Intimacy with the Father and the Son

Carl_Bloch_The_Transfiguration_400

There is so much more to what it means to be intimate with our Father and Jesus than what seeps to the surface in today’s churches. Even the Bible translators seem to have gone out of their way to strip intimacy out of what the original languages were written in. For instance, what it means to be “born again.” We hear this phrase all over Christendom, but how hollow it is! Being “born again” is the very beginning of our relationship with the Spirit Being who has called us to Himself. The translators really missed it on this one! Take the word, “born”


gennaō
Thayer Definition:
1) of men who fathered children
1a) to be born
1b) to be begotten
1b1) of women giving birth to children

This word can be used for both being born and for insemination by the father. But in this case our heavenly Father is the progenitor. He is not our biological mother, but who is? Father is the one who moves and “broods over” us and inseminates us with spiritual life! That is what it means to be “born of the Spirit.” With us it is just as it was with Mary, the mother of Jesus and how she became pregnant.

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know [ginosko – intimate knowing] not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born [gennao] of you shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34-35 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Then our intimacy continues on for we are inseminated INTO Christ and abide there in Him from then on. Jesus said, “That whosoever believes in [Greek – eis INTO not “in”] him [the Son] should not perish, but have eternal life.”(John 3:15 KJ2000) Salvation is all about in whom we abide. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in [Greek – eis INTO] him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJ2000)

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe INTO [Grk – eis] his name [character or personage]: Who were born [gennao – inseminated], not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13 KJ2000)

 The initial act by the Father is one that makes us spirit beings and then through faith places us INTO the Son. Jesus is the Father’s womb where we live! From then on we are IN Him. Jesus said,

He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. (John 6:56 KJ2000 – Emphasis added)

 We are eating and drinking from Him just as a fetus does eat and drink of its mother. Paul nailed it when He said,

‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ (Acts 17:28 RSVA – emphasis added)

Jesus’ final prayers are very instructive,

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on [eis – into] me through their word; That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in [eis – into] one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

 As I hope you can see, everything about what it means for us to become a NEW creation IN Christ is about intimacy. We who are His body and Bride have our singular being (not beings) IN the Father and the Son. This is not mere religious activities that is spoken of here. God is after intimacy with all who are His.

Another thought on intimacy. Jesus said, “But you, when you pray, enter into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6 KJ2000). Prayer is our time of intimacy in secret with the Father, not a public performance. We enter into our room with Him and shut the door. What room? The room that Jesus has prepared for us for our intimate communion with the Father and the Son. Jesus said,

 “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe [INTO – Grk. eis) God, believe also [INTO – Grk. eis] me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3 RSVA)

We are the BRIDE of Christ, not His platonic girlfriend. There is so much more to becoming the Bride of Christ than attending endless church meetings. Jesus first prepares the bridal chamber for us and then invites us into it with Him. We can have that intimacy now in this life as we learn to go into our heavenly room in our Father’s house and shut the door with Him. Oh, what intimacy is ours if we will just open our eyes and follow our Bridegroom.

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10 RSVA)

Can These Bones Live?

Can these bones live

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and lo, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, thou knowest.” Again he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And as I looked, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host. (Ezekiel 37:1-10 RSVA)

Our brother Hosea Fwangmun from Nigeria wrote recently,

“I come to the conclusion that ONLY the Father can reveal the Son in me and vice-versa. And since then I resist the temptation of trying to create what I call ‘mechanical fellowship.’  Yes, we need the gifts in others to come to the full measure and the statue of the son of God, but not in a mechanical way. We have to learn to discern His Body. I remember one of the favorite quotes of our brother Watchman Nee. ‘…you don’t organize for fellowship, rather, fellowship is spontaneous.’ May God give us true discernment in other to be truly build up into Christ. Amen.”

In the American church mindset, which has defiled the Church (the true body of Christ) throughout the world, there is a “can do” mentality that has not been to the cross. We think in terms of “by my might and by my power we can get this done! We can build God’s kingdom. We can make body life happen! Spirit? What Spirit?” To quote my brother Philip in Vermont, who stepped down from being a pastor for this very reason, “What a crock!”

In Chapter 37 of Ezekiel there is a very important lesson that needs to be learned if we are to be used of God. The prophet had a vision of a valley of dry, dismembered bones that had once been a mighty army. Thus we have the state of the Church today! The individual members of the body of Christ have been torn apart by ravenous wolves who have come in and not spared the flock of Christ, and false shepherds have risen up over them who teach perverse things to keep them divided (See Acts 20:29-31).

