Fortified Cities

Fortified Cities

(Read about kings of Israel and Judah, II Cor. 5:20)

As I write this, I must remind myself, I am writing to an audience that has some faith in Jesus Christ.  If you are not a believer, none of this will make sense.  Last year the Lord showed me that he sees us, each of us, as living stones in the wall of His city.  When we read of the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, the names of apostles, and the sons of Israel are assigned to the foundation stones and to the gates of the city.  One cannot ignore the true sons of Jacob, whose name the Lord Himself changed to Israel.  So, the Lord takes us, as His children, His living stones, and places us in the wall of the city.  More than doing the work of a watchman on the wall, we are being living stones set in place by the Master Builder.  When we try to be watchman by working at it, we will come short of the real thing, and learn that it takes the life that Christ is in us, and then we shine without human effort.  No stone is too small, none too large; He positions us and fits us together perfectly.  And He continues to polish us so we shine more clearly.

Submission to His love in the process polishes us up so that His glory shines through.  That is who each of you are!  By His wonderful working in you.  It is your identity in Christ.  It touches everything you do.  As you are a wife, a mother, a father, a husband, a son or a daughter, you shine Christ within your immediate circle of influence.  Hear that word, IN FLOW ENCE.  What flows through you to others?   As you believe in Him, out of your innermost being, your deep places, will flow rivers of living water.  That is the working of God’s Spirit in you, and through you.  You may react and say, “That’s not working.  It’s not happening.  I am hard on myself, and then on my family.”  Go to Him, pour it all out.  We are all psalmists, you know.  The same Spirit that moved David to write psalms is in us.  Go to Him with all your words.  You will find His grace at the end of yourself.  We are transformed in His presence by going to the throne of grace.

At the turn of this year, the Holy Spirit changed the picture for me.  He expanded it.  He says He is seeing us as fortified cities, standing firm.  In the days of the Lord’s expressions through the prophets, the kingdom of David and Solomon was divided due to human failures.  The kingdom of Judah was that closest to the Lord’s purpose.  It was the remnant of that day through which the Savior would come.  Jesus said that He is the root and the offspring of David.  That is deep truth.  The root and the offspring.  The kings of Judah had a sense that preservation was important.  Among those kings who were aligned and seeking the Lord’s purpose were those who rebuilt and strengthened fortified cities.  These would stand against the enemies’ attacks.  The Lord today is building us individually and corporately to be strengthened with might in our inner man.

We must cooperate with Him in this building.  How are we fortified?  Part of that process is praise.  It was Judah that was chosen to be in line with God’s purpose.  Israel’s apostasy was greater yet Judah could be self-absorbed, the prophets rebuked her as well.  DeVern Fromke alerted us to the fact we can get caught up in the experience of worship and lose focus on the Lord Himself.  The worship is for Him.  Yet I have found we can allow our enjoyment of His presence.  The Holy Spirit brings us to a place where we simply praise, sing, dance, and act our worship. And we know the joy of His presence.  And if we don’t “feel” it, we continue because He is worthy.  The Lord’s purpose has always been to have a people who represent Him, bear Him witness in the earth.  Israel, through Solomon, failed and the Lord maintained a remnant in Judah.  Struggle continued as leadership faltered among Judah’s kings as well.  The Lord was preserving a line which ran through David, for the seed, Christ, to eventually come.  As we have said, the best of Judah’s kings knew to fortify cities against the enemy.  These cities were then places of safety, of refuge, for the Lord’s people, for His remnant.

As we struggle through our lives here and overcome ourselves and spiritual enemies that resist Him, we need to follow the Lord’s example as evidenced in measure by those “good” kings of Judah.  They were not without faults but they sought the Lord.  They broke down places of idolatry.  They received His prophets.  They restored and maintained worship in His house.  We need to pursue the sanctification which brings alignment with His purpose.  Glorify the Son and the Father by the Spirit.

So for us today, be spending time in His presence, praying in the Spirit, we are strengthened.  Pray with the Spirit (heavenly tongues may be, and can be, part of that), pray also in the Spirit in your earthly language.  Thereby, you pray also with your understanding.  But pray!!  Let your prayer time mature.  Pray the scriptures.  Pray the psalms.  Pray Paul’s letters.  Commune with your God.  Build up yourself on your most holy faith. Jude 20-21.  He is near to strengthen you.  You yourself are being made a fortified city.  And moreso, as we gather together with others who love the Lord Jesus Christ, we are built together in an expression of the New Jerusalem.  Is she not the bride and are we not being built up into an expression of His beauty and glory in the earth?!  Keep building us, Lord!  We are willing.

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All the Earth Shall Be Filled – Part 2

All the Earth Shall Be Filled – Part 2

(Habakkuk 2:14, John 17:1)

How can we speak, how can we preach, except we be sent?  We must experience His very intimate presence and hear Him send us.  We often hear of Isaiah’s call when his eyes were opened to see the Lord high and lifted up.  He saw the glory of God and he was “undone”.  What is that?  What does it mean?  One cannot explain it but all your pride, all your self-sufficiency, all the good you thought you were is blown away.  And you blurt it out.  You confess you are not clean.  And immediately that uncleanness is burned up.  The Lord opens His heart to Isaiah, and He will do the same with you.  He looks for one He can send on behalf of Himself.  Too often, we run on what we think He wants.  It takes a personal, direct confrontation with the holy One of Israel, Elohim, your heavenly Father.

