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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Greater Experience


Maybe we could call the book of Ephesians "The Book of Unveiling."

Here, Paul takes us from the seen to the Unseen,
     from this world to the one above.
And here he shows us Eternal Purposes,
     Eternal Powers, and Eternal Promises.

Here, he opens to us a realm which one day, in heaven, we will see in all its fullness.
Here, his desire is that on earth we may know the riches which are ours in God.
     - "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." 
          "In Whom ... redemption." (1.7) 
               ... "an inheritance." (1.11)
                    ... our trust (1.13)
                         "in whom ... sealed with that holy Spirit of promise" (1.13)

Then, in verses eighteen and nineteen, Paul speaks of his unceasing prayer that God would give them to understand through the Spirit of Revelation:
     1. the hope of the calling,
          2. the riches of the glory of His inheritance,
               3. the greatness of His power. 

Again, there are things that we will only understand in fullness when we reach heaven -and yet Paul's yearning for the saints is a reflection of the yearning
of the Spirit of God over His children.

If we could understand these three things, 
     the Hope, the Inheritance, and the Power, 
          we would have little need for anything else.
Here we would find the answer to all our prayers for a greater knowledge, 
and a greater experience of the things of God.

This is the place of freedom without limit. 
This is where we exchange the earth-bound realm of our human limitations 
for the immeasurable dimension of the kingdom of God.

This is the reason for Paul's unceasing passion of prayer for the saints -
and this is what Paul would pray if he were here with us today.
     that they might Know ...
          that they might taste Life in all its Fullness.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

How to Come - How to Inherit

There is a story in Joshua chapter fifteen ...
and my imagination runs ahead, between the lines:

It is a story which starts years before:

There was a day when (perhaps as he was out gathering manna) 
     Caleb received the news, "it's a girl," 
          and he couldn't wait to see her.
There was the time when she started to toddle around the tent,
     a time when she was a cute little  five year old,
          a growing ten year old,
               a young lady in the making of fifteen years.

And all through the years she was "Daddy's little girl" -
Caleb's pride and joy.
But today she is married, and leaving to start her own home.

Her husband would have an inheritance from his family
     - but this little lady, endowed with the same spirit as her warrior father,
          cannot be satisfied with what satisfies everyone else.

She gets her husband to ask for land from her father,
     and then, still unsatisfied, asks for water springs. 
She looks to ensure the viability,
     and guarantee the productivity, of her gift.

The picture has words spoken, and words unspoken:
She is saying in effect, 
     "I am your daughter,
          you have given me life -
               now give me an inheritance." 

"Make my life meaningful.
     Give me something I can work with.
          Make my life count for something.
               Make your love to me tangible."

And she got the water,
     she got the upper springs, 
          and she got the lower springs,
Caleb is saying, "Take it all my child - it's all for you"

I look at the story, and I bring it down to today,
     I ask myself,
       What will satisfy me?     What will it take to make life complete for me?
     What gifts are there which await my asking?

What one human can give to another is limited.
But the spiritual realm has no limits.

              "My God shall supply all your need -
       according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4.19)


 Our Hopes, and the Longings born in Him, 
     are the Yearnings which He desires to give us ....
             God would say to us also, 
                  "Take it all my child, it's all for you."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Bringing the Kingdom


For everything earthly, God's aim is that His Kingdom be established.

It is an awesome responsibility to pray, "Thy Kingdom come."
God must be greater than His creation,
and every created thing must be under His dominion.

If the whole of our lives is not subject to this Kingdom we are prisoners ... of our own unbelief.
We are bound ...  by our self-will,
our self sufficiency, and our pride.
We are held fast by our stubborn rebellion against submission.

We must leave the kingdom of our own making, 
if we are to enter into the Kingdom whose builder and maker is God.
Jesus' words to Nicodemus are true for all of us,
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh;
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

These are words, not just for our first coming to the Kingdom of God
for forgiveness and cleansing.
They are words for every day of our lives -
words to keep us from returning to a dependence upon ourselves,
our plans and projects, our "resolutions" and dreams.

"That which is born of the Spirit" is eternal, 
is all-powerful and must prevail.
This is true of prayer -
Jude speaks of "praying in the Holy Ghost." (1.20)

"Lord teach us to pray." (Lk. 11.1)

 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Picture of the True


"Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?" (Sng. 8.5)

The verse impacts me ... and my mind paints a picture of the scene.
(This apart from the literal contextual interpretation of the passage.)
I see a picture of just two people - and a desert,
and I see myself, and I see us all there.

I think of the desert - that place where death is loosed,
and where life cannot flourish -
a place representative of our human existence.
     Death is there,
surrounding in circumstances, in adversities, in challenges.
     And the desert is somehow also within,
           fears, confusion, ambition, and the "set will of the weak."

Who would choose to go to the desert?
What caused this woman to go there?
     Was it rebellion, the pride of self sufficiency?
          Was it a way to try to escape her lot in life?
     Did she not know her own weakness,
          her own lack of direction ?
Were these the things that drove her to the place of death?

What were her feelings when she became aware that she was lost,
     and weak, and hopeless?
What when she realized the desert was claiming her life,
     and there was no way of escape?

