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?

Advertisements

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.

Have You Passion?

Have You Passion?

(Rev. 3:14-19, Jude 20-21)

Seven years ago, I was working in southern Illinois on an 11 month assignment.  My daughter had been to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and wanted to visit again.  She flew in from NJ and I drove across Missouri to meet her.  It was my first visit and I had some familiarity with their ministry.  If you are unaware I encourage you to visit their website at ihopkc.  They encourage prayer and worship and have a prayer room that has been continuously focused on Jesus Christ, 24/7 for over 15 years.  During my drive to KC the Lord turned my attention away from myself and toward my daughter.  He said this weekend was about her and not about me.  He was setting me up.

As we sat in the prayer room, I was awakened to a level of the love of Jesus Christ for me I had not known.  This was far beyond what I had experienced before.  We often speak about breakthrough.  We are right and in pursuit of God’s purpose for us when we seek to be free.  Our seeking in itself is a humbling and repentance.  I had real deliverance from fears and self-effacement.  Our enemy will often turn us inward on ourselves.  I experienced the passionate love of Christ for me as part of His bride.  I knew that intimacy that makes one feel like they are the Shunamite of Song of Songs.  I had known this in measure but now I knew it deeply, at a new level.  It was a life changing experience.  It was a fresh beginning of true unity with the Lord’s love and purpose in my life.

It put a fire in me and gave me an intensity I had not known before.  The Lord, by His Spirit, was preparing me for a launch that initiated in 2013.  The year in between saw personal failure in a failed marriage.  It was sad but we saw much grace.  In this life, human failures happen and we must continue to pursue love, His true love.  I learned passion from and for Him.  Jesus Christ Himself carries us through all kinds of loss, including failed relationships.  May God redeem every broken relationship for His name’s sake.  Maintaining His passion is the focus I am learning through this and my continued journey.

How do we maintain the passion?  How did we find it in the first place?  Did we initiate it?  We received Jesus and with that experience we began to know His love for us.  The more we receive that love, the more we love back.  The more time spent in His presence, the more we are joined to Him in experience and the more we learn to move in His purpose.  The fire is His passionate love for us and it flows back to Him the source.  He draws us more and more to Himself.  He is the fire.

Many have found the importance of this prayer, out of the Psalms, “Search me and know me.”  Open to Him and let Him expose all the dark and ugly places still hiding in your soul.  They are offensive to you, and would be to others if exposed.  The more we know His cleansing and find His steadfast love, the more we love Him.  The one who is forgiven much, loves much.  He doesn’t search us to condemn.  He searches to cleanse every stain.  As His refining fire works to burn away our self-centeredness, we find His life in us is revealed.  Christ in us the hope of glory.

Children want to please their parents.  While, with our human natures, we can manipulate our parents, we cannot fool God.  If we come to Him to manipulate we will find frustration.  It can bring us to a tantrum or pity party.  Don’t stay there.  When I have found myself there I cry out and ask God to fix me, save me.  Yes I am saved but still in the process. (Phil. 2:12-13)  And the process is bringing us to rest in Him.  We lose the notion that we of ourselves can please God, our Father.  It is God at work in us to will, and to do for His good pleasure.  The result for us is joy unspeakable and full of glory.  We experience His glory, His pleasure in us.

I repeat what I wrote in my previous post.  It is not time for lethargy and lukewarm living.  We individually need the fire to never go out on the altar of our hearts.  This is another way of saying, be being filled with the Spirit.  When we are allowing His Spirit to fill us, we overflow.  When the fire is burning with passion in our hearts, it is like a fire in our bones and it will come out.  Keep your door, the door of your inner man, the door of your heart open to Him.  He will come in and be your fire.  And most wonderful it is that if we maintain, we experience His continual presence.  That is joy unspeakable.

The Time In Which We Live

The Time in Which We Live

For this message, I leave it to the reader to search the writings under the New Testament.  We find there many references to days and times and seasons.  I am not taking the time to go through them here.  As is my desire, I want you to search for yourself.  As you search, the Lord Himself will begin to open His heart to yours and in turn, yours will be opened more to His.  I have found that itself to be a worthy goal of all ministry.  That men might know Him, the One who is worthy of our very lives, and the source of our very existence.  May you be continually hungry for more of Christ.  He, by His Spirit, is the bread and the wine, the daily bread and water of life.  May these words stir you to seek Him in a fresh, deep way.

