Conceived By Love

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Have you ever wondered WHY God loves us? WHY are we included in His purpose and plan?

In this episode we chat about the reality of God’s love and how this is the backdrop to all that He does.

Please click on the link for the latest podcast episode over at The Ancient Pathways.com.

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The Two Gardens

Did you know that God revealed His purpose in two different gardens that we read about in Scripture?

Please click on the link below to listen to the 2nd episode of our podcast on http://www.theancientpathways.com to discover more of Christ in these two gardens.

https://theancientpathways.com/the-two-gardens/

What is the heart of the Gospel?

I just read an article that highlighted five signs of ‘Progressive Christianity’. I’d never heard that term before. The article was interesting and informative and when it exampled sentences or expressions that might come out of this movement, I realised I have actually heard of it before but didn’t know there was a name for it.

However, what I found interesting was that the article stated how ‘Progressive Christianity’ had moved away from “the heart of the gospel being sin and redemption” to now being about social justice. Firstly, let me say that I get what they’re saying. I’ve certainly noticed a strong diversion away from the gospel toward social justice and social issues from within the church. Social media is saturated with it.  But what disturbed me most was that the author of the article said the heart of the gospel is sin and redemption. I sincerely beg to differ.

The heart of the gospel is Christ. From beginning to end it is about Christ. The entire scriptures from beginning to end are about Christ. All of time and creation is about Christ. Before time and creation, was Christ. Outside of time and creation, is Christ. The church exists for Christ and is in Christ, and is the body of Christ. In fact, all things exist in and through, by and for Christ.

Sin and redemption are realities for all humanity, pointing out our need for Christ. Redemption is available to all of us, through faith in Jesus Christ. Sin and redemption are not the heart of the gospel. The gospel is Christ. He is the good news. He is the purpose of redemption. Saving us from sin is not the purpose of redemption. We are redeemed, that we would know Christ, that He would have a body and a bride, through whom He can be expressed. Christ is the All in all. Christ is the One in whom all things will be summed up.

So the heart of the gospel is not even a matter of ‘what’, but ‘who’.

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ–everything in heaven and on earth. Ephesians 1:10

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:20

For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:36

Wasting Jesus

These are photos of our olive tree. We didn’t plant the olive tree. It was here before our time. We have never had access to an olive tree before and subsequently have never educated ourselves on how to harvest or cure olives. As you would know, olives are used for consumption as well as for their oil.

When we realised we had an olive tree, there were only a few very green olives showing. After some online research I discovered that the season for ripening and harvest was coming up. I researched different ways of harvesting or curing olives. I’m still not efficient in my understanding of the processes and what to call them.  However, I quickly learned that there are a myriad of ways to prepare olives for consumption as well as for oil.

As Derek and I watched the olives gradually getting more plentiful and darker, I began to feel it would be a crime to just leave them on the tree and not have a go at harvesting them. Although there is a lot of spiritual imagery in the process of harvesting/curing olives (the use of salt, time, hidden places etc) I’m not going to focus this post on those things.

The thing is, Derek and I had a go at harvesting them. We tried two different methods and then I went away for a week to see family. When I returned I checked how they were going (they can take up to 15 weeks or something crazy like that). Derek and I checked on them periodically but they just didn’t seem to be working. I hadn’t done things properly I’m sure of that.  When I saw they weren’t working how they’re supposed to, I threw them all out in the garbage. After that, I pretty much lost interest, even though the olives on the tree this very day are sitting there ripe and ready for harvesting.

That’s the point of this post. The waste. The tree is full of olives, purple olives. Some are even sundried already, they’ve been on the tree for so long. Many have turned black and fallen to the ground. There’s an abundance of olives just ripe for the picking.

But you know what? I can’t be bothered. The process is beyond my comprehension. The process is too lengthy. There’s too much information on the internet on how to harvest or cure them. I can’t even get the terminology right. I have no understanding. I’m lazy. And as a result, they are being wasted. Every time I look at the tree I see the abundance and I see the waste. This is the point of my post today.

Sometimes, isn’t that just the way we are with Jesus? When I looked at the tree today, I just saw how Christ is this abundant Tree of Life ripe for the taking. He is full and glorious, rich and tasty, available for consumption and for His healing oil. And like our olive tree, He was always there, even before we arrived. His life was existing and increasing without our help, He just was. He just is.

