How Can We Know The Power of Christ’s Resurrection Life?

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That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death…(Philippians 3:10)

What a beautiful and rich desire Paul had and what a powerful indicator this verse is, of where our lives as believers ought to be headed.

There’s two aspects of this verse that I would like to write about and I’ll do it as a two- part series.  Firstly, ‘The Power of His Resurrection’ and secondly, ‘The Fellowship of His Suffering’.

The Power of His Resurrection

More and more in reality and experience, not just in theory and head-knowledge, I am seeing that this Christ we love and serve, truly is a risen Christ. I’ll say it again…He’s a risen Christ! That’s everything! That means, He died and He rose from the dead. (How can we even comprehend such an event unless the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to this reality?! It is too mighty for us).

Incredibly though, there is something even greater about Christ than this. His being risen from the dead is one thing. An astounding thing. An incompressible thing unless the Spirit enables us to believe. But we have read accounts throughout scripture and even in modern day times, where people have been raised from the dead. So we accept that God can and does raise people from the dead, to His own glory. However, even those who have been raised from the dead, whether in scripture times or present times, still eventually die. But not so with Christ!

Christ is beyond risen, He is living right now and forevermore!

I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:18).

Jesus said to Martha;

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;(John 11:25)

So there is much more than the miracle of people being raised from the dead on the earth only to one day again die and await the final resurrection with all God’s children.  There is much more to Christ having been raised from the dead. Christ remains and lives forever as a resurrected one, as no other before or after Him (until all who belong to Him are resurrected in that final day). There is now, in Him, a resurrection life to live by, for all who are in Christ, right now!

But what did Paul mean when he said he wanted to know the power of His resurrection life? How can we know this power?

I suppose the obvious answer is the precursor to this phrase in what Paul said in Philippians 3:18 and that is to ‘know Him’, to ‘know Christ’. It seems that to truly ‘know’ Christ enables us to know the power of His resurrection life. To know this power of Christ’s resurrection life, is to know and partake of all the abundance of Christ which through His death and resurrection has been made available to us right here and now. But without knowing Him, how can we partake?

Christ’s resurrection life is a type of life. It’s a quality and type of life that is not of this world. It is a life that has overcome death. It is a life by His Spirit. It is not just ‘a’ life, it is HIS life. It is in fact, Christ Himself! Paul, like us, wanted to know the ‘power’ of Christ’s resurrection life. That means that His resurrection life is one of power, doesn’t it?

Do you feel like a Christian who lives with power? What power are we talking about, then? We’re not talking about power to live out our own will, lives, passions, desires, wants. We’re not talking about a power to serve ourselves. No, we’re talking about Christ’s life! We’re talking about the power to live out HIS life here on earth! It’s His Life, by His power.

So how do we do this? How do we partake and appropriate His resurrection life in all its power that has been made available to us?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

As fellow-blogger Cheryl McGrath (Bread for the Bride) so beautifully describes, this ‘heavenly realm’ mentioned here in Ephesians 1 is not a physical locality, but a realm in which we as believers now live, in Christ. We are not waiting to die and go to heaven to then have every spiritual blessing! We have every spiritual blessing in Christ and Christ is now! He is the Living One, and we are in Him.

Milt Rodriguez (The Rebuilders) once described this partaking of Christ’s resurrection life as like taking food from a fridge. When we need something to eat or drink, we who live in first world countries, go to our fridge and open the door and take from the shelf. We don’t look at the fridge and wish and hope and pray that the food that is inside the fridge will suddenly become ours. We open the fridge door and we reach in our hand and we ‘take’ what is available.

This is like Jesus. Christ’s resurrection life is readily available to us. And just like opening the fridge door and taking what is there for ourselves, we, by faith, take what is already available to us in Christ. This is called partaking of His life and this is called appropriating what we know to be true. 

It is an act of faith to live by HIS resurrection life.

How does this play out practically, you might ask? Well, I’d like to share an experience I had recently that has really encouraged me in this practise of appropriating (putting action to) my faith in this way.

I’m not a person who loves confrontation, in fact I tend to shy away from it unless I feel very passionate about the situation and then I’m bold to go right in, though often with shaking hands and quivering voice. I recognise however, that over the years, I have mostly confronted situations…people really…out of my own strength. I’ve done it out of my own set of values or preferences or sense of right and wrong. I know when I’ve acted on my own volition, or out of my own soul-life and not led by the Spirit of Christ within me, because I’m left with guilt or pride, no peace and generally the situation has only worsened.

Recently, I was presented with a situation where one very dear to me was being verbally attacked by another. Both are Christians. And the one who is very dear to me, well, I’ve witnessed her life and I believe I know her heart as well as anyone could know another’s heart. Things had been pretty dreadful between both parties for a long time but on this latest attack I felt something rise up within me, to speak up and defend her. I had the peace of God to do so and even after the event, that peace remained.

The party who was verbally attacking of-course responded to me and I felt somewhat attacked but it didn’t matter. Now, normally, this sort of thing would leave me feeling sick with anxiety and upset. As I was being tempted to focus my thoughts on the dialogue that had gone on between us, and being tempted into imagination and thinking the worst, I remembered the fridge.

I turned to the Lord and held out my arms as a display of embracing all that He is, all that is His abundant supply available to me right now. I declared that in faith, I take Your calmness Lord, I take Your patience, I take Your peace and Your ability to let it go into Your hands. In and of myself, I cannot let it go so I take Your capacity to let it go.

Miracle of miracles. I let go.

