68. Words that change the world.

Welcome to a short series on prayer. It is such a privilege to share some thoughts on the subject of prayer. I would like to emphasize that what is written here could never be comprehensive or complete. Prayer is the golden thread that brings every good thing and every true promise into our grasp. Let us leap up in the joy of anticipation for the word in season that the Holy Spirit brings.

Pray without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with daily life and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

From The Weight of Glory: CS Lewis.

From the very first moment, I would like to pray that your imagination and mind would be freed to receive the full impact of the Word. Let your mind pictures be loosed by the Holy Spirit to partake and enter into the mystery of God’s word and work.

In this moment – take your thoughts captive and submit them to the Word of God. bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

MOMENT OF PRAYER: Full surrender, express your desire to be obedient and to learn, invite the Holy Spirit to teach.

 PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: listen for the Voice in the voice. We can frantically take comprehensive notes on everything that is said, but I would prefer that you listen carefully to the Holy Spirit and hear what you are supposed to hear NOW. You do not need to learn everything there is on prayer. You need to learn the next vital step to boost you prayer life to another level of victorious communication with God.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:9-10)

The Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit have priority in your prayer life. To know what is important is a basic life skill for which we have to trust God. Switch off the TV in the middle of the programme to listen to the child. Leave the housework when emotions run high and give full attention. Stop and pray to halt the enemy attack when a pattern of evil is identified. Chase the devil out when you see his handiwork. Stretch the minutes on praise and thanksgiving when the Holy Spirit ministers to your heart and mind.

PRAYER is a conversation.

Conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people. Typically, it occurs in spoken communication, written exchanges are not usually called conversation, but these days email and messaging in so many possible ways, also boils down to conversation.

Have you heard people say: I’ve tried prayer – it doesn’t work. From the shelf of magic wands, amongst the horoscope, the cards and the crystals, they pull out prayer. What could be the words to accompany the magic spell – oh yes – our father which art in heaven…

And the conclusion – it doesn’t work.

Or you may have heard – I don’t think God answers prayer, He doesn’t listen to me. I have prayed for years, prayed my knees raw and nothing happened.

Let us, here in this sacred gathering of believers, whose names are written in the Book of Remembrance by the great Scribe of heaven, know forever more – there is no such thing as unanswered prayer.

 PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: there is no such thing as unanswered prayer.

 MOMENT OF PRAYER: Write it on your palm, tattoo it in your mind, burn it in your heart. The adjective – unanswered – can never be used with the noun – prayer.

God is not a liar that we should doubt Him ever.

Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)

God hears all prayer. Let us note Revelation 5:8 and never forget this verse.

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Meditate on these few thoughts. Ask the Holy Spirit to quicken the Word of God to your mind. Pray the Word of God right back to God and you will be established in all your ways.

As I am writing this, my supscription to Jack Hayford Ministries comes into my inbox. Our God is faithful to confirm His word. I share it with you:

February 28 – Pray Now

Men always ought to pray and not lose heart.

Luke 18:1

 
   
   
   
   
   
       Why do we get so busy at everything other than prayer? Why do we say so often, “Well, I’ve prayed, but what can I do?”

Answer:

Begin to pray and praise immediately when challenging situations arise. Start now.

       Speak to Jesus about each matter that begins to trouble you. Don’t wait.

       Cease from the exhausting toil of carrying worries and cares on your shoulders. Release them.

       Seize every opportunity to pray with and for people.

Get alone with the Savior—in the Word and in prayer.

 
   
   
   
   

http://www.jackhayford.org

You can subscribe to his short messages via daily email. It comes highly recommended.

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67. It is finished.

Over the past months we have studied the book of Revelation, chapter by chapter. Just last week we rejoiced in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in the last chapter. It brings this study to an end.

I would like to repeat a few salient points.

The study runs from Pebbles 42 to 66. The goal was to unlock the mystery and symbolism of a first glance at the metaphor and images of the seemingly complicated, apocalyptic literature of the vision.

There is a special blessing on the reader and listener. It is the exciting pursuit of this blessing that we dive deep to understand the “hidden” message. Out Father’s promise is clear:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

In the words of Jesus:

At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. (Matthew 11:25)

Revelation was written so that we could make sense of the chaos of recent centuries. The knowledge of God’s love enables us to rejoice in His power and provision to encourage the world and step into the void to conquer evil and destruction.

