Prayer and Communion

Prayer and Communion

(Prov. 20:12, Heb. 3:7-4:13, Rev.1:11)

Many words apply to communication with God.  Two are used in the title.  Fellowship is another.   Meanings differ but the thoughts expressed are all aspects of God’s relationship with us.  He began the process by creating us with a spiritual nature so that we can communicate with Him, the Living God.  It is pure and simple.  He takes the initiative and catches our attention.  If we want to know the pattern, we can look in that book we call the Bible.  And we can look at human history.

In the beginning the Lord communed with Adam.  They walked together in the cool of the day.  It was sweet.  We have no record of God telling Adam He was going to put him into a deep sleep.  Rather He gave Him an object lesson by Adam observing and naming the animals.  The Lord may bring understanding without speaking directly.  He simply causes us to know.  Yet I am sure Adam and the Lord had conversations before that.  He made us so that He can communicate with us.  And we with Him.  He made the hearing ear and the seeing eye.  That is about the spiritual side of us.  Jesus came to His churches as recorded in Revelation 2 and 3 and said to each, “Let him who has ears to hear, hear.”  He is telling us to listen, to pay attention.  That we have learned to do.

It requires a quiet spirit.  We learn to still ourselves in His presence.  At times, we know His presence and nothing is said.  Other times an entire download, a vision, a message, understanding, or wisdom may come.  He, the Lord, knows what we need before we ask.  And He knows us, the secrets and intentions of our hearts.  His words are sharp and discerning to expose those thoughts whether good or bad, from light or born of darkness.  We do not need to be afraid of His searching us, although we can be.  We can be unsure of His intention.  But He never comes to condemn, although He may come to judge.  That is not contradictory.  He is never wanting to condemn us, He is wanting to save us from those thoughts and intentions that draw us away from Him.

After Adam and Eve discovered their nakedness, their break from the close relationship with the Lord, He called, “Adam, where are you?”  Adam heard His voice.  When we stray, when we have believed a deceiving voice, we can still hear Him.  He will again take initiative and call.  The Good Shepherd is the One who will go out and look for the lost sheep.  He is always present.  Eternity is heaven.  It is here, not a faraway place.  It is always today.  Today, if you would hear His voice, stay soft.  If you find yourself hard and resistant, earnestly ask Him to soften you again.  We draw near to obtain mercy and find grace.  He will not withhold it.

We live in a day well past the writings which are so foundational for us.  Part of the world has been saturated with the gospel, the preaching of the kingdom of God.  This began as the Spirit was first poured out.  Pentecost was fulfilled.  And that Spirit, the Spirit of Christ is yet being poured out on all flesh.  So we find people who do not share our theological understandings but have experienced the love of God, the presence of God.  And we rejoice together with them as we together we grow in the true knowledge of Him who saved us.  As we commune with Him day after day, knowing His presence and all that He brings. I catch myself as I write these words thinking it’s a lot of words to express the simple truth.  The Lord mad us for communion with Himself.  It overflows to others and we can know a fellowship in the Spirit.  That is a joy!  Walk by the Spirit and the flesh, our self-centeredness cannot prevail.  That is walking in victory.  Keep listening.  Keep your lamps filled.  Watch and pray.  Otherwise we can grow dull, lukewarm, and potentially hardened.  You do not want to go there.

Little Stones and Growth – Part 2

Little Stones and Growth – Part 2

(Eph. 4:7,13-16,  Matt. 28:18-20,  Rev. 21:10-14)

We are being built together by the Spirit operating among us.  His goal is a church without spot or wrinkle, and a weapon which the gates of hell cannot withstand.  These are two of the pictures we have of what God is doing in and through His people.  Are we with His purpose, His program?  When Jesus walked upon the earth, the Lord clarified His purpose and His nature.  Jesus did not raise up an earthly army.  He did not wage a holy war, a crusade.  He brought a revelation of God as Father to all who would come to Him.  This assembling of living stones has the same purpose.  From the time of Jesus’ years upon the earth, God has been in the business of pursuing and bringing home those that are lost and restoring them to His original intention.