What was it when she became aware of Another in the desert?
What when in the place of solitude she saw One Who walked through the desert,
sustained by a Life untouched by the dryness and the heat?
     
What must have been the emotion when He drew near?
     What when she saw Him more clearly, 
          and was overwhelmed by the awareness of His Love for her?

How was it that her self-will  and self-dependance, was overcome?
     How was it she surrendered her whole being to Him?

In that moment of surrender it ceased to be about herself anymore,
     it became about the One Who loved her,
          the One Who quickened Life within her.

The  the desert and all of its scarcity faded, 
and she found herself transformed in His Sufficiency.

She leaned, now supported by the One Who had become everything to her.
Seeing her transfigured brought a cry,
     "Who is this?" 
          "Who is this ...that cometh up ... from the wilderness ... 
               leaning upon her beloved?"

This is a picture of the True - 
He came "to seek and to save that which was lost." (Lk. 19.10)

He came to replace the consuming death of the desert with Life -
in ever increasing abundance ... "from glory to glory" - "even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2Cor. 3.18)



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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Am I Made Yet?


Jn. 1.23  "I am the voice...crying in the wilderness."

My father used to say that the main thing lacking in the church is passion.

John the Baptist was passionate.
He not only transmitted the message - he was the message.
     Where there is passion there is identification.

Somehow, in the spiritual world when a man carries a burden to the point of complete identification, he becomes the thing he carries.
He cries not for himself, but for the burden he carries,
which has now become his burden..

The person carrying a weight does not have to be convinced that it is real.

"Moses said unto the LORD, ...  thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? (Num. 11.11)
It wasn't something theoretical, it was something real.

I can't really pray for something when I don't feel its dimension within.
     Identification is a vital thing in prayer.
          It is not just one more gimmick,
               or just one more way to leverage mediocrity.
And we soon run into the question: how far does our identification go?

How sad to find ourselves praying when  the doctors have given up hope for a life,
     and to realize that for us it is "somebody else's pain."
          How sad to know that the needy one will die -
               but that we will live on in our little spiritual world.

How far have we gone, how far can we go -
     in our appropriation of what we pray for?
Are we able to feel the pain, to sense the confusion, to measure the heavy burden?
     Are we able to feel it as our own? 
          Can we feel that we "are" the person we are praying for?
 
Jesus 'bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows.' (Is 53.4) 
He not only bore the burden, but was "made sin for us" (2 Cor. 5.12)
     "It is the way the Master went,
          should not the servant tread it still?"

Paul sums up his goal saying: 
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings..." (Phil. 3.10)
It is not just the Resurrection power, but the sharing of the Burden which Paul longs for.

The two things go together - and can we really know the one if we are ignorant of the other?

     We can be sure that if we find the fellowship of His suffering, of His burden,
          God will come in the power which answers the burden of our seeking.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

If ...


John 12.32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."

Could we look at our verse in a little wider context than we usually do?
     "Men" is not specified in the verse. 
          One translator says "all creation" - all creation will be drawn.
He is the One to Whom  "every knee shall bow." (Is. 45.23)

 What does this mean for us?
     Ah, here is the secret of life.
If we can lift Him up over all else,
when we can lift Him up from the earth itself,
         we will find Him more near than all the troubles and responsibilities of life,
         we will find Him more present than all that crashes upon us from the world around.

The enemy would try to gain entrance into our lives.
     He would attack us from without, with his forces of destruction.
          He would attack us in our thoughts, our feelings, our confidence in God.

But the enemy's invading will always be overcome as we,
like David, are able to declare, "I have set the Lord always before me," 
(Ps. 16.8)

I am reminded of the words of Job, " how little a portion is heard of Him."  (Job 26.14). 
     How can we conceive of the Infinite?
          How can our eyes see, or our mind comprehend, that which has no limit?
               We cannot ... but, 'beholding we are changed.' (2 Cor. 3.18) - changed to be able to see and to believe.                   
                        This is our freedom.
                        This is the limitless Life God gives to His own.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Lord Alone


Isaiah 2 speaks of the last days, 
     of the Lord's exaltation at that time, 
          and the judgement of men.
He finishes saying "the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day" (vs. 11 and 17).

When God is exalted all else is humbled.
     This is a truth desperately needed.  

"The Lord alone" is a totally exclusive declaration, not even the tiniest thing can come alongside Him.
For us to find God, all that we are, and all that we think we possess,
must bow down.

How much seeking for answers in our spiritual lives is frustrated at this point?
How many of the "closed doors" come from a lack of "utterness" in our seeking?

There is something so beautiful when the sun rises in a morning without clouds, and all is made luminous and clear.
And there is something so beautiful when the Lord is seen without hindrance, or earthly impediments.

This has always been God's aim ...
"Thou shalt have no other God's before Me." (Ex. 20.3)

"Let us lay aside every weight" says the apostle. (Heb.12.1)
It is the same thing - God alone as the focus of life.
     This is where our eyes see clearly. 
          This is the vision of transcendent beauty.

"How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty." (Zec. 9.17)