So today we are trying to have fellowship with a valley of dry bones. What a desperate state of affairs. It will take a miracle of God if these bones will ever become the functioning body of Christ again.

Notice in our opening passage that the bones were “very dry.” There are bones, dry to the touch, that still have the marrow in them rotting away and stinking, and then there are very dry bones that have been brought to such a death that not even Satan can find a niche in them to work his defilement! Many of us have been in this drying-out process. God has taken us outside the various camps of man-made religion, but has He dried us out to the point that we have no life left in us to try to do anything for God or make anything happen by our strength and will? All too many of us have come out of Egypt, but only far enough so that we can still look back. We design our new house church systems using the great Pyramid of Giza as our blueprint. Thus we are building another top down system, men lording over other men and pushing our will on them as “our vision” for the restoration of the Church.

Before God can assemble the true Church by His design, all our individual lives and good ideas have to totally die and become very dry. As Jesus put it, “Unless God builds the house, they who build it labor in vain.”

The next thing the Spirit showed me in this passage was this, “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, thou knowest.’” Notice that Ezekiel was clueless when faced with the wisdom and will of the Lord. How many of those who call themselves visionaries or church leaders today recognize that they are totally clueless as to what God is doing? They all seem to have a plan as to how to build the church or get numbers of people into their buildings, under their authority, and filling their coffers with money “for the work of the Lord.” What God is looking for today in true leadership is men who have been “undone,” because they have seen the Lord as high and lifted up with His train filling His temple! Again, the wilderness has not yet killed the last vestiges of Egypt in them. Unlike Moses, they have not figured out that what they learned in the house of Pharaoh is useless to God.

Next we read, “Again he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’” True prophetic voices for God have no preconceived idea of what God wants to say through them. A true prophetic voice for God waits until He hears what God is saying to the churches and does not speak until he is told to! He does not add his own flavor (or stench) to what is being said, either, because he is very dry. Then he will have God’s word to speak to these other very dry bones!

Then we read in our passage, “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

You see, everything that has any eternal value is done by Him!

“I will cause breather to enter you and you shall live.”

“I will lay sinews upon you.”

“I will cause flesh to come upon you and cover you with skin.”

“[I will] put breath in you and you shall live.”

“And then “you shall know that I AM THE LORD.”

(Compare Hebrews 8:8-11).

Everything that happens in this universe of God’s that is done for any eternal purpose is done by HIM. This whole exercise we are seeing is so we will know Jesus as Lord and that He is building His Church. That Church is the one that the gates of hell will not stand a chance against! What a far cry from this pathetic thing we see today that has lost its saltiness and is being trodden under the feet of men.

“So I prophesied as I was commanded….” In Acts we read about Peter and the apostles being locked up in prison. “But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out and said, ‘Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.’” (Acts 5:19-20 RSVA). Today many of us feel like we are in prison, waiting for the Lord to release us. Our self-wills are being broken and we wait for God to make the next move. Jesus told Peter, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21:18 RSVA). Jesus is our “Another” who has bound us and carries us where we would not go. In this state alone can He trust us to speak as He commands instead dressing ourselves in religious garments and titles of authority and walking where we would, “in Jesus’ name.”

Bone to His Bone

Ezekiel went on to report, “…as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone.” There was not just some willy-nilly assembling of these bones. Every bone had to first find the body it belonged to and then find its place in that body. The body of Christ has been so dismembered and dysfunctional for so long, we don’t have a clue what body we belong to, where we fit or what our function really is! Many of us have experienced other bones trying to plug themselves into our bones and they just don’t fit! Believe me, when God puts two of us together according to His will, we will know it! It will be an instant fit and the anointing that goes with that joining will soon be manifest. Paul wrote,

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, who is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body being fitly joined together and knit together by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16 KJ2000)

“Christ: From whom the whole body being fitly joined together and knit together by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.” It is Christ who fitly joins us together as HE wills. Imagine how it would feel for your forearm to be attached below your knee or your lower leg to be attached to your shoulder. Nothing would line up! The sockets would not fit, the blood vessels would not connect and the nerves would not be joined. In this situation, every joint would not be able to supply the nourishment from the Head to the lower parts and there would be no effectual working in the God given measure of each part. Brothers and sisters, we need to be very careful to listen to God as to who HE desires us to be connected to and how (See Acts 5:13).