We must say yes to Him and follow Him.  This is the way of disciples.  The 12 were close to Him, walking with Him every day for 3-1/2 years.  And they continued after that as He appeared over 40 days and then came to them by the Spirit.  As He said from then on He remains with disciples always, even to the end of the age.  And we will be with Him, and He with us, forever.  The Spirt comes to reveal Christ to us and in us.  As He leads us into all truth, the measure of Christ in us increases.  We are becoming those precious stones set in place in the wall of the city.  It is for us to cooperate with the work of His Spirit, maintaining a welcome place for Him.

Some years ago a man visited the fellowship I was with and taught over a weekend.  He had a real and practical grasp of the truth that we are seated with Christ above principalities and powers, the dark rulers of this present evil age.  That means all those forces are below us.  We are not under constant attack of the enemy.  And we do not overcome him with yelling and shouting.  Now there is a time for a shout, for loud praises, for our voices to be lifted like trumpets.  But overcoming can be quiet.  It comes from a place of rest in Him, the source of strength.  We overcome evil with good. 

After the teaching which had a strong basis in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I had a picture in my spirit.  I saw us as living stones built on one another with self-giving love as the mortar.  The stones, that is us, were expanding.  They were growing so that the entire building was growing.  It is a living wall, of a living city, even a bride.  Recall Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as recorded by Daniel.  A stone is cut from the mountain, and after it destroys the kingdoms of the earth it becomes a great mountain, filling the earth.  So here we are, by the working of Spirit, becoming that mountain to fill the whole earth and bring the light of Christ to the nations.

In our own eyes, we may see ourselves as little.  It is wise not to be self-reliant and not to think of ourselves too highly.  But we are unwise if we diminish the work God has accomplished in us.  Jesus knew who He was as He walked the earth, the land called Israel.  He did have to flaunt it.  When He knew the miracles would draw crowds, He told the one restored to tell no one.  But He could not avoid the crowds.  People came out of their need.  For some, it appears that is all they wanted.  That is the danger of being satisfied with the gift and not seeing past the wonder to see the Giver.

The stone that Christ is was rejected by many but is the foundation of mankind.  He is creator and was manifest in the person of Jesus.  So the Spirit moved men to write, He has become the chief cornerstone.  Jesus Christ Himself grew into this so that we might see the potential for maturing in ourselves.  That same Spirit that raised Him from the dead so raises us.  It is the yeast of the kingdom that fills the whole lump.  But don’t think this is for you alone.  We should know by now we cannot fulfill His purpose by ourselves.  For He has created us in Christ as a many-membered body.

Little Stones and Growth

Little Stones and Growth

(Prov. 16:18,  Eph. 4:7,13-16,  Mat. 16:18,  Gal. 2:11,14,  2 Pet. 3:14-16, Rev. 21:10-14)

One of the problems among us as disciples is our innate desire to be somebody.  Pride goes before destruction and a cocky attitude before a failure.  I have paraphrased the reference in Proverbs.  The disciples and the women who traveled alongside them with Jesus had a first-hand, PhD level, course in humility.  Jesus’ strength of character is unmatched among humanity.  No one comes close.  The Roman soldier standing by as He yielded up His spirit, recognized Him as a true Son of God.  He bore the pain and humility of that most heinous torture as no one else.  Here He displayed the ultimate demonstration of what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

As I prayed, I thought again of Jesus’ definition of maturity, that we love our enemies and bless them that curse us.  Jesus confronted those who opposed Him in ways that were intended for their spiritual eyes to be opened.  At the end, He allowed them to destroy His body, knowing that He, that His Father, would raise Him up.  Yes, His person is a mystery yet we know it is true.  But I am thinking of true humility.

I think the essence of it is related to knowing our identity as our Father’s sons yet remaining totally submissive to Him.  Humility knows that we are not Him.  And we are not “better’ than anyone else.  We are all on the same plane when we consider the cross and what the Son of God did.  The gospels and the record of Acts provide the story of those early disciples learning the lessons, of growing into the stature the Lord intended.  Look at Peter’s life and progress.

