The Lord’s House – Part 1

The Lord’s House – Part 1

(Ephesians)

We read in Ephesians 2:22 that we are being built together to be a habitation, a dwelling place, of God in the Spirit.  His goal is for us to become a house for Him to stay in.  We would be a welcoming place for Him all our days.  Over the years this thought, this desire of the Lord, has been mentioned and expanded upon in pictures to clarify and emphasize it for us.  As we press toward the unity of faith, toward being the fully mature new man (Eph 4), we hear again Jesus’ prayer that we would be one as He and the Father are one.  How seemingly impossible, but with God, this is not only possible but an aspect of His ultimate desire and will.  It will be accomplished.

He has called us to participate with Him in the building.  First, we submit to His working on and in us.  We are His workmanship, created for good works, which He planned beforehand that we should walk in them.  What an awesome thought.  Before the foundation of the earth, He called us to walk with Christ to fulfill His desire to have this dwelling place.  We are being built together into a dwelling place of God by the Spirit.  We grow in our identification with Christ, as a temple of the Holy Spirit.  No institution can represent this.  We do organize ministries and churches.  Administration is a necessary part of our functioning.  We look to keep that in the background.

Recently, a brother I met for the first time responded to a comment I made saying, we need structure.  True.  The human body has structure but the skeleton is on the inside.  If we see the bones protruding we know something is not right.  The flesh, living tissue should be healthy so that the body is seen.  Too much structure and we are distracted from the face and getting to know the person.  When we see that sort of thing, let’s not get critical, let’s pray for more flesh to cover the bones.  Pray for the spiritual health of the place.

I am more and more unsure, uncertain how to proceed in this regard.  The Lord never intended to build any organization.  We all get frustrated at such a statement but it is absolutely certain.  It does not mean we should never own a building or put a name on it.  But we must never become attached to it.  We have not here a lasting city.  Organizations built by humans are like humans.  The grass withers, the flower fades and we need to move on.  I have participated in churches, a bible school, and Christian academic schools.  They all have a temporary place in our lives.  These are places where we can be offended, hurt, betrayed as well as encouraged, taught, and experience growth.  Many of us have experienced unjust rejections.  Hold no offense.  Allow the Lord’s justice to manifest in His way, in His timing.  He then has each of us in greater measure for His purpose and He receives a greater glory, more of us.

We simply need to again consider the life of Jesus.  He grew up in a family.  He went to synagogue school.  Has anyone been touched by rejections and unjust, undeserved treatment on the extreme level that Jesus knew?  The enemy’s vicious, jealous, arrogant, and blind overreach set up His total victory over his greatest weapon, fear of physical death.  That weapon of death was utterly destroyed.  Through the process, Jesus finished His course to fully become the chief cornerstone.  As the disciples followed Him they became, as John writes in Revelation, foundation stones of the walls of the city.  They are built upon that chief cornerstone.

We are His workmanship.  That bears repetition.  This is true individually and corporately.  When we do not fit in a certain place, in certain relationships, we move.  Was trouble necessary to spread the church from Jerusalem?  Persecution accelerated and the diaspora came.  That is the word Peter used in his letter and it was translated, “to those scattered.”  They were seeds scattered.  We are not meant to only stay in one place.  That movement is primarily spiritual and relates to our growth, our upward climb toward His full purpose.  Geographic movement is often, but not always, part of the process.  I sense a personal challenge here yet not what I will or think.  I want the Good Shepherd to lead; His direction and His timing bring us to His destination.

If we are paying attention, we see He is building globally.  Technology has caused us to remain in meaningful, instantaneous connection all over the world.  And we hear more and more stories of translations by the Spirit.  God is doing more than we ask or think.  I have been praying for spiritual changes.  God has responded with natural manifestations.  This has included earthquakes, and literal fires.  I did not ask for them and they came.  His building is a house of prayer.  We are learning and seeing that prayers release His judgements.  Also prayers bring His mercy.  We all desire His rich mercy.  But without justice, no true mercy will come.

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The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God

(Luke 15: 11-32)

The kingdom of God is not of this earthly creation.  It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  It is spiritual.  Jesus told Nicodemus that one most be born of heaven to see the kingdom.  Spiritual birth is needed for each of us.  It has been said and written before that this can seem gradual, or instantaneous.  But a moment occurs for each person who is truly born of the Spirit where that one knows it.  The circumstances vary leading to that moment but the birth must happen.  Like a child is birthed out of the womb, we are awakened to the kingdom.  The child is brought out into the world.  The newborn babe in Christ is aware something exists beyond this world.