Miracle of miracles. I am sitting in the peace that surpasses all understanding, spoken of in Philippians 4:6-8 which reads;

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.…

I appropriated by faith what I know to be true and I partook of Christ’s resurrection life, and it has become power to me. I didn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. I know what I can do and at the best, I can self analyse and apply some positive self-talk and pray. No, Christ’s resurrection life overcame the temptation to indulge in fear, anxiety, upset, judgement and sin. The angst and upset of the situation lost it’s power like a bucket with holes in it drains of water. 

I believe this has been a lesson 101 for me, in learning to know the power of Christ’s resurrection life. This resurrection life of Christ is the power to live by His life. Can I encourage you to turn to the Lord and take for yourself, all that He is for you in every situation, by faith. Draw from His life. This is power for us to live by His life in every situation because He is the Living One. He was dead but now He is alive and lives for ever and ever.

 

 

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Lessons From The Wilderness Part Five: The Revelation Of The Son

Cheryl from Bread for the Bride has written this series on the Wilderness, and she writes in the language that is only in my heart but I am unable to express. I do hope you are encouraged toward our glorious Christ through His testimony in Cheryl’s writing, as I am. Thank you Cheryl for being an available vessel crying out in the ‘wilderness’, helping to point the way to the Well of Jesus Christ that never runs dry. Christ alone is King.

Bread for the Bride

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The Spirit that guides, counsels, comforts and shows us things to come is a Spirit of revelation (Jn. 16:13). He is a revealer. And that which He reveals is Christ. It is always the purpose and ministry of this holy, revealer Spirit who is the very living breath of God, to reveal Christ.

There is nothing that gives God more pleasure than the revealing of the Son. Try it some time. Tell God the Father, sincerely, how beautiful His Son is and then soak in the unmitigated joy that floods you. The natural created world around us, and the heavens, are all a revelation of Christ the Son. Everything to which God has ever set His mind centers on the revelation of the Son. And among all the ways that God has found to reveal the Son, none give Him more pleasure than to reveal Him within human…

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Do you feel like leaving church?

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What’s ‘church-hopping’ all about?

“Don’t be a church-hopper” I was always hearing. “Oh you know them, they’re church-hoppers, they never stay in the one place for long….”people would say. “They’re not stayers….they’re always moving around”.

*By  the word ‘church’ in this context, I am referring to the building/denomination where you attend a Sunday or Saturday service to hear a sermon and sing worship and praise songs etc, in the company of a congregation where there are positions of authority and programs and man-made traditions.

I realise there’s a myriad of reasons why people ‘leave’ or ‘change churches’ and many of those reasons are let’s say, less than Christ-like. Things like,  not liking the music or some of the people there or there’s not enough activity for the children or there’s a disagreement with someone and so on. Jesus and His apostles teach us in the Word of God to love our enemies, to daily encourage one another in the brethren, to bear with one another in patience and forgiveness, and to love others as Christ has loved us and we could go on. I myself, am guilty of ‘changing’ churches for such reasons. But is there a right reason to leave church?

In my humble opinion, the best reason to leave church is because you are dissatisfied with your spiritual growth.  Brother or sister, do you feel like you need to leave church for good because no matter how many different churches you ‘check out’ or ‘sow into’, as they say, you remain spiritually dissatisfied? Are you at your “this is my last try” and find you have not experienced any significant spiritual growth?

A lack of personal spiritual growth might be interpreted through not finding the sermons meaty enough, finding the worship shallow, feeling controlled by the leadership, feeling stifled in being able to move freely in the Spirit, feeling unable to contribute, feeling you just don’t fit in, having a sense that all is not well in the church but feeling it must just be you with the problem. All these things can be indicators that you are not growing spiritually and would leave you feeling that this church thing just isn’t working.  At that point, many up and go and look for another church congregation to see if they offer something more (note the emphasis on ‘my’ needs) and hence the term ‘church-hopping’.

However, if you are of the conviction that you are not growing spiritually in church life as you’ve known it and have a deepening holy dissatisfaction, and if you are sensing that it is in fact the Lord who is calling you out, (though many you fellowship with would contend this – especially those in leadership) then I’m excited for you! I am excited for the Lord and for the whole body of Christ! Because that calling out will ultimately lead to a calling in! And the ‘calling in’ will be into the Life of the Body of Christ that fulfils the Father’s deepest desire – the full expression of His Son through the Church!

Well 13 years ago I was called out too! And after some years in the ‘wilderness’ (ie not going to or being part of any church fellowship yet deeply desiring to know God more) and then being called in to an organic expression of Jesus Christ amongst other believers, man, things have changed for me. Or should I say, ‘in’ me.

Someone asked me the other day, has my view of Jesus changed since leaving the organized or institutional church system 13 years ago. My answer was an unequivocal and resounding yes!

So here are just four ways I see Christ differently now, since He called me out to call me in.

1.I used to see Jesus as external to me.

I saw Him as the Son of God, my invisible friend and I loved Him because He was God’s Son and I loved God.

Now I see Jesus as this Christ who lives in me and through me. He expresses His own life through me and He fills my being. He lives and breathes through every believer! So I have millions and millions of brothers and sisters who He lives in and through as well!  He is no longer external but has become this Life giving spirit who indwells all believers, His church, His body of which I am just one member.  I see Him as enormous and filling all things with Himself, and whose life, peace and government will continue to increase throughout all eternity! (Isaiah 9:6-7) He is huge!!