It would take many words to trace Peter’s experiences with Jesus.  I think most of you reading this know something of those stories and we have many.  A Bible website I use indicates his name is mentioned 153 times.  He is an example for us all as we see his mistakes, his failures.  He followed Jesus.  He did not want to leave Him.  But Peter had to see all of the weakness that was in him, all of the words and intentions that could only be fulfilled when he received the fulness of the Spirit at Pentecost.  And Peter still had some imperfections after that.  See the words in Galatians.  They are very significant for our day, as they were at that beginning of the Lord building His church.  But that is another message.

I have heard perspectives on the meaning of Jesus’ words to Peter when he recognized Jesus for who He is.  The Greek word for rock does not imply a little stone   Further, while the revelation of Christ is foundational to spiritual life, Jesus did build His church upon Peter.  What?  No, I am not agreeing with false teachings of the Roman variety.  Jesus’ church does not need, or have, a single head leader.  Christ is the singular head of the body, the rest of us are His members as God has grafted us into Him.  How has Jesus built His church upon Peter?  Read the passage in Revelation and see that the foundation of the heavenly city includes Peter as a precious stone.

This is not a future reality but a present one.  Now it is true that we do not yet fully see this but the Lord is now seated in the heavens and Peter and the rest of the 12 are with Him.  And spiritually speaking we are seated with Him and them in the heavens.  The cloud of witnesses are not far off, nor is the Lord, by the Spirit.  He is here!  And we here are built together as precious stones fitted into the wall of this house the Lord is building to be a place He can reside.

At the time of his clear revelation of Jesus as the Christ, Peter was still immature for in the next few moments he heard Jesus say, “Get out of my way for I must fulfill the will of God.”  Read that full passage also.  But Peter was being prepared to fulfill a ministry which would end with his death being a witness of Christ.  In his life he was a witness of and to Christ in powerful ways as divine healing flowed as his shadow fell on people.  Yet he was able to be corrected by Paul and honor that other apostle.  They remain on equal footing for the foundation of the heavenly city has 12 stones, Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone.  There is no other.

Teachers and Fathers

Teachers and Fathers

(John 1:12-13, 1 John  2:12-14, 1 Cor. 4:14-21)

After the revelation on Patmos, John more clearly expressed many aspects of our spiritual lives.  I have come to deeply appreciate how he describes our growth.  In John 1, we read that as we receive Him, Christ, we have the potential to become born-ones of God.  I used to think our reception of Him is the fact of a new birth.  Whoops!  I hear my analytical side getting in the way.  Scratch that last sentence.  Receiving Him is all important and spiritual life begins.  Like it happens with a seed hidden beneath the surface, a shoot, a sprout, erupts.  It is not by a formula we can analyze.  It is according to a working of His Spirit and the process begins.  He makes all things new.  Everyday. We cannot make any of it happen.  It is our part to be workable, malleable, good lumps of clay.  Let Him work you into shape. Then we are fit to cooperate with Him.  Receiving Him is the start and provides the ability to grow.

John continues to speak to us about growth in his first letter.  There, he refers to believers as children, young men, and fathers.  When we see a repetition in the words we read in the Bible, we should pay close attention.  We will simply because of that repetition itself.  John addresses each season of growth twice.  He leaves no one out.  See how he refers to the little children and fathers both as knowing God.  The difference is that fathers have a greater sense of the eternal.  Are we knowing Him who was from the beginning?  Moses was 80 years old when he met the One who called Himself I AM.  Our eternal destiny is the main thing.  That is what the Lord has in mind.  A vast family of sons who are full grown.  They know the patience of God and lack nothing.

A father gives life.  He imparts a seed that causes conception.  As we mature, we impart spiritual life to people.  Paul echoes that thought to the Corinthians.  He had a fatherly care for them.  His words to them were firm but not harsh.  They were an immature bunch.  He warned them he might have to be severe if they did not listen and respond.  He carefully addressed the issue of marriage with them recognizing their humanity.  We can have many teachers but we need true fathers.  Firm but gentle.  It can be our greatest challenge.  And it is the transforming work of the Lord by His Spirit.  Christ in us meets every challenge and His life overcomes.  The faith of the Son of God becoming our faith.  This is the way to overcoming.

