The hands on a clock serve as a reminder that all of time is in God’s hands. There’s three hands, reflecting the Three in One Godhead, an hour hand, a minute hand and a second hand. He is the Eternal Now, the All in All, the Beginning and the End.
In the early 1990’s there was a film called ‘Death Becomes Her’. It starred Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis. Basically, it was about a woman who took a potion to keep her looking young but it actually meant she lived forever even after being killed and while her body decomposed. The title of this old movie came to my mind during the week reflecting on the life that the Lord has called us to as believers.
As believers into Christ Jesus, we were crucified with Christ and buried with Him. Christ rose from the grave and we are now only alive in Him. It is now no longer us who live but Christ who lives in us. We have been crucified to this world. No longer “I” but “Him”. This death that we have entered into by way of faith in Christ Jesus as Son of God has made us beautiful in God’s sight.
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16)
In the Song of Songs we see how Christ our King (represented in King Solomon) speaks of His death and resurrection in chapter 4 verse 6;
Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh (death) and to the hill of incense (resurrection).
He then tells His Beloved (us) that there is no flaw in her. In other words, through His death and resurrection, we have become flawless in His eyes. She was/we were always beautiful to Him but now through His death she/we have become flawless!
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4)
His death and resurrection has done it all and the church is brought forth as His bride. It is at that point that He addresses her as His bride in verse 8 & 9;
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride…You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride…
As she begins to know Him and express Him, she ministers to Him. And then in Chapter 5 verse 5, she experiences the cross;
I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the lock…
This cross-like experience leads her into a time of searching for Him desperately because she has come to see who He is and how she loves and longs for Him more than life itself. In Chapter 6 & verse 5 we read how she has been transformed through the experience of the cross in her life and in her pursuit of Him above all else. As a result of this transformation the King says these words to her;
Turn your eyes from me, they overwhelm me…
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
Death becomes us, saints. Our death in Christ and His resurrection Life in us, and our daily taking up of our cross, makes us beautiful in His sight.
How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights! (Song of Songs 7:6)
Well, you know about IKEA, don’t you? It’s that Swedish store (that’s more like it’s own planet!) that sells ready-to-assemble furniture, appliances and home accessories? It’s extremely popular. Not just what they sell, but their stores! Their stores are crazy places – massive, exciting, they’re almost like Disneyland for furniture shopping!
Well, I first visited an IKEA store here in Perth, WA last year. Yes, it is an amazing place, quite extraordinary and very interesting. I don’t think their stuff is all that brilliant but I get what all the fuss is about considering variety, quality, price, and the fair dinkum adventure that is just walking around the store! A lot of people are crazy for it.
The thing about IKEA, at least in Australia, is that they’re not very common. While a lot of popular chainstores can be found in almost every suburb these days, not so with IKEA. In fact, they only have one or two at the most in the states of QLD, NSW, VIC, SA and WA. That’s like, 10 in the whole country! They don’t have a store in the Northern Territory (which kind of makes sense since it’s mostly desert), or the ACT and they don’t have one in Tasmania.
So how do I see Christ in IKEA? I see that where a Christ-centred community is, is not that common. They’re not found in every suburb, on every corner, or every 20kms apart, not even in every town, or every city, or even in every state and more than likely not even in every country!
If you’re part of a truly Christ-centred community where Jesus Christ is actively THE HEAD, and the only Head of that community of believers, then you are as rare as IKEA. Probably rarer. And I strongly encourage you and your community to seek the Lord continuously on His plan for your community toward HIS purpose.
IKEA sells the furnishings and gadgets but CHRIST-centred community/ekklessia is THE HOUSE. Saints, we have so much more to offer the world than IKEA does. We have the Creator of all things, the Centre of all things, the Head of all things. We have the One whose only motivation is LOVE, to offer the world.
So here’s to praying that more and more of these Christ-centred communities/ekklessia’s start popping up all over the world, in every country, every state or county, every city, every town, every suburb and in every street!
So, in our little backyard there is a vine. The vine by all appearances looks dead to me. In fact, I thought it was dead and some months ago endeavoured to untangle it and pull it off the other tree and off the fence that it is all wrapped around. It looked very untidy because it was just a brown stick-like vine all coiled between the ground plants and the foliage of the tree next to it. It was very hard to pull at and undo, so typical of me, I gave up :-).