I have borrowed this title from a booklet I read years ago by a man T. Austin-Sparks.  He was part of a teaching ministry called a “A Witness and A Testimony.”  Their goal and desire was that the Lord Jesus would have a true witness in the earth.  I have been built up in my inner man by that ministry.  The Lord has worked among humanity since the beginning to raise up a people who truly represent Him in the earth, and so that through His body, the church, He might put all things under His feet.  The Lord works through His church to displace principalities and powers and put them to an open shame.  The very gates of Hell shall not stand against His church.  So that is still the Lord’s purpose that in this time in which we are living, He is building His church into a dwelling place that He will fill and be welcomed in and remain.

While I may have written this before, a wonderful disciple and true servant of God has said that when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead that time ended and eternity began.  That servant is Smith Wigglesworth.  We can begin to live a heavenly life now.  Some believers have missed this and fallen into a passive state of waiting for their physical death, or the end of this age and the Lord’s full appearing.  Many of these live godly lives and have the righteousness of Christ working in them but they have missed the calling to press in to know Him as Paul wrote to the Philippians.  We often do not overtly resist the Holy Spirit but, by fear and doubt and self-centeredness, not yield full control.

I mentioned above the New Testament.  The writings under that heading are precious records of the lives of true disciples of Christ.  But those writings are not the new covenant.  The new covenant was brought in by Christ Himself.  The old failed because it was based on man following an outward law of behavior.  That law could not change a man.  Some of us need to read Paul’s letter to the Romans again.  The Lord Himself, the Living God, spoke through Jeremiah that He would make a new covenant.  I purposely did not capitalize those words.  This is about Christ Jesus and what He has accomplished.  He is the author and finisher of the covenant.  I think again of the blood of the eternal covenant and the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.  We need to maintain this heavenly perspective of His kingdom and His continued present working.

These thoughts elevate Christ to His rightful place as the source and finish of the work of God in the earth.  So Paul writes that we are dead and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.  It is no longer we that live but Christ lives in us.  That life is eternal; it can no longer die.  He spoke to John on Patmos and said, “I AM He that was dead and behold I am alive forevermore.”  His resurrected life is our only life.  That life is the life that overcomes sin, the world, and the devil.  It is the life that has authority and can dismiss demons with a word and likewise heal the sick, and raise the dead.

So what is the time in which we life?  Nothing truly new is under the sun.  For us Christ is our life and is new and fresh every morning.  It is time always to seek the Lord, to run after Him.  It is time to awake from our spiritual slumber.  It is not time for lethargy and lukewarm living.  The wonder of His grace says, if we find ourselves so, we can simply say Lord, give me eye salve, gold refined in the fire, and robes to cover the shame of our nakedness.  Read Revelation 2 and let His eyes search you and know you.  He loves you and wants to draw you closer than you have ever thought you could be.

A Remnant

A Remnant

(Matt 24)

God has always preserved for Himself a remnant.  After the fall, Adam and Eve could have experienced physical death immediately.  They did not.  God provided animal skins to cover their nakedness, to cover their shame.  While it is not plainly written words, I think that communication with the Lord continued in some measure.  I think this because God had conversation with Cain before he murdered Abel.  The Lord saw it coming and sought to turn Cain from the sin that was crouching at the door.

Following, we know that men began to call on the name of the Lord.  Enoch walked with God and others had experience of the Lord.  Methuselah and he are in the family of Noah.  We know how Noah and His family were the remnant of their day, of the entire human race.  What a sad and sobering time.  We have been hearing more lately of the words of Jesus regarding Noah, when asked by the disciples concerning the end of this age.  Jesus had just spoken about the temple, the physical one, and that not one stone would be left on another.  In response to that statement of Jesus, He is asked, “When?”  His response is a significant and His often referenced discourse follows.

Jesus said it would be as it was in the days of Noah.  How much has been said on this!  Life was continuing as always but Noah was walking with, and listening to the Living God.  Noah was knowing Him as Father, as director, as keeper.  He and his family would be preserved as he built a vessel that would preserve them and the animals that the Lord brought to them.  So it will be at the end of the age.  As I have written before, Paul writes to the Thessalonians of those who will be alive and remain at His return.  The Matthew 24 discourse includes the disciples’ question, “What will be the sign (the indicator) of your coming?” They were aware of His return.  The Lord will have a remnant alive and waiting, looking to heaven, for the bridegroom to appear.

