His Love Has No Limit

His Love Has No Limit

(Eph. 3:17-19, 1 Cor. 13:8-13, John 1:29, Rev. 5:6)

Years ago I learned this song.

His love has no limit,

His grace has no measure,

His power has no boundary known unto man,

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,

He gives, and He gives, and He gives again.

I sing it often.  Few words can say so much.  All else may fail, but the love of God never fails.  It has no end because He is (I am that I am) and love is His nature.  We could say it is His very essence.  Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know the height and depth and width, and the length of the love of God that goes beyond knowledge.  How can we know that which cannot be fully comprehended?  Lord, save us from mere philosophy but may we never cease to consider the wonder of Your love.

To ponder the story of Jesus has great value.  To begin, He was born of a virgin, taking on human flesh, then threatened with murder as a little child, and raised in the traditions of the Jews.  From the incident in Jerusalem at 12, for 18 years He bore with the self-righteousness of the Pharisees every Sabbath.  He saw the way the system of His day oppressed the people.  He knew His calling and what was done to the prophets.  And He came to clearly understand He was sent as the Lamb of God.  What does it mean to bear the sins of the whole cosmos from Adam until that day He was crucified, and beyond?  Who can understand the weight of that?

As we read the gospels we see different perspectives.  We see stories repeated but with different details.  Throughout, the love and compassion of Christ shines through.  He never allowed the religious darkness of His day to stop Him from healing, or casting out a demon.  His motivation was always love.  He delivered people from demonic oppression, healed the sick, restored a dead son to her widowed mother, and so much more.  John tells us He did so many good and wonderful works that all the books in the world could not contain the record of them.  We might say he was exaggerating but I don’t think so.  In one man, God had concentrated His power so that He might touch a nation of people.  But in the big picture, those people rejected Him.

While this love that was extended to His enemies, to those who hated Him, was shown exponentially through Christ Jesus, God had showed it to Israel for centuries.  Read through the prophets.  God saw His people, whom He wanted to know intimately, as a whore.  She was unfaithful in heart.  She wanted blessing she could touch and handle but God was looking for a circumcised heart.  He worked as a surgeon to open her eyes to His ways of lovingkindness and truth but she could not see.  And in love and wisdom, He waited for the fulness of time and sent His Son to display His love.

Now, He has a many-membered body on the earth.  “A body you have prepared for me,” Christ says through the prophet.  He goes on, “It is written in the book.  I delight to do Your will O my God.”  Christ is declaring this to His Father.  Are you listening?  Are you a member of His body?  This is your story.  You may not “feel” like it but His Spirit is echoing in your spirit, the will of God is your delight.  It brings the highest joy you can know.  What is the will of God?  Love Him with all that you are, and love the ones around you as He loves you.  That is how we love ourselves.  Lean back into the love of God for you.  Soak in it.  Remember it.  Meditate on that truth.  He who gave His own Son to draw you to Himself, will give you all you need through Him.

All Things Work Together

All Things Work Together

(Eph. 1:4-5, Rom. 8:28-30, Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 2:10-11, 8:7-13)

From before the foundation of the world, the universe, God knew we would be here today.  As you read this, realize that the One who formed you in your mother’s womb knew every detail of your life before you were conceived.  This cannot be explained or deciphered by the natural mind apart from understanding given by God.  Faith itself is a gift from God.  And we can receive it.  We were created with the capacity to believe Him.

These words written here are intended for believers who are, or are becoming, disciples.  Simply said, disciples are those who are spending time with a teacher.  Jesus Christ is our best teacher.  We have had other teachers and they all have a value.  In our schools we have known good and bad teachers.  In spiritual things, the same is also true.  Part of the value is learning the difference.  Sometimes it is obvious.  Often, we can glean some good spiritual food and need to spit out the bones.  Sometimes, as Jesus said to the Laodiceans, we need to vomit.  Then we could offer grace to those who would listen.  Read what Jesus said to His own who lived in Laodicea. (Rev. 3:20)

No matter who has taught us we can grow in direct relationship with our Father in heaven.  John wrote that we have an anointing, the Holy Spirit, so that we need no man to teach us.  God’s way is to give us others who help to reinforce the truth that is already working in us.  I continue to point people to the meaning of the new covenant.  It was spoken through Jeremiah long before it came through Christ Jesus.  It is the covenant in His blood.  It is eternal, unchanging.  By the Spirit we are growing in all truth.