And now, what are we doing with this Christ? Are we just walking by Him every day and ignoring Him? Are we letting His glorious life go to waste, so to speak? Do we think it is all too hard to get know Him so we just don’t bother? Are there so many opinions from experts out there on how to get to know Him that we are overwhelmed and so we shrink back?

The nature of Christ, is that regardless of whether or not we draw from His life or even acknowledge Him, He will still be there. Season after season, He will produce all the goodness that we need. He is an endless supply, THE endless supply. He is there for the taking. But just like the olives don’t just jump off the tree and cure themselves and pop themselves into an oil jar or a pickling jar in our fridge ready for consumption, Jesus doesn’t just do everything for us without our involvement.

Jesus wants us to work with Him. There’s a relationship involved. There’s not a labour of our own life, but His life within us as we make ourselves available to Him and actively participate in His life. We are co-workers with Christ. Yes, He has done it all, and yes He is sufficient in and of Himself, but it is the will of the Father that we might participate and partake of His Son’s life.

Are we actively participating in the process of getting to know our Lord? Are we desperate enough for His glorious life to be lived through us that we will put in the time and effort to walk through the hard stuff so that He gets what He wants in us? Or would we rather just go to the store (passively sit in a pew) and buy what’s already been prepared and packaged for us?

God help us. God forgive us for wasting the Life of Your precious Son.  Lord, do what You must do in us, to shake and move us out of our comfortable seats to really get to know You – who You are – and participate and partake in Your glorious Life. Have Your way oh Lord.

You know, one of the really great things about getting to really know our Lord Jesus? It’s that we are not motivated any longer by guilt. I could race off now and try and harvest/cure the olives off that tree out of guilt. But you know what? I’m totally chuffed and satisfied that the Lord has used all of this to point me to Him, to show me about His life. And just as I’m not led into guilt about not labouring in harvesting the olives, the Lord doesn’t lead me into guilt over not getting to know Him more. He is simply as that olive tree, He is there. He waits. He continues to display His available life to me. He draws me to Him. He speaks to me and reveals Himself to me through things like an olive tree in our front garden. And by doing so, He continues to woo me to Him. I begin to long for more of Him.

This is the life of God folks. He draws us by His life and by His love revealed to us in His Son. What will we do with this life of His Son?

Christ Our Bridegroom

Sorry I’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks but we’ve had two different families from NSW staying with us over the last two long weekends for Easter and now Anzac Day.  We’ve had an awesome time and have been kept very busy with site-seeing, hanging out, walking the dog and entertaining the kids, and lots of eating!

However, I wanted to post my final contribution to the 3rdrace.org series on the Lord’s Eternal Purpose, which for the month of April has been focusing on The Bride. There are some beautiful realities posted there by the other contributors to the site and as usual, I recommend checking it out.

Anyhoo, please click on this link to read my post there on Christ Our Bridegroom.

Why Did God Want A Family?

Please follow the link below to read my contribution to 3rdrace.org for the ongoing  series on God’s Eternal Purpose.  For the month of February, we are focusing on God’s Family.

 Excerpt from

Why Did God Want A Family

I have never had children of my own. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to, the timing was just never quite right. AT times I have really wanted to start a family. As I was preparing to write this post and contemplated the question of why God wanted a family, I asked myself ‘why did I want a family?’

Read on.

 

 

 

What Is God’s House Like?

nature-1984314_1280For the month of January, the awesome dudes on 3rdrace.org blogged about ‘God’s House’.  It was part of a series they’re doing pertaining to God’s Eternal Purpose – (God having an ultimate intention, desire and passion for obtaining a house and a family for the Father, a bride and a body for the Son and a temple for the Holy Spirit). For the month of February they are focussing on God’s desire for a ‘Family’ as the next part in this series and I will be contributing to that. I thoroughly recommend visiting their site to read the current posts.

As most of you would know by following my blog, Derek and I have just relocated to Perth. We arrived five weeks ago and are soooo blessed to be staying with a wonderful brother and sister who have welcomed us (and our dog Rocky) with open arms. We are truly so thankful to these guys. 🙂

Reading through 3rd race’s posts on God wanting a house and with us being in this situation of not having our own house just yet, has really opened my eyes to why having a house of His own is so important to God. So I’d like to share my thoughts.

Derek and I are looking for a rental but God doesn’t want a rental. He doesn’t want a Guest House or a B&B. He wants His own house. He doesn’t want your house or my house. As nice as it is when we cry out “You are welcome here today Lord”, He doesn’t want anyone else’s house where He can be a welcome guest. He wants His own house.