These are the ones who love Him, who love His presence, who love His appearing more than anything else.  Anna and Simeon are representative of the Lord’s remnant.  In Elijah’s day, the Lord told him that He had kept for Himself 7000 who had not submitted to Baal.  Today the Lord has His remnant who are not yielding to the god of this age.  He is refining a nation of kings and priests for Himself.  This is the bride of Christ, His true body, with the eyes of a dove, returning His gaze.  She allows the fire in His eyes to do it’s work in searching her inner parts.  He tests our motives and refines them so that all that we do and say reflects Himself.  If we say He abides in us, we ought to walk as he walked.  So were Enoch and Noah.  More than they so is Christ in His people conforming our image and our walk to His.

I recently heard the testimony of a wonderful, matured man of God who had a powerful, Spirit-driven experience.  In the 1980’s, the Lord used this man and a team of mature intercessors to release apostolic anointing that had been bound by strong religious spirits.  If we consider the accelerated maturing of many true disciples since that period, we can recognize the increase of the release of the Lord’s authority in the earth.  We stress this is the authority that belongs to Christ, and that He commissions.  It is dangerous for us to move in presumption.  Yet when He sends, men and women move in great authority and the kingdom of God advances.  I find myself praying for all believers to have boldness to speak as we ought to speak.  This was Paul’s own request and we honor him as a true bond-servant of Christ.  He is making us an apostolic people, not in name but in truth.  It is a dangerous practice to take the name apostle to ourselves.  Let us see ourselves rather as humble servants, like Christ Jesus, simply desiring to do the will of Father in heaven.  Such are those who are His remnant.

The Lord’s House – Part 3 – A Heavenly Building

The Lord’s House – Part 3 – A Heavenly Building

(Malachi 3:16-18, Revelation 21:14-21)

We are not built on the earth.  We are built in heaven.  We are individually and corporately formed in His presence.  Having received His Spirit and a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, we grow.  Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father and we are seated with Him in that heavenly realm.  It is a spiritual reality, not an idea, and we experience His presence.  This is what Jesus defined as eternal life in John 17:3, that we would know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.  I am troubled by so-called teachers who teach true principles apart from a revelation of Christ Himself.  I acknowledge that true principles are expressed but without a reality of the cross of Christ, I consider them deceived.  I have been accused of being religious and too narrow but, without Jesus Himself, we are easily sidetracked at best and truly deceived at worst.

The prophet Malachi spoke of those who were distressed at the state of God’s people in his day.  God called them His jewels.  (See Malachi 3) The Lord considers it precious when we are grieved with His Spirit over the state of things in His house, among the people called by His name.  So it often is with us.  We see failures in leadership, in other believers, and in ourselves.  We pray and repent.  We talk about situations but we do not want to gossip.  Should we not talk about it?  Can we pray together about it?  We need to speak the truth in love.  Some things need to be addressed.  The key is that our hearts are in tune with the Son of God who is over all of His house.

I emphasize that word all.  If we think the place God has plugged us in is His house apart from other gatherings in our region, we are immediately missing the truth.  The Lord’s way is a way of sowing seed.  We are the seeds He would spread around.  I have recently prayed in the morning, “Lord, I am yours.  Where do You want to sow me today?”  I am learning new levels of consecration and simply losing my agenda.  I find recently, He often says to me, “Stay with your plan.”  Such direction comes when we have submitted ourselves to Him.  Most important is that we hear direction from Him.  Do you know what a check in your spirit is?  I often stop in the middle of a conversation to be sure I should continue.  He is polishing us as His jewels.  We must learn to pray for one another and be careful with our critical statements.  We must also learn to speak the refining words as the Spirit gives us to speak.