The young men overcome the evil one.  The truth is that we have an enemy that is a person, a spiritual being.  He stirs up thoughts, uses other people, and wants to harm us.  We may find he has ground in us but the Lord is our freedom fighter.  His way is grace and the cross where He destroyed the fear of even death.  John writes that we turn from loving this world.  Jesus told us not to love our lives.  The young men are those who have eaten the Lord’s words and digested them.  The word of God has a home in them.  So they have overcome the evil one.  If he comes, they have the means to resist him and he will leave.  He goes to look for others to trouble. We begin as children.  We may see that some grow very quickly, seemingly much faster than others.  Growth is expected, it simply happens.  A child needs care, nourishment and the experiences of discovering and using its body.  First is the natural, then the spiritual.  Now we read in Rev. 12:3 that a child is born mature.  We understand this woman who gives birth is the church, the bride, the wife of the Lamb.  It indicates a working of God’s Spirit that gives birth to a nation of priests for God in a day.  While our response is to look for something to yet happen, may we see that we are members of that bride, so close in spirit to Christ that our lives of intercession bear such ones to the Lord.  While we may not have this experience we can grow into it.  It is part of the process.  Jesus’ words are spirit and they are life.  He will put His words in our mouths and we will impart life to others.  Stay rooted and grounded in Him and growth is certain.

A Throne of Grace

A Throne of Grace

(Heb. 4:16, Rev. 12:10-12, Ps. 91)

This thought from the letter to the Hebrews was posted as part of a prayer request on a ministry website.  I needed to hear it again.  The Lord as eternal mediator has made the way for us to live in the throne room of God.  It is a throne of grace.  I hear much in these days born of a desire for righteousness.  It is often repeated that justice and righteousness are the foundations of God’s throne.  It is so.  But how does God define that justice and righteousness?  He defined it at the cross of Christ, not in our fleshly efforts to rule by laws patterned after the law of Moses.  His justice is met with the blood of the worthy Lamb.

Our enemy is quick to accuse and condemn us.  When we fail, the accuser is correct in that we have fallen and come short.  But we hear too little to remind us that the seat of His throne is a seat of mercy.  The words from Revelation tell us that the accuser has been cast down.  Here is a little trouble for my human understanding.  Some explain that three heavens or levels of heavens exist.  The highest holds the throne and the Lord dwells there.  The second level is the area where Michael and his angels have warred with Satan and his helpers, and thrown them down.  The third or lowest are those created heavens that we see.  No understanding is perfect but I think this passage tells us that the accuser has no more access to accuse us to God. 

How is this?  The blood of the pure Lamb of God is there.  This blood that is simultaneously human and the demonstration of the unfathomable love of God.  The blood speaks forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness.  The devil cannot approach there for it speaks his eternal, complete defeat and ultimate shame.  His time is short.  He runs around in the world among us accusing God to us, accusing believers to one another, and spreading lies and distortion wherever he can.  He began his jealous war against humanity in the Garden with insinuation of God withholding good from us.  He has no new weapons.  When we think of bringing every thought captive to Christ, let us include every twisted word from the serpent.  Remember Jesus’ confrontation with him in the wilderness.  The enemy will distort truth.  But the word of God in us is greater.

How important to feed on the truth, on the bread that Christ is.  When we receive by the Spirit, not merely the letter but the Spirit of truth, our spirits are strengthened.  The word becomes flesh in us when digested and tested.  It takes time for spiritual growth and meditation on the truth is part of the process.  Do you read the Bible?  Are you biblically literate?  It is important and includes the law and the prophets.  It also includes what we have as the gospels and letters. 

May we as the people of God see ourselves in a spiritual battle and cease from playing into our enemy’s hand.  Cease from accusation.  Correct and counsel when offenses come.  Sometimes they should be ignored if small.  When correction is not received repeatedly we should avoid such so-called brothers.  I come back to Paul writing that he prayed and turned certain men over to Satan that they would learn not to blaspheme.  The Lord is patient and His goal for everyman is that they would be saved.  It is important for us to never hinder that process.  Be careful not to offend young believers but recognize their immaturity.  How important we who are mature learn to help young ones to grow.  True love is patient, kind, and gentle but firm.