2. I used to see Jesus as a figure

Now I see Jesus as a person, the Son of Man as well as the Son of God, and a person whom I know very well but am still getting to know and to whom there is no end. We are in relationship with one another. He is closer to me than anybody could ever be and we are intricately connected as one! We can’t get any closer than that! He knows me completely and because He dwells in me, He knows me from the inside out! I now see that this person Jesus Christ, is my purpose, my whole heart and my whole reason for existence.

3. I used to see Jesus as God’s Son but not much more to God than that

Now I see that Jesus is God’s obsession! He is God the Father’s consuming passion and desire! The Father is captivated by His Son and wants all things for Him. The Son is equally captivated with the Father and wants all things for Him! The two are inseparable! They are completely one – as Jesus has now made me (and you, believer) one with Him! (John 17…)

4. I used to see Jesus as the middle ranking member of the Godhead

Now I see how the Godhead dwells inside Christ! It pleased the fullness to dwell in Him! Christ contains the Father and the Holy Spirit, they are both inside of Him and it is their pleasure to have it this way.  I see now that they are not separate from one another, there is no hierarchy because their relationship is love and this love is giving their lives for one another. There is no jealousy within the Godhead, they love to dwell inside the Son and the Son loves to dwell inside them – just the same way that Paul describes us as being in Christ and Christ in us! The whole of the fullness of God dwells inside the Son and the Son dwells inside the fullness – they are One!

Brother or sister, I share this with you to encourage you.  If it is the Lord who is calling you out, you can be assured that it is to call you in. He will take you through a wilderness experience more than likely (it seems to be the way of every believer I know who has walked this path) and He will eventually but in His good time, bring you in.  What will He bring you into?

Just like the Israelites, which are a shadow and type of the church, they were brought out of Egypt through the wilderness and into the Promised Land (though only two of them remained faithful and received the Promised Land – yes, the Wilderness is a time of testing our faithfulness).  This place the Lord is calling you into is the Promised Land of His Son Jesus Christ.

Whilst you and many others you may be ‘in church’ with, are already in this Christ since you are born again, there is a mystery that is this gospel we live by and that mystery revealed is Christ in you (that word ‘you’ is plural, it’s corporate), the hope of glory!  We have a Promised Land to inherit, the mystery of God revealed to us by the Holy Spirit of God the Father, Christ indwelling His body, His church,  and we therefore can live by His indwelling life.  This is more than attending church services and singing 3 fast songs and 3 slow ones!  This is an indwelling Lord living in and through His church! Now, that’s a vast expanse of land flowing with milk and honey!

A holy dissatisfaction with where you are should lead to a desperate heart and intentional pursuit of the Lord, to seek to see Him and know Him more. There has to be a ‘seeing’ before there is a ‘knowing’. This desperation will delight the heart of the Father because it is His desperation in you. It is the Father’s heart-cry! God the Father, wants more than anything (it is His ultimate intention and His eternal purpose) to have you, me and everyone who is called, see and know Christ the Son of God, the Son of His love in His fullness and this life of Christ in His Church. In fact the scriptures tell us that the church IS the fullness of Christ!

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything FOR the church, which is his body, the FULLNESS OF HIM who fills EVERYTHING in EVERY way (Ephesians 1:23).

Wow!! Is that our experience of the church?

So once again, may I encourage you brother or sister, that if you sense the Lord is calling you out of church as you’ve known it, with its hierarchy, traditions and programs, He has put a cry in your heart for the very thing that is the obsession of His own heart and that is for you to see and know Christ Jesus in His fullness.

There is a holy exodus, people, and those who thirst and hunger for the Promised Land, remaining in Him, will find it because it is the Father’s good pleasure to reveal His Son in us.  It is not about us, it is about CHRIST IN us. Amen.

Be bold and courageous!

Please go to this link to read more on this same exciting subject with great richness of insight from a sister in the United States at 3rd Race.

 

What is the Meaning of Life?

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Are you looking for meaning in your life? Are you wanting to know why you exist? Are you desperate for understanding in making decisions and what direction to take in your life?

Well, before reading on, if you’ve never heard or read about this vital truth, which is knowing What is the Eternal Purpose of God, please read through the New Testament books of Colossians (focuses on Christ) and Ephesians (focuses on the church).  These books have been greatly overlooked but hold the answers to eternity past before creation and to eternity future. If you don’t have a bible you’ll find them linked on the two names of the books and to continue reading the chapters just click on the tab in the bottom right corner that will have the next chapter number.

Might I suggest praying before you do so, even if you’ve never prayed before, and ask the Holy Spirit to bring alive the scriptures to your heart, giving you insight and understanding into the knowledge of Christ through what you are about to read there. I pray that the Lord will grant you and me, and all of us, a massive revelation into the knowledge of Jesus Christ in whom we find all meaning.

Now – to the blog post………

Today I simply just want to proclaim Christ to you.

When the Lord was pleased to reveal His Son in me, I was done. Done like a dinner. Done like Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus – fell off my horse so to speak, and was never the same.  When He gave me just the tiniest glimpse into the fact that He has only ONE purpose, only ONE will, only ONE object of His whole heart, ONE purpose and intention behind all of creation including my puny little life and that this ONE everything for God is the exaltation and increase of His Son Jesus Christ ….. He answered everything for me.

Recently Derek and I listened to a message by Frank Viola on the Eternal Purpose of God, and in it he gave a little illustration but one that for me, captured God’s ONE purpose beautifully.  Imagine for a moment, a mum of toddlers. You may be one, so this will be easy for you. This is the general gist of what Frank said – You mums know that with your child, you are inseparable. You cannot separate yourself from your child, your child is completely part of you and who you are. 