In this way we build with Him.  We work with Him in His work of redemption.  We read in Revelation that the foundation stones of God’s city, the heavenly Jerusalem, are the apostles.  Interesting that John, who had these visions, was himself one of those stones.  We read on and hear that the walls of the city are like gold but like clear glass.  Transparent.  And they are compared to precious stones, to jewels.  The city has many colors.  A variety of jewels are mentioned.  Dare we use the word diversity.  Simply because the world’s view of diversity includes a wide spectrum of ungodly differences, we know that God has created wonderful diversity naturally and spiritually. (See 1 Corinthians 12)

We are the stones in the walls of that city built upon the apostles and prophets.  The Lord is yet polishing us as transparent jewels so that His glory will shine through.  Hear God’s words through Malachi.  The entire portion of chapter 3 speaks of the Baptist coming, preparing the way of Christ.  And it reveals Christ, the messenger who came to the temple, to the people of His day to refine and purge them.  Some followed the Lamb and were refined and others fell away.  And some rejected Him totally.  Simeon and Anna were part of the remnant of that day.  So were the 12, and I would think the 70 who were sent out by Jesus.  And the two on the road to Emmaus.  We all desire to be part of His remnant.  These are His true followers, true disciples, who allow and submit to all His working and refining.  Ultimately, His remnant are those who endure to the end.  That final end will see His full appearing and the remnant will be those who are alive and remain.

The Lord’s House – Part 2 – Living Stones

The Lord’s House – Part 2 – Living Stones

(1 Peter 2:4-10)

We come to Him and are born of His very life. That same Spirit that raised Christ form the dead gives us a life we never had before.  Every human, every man and woman, is born with a spirit, and the Spirit of God searches the whole earth and finds hearts who are open to receive that Life.  We can only call this a mystery, similar to natural childbirth.  When a child is born, it is not simply a physical being, it is a living soul.  The spirit of everyone of us then hungers for something naturally indefinable.  But God is searching for us.  He sent Jesus Christ, as the good Shepherd, to find us like lost sheep.  Some of us appeared to be more lost than others.  Indeed some of us were really lost.

He found us, saved us, cleaned us up and we knew Him.  We became aware, not only of ourselves now, but of the Living God.  Just before the referenced passage, Peter refers to us as newborn babes.  He continues with the description of us as living stones, being built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  Sacrifices of praise and worship are inspired in us by that Spirit He filled us with.  To be sure, we do more than praise, pray, and worship but these activities are the foundation of all else.  And our listening, our sitting at the feet of Jesus, the Master Teacher is primary.  None compares to His wisdom, His life, His love.  His words are Spirit and they are Life.

We have written, as we have heard, that we are His workmanship.  Peter writes we are being built up.  When Solomon built his temple, no sound of human working or human tools were heard at the temple site.  The stones were fitted together forming a perfect harmonious structure.  The Lord is bringing us all to that.  Everything that hinders the flow of His life, everything of self is being removed.  He brings us to a place of being living stones and His life flows from one member to another.  It is all built upon the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ himself.  No other foundation can be laid.

Often, other materials, other stuff that is not founded upon Christ is used in building.  Such material cannot stand the test of God’s fire.  If we pay attention, He will teach us to build His way as He taught the disciples.  We find we can be in the place where His fire is a gentle burn easily removing chaff and burning it up.  His sanctifying work.  As we abide in Him growth will happen.  We grow down deeper into Him and blossoms come, His fragrance comes forth, and then pleasant fruit, pleasing to Him and a blessing to others.

A few years ago, I attended a conference where a pastor, Steve Chua, was teaching from the letter to the Ephesians.  During that weekend or shortly after I had a picture of God’s building in my spirit.  I was aware of us as living stones fitted together.  Each “stone” was alive, organic if you will.  A mortar was between each stone as would be used in natural building.  I have understood that mortar to be the love of Christ working in each one of us.  Each stone was not static but growing and expanding.  As each would grow, the whole building would expand.  Finding ourselves to become a spiritual house is a beginning, not the end.  He will expand the house to hold more of His glory and presence.

As He adds to the stones with new members, what an awesome house we can expect.  The glory of this latter house will be greater than the former.  We understand this on several levels, different perspectives, but we remain focused on this spiritual house, even the body of Christ, not mystical, but spiritual.  Real and substantial, built by God Himself as a city not made with hands, or any human effort, but by the Spirit of God.  His ways are higher than ours and past our finding out, except by that Spirit that opens our eyes and ears.  My we continue to grow in grace, truth, and love ever being aligned with His plumb line.  Such as necessary for the building to truly become what He desires to inhabit.