Growth happens as we are transformed by, and in His presence.  It includes exposure.  Every corner of hearts will be searched by the One whose eyes are flames of fire.  Are we willing to submit to that? We approach the throne without fear knowing that His end is for our good, our eternal good.  We learn to live in His presence, to dwell in that place of unapproachable light.  Yet it is forever approachable to those who have known He is love.

Shadow and Substance

Shadow and Substance

(Col. 2:17, Heb. 8:5-6, 10:1, 11:1, 12:18-25)

Jesus taught in parables to use earthly frames of reference to teach heavenly realities.  He asked to what He could compare the kingdom of heaven.  He spoke of the kingdom.  He never taught us how to build a church.  He was focused on us entering the kingdom.  He builds His church His way.  We do best to simply allow Him to fit us together.

Similar to His teaching in parables, the Lord gave to Moses the law and the model of the tabernacle.  Many years ago, I visited a museum with a full scale model of the tabernacle in Pennsylvania.  I appreciated that.  I had already studied the scripture and sat in on teaching concerning the tabernacle and it’s relation to our spiritual lives.  It is valuable, even critical, to understand the process and progression to enter the Lord’s presence.  In simpler words, the tabernacle shows the way to get close to God.  Once there, our purpose is to stay there.  Fellowship, close relationship, has been God’s purpose and desire.  He walked with Adam in the cool of the day.  Enoch walked with Him.  Jesus said, He and the Father are one.  That is close.

Jesus prayed that we, His members, those who have received His words, would be one as He and the Father are one.  This goes beyond agreement in our thoughts with one another.  Much of our thoughts are too low.  They do not align with the thoughts of God.  How important is it that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts are pleasing to Him.  No question mark with that thought.  It is of the greatest importance that we grow up into His mind and His heart.  As this happens, it becomes our delight to do His will.  It becomes spontaneous, naturally spiritual we might say.  Alignment with the Lord, true oneness with Him is a process.

While it is a process, we find times we call breakthrough.  We find ourselves thrust out of old ways, more into the continual newness of the Spirit.  We may find ourselves restrained, restricted in some way and we want to break out.  True freedom is not the absence of restraint, for our self-centered self wants its own way.  The Lord brings us to be constrained by His love.  Like a little child, we want and when we have, we do not want to let go.  When we see the Lord’s ways are better than our desires, we learn to follow His lead.  The breakthrough is like the Passover out of Egypt and like the entrance into Canaan.  They were very different but both brought a maturing.

In the wilderness time between these two significant transitions, the Lord gave the tabernacle as instructive.  In that day, a few saw beyond the structure to pursue the Lord.  Namely these were Joshua and Caleb.  Consider that their families, wives and children were included with them to enter the land.  I should check out the record to confirm this but I will leave that to you.  I mention this because Joshua later says that he and his house will serve the Lord.  Joshua knew that Moses had something more and so he hung close and stayed at the door when Moses went into meet with the Lord.  All of this I mention that we might see that all of us are called to be like Joshua, to be hungry to pursue what we see in others as substance, as something more than what we have known.  We want it to rub off on us. As we pursue, we will find the Lord’s calling and choosing.  So it was with Moses, so it was with Joshua and Caleb, so it was with the twelve.  Now, Jesus has offered to all, “If any man would come after me, let that one take up his cross and follow me.”  Anyone!  This goes out to every man, woman, and child.  I am convinced that children can begin to follow the Lamb of God.  Some are called from the womb.  Some hear the call later.  When you hear, respond.  It is worth the cost.  In the shadows we learn, we begin to understand.  Don’t stay there.  The Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, is calling.  When you hear, get up and follow.  It is worth every cost.