All the places we have been, God has been getting our attention.  Today He wants to bring something your way so that you might increase in knowing Him.  This is the good purpose He is after.  He is after you being fully His.  It is like being married.  The marriage of a man and a woman is one of the best pictures of a spiritual reality that we have in the natural world.  Jesus looked for ways He could bring an understanding of the kingdom of God.  He used what we call the parables.  Disciples were given to understand but others did not understand.  When He spoke of the need to eat His flesh and drink His blood, some who had been following turned away.  But some followed on.  They knew He was speaking on another level as He had also said His words are Spirit and life.  His very words bring spiritual life.  They even are that life.

We must have a Spirit of revelation, of understanding.  By the Spirit the eyes of our understanding are enlightened.  The blinders are removed to see what was always present.  Then our life circumstances, troubles that come, are understood from God’s perspective.  With a right attitude we can ask, God, what are You after in this situation.  I am in a hard place, Lord, but in trusting you, this can be a benefit to me.  I can learn something here, I can grow.  The Lord wants us to know we are His children and, as any good father would do, He wants His children to grow, to mature.  The good teachers, pastors, apostles, and others we have known as disciples have this same desire.  The best ones are looking to work themselves out of a job.  They have learned to cooperate with God to help all of us grow in our vertical relationship with our Father.

These best ones also know they are still learning.  When we see someone we look up to fall into sin or fail us in some way, we may realize we had put them on a pedestal.  We may see church splits and all of our collective failures in terms of our denominations and attempts to “build a church.”  May we be careful not to think it is for us to fix it all.  The weeds, those clouds without rain, must be allowed to grow among His true disciples.  Otherwise we may mess up those who are following on to know Jesus Christ as He truly is.

An Eternal Conflict

An Eternal Conflict

(Rev. 12, 21:2, Gal. 4:26, Rom. 8:33-39)

This passage in Revelation12 begins with the word “now”.  My first thought was that John was saying that the scene he was reporting was happening at that moment.  That is not the case.  Yet it is important that we recognize what he writes is now in the past in human history, although the conflict continues.  John sees a heavenly woman.  While interpretations of her as Mary are understood, that does not satisfy as an explanation.  The vision of this passage has a heavenly, continuing meaning.

This woman is the body of believers of all time, the great cloud of witnesses, a heavenly bride.  Paul explained to the Galatians that the Jerusalem above, the heavenly city, is our mother, the one who bore us.  This is, of course, spiritual birth.  The vision John sees is of heavenly substance.  And he sees the conflict.  The enemy wants to destroy the child.  In John’s day, the persecution was intense and deadly.  In all this the Lord’s purpose is to reveal Himself as the Victor in and through us as we stand in His strength.

As the vision progresses, John sees the accuser of the brothers cast down to the earth.  This is the realm of our conflict, right here.  The enemy does not have access to the throne room any longer.  How could he?  Christ is there with all authority and all those who have gone before us surround the throne in worship with a multitude of angels.  That vast gathering includes all those of faith before Christ appeared on the earth and all those of 2000 years since He ascended.  And Paul understood that in Christ, we are seated there also.  We have authority.  Yet all authority is His and we need to be rightly aligned with the Lord as we exercise authority.  If we are not aligned with Him, our attempts to exercise authority will come to nothing at all.

Some authority is common to us all.  We have authority to refuse the accuser.  Like they who John says have overcome him, we can overcome that one by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony, and that we do not love our lives, even if it costs us the ultimate.  For us in the Western world, the last part is not an imminent threat.  It does happen but is nothing like it was in John’s day or in parts of the world today.  The conflict often appears to be one of ideas and of words.  They are important.  Thoughts and beliefs cannot be ignored.  But the real battle is for hearts.  For the battle is for the soul of a person to be conquered by the love of God which is pure and undefiled.  The Lord works through believers to quicken the spirit of another, that is to make them aware of Christ so that they are drawn to Him.  It is up to each one to respond to that drawing.