I notice how often we confuse our earthly attempts to understand with the reality that the kingdom is not knowable by earthly understanding.  It is the problem with training and endless reading of books.  Our desire for understanding is not wrong but I am aware of the desire to be a teacher.  We want a ministry, to be respected, admired in God’s house.  Too often we have been taught that acquiring knowledge is the highest goal.  In proverbs we are exhorted to gain wisdom, to gain understanding.  The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  When the Lord revealed the new covenant to Jeremiah, that prophet declared, you will not teach one another to know the Lord for you will all know me, from the least to the greatest.

And how did Jesus define the greatest?  The greatest shall be the servant of all.  Long ago I heard and received this truth.  We are here to wash one another’s feet.  I hear of redemptive gifts and I understand them to be a description of our natural personality inclinations.  These need to be subject to the cross.  While some of us may be seen by others and our own selves as servants, we are all called to be servants.  If we put on Christ, we put on the greatest servant of all.  He was the Highest and emptied Himself to become the servant of all mankind.  This is a mystery!  It is also the greatest truth of all.

The kingdom of God is a vast family of servants.  A family of those who know the will of God and do it.  Jesus said many times, “To what will I compare (liken) the kingdom of God?”  It is like a king who had two sons.  He often began with that phrase.  We have a king and are like two sons.  Jesus contrasted the two sons.  One of them we want to be like.  The other, not so much.  Have you ever refused to rejoice in the salvation, or victory, or blessing of another?  Have you been nursing disappointment?  That elder son was such when the wayward brother returned home.  “Dad, you never gave me a party, and look all you are doing for this kid who wasted what you gave him?  And you want me to join this party? No way!”  Most amazing to me that the Father pleads with that bitter son to come in.  Pleads?  We could easily complain to that Father, “Why would you plead with him, that bitter guy?”  The Father’s heart is revealed that He looks for that elder brother to soften his heart.  The Lord loves him too.  He had been working too hard and not enjoying the blessings, even earthly ones, that the Lord had for him.

The kingdom includes both of these brothers.  The Father loved them both.  Both needed a repentance, a return and a restoration to right relationship.  We could say more about this story, this parable but we will let you go search more yourself.  We mentioned the desire for us to be teachers.  As we grow spiritually we should be teaching others.  This is mentioned in Hebrews regarding maturity.  It has taken a time for me to begin to write into the public sphere.  I had to come to a place of confidence in whom the Lord had grown me up to be.  I often say that what we need to do is quite simple.  Learn to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen.  Find good teachers.  Connect with genuine believers.  Move from one sheepfold to another.

In all this, move as the Good Shepherd directs you.  Have you been in one stream (denomination?) for your whole life, afraid or unwilling to drink from a richer stream?  Sorry but every denomination is just that.  Individual churches with denominational names are often now more alive than in the past.  Leadership is critically important.  If a leader is still not learning of the Lord and growing, you will come to a time you must move.  Do you know His voice?  You can know it, you must.  He creates the hearing ear.  He, the living God, wants you to know Him more than you know Him today.  This is the New Covenant in the blood of Christ.  Such is the kingdom of God.  It is filled with sons.

A Woman in the Heavens

A Woman in the Heavens – Revelation 12

John was in the Spirit.  Heavenly revelations, unveilings, exposures were given to him.  These were similar to those seen by Ezekiel and Daniel.  These are spiritually understood.  Recently, I have read some of the historical interpretations of chapter 12 of Revelation and the visions recorded.  These comments did not address another understanding.  I had the privilege of knowing some saints who had grown through the movement known as Latter Rain.  With these and others such as Wade Taylor, I was exposed to teaching concerning sonship.  As with many “new” teachings, distortions abounded.  Jesus clarified it this way.  Love your enemies, bless them that curse you and so prove to be sons of your Father in heaven.  All other manifestations will ultimately be tested, some will be found illegitimate, and some will be disqualified.  The sons of the kingdom will be bound and cast into outer darkness.  Jesus said this.  I choose to be a son of our Father in heaven.

Those who learn to love like Jesus loves grow into true maturity.  This passage in Revelation reveals a woman in the heavens.  This woman is the bride, the wife, if you will, of the Lamb.  She has died to the law and been joined to the One who has brought us grace and truth (Romans 7).  She is in heaven now as the cloud of witnesses and extended to the earth among those who in experience are seated with Christ in the heavenlies.  So we, along with the Spirit and the bride and John, cry, “Come, Lord Jesus.”  Through intimacy and travail in prayer, she gives birth to a man-child.  Apparently, the Greek word refers to a mature man.  Isaiah said a nation would be born in a day.  The day is drawing near, and it seems to me, has already come in a measure.  The body of Christ is arising as a mature man, yet in child-like humility fully submitted to our Father. Many true disciples are praying for people all over the world with instant healings resulting.  Other manifestations of true spiritual authority are showing up.