Then the other week I noticed – there’s this cluster of beautiful bright purple flowers in the middle of it! There’s bright fresh green leaves in the same cluster. When I first noticed it through the window, I had to do a double-take. I thought “what?” There’s flowers growing on that vine? And they’re so beautiful, and rich in colour! It’s quite odd though because there’s no other signs of life anywhere else on the vine.
I would have expected if there was new growth, it would start coming through all over the vine, not just in one section alone. Looking at it again today when I took this photograph, I was reminded of how it is God’s job to keep us in His Son – the reality of the picture Jesus gave us of Him being the Vine and us being the branches. Looking at this cluster of flowers where it seems there’s no other life on the vine, reminded me that God is faithful to Himself and therefore faithful to us.
Ephesians 1:4 tells us very clearly that it was God who placed us (believers) inside His Son;
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. 4For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love 5He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will,…
Jude 1:24 tells us that it is God who keeps us in His Son;
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
Philippians 1:6 tells us that it is God who perfects and completes in us what He Himself started;
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns
Dear saint, be assured that these promises are yes and amen because Christ is the Yes and Amen of God. You and I are in Christ. We are as in Christ as the life is in that vine to produce beautiful flowers. We share His royal blood – the colour of purple. And although there may be seasons and times where it appears there is no life at all, the Life is always there. The flowers are always there hidden inside that vine until God Himself brings them through as a beautiful display of His Son’s Life and for His very own glorious inheritance.
Wow. What a God we have. What a Christ.
In the recent children’s animation movie ‘Moana’ there are a number of very powerful scenes that if you look behind what you’re seeing on the screen, you can see something of the Spirit realm to which you and I belong. Of-course, these are only shadows & types.
One scene that really spoke to me was concerning Moana’s ancestors. Her ancestors were voyagers, you see. However, over time her people had decided to remain safe and no longer would venture out past the reef where all the best fish could be found for food. This reminded me of how the church has lost it’s way, she has lost her heart. The church was once a vibrant spiritual organism growing in her ongoing discovery into the Son of God as she lived out of His life that indwelt her. You’ve only got to read the book of Acts to see that. But she has become insular, self-protective and has lost her desire to know Him beyond what she is spoon-fed. She has shrunk back.
She has become afraid of the reef – the cross. In ignorance and spiritual immaturity, she hides from the pain and suffering of the cross that Jesus told us to take up and carry daily. She only desires comfort, knowledge, familiarity, knowledge without experience. She has settled for stories of Jesus instead of living His Resurrection Life that lies beyond the cross.
As the story goes on,Moana ventures out past the reef and things happen which is a great picture of portions of Christ’s body/church today. Yes folks, be encouraged for many saints all over the world are embracing the cross in its various and perfectly fashioned forms by the Father, venturing out past the spiritual reef and breakers, so to speak, in search of knowing a greater Christ than they’ve ever known before. Brothers and sisters in Christ are rising up in a growing desperate pursuit of Christ who is our real food, our real drink, the food that satisfies, the drink that quenches all thirst forevermore.
Coming back to Moana – Typically, once she has faced her fears and trials she eventually achieves the goal she set sail for. When this happens, the animators give the viewers a climactic explosion of life in a glorious scene of Moana sailing on the wild seas and watching with wide eyes of wonder, her ancestors on their boats riding the waves all around, passing her on their journey. The two realms of time & eternity are revealed simultaneously.
This scene spoke me to me of that great cloud of witnesses that we read about in Hebrews Chapter 12, verse 1;
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…
I was reminded of our roots – that we as believers are sojourners, voyagers in our discovery of Christ and all that He is. He is the mighty ocean. He is the reef (the cross) and all that is beyond the reef yet to be discovered. He is the resurrection and the life! Our lives are meant to be lived out as an adventure in knowing Him through our trials and tribulations for the glory that lies before us – truly knowing Him!
Those trials and tribulations can come in all shapes and sizes. Yet, in all peril, we are travelling a path well trod by those who went before us – like Moana’s ancestors who forged on past the reef and through storms and danger carrying their adventurous spirit to find richer food and a richer existence as a result. So we can do the same in our journey in knowing Christ with hearts of faith.