It is also up to each one to take his stand in the conflict.  Do we side with the accuser?  We may have, like Peter, hindered the Lord’s purpose.  I am thinking of his response to Jesus’ mention of His impending death at the cross.  Peter did not understand the nature of the conflict.  Only later did the Spirit reveal the nature of what Christ accomplished by His death and resurrection.  Death itself was defeated.  We are all in training.  And, hopefully, we are learning to see clearly and rely on the weapons the Spirit provides..  The enemy has been cast down to the earth.  If we do not see our place in the heavens with Christ, the angel’s word of woe to those who dwell on the earth would be our experience.  But we, as disciples of Christ, are the offspring of the woman.  She is that bride of Christ later described as the city descending from heaven.

The more we comprehend the truth of such a passage, we know our identity with God and can walk with Him, being effective for Him and the kingdom.  Perhaps “effective” is not the best way to describe it.  It is better to describe the result as being children for the Lord, more people born of the Spirit.  It is like a woman giving birth.  May we enter into the battle for life as it really is.  Lord prepare us, teach us, and lead us.  Cause us to be fruitful, for Your Name’s sake.  It is all for you.  May we hear your invitation to share in your joy, and may we say yes.

Spiritual Seasons

Spiritual Seasons

(Ps. 24, Matt 17:2ff, Mark 9:2ff, Luke 9:28ff, Ps. 91)

We might see our lives as an ascent up the mountain of the Lord.  But what is that?  We are told in Hebrews that we are come to the cloud of witnesses who are in God’s presence.  We are come to that heavenly Zion.  And to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant.  Knowing that the veil is gone and we can access the Lord by the Spirit at any time, is the place we start from.  This is the inexplicable reality we know as His children.  It is the life that Christ knew as He walked among us before His death and resurrection.  If we say we abide in Him, we ought to be walking as He walked.  We have periods of growth and fruitfulness.  Some seasons seem dry; some we seem to be soaring on His wings.  As Bunyan wrote of the Celestial City (heaven) in Pilgrim’s Progress, our lives are a journey up the mountain.

It is an Individual and church-wide reality that we pass through seasons.  If one goes on a hike up a mountain, we may find well worn, established trails.  Parts of the route may descend to avoid obstacles that are extremely difficult to deal with.  The valleys are places where God shows Himself in other ways.  Spiritual awareness to see what God is after, what His purpose is along the way, is essential.  Lessons and revelations of His glory are available.  As He said to all of the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2 & 3), let those who have ears to hear, pay attention.

According to our personal need and His particular purpose in our lives, we may experience heavenly encounters.  I was not sure whether to say may or will experience.  As with all spiritual gifts or experiences, the Spirit gives as He wills.  He holds and exercises the prerogative.  I could go through recorded experiences of such throughout the Bible but will not take the words to do so.  You may do that as you like.  I will mention one of the most significant that I have mentioned before.

As Jesus knew His crucifixion was drawing near, He took three of His disciples up to a place where He might pray.  There those three men, humans like us, saw Jesus Christ in a glorious state along with Elijah and Moses.  They were talking about His impending death.  The Son of God, the Son of Man, was going to taste death.  Think how foreign that is for God to taste the judgement pronounced on Adam.  I would think they also would speak of His resurrection for those two with Him had already entered that place.  If we think about all this too analytically, it might give us a headache.  Let’s hear the story and be strengthened in our faith.

It happened .  It was real.  Peter reacted in his immaturity.  Jesus brought those three to see this and he was making preparation among His living stones whom He would build as His church.  Peter wanted to build something on the mountain because that was what he knew.  Later Jesus would shift it all by the outpouring of His Spirit.  We are learning not to do what Peter suggested because we have years of building that which is not heavenly.  Among us are those who have had experiences like they had on that mountain.  And others among us have  encountered angels.

Sometime around 1990, I was praying in my living room and knew a strong presence.  I saw nothing but was afraid for I believed angels had come.  Rather I might say my spirit was aware of those who are always present.  Many years later, about 2015, I knew a season of angelic encounters.  Some of these taught me how they cooperate with us as they minister to others who are coming toward the Lord.  Other visions of angels were related to God’s care for me as I passed through an emotional breakdown.  While I could share specifics, I think it would not help you.  Rather, I would have you be aware.  As Jesus told them on the mountain to tell no one till after He was raised from the dead.  So I will hold details.

