.  We need to walk as He walked.  We are called to this, to walk worthy of our calling.  Do we confront evil?  Do we have the authority to cast it down when it appears?  Yes.  But be sure to cast it out and allow for repentance.  All this said, as Peter directly rebuked the one who wanted to buy the authority of the Spirit, we do not shrink back from addressing such a person sharply.  May His words be in our mouth as a sharp, two-edged sword, and a fire to devour our enemies, when necessary.

Our reward is a heavenly one.  When John’s eyes were opened, when heaven was opened to John on Patmos, he saw the scene in heaven for the scroll to be opened.  This was the unfolding of God’s working in the earth.  He weeps when none was found worthy but a voice says behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah has overcome.  When John looks he sees a Lamb as slain.  His blood was seen.  His blood is on the mercy seat forever.  And He is known in heaven as the Lamb.  For all eternity, He is worshipped as the Lamb of God who was given so that we might live and so worship Him forever.  And as His sheep, it is so for us, to bear our cross and so follow Him.  Read the passage in Romans and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into the truth and His ways for your own walk.  We are counted as sheep for the slaughter, dying daily, so that life might touch others and work in them.  All for one purpose that the Lamb of God might receive the reward of His suffering, that our Father’s house would be full.

Seasons

Seasons

(Ecc. 3:1,17, Psalm 1:3, Rev. 22:2)

God is eternal but His working in the world has seasons.  He purposed creation and it had a specific time of His doing it.  He had a season of the flood and preservation of Noah in the time of His judgement.  And in the fulness of time, in that season that only God fully understood and knew, He sent His Son to be born of a young virgin and Jesus came on the scene.  In His life we see seasons also.  Yet now He has fully entered the eternal realm while He remains with us always even until the end of this present evil age.

Jesus had seasons.  After Bethlehem, He had a season in Egypt.  And the scripture was fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my Son”, as the Lord said through a prophet.  He grew as a child and young man in Galilee.  He was baptized by John, had a 40 day test in the wilderness, and then moved among the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As we follow Him, it will be so for us.  God works in our lives as we move among His people.  We know a time where we come to know Him as Father.  We became part of His new creation.  For many of us, an instant birth happens, a suddenness, a coming out of a womb where we were not yet aware of Him.  That is the awakening needed in this season.  It has been the same in every season.

I know a sister in Christ.  When we spoke about the president of the US, she said she prays that he will encounter Jesus.  That is the prayer for every man, woman, and child.  I have written elsewhere of my encounters with Him, those moments where a spiritual transformation takes place.  We need His continual presence, an awareness that we walk before Him.  The Lord spoke to Abraham, “Walk before me and be blameless.”  That is a walk of faith and confidence in the truth that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  You cannot hide your bad self from Him.  Your flesh is exposed and you are at His mercy.  There He shows you His lovingkindness, His grace.

Seasons bring growth.  In the natural, we know four seasons.  Think about them and how they reflect God’s working in your life.  The picture in the references in Psalms and Revelation uses the picture of a tree.  We are like trees.  Be planted in Him, in His Spirit.  Let your roots go deep into Him.  Don’t ever try to run away.  You will injure the roots already there and bring extra trouble.  When Israel rejected the Lord, it meant great trouble.  Learn to cooperate with His discipline.  Jesus said the Father would prune us to bring more lasting fruit.  I was struck by the picture in Revelation 22.  The tree of life, the Lord Himself, the Spirit, is in the middle of the street which is a river, and it is on both sides.  And it’s season of fruit-bearing is monthly.  That is a short season and a very large tree.  Those pictures are yet like parables.  I have learned to be careful not to over-analyze them but the Spirit brings understanding.  Allow the Spirit to speak.