Those saints who have walked the ancient paths of knowing God through all their trials and tribulations, perseverance and endurance, can really be thought of as our spiritual ancestors. I’m not talking about spiritual ancestors such as some indigenous tribal communities or new agers hold to that are not of Christ. I’m talking about spiritual ancestory in light of the reality that those of us who are in Christ, are called the children of Abraham – not in the flesh but in the spirit.
For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are Abraham’s descendants are they all his children. On the contrary, “Through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned.” So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring.…(Romans 9:6-8)
We are the children of the promise because we have believed in the One who was sent, the Seed of Abraham, who was in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – that is Christ Jesus. We have now been made one with Him by His Spirit.
Let’s get one thing straight. The journey of the believer is a spiritual one. That means it is not of this realm. It is not an external journey of a type of ‘godly’ behaviour, rules and appearances. It is a life lived by another realm, the realm of the Spirit.
…It is the only place in you that comes from the other realm, the heavenly realm, the external realm…It is the place where I (Christ) live as the connection between heaven and earth….(New Day, Milt Rodriguez, 2013).
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes… (Ezekiel 36:26)
God causing us to walk in His statutes (measure, ruling, commandment, covenant, proclamation) is a spiritual act on His behalf, done by God Himself Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ God is causing you to walk in His statutes as He has caused countless other saints to walk there before us. Thousands upon thousands of saints have lived and died before us, having carried their cross daily as they walked the same paths of knowing Christ beyond the reef.
Is the Lord calling you to venture out from the comfort and conformity of life on an ‘island’ and go beyond the ‘reef’ to travel the ancient pathways trod by thousands of saints who’ve gone before? Do you feel in your spirit that there is much more to discover and explore of and in Christ than you’ve ever known before? Do you sense that He is worth the desperate pursuit? Do you believe there is Life awaiting you on the other side of the reef?
Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Once we were slaves to sin and to this world. We were born into sin. We were enslaved, in bondage, held as captives and unable to free ourselves. But 2000 years ago a man who was both Son of Man and Son of God, came to us and set us free.
He loosed our chains, they fell off. He broke off our shackles. He washed us clean and healed our wounds. He removed the veil from our eyes. Then He said to us “It is for freedom’s sake that I set you free” and “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed”.
Captivated by Him, His beauty, His glory, His splendour, His love, His compassion, His kindness – we knew that to have freedom apart from Him would be no freedom at all. We saw the kindness and mercy of the Good Master and we willingly gave up our freedom which was no real freedom at all, to make ourselves His bond-servants. We wanted to be with Him forever. We dedicated our lives to Him. Where else could we go? Where else would we go? For He held and still holds the words of Life.
“Thou hast set us free, Master. Now we belong to Thee”.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool (Isaiah 1:18, NIV).
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished in His glorious presence, with great joy–(Jude 1:24 Berean version).
Let us rejoice and celebrate and give Him the glory. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. She was given clothing of fine linen,” linen bright and pure. For the linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints(Rev 19:7-8).
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV).
…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:9, NIV).
The scriptures often use pictures as shadows or types to point to a heavenly reality such as “wool” or “snow” to represent the pure righteousness we have now been given through faith in Christ.
During my sleep a few nights back, a picture entered my mind of a pure white giant glacier and these words came to mind…”Solid Righteousness”.
This image of a glacier all pure white and unblemished, untainted by humanity or any being and so incredibly solid, spoke to me of these things; the completeness, permanency, the unfathomable depth, power and strength of the righteousness we now have in Christ.
Christ’s work in saving, redeeming and sanctifying us is as solid as solid can be. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been made ‘solidly’ righteous.
For some of us, our life decisions can lead us down a path we didn’t really want to go and to a destination we didn’t want. A decision to take that job, move to that area, date that person, eat that kind of food, live that kind of lifestyle, hang out with those kind of people – these decisions can take us on a path that can leave us feeling lost or confused, disappointed or frustrated or much worse. We can find ourselves traveling on a really rough road that can take us a long time to ‘get back on track’. Even years sometimes!
Chatting with a dear friend the other day, we were talking about how God seems to always lead us back onto the right path in our lives, in spite of our mistakes. You know how sometimes we make silly decisions? Or maybe that was just me 🙂
I use a GPS a fair bit these days, to find my way around the streets that are all unfamiliar to me here in Perth. However, sometimes I still take a wrong turn or think I know better and find that I’ve gone off the path the GPS was sending me on. Sometimes I’m just not paying attention or listening properly. Selah.
