155. Binding bonds in your brain.

The world around us is made up of contracts. Formal and informal agreements rule our daily life.  Even friendship is an informal contract.  One does not go to a lawyer to draw up the terms of friendship, but certain silent conditions apply to the relationship we call friendship. Loyalty, love, support in difficult times, general back up and a friendly ear for joyous and sad happenings are but a few of the basic assumptions of friendship.

More formal contracts are prenuptial contracts; house and motorcar contracts, insurance, bank accounts, credit cards and many more that make a modern life possible.  All these are the foundation for living although we do not think of every detail of every contract when we pull out a credit card to pay at the supermarket.  Maybe it is only when things go wrong that we realize, often in shock, what we had agreed to.

Certain conditions have to be met before a contract is established.  One of the most important is mutual agreement.  Often this agreement is tacit and can be surmised by the actions of both parties involved.  By using the credit card, the bank can infer that I have agreed to all the conditions of the fine print sent to me with the card.  By acting that way we can say that we both “willed” a contract to be  established – thus a legally binding agreement.

If we apply this principle in the spiritual world, things work exactly the same.  We have often discussed the powerful consequences of a simple, rational decision.  It is exactly how rebirth takes place.  Rebirth is the result of an act of your will to submit your life to God. The decision has a life-changing effect.  The day you buy your car brings drastic changes to your life, time management and planning. You have full control over your coming and going and are independent of public transport schedules.  Your decision to immigrate to the Kingdom of God is a contract that changes your life on every level.  Your decisions and behaviour are now governed by Kingdom principles that radically distinguish you from the world around you.

It is actually possible to make agreements with the brokenness of the world around us, even as we live as citizens of the invisible Kingdom of God.  Such agreements or contracts are often forced upon us by the cruelty of shattered dreams and relationships that leaves us wounded.  We “agree” with the heartache and hopelessness, bitterness and doubt in God’s goodness and a whole series of other heart-wrenching and mostly unintended soul activities.

Caught in the destruction of our own agreements with sorrow and despair, we become prey to our mean and vicious enemy smelling blood.  Years ago, when I learnt that the devil exploits our woundedness and grief and take the utmost advantage of our weakness, I was shocked and afraid.  He will send in his demons like a pack of wild dogs to brutally amplify our anguish and augment our misery.  My already bleeding heart will be ripped apart.

There are many ways in which people try to cope with grief and loss.  There is only one person who can truly…

bind up and heal the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1,AMPC)

The key to healing is agreements with God and his Word.  Your soul admits and submits to God’s character and Kingdom principles to receive the healing and deliverance that can only take place in the Kingdom of God.

The moment you seek healing in the Word of God, a contract is created.  You enter into an agreement with the Holy Spirit to heal your heart.

You align your will with heaven – how wonderful is that!

The process starts in your mind.  That is where decisions are made and thoughts take shape.  Paul directs us in this process with these powerful words in Romans 12:2:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)

Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think.This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. (TPT)

Healing by thinking – a transformation!  This pungent decision is the commencement of a miracle in our inner being that can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit in full surrender to him. Greater effort to think differently will not have any long-term effect.  The working of a miracle is God’s domain.  He does not expect from us to do the miracle or to be a miracle.  We need to surrender, invite him in and submit to his love.  We will, however, enjoy the full and lasting benefit of this heavenly intervention.  It is the creation of a contract with God.  Just like in the case of any other contract it is good to know the elements of the contract.  God gave us his Word – it is all in there, guaranteed by the Cross of Jesus and confirmed by the working of the Holy Spirit in us.

…but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], (AMPC)

I like the reference in the Amplified to new ideals and a new attitude.   Newness is indicative of change.  God promises new like never before and nothing else.  The new will be unique!

[New could mean: neos – more of the same depicting quantity as in a new pencil but many others already exist or:  kainos – unique, has never been, depicting quality as in one of a kind.]

Surrender will enable you to live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.

God’s will is your healing, deliverance and salvation – to live a full life. He is the only source of life. His mind-set towards you is fully revealed in the work of Jesus on the cross.  Nobody can ever doubt his approach to mankind.

God is calling you today:

“O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,


It is time to hear his voice and surrender your heart to him.  He will do the miracle

Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:11)

 

 

 

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147.  Oh the shame, the dreadful regret!