The Lord and His kingdom are eternal.  They are not subject to time and seasons.  We are entering His kingdom.  We are in a process, on a journey, growing spiritually.  The process may move slowly at times and then suddenly accelerate.  As we walk with Him, real growth will result.  John describes the phases as children, young men, and fathers.  Read and consider that passage in 1 John 2.  I have found after many years of following and listening, I see aspects of all 3 yet in my life.  Growth is uneven for us.  But Jesus never changes.  While Smith Wigglesworth is often remembered for miracles, he was a teacher and preacher.  He said when Christ died and was raised from the dead, time ended and eternity began.  He was one who more fully entered that kingdom and so moved in great faith so that God was able to do more than most believed.  May we be so encouraged by that great cloud of witnesses and by Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, and press on into the heavenly kingdom. It is always time to seek the Lord.  Seek His face continually.

Roots – Good and Bad

Roots – Good and Bad

In Matt. 13 Jesus shares a parable using the theme of seed being sown in a field.  He contrasts different qualities of soil, the wayside, stony ground, thorny ground, and good soil.  Each of us, if we are honest in the secret places of our hearts, has known something of each of these.  Before I knew the Lord, I was like that first type.  The seed didn’t find any place to start.  It just bounced off me.  Stony ground includes the areas of our hearts that are hard.  Jesus says that type of soil starts out well, with joy.  Yet that one has no root.  When trouble comes, that one stumbles.  That one struggles and looks for escape from the trouble.  Those are my words, not His, but I have seen it to be true.

When trouble comes, God is after something in us.  He locates a hard place and wants us to see it.  The process is for us to see our hardness and bring it to Him.  As we grow, we learn to put aside the hardness, unforgiveness and bitterness.  Paul wrote somewhere for us to put away all anger wrath, clamor and bitterness.  The clamor starts in us and if it festers it creates more hardness.  In Hebrews, we are told, to not harden our hearts so that we could hear His voice.  His voice is that seed.  When we do turn away from Him, He lets us go, gives us some rope, so that we learn.  The issue is one of the ground in our hearts.  It needs to be plowed to expose the rocks.  Then the rocks can be removed.  Being plowed is never fun.

When trouble comes to us, we often feel the distress and the pain.  The hurt and pain can be on many levels.  We can fight it, run from it, or turn to God.  Sometimes it may be that we need to get away from the source so that we can get with God.  I have heard it said that Jesus Himself knew emotional abuse as a child.  I can believe that.  The Pharisees called Him illegitimate as a man.  He probably heard that as a child in Nazareth.  And Jesus learned to get off by Himself and pour His heart out to His Father.  When the pain comes, we need to seek God.  Our nature is to lash out, to give place for our anger to vent.  Some sort of destruction is usually the result.  We have all known it.  Then we have to clean up our mess.  I have known that.

When we do not go to God, we blame others and can end up spreading all their weaknesses and failures.  Some truth may be in all that but love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Pet. 4:8)  Speaking out of our pain and bitterness can cause trouble and divisions.  Hebrews 12 is an important passage for us to understand God’s working.  Read the entire chapter and let the Lord speak to you.  Trouble comes to change us, to cause us to grow.  Now focus on Heb. 12:3-15 and hear how submitting to God’s discipline of us affects our relationships.  Verse 15 refers to a root of bitterness.  The following verse refers to Esau whose life was set to satisfy himself.  Very important is that we do not fail of, or come short of, the grace of God.  Grace is not to give us an excuse but to provide the strength to pursue peace with all men, even to love those who cause us trouble.

Look again at verse 3 which tells us to turn away from discouragement and weariness of soul.  That is where the grace is needed and will help us.  In Colossians 2, we are encouraged to walk by His life (vs. 6) as we are rooted and grounded in Him.  When we are stumbling and struggling in our troubles, and not walking in love, we need grace and to grow deeper in Him.  We need Him to work the soil in our lives and we must allow the pain.  Hebrews 12:11 says this.  As He turns over the soil in our hearts, we are strengthened by grace.  His power and strength are in the grace, not for us to be known as strong and look good, but for us to walk in love.

In closing two other thoughts and scriptures.  Eph 3:17 calls us to be rooted and grounded in love and Jude 21 adds to keep ourselves in the love of God.  No room is left there for our self-righteousness and anger and bitterness.  In His presence is mercy and grace for us and for all our enemies, as they come to Him.