Paul wrote to the Galatians, who were being drawn back to the law, that the Jerusalem above is our mother.  This is very important for God’s people to understand.  It is an aspect of our true identity.  I want to write this very carefully, meaning with grace and love.  The church, His bride, the wife of the Lamb, is not Jewish.  She is heavenly, she is of a spiritual constitution.  She is of a new creation.  This new creation began when the man Christ Jesus was raised as the first-born of new creation.  This cannot be emphasized enough.  A man sits on the throne of heaven.  He is no longer Jewish; He is the first of glorified man.  He was the last Adam, dying to sin for all of mankind and He was raised to a spiritual life, complete with a glorified body.  He is now a life-giving Spirit.  Words are insufficient to describe this One who is the glorified Christ.  This is mystery.

We are hearing that God desires a womb.  His people, His church, the called-out ones, are the bride of Christ now.   In the referenced passage, we see the woman gives birth.  Christ Himself is the initial birth.  We are the following brethren, those who know the will of God, and do it.  We must act as the Father directs us.  We are the sons in His divine, heavenly family, born of His Spirit.  And we see that with the exaltation of Christ to the heavens, that satan has no more place to stand as an accuser.  He is thrown down to the earth where we overcome him.  His main weapon is accusation against those who belong to the Lamb.  And we together overcome.  We need to put away the accusations he brings through us against each other.  I emphasize together.  I have resisted independent spirits.  Those frustrate the work of the Spirit.  It can happen in families, and in the church.  Its basis are wounds unhealed, unforgiveness, fears and insecurities, self-protection.  It inhabits such ground and we separate ourselves from those spirits.  I have done it.  We need for the Spirit to possess our land our souls, so the accuser has no ground to stand on.

To be sure, as Jesus withdrew from Judea, we wisely withdraw as needed.  We must go to the Shepherd, get healed up, and return to our place as prayers.  I mean those who pray.  I am careful with our titles that can sound prideful to others, yet they are real, spiritual functions.  I mean intercessors, prayer warriors, watchmen, fire-breathers.  I have coined a new one.  Watch out.  By that last name I mean those who have the word of God in their mouths, speak it in His name (in His character) and it devours and silences His enemies, and ours.

Prayer, deep prayer, heavenly-minded prayer in intimate cooperation with Christ by the Spirit, brings to birth the new man that God desires.  This is interpretation of the picture we see in Revelation 12.  Yes, that man, that new man is already; he exists already.  He is the body of Christ.  Later in the passage John records that trouble will come to those who dwell on the earth.  The children of the woman are persecuted.  But rejoice you who dwell in heaven.  The more we identify with our place seated with Christ in the heavens, the more joy, the more new wine is poured out through us.  Have you heard the message of Psalm 91?  Dwell in the secret place under His shadow.  Live there, stay there.

Are you knowing, experiencing, the place of authority He offers to us, as seated with Him in the throne room of God?  I have seen in the Spirit empty seats waiting for those who will take them.  I could say to each one that He has a seat for you with your name on it.  It costs you time sitting at His feet.  You find when you take your seat, like Isaiah (Isaiah 6), you are not worthy, but He brings His fire to cleanse.  More than that, as you pour out tears like the harlot, He comes to wash your feet.  I weep again when I see Him love me like that.  He wants to share His eternal, heavenly life with you now.  Just take the time to draw near.

Humility, A Powerful Weapon

Humility, A Powerful Weapon

During this past Christmas season, I have been reading Terry Bennet’s book, “Why We Fight”.  He mentions the importance of Ephesians 4:1-3 as part of our arsenal.  It is critical to maintain the unity of the Spirit for growth to proceed.  I began to meditate on this passage and the power of humility was more firmly established in my relationships.  Haven’t we tired of fighting with others?  I have prayed to lose all my propensity toward anger as it always leads to temporary separations.  Anger itself is not the problem but angry, hurtful words pollute the atmosphere.  Paul and Barnabas came to a contentious issue and split.  It was apparently necessary as other separations have been, but I am weary of them.

I have been gripped with John 17 and Jesus’ awesome and wonderful prayer.  He prayed it and it will be fulfilled.  We are seeing it as we are learning to speak the truth in love.  In Ephesians 4, Paul writes, “I, the prisoner of the Lord.”  Are you His prisoner?  A prisoner of His love?  A love-slave, a bondservant of the One who is worthy of our lives?  From this platform, Paul exhorts them.  The NKJV uses the word beseech.  That is a powerful appeal.  He continues appealing that we might walk worthy of His calling.  The first criteria for this walk is humility and gentleness.  No self-assertion here but a lowliness of mind.

Ponder deeply the glory and fellowship Jesus left behind when He emptied Himself and took on human flesh to become the faithful high priest He is for us today.  We cannot analyze this; we need to see the heavenly.  The Son of God set aside His glory.  I cannot comprehend what this means.  May the Holy Spirit reveal it to us.  It is another message of His deep and unknowable love.  We are called to do the same.  It is foundational in our lives, in our spiritual nature, to walk in humility and meekness.  First, we need to have a revelation of the throne and heaven’s glory.