Why do you and I like to have our own house? Well, it’s where we dwell, right? We want a permanent place to dwell where we can rest, be comfortable, relaxed and feel completely free to be ourselves – hence the expression to ‘feel at home’ means all these things.  It’s in our nature to desire a home because it is in God’s nature – it is part of us having been made in His image.

In our own home we furnish it with things we like and furniture that we find comfortable and that works well for our needs. We set up the house to reflect our needs and pleasures. If you’re a handyman you probably like a shed where you can keep all your tools and have a great work bench to make things. If you’re a cook, you’ll probably want a kitchen that functions well for a lot of cooking and you’ll have appliances there that suit your needs. If you’re like us and you love to watch movies, you’ll probably want a comfy couch and a big screen tele so you can get the best cinematic experience you can. And on it goes.

So what about God’s house? Initially I was going to say that I don’t know Him well enough to know how He’d want to furnish His house, other than to say that I know He’d want it to be a place where He can rest, be comfortable, relaxed and completely free to be Himself. However, I think I actually do know how He’d want to furnish His house….(in fact, how He already is furnishing it).

Just take a look at these scriptures;

O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells. (Psalm 26:8)

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23).

So the Word became human and made his home among us...(John 1:4)

We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’ (Mark 14:58)

If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:17)

As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)

Your testimonies are very sure: holiness becomes your house, O LORD, for ever. (Psalm 93:5)

In my Father’s house there are many rooms…I go to prepare a place for you…(John 14:2)

Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples (Isaiah 56:7)

“It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'” (Matthew 21:13)

Reflecting carefully on these scriptures, I would describe God’s house like this;

God’s house is a spiritual house, not yet complete. It is being built together of living stones and not built by human hands but by the Spirit of God. It is an Owner/Builder one-off project. It’s foundations is Christ. It’s cornerstone is Christ. It’s capstone is Christ. It has many rooms in it. The Father and the Son both dwell there in love. Therefore its rooms are filled with  love and the presence of God permeates the walls, floors and ceilings with a heavenly fragrance. The Word of God lives there amongst the living stones. Its walls are decorated with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control – it is altogether beautiful.  Instead of a television, the light of God’s glory fills every room. It is a house that is set apart from all others because it is filled with God’s holiness – there is not another like it and never will be. Every piece of décor is a one-off original, and by design, a ‘Divine’ label.  It is a sacred place that is constantly filled to the rooftop with prayer and spiritual sacrifices where its living stones minister to God as priests day in and day out. It has an altar in the centre of it where the living stones practise the one-another’s of the New Testament (love one another, be kind to one another, carry one another’s burdens, lay down your life for one another, submit to one another in love and so on) reflecting God’s nature. It is a place that pleases God. He really, really likes it. He is completely ‘at home’ there and sees Himself reflected in every aspect of it. It is built and decorated to His own unique taste. It is filled with joy! And it has a huge ‘Welcome’ mat at its front door welcoming all people. 🙂

God’s house completely reflects and embodies His Son’s life.

The thing is, we ARE the living house of God – because His Son lives in us. The Father and the Son have made their home in us and so we ARE being built together* as a spiritual house for God, a place where Jesus Christ can lay His head, be comfortable and express Himself and His Father, freely.

Jesus said;

For whenever two or three of you are gathered together* in My name there I am in the midst.(Matthew 18:20).

As I meditated on this thought, I saw in my mind’s eye a picture of Jesus walking around amongst the two or three that are gathered. I realised that when we are gathered in His name, it is then that Jesus gets to experience being ‘at home’. In that brief picture it was as if the heavenly living reality of God’s house that exists now through the church reflecting Christ’s nature, was made visible and I could see that Jesus is ‘at home’ in that environment. When we meet in His name, there He is! He’s walking about in His own home because He is able to move around and express Himself in each one of us as He wants to – relaxed, comfortable, full of joy and at rest.

Does this change your perspective on the way you have always seen the house of God?

Oh Lord, build Your house, transform us, build us together as Your living stones, that You may dwell richly among us and be ‘at home’, for Your sake.

Amen.

*Note: According to scripture Christ does not appear in the midst of one singular separated member of His body but when two (more than one) or three are gathered together in His nameAccording to scripture one single separated member does not suffice as a spiritual house – we are a spiritual house being built together.