I’ve never had my own children but I have the privilege of witnessing a shadow/type of this obsession that God has with His Son, through the lives of some mums I share life with.  Just this week, I told a friend that I would be at a certain place baby sitting for another friend and invited her to come over for a cuppa.  Her immediate response was that her son would love to play with the kids I would be baby sitting!  My friend’s first thought, her complete desire and heart was for her son.  She was looking at the invitation in light of her son’s pleasures, needs and fulfillment and to see these met in him would give her the greatest joy.  And so it is with God.

Let’s think about that for a moment.

God looks at everything through the lense of His Son. Everything we do here is to be for His Son, but led by Him, born out from Him, done in Him, for Him, to Him and by Him. It is to be Christ’s life through us. His Son Jesus is the object of God’s ONE will, desire and purpose and the increase of His Son is established through the church!

How brilliantly freeing it is to know that God doesn’t have multiple wills, desires and purposes! In the old days I remember pining for knowledge into what God’s will was for my life – as though every individual that ever existed had an individual specific will set for their lives by God and had to search it out with a fine tooth comb as though it were some mystery hidden from them.

There’s millions of books in Christian book shops tackling the subject of how to know God’s will for your life on this basis. You might have even read some of them. But to know God only has ONE will for my life, your life and the life of every person who ever did and ever will live, is something so profoundly simple and liberating for the believer that changes our lives forever and takes my breath away.

With Christ as our compass, our Bethlehem star, our True North, our whole life is given absolute direction and clarity of will in every single circumstance from the seemingly insignificant decisions to the seemingly most paramount ones.  In all things, we only need ask ourselves and ask of our brethren, will Christ be exalted and magnified through this or through that?

Imagine for a minute, the sport of orienteering. Orienteering is a sport centered around the skill of navigation using a map and a compass.Imagine yourself with your compass and map in hand, making every move in accordance with a deference to True North and finding your way to the treasures.  Well Christ is the treasure and that True North! He’s the way there and He’s the destination.

When it is given to us  to see that Christ and Christ increased through us IS the Eternal Purpose of God, (and it is given, it is not something we can see by our own spiritual or intellectual capacities, lest we boast, and I certainly do not profess to have full revelation because Christ is way too big) we realise that we can align our every move in life to the will of God. Again, is Christ being exalted and magnified through this or through that?

Every choice, decision, move is to be made with the understanding that the essential goal and purpose is to see Christ made manifest, increased and expressed as He desires. And this often requires denying our own soulish preferences, giving up or bearing the cross.  In fact, it pretty much mostly requires this. Our lives become completely given over to Him and His needs, His desires, His wants, His intentions, His heart. Even our fellowship with other believers stops being about meeting our wants and needs and becomes simply about meeting His needs! (go figure).  Beautiful stuff.

Knowing that Christ is GOD’s everything, just like the example of my friend with her son (not that her son is her everything, but you get the example) answers all my inquiries in life.  All my questions and problems of where I live, how I live, what I wear, how I carry myself, where I go, where I don’t go, what I do, how I speak, where I work, how I work, if I work, career aspirations, what I study, how I fellowship, what I sing, how I sing, how I manage my finances, how I pray, how I handle a faith crisis, how I read the scriptures, what I permit in my life as entertainment, how I eat, facing depression, anxiety, fears, incompetence, weaknesses, failures, what are my goals, ambitions, dreams and desires….EVERYTHING is answered in Him.

In fact, personal goals, ambitions, dreams, desires, career aspirations, study aspirations, interests etc, have pretty much gone out the window, except for Him! Some folk would find me incredibly boring I’m sure! Like I said, I’m done. He did me in. He did me in at Calvary, and this came alive to me when He was pleased to reveal His Son in me in 2010 even though I entered His kingdom in 1973 (see Psalm 116). He did it. He has done all of it. I can’t even explain how He’s done it. I didn’t even do anything to warrant what He’s done. It’s all Him.

If I look back over my life, I can see how God’s ONE desire, purpose and will for me has always been wrapped up in His Son.  God’s ONE Eternal Purpose is in His Son and has determined who I married, when I married, where we’ve lived, our career paths, our interests, who we do life with and how we live on a daily basis.

If you look back over your life to this point as an observor, can you see the same thing?  Even if you feel you’ve failed in areas, like I definitely have, can you see that even those decisions seeming to be failures  are still caught in the net of the greatest fisherman that ever lived, that Fisher of men? (Luke 5:1-11)

Since time began people have asked the question “What is the meaning of life?” If you knew that answer, what impact would it have on you?

What if you were to answer that question with Christ? Can you see the impact on one’s life when the good Lord reveals Christ as the all consuming passion of God’s heart? How all encompassing is this Christ, how all consuming, how unfathomable, giant and vast, how deep and wide and eternal is He? How amazing it is that everything is summed up in this Christ? That this Christ is the ONE desire, passion and intent of the Father for all time past, present and future? And….that we are in Him??!! Whoa!!! No wonder God loves us so much, we’re in His Son!!

Seriously, we have to ask ourselves, what other purpose could God possibly have outside of His own Son?

Could we say that God’s eternal purpose is to love? But He gave us Christ who IS the complete object of His love!

After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17)

… Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen (Luke 9:34-36).

Could we say that God’s eternal purpose is to see that the gospel is preached? But Christ IS the gospel!

God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you (Romans 1:9).

…to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God,… I have fully preached the gospel of Christ (Romans 15:16-19).