Set Your Affection

Set Your Affection

(Jer. 9:23-24, Col. 3:2, Gal. 6:14)

The apostle Paul had a singular focus upon the Lord Jesus.  Considering His experience with the Lord on his way to persecute the church, I think we should not be surprised.  Blinded for 3 days after hearing the Lord so directly speak to him got his full attention.  The Greek in the reference in Colossians gives the idea that we are to be disposed to the things above and it is emphatic.  Translations express it as the title says.  We must first have our spirits quickened by the Holy Spirit, by Christ.  It may not be as intense as Paul’s experience, but without His Spirit, the words I reference from the Bible hold no meaning for us.

We must, having begun in the Spirit, continue to seek after God as Paul wrote.  Keep seeking the things above not the things upon the earth.  And here his emphasis is on the One who sits on the throne.  Where is your affection?  I ask myself where is mine?  Let’s not stay in the question.  Let us choose and set our affections, our mind, our disposition upward toward the One Lord, Jesus Christ.  He is alive.  He has all authority.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  And we can know our place with Him in heaven, in the kingdom of God.

The earth is full of distractions.  The Lord has created it and in the earth He gives much that we can enjoy.  So we must remember to set our affection above.  We are easily distracted and take up causes, social, political, environmental, medical, legal, educational, and other concerns.  All are true concerns and we may be employed in such arenas.  And of lesser or little importance we follow entertainment, sports, and celebrities.  For me, some of these lesser earthly things have been a diversion but much of it has lost its luster, its attraction.  That is not complete, I admit.  I still watch sports.

I get concerned at the volume of Facebook posts by believers that amplify the earthly, especially political issues.  In our day, one cannot separate earthly government from politics and the struggle for earthly power and agenda.  Jesus is not there.  He never went there and does not go there today.  Of course He has people who work there but what is His purpose?  What does it mean that the Spirit asks, “Can a nation be saved in a day?”  Really, we think a collection of a certain people in a particular geographic boundary, under a particular form of government can all be saved in a day?  Nonsense.  When Abraham was one, I called him, says the Lord and he left the world of his day.  That process has never changed.  Were 3000 saved in a day at the time of Pentecost?  Yes.  But others mocked.

Believing that one political nation is better than another is a distracting thought at best, and spiritually dangerous at worst.  It leads to exalting an earthly system that will ultimately pass away.  To be sure those governments which allow personal freedoms and acknowledge freedom of conscience allow for the gospel to proceed.  But it also allows for every bad choice.  Don’t we see that today?  Every government in the earth is part of the world and we are told not to love it.  I hear believers boast in their country.  Read the referenced scriptures and read their context.  We are to boast in one thing, that we know Him.  And I would remind us it is a two way street, we are to open our hearts that He, Jesus, would know us.

Through Jeremiah, the Lord spoke of those among Israel who were not circumcised in heart.  Read the rest of the referenced chapter.  That heart circumcision is the work of the cross as Jesus comes to know us and search out our true affections.  He would clean us out, searching the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.  If we claim to be believers, the words of Jeremih are for us if we have not, like Paul, learned to boast in the cross of Christ, by which we are crucified to the world, and the world to us.  This is process, but it must have its work in us.  Let us press on to know Him, and be known by Him.  And let us boast in Him and His lovingkindness, and His justice, and His righteousness.  Set your affection on things above where Jesus is seated.

Pictures in the Spirit

Pictures in the Spirit

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth.  The Spirit came to bring a revelation of Jesus Christ.  As we receive Him directly and fed through others we are strengthened in our inner man, our Spirit.  This is a simple truth and the basis of all spiritual life.  I am convinced that living in the world as we know it today, the Spirit of Christ has affected, touched, and found some ground in many people.  The truth that in these last days, the Lord has poured His Spirit upon all flesh, is evident if we have eyes to see.  Jesus said to lift up our eyes and see the fields ready for harvest.  The Spirit of God has been brooding upon the earth in a new and glorious way for 2000 years since Jesus appeared and poured out His Spirit on Pentecost.