Either you are His child, or you are not. (Rom. 8:9)  By His Spirit in us we know our heavenly Father.  Continue reading in Romans, chapter 8.  The Lord’s central thoughts toward us are written there.  We understand we have access to the throne of grace.  Like little children, we learn to come to Him to have our sins forgiven, and we find He sends us out in that grace to bless someone.  First be a blessing to your family.  Jesus was such from the age of 12 until 30.  We are in such a hurry to do “public” ministry.  If we understand the target we can become and the true spiritual maturity required for public ministry, we would not be in a hurry.  Yet the Lord knows how to prod us out onto the stage so to speak.  If you have never heard this, hear it now.  David was tending Jesse’s sheep until the day he was called and anointed.  Then he went through a ton of training before he came into all that his anointing by Samuel indicated and began.

Moses tended sheep on the backside of the desert for 40 years before he was a shepherd to an entire nation for 40 years of wilderness wandering.  I have experienced the training of waiting and faithfully doing what the Lord puts in my hands to do.  Take care of your family, please.  The time will come when He will lead you out, even thrust you out.  He, the Spirit, will lead you through the doors to places where you will be fruitful.  To what purpose has God called you?  Is it clear?  If not keep seeking Him.  Seek His face continually.  He will speak.  He did not call you to remain empty without direction.  Quietness is not silence.  Stillness is a peacefulness with your mind free from clutter and distraction.

As I thought about all I am writing, I caution us not to be afraid to step out.  I recall knowing a stirring in my spirit as I stood in a very large meeting at a Bible school.  I had something to speak out and was not ready to let it out.  Then a loud voice from a woman who I would later receive from, called out, “Quench not the Spirit.”  Oh, woe was me.  Then another voice, “Some of you young men are afraid of your own shadow.  Jesus will take you by the hand and. . . .”  I don’t recall the finish.  It is enough that He takes us by the hand.  Do you know such fellowship with Him?  He is seeking you out and calling you to Himself, so you can find your rest in Him.

As we walk with Him, we grow in grace and the knowledge of Him.  Paul prayed that for us all.  He was praying for those he knew of firsthand but those prayers never stop.  Jesus prayed we would be one as He and His Father, our Father, are one.  He taught His disciples that they would know the Father directly.  It is always so with Jesus.  He is forever the mediator of the new covenant.  He is never out of the picture.  As we come to, and know the Father directly, we find a maturity that enables us to know and carry the love that the Father has for men.  I have written before, we become a gift that the Father gives and sows into the earth.  Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it abides alone.  And if it is sown it will bear fruit.  It will yield a harvest.  Death works in us that life might work in others.  This is the way of our Father’s kingdom.  Get to know your Father.

At that table of the fulfillment of Passover, the Lamb of God prayed, that God would glorify His Son that the Son might also glorify Him (John 17:1).  Jesus knew He was going to the cross.  In that act of ultimate humility, God glorified Himself and displayed His love to mankind.  In that same way, a people will lay down their lives so that our Father would be glorified.  It has happened through so many who have gone before us.  It is happening in ever increasing measure today, and it will increase until He sees His bride is ready and He comes for her.  Others will see the display and experience the glory of the Lord.  So will the knowledge of the glory of the Lord cover the earth.  It will not be with a trickle.  It will be with a deep, flood, like the waters cover the sea.  That is very deep, my friend.  Wherever you are today, ask for the Living God to pour over, in, and through you!  He is waiting for you.

All the Earth Shall Be Filled – Part 1

All the Earth Shall Be Filled – Part 1

(Habakkuk 2:14)

Many of us have some background in a denominational church which colors our understanding of the Lord and His kingdom.  Often, we think we must shed everything we heard when in those places.  While the traditions of our earthly teachers may hinder the Holy Spirit’s work in us, we may be losing truths of value.  I was recently irritated by someone referring to themselves as being in the office of the prophet.  I do not see such an identification voiced by the apostles, except in humility.  But I must confess, my attitude is tainted with self-ambition.  Out I say to that, and it is done.  On the other hand, among the reformers of the 1500’s, it was understood that every believer is a prophet, priest, and king.  If Christ is in you, the potential for any operation of His Spirit is living in you.  Most notably, the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.  Does it look, sound, feel, and taste like Jesus?  That is the mark of true prophecy.  I thank God for those who have spoken His life into my own.

All things are possible to Him who believes.  This leads us to many questions.  If we believe for something that in a broad sense is His will, it does not mean it will come to pass through us personally.  He is sovereign.  It is He who initiates in a very personal, intimate way.  Do we know Him?  Are we growing in that knowledge, that relationship?  It is certainly no mistake that His church is identified as His bride.  In earthly marriage, as human beings, we all know what destroys a marriage.  Unfaithfulness brings deep wounds.  Trust is broken.  Our lives here in this age, in the world, present opportunities to know the truth, to know Jesus as friend, even as lover.  The true knowledge of Him happens through real life.  Do you bring your heartaches to the Lord Jesus?  Are you trying to be tough?  Trying to be a “good Christian”?  We are learning to yield to His life.

No one is righteous!  No, not one!  We look to pastors, preachers, teachers, and sadly some of those only want to draw us to themselves.  Of these the prophet spoke that the Lord’s face is set against them.  He does not like them.  We must be careful how we judge.  Is it the pastor that is the real problem, or is it your own desire to be connected with the “right” ministry so that you can ride on that one’s coattails?  Some lessons come hard.  But do not misunderstand.  We do want to be connected to ministries that minister His life.  As time goes on, I so enjoy meeting “strangers” who I find to be believers, and those who are disciples.  And I meet some who love truth but do yet have a revelation of the One who is truth Himself.  The Lord must go deep and tear down all self-righteousness.