The only thing that will make this happen is for each of us individual dry bones to yield to the wind of the Spirit and let CHRIST build HIS Church. He must show each of us what body we belong in and where our place is in that body. All to many of us have preconceived idea of who we are in Christ and what “our ministry” is. Only very dry bones will be worthy to be assembled in the Church He is building in this final hour.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.

“Prophesy to the Breath.” What breath? Did you know that the word in the Greek translated “spirit” is “breath”? Strong’s dictionary defines it thus,

pneuma

pnyoo’-mah

From G4154; a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit,

Without the breath of God blowing upon us and assembling us, we will remain individual dry bones bleaching in the sun. Jesus told Nicode’mus, “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit (the Breath of God).” (John 3:8 RSVA). So, dear saints, don’t get in a big fleshly hurry to make these dry bones come together or assemble yourselves to anyone who claims Christ as His Lord. Nothing is going to happen in God’s kingdom without HIS breath blowing on it and IN it. But be assured, that it is they who wait upon the Lord that will mount up as HIS exceeding great host, the body of Christ.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence they have come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence. (Revelation 7:9-15 RSVA)

The Power of Our Words and Prayers

altar_of_incense

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door were shaken at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged. (Isaiah 6:1-7 KJ2000)

I was in fellowship with a dear saint recently and we started to talk about prayer and how important it was for those of us who are in unity as members of Christ’s body to pray for one another. This person felt the power of God when we prayed together and saw results in their life. Words are a wondrous thing. With our words we have the power to move heaven to act, bless those dear to us, or to do them harm. Really getting to know others in close relationships is wonderful, but the closer and more open we are with each other, the easier it is to wound one another with our words. I’ve apologized numerous times to people I’ve hurt without intending to. Each time I’ve wounded a dear saint, I’ve been reminded of Jesus’ words that it would be better for a millstone to be hung around my neck and be cast into the depth of the sea than offend one of His little ones. In this last year God has put me in relationships with people who are serious about the kingdom of God and what it means to walk together in the light as He is in the light. We know that unless we are walking in this kind of transparency with the ones He has placed us with, we are not having real fellowship (see 1 John 1:5-9).

After seeing both the negative and positive effects of my words, I was reminded of some verses in the Bible that God has given me in the past.

In Ecclesiastes Solomon wrote:

Dead flies cause the ointment of the perfumer to send forth a foul odor: so does a little folly to him that is respected for wisdom and honor. (Ecclesiastes 10:1 KJ2000)

Paul wrote:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God…Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:1-4 ESV– emphasis added)

As I experienced both blessing and wounding coming out of my mouth more recently, He reminded me of what James wrote.

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so. (James 3:10 RSVA)

For in many things we all offend. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. (James 3:2 KJ2000)

Yes, brethren, this ought not to be so! I started asking God to do a miracle in my life in this matter of the tongue. He started answering my prayer by letting me feel in my own heart the pain others were feeling. A couple of times it was so intense I had to go lie down because I couldn’t function any longer.

Fourteen years ago, while watching the movie, “The Green Mile,” I started weeping and praying that God would use me to take some of the suffering out of this world. I was inspired by the empathy of the main character in the movie, John Koffey. I had no idea what I was asking when I prayed that God would use me this way. As is so often the case, He starts answering our prayers by dealing with us first! He wanted me to deal with the pain I was causing others in this world! I soon found that the closer these people were to me, the greater the pain I felt when I offended one of them. Pain is a great teacher. C. S. Lewis wrote,

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ~ C.S Lewis, The Problem of Pain

At this same time, God started talking to me about really seeking His face. God told Moses, “You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20 KJ2000). There had to be somewhere else that God said to seek His face, and I found it in Psalms where David prayed:

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When you said, Seek my face; my heart said unto you, your face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not your face far from me; put not your servant away in anger: you have been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. (Psalms 27:7-10 KJ2000)

David was a man after God’s own heart and a prophetic type of Christ. Man might not have been able to see God’s face and live in the Old Covenant, but in the New Covenant we are called to boldly enter into the Father’s presence as we abide in His Son, Jesus.

 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 RSVA)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. (Ephesians 2:13-16 RSVA)

About four months ago as I pleaded to see our Father’s face, He gave me Isaiah 6:1-7 and this was the part He wanted me to feel:“Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Father told me, “If you want to see me, you must be undone.” I knew that something must be done about my unclean lips. Since then, I have never been so conscious of the words that come out of my mouth and the effect they have on others! I have never felt so much heart pain either! I have cried more in the last four months than I had in my whole life as He has let me experience the pain in the hearts of others. I have become “unhinged”… undone and cry at the drop of a hat. He was answering another longstanding prayer of mine. He was letting me in close to His heart and experience the fellowship of His sufferings.