Jesus taught in parables to help His disciples understand things of the kingdom of God.  He expressed spiritual truth in picture stories.  He also said His words are spirit and are life.  When we hear with the spiritual ears given by God, we receive life.  We get it.  The natural mind apart from the Spirit of God cannot understand.  As we seek the Lord and the growth He desires to provide, He will give pictures.  I know believers whose spirits have grown to receive 3-D visions.  Do we need to say that such experiences are Biblical and that the Spirit of God has not changed since creation?  Jesus took three with Him to the mountain and He was transfigured and Moses and Elijah joined Him in conversation.  This was not symbolic, this was real!

Now I understand that this was an encouragement for Jesus.  You may say, Jesus did not need encouragement.  You are separating yourself from His humanity.  Rather I would remind you He was fully human.  The record states that the three, Elijah, Moses, and Jesus, spoke of Jesus’ impending death.  Three in the heavenly realm being observed by three in the earthly.  The veil was removed and the Lord had three witnesses, Peter, James, and John.  In the mouth of two or three witnesses let every fact be established.  They would see Jesus resurrected, and John would see much more years later on Patmos.

The other 9 disciples did not see what Peter, James, and John saw that night and I think those three obeyed Jesus and did not mention it until later.  Peter mentions it in his letter.  I have not had an open vision but I have had pictures in my spirit.  I would say they were seen in the spirit of my mind as Paul described the place where we are renewed.  An example is, while in fervent prayer, I was seeing myself, my spirit, as a flame ascending.  I was wrapped with another flame like two strands of a rope and I understood the other flame as the Holy Spirit.  We were operating as one before the Lord.  I observed a similar picture in the natural.  It was very unusual.  I was at an outdoor storage unit in our apartment complex and noticed two long worms on the side of the structure.  One stretched itself to form a circle and I recall the other stayed in a long straight line.  I realized they were slugs who had significantly stretched  their normally short bodies.  After other movements that appeared calculated, they wrapped themselves as the strands of a rope.  They were mating.  I was surprised by what I observed.  They operated as one.

First the natural, then the spiritual.  It is a way of the Lord, more than a law or principle, it is the way He reveals things that already are.  His desire is that we be joined, married to Him, one with Him.  As Jesus prayed, He prays for us, not as independent individuals, although that is important, but as a group.  He prays that we be one as He and the Father are one.  John records it in John 17.  That body of true believers, even disciples, even wise virgins are the ones He prayed for.  He said He was not praying for the world.  I believe He meant He was not praying for all the people but for that group, including the women I want to add, and all those who believe (that is, truly believe and trust) because of what others hear from them.

He was focused on His own.  He defined them as the ones His Father had given Him.  Jesus Himself had a small group.  It’s wonderful to me that over the next 50 days following that prayer, the 12 would increase to 120 in the upper room.  Jesus said it was expedient that He leave so that the Spirit would come.  Through that initial group, Jesus began to turn the world upside down.  Now we see Him turning it inside out.  How is that for a picture?  I am smiling.  Don’t try to picture that.

A New and Better Covenant

A New and Better Covenant

(Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:6-13)

This meditation has been with me for years but is new and fresh every day.  I have said that I hoped for us as His people to come fully out of every shadow of the old covenant and fully enter the new.  And this I said out of a desire that we gain a revelation, an understanding of the eternal covenant.  This is fresh just as the manna was in the wilderness.  He makes all things new continually.  He never changes.  He is always the same.  He is eternal.

The new covenant is made in a relationship that requires following the Lamb.  Are you following?  Are you even now knowing the desire to be closer to Him than you have ever been?  Are you wanting Him for a newness?  He is always ready to give it.  I do not mean here to imply it is automatic.  It always includes a waiting, a seeking, a pressing on and a pressing in.  But He is faithful and a rewarder of all who diligently seek Him.  As we go on and have pressed through, we will find His response to us is quickened.  Didn’t He say, I come quickly?  If this seems contradictory, it is our analysis that often is our problem.  That’s part of growth, our processing of what is happening around us and in us.  So Lord, give us an eternal perspective, that is, Your perspective.