I knew a woman who was married.  She made the mistake of marrying to fulfill a desire to have a family.  She deceived herself and did not really want that particular man as a husband but he seemed “safe”.  No man is “safe”.  During the marriage, she had a friend who she treated as a boyfriend.  She confided more deeply with him than her husband.  And she wanted intimacy with him.  He wisely withdrew.  Her husband was lonely.  Something was missing.  Eventually she ended that marriage with that man that she never really wanted.  At times she had wanted him but they were never fully in sync.  You have to want to want your husband, and husbands need to want to want their wives.  Love includes desire.

Desire is a necessary part of love.  What does this have to do with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord?  Everything.  Are you knowing His passion for you and returning it?  Is that passion growing?  If it diminishes are you asking why, and seeking for more?  Earthly marriage is ultimately only a picture, a life lesson.  I am not saying it does not matter.  If we are following the Lord Jesus, our marriages, on our part, will be the best they can be.  We will want everything we do to reflect His glory.  We cannot remake our husband, or our wife, into the “perfect” other half.  This life is about learning, about receiving, eternal life, the knowledge of Christ.  Jesus taught us that in the kingdom of heaven, when this earthly life ends, our earthly relationships will pass away.  Oh, we will still recognize family that received the life that Christ is but our desires here, while valid for now, will have passed away.  And we will be so enraptured with the glory of the Lord, of Elohim, of our heavenly Bridegroom, that we will not remember the former things.

When Jesus met with His closest followers, those 12 men, and shared that last meal this side of the heavenly table, He prayed that they would behold His glory.  That beholding accelerated at Pentecost.  But there at that table, that meal, Jesus said, “I have earnestly desired to share this meal with you.”  The word He used could be translated “lusted”.  That word may trouble us.  It is too strong, even wrong.  No.  We must have our earthly passions redirected by the Holy Spirit.  The more we invite and allow Him to fill us, that fruit of self-control will grow.  As we soak in His passionate love for us, we will return the passion.  Then we walk worthy of His calling and our ways are pleasing to Him.

What the Father Does

What the Father Does

Jesus said, “I only speak what I hear the Father speak; I only do what I see the Father do.”  It is important, even essential, that we know the Lord Jesus and our heavenly Father closely, intimately.  This is the very nature of the new covenant we have with God through the blood of His Son.  Jeremiah spoke it and the writer of Hebrews repeated it. (Jer. 31: 31-34, Heb. 8:7-13)

How can we speak, how can we preach, except we be sent?  We must experience His very presence and hear Him send us.  We often hear of Isaiah’s call when his eyes were opened to see the Lord high and lifted up.  He saw the glory of God and he was “undone”.  What is that?  What does it mean?  One cannot explain it but all your pride, all your self-sufficiency, all the good you thought you were is blown away.  And you blurt it out.  You confess you are not clean.  And immediately that uncleanness is burned up.  The Lord opens His heart to Isaiah, and He will do the same with you.  He looks for one He can send on behalf of Himself.  Too often, we run on what we think He wants.  It takes a personal, direct confrontation with the holy One of Israel, Elohim, your heavenly Father.

Either you are His child, or you are not. (Rom. 8:9)  By His Spirit in us we know our heavenly Father.  Continue reading in Romans, chapter 8.  The Lord’s central thoughts toward us are written there.  We understand we have access to the throne of grace.  Like little children, we learn to come to Him to have our sins forgiven, and we find He sends out in that grace to bless someone.  First be a blessing to your family.  Jesus was such from the age of 12 until 30.  We are in such a hurry to do “public” ministry.  If we understand the target we can become and the true spiritual maturity required for public ministry, we would not be in a hurry.  Yet the Lord knows how to prod us out onto the stage so to speak.  If you have never heard this, hear it now.  David was tending Jesse’s sheep until the day he was called and anointed.  Then he went though a ton of training before he came into all that his anointing by Samuel indicated and began.

Moses tended sheep on the backside of the desert for 40 years before he was a shepherd to an entire nation for 40 years of wilderness wandering.  I have experienced the training of waiting and faithfully doing what the Lord puts in my hands to do.  Take care of your family, please.  The time will come when He will lead you out, even thrust you out.  He, the Spirit, will lead you through the doors to places where you will be fruitful.  To what purpose has God called you?  Is it clear?  If not keep seeking Him.  Seek His face continually.  He will speak.  He did not call you to remain empty without direction.  Quietness is not silence.  Stillness is a peacefulness with your mind free from clutter and distraction.

As I thought about all I am writing, I caution us not to be afraid to step out.  I recall knowing a stirring in my spirit as I stood in a very large meeting at a Bible school.  I had something to speak out and was not ready to let it out.  Then a loud voice from a woman who I would later receive from, called out, “Quench not the Spirit.”  Oh, woe was me.  Then another voice, “Some of you young men are afraid of your own shadow.  Jesus will take you by the hand and. . . .”  I don’t recall the finish.  It is enough that He takes us by the hand.  Do you know such fellowship with Him.  He is seeking you out and calling you to Himself, so you can find your rest in Him.