I know I shall be so disappointed, so full of reproach, blaming myself when I find out just how I could have lived. The day I see Jesus face to face and fully grasp his character will be the day I will realize what my life could have been if only I believed the words He spoke in Scripture.

I will be embarrassed over all my fear, I will hang my head in humiliation because of hours of worry and curl up in shame when I think how my thoughts circled in desperation for plan B to Z regarding dreams that might not work out and other twisted plans mulling over worldly solutions for my circumstances.  Regret and self-pity will overwhelm me when I “see” the life I could have lived.

It is utterly worth it to get my life in order right now to live a life of liberty and victory as promised.

On a few occasions in my life I experienced the Holy Spirit’s discipline.  I say this hesitantly.  God works in every person’s life individually and will guide you with his eye in his own way, that relate to your life in a very unique manner. (Psalm 32:8)  I write my experience as a testimony and not as a lesson.

My husband was a corporate executive and traveled often.  Company policy allowed me to accompany him once a year on a trip of our choice.  My three boys were getting a little more independent and with the support of a good friend who could help with the school run and my mother close to keep an eye on them, my friends and family encouraged me to take the opportunity to get away.  We spent a lovely week in Germany.

Back home the news hit me hard.  My youngest (five years old and in the last year of pre-school) became very ill, shortly after I had left.  The whole family rallied around him, the family doctor diagnosed and treated him and he was healthy and happy when I arrived.  They told me the whole event with my family’s usual animated drama.  I was livid.

I was angry that they kept his illness away from me in order to give me a holiday.  Sure, it is a good thing and they were being nice, but I was fuming.  Guilt made me respond in angry reproach.  How could I jet set around the world while my son needed me?  I felt that I utterly failed in my role as a mother and will never let that happen again.  I made a decision there and then not to go away again until my sons are big enough to look after themselves.

Three times the opportunity came to go again. I refused.  I made a decision and stuck with it.  This is my sacrifice for being a good mother. No debate necessary!

One day, three years later, my husband came with a special request.  It would have been a unique opportunity to visit an island.  Neither one of us had ever had an island experience. My first thought again was no, because of my “vow” to stay home with my kids.  One of my friends encouraged me to go and promised her support.  My mother was more vocal and even sharp about the matter.  She and I had a series of discussions on the subject of fear and she knew very well how deeply my fear was rooted.  She knew my fears around my children; she knew how upset I was about anything to do with my children.  One afternoon we discussed the whole thing again and she instructed me to read Revelation 21:8:

 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (NKJV)

But for the rest—the feckless and faithless, degenerates and murderers, sex peddlers and sorcerers, idolaters and all liars—for them it’s Lake Fire and Brimstone. Second death!(The Message)

I sat stunned for a while.  This is serious.  Am I a feckless unbelieving coward?  Is my destiny the lake of fire, second death?  It could not really be any worse! Fear cannot be so bad!  God, are you serious?  Is this how you see me?  Are you angry with me?  I am only being responsible.  Is that so wrong?

I announced that I shall seek the Lord on the matter.   In my heart I was upset and confused.  I needed to know what the Lord says.  On a previous occasion I realized that I did not take the instructions in the Word of God seriously enough.

I “saw” Jesus in my mind’s eye, standing in front of me asking: What is going on here? Do you trust Me?  Do you know that I love you and keep you in My embrace?

I got home and grabbed a Bible lying around.  I opened it and was stunned at what I read.

 The Lord has given me a strong warningnot to think like everyone else does. He said,

“Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do,

    and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. 

Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life.

    He is the one you should fear.

He is the one who should make you tremble.

    He will keep you safe.  (Isaiah 8:11-14, NLT)

I ran up to my bedroom, locked the door and fell flat on my face before God. I confessed my fear and surrendered my life, to Jesus AGAIN, every aspect of it.  I stayed there until I felt the burden of my sin lift and the Holy Spirit minister to me with release, peace and joy.

The end of the story, you might ask?

My husband and I enjoyed a lovely week in Bermuda IN hurricane season.  When we phoned to confirm the hotel late August, they were nailed up for a fierce tropical cyclone in the Atlantic.  We enjoyed perfect weather and explored the two islands on mopeds. The week after we came back, the winds of Hurricane Nate took the little beach where we sat in a restaurant with our feet in the sand and were served exquisite seafood.