Could we say that God’s eternal purpose is to reveal His glory? But Christ IS the glory of God!

… “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was (John 17:4-5).

Or could we say that God’s eternal purpose is that we would know Him? CHRIST is the way we know God. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life! No-one comes to the Father except through CHRIST!

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves (John 14:5-11).

And how profoundly and extravagantly loving and gracious is our God, to invite us INTO this Christ, His only begotten Son, and to make the way for Him to live and dwell inside of us?  So now we are included in this heavenly, glorious relationship of love between the Father and His Son.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)

And now because of Christ and who He is and what He has done, the church is the display of the manifold wisdom of God to the powers and principalities of the air. This is our purpose people, this is why we exist.  We exist to increase this Christ. Christ is to be given the room to express Himself fully, to be displayed to the heavens and to the shame of the opposing powers of the air, for Christ alone is to be exalted.  And how will He be exalted if we do not exalt Him? How can He be increased if we do not decrease in our own self-life.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10).

The increase and exaltation of Christ answers every desire and need in humanity. It directs our every path and at every cross road. It is our True North. It is the glory and delight of God. It is our very purpose.

Christ is the reason we live, breath, walk, talk, move, sing. We sing of Christ, of who He is. We declare and proclaim this Christ in our words, songs and deeds.

One day ALL things will be summed up IN CHRIST. Doesn’t that say it all?

 

 

Christ our Ever-Rest

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Well, I went to see the movie “Everest” last week and in 3D. Wow. I really recommend the 3D version on the big screen.

It’s the true story of a team of hikers on their trek to the summit of Mount Everest. Pretty soon into the film, I began to see and hear the Lord in it and this progressed throughout the film.

For us believers, Christ is our summit. Like the summit of Mount Everest to these hikers, Christ is our ultimate, He is the glory and majesty of the mountain of God. There is nothing as glorious than to know Him, to stand with Him in the heavenly places, to be one with Him. As on that mountain, in Christ, we view the world like never before and our breath is taken away. Just as the individual hikers in this story were driven to reach the summit, we too are driven to know Him as our greatest reality.

And Christ is not only the summit but He is our Ever-Rest. Christ is the Eternal Rest of God that we enter into. He is the Sabbath of God. He is the Seventh Day. He is the completeness. In Him, it is finished. In Him, God has now ceased from His labours. Wow! What a mountain! What a summit!

The main crux of the story is about a team of individual climbers that come together under the supervision and expertise of an exploration group that climbers pay to help them fulfil their ultimate dream of reaching the summit. The group was headed up by a man named Rob. As the team met for the briefing in the beginning of the story, Rob pointed to a picture of the mountain. Pointing to a certain height which was lower than the summit, he said to them “Human beings simply aren’t meant to function at the cruising altitude of a 747. Our bodies will be literally dying”.

I instantly thought of us in our ‘trek’ into Christ our summit. Of-course we don’t ascend and reach greater heights as perhaps some of us in previous religious environments may have thought. We realise that Christ lives in us, He is not external to us. We as believers into Christ, are not like the Tibetan monks and those of similar persuasions who believe they are to attain to a certain level or height in their ‘spiritual’ journey. No, for us it is the ‘knowing Him more deeply’ that is our summit. As Paul said “That I might know Him”.

However, this knowing Him requires a sacrifice, a dying to our self-life. Our flesh has in fact, already been crucified on the cross with Christ, because God knows our flesh cannot withstand His glory. Our flesh cannot pass from this life into the next for our flesh (physical and soulical) is unregenerated but our spirit is alive in Christ. Now, having been crucified with Christ and raised with Him in His resurrected life, we are born again by the spirit and able to enter in.

Rob’s role was to brief all climbers prior to the climb, to prepare them in practical training, to go ahead of them by making sure safety elements were in place before they got there such as ropes, oxygen tanks and supplies, to encourage them and spur them on along the way, to guide where they place their feet and to keep them heading in the right direction against the risk of snow-blindness, to watch out for their physical and mental conditions on the climb, to send them back down to base camp for rest and medical attention if they were at too great a risk, and ultimately to get them to the top of the summit. He was with them every step of the way.

This guy reminded me of the Holy Spirit. Our counsellor, the Spirit of God that goes before us and prepares the way. The one who comforts us, prepares us, looks out for us, spurs us on and takes us deeper into Christ. The one whose hand is always on our shoulder, and who speaks words of encouragement into our hearts. The one who equips us for the journey into knowing Him. The one who leads us and points us to Christ, our summit, encouraging us always to keep our eyes fixed on the prize.  How beautiful.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV).

As the climbers reached higher in altitude, breathing became extremely difficult as the air thinned to a point of there being almost no oxygen at all. In a way, the oxygen tanks supplied for the journey up the steep slopes of Mount Everest, resemble the Spirit of God in us. It is only by His Spirit that we are able to survive the journey, to enter into the depths of knowing Christ. It is a spiritual life, not one lived out in the capacities of the flesh, human ambition or intellect. He is the air that we breathe and without Him we cannot go on.

The hike up the mountain was and always will be a fierce one. It is a stumbling block for many, and many do not survive the journey. It is a narrow and dangerous path and few will make it to the top.

 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it”. Matthew 7:14 (NIV)

Christ was often described in scriptures as the stumbling block by which many would fall, because they look for something else, something more in line with their own faulty expectations of who the Messiah would and should be.