As we walk with Him, we grow in grace and the knowledge of Him.  Paul prayed that for us all.  He was praying for those he knew of firsthand but those prayers never stop.  Jesus prayed we would be one as He and His Father, our Father, are one.  He taught His disciples that they would know the Father directly.  It is always with Jesus.  He is forever the mediator of the new covenant.  He is never out of the picture.  As we come to, and know the Father directly, we find a maturity that enables us to know and carry the love that the Father has for men.  I have written before, we become a gift that the Father gives and sows into the earth.  Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it abides alone.  And if it is sown it will bear fruit.  It will yield a harvest.  Death works in us that life might work in others.  This is the way of our Father’s kingdom.  Get to know your Father.

All Authority Is In Christ

All Authority Is In Christ

(Colossians 3:1-17)

Paul instructed us that we are dead and our life is hid with Christ in God.  Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, ascended and sat down on His Father’s throne.  Jesus spoke those words to His servant John as He revealed Himself to John while he was in exile on Patmos.  Do you feel alone, exiled from the comfort of earthly family and friends, even from familiar brothers and sisters in Christ?  Christ Jesus wants to reveal Himself to you in that place.  Seek Him.  Turn your attention to Him.

I started with the fact that we are dead.  Without Christ, we are dead in our sins.  Sins.  Those acts, thoughts, ways of living that are not aligned with the One who made us.  Paul gave a more basic definition.  Whatever is not of faith is sin.  Unbelief is sin and is the basis of so much of our human failures.  We must believe and continue to believe on and in, and into Christ.  God has placed us into Christ and we are now seated with Him in the heavenly realms.  In that place, we have authority in His name.  Many years ago I came to understand that His name is not a charm to be brought into our situations to manipulate.  Eli’s sons, undisciplined young men, led Israel into a defeat thinking they could bring the ark of God’s covenant with them to grant victory.  They knew nothing of the Lord and were destroyed.

Real authority comes by knowing the Lord Jesus firsthand.  That is the only way to true victory.  We overcome by His blood, the words out of our mouths, and that we are not afraid of loss including our earthly lives.  That is my personal amplified version of that passage in Revelation.  His blood is the full measure of His covenant with us.  Authority, true authority comes out of covenant relationship with the Lord Jesus.  He gave His life, His blood to establish a covenant with us at a table of fellowship.  Remember that last meal He shared before His death?  Remember also that only His closest disciples were at that meal.  But now, by His Spirit poured out on all flesh, every person, man, woman, and child has the opportunity to come to Christ and become a disciple and enter into true covenant relationship with the Son of God.

As we go on following Him, heavenly authority will be given us to do good, to heal, to deliver people from addictions, even to raise the dead.  He has not stopped performing cures and miracles through His true servants.  He also continues to work through earthly authorities but, according to His wisdom, foreknowledge and plan for human history, earthly authority is breaking down.  The image Nebuchadnezzar saw had feet of iron and clay.  That is the time we live in.  To me, not much iron is left.  It’s mostly just clay.  God still works through earthly authority to perfect His people.

Consider Jesus.  A moment came where He was told that Herod wanted to see Him.  He knew an earlier Herod had wanted to kill Him when He was an infant.  That may or may not have been part of the motivation, but He, the Lord, responded this way.  “Tell that fox that today and tomorrow I perform cures (healings and miracles) and the third day I am perfected.”  How much is in those words!  Our Father used the Roman system, Pilate and the soldiers, to lift up the Savior, as part of this perfection process.  But more was to be done as on the third day.  We see Jesus perfected, resurrected, as the firstborn from the dead.  Ultimately, this is the perfection we, as believers, are all being brought to, that is, to the redemption of our bodies, to a spiritual body.

Our brother Watchman Nee gave a series of messages, compiled in a book titled “Spiritual Authority”.  He addresses earthly as well as heavenly authority.  Consider all the authorities we find ourselves under in this life.  Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered.  I heard an excellent teaching years ago regarding that word, “suffering.”  The old King James version includes this from Jesus, “Suffer the little children to come to me.”  That word means allow.  Jesus allowed John to baptize Him.  Jesus bore with the opposition of the Pharisees and with the blindness of the Sadducees, Herodians, and Essenes.  His ultimate suffering allowed the destruction of His mortal flesh.  He tasted death for every man.  We understand that for each of His servants, the Lord cuts short physical suffering.  He gives grace to bear it.  In His suffering, Christ won victory over death itself and was raised with an incorruptible body.

We will receive the same, that is, an incorruptible body.  That is reason to rejoice and look forward.  Yet I have found that if that is only a doctrine, a concept we have heard, it will not carry us.  We must have, we need, a present refreshing of His presence.  We learn to rely on His Spirit within.  “I have a friend, the Spirit breathing holy fire within, my ever-present help, speaking truth when I can’t find it.”  Thanks to a sister from Hillsong for those words.

Jesus has sat down at the right hand of our Father and says, “All authority has been given me in heaven and earth.”  He reigns above all principalities and powers, and every other name.  As we are continually being filled with His Spirit, He is imparting to us authority to overcome in every situation for our own souls and for those around us.  This walk of overcoming requires a constant connection with that One who calls us to come boldly to His throne of grace.  No true authority is exercised apart from His true grace.