When this happens with the GPS, it has a momentary brain spasm to work out where I’ve gone and then it adjusts my route to re-direct me back toward the destination. You see, the destination doesn’t change, and just like the GPS, God too, will always steer me back toward His purpose in my life. This beautiful verse in Romans 8:28 says it all;
And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
The thing is, that in God our destination never changes. Our destination is always toward God’s Purpose. Christ being known, revealed and expressed is always our destination. And God has this remarkable way through Christ who is our life, of always leading us towards that purpose, yes, even in spite of our mistakes along the way.
God is like our own spiritual GPS ( ‘God’s Perfect Shepherding’). Christ is our Google Maps! He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the way to the Father. So next time you use your GPS, perhaps you can see the Lord as your Perfect Shepherd in a new way. Using your GPS you can reflect on how in His mercy and love toward us, He is always leading us back onto the right path, toward His glorious purpose of seeing Christ formed in us.
…For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)
Recently I saw the movie titled “Hidden Figures”. (Picture provided by Google Images). The synopsis as described on google reads;
Three female African-American mathematicians provide crucial calculations for NASA’s space race against the Soviets, all while dealing with the racist and sexist assumptions of their white co-workers.
It is a truly moving and inspiring account of the achievements that each of these three ladies made against incredible opposition and injustice. Although the story is essentially about Katherine and her friends’ hidden mathematical genius that is ignored by NASA for a great deal of their story, it is also the story of them being ‘hidden figures’ themselves.The three women were considered to be less than nobody’s firstly because of racism and secondly because of gender inequality – i.e. they were black and they were women.
The main character Katherine Johnson was disregarded, shunned and undervalued yet she was the smartest person in the room. And she knew it! In fact, each of these ladies knew the value of their skill and expertise, if only the powers-that-be would put aside their prejudices and pay attention.
Eventually of-course, those powers-that-be did start to notice how smart Katherine was. And her friends equally in their different departments. It was their unequaled skill that shone through above all their colleagues and superiors that got them noticed eventually and saw NASA achieve the goals it was after. Even the life of an astronaut was saved solely because of Katherine’s God-given mathematical talents.
What really stuck out to me in this story was the balance displayed in each of these mistreated and under-appreciated ladies, of a quiet confidence in their abilities coupled with humility.
Although these ladies each had outstanding talent that placed them above their peers in respect of skill, it was only ever for the greater good that they wished to be noticed. They each had a quiet, confident assurance that if they were free to function then the whole of NASA would benefit.
This reminded me of who we are in Christ. When we are free to function in who and how God has made us the whole body of Christ benefits.
Though the world will never see it, we as members of Christ’s body, beloved of God, ought to always be confident of our reality as priests and kings in the Lord’s Kingdom. Sure, the world may and will mock us, ridicule us, shun and reject us and even persecute us but this should not, will not and cannot take away from who we are.
We must know that we are sons of the living God, set apart to be made by Him holy and righteous in His sight. We are favoured and blessed by God to be members of His family, His royal household and to share in His inheritance. This is who we are. Herein lies our confidence.
Yet, coupled with this confidence that is ours to enter the throne room of God with all our prayers, petitions and praise and to face a world and an enemy that despises us, we have also been given the humility of Christ.
Though it is tempting sometimes, we have no need to put ourselves forward, to speak up for and defend ourselves, even when the world persecutes us. Nor do we seek promotion in the house of God, we seek only to minister unto the Lord Himself and to Him in one another. We needn’t bring attention to ourselves, our ministry, our talents or gifts. Should God ever choose to use us for anything at all, He alone will bring it about for His glory, not for ours.
So can I encourage you today dear brother or sister, to remember always who you are in Christ Jesus. You are a branch in that Vine. God the Vine-dresser, our Husbandman, cares for the branches in the very same way He cares for that Vine! Wow! You are part of His beloved Son. You will always be in that Vine because it is the Father’s work that has placed you there. You are there to bear much fruit for His pleasure and HE will see to it that this is accomplished in you by the life of that glorious Vine in you, who is Christ.
Christ in us, the hope of glory.
In the knowledge, peace and rest of our place in Christ and in the heart of God, we can with confidence and humility serve Him and wait on Him. We needn’t struggle, strive or push. Everything, even our very lives, belong to Him.
…therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…(1 Peter 5:6)
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
This is a question I’ve pondered many times in my life. As I’m getting to know the Lord, I’m coming to understand that there is a reason behind every aspect of Him even if I don’t know what it is yet. Every part of Jesus’ life on earth and every part of everything that God does, points us back to Himself in some way. So ever so briefly this morning, I pondered again, why did Jesus die at age 33?
So first up, I’m going to talk a bit about maths. Now I’m not a mathematician ok? Definitely not! In fact, in high school I scored 23% for maths in my HSC! Epic fail! But I do know the basics thank goodness. Like 1 +1 =2 and that the complete whole = 100%. I’m also aware that numbers are significant in God’s economy as we find in scripture that they are not randomly chosen.
For example, we see the correlation between the 40 days of rain in Noah’s ark and the 40 years in the wilderness for the Israelites and the 40 days in the desert for the temptation of Jesus (who didn’t give in by the way 🙂 ). And of-course there are too many other examples for this post and that’s not my point anyway. The thing is that numbers are used throughout scripture with significant meaning far beyond my learning .
God has created in mathematical equations, one universal measure or language for understanding, for every tribe, language and tongue throughout all generations. In other words, in Japan the whole still equals 100% as it does in a little known tribe in the Amazon. In Roman times 1 + 1 still equalled 2. For brainiac scientists studying the blackhole theory of space, they draw on the same mathematical science used by Albert Einstein and that the ancient Egyptians used for building their pyramids. Maths is maths. Mathematics is universal and never, ever, ever changes – in fact, it cannot change. It is a ‘law’ of physics just like gravity.
Don’t you think that’s fascinating? With all the nations and languages and differences of culture we all have this one universal measure that we can all communicate in that never changes? Mathematics supercedes any differences or hierarchy of intelligence.
In other words, mathematics exists for me even though I’m not aware of it or can grasp it, in the exact same way it exists for Stephen Hawking, though he is able to grasp it so much more. Heck, even if there were aliens, mathematics would still be the same for them! If they had 1 + 1 spaceships, that means they would still have 2 spaceships! It’s just the same, no matter who or where we are.
This to me, is a shadow and type of how despite, age, era in history, race, language, nation or level of intelligence, God has given all of humanity in all of creation, the very same exact capacity of knowing God through Jesus Christ.
Now, hold on to your hat or your seat folks, because this is blowing me away right off my keyboard as I write! It’s like ‘mathematics’ is a shadow and type of Jesus Christ Himself! Jesus is our universal language – whether we comprehend that fact yet or not – He IS! Just as everything is held together in a mathematical equation, the scripture tells us that all things are held together in Christ! Woah!!!
He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17
So, if you’re back on your seat, I’ve got to come back to my original thought. If numbers are so significant to God and are never randomly used in scripture, and if we see that mathematics is the universal measure that is in fact a shadow and type that points us to Christ as being our universal connection, language, explanation and equation throughout all of human history and existence – (take a breath) what’s the significance in Jesus dying at age 33?
Think about it – its an odd number. So, 100% equals the whole, right? So we can say that the mathematical equation of 100% equalling the whole is representative of the Godhead, right? God being three -in-one – the whole. The fullness of the Godhead. Okay, stay with me…..so there’s three members of the Godhead right? So 100% divided by three equals….33.3% recurring……!The eternal number of 33.3! Each member of the Godhead is eternal! Without end!
Jesus dying at age 33 is representative of the eternal nature of God. Wow……
And I love that the 100 percent divided by the three isn’t just 33 as the age that Jesus died in His earthly body, but that it is thirty three POINT three recurring. So we see that always there are three! There are three digits even in the third of the whole. And whilst Jesus died at age 33, He rose on the third day! – that’s like the ‘point’ three recurring – resurrection life that is eternal!
Maybe all of the above is something you already knew but this just came to me this morning and I needed to capture it as soon as possible. It is simply amazing to me, one who is naturally appalling at mathematics, that God’s Eternal Nature is revealed in mathematics in such simple terms as the 33.3% to display Himself, the three eternal recurring members of the Godhead, and that Jesus dying at age 33 speaks of God’s Eternal Nature and Oneness with Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Just quickly before I go, I messaged this insight to the saints here this morning through my phone, and one of the sisters responded with “It’s the recurring theme! He is the Gift that keeps on giving! New every morning, always fresh!”.