Some time ago, I visited the Last Days Ministries website.  Our sister Melody Green continues in the legacy of her husband Keith.  I love that brother now among the cloud of witnesses.  They republished a message of David Wilkerson which in turn referenced a piece by Frank Bartleman.  Frank was the historian of the Asuza Street revival.  Like Luke traveled with Paul and wrote the Book of Acts, Frank followed the wonderful moving of the Holy Spirit.  The title of the message was a Christless Pentecost.  How could that be?  How can it be that in that final day, some will say “Look what we did in your name.”  Works of power and healings done in Jesus’ name, and yet the Lord says, “Get away from me.”  Whose glory were those seeking; Jesus’ glory or their own?  Bartleman saw the diminishing of that movement.  He looked for that meek and lowly Jesus.  His yoke is our place of rest and where His glory shines through us.  May we see Him as He is and so walk as He walked.

We have often mistaken volume and “coming against the enemy”, as effective warfare.  To be absolutely sure, this can be exactly what is needed at certain times but I sense volume is not God’s only strategy nor tactic.  Some may disagree but to be direct, I have seen “Pentecostalism” become a hindrance to the growth of His kingdom.  We do not shout out the enemy, we cast him out with a word of true authority.  Years ago, I was with a group trying to learn deliverance.  A lot of words, a lot of noise but not enough real authority.  And some real mistakes.  Was the Spirit directing them?  True deliverance is real, necessary, and awesome.

I do not mean by all of this to diminish true working of God’s power.  We all long to see it but we do not want a show.  Jesus Himself did not want a spectacle.  The Lord has spoken to me and said, “You are Pentecostal.”  I wasn’t sure that was good but I understood what He was saying.  The passion, the fire of God, can be expressed through our emotions.  We do not want to restrain the Spirit’s expression through us.  I think of ones who truly expressed His life and displayed His power; Kathryn Kuhlman, John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth.  Among us are others; David Hogan, Heidi & Roland Baker, and now many others including young people out on the streets.  Believers stopping for someone and praying and spontaneous healings come!  Glory to God!  Todd White has inspired many to step out and this flow is increasing.  Sounds like Jesus, like the apostles.  They are going with the love of Jesus.

These works have one purpose; to draw the healed ones to the One who wants to be all for them.  I have received healings myself.  We learn who is the Source!  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Yes!  Praise Him!  That is humility.  Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time.  He loves you and wants to bring you out and display His work in your life.  We live for His glory!  The goal is that His name, the name of Jesus would be known in the whole earth.

It seems that some of the church, that is the broad body of believers, still walk in a false humility.  We don’t want to look strange.  We cannot compare to those first apostles, we think.  Some of this comes from bad teaching, wrong believing, incomplete understanding.  I often hear prayer for the fear of the Lord.  Yes, we need that, it is the beginning of wisdom.  But we who have known that and had our beginning are moving into the second half of that verse.  And the knowledge (intimacy) of the holy one is understanding.  That brings the humility, that complete dependence and confidence in our Father to lead and direct us.

The Last Days – cont. – part 3

The Last Days-cont-part 3

(I Thess. 3-4)

I was impressed to continue this theme.  I stay with the same reference given to us by Paul and I will repeat some thoughts for emphasis.  We will not all sleep.  The Lord will have a people who are alive and remain at His return, at the consummation of this age.  I do not know of anything recorded in the law and the prophets that speaks to this but that may be simple ignorance on my part.  I have heard Simeon and Anna as representative of this group of people.  They are a foreshadow of those who will be alive and remain.  Simeon personally heard that he would not die until he had seen the savior.  For any reader who does not understand that God speaks directly to His servants, things that are not written, take note.  God does that, so we may be aware.  In Revelation John hears things he is specifically told not to write.  Again, take note.

A leader in the church whom I respect very much has written that at His return, Jesus would go around the earth in a fast procession so that every eye would behold Him.  I do not understand it that way.  This very moment the Spirit is speaking to His children all over the world.  We all hear Him.  Similarly, on that great and terrible day, when we transition to a new heaven and new earth, every eye will behold Him all at once.  Impossible??!! Of course!!  It will be more awesome than the first, natural creation when He said let there be light.  It has never happened before, and it cannot be explained or understood beforehand.  Eye has not seen, nor ear heard.