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

We begin with an often repeated thought.  Eye has not seen nor ear heard the things that God has prepared for them that love Him.  There remains an eternal rest and great, inexpressible joy for those who believe God.  Now the Lord is the Spirit and those who worship and love Him must do so in spirit and truth.  Truth is a powerful thought.  Authentic, real, no faking, no hypocrisy.  Life is real, why fake it.  That is a common phrase now and it rings of truth.  But without a reality of Christ and God for who He is, those words provide the excuse that we are just being real, simply being honest.  We require everyone else to live with our ugly selves.  We learn how to manage.  That is a nice way of saying we learn to draw boundaries, have walls, and hide in our fears.  We are afraid to be exposed and, like Adam and Eve, we hide.

The Lord Jesus Christ displayed the full glory of the Living God, and revealed Him as a giving Father.  He gives without limit.  He is gracious.  When we come to God now, we see Jesus.  The law came through Moses.  Moses is an awesome man but he is not the Savior.  The law was never meant to save us but to expose us to ourselves so that we would be drawn to God who is the Savior.  I have not heard it said lately but the meaning of the name “Jesus” is “God is Savior”.  When God called Adam out of his hiding place, He knew what had happened.  He drew the confession out of Adam and that man included the source of his temptation, Eve.  We need to be careful here.  Was this the start of blame shifting?

We now know not to go there, or we should know to simply admit our own sin, our own failures.  That restores intimacy, both with God and with human relationships.  God called and Adam came out of hiding.  Everything that Adam said to God was factually true.  God sees the heart and He spoke directly to Adam and gave that man consequence.  The same was true for Eve.  Only the serpent was cursed directly for that animal was the means by which satan gained authority among men.  Envy and jealously breed all kinds of temptation and failure.  Our enemy is envious of man because of what satan forfeit and the love and fellowship God gives to us.  God finished His work with Adam and Eve by giving them skins, animal hides.  This initial sacrifice is a type of the ultimate sacrifice which we have now seen in Christ.  And I sense it was their redemption.

Adam and Eve were married.  They were created to be, and were one.  Adam said, “Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.”  When asked about divorce Jesus first clarified the issue of the law from Moses.  His audience were all synagogue attenders.  Today, many are churchgoers.  They, and we, have heard God’s commandments, His words to man.  Moses allowed divorce because of hardness of heart.  To the Corinthians, Paul echoed this related to unbelievers.  We are called to peace.  Yet Paul did not condone divorce.  He said among believers, we may need time apart but we should be reconciled to one another.  Get your heart soft.  Jesus came to show us what is available and then poured out His Spirit so we might receive Him and have our hearts softened.

Jesus includes these words about marriage, “It was not so from the beginning.”  Back to Adam and Eve.  We do not see much detail about their lives after the garden.  But I know this.  Eve had many children.  Adam called her Eve because she was the mother of all living.  And their children had children, and the earth was being filled.  God had said be fruitful and multiply.  And I also know this,  Adam did not get up one day and say, “Eve, I hate you. I am out of here.  I am following Cain up to Nod and find me another wife.”  He and Eve had been through too much together.  She had literally come out of his side.  He could not forget that.  Jesus closed with this, “What God has joined together, let no man, or woman, break it.  That will lead to adultery.”  And He also said that adultery leads to divorce.

All this is simple to me.  If we want to follow Jesus fully, to truly be His disciple, we must hear Him and do what He says.  Marriage has been called a covenant.  I am not sure about that description.  Every covenant that depends upon man to keep has been broken.  Only the covenants which God ordains and initiates and keeps will fulfill His purpose.  This is His goal among mankind, that He will be glorified.  We say the enemy attacks us and our relationships, our families.  He can only work chaos where he has ground.  The cross has put Adam, our flesh to death.  We need to agree that we are dead to our ways and our agenda.  When trouble comes, when the voice of the accuser beats on us, refuse his taunts and accusations.  Don’t agree with the temptations to live our old ways.  And lean on your beloved, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is a heavenly bridegroom for every true believer.  His church is called his bride, his wife.  This is written by Paul to the Ephesians and appears again in John’s vision in Revelation (Rev. 21).  True Christians don’t initiate polygamy because God’s original, and continued, intent is one man and one wife.  So is Christ and the church.  God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  In this life He can restore marriages for His name’s sake.  Some couples manage marriage for their mutual comfort.   It is simple wisdom to maintain peaceful relationships.  But God is after our true spiritual growth.  Seek peace with all people and the sanctification without which no one will see God.  I have some self-centered ways that still need to go.  Many of us do and those ways affect our relationships.

But we know that He is able to heal and restore every broken part of our lives.  This is necessary individually and applies to our relationships.  Our relationships are the platforms where He refines us.  We see that they are fragile, and seemingly easily broken.  Offenses come and we must let them go.  Some are more easily forgiven.  Failure to forgive and to seek genuine peace is one issue which will hinder our growth and, if unchecked, our entrance into His presence.  The marriage supper of the Lamb has been prepared for them that love Him.  To those who are fully yielded to Jesus, who love Him and pursue the intimacy that He waits to share, that celebration will be a wedding to Him.  I have no idea what that really looks like.  But I know it will be awesome.  His new wine will flow, His joy will be explosive!  If we will share it, like Him, we must endure the cross in our life, in our relationships.  For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, so that He might sit and wait for His bride to be made ready.  Are you being made ready?