Know this, as Ps. 91 tells us, He gives angels charge over us to guard us in every way.  That is for those who dwell in His shelter, who abide in the true vine.  May we stay close, awake, and alert.  If we have heard Him call us to come higher, let’s say yes and begin to go up the mountain that represents the pursuit of His presence.  And if we have not heard such a call. Let us pray like the one in Song of Songs, “Draw me, and we will run after You.”  Once we catch a glimpse of Him, we will never be satisfied with less than Himself.  He desires it more than we.  That’s why He came.

He Will Finish His Work

He Will Finish His Work

(Zech. 4:1-14, Rev. 1:12-13, Rev. 11:4, Rev. 21:1, Heb. 8:5, 9:23)

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that we prophesy in part.  No one has the full picture by himself.  Peter warns us of thinking that our revelation, our understanding is private, or personal.  We ought to be bouncing our thoughts off one another and, more importantly, asking the Lord Himself.  In this day the number of prophetic voices has increased.  Along with all this understanding we need a commensurate measure of discernment.  Are we hearing the Lord’s voice above all the other voices?  Are we hearing Him corporately?  Are the words and the spirits being tested?

Zechariah in his day hears a word directed to a ruler, Zerubbabel.  He was a leader of the first group of God’s people returning from Babylon.  His name indicates he was born in Babylon.  But he did not stay there.  He was moving on in God’s purpose in his day.  I was once distressed when a brother spoke of a governor, an elected official of our present day, as a “Zerubbabel”.  He spoke as if such a one could advance the kingdom.  We have gone 2000 years from the pouring out of the Spirit and we still look for an earthly kingdom.  To see Zerubbabel as anything other than a type of Christ misses the point.  May the Lord mature us and bring us to clearer understanding.

Look at the passage from Zechariah.  Keep in mind, Christ had not yet been revealed.  This man saw in part without our reference point.  Yet he sees and speaks of the same vision that John saw more clearly on Patmos.  Zechariah tells of a builder laying a foundation.  And he sees two olive trees who are pouring oil into the golden lampstands.  Don’t we see what this represents?  True prophetic and apostolic ministry has one purpose and function.  They function to impart spiritual life.  I sense the Spirit pleading with us, and working an intercession in us for such a flow of life, that the lampstands may be what the Lord Jesus spoke to His twelve and the women with them.  “You are the light of the world.”  That is a divine declaration, a commanding word, an identity.

The olive trees, His witnesses, are beholding Him.  A literal meaning of the words for these anointed ones is sons of fresh oil.  They stand before the Lord of the whole earth.  The shining of the lampstands requires a flow.  Under the law and the prophets, it was the job of the priests to ensure the flow of oil so that the light never went out.  Similarly, David had priests who made sure the fire on the altar of sacrifice never went out.  The altar of incense likewise had a continual fragrance going up to the Lord.  These are all pictures of our life in Christ.  These are the pictures that caused the Moravians to develop 24/7 prayer habits.  Today, bowl and harp and prayer-watch ministries are growing over the entire earth.

Prayer and worship, the bowl and the harp, represent what is born of the Spirit in our spirits and is displayed by our words, our actions.  I have written before, and write again, we are called to spend focused time in the presence of the Lord.  We learn to pour worship and prayer, matured prayer, to the Lord.  We grow and learn to abide in Him, in His presence.  And we carry that presence wherever we go.  Others are touched by it and drawn toward the one who inhabits the praises of His people and inhabits us.  We become a praise to His name.

Moses saw the pattern, Zechariah saw the pattern, John saw the pattern.  But the heavenly, the true and real, is yet to be fully seen by us.  It is in Christ and revealed in measure by the Spirit for us who believe. Through each of these brothers in faith came a fresh and increasing revealing of Christ and His working in the earth.   The Lord Jesus Christ is creating, and finishing the pattern in us, a people.  He has no other building, no other means to accomplish His purpose in our day.  Will we cooperate with Him?  Will we allow all the work necessary?  Let us delight to do His will.  Lord, bring us to this place and keep us in it.