For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NIV)

But like Mount Everest, Christ is not predictable. As Rob states in the movie “the mountain has it’s own weather patterns”, so it is with Christ. His Kingdom is not of this world’s ‘weather patterns’. And so for many, it is a journey that seems to ask too much of them just as the rich young ruler unable to give up all his possessions to follow Jesus (see  Matthew 19:16-24). Christ, like the mountain, requires us to give our all, our very lives, as He Himself gave His life for us.

As you can imagine, the hikers climbed this mountain in extreme conditions of snow, sleet, high speed winds, descending black clouds filled with thunder and lightening, extreme below zero temperatures, incredibly narrow cliff ledges and on ridiculously steep slopes in high altitudes. I was not surprised that so many lost their lives.  At one point two of the climbers after a day’s climbing, speak to each other in their tent of the suffering and their acceptance and surrender to the fact of it, all for the glory of reaching the summit.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him … I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV).

When we read through the old testament, we read the lives of the prophets and those sent by God. In the New Testament we read the lives of the apostles and those called by God to follow Him. We see their lives are ones of great human loss and sacrifice, for the glory of knowing Him.  Of-course we read of Christ, the sacrificial lamb, the one who was slain for all mankind. We are told that no servant is greater than his master. So we come to understand that a life lived for the glory of knowing Christ, is also a life of suffering, trials and tribulations whilst on this earth. But we are also given exhortation in that our current sufferings cannot compare with the glory that awaits us.

…Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV).

As already mentioned, Rob is a shadow and type of the Holy Spirit in many ways throughout this story. He is a constant source of strength and hope. However, he is also a shadow and type of Christ. He goes the extra mile for the sake of keeping one climber safe who loses his way and this ultimately costs Rob his life. Yet, He did not die before leaving new life as his pregnant wife later gave birth to a baby girl. Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd. He goes after the one that is lost. He lays down His life for His friends. He gave His life up for all. But He did this in order that the Father would have offspring and His family would multiply and grow, increasing His expression on the earth through His body of believers.

We also see the body of Christ at work in this film. Rob does not choose to work as a lone wolf. Rob works as head of a team of many. As Christ is the Head of His Church, He has constrained Himself to His church and the Head is not separate from the body. The team of climbers was made up of experienced climbers, sherpas and amateurs. It was one team but many parts, and all functioned according to Rob’s direction.

So it is with the body of Christ.  One Head, one body.  One Spirit. One goal. One Purpose. One glory. One mountain. One Summit. Christ.

 

 

 

 

Is God Preparing You To Move On?

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Hi folks.

This morning as I was doing my usual thing of sitting outside in the sun to spend some quiet time, I was feeling considerably harassed by the fact that only metres from me, was our landlord and his son. They were right there at the wire fence, yet again, measuring out and hammering posts into the ground. They have been doing this with great diligence on a daily basis now, in preparation for developing the large acreage.  There’s little white sticks with bright pink ribbons on them, all over the land. Alas, we have finally been given notice and have to be out in 8 weeks time.IMG_1524

Over the past couple of weeks, their presence has been really felt by my mother and me, as we are home all day most days. Also, the dogs are constantly on guard and rearing to go, yap yap yap, all day long. Since the landlords don’t actually come on to the block where our house is, they’re not required to give us any notice so they come and go right at the fences on all sides, any time of the day.

However, on the occasions when they do need to come onto our block, they generally just grab my attention over the fence or yell out at the front door “Anyone there?” and subsequently say something like “We’ve just gotta put some posts in, that alright? We won’t be long”.

Sigh.

So I sat there this morning with dogs barking at them right at the fence and caught my temptation to grumble and complain….again. I decided instead, to do something other than get cranky and asked the Lord to show me Himself in this situation.

Instantly, the beautiful Holy Spirit reminded me of what the Lord had shown me concerning the landlord and his son, some months back. (See my previous post The Land Where I Live) .

Working all round the four boundaries of where I live, I can observe them daily. It’s almost like they are here to provide a daily reminder that God the Father and His Son are relentlessly labouring together in their eternal purpose and it is their one obsession. It reminds me that God has a purpose and He has graciously and lovingly permitted me to see it.

While the old man stands still holding the roll of string the young man takes the string, and walks some metres, measuring it out as he goes, much like the use of a plumbline. Then he hammers the post into the ground. The two of them are together all the time, for they are a team.

This is like our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ working together on the one purpose. Together they labour in the intention of their heart. And if I remain in Him and look through God’s eyes, I can observe their beautiful relationship. It actually comforts me as I write this, to see it this way. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

The fact that they don’t always give me notice of their arrival or it’s a last minute thing, can really urk me if I let it. I could go on about the rights I have as a tenant, but then that’s law isn’t it? I could quote the law to them in some kind of misguided perspective that I can hold onto this place which isn’t even mine to hold onto. So I’m reminded, that as a Christian I don’t have any rights to hold onto. I don’t belong to myself, I belong to God. And when God says “I’m here”, well, He’s just here. He doesn’t have to give me notice.

Nevertheless, the mere presence of the landlords around the place makes me feel a little ‘pushed’. I don’t feel very comfortable living here anymore. In fact, with this ‘gentle’ push I am more inclined than ever to get out of here. There’s a greater sense of urgency in me to move, whilst at the same time a sense of rest in the fact that I still have plenty of time up my sleeve. Funny how God can cause an agreement in our hearts with His movements.