An Upward Gaze

An Upward Gaze

(Colossians 3:1,2, Eph. 2:6-10, Luke 10:38-42)

Set your affection, your mind, your gaze upon things above.  Why?  Christ is there.  He has ascended.  He is no longer bound to the earth.  He said it was to the benefit of those with Him that He leave the limitation of an earthly life and then the Spirit would come.  It is to our great benefit today that He has become a life giving Spirit and been poured out.  This one, Jesus, was seen by many as He ascended.  And they heard, after He had passed from their physical sight, that He would come again.  For this moment, let us not pursue all that is in His full appearing.  He said that the timing of that event is with Father alone.

That man, Paul, who said he had been a Hebrew of the Hebrews, came to understand the magnitude of what God had accomplished in Christ.  The incarnation, the son of God taking the form of the son of man, was the necessary operation to allow this one, Jesus, to become the faithful high priest of God’s house.  In Christ here, God was displaying more fully and perfectly His intention from before the foundation of creation.  Paul understood and teaches us that Christ Jesus is the representative man, appointed by God, the second, the last Adam.  John did the same in his first letter.  As Christ died for all for sin, all died in sin.  Now we can choose to say yes and agree to be dead to sin and alive to righteousness.  At every turn, say yes to Him, to the Spirit.  Choose His righteousness as your portion.

Many dangers, toils, and snares are found along our journey.  Grace is the answer.  It is not knowledge of stuff, a better handle on our doctrine.  Now understanding matters but that is not our foundation.  Christ is the rock, the ground that enables us to walk steadily. And He will change us.  Beholding Him we are changed from glory to glory.  Too often we are side-tracked into issues.  That is part of our learning, our journey.  Some endeavor may seem important or valuable.  Is the Lord in it?  Is He leading you into it.  We find that as we go on, others may be led by the Lord into certain areas, ministries, places of true spiritual activity but it may not be for us.  Nothing to be anxious about here.  If we find its not working, we can ask Him.  Better to ask Him beforehand but we all learn in different ways.

Best is to set your sights on Him and learn to be still and listen.  We find He searches our hearts and turns us from our own efforts to a cooperation with Him.  We hear more keenly and follow more closely. We learn to follow the Lamb wherever He leads us.  Jesus said Mary had chosen the better part.  To sit at His feet and listen is best.  Yes, we will be active in making preparations for Him.  Martha was doing that.  Jesus corrected her complaining about her sister not her actions.  We should be careful not to criticize one who may not ppear active but who has drawn aside from all the distractions to listen.

If we will see our place with Him in the heavens, in the spirit, and move there to behold Him, He will change us.  There we gain His perspective.  There we mature as sons seeing what our Father is doing.  There we can hear Him ask who will go for Him.  From there He sends us on His mission for us.  We will experience what it means to be seated with Him in His place of authority.  Then we will not be turned aside so easily to pursue other lesser things.  And we learn that true nature of God which is meek and lowly of heart.  That is how Jesus describes Himself when calling us to come to Him.  Now we come to Him where He is, seated on a throne.  All this the very work of God, following His great intention before we ever existed that He would have us where He is. This is not a reality to see only as future.  The fulness of it is yet coming but it is for us to believe into it now.  Make it your desire.  It is already His that you be near Him.  He is near us.  The kingdom of God is in our midst today.  His righteousness, His great peace, His unspeakable joy.  Receive it today.

Christ All and in All

Christ All and In All

(Search the Scriptures)

Through Him, by Him, and for Him all things exist that we see with our natural eyes.  And blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.  We must look, that is search earnestly for Him, so that He might find us.  Yes, He is the one who does the finding.  God called to Adam, “Where are you?”  It is the Good Shepherd who goes out to find that one lost sheep.  We are saved by grace so that we can never boast.  Yet it is also absolutely true that we must pursue Him.  How wonderful is the collision!  But not always a joyful occasion.  No two encounters with Christ are the same.  Not even in our individual lives.  Consider David.  His days as a shepherd over Jesse’s sheep were challenging.  He honed his abilities with that slingshot.  And he had a great victory over Goliath.  Then he was chased by Saul.  After all that, in a weak moment he indulged his flesh, and had to bear the consequences throughout his family.  He had been mighty and now he had fallen.  The Lord did not quit in his life and restored him.