Twice in one passage in Peter’s letter, he writes that the elements will burn with intense heat.  It is written twice.  We need to pay close attention.  He also writes a great noise will accompany the day.  I believe we meet Him in the air to be above the intense fire that purges the elements but that understanding may be too simplistic.  Twice, in the same passage cited above, Paul writes to the Thessalonians that some will be alive and remain at that day to behold His appearing.  We will not all sleep (die naturally) but be changed in the twinkling of an eye.  These are aspects of the same “day.”  It is that last day, that great and terrible day of the Lord.

John writes, 2000 years ago, “Little children, it is the last hour.”  In one of Smith Wigglesworth’s messages, he said that when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, time ended and eternity began.  I hear that!  Smith walked a life of faith that few have experienced, but we now together are growing into it.  The last days appear to us to be some 2000 years long.  A day is as 1000 years, and a thousand years as a day.  His ways are far, far, above our ways.  Mysteries.

I caution us in searching the scripture, especially the law and the prophets, to “develop” eschatology.  Jesus said, you search the scripture for life (or knowledge?) and they testify of Him.  Again, I mention the concept of a thousand-year intermediate reign of Christ from earthly Jerusalem.  It does not make sense to me and is inconsistent with the rest of those things recorded from Paul and Peter.  But what do I know?  I do not insist on my thoughts; I do not know.  But this I believe, this I think.  Jesus is not leaving His glorious heavenly throne, nor His Father’s right hand, to take up some earthly one.  We meet Him in the air to ever be with Him, and I am not interested in coming back down to an ongoing mess.  That was not the apostle’s expectation either.

With all this, questions remain.  Are some lifted up to heaven before that great appearing?  Clearly, two witnesses (whoever they are) ascend in full view of the world, before the final day.  But I think the great and terrible day is the end, and the new heavens and new earth.  We are called now to rule and reign in the midst of our enemies (who are spiritual, not flesh and blood) and walk as He walked while He was in this world/age as a man.  Love your enemies, even lay day your life before them, as He did.

Personally, I think that the end is the tearing of the separation of heaven and earth.  If heaven is then fully present, what unrighteousness could remain?  The veil that was part of the law because of sin is already rent so that by, and in the Spirit, we have full access now.  We have full access to live and walk in His presence.

The Last Days – cont.

The Last Days-cont.

(I Thess. 3-4)

I could not write all my thoughts in one entry.  Focus on Matthew 24 and the awesome and troubling words Jesus spoke, caused me some distress.  Thank God that, by the Spirit, others wrote to provide a picture that is more encouraging.  In the reference passage, Paul clarifies the end with uplifting words.  We will meet Jesus in the air!  How uplifting is that!  His beauty will draw us right up to Him.  And we will ever be with the Lord.  I don’t see Him landing on the earth.  The longing of the apostles was to see Him in His full glory and be fully transformed.  Paul desired to put off this earthly, temporary tent, this corruptible body.  Search that out in I Corinthians 15.

We experience heaven and eternity here and now.  We receive foretastes, and in these times nearing the end of the age, larger meals than known to those who have gone ahead of us.  He has prepared a table for us in the presence of our, and His, enemies.  We begin to live in an eternal, or heavenly, reality.

When will we see this, His full appearing?  Where in the process are we?  No doubt the time is accelerating.  Yet John, the one who had the awesome revelation of Christ on Patmos writes from a different perspective.  He writes (I John), “Little children, it is the last hour.”  The last hour?  We are looking for the last days.  Are we in them?  Of course, we are.  I sense that John wrote such words because he had been so caught up in the very presence of God.  He had witnessed so much; his perspective was fundamentally altered.  He was ruined for this world and more prepared for heaven.  He experienced all that he wrote in Revelation.

Do we want to have such a heavenly revelation?  It will cause us to lose this world.  We sometimes hold back in fear, or because we hold on to the familiar.  I have understood that our Father, our Daddy, knows what we are ready for.  I know someone who was literally knocked over by the Spirit in their prayer time and found themselves praying in tongues.  No other person was present.  They had previously not believed in such.  Saul was blinded and knocked off his horse.  We cannot make such experiences happen, but we are encouraged to pursue the Lord Himself (Heb. 12:2), and to desire such experience (I Cor. 14:1).  We pursue Him by taking time apart, learning to focus on Him.  Call it prayer, devotions, meditation, whatever words you may use.  It is a time of expecting the Holy Spirit to reveal something more of Christ in the way He may choose.  If the result is not clear for you, ask God for understanding.

The Lord Himself is sovereign in all things, including these matters of His appearing.  But we have a part in seeking Him, in desiring His presence above all things.  Each of the disciples had different but awesome experiences.  All the disciples were in the upper room when the day of Pentecost was fully come.  Thomas had put his hand in Jesus side.  Peter, James, and John had already been on the mount when Jesus was transfigured.  John had the awesome revelation years later.  Peter and Paul did not experience that in the same way however.  Paul had his third heaven experience.  We each receive what the Lord determines.  For us it is to make ourselves available, to seek His face, that is, intimacy with Him.