Yup, I’m being prepared. He’s getting me ready. I’m getting uncomfortable. I can feel His movements, He’s here on the doorstep telling me it’s time and not to delay in getting ready. Yet He’s gentle, merciful and full of grace and patience. He’s doing it just right. It’s His land. His house. My life is His life to do with as He pleases and I know I can trust Him. He’s God the Father and God the Son, He’s the true Landlord. He’s the one that moves me on. He’s the one that prepares the way. And He’ll be the one to provide the next place.

A few months back God had clearly said to me “Take this land for all its worth before I move you on” (see The Land Where I Live). So I guess this is the ‘moving on’ bit. I’ll look forward to sharing with you what He teaches me through this season of change and where He takes us to from here. Instead of feeling a bit put-out, now I feel excited.

Thanks Lord for reminding me of Your ways, Your words and Your purpose. There you are every day right in front of me, never relenting from securing your purpose is being fulfilled. And as a result, I am at peace.

 

Do You Struggle With Beholding The Lord? This Might Help…

 

Eastern Water Dragon Sitting in the Sun by bigwavephoto on flickr

Eastern Water Dragon Sitting in the Sun by bigwavephoto on flickr

Long before we knew the dangers of sun-baking, like thousands of other Aussies, I used to love sun-baking. I grew up in the 70’s living on the waterfront with a private jetty and that was one of our favourite spots as kids. The back concrete path behind the retaining wall was also a good spot because it was so private. Many Summers, mum, my sister and I would lie out there on our bamboo mats or towels, listening to the transistor radio, hardly speaking but just soaking in the sun and inhaling the smell of the coconut oil.

When I grew old enough to drive myself places, I would venture on down to the beach on my own and do the same thing. I’d lie there for hours going in and out of sleep, to the sound of the local radio station over the surf club’s loud speakers. It was bliss.

These days I enjoy sitting in the sun, fully clothed mind you, at the side of the house in the rocking chair, with my eyes closed listening to the quiet and the bird life. I find some magical kind of refreshing and life penetrating my soul all the way in to my spirit, when I sit in the sun like that. Especially first thing in the morning.

As I was relishing in the utter joy of this the other morning, it took me back to those days of sun-baking. The sensation was essentially the same. I could almost smell the coconut oil. And then, as gentle as a breeze, it came to me….

Son – baking. I used to sun-bake, now I Son – bake. Similarly, to how I used to behold the sun, I now behold The Son. I realised that sun-baking is a shadow and type of beholding the Lord. When we sun-bake we are intentionally turning our entire being and attention to be absorbed by the sun. We shuffle around to make sure we are as exposed to the sun as much as we possibly can be. We stay there for hours at a time, and the sun is our highest priority for that time. Even though our thoughts may wander in and out, and we may even fall in and out of sleep in its warmth, we are utterly surrendered to it. We are practically drugged by it. We’re even changed by it, as our skin changes colour.

I’ve learnt that beholding the Lord is similar. It is an intentional turning to the Lord. It is abandoning everything else, for this allotted length of time devoted wholly to gazing into Him and basking in His glory and light. We seek nothing else but to be as exposed to Him as we possibly can be and we cast everything else aside to do so. Our thoughts may wander in and out but we soak Him in and His glorious rays of light penetrate our heart as He communes with us in the seat of our spirit. And we are changed by this experience, only on the inside. Although we can recall Moses’ face being so radiant with light after being in the presence of the Lord, that he had to veil his face so others wouldn’t be blinded. Wow! That’s crazy!

This word ‘behold’ was foreign to me a few years back. I’d only ever heard it in old hymns and I thought it was some old English word we didn’t really use anymore. Oh, it is so much more than that! It has become such a precious verb in the vocabulary of so many saints these days. Those gone before us really knew something of the Lord by using the word ‘behold’.  It’s like, when we behold Him, there’s no words necessary, we’re not praying or bringing petitions before the Lord, we are just sitting and looking into Him, not ‘out’ or ‘up’ there but inward to where He resides. We’re not even imagining what He looks like but somehow, by intentionally being present as when we sun-bake, we are able to close our eyes and fix our internal gaze on Him, fixing our eyes on Jesus.

Wisemen's Ferry by Julia on flickr

Wisemen’s Ferry by Julia on flickr

Beholding is something we can do at any time day or night as I talk about in my post titled You Can Find Rest Even When It Seems Impossible.

Imagine yourself at work, its Winter and you’re on your lunch or coffee break. You look for a spot outside the warehouse or office out of the wind, and in the sun, or maybe you grab a spot at the park. You pull up a chair or milk crate, and with your steaming hot cup of tea in your hands, you sit there in the sun with your eyes closed. You’ll often see even those who don’t know the Lord, doing this. It’s a moment of quiet, time to rest, time to draw aside from the goings on. It is a moment to behold the Lord. Take just a few minutes, 2 or 5 if you’re able, and without striving (this takes practise), just enter into His rest and fix your internal gaze upon Him.  It’s as simple as sitting in the sun.

I say it is simple, but not necessarily easy since we always have an opponent setting out to distract us from our time in communing with our Lord. This is something addressed in a beautiful book on beholding the Lord written by Milt Rodriguez called The Temple Within. (Just click on the link).

If the concept of beholding the Lord is new to you, like it was to me, or if you just want further understanding and encouragement in this area of your life, I really recommend reading this book. It was an enormous help to me and I found it very easy to read.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

We are that temple brothers and sisters! So enjoy your Son-baking experience today 🙂

Planted, Not Potbound!

The other day a sister shared with us in our group, what she saw of the Lord whilst planting some trees with her two little boys in tow. She explained the process of digging the hole and filling it with water and then removing the potted tree from its pot. She explained how because the tree had been growing in a pot, its roots had grown long over time, but they went round and round in circles and were all tangled and bound up.