I have become so sick of the damage my uninspired words were cause others that I have started praying He would take a coal from His altar and put it in my mouth as He did with Isaiah. I am tired of hurting others with my words, especially His “little ones,” those who walk in humility before Him.

To become sons and daughters of God it takes a miraculous work. We must be made into a new creation, and that is what He does. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJ2000)

There is nothing of that old Adam in us He can use. Paul wrote,

 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (1 Corinthians 15:49-50 RSVA)

Over the last ten months God has gone deep in my heart after some bitter root judgments (see Heb. 12:14-15) I have held on to from old wounds in the past. These wounds have kept His love from flowing through me. The process of dealing with this has required the constant working of death in me. I have been going from death to death so that He can spring forth with new life unto life in me. Paul wrote:

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient [capable] for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 RSVA – emphasis added)

Who is sufficient for these things? God is!

 And such trust have we through Christ toward God: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; (2 Corinthians 3:4-5 KJ2000)

Paul went on to say that we are:

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:10-12 KJ2000)

Are we willing to let death work in us so that life might abound through us to others? I’ve had to go though a lot of pain and tears, yet I have never felt such intense love for others in my heart as well. I never knew that love could be so painful, yet so rewarding at the same time.

This Thing Called Prayer

Today Father showed me something new about prayer. Luke tells us about Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father.

According to the custom of the priest’s office, his [Zachariah’s] lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the time of incense. (Luke 1:9-10 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

It is interesting that here we see a passage speaking about prayer and incense at the same time. For 35 years my prayer life was in the tank. In 1980 God removed any sense of His presence from me and put me out into a spiritual wilderness. As a result, I quit praying on any regular basis. Prayer that had once been personable, powerful and fulfilling was lost in that wilderness. When I tried to pray the words seem to fall off my lower lip and hit the floor like a “sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.”

But today something happened. He spoke to me about prayer and let me see that our prayers are not just mere waves of energy that go flying by God’s ear at the speed of sound, never to be seen or heard from again. No, just like faith, prayers have substance and are gathered at His altar just as our tears are gathered in His bottle (see Psalm 56:8). A strong sense of peace came over me as He showed me this passage in Revelation:

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire from the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:1-5 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

At first I thought prayer and incense were two different things, but then I read David’s words,

Let my prayer be set forth before you as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalms 141:2-3 KJ2000)

Here we not only see prayer as incense before the Lord, but we also have an admonition about every idle word that comes out of our mouths. God tied both of these issues together in the same passage of scripture! In Revelation we see those prayers as incense being hurled back down to the earth to do a work as God has intended. We might not see an answer to our prayers come in the form we had expected, but they are still valuable to Him. When the time is right, He sends them out with His power to accomplish His will.

He had taken me full circle –from the idle words of my mouth that smote my heart as I felt the pain they caused in the hearts of others, to how our prayers are incense to God and something He uses to accomplish His divine will. As I meditated on this fresh revelation, my tears flowed! Prayer has taken on new meaning to me and I feel that its importance has finally been restored to me after 35 years. So Father I pray that you will…

 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalms 19:14 KJ2000)

Spiritual Gifts and Fellowship

Here is an excellent teaching by Susanne Schuberth on what spiritual gifts are and what they are to be used for in the body of Christ and what true fellowship really is. I hope you all read it.

Entering the Promised Land

At the End of the Day ... All Good Things Come from Above (Photo by Sarah Schuberth)At the End of the Day … All Good Things Come from Above
(Photo by Sarah Schuberth)

Basically, the Body of Christ should consist of many different members with many different gifts and we should all submit to one another according to the gifts the others have been given. That is the way the church initially was meant to be when the first Christians had no Bible as we know it today. We read in 1 Corinthians chapter 12,

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Listening = Love

Here is something shared by a dear sister that many of us need to take to heart… the art of listening.

IMG_38493083347704

One of the greatest gifts I have experienced being in a recovery program is the gift of women who listen without trying to “fix” me. Though I’m not a big fan of rules, one of the small group guidelines states “We are not here to fix one another. God is the fixer.” The gift of people who listen has helped me find the voice that I locked in a dungeon long ago.

I love what Henri Nouwen says about listening:

Listening as Spiritual Hospitality

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. 