That is what the bride is about, longing for and waiting to be fully intimate with Him.  He is coming for her.  He is not coming for a collection of institutions.  Now Paul makes it plain that some will be asleep, dead in the grave, but some will not.  I see no break in the action here, and I read nowhere that He came in between in such a majestic way.  This is the day they all, the apostles, looked for.  By the time of the close of the written record we have as the book, the Bible, how many were called as, and identified as, apostles?  We need such humility, to remain as little children, yet ready for His sending.

Are we still seeking ministries, and “positions?”  Lord, draw us in closer.  We have positions, as living stones fitted into the wall of His heavenly house, His heavenly city.  We are being refined as precious jewels (Malachi 3:17), true living jewels.  Revisit the description of that city in Revelation 21.  This what He is building, a heavenly city, to be displaying His glory in the earth.  This is His work in these last days.  He is coming.  Open up you gates and welcome Him!

The Last Days

The Last Days

(Matthew 24)

This is such a vast topic yet I am thinking at this moment it is also very simple.   Jesus said to the disciples as He departed, “It is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father has determined.”  This resurrected man Jesus, fully God’s first-born Son, did not know the details of the Father’s plan.  He learned, or experienced, in His earthly life and ministry, a dependence on our Father to bring Him to the right place at the right time.  I have seen this work in my own life.  After many years of spiritual growth, of hearing the Lord’s voice, and being led by His Spirit, I have experienced this, and, in the last few years this has increased.  If we follow the Lamb wherever He leads us, we will be positioned for His return.

With the increased awareness of the Lord’s presence and guidance, we find greater rest.  While understanding the times in which we live is important, it is most important that we are growing in our experiential knowledge of Him.  Equally important is that we understand the goal that God is after.  More and more, the cry that John expressed is heard from my own spirit as with many others.  “The Spirit and the bride say, Come Lord Jesus.”  He responds to that call by His Spirit bringing fresh revelations of Himself.  Yet there remains a final, cathartic appearing.  I use that word because it is a heart cry that also recognizes the catastrophes that precede His appearing.  The time of trouble will be hard.  Jesus spoke to one church that she would be spared the time of trouble.  We all have known personal trouble.  Some will be spared the most intense.

I could continue this theme but I encourage you to read those messages to the seven churches.  They all apply today.  If the message fits hear it.  If the shoe fits, put it on and walk it out.  For Jesus’ sake, please.  As Paul wrote, I beseech us all to keep ourselves as living sacrifices.  Jesus still walks through His churches, His lampstands to cleanse them, to set them in a heavenly order.  He is so patient.

Now to our reference from Matthew’s gospel account.  The passage starts with the words that Jesus left the temple.  That temple was of an old order which is near to passing away.  The Greek word (search it out in Hebrews 8) can be translated “decrepit.”  The Lord Himself left it behind.  Where some are weak in faith and cleave to buildings, we are to be patient and not cause them to stumble. See Romans 14 and 15.  Love is patient and kind never demanding.  Jesus goes on to say, “It will be as in the days of Noah.”  Noah prepared a place for himself, his extended family, and even the animals.  God preserved the animals.  Obviously, the sons and their families trusted Noah.  Jesus said life will be going on as always.  Two at the grinding mill and two in the field.  People will be at work.  To the unbelieving, it will be like a thief in the night but not for us, if we continue as children of the day.

An understanding persists that we will experience some sort of intermediate kingdom where for 1000 years Jesus will reign on the earth and mete out justice.  Peter wrote 1000 years is as a day and a day as 1000 years.  The concept of an intermediate 1000-year reign does not compute to me.  By this I mean the thoughts that the church will be removed, and Jesus will then come down with them and rule for a literal, earth-time thousand years before some final event.  The entire body of writings of the apostles, what we call the New Testament, does not support this expectation.  The entire concept hangs on one passage, one chapter, of John’s Revelation.  When He appears fully we will be like Him.  This corruptible will be transformed and have a body like His glorious body.  John had an awesome revelation of Christ that put him on his face.  But he was not fully changed at that time.  This final, coming appearance will be more glorious than the one John saw.

Before I knew Jesus, I heard interpretation, or we might say understanding, that as the present world in the days of Noah was destroyed, or cleansed, by a flood, the final cleansing would be by fire.  Peter wrote that the elements will burn with intense heat.  He repeats the phrase twice.  God’s holy fire will transform this world into the new heavens and new earth He promised.  Jesus said, the sun will be darkened, the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heaven will be shaken.  It will be more tumultuous than the flood.  To be continued.