It was all Christ at work in David.  Well before His coming the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Christ was working.  Years ago I heard David referred to as a new covenant man.  I understood that immediately.  Now I keep thinking that we of His church still think as if we are in the shadows.  David knew more of the Lord than most of his day.  Yet he did not become a forerunner by his own will.  He became such as he grew to know the Lord.  Again, consider his story that he spent his youth in a lowly position as a shepherd boy.  I think we could see his later failures can be tied to a loss of that early humility.  Similar experience attended Moses who spent 80 years in preparation, Elijah who comes on the scene having learned to stand before the Lord, and the Savior Himself who grew for 30 years before His revealing to the family of Jacob.

Christ has fulfilled the law, the feasts, and all the requirements.  He is God’s provision for every spiritual need.  And as our Father, He attends to every earthly, material need.  I stop here in the mystery of His name being called everlasting Father.  The Godhead is a mystery.  Yet He calls us to come and know Him.  Above all it is to know Him as agape, this love that has no beginning, no end, no bottom, no limitation.  We must also know Him as unapproachable light but also as Abba, daddy God.  Who can fathom the depth of His love to come to us, knowing His time here would be marked with grief and anger culminating in a Roman torture and cross.  He knew the end from the beginning and knew the joy set before Him.  We must know that joy so that we may endure to the end.  How do we find that?  Know Christ, pursue Christ, eat His flesh and drink His blood.  He offers all of Himself to us.

How sad He must come to some of His own and say, I spit you out.  Yet then He says, I am knocking and if you open the door, I will come in like I did at Bethany, and I will sit at the table with you and we can have communion.  We will share a meal.  And if you have followed me but denied me in your fear and weakness, I will find you at a job and invite you to breakfast.  If I find you feeding my sheep, I will gird myself and come with my Father and we will serve you.  What kind of love is this?  It is part of the gift of God to mankind, offered freely that we may know Him, be joined to Him, grow as beloved children, and look forward to be part of a marriage celebration so wonderful we could not bear it in this mortal flesh.

Growth in Christ

Growth in His Body

(Eph. 4:15,16, Rom. 8:12-24)

The body of Christ is building itself up in love.  Paul exhorted us to do this as he wrote to the Ephesians.  Some of us have heard and are actually doing this.  Too many have not yet heard.  Others are easily distracted from this and other most important things.  The kingdom of God is more family than a “kingdom”.  Our concepts of the kingdom require top down leadership.  Paul does not refer the Ephesians back to himself but to the head of the body, who is Christ.  Every part of the human body is connected to the head by way of the nervous system.  In the matured body of Christ each member knows it’s part and function as related to Christ.

It is all about Christ being seen.  This is the goal form God’s perspective.  Many have said that we should set goals and then work to achieve them.  As we do this we will grow as people.  We will develop character.  But we can do this and be effective human beings and we still find ourselves unsatisfied.  So effectiveness is not the goal.  The goal is knowing Him who is so awesome and boundless that we can never know Him fully.  No despair.  Just press on to know Him.  The greatest among us should lead us in this.  Paul did.  For Him, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  Are we there?  Are we moving in that direction, that Christ is our life?

Growth is the process of God.  Mental and emotional maturity are too often ignored among believers.  God has subjected creation to futility because mankind as a whole has rejected His wisdom, His mind, His understanding.  By the Spirit we have the mind of Christ.  But we must listen.  Let him who has ears to hear, pay attention to what the Spirit is saying.  While we may find ourselves frustrated to the point of anger, consider Jesus.  He knew the same emotions but was strong in spirit to continue to follow His Father’s ways.  His ways are lovingkindness and truth, or grace and truth.  Always.  His ways never change.  His discipline, His judgements are always to move men to repentance and transformation.  Are you captive by circumstances?  That exists for you to look up and hear His perspective on your situation.  He wants you closer to Himself.