When We Were Each One, He Called Us

When We Were Each One, He Called Us

It’s recorded that we are children of Abraham, and the meaning is clear, that by the Spirit and the wonderful working of God we have received a faith like his.  This was of the same substance as Christ Himself is.  He is, and was, and ever shall be the author and finisher of faith.  We read that when Abraham was but one God called him, and we know that throughout his life God worked until He made that man a father of many nations.  If you do not know Abraham’s story, go back and read it and the Lord will reveal how He has and will continue to work in your own life.  Abraham knew the voice of God.  He heard Him speak, believed, and followed.  It is the same for each of us.  Paul, the apostle and servant of God, instructs us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.  Once we receive Christ, we are God’s child and we ought not to think of ourselves than less than that.  Yet, it is God who calls, it is God who chooses our specific paths.

I was recently drawn back to the last portion of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  Remember, this was a letter that a man, Paul, wrote to ones he loved and knew he was to share the true wisdom he had received.  Paul (Saul) was alone as Jesus Christ humbled him on the road to Damascus and, alone with God, he went off to Arabia to soak and ponder all that he thought he knew.  He wrote elsewhere that he had a zeal for God but not according to knowledge.  That is experiential knowledge, not school knowledge.  As he wrote to the Philippians, he acknowledged all that had become waste.  He had consumed much knowledge and life experience but he pressed on to know intimately, and love, Christ.  The end goal was a resurrection out of this earthly life into a heavenly.  He recognized that his life was being poured out.

We are not Paul.  The Lord has kindly, gently reminded me many times, that I am not this one, or that one who I appreciate and respect.  Do not try to emulate any great hero of the faith.  But do be encouraged by them.  In my last entry I mention awareness and visitation of those among the cloud of witnesses.   Most of all, fix your eyes on Jesus, our author and finisher.  Know His voice.  Learn to be still, to sit at His feet and listen.  As we seek His face, pursuing a deeper and deeper knowing of Him, He will reward us.  Saul would have never been transformed into Paul but for two of the Lord’s other servants in particular.  It was Stephen’s slaying that hardened Saul’s heart.  Isn’t it a wonder that his name matches that one who was given as a king to Israel but that Saul did not know the Lord like David did.  That Saul persecuted David, and this later Saul persecuted the Son of David, Jesus.

Stephen so glorified the Lamb of God that Jesus stood to welcome Him.  (Acts 7:55-60)  Stephen interceded at his passing as Jesus had done at the cross.  That was the beginning of Saul’s capture by the Lord.  The Lord chooses our specific callings and knows how to apprehend us.  When Saul was then blinded by the glory of the Lord, everything he thought he knew was destroyed.  Later, he would write about destroying arguments and every proud obstacle to the true knowledge of God.  He knew what he was writing.  In Damascus, the Lord had Ananias ready to go and pray for Saul.  Ananias questioned the Lord on that assignment  and the Lord made it clear.  He went and prayed and scales fell from Saul’s eyes.  The Lord’s glory had blinded Him and the Lord healed him.  Ananias was important in Paul’s life.  And we should mention Barnabas another faithful servant who helped Saul on the way into his full calling and ministry.

Back to the very last chapter of Romans.  Read the names of those acknowledged.  They are mentioned here and nowhere else that we have available.  I am sure their names are in the Lamb’s book of life.  Of course, that book is the one that truly matters.  But the Holy Spirit wanted us to read this, to hear of these faithful ones.  Your name is in God’s book.  He has a book written for you. (Psalm 139:16)  Don’t think of yourself as insignificant.  If you are reading this, know He has called you.  Keep coming to Him.  He will capture your heart so that you know the Father’s heart, the mind of Christ and His good, and acceptable, and perfect will.  And He will direct your steps.  He will send you.  It may not look significant to you.  The outward significance counts for nothing.  What transpires in your heart makes all the difference.  He is seeking those who will draw near and know His refining fire.  Simply draw close and He will do the rest.

These Latter Days

These Latter Days

I have continued to seek the Lord concerning these last days and want to share some recent stirrings in my spirit.  I have been inquiring about the 1000 year period revealed to John.  Some have suggested we are in that period, and that the Dark Ages, or Middle Ages represents a period of great deception.  We are about 1000 years from that period.  To be sure we see increasing deception in this day.  I earnestly avoid any crystallized concept on the subject of what we call eschatology.  I would say that most true disciples of the Lord Jesus today recognize that our focus needs to be fixed on Jesus Christ Himself.  He is the beginning of our spiritual lives and He is the end as well.  I have written initially at length on this blog that He Himself is our reward.  Every endeavor in our lives must be adjusted to the plumb line that Christ is.  Our walk, our behavior must be in a state of constant refinement to ensure that.  This will cause us to rest in Him who is the only way for us to be transformed. (Phil. 1:6)

I recently came across a timeline of eschatology.  It was produced by a ministry I respect very much.  I cannot say I know it is not correct because I simply have no confidence that I have a clear insight.  A point of understanding that does not make sense to me is the concept of Jesus returning to Jerusalem, and reigning from there for 1000 years.  Will He leave His throne of glory, where He has been sitting as the glorified first-born of the new creation?  He is a mystery, meaning who can fathom this Man.  John fell like a dead man when he saw Him.  I am writing with a spirit of inquiry.  It is our glory to search out the hidden realities.  As He returns, all heaven will come with Him.  Is that not what we are told by Paul? (1 Thess. 4:13-18) And by Jude? (Jude 14)  Peter writes of His coming without a hint of a gap between His appearing and judgement.  (2 Peter 3:8-13)

The timeline I saw includes a reference to Jesus’ words in Matt. 23:39.  He was speaking over Jerusalem.  For the first time I understood why so many quote this verse as an indicator of Jesus return, and that He will return to Jerusalem.  Without disputing, I believe the surge of ministry and of true witness and testimony of Jesus in Israel and in Jerusalem in particular is a fulfillment of His words.  Those who receive the ones that He sends, receive Him.  They do welcome Him when they say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  Yes, more needs to transpire for each one personally.  And more than this personal and initial presence and coming of the Lord Jesus is yet to be revealed.  The question for me remains, that in the discourse recorded by Matthew (Matt 23:39-24:1), the story continues that Jesus left the temple.  Is He returning to a temple made with hands?  All that is written for us by the first apostles points to, and encourages us as the temple of God.  Does He have two temples?