His desire is for this very thing, for a people who answer the call to come higher.  It includes leaving things behind just as He said it would be as we follow Him.  The higher call always has a cost.  The disciples did not know the end of this earthly life immediately when they responded to Him.  Abraham was not called to sacrifice his son on the first day he heard God call him.  He went on a journey, not fully comprehending where God was taking Him.  But he left Chaldea, his hometown behind.  He left the world, the riches, the comfort of this world, this present evil age behind.  So Jesus said to the religious of His day, if you say Abraham is your father, do what Abraham did.  But they had no hears to hear the voice of God, as Abraham heard and followed.

May the Lord tune our ears to His pitch, even a mature (that’s what His perfect is) hearing, a spiritual hearing, unmixed with our own desires.  I had been drawn to Jesus’ full discourse in John’s gospel.  It covers a few pages, all spoken at that table when the Passover was fulfilled.  All of the works of God are fulfilled in His Son, Jesus Christ.  And He shared that cup with them after the meal and plainly said, this cup is the new covenant in my blood.  We become partakers of His life and of His sufferings as we sit at His table and share the cup with Him.

The name “Christian” has been so misused and applied that some of the Lord’s true followers don’t want to use it.  But Christ has not changed.  Jesus has been resurrected, and is now seated with all authority.  I could put the word “all” in caps.  No one has any true authority for life apart from Him.  Having written those words, I think much more must be considered.  A year or so ago, while praying I had a picture in my mind.  I saw a table and some were seated at it.  It quickly grew, and then it multiplied very strangely.  The message of it all is very simple.  True fellowship with the Lord Jesus is multiplying.  Many are being drawn to Him, to enter into this covenant, this new, eternal one that is based in and consists of His blood.   The phrase, “the blood of the eternal covenant,” resonates within me.  It motivates the passion.  His life is in the blood.

Read the passages I reference under the title.  The writer of Hebrews refers to the very words that God gave through Jeremiah.  This wonderful, new covenant is not to be a representation of some religious concept.  It brings us into a depth of spiritual relationship that is like marriage.  But earthly marriage is temporary and cannot touch the glory that is to be fully revealed after this life is done.  And it cannot be compared to what we can know of the Lord Himself as we journey here.

The word know as used by Jeremiah is the same Hebrew word that is used when Adam knew his wife Eve and she later gave birth.  Our spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus is an intimate union where we give birth to spiritual life in others.  It is all by His word.  As Jesus said, “My words are spirit and they are life.”  Feed on Him, the living word today.

Sitting With Christ

Sitting With Christ

(Eph 2:6)

Before we experience being seated with Him in heavenly experience, we need to experience sitting at His feet.  While I have heard many approaches to leading people to the Lord and also many approaches to spiritual growth, I believe it comes down to this.  Do you know Jesus Christ?  And are you growing in Him, in grace and truth, and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Like Mary in Bethany, do you take the time to put everything aside?  Or are you anxious about many things that ultimately do not matter at all?  I still deal with the cares of this world.  And my main weapon against it all is this. “Father I cast all my care on you for you care for me.”  Yes we need such weapons for we are in a battle.  The tyranny of the world and time must be overcome.

It is essential to carve out time to simply listen to the Lord.  I learned that a long time ago.  It works differently for me now.  We have seasons and changes in our lives.  It was so with the disciples.  I was recently reminded of these words through Isaiah (Is. 50:4), “He wakens me morning by morning.  He wakens my ear to hear as a disciple.”  Some believers still struggle with the concept that God speaks to us directly.  If they cannot see it in the written word, they are skeptical.  They are led of the Lord but often seemingly held back by tradition.  That thought may be my own filter.  Often I find our communication gets bogged down in semantics, the meaning of words.  You know how two people can say the same words and mean something very different.