We are not subjected to futility.  Creation and the unbelievers around us walk in futility because they do not know Him.  Their portion is futility so that they might turn.  Turn to what?  Turn to mature believers, His sons, to be delivered.  Here is the hidden yet obvious truth.  Jesus knew and said the fields are white unto harvest.  Among the unbelievers are those who want to believe.  As we shine and do good works as we know God has put those opportunities in our path, others are drawn in His direction.  This is often invisible to us.  Simply keep sowing and allow the Lord to sow you into the lives of others as He leads.  As many as are led by the Spirit, these are the sons, mature sons, of God.  The Spirit leads us to walk in righteousness.  That means we don’t do what our bodies and emotions may push us toward.  Rather we put those to death.  We simply say no to them and yes to the Spirit.  And as we go on we know more and more of His leading and do the works He chose beforehand for us to do.

Angels and Heaven

Angels and Heaven

(Gen 18:1, Gen. 32:24-30, Isaiah 6:1-4, Luke 1:19, 26)

The Bible is the most unique book available to mankind.  It is one of God’s means of revealing Himself to us.  Sadly, it has been misused, abused, and ignored.  When read with humility and an open hungry heart, the Holy Spirit can speak to us through it.  Truth is simple and profound.  In that book we read of the lives of many.  I wonder if anyone has counted the total number of individuals identified by name.  Many we honor and want to emulate.  Others we see in dishonor.  We read of spiritual experiences and heavenly encounters,  While some entertained angels unaware of their identity, others knew full well who came to them.

I could comment on controversies of what God uses but our time is worth more than that.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  If at the end of this age, all the graves will open and every eye will see Jesus Christ, Lord of all, in His glory, why would we doubt He could raise the dead today as He wills?  The Lord is not flippant or capricious.  He has clear intent in all He does.  Reading through John 4, after His work in Samaria, Jesus returns to Galilee and is now received because of the miracles.  As a prophet He was not received but when He does the miracles He is welcomed.  Some things to ponder there.

In my early years as a believer, I recall a time in prayer that I was aware of spiritual presence in the room.  I knew they were angels.  Question if you choose but I knew.  I was fearful of seeing them and I saw nothing.  More recently, with much of my fear of heavenly realities diminished, I have seen and spoken with angels.  Some of it was very unusual and I could say, strange.  Many years before I had read a book, Visions Beyond the Veil, written by H.A. Baker.  He is the grandfather of Roland Baker who is married to Heidi.  They minister under Iris Ministries.  I have very deep appreciation for them.  Grandfather’s book records visions seen by Chinese orphans.  H.A. and his wife cared for these as missionaries in the 1930’s.  Without ever hearing of the visions John had on Patmos, these children were seeing the very same scenes.  The Spirit opens spiritual eyes as He wills.

As we would hear what the Spirit speaks, our eyes will be opened wider.  It will cause us to earnestly desire experience with the Lord.  We are ever in the school of the Spirit.  We may attend schools, gain certifications and degrees but it is the Spirit of Christ that will lead us into all truth.  The orphan children in China received something that no one was expecting.  So it is with the Spirit.  He will lead us into circumstances that will cause us to grow.  Awareness of the heavenly when rightly received alongside sound doctrine, causes our spirit to grow.  I have considered and written before concerning John, the son of Zebedee.  He is a man like us but now, in glory with the Lord, no longer like us in the flesh.  He went through many troubles and adventures before Patmos and the revelation of Christ he received there.  The Lord prepared Him and it is preserved for us to digest and believe.

May we know our place seated with Christ in the heavenly realm, the place He dwells.  That is what it means to be in the Spirit.  We can know this on a continual basis while times of focus are essential for a spiritual walk.  In the first century, the presence of Christ, parousia in Greek, was not about a future event but a present reality.  And so it has been with many through history and today.  The day now is that we worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth.  Or are we following empty tradition and simply mouthing words?  We can appreciate the shadows, traditions which had value but our brother Paul said he considered all as stuff to be left behind and he pressed on to know Christ and reach a better resurrection.  He ran into man and his kingdom in the extreme of Nero.  May we His people desire no other kingdom.  No king exists but Jesus Christ and only His kingdom will stand.  Every earthly institution will pass away.  May we set our affection on things above and experience being seated with Christ Jesus there.