He Will Complete the Work

He Will Complete the Work

(Phil. 1:6, Eph. 4:11-16)

He who began a good work in you, will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.  If you have known the Lord Jesus for some time, I expect you have heard these words before.  If not I suggest you read the entire letter that Paul wrote from Rome when he knew his execution was near.  He expresses a tender love for those people.

While this thought has meaning for each of us, Paul was addressing those in Philippi  as a group, as a family of believers.  Salvation is a very personal experience but the Lord is after a people, a family.  The thought of a family of God has broad acceptance.  But what is that, and most important what does it mean from God’s perspective?  What was the intention for creation?  And then a most important question.  Are we walking in that?  So much of what we see and hear contradicts that.  We are collectively, and individually, a work in progress.  We are a vessel in the Potter’s hands.  We cry how long O Lord!  When will we be finished?  His “soon” is not our “soon”.

I spoke with someone recently who said what has been a recurring thought for me.  The Baptist spoke of Jesus as the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.  He further said that His winnowing fork is in His hand and He will thoroughly thresh His floor.  As He works, He will be making sure we remain on the sure foundation.  And He is the chief cornerstone.  We can be distracted into side issues.  I think of Bunyan’s pilgrim (Pilgrim’s Progress, the book) who meets up with some characters who misled him.  Such times provide lessons we will not easily forget.  As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, we grow up and learn not to be carried away by winds of doctrines.  Teaching is of value but sometimes the “new” thing becomes a distraction.  Then we can miss the Lord.  He knows how to bring us back.

We live in a time when many are pursuing the Lord and receiving dreams, visions, and revelations.  Consider how closely Christ Jesus was connected with the Father.  He was not so quick to share everything He knew or saw.  He patiently taught those who were close to Him saying, “How can I explain the kingdom of heaven.”  As He spoke in parables, I just used language that is common today.  He made comparisons to help His disciples to understand.  The Lord desires to communicate with each one of us and he knows what we need, what food is for us.  The manna was a common food for all His people in the wilderness.  Yet with Moses He spoke face to face as with a friend.

It is written that Moses was the meekest man on the earth.  He had been thoroughly processed and prepared for his calling.  We could certainly consider him a prophet but was a truly humble man.  He knew God for years and yet asked to know His ways.  Moses knew that he had not arrived, was not finished as he was fulfilling his calling.  And Moses desired that all God’s people would prophesy.

All that we see in Moses and a large family of God’s people passing through the wilderness is a foreshadow of what the Spirit is working among Jesus’ church in this day.  All that is unbelief in us must die.  It cannot inherit the kingdom.  Read in Revelation 21:7-8 that the first ones mentioned who are found outside the city are the fearful and unbelieving.  They are included with more unsavory characters.  Remember John’s words, “He who practices righteousness is righteous.”  As the Lord works in us, He is patient to move us out of our sinful habits.  I would say that all of our failures have some root in unbelief, in wrong understandings of the truth.  So Paul prays for believers to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ.  And the writer of the Hebrews says we must not fail of the grace of God.  At every failure we must turn and receive mercy and grace to get up and go on to maturity.  Remember John also wrote that when we confess our failures, the blood of the Lamb is sufficient to wash us clean from all unrighteousness.  We may falter but His love never fails.  Stay in the place of His love.  That is His presence.  That is the throne room of God.

A Beginning

A Beginning

(John 1:1-18, Rev. 3:20, Hab. 3:2, Luke 3:17)

John starts his story of Jesus, his gospel, hearkening back to Genesis.  He continues later (in Chapter 3) with a man’s beginning as one born of God.  This is the beginning all men need.  The phrase “born again” is full and now well known by many.   And as John writes many do not know Christ, and even among His own, He is not received.  Eternal truths never change and they show up throughout history including in our time.

Whomever receives Him, the Word, Christ Jesus, receives exousia to become teknon, a born one, of God.  I used the Greek words as they do have specific meanings.  But we do not need to be Greek scholars to know the truth.  It comes from God Himself by the Spirit.  Jesus said what is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the Spirit is Spirit.  I recently read something obvious yet very important to consider.  Being born is outside of any person’s control.  For each of us, our parents came together, we were conceived, and when we were fully formed we were born.  This reminds me of my total reliance on God for everything and especially for my spiritual life.  It does not mean I do not have responsibility.  My basic responsibility is a “yes”, a response to Him.  We must receive Him for the new birth to happen.