I have found the Lord speaks to me in a language I can understand.  We also learn His language.  That brings us to think of the tongues of angels, heavenly languages.  It was this spiritual experience that encouraged me in the miraculous, the very spontaneous interventions of God.  The tongues of fire fell suddenly on that day of Pentecost.  I already knew the wonder of the revelation of Christ in me, registering in my soul by the Spirit.  I had been filled with the Spirit.  Without any drama, I asked for the experience of tongues privately and immediately received it as a mature language.  I have learned that the Spirit works differently in every situation and to never try to put my specific experience on anyone else, nor try to copy theirs.

As a wise old saint once said, “Don’t try and walk in my shoes.  You might get bunions.”  The Spirit gives as He wills, not as we may desire.  And Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Do all speak in tongues?”  (1 Cor. 12:30)  Let us not argue about such things, rather pray for and build one another up in our spirits, our inner man.  The Lord Jesus Himself met people uniquely.  The woman at the well, each of the disciples, Nicodemus.  They each had a personal encounter with Jesus.  So it is with every experience with the Holy Spirit, and with every person.  He comes and reveals something fresh, or He gives an experience like tongues, or healing or wisdom or knowledge.  It is often according to a need but it is His wise and wonderful response which may not be what we expected.  At Pentecost, they did not specifically expect tongues of fire and speaking in other languages.  That was God’s choice.

I believe heaven broke in and they all in that room broke into heaven.  It was not by their effort, or by some earthly, natural means.  They responded to what Jesus told them, to go to Jerusalem and wait.  I think there was a great hush the moment before the Spirit fell and surged into and through them.  I read a book by Harry Foster, a man in direct fellowship with T. Austin-Sparks, where he wrote on this.  He was addressing the need to be still in our seeking after God and looking for spiritual gifting, or revival, or harvest, or whatever we desire from God.  First we must hear what He says, and respond.  Those in that upper room were responding to Jesus.  They were not planning a strategy for the Lord to move.  The Lord Jesus gave them simple clear instructions and they followed through.

As the Lord Himself said, I do nothing except what I see and hear the Father do and say.  May it be the same for us.  Seated with Him in the heavens, in the very throne room of God, the mighty One, the Lord of hosts, may we be listening for His voice and going as He sends.  He dispatches angel armies on behalf of those who follow His lead.  As the angel said to Joshua, “As the commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come.”  As the Lord raised up Joshua, who had prepared for 40 years, let us follow the Lamb as He leads us.  Let us continue to look and listen to that One on the throne.

The Greater Purpose

The Greater Purpose

(Psalm 45)

This psalm begins with the words, “My heart overflows with a good theme.”  In times of trouble, in a wilderness setting, in a place of isolation, the Lord would draw us closer to Himself.  Again He would speak to us and remind us of the larger picture and purpose.  He has had a purpose, a plan, a strategy from before the foundation of the earth.  The more we see present circumstances through that lens, the greater the effective outcome of the circumstances.  We learn a new lesson, not outwardly but inwardly.  We ourselves are revived and awakened to what is really going on.

Isaiah 57:15 speaks of the Lord’s revival.  He looks to those who are humble and contrite, or broken.  The cry “Lord, what are you doing?  What are you after?”  can be a complaint or an honest cry for alignment.  Isaiah 66 echoes the Lord’s attitude toward the humble and broken.  As He speaks about His house, He says, “What are you looking to build?  I am looking for meek ones to whom I can give the earth.”  The meek are in a position, are empty, so they can be filled, and built together.  They see others differently because they know who they are and what they are not.  Reading through Psalm 33, we see the Lord looking from heaven (v. 13) and the Sprit speaks of the Lord’s counsel.  And His eye is on them that fear Him (vs. 18).  He singles out those who hope in Him.