The Cloud of Witnesses (cont-part 3)

The Cloud of Witnesses (cont-part 3)

(Hebrews 12:1-13:3)

 We have written of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as among the cloud of witnesses who are examples and encouragement to us.  We need to also recognize more recent men and women of faith, who also are among the cloud of witnesses.  In these days, as with others in the more recent past, some among us have had visitations from the eternal realm.  While we are naturally a skeptical people, especially in the educated and sophisticated West, these experiences are real.  Roland Baker’s grandfather, H. A. Baker has recorded some of these for us in his book, Heaven and the Angels.  It is an awesome record of visions of the heavens experienced by John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress author) and William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army).

All over the earth, spiritual activity has increased in our day.  For those with true hungry hearts, seeking God and His goodness, He is continually working to expose errors and open our eyes to see Him and His wonders.  This has increased for me personally over the last few years.  I have realized that I “entertained” angels, walking alongside and speaking with them.  They appeared as humans.  I have seen “my” angel.  The second time it quite frankly freaked me out.  He also appeared like a human and his appearing was too close and unexpected.  Afterward I realized that they work along with us in accomplishing our Father’s desire, namely that all should come to repentance.  I have also experienced awareness of some of the witnesses who have preceded us into heaven.

One Sunday during worship I saw in the spirit a man seated in heaven.  His hair was long and gray and initially the view was from behind.  He and his seat turned toward me revealing his face.  It was John Paul Jackson, a man of God who had an impactful ministry for years.  A week later I shared the experience with a young woman.  She informed me that John Paul had passed on into glory about the time of my seeing him.  I pondered the meaning of this and was encouraged by the increase of my awareness of heaven.  Similarly, other of the witnesses have been revealed to me providing encouragement that I continue to fulfill that for which the Lord chose me.  The Lord knows exactly what we need to keep us on the path He has established for us.

I have often reflected that the Lord is pulling out all the stops in our day to display His presence in so many ways in so many places.  He sends His own into places devastated by natural disasters and they help with practical needs and bringing hope and restoration.  Among Muslims in the middle east Jesus has been revealing Himself in dreams and visions.  A spine doctor, Mary Neal, nearly dies in a kayaking accident, experiences heaven, and has wonderful encounters with Jesus.  He reveals coming family circumstances to her to prepare her.  A young boy, Colton Burpo, similarly spends time in God’s heavenly realm, and his family is shaken awake to the realities of the nearness of eternity.  Many believers are walking in greater authority so that strangers are encountered, prayed for, and healed.

We pray for revival, and it is already happening. As I have written before, the river is flowing powerfully from the throne of God.  Get in and let the currents of His Spirit carry you.  Your fears will be blown away by the depth and fulness of His awesome love.

The Cloud of Witnesses (cont)

The Cloud of Witnesses (cont)

(Hebrews 11-12:1)

 The entire letter to the Hebrews is addressed to those who knew of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  I hear the writer, the Spirit also, encouraging the readers, and us, to move past knowledge about them, and join with them in seeking that city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  As we have recently written, the entire cloud of witnesses are near to us for encouragement.  We can learn, and experience, something of the Lord Himself through each of them.

Abraham, knew the voice of God calling him out singularly.  When he was one God called him and others of his family began to move with him.  He is as a father of faith for us, as he knew the voice of our heavenly Father.  Jesus said that he saw Jesus’ day and was glad.  When he brought Isaac to the point of literal sacrifice, and God intervened, Abraham experienced the heart of our Father in offering the Son of promise.  Have you been led to offer something, a person in close relationship, that you later received back, as it were in resurrection?  Abraham’s testimony, his witness to us is like this.

And what of Isaac?  Isaac was the son and saw God’s provision.  He was in the place of the Son, Jesus, who was offered up for us all.  God was giving a foretaste of what was coming with Christ Himself.  See how the Father, and the Son, like Abraham, and Isaac, moved together in the place of sacrifice and they both saw God’s provision.  The Lord will provide for Himself the Lamb.  They both saw the provision of God, the ram caught in the thicket at the exact moment needed.  In the fulness of time, God sent His son.  At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.

Isaac goes on to receive a wife from the land of his fathers.  Rebekah is brought by the servant, a type of the Spirit.  Here is a picture of Christ waiting for the Bride that the Spirit is yet preparing and bringing to Himself.  The Father alone knows the day and the hour, but the Son patiently, and expectantly, waits for her.  Are you waiting for deep and lasting relationships?  Jesus is so waiting for us to come to Him, to be brought to Him.  Like Rebekah, we need to say “Yes, I will go with this man.”  Like Isaac, Jesus will bring us into His tent, His dwelling place, (Ps 91& Song of Songs) to know us intimately.  Rebekah never returns home but stays with her Isaac.  We need to continue with Jesus and not turn back.  Again, this is the message to the Hebrews.