The truth is that God takes the initiative.  I believe He does that for every man, for every person.  He sent His Son.  He made the first move.  The birth of the Son of God through Mary is a mystery.  We can get caught up in our minds to explain that.  Forget it!  Like it was at the creation of the universe, the Spirit of God moved and His new creation was started.  So John starts there.  The word, Christ became flesh, Jesus was born.

It was a miraculous work of God.  So it is with spiritual rebirth, regeneration.  We use words but our words must carry life so that life travels to another person.  Do we see a difference with spiritual birth and natural birth?  Yet in natural birth it takes a conception, it takes a willing man and woman to begin the process.  It takes an encounter, an intimate encounter with God for the Son, for Christ to be formed in us.  It is not a matter of our wills but of the will of God.  Yet we must be willing.  We must receive Him.  And we can.  Say yes when you become aware of the Spirit of God drawing you.

We want to see lives changed.  We see others making bad choices.  We see impact on their lives and their families.  We see the impact on nations and peoples.  We see entire cultures in turmoil.  So we pray for the Lord to move.  And we may remember the words, “Lord, revive your work in the midst of the years.”  And we look at groups called churches and see the heresies and the blasphemies and the very doctrines of demons.  Others have analyzed the wicked doctrines fabricated because of unbelief.  Some say Jesus is Michael come to earth for a period.  Others say twins were born and that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers.  And the basis of a “godfather” is that Joseph did know Mary denying the birth through a virgin.  Then, since Jesus is God, Mary is the mother of God and Joseph is the godfather.  Pay money to the godfather and he will protect you.  Give money to the “church” after you confess your murders and you are forgiven.  Modern day indulgences and criminal families.

We focus on Jesus but we do not ignore the corruption among us.  I am so aware of Jude’s message.  Some have come in the door and will cause trouble.  Empty and vain words come from them.  I have known my own thoughts that I thought were from God.  I am growing more and more careful with my words.  But those that sow discord are exposed by their fruit.  And sometimes exposure comes as we do not see any growth.  We need sound beginnings.  As the Baptist said, He will thoroughly beat His floor into shape.  Sure foundations are necessary.  Perhaps, in some ways, we may need to start over.  For some we need a realignment.  And for some, simply press on to know Him more.  Know Him who was from the beginning.

Bitter and Sweet

Bitter and Sweet

(Rev. 1:9, 10:10,11,  Ex. 15:23-25)

On Patmos, John had what we might say is the greatest revelation of the glorified Christ recorded.  As this progressed he was given a little book to eat.  It was sweet in his mouth and bitter in his belly.  When Moses led Israel through the wilderness, they were thirsty and found water at Mara.  It was bitter.  Moses turned to the Lord and was directed to a tree that turned the water to a sweet drink to quench the thirst of those on the journey.  We know the tree represents the cross that Jesus bore.  Symbols of the cross show up again and again through the wilderness.

At the cross, Jesus gave us the answer to bitterness.  He bore the pain by spitting out the medicine that would cover it up.  He did not allow the pain inflicted to be diminished by bitterness.  It is a test for us, a lesson learned, to not allow bitterness to fester.  We each have a little book, a journey of our lives.  That book is given to us by God.  It is like the journey of God’s people through the wilderness.  We may come to an experience that we hope will satisfy, only to find it bitter.  If we see that God has a way out, a solution, so that we can receive what we need, the bitter can be made sweet.  His solutions include letting go.  Who wants to drink bitterness?  We have heard it in different ways that it will make you sick and may even kill you.

If we consider Jesus, we see the pain He took on Himself.  It is a part of His carrying our bad stuff, our sin.  As we pass through our wilderness times, we see it is all a part of this world.  If we hear Jesus call and take up our cross becoming a true disciple, we begin to share in His sufferings.  We know something of the pain He bore and we develop grace and true kindness for others.  This was John’s experience.  His writing after Patmos is of a different perspective than others.