His purpose is connected with His calling which is connected with His gaze.  He searches the whole earth, and He searches those who are His people, His church. He looks at the heart.  He is wanting to expose those things that hinder the flow of His life and as we allow, or yield, those things are removed.  I am often brought back to those words written in Revelation as the Lord walks among His lampstands.  It’s wonderful to know that we are part of that and He has not quit on us.  No pride in that.  He revealed Himself to us and we are paying attention.  We are returning His gaze.  I believe we are.  His eyes are always searching.  As He does we learn to rest in His love.  I still think of James words, “Consider it a joy when trouble comes.”  I am not always so quick to that response.  James wrote that because he understood it in his own life.  My we be quick to see what the Lord is after as we face new challenges, new troubles.

Trouble comes to bring us to a better place, a place of greater understanding.  I often hear a cry for the a return of the fear of the Lord.  Yes, it is necessary and foundational.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  We need to continue on from there in our lives just as that verse continues.  And the knowledge (intimate experience) of the Holy One is understanding.  As we understand what His greater purpose is, the true and mature knowledge of Him, we move in greater submission to all that He brings our way.  Let us press on to know Him.  Is anything else really worth it?

Communion With the Lord

Communion With the Lord

(Song of Songs 2:4, Psalm 23:5)

Most times I write, the title comes to me quickly.  It was not so today.  We are in a time of trouble that has come upon the whole earth.  In the natural, it feels a bit like a wartime.  I do not want to spend much time in those thoughts.  My intent in writing today is far different.  As recent events began to unfold, the Lord drew me into a time alone with Him.  He brought me again to Song of Songs and a theme He had emphasized many months ago.  He has a table set for us, always.  We can live at that table.

Some of you may know of Thom Gardner who has had a fruitful ministry which includes authoring some books.  I have read three and one of those addresses coming to a table with others where true relationship can grow.  It’s important to come to the table without an agenda, without an expected outcome.  We learn to listen.  I have seen this operate wonderfully with my wife Augusta.  I must say that is not always the case but when we talk in the right spirit, something genuine happens.  We hear each other.  That is the key.

So it is with the Lord. And there, as it was with Mary in Bethany, we learn at Jesus’ feet.  Yet Jesus lifts us up, inviting us to sit at the table where He sits.  He so invited them at Laodicea when He invites them to share a meal.  It is so at that last Passover meal when He tells the 12 that He had earnestly desired to share that meal with them.  That is very strong language He uses there.  The word lust could be used but that has too many other connotations for many of us.  It was an intense desire for communion, a depth of committed relationship that cannot be taught, that Jesus desired.  It can only be experienced.  Jesus was about to do something that would so change the very lives of all that table.  It would have an eternal impact.

Without spending too many words on a tangent, the disciples had been on a high ride for 3-1/2 years.  While much opposition and danger existed, daily victories happened.  The triumphal entry, as we call it, had occurred.  That was going to appear to come crashing down.  The next 3 days or so were going to be devastating.  These would be followed by 50 days of amazing revelation and understanding and the explosion at Pentecost.  Talk about an acceleration!  But this is all about a depth of relationship that is so profound.  Jesus was about to destroy the very power of death.  He had foreshadowed it in Bethany by raising Lazarus.  Interesting to mention that place again.  He had spent time there simply sitting at a table with them.  Jesus knew Lazarus and loved him.

Are we spending such time with Him?  The bride, the Shulamite, sings this, “He brought me to His banqueting house and His banner over me is love.”  So much is buried in those words.  I found again that the marginal translation for “banqueting house” shows it literally means “house of wine.”  What a different level of meaning.  For me, wine speaks of joy. The bridegroom brings His own, His bride to a house of joy.  Do you hear again His prayer in John 17?  He wants us to share in His joy.  Yes, the way to that joy is through the cross.  For the joy set before us we must also endure.

David wrote of his Shepherd, “He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.”  Paul much later writes that we are seated with Him in the heavenlies.  There, we sit above the churn of these earthly troubles.  From there, we can move about in this world bringing His life.  In a recent prayer meeting (on-line of course), a brother shared about this being a time of rest.  I think it is so.  Personally, it has been like nothing I have ever known before.  I have been sifted and He has shown Himself faithful.  I am being drawn closer and everything that can be shaken, has been well shook.  His kingdom remains.  All the rest of this will surely pass away.