As was stated in Pebbles 42:

Revelation is not a chronological chain of events. It is a summary of the entire history of mankind with a climatic end for those who choose to accept the salvation of grace and love. This study is not an effort to summarize all the possible interpretations of the vision. The content is far too rich and comprehensive. It is also not a dispensational interpretation to serve as an itinerary for events associated with the second coming of Christ.

 It should serve only as a first step for some information on the symbolism and references in order to decipher the “code” or Bible-speak if I may call it that.

It is us, the true church of Jesus Christ, the people from all walks of life, all cultures, language and denominations of Christianity, who carry the love of Jesus in our hearts, who bring the good news to the world.

How beautiful and delightful on the mountains

Are the feet of him who brings good news,

Who announces peace,

Who brings good news of good things,

Who announces salvation,

Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7, Ampl)

Rejoice Pebble pal! You are a chosen generation, the noble rulers of the invisible kingdom of God. We know the Truth, the Life and the Way to God in the person of Jesus. His redemption death on the Cross is the ONLY solution to the chaos around us. There is NO alternative.

Revelation is very clear on God’s enemy. He is conquered. He knows his future of condemnation and we plunder his realm with our message of salvation and power. For that, he hates us and will use his sharpest, most painful strategies against us.

Our response is to study the Word of God, so that we know who we are, what we have, the power to our disposal and the victory over evil to celebrate our salvation – daily.

Remember – the new Jerusalem is the presence of God, the Holy of Holies of the Temple, where the table of feasting is to be experienced, now, within the destructive rule of evil. It is our secret place, our shadow-seat under the wings of the Almighty God (Psalm 91). It is the still waters and green pastures, the table of provision and protection in the valley of the shadow of death, where His goodness and mercy are our constant companions (Psalm 23).

Open the door when He knocks (Revelation 3:20) and sit with Him to enjoy a long and relaxing evening meal of love and provision.

Please allow me to stimulate your imagination to illustrate and inspire with another metaphor.

 

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.

“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“Then drink,” said the Lion.

“May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

“Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.

“I make no promise,” said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion—no one who had seen his stern face could do that—and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn’t need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once.

 

From: The Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis: The Silver Chair.

(My emphasis)

 

66. A city, I’ve been told.

Oh Pebble pals, we have talked about the heavenly host. Just think of the most sought after invitation you have ever had or yearn for, to the feast that would put all other celebrations in second place by far. The ultimate gala that you could dream up in your Holy Spirit inspired imagination and so much more awaits you in the city of your Father revealed to us in this last chapter of Revelation.

We are moving from the outside of the city inside. Remember, the city is the presence of God; the Holy of Holies accommodating all that belongs to God. It is the ultimate Godly realm, where He reigns in all His splendour and glory.

The River of the water of Life is a very familiar Old Testament image. In the Garden of Eden is a river (Genesis 2:10,18-16). Ezekiel’s temple’s has a river (Ezekiel 47:1-7). In Psalms 46:4 the psalmist praises the river whose streams make glad the city of God. The Fountain from the house of God is part of the beautiful picture that the coming of the Messiah will bring, as is echoed by many prophets.

And in that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine and the hills will flow with milk; and all the brooks and riverbeds of Judah will flow with water, and a fountain will go out from the house of the Lord to water the [desert] Valley of Shittim. (Joel 3:18)

The living water from Jerusalem is mentioned by Zechariah (14:8). The symbolism of water is life giving. It is exactly what God planned His church to be. The church, the New Jerusalem, is the life and hope of the world, bringing the good news of salvation to the people of the earth.

For us the promise rings true through all the ages. We can rest in the fountain of God, the river of life. In the desert Moses struck the rock for the water to gush. The water never stopped flowing. The rock is a type of Jesus, Who has been struck by the Cross and the life giving River of Life has never stopped flowing. In disobedience Moses struck the rock a second time. God’s command was to talk to the rock in the desert for the water to flow. The Cross is once and for all. Jesus has died and lives for evermore. He will never be struck again.

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters. (Psalm 114:7,8)

Wisdom is often related to good water as we see in Proverbs 10:11, 13:14,14:27,16:22. God is the source of all wisdom and the fountain of life (Psalm 35:9).