I noticed that John’s experience was reverse of Israel’s.  John first knew the sweetness and then the bitterness.  Is it not so with the cross?  When we first know what Christ has done, the joy, the sweetness is wonderful.  Then it’s work within reveals the bitter places.  He searches us and knows us and the work of the cross within sets us free.  When we let it work, sweet water will flow out to others.  If we do not recognize the Spirit’s working, bitter water may come out.  As James writes can a fountain bring out both sweet and bitter water?  It should not be so.  If we see it happen, we know to seek that change called repentance.  At such moments, I find myself asking the Lord, “What is my problem?”  I know the answer.

Both Israel and John were on journeys.  Both provide examples for us.  One is well before the revelation of the Son of God.  The other is after.  To whom should we pay more attention?  We might say neither.  And that last thought is important.  We need to pay heed to the daystar, the morning star, arising in our hearts.  That phrase is wonderfully creative.  Peter, a fisherman, wrote that.  When he wrote that, he had moved into his task of feeding Jesus’s sheep.  But that was Peter.  What about you?  What about today?  Are you knowing the leading of the Spirit?  Are you hearing His voice?  Are you growing in grace, in truth, in love for the Lord our God, and for those around you?

Following the Lord brings growth.  It brings change.  Along the way we will know the bitter and the sweet.  Remember Paul’s words to the Philippians, I press on to know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.  Life and death.  Death and life.  Simultaneous, synchronized working of the Spirit in us from the inner man out until we receive the redemption of our bodies.



(Eph. 5:18, Matt. 20:22-23, Luke 12:49-53, Rom. 6:4, Eph. 4:5, Ezek. 47:1-12)

Among the Greeks, the word baptism was applied to the sinking of a ship.  Most of us would understand that the Lord’s intention in baptism is that we would be fully immersed.  While the outward act is important and was specifically directed by Jesus, our experience of being totally immersed in Christ is most important.  That is a process and not a onetime event.  Nevertheless, the act of baptism is an essential beginning.

It comes to mind that Paul wrote, of God are you in Christ Jesus.  Without faith in the working of God through all that He accomplished in Christ, we would pursue outward acts to grow.  That will never yield a lasting result.  God works something in us and we respond in and by faith toward Him.  We have the example of Jesus, that at the beginning of His exposure to the masse, He was baptized by John.  Jesus called it an act of righteousness.  It represents our dying to our old life and being raised to a new one in Christ.  Today practices and timing vary but the original idea of being immersed is important.  And it is progressive.

In the passages in Matthew and Luke, Jesus refers to a baptism He is moving toward.  While the same word is used, this is another type of baptism.  He is pressing in to fulfill the will of God, the purpose of God, for His life.  If we follow Him as the 12 did, we will find ourselves moving toward this baptism also.  He refers to it in the context of fire.  It is a passionate pursuit.  He is straightened, distressed for it to be done.  This is the thought expressed.  Are we in the process of being immersed into a passionate pursuit of God’s purpose?  Ultimately it is a refinement of being conformed to the image of His Son.  It is the process of letting go so that the life of Christ would be expressed in our lives.

The picture which we have through Ezekiel is different.  Do you see the progression\?  Some mature saints I met years ago expressed the thought of letting go the shoreline.  With Ezekiel, he was led into the river until it could not be crossed.  A full baptism leads you into the currents of God and you no longer want to exert the effort to leave.  You are “free” to leave but you know that every twist, turn, and all the dangers are worth the seeming risks.  In God, our end is sure and always good.  Jesus arrived at the point where He pressed into it.  He knew His entry into Jerusalem on the foal of a colt was not the victory it appeared to be.  The victory would come when He finished His work.  And it would be revealed when He was raised.  Was there ever such an intensity of spiritual activity within such a short time?  I think even the final day and hour will not compare.

We hear much of the prophetic.  Many have dreams and visions.  Some are clear and full and their results confirm they are from the Spirit of God.  I sense others are mixed, our own desires mingling with God’s.  I see this among the prophetic when we are seeking to know God’s next move.  We miss it.  I cannot submit myself to the dreams, visions, and prophecies of others.  However, we know of the times where someone confirms what we are already hearing.  And sometimes, the words from one are confirmed later in another way.  Recently however, I have sensed whole groups of prophetic people missing it collectively.  Are we listening to one another and missing the Lord’s voice?