We are hearing more and more of the cloud of witnesses and experiencing different levels of awareness of their presence.  We realize they are alive, not dead.  Jesus’, and Peter, James, and John’s, experience at the transfiguration is an indicator of what some have been knowing in these days.  Often, when we first hear of such things, we may resist.  I am quick to ask when unsure but I have learned that the Lord opens our eyes and shows us heavenly things according to His wisdom and purpose in our lives.  It’s important that we be seeking Him and following.  Jesus did not take a crowd up the mountain that night.  He chose 3 in particular of His closest disciples and told them to tell no one until after His resurrection.  They obeyed that instruction.

A dear sister here in Frederick shared this at Wednesday prayer a few years ago.  She mentioned this incident of transfiguration and then asked, “What happened those other nights when Jesus went off alone to pray?”  What a thought!  Jesus knew what would be revealed that night.  Not everyone had that opportunity.  Not everyone today has the same experiences.  I know some believers very well who have 3-D and trance-like visions.  We hear of Jesus appearing to Muslims in the Middle East in dreams and visions.  I have been keenly aware of some of the cloud of witnesses myself.  For me, these were John Paul Jackson, a true teacher who passed into glory sometime ago, Bob Jones, the humble man who was known for his accurate words of prophecy, and Martin Luther.  I was aware of Luther as standing tall among that crowd of His servants.  Our brother Jackson, I saw seated with very long gray hair.

These spiritual sightings occurred in the last few years after following the Lord Jesus, and seeking His righteousness, for 40 years.  This is not to imply that a long time is necessary for us to be close to Him.  Rather, I am grateful to be alive in these times of increasing trouble, and yet strong and growing anticipation of the culmination of this age and the full manifestation of His new heavens and new earth, in which His righteousness dwells.  Even so, come Lord Jesus.

He Walks Among His Lampstands – Part 2

He Walks Among His Lampstands – Part 2

(Luke 4:14-30, 7:36-50, 11:37-53, Luke 14:1-14, Eph. 2:21-22)

We began to discuss the Lord visiting and speaking to His churches with reference to the visions of John’s Revelation.  However as He walked this earth as the son of man, we can also see how He comes to speak to us in our gatherings, even in our houses.

The Gospels record that it was Jesus’ habit to go into the synagogues on the Sabbath.  Following the time of the law and prophets, local synagogues were the places those who were descended from Israel would gather to be taught.  The trained teachers would read and expound upon the scriptures.  In keeping with their understanding, a naturally mature man (30 years old) having been taught, could go to the front, to the place of authority, and expound on a passage from the law and prophets (Old Testament).  The day came in Nazareth when Jesus opened to Isaiah and read that passage which begins, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. . . “.  He declared His mission to set many free.  He then rebuked them as a prophet would and they all, who had previously been in awe and accepting, were angry with Him and wanted to kill Him.  It was not His time to die.  Read Luke 4:14 and following.

I have heard some compare our local weekly gathering, typically the Sunday service, as like the synagogue.  I understand that comparison.  Jesus continued to move through the land of Israel and preach and teach in their synagogues.  Initially, many were receiving Him and following.  He was healing the sick as He came out of His place of testing in the power of the Spirit.    At first they were open to His words.  He had their focused attention and when He finished they wanted to kill Him.  Why?  As we ponder these passages we see He was saying He did not belong to them as something to be used.  He spoke as a prophet.

We know the stories of resistance in other synagogue situations as the Lord Jesus moved through His ministry.  I see His purpose was to expose men’s hearts so they might repent.  Surely this is critical for each of us today.  The cross of Christ is the place, the very the moment in human history, where God crushed the serpent’s head and offered man a way to escape the fear of death.  (Heb. 2:15). We must receive His resurrected life to walk and grow in that gift of submissive, obedient life that is Christ’s.  We must allow the process of His exposure of our hearts.  It is ugly every time and I don’t like it but I know I cannot live without it.  He loves us and is relentless to rid us of those attitudes and self-love that hinder the flow of His life.

Clearly He brought a sword to His own hometown.  From there He moved on and continued teaching in the synagogues.  As time went on the envy of the Pharisees increased.  It was evident that their religious class had become the gatekeepers of the synagogues.  Jesus was so stirring the status quo that envy and hatred and murder were being stirred wherever He went.  Healing on the Sabbath, not washing before eating, and other acts of His frustrated the religious.  He confronted and exposed all the ceremonial, dead requirements that the Pharisees had added to the law.

We also read of His visits to Pharisees homes.  He was invited to come for a meal and entered the home.  Before He left He would address the most important issues of the heart.  Judging by reactions in other situations, His words were not always well received.  We all need to ask for grace and a willing, open spirit, to receive the corrections He would bring.  May I share what I consider a few powerful, personal prayers:

  • Search me and know me. Expose any wrong way within me.
  • Speak to me what I need to hear, whether encouragement or correction.
  • I invite you in to clean my heart so it is a fit and welcome place for you.