In the words of Jesus, it is the abundant life that God offers to his people for the taking.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38-39)

The Tree of Life is mentioned in Genesis 2:8,9 and 3:6 and stood in the Garden of Eden. The river and the tree in the magnificent description of Ezekiel are nature in God’s hands providing all we need.

 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:12)

For us, the church, there is the fruit of the Spirit as discussed in Galatians 5:22. In Jesus, the Tree of Life, we provide the shade to the world and bear the fruit for everyone, every situation and every age for the “healing of the nations”. He is the Source of all goodness.

The beauty of holiness is God in the midst of everything (22:3-5).

There is no more evil to pollute the Christian life. In His presence we shall see God’s face. It is one of the beatitudes spoken over the church of God by Jesus Himself in Matthew 5:8 – a blessing to see God. It comes to the pure of heart.

To Moses God said nobody can see God and live. (Exodus 33:20,23) Only in Christ can man look upon God’s face. To look God in the face is to:

– worship truly – a life of obedience.

– live holy – marked by God on their foreheads showing that they belong to Him exclusively.

Again there is no need for light. God’s presence is the light. Those who belong to God, His servants, will reign with God forever and ever. The fullness of time is emphasized by repetition.

Final words are spoken in (22:6-9). The remainder of the chapter is repetition of some things gone before and some disjointed themes. We have three speakers:

Angels as the interpreters of the divine things, which John have seen. They confirm the truth of everything written. God inspires the prophets therefore the message to John is received in the same manner as the prophets of old.

Jesus himself announces His return and pronounces His blessing on everyone who hears and obeys.

John identifies himself as the author of the book and warns against angel worship exactly as in 19:10. Repeated this way the warning is important. Worship is to be to God alone.

It was the custom to seal scripts in those days. It is no surprise when the command to seal and preserve is given, to preserve the vision as an encouragement to the reader.

And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future. (Daniel 8:26.)

And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. (Daniel 12:10. See also Ezekiel 3:27)

Christ is speaking to repeat Who He is and His coming to reward the faithful. His titles (the First and the Last) are given as recognition of the truth. He is the beginning and the end to emphasize completeness, eternity and authority. His power always was and will be in His hands.

The repetition of the entrance requirement – the acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ – underlines the utmost importance of admission into the church. Those debarred are mentioned in 21:8 to remove all doubt about what the church should be and the needs of the sinners it must meet.

Dogs were always a symbol of savageness and uncleanness. The Jews regarded the gentiles as dogs. Stray dogs are usually hungry and will fight for anything to eat, picking up the garbage from the street in desperation for nourishment. They have no shame; they are mostly cruel and selfish. The price of a dog was an abomination to the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:18). The male prostitutes in the ancient temples were called dogs. In this text it could mean a thoroughly immoral person.

 No man who practises deceit shall dwell in my house; no man who utters lies shall continue in my presence” (Psalms 101:7)

The vision came from Jesus (22:16) and his titles are confirmed.

Isaiah 11:1, Numbers 24:17. He is the morning star, He heralds the day and chases away the darkness. He is the light of the world. (John 8:12) [Isaiah 11:1, Numbers 24:17]

The great invitation (22:17) that rings clear and true over all the centuries and all the earth is repeated as part of the last words. The last words of a dying man is revered and remembered. Here the last words shout the invitation again and again.

The Spirit and the Bride invite the world to come. To all those who hear and those who thirst, the ultimate sought after invitation for all ages is given, over and over again. Just like the ending of the letters to the churches, the command is to hear and obey. (Isaiah 55:1 and John 6:35)

Then comes the great warning (22:18-19). It is a serious warning against the distortion of the truth.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

We can see the golden thread of the true gospel throughout Scripture. The wording here at the end is a common ending well known in ancient texts. We see similar warnings in Deuteronomy 4:2:

You shall not add to the word, which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you.

…and Proverbs 30:5,6:

Every word of God is pure;

He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

The role of the scribe in ancient times was a triumph in precision and perfection.

In these very last verses the refrain of Christ to His church sounds once more (22:20-21).

We hear the glory and compassion, encouragement to and expectation from the church. Amidst all the terrible persecution we can lift up our eyes and look God in the face through Jesus and the Cross.

The very last word of the entire Bible is the GRACE of Jesus.