I am increasingly aware of our wrapping the history of earthly kingdoms with His purpose in the earth as if we know the future.  More than that we ascribe too much significance to earthly kingdoms.  The prophet Daniel confirmed that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream revealed the passing away as dust all the earthly kingdoms.  We do not seek for destruction but a complete displacement is coming.  It will be total.  Christ is not coming to establish an earthly kingdom.  He is coming so that the heavenly kingdom will fill the earth.  We keep seeking for Him to fix the old creation.  That is not what we read nor what we should expect.  He is bringing a new creation.  Christ Jesus is the firstborn from the dead.  He is the firstborn of a new creation.  All things will be summed up in Him.  One baptism.  To be immersed in and filled with Christ.  Will you allow the Lord to sink you like a ship?  You need to lose your anchors and let go of the shore and safety of the harbor.  All those are temporary anyway.

Treasure in Heaven

Treasure in Heaven

(Mark 10:21, Matt. 6:19-21, Luke 12:31-34)

Seek first the kingdom of God, and all that we need will be added to us.  I looked at the gospels as I began to write this and was surprised to find this very thought in the passage from Luke.  I had been thinking about what it means to seek first.  It becomes more than a passing thought or taking a few minutes to read or pray, and then move on.  As we go on, we find it becomes the first priority continually.  The Father and His kingdom are always first.

I began this reflection by reminding myself to store up treasure in heaven and wanted to read Jesus’ words.  A man has said that we need to pay attention to Jesus’ very words.  We receive much help, even an impartation of spiritual life, through the words of the writers of what we call the New Testament.  We appreciate and are fed by these lovers of God.  But Jesus own words are most valuable.  He said His words are Spirit and they are Life.  They are the incorruptible seed of which Peter wrote.  As was written for the seven churches of Asia, after Jesus had taken His seat in heaven, “Let him who has ears to hear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  So let us remind ourselves of all that Jesus said.

The more we follow the leading of His Spirit, we store up treasure in heaven.  Do good works and give.  Fast and pray, but do it in secret as lovers of your Father in heaven.  Those thoughts are spoken by Jesus in the context of the verses referenced in Matt. 6.  Read that entire chapter again.  How easily we are caught up with earthly issues which will pass away.  As I have lived my life in the U.S. I have watched believers, true disciples of the Lamb, give of their time and energy to impact the culture.  I have been there and remain involved in community service.  Yet as ambassadors of an eternal kingdom we are called to not be entangled in the affairs of this world that we may serve in another battle.

While the tension is real and the battle can be intense, the call of the Lord is always to come to Him when burdened.  He tells us to receive His yoke and learn of Him.  We learn to stay in His yoke and maintain that humility with Him in the presence of our Father.  He is ever our friend and savior.  Yes He is Lord and we are not,  We are His friends, His members, His bride.  Are we keeping Him as our reward?  He responds to our prayers.  Things are changed and battles won.  Some fall in the process.  Some are lost.  Some are exposed.  Some, when exposed, repent and are knowing His salvation.  Others harden their hearts and continue in rebellion.  We often view a mass of humanity but He sees each one, even that one lost sheep while 99 are safe in the fold.

In another place, we read to set our affections on things above where Christ sits.  May our focus be on Him as we seek the kingdom.  It is easy for some of us to look for the right things to do, to make all this work, to find a better life.  We are wired for laws, rather than relationship.  Do the “right thing” and you will be ok.  Without the Spirit, we miss His ways.  Moses asked to learn His ways.  He had seen, and all Israel had seen, His works. His hand in their lives but only two in that day learned His ways.  We are not in that day, that the Lord should have only two witnesses!  In this day, He has revealed Himself in His Son.  The law came through Moses.  We honor that man but a greater has come.  Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  In Psalms we read His ways are lovingkindness and truth.  David experienced His ways in his lifetime.  Today the way is more clearly displayed to many.

The way is simple and is narrow.  We don’t like the narrow but as you pass through a time of His discipline, you find yourself in a broad place and discover new wealth in Him.  Don’t quit along the way and miss what He intends for you.  Weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning.  A dear brother reminded us on a Sunday morning, this world is a wilderness.  Don’t be distracted, don’t be entangled in it.  Keep you eyes on the prize where Christ sits, waiting for you to come.  Meet with Him today.  And then, walk with Him every day.