We have written much about correction, about the Lord Jesus addressing those religious ways among His people.  Not every situation was so.  Bright spots are recorded and we think the brightest was Bethany.  The home of Mary, Martha , and Lazarus was a welcome place for Him.  They loved His visits and He loved them.  I love them that love me is written for us to consider.  We often consider the story of Martha’s complaint as Mary sat listening to the Teacher.  Even here was some measure of conflict which the Lord quickly resolved.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful within our churches and fellowships today?  Martha did not go on and on complaining.  She heard what He said and went back to what she was doing.  Submissive, humble people maintain the unity of the Spirit.  That is most important for us but also look at the larger picture.  Their house was a place where He returned.  He was welcome and wanted to spend time with them.

In this same way, He is working in us to build us together into a dwelling place for God by His Spirit.  As we honor one another as ones belonging to Him, and as we learn to prefer one another, we live in true peace and righteousness.  We become a place He not only visits, but remains.  We become a people where His glory is seen. Let us have this mind in us that we exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and so honor Him that we become such a people.  It is my prayer and desire for a place He would dwell in, remain and then work to express His fulness.  Then the Lamb of God will receive the reward of His suffering and be satisfied.

He Walks Among His Lampstands – Part 1

He Walks Among His Lampstands – Part 1

(Rev. 2&3)

He is still walking among His lampstands today.  The messages addressed to those seven churches of Asia still apply to His church.  It is noteworthy that the Lord Jesus Himself addresses John while he is a prisoner under an oppressive hand.  We might say that the Lord arranged these unfavorable circumstances purposely to get John alone and undistracted.  However, that perspective would ignore the presence of our enemy.  While satan and wicked men meant it for evil, God meant it for good.  Such was the platform the Lord used to open John’s eyes to this awesome revelation of Himself and what was to take place.  Jesus uses the word mystery in His introduction.  It is our glory to search out the hidden things of God, of His purposes.  A divine revelation is needed.  The Lord responded as John was seeking Him.  And I am sure John was not expecting the awesome adventure that was about to begin.

How easily we can run after such knowledge or experience and leave Him behind.  That was His message to the Ephesians.  They are the first church which is addressed.  Jesus first acknowledges things pleasing to Him.  It strikes me that He included perseverance which we often see as critical for our lives.  Without Him, all our works come to nothing.  Ephesus was the church which Paul wrote to some years before.  That letter is filled with wonderful understanding of the Lord’s working and purpose in us His people.  Yet this first church addressed by Jesus has left their first love.  I am thinking they were so caught up in the understanding they had, they had lost Him.  The Lord tells them to do the first works.  What were these?  Prayer?  Seeking Him?  Loving Him?  I am not certain but I expect all these were part of it.  One word to today’s church is; we are His bride and He is looking for deep, intimate relationship.  He is worthy of all our love and affection.

The lampstand was the light within the holy place of the tabernacle and then the temple.  The fuel for the light was oil formulated from detailed divine specifications.  It is not hard to understand that the oil represents the Holy Spirit, the oil which anoints and is the very presence of the Lord.  For the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is release.  I used the word release in place of the usual word liberty.  Liberty in our culture has often meant license.  Do what seems good to you is not the way God’s kingdom operates.  We need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead.  The Spirit shines the true light.  We have all at one time or another distorted that light.  We learn and seek a pure light to shine through us.  The lampstand is that which represents the Lord Himself.  It is another picture of us as true ambassadors of the kingdom of God.  It represents a true witness, a true testimony of Jesus Christ.

This passage from Revelation addresses churches, groups of believers, and each message is directed to those in a particular region.  For me, in the day in which we live, I believe the Lord Himself brought these particular messages knowing they would all apply to His churches, His lampstands, in these final days.  The church, His bride, is yet being matured and finished.  She is the vessel through which He shines into the earth to attract whoever is willing to come to Him.  The regional aspect I see as showing us that He the Lord Jesus views His people this way.  It is critically important that we have a personal, intimate relationship to Him.  He is displaying His glory to principalities and powers over regions and is displacing them as we grow together unto Him.  We are like trees (see Ps. 1), even great redwoods, reaching toward the One who is our light, like the sun is for the natural tree.

And He is also the ground, the foundation into which our individual and corporate roots must grow down.  That growing down speaks of the need for a greater and greater humility.  It is all about the Lamb receiving glory and honor and all that He has paid for.  I believe that as each message closes with this call, “Let him who has ears to hear, hear what the Spirit says,”  the Lord is addressing individuals within those regional churches.  Will we hear, will we listen, will we continue on to overcome whatever the hindrances may be?  Will we receive His correction?  I see this as corporate as well as individual overcoming.  We are overcoming together.

Do we see this?  Living connections within the body of Christ are essential.  We need true fellowship with others who have ears to hear, and are responding to the Lord.  More and more I am challenged that my walk matches the reality of who Christ is and what He has accomplished.  I want to see His lampstands flourish and be rightly connected.  If we say He abides in us we should walk even as He walked.  We are called to walk, to conduct ourselves, worthy of the calling with which he called us.  In all humility, preferring one another.  This is the taking up of our cross daily.  Not according to our own thinking but as led by His Spirit.  We must hear what the Spirit is saying.  If we are seeking Him, He will surely give us those ears to hear.  May He open our eyes to see like John saw.