Sarah had to wait until she was almost 100 years old for a son.  Not so for Rebekah.  For she soon bears twins.  The Lord later says, “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.”  Those are His words.  Simply, the Spirit differentiated the spiritual from the earthly life.  Jacob wanted the full promise of God, Esau, a type of our fleshly, earthly life settled for a hot meal.  By the life of Christ with us, and in us, we are led by His Spirit and learn to not yield to the earthly pulls.  For me, this has been a progressive but uneven lesson.  Like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, I am on my way and learned not to turn back.  He is worth it all.

Now as for Jacob, his story is long and eventful.  It is wrapped with the story of Joseph who bears with jealousy, betrayal, waiting, forgiveness and ultimate reconciliation.  Jacob, like our heavenly Father, loses his son.  Jacob’s loss is deep and takes a long time for the seemingly impossible to happen.  He finds Joseph is alive.  For many of us our story is more like Jacob’s.  We lose hope only to find it restored later.  The church is as dysfunctional as Jacob’s sons.  Reread the story of Dinah.  Such “evangelism” by Jacob’s sons to “avenge” the honor of their sister.  A “foreigner” had wanted their sister as a wife.  So the sons of Jacob, less Joseph, deceive and slay them all.  And Jacob is made odious to the inhabitants of the land.  Self-righteousness results in unrighteousness, and the testimony of Christ is dirtied.

The end of Jacob’s story is a beautiful picture of reconciliation and the end of the age.  Joseph is sent ahead, a type of Christ, preparing a place for the family.  He forgives the ones, his brothers, who had betrayed Him.  Consider Christ Jesus and His relationship with Peter, and then later how Christ captured Saul on that man’s way to do harm to His body, His people.  When Jacob’s family is brought together in Egypt with Joseph, all is forgiven and reconciliation is real and complete in that family.  As his time draws to a close, Jacob prays prophetically over each son concerning each life and destiny.  I see a glimpse of the end of the age, when all God’s children will come before and hear the Father’s declaration over our lives.  Reconciliation complete and each one receiving reward according to what each of us has done, as Jesus said.

The Cloud of Witnesses

The Cloud of Witnesses

(Hebrews 12:1-2, 22-24)

 When I asked my son, David, to create this site for my writing, I presented the theme that Christ suffered so that He might fall into the ground and die, to the end that He, as a seed sown, would be resurrected, and bear much fruit that being many sons like Him.  David found two paintings in the public domain, parts of which form the banner of this blog site.  The second frame depicts the cloud of witnesses.  It is written that Jesus Christ is the first-born among many brothers.  Many of these brothers, and sisters, have already gone before us and now rest with the Lord waiting for the transition from this age to the new heaven and new earth.

Who are these brothers?  Jesus defined them as the ones who know the will of God and do it.  I imagine Him gesturing to the twelve and the company of women who ministered to their temporal needs.  Our bodies need each other’s care.  Jesus’ extended company of disciples included more than the twelve men.  Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus are disciples, as are the two on the road to Emmaus, and Mary who was first to meet Him after His resurrection.  We should also recognize that His mother, Mary, is among this company as she was present with the 120 in the upper room when the church which is His body was revealed in the earth.

In the reference from Hebrews, we read that we have come to this company.  We are already there by the Spirit, seated with them, with Christ, in heaven.  The completion of this is waiting before us in time but it is a present, eternal reality.  It can be known now according to wisdom and revealing by God’s Spirit.  Eternal life is not something only future, waiting for us.  It is to be received now by receiving Him.  We do this on a continuing basis, pressing in to know Him.

As is written to the Hebrews, the cloud of witnesses includes Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and a host of others who were faithful in the days of the Old Covenant.  For some that phrase “old covenant” is offensive.  I sense that people who are offended by that are still living under law, not under grace.  I repeat what is written, the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one compares with Him.  Since the greater, Christ Himself, has been revealed, let us fix our eyes on Him.  If we do this asking the Spirit to reveal Him daily, our transformation is certain.  He desires it to happen more than we do.

I often do not eat until afternoon and I enjoy a cup of coffee.  I will frequently say “good morning,” even at 3:00 in the afternoon, saying it’s still morning until I have that cup!  And it occurred to me if it’s morning all day long, then every hour is a new beginning.  That’s an encouraging thought.  Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we are strangers in this land, in this age, journeying from experience to experience of God and His wonders.  But let us not limit honor to those of that time.  As I have written before, consider Watchman Nee, John Bunyan, Nicolaus Zinzendorf, and more recently, David Wilkerson, Jim Elliot, Kathryn Kuhlman, Ruth Heflin, John Paul Jackson, and Bob Jones (the one of Fort Mill, SC).  These have left a rich legacy of lives laid down for Jesus’ sake, and the growth of His body.  For all of these I am grateful.  All glory to the One, Jesus, who poured His life through them that we might continue on.