She said it reminded her of being a believer within the church system or institutional church. As was her experience, in that environment, although a believer and growing in one’s relationship with the Lord, as represented by the roots being long, the experience of a Christian life just goes round and round in circles. Although having the appearance of a healthy tree, its growth is truly stunted.

She talked about her experience when she was a baby Christian in a mega-church.  She was so excited when a women’s conference was being organised and she loved it! After some time there was a winter conference and she loved that too. Later that year there was another event of some kind that she also really loved.  She said how exciting it all was.

The next year, to her surprise, another women’s conference was happening and she was thrilled. Following that, there was a winter conference and after that, the same event as the previous year. She thought this was pretty cool, because it was all so great last year.  However, the following year, it all happened again.  She said to herself “Oh, I get it, so we just do this all the time, there’s nothing new, we just go round and round in circles” and she wasn’t as excited anymore.

This sister had seen such a great example of this, with those circled and tangled long roots from inside the pot.

A tree is often used in scripture to represent believers;

…But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:2, 3, NIV).

… They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3, NIV).

…The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God (Psalm 92:12-13, NIV).

Hmmm. Planted in the house of the Lord – not potbound.  This sister then shared how she had to manually untangle those roots. I imagined her pulling at them with her fingers, to set them free so that when she planted them, they could stretch out far and wide and go deep into the rich soil, letting the tree grow tall and strong, enabling it to flourish.

She likened this to the untangling that needs to occur in our lives when we come out from the church system or institutional church, having been potbound for so long. How we need this untangling! Our roots may have grown long, having an appearance of health, but how bound and tangled they can be! The longer they are, the more tangled they are and the harder they are to untangle!

Lord, we are Your trees of righteousness, not your potted palms! Untangle our roots Lord, though it is a painful and lengthy process, that we would be planted by You, in Your rich soil, for You are that rich soil.  We want to be planted in the courts of our God, and Jesus, You are those courts. Cause our roots to go deep that we will grow like an Oak tree, to display Your splendour!

Drawing From The Well

Hi there folks,

Below is a newly entered ‘page’ for my blog site which now sits under the ‘Home’ tab on the main menu. I have copied it here as a post for anyone to read who is familiar with my site but not with any updated changes to it as of 24.2.15.

God bless you and have a great day 🙂

 


Increasingly over the couple of years prior to one particular morning, I had begun to see my Lord Jesus in images of water – as a rushing river, speeding along over all the river-stones, teaming with life, sometimes carrying me along in the roaring flow – deep, cool, green and frothing with white clear wash. I had also begun to see Him as a deep unfathomable ocean – vast, majestic, all-powerful and beyond me altogether. I had also begun to see my Lord as the cool springs, trickling along in shallow pools – gentle, refreshing and healing, in which I could paddle and drink from, providing peace and refreshment.

Then, one morning as I sat in silence with Him in the dark early hours, the Lord Jesus impressed upon me something of Himself and this life with Him that was completely new to me. It came to me in the softest, gentlest way. I began to see the Lord Jesus as a well.

I imagined the women in the bible who so often met thirsty, weary travelers at a well. In the Old Testament we read of Rebekah meeting Isaac’s servant at the well where she gave him and his camels water to drink.  Jacob met Rachel at a well where she came to water the sheep. Zipporah met Moses at a well where she and her sisters drew water for their fathers’ flock.

In the book of John in the New Testament, we read that beautiful account of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus spoke these extraordinary words to her; “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”…

In this time of quietness with my Lord Jesus, I believe He was showing me that He is this well and that we, the church, are like those women.  He simply calls us to ‘go’ to the well and then to ‘draw’ from it. We draw from the well by partaking of His life. The Lord Jesus in all His wisdom and tenderness, was showing me that the simple act of ‘going to’ and ‘drawing’ from the well, is all that He requires of us. Once we draw from the well, we have water to drink for ourselves and water for others. 

I saw that we don’t have to dig the well, we don’t have to make the bucket, jars or ropes. We don’t have to set up or manage the pulling system. We don’t have to advertise the well or make fancy tupperware to use. We don’t have to set up a stall or mix anything with the water to improve it. We are invited simply to ‘go’ to the well and ‘draw’ from it. A simple act of intimate time with Him. This is living out of the Lord’s in-dwelling life.

By drawing from His well, we have something to give the thirsty. We have something to give to the weary stranger and something to give to our Father’s flock. That something, is Him.

Who will drink from it? Whoever is thirsty.

 

The All-ness of the Cross

https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/8018427237

 All the world knows the shape of Your cross Lord.

So simple.

Two beams crossing.

One beam pointing direct North and direct South.

One beam pointing direct East and direct West.

Your cross reaches in every direction.

How far & wide, how deep & high is Your love expressed by Your cross.

Your arms on Your cross stretched from the East to the West.

Your Headship is from heaven and You are our True North.

Your blood flowed southward into the earth.

As You were already with God in the beginning,

and chose to confine Your glory to the limitations

of a man –

so speaks Your cross of humility and plainness in the sight of mankind

yet gloriously and magnificently extravagant in its reach.

Your cross has no bounds.

 Your blood sacrifice, You – the  sacrificial Lamb –

the eternal atonement for all mankind.

There is no measure to Your cross Jesus.

There is no measure to You.

Photo details:  http://www.flickr.com/4ThGlryOfGod/sets – File name – P9210770 Church Cross – combined shot with clouds – highlight NR – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/