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Discerning the Kingdom of God

Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_-_James_Tissot_-But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world [kosmos] has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14 RSVA)

Why did Paul emphasize the cross of Christ so much? Because the cross gives us power over the world as it works the death of that old Adam in us that listens to the deception of this world. When we read John’s words about not loving the world or the things of the world, it is good to look at the context of this verse.

“I have written unto you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever. Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; by which we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:14-18 KJ2000)

The word translated world is the Greek word kosmos. It can mean the earth and the universe itself, God’s creation, but most often it in the New Testament it means:

1) an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government
6) the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
7) world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
7a) the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions)

John went on to write, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world [kosmos] is in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:19-20 RSVA)

There are only two realities for humans on this earth. We are either in the power of the evil one and his kosmos system, or we are in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were of their father the devil, that he was a liar and murder from the beginning, and they would do his works (see John 8:40-44). They proved Him right by having Him killed!

Jesus had an interesting dialogue with Pilate at His trial:

Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world [kosmos]; if my kingship were of this world [kosmos], my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world [kosmos].” (John 18:35-36 RSVA)

Jesus said to His disciples, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world [kosmos] is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world [kosmos] may know that I love the Father…” (John 14:30-31 RSVA)

Satan is the ruler of this world and world powers do his bidding, often unconsciously. The Bible speaks of the world [kosmos] and the earth. These words are translated from two different Greek words. Paul wrote,

“For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth [Greek – ghay – soil, terrain, the earth]. (Ephesians 1:9-10 RSVA)

Jesus said,

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 RSVA)

“You are the salt of the earth [ghay]; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. (Matthew 5:13 RSVA)

The earth as God’s creation is not evil. We read in Genesis that He made all things good. Evil is what Satan has done on this earth as he set up his kingdom here to rule over men by his lies and deceptions. It is this kingdom, his kosmos, that is judged and condemned. We are not to be of his kingdom and worldly ruler-ship. The kosmos is not Jesus’ kingdom. This ungodly kingdom of Satan has armies that fight for their sovereigns and do their will. It is all under the wicked one. His princes rule over these principalities. Jesus’ kingdom is one of peace and righteousness, “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17 RSVA). The earth is ours to enjoy as it reflects His glory and love for mankind (see Romans 1:20).

In his letter, John is speaking of the kosmos that is under the authority of the Wicked One. We who are mature have overcome the devil. As it is in Christ, the Prince of this kosmos comes and he finds nothing in us that he can use to tempt us. And as John wrote, we who are mature and abide in Christ, “Love not the kosmos, neither the things that are in the kosmos [for] If any man loves the kosmos, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the kosmos, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the kosmos.”

The prince of this kosmos system tempts us through the lust of the eyes, the lust of our flesh, and the pride of life. These were the three things he used to tempt Eve in the garden in the beginning. When she caved in to that temptation, she gave dominion over the earth to him.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [the lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [the lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [the pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6 KJ2000)

There was one other Great Temptation later, and if Satan had succeeded, it would have sealed all our fates. Satan tempted the very Son of God to use His God given powers to do a selfish thing. That worm used these same three temptations on our Lord.

The lust of the flesh: “And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:3 RSVA)

The lust of the eyes: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9 RSVA)

The pride of life: “Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:5-6 RSVA). Yes, Jesus, below you are all the temple worshipers. All you have to do is jump off this pinnacle into their midst and float down to earth in their sight and they will all know you are the Son of God and follow you.

Satan has perfected his temptations in these three areas. When we hear him speaking to us to do his will, it will always be in one of these three areas. But the Spirit of God is not about puffing up by our pride and satisfying our fleshly nature, but He is about lifting up Christ and crucifying our carnal natures. This is how we know which spirit is speaking to us.

John went on to say in 1 John 2 that there are many antichrists in the church and you will know them by what they teach. Do they speak of the kosmos of Satan and work to build up their kingdoms with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life? They do this by preaching worldly power and prosperity, being lifted up before men as “larger than life” leaders, and always falling for “the seven deadly sins”).

In this hour of great deception we who are Christ’s do not need men who seek to draw disciples after themselves teaching us (see Acts 20:29-31)! We need ears that can hear the Holy Spirit, the unction within us. He will lead us into all truth and away from error.

But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4 RSVA – emphasis added)

(A special thanks to Susanne Schuberth of Germany for inspirations I got as I read her blog article, https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/how-can-we-discern-gods-voice-from-other-voices/#respond )