We both felt God’s loving imprint on the holiday, keeping us safe, keeping our children safe.  How could I ever doubt Him?

 

146. The feasting table of faith in the storm.

Continuing from the previous Pebbles…the disciples are in a panic.  They are struggling against wind and wave, fighting for their lives. Real life.  Circumstances are out of control without a clear resolution.  All the good intentions of calm sessions in therapy are thrown overboard when reality overwhelms purposeful and wise life goals.  Where, you may ask, is God?  The clatter of confusion speaks louder than anything and foolish fear is right back on the governing seat of heart and mind.

The disciples were fighting a violent storm on the lake, when Jesus approached them on the water.  They could not see in the darkness and had no way of knowing who or what this ghostlike image is.

He speaks command-like certainty to them to calm them down. [Pebbles 145]  His voice is the means by which they recognize their Master.

Can you hear him speak to you this moment, even in the raging circumstances?  He brings calm and reason with his voice.

What is the next step?  We all know Jesus can calm a storm.  How wonderfully grand that story has been told in words and art!  I would expect nothing less in this case.  Speak to my waves, Jesus.  Speak to the wind, Jesus.  Bring me some calm so that I would know I am safe in the boat.

As if the storm in the dark is not enough to focus their attention on Jesus, He does not address the situation. Everything is still in crisis mode.  The boat can capsize, the people can drown – I mean, lives are at stake!  Get this miracle on my circumstances done now!

Actually, not yet.  It is time for faith living.  Could we experiment a bit in stormy, deadly waves?  Let’s do something counter-intuitive; something completely irresponsible.  Oh no, you might say, stay in the boat and continue praying.  Don’t push matters too far.

Trust our impulsive friend Peter to push matters along.

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  29 So He said, “Come.

Key words to live by.  On the command of Jesus we will ride out the storm.  His voice says: Come!

I have no doubt that Peter would have walked with Jesus to the edge of the water, through the storm in the darkness, keeping his eyes fixed on the face of Jesus and his ears pitched to hear Jesus’ voice.  However, he looks down and sinks.

Jesus was always very truthful about the cost of discipleship.  He never allowed emotional commotion to rule over rational decisions and wise deliberation.  In spite of an emotional and impulsive decision to get out of the boat, Peter quickly sensed the daunting and terrifying scope of the storm.  This would not be a walk in the park!

Nevertheless, Jesus will never let him sink.  He reaches out and pulls Peter to safety.  Peter did not suffer defeat that night. Defeat would have been drowning. He took a mighty step of faith, and even when it looked too big and too frightening, he could stretch out his hand to his Saviour who was right there next to him.

He touched Jesus in faith.  Together they landed safely on the beach. He survived the storm, with many lessons learnt and sharpened life skills for the next one.

Defeat is a matter of perspective.  Peter walked on the water and in spite of his sudden panic and the demobilizing fear that sunk him, he walked out of the storm on the arm of his Master.  He did not die. He lived and completed the full purpose of his life.  We do not emerge from the storm with a shining certificate for good behaviour. Mostly we come out of it with a few scars, maybe even open wounds, but always holding the Hand that saved us from drowning.

Storms are fierce.  We may falter and fail, but hell will not prevail. Victory is to keep the faith, not to be offended with God for the storm and walk out on the beach on the arm of your God.

I am sure we are all familiar with modern teambuilding strategies. One of these is a very high narrow bridge over which all partakers must walk.  The walk is scary and each participant is fastened with a cable, held by supervisors on the ground.

It is not easy.  The height is chosen to make it creepy.  How will you know that the guy on the ground is strong enough to tighten the cable when you miss the step?  They look far away and much to relaxed.  Our brain gives us three options for a split second decision.  Fight, freeze of flee.

One of the participants was overcome with fear in the middle of the bridge and took a very logical decision: freeze.  He could not move forward and backward was even more terrifying.  On the other side, one of the participants who had just finished the walk, turned around and walked to the frozen figure.  He commanded him to look up into his eyes and take each step together. With his eyes away from the height and the narrow walkway, they walked in unison to complete the rest of the bridge.  Fear did not prevail. It was beaten, even though he needed help.  He completed the walkway, just in another way.

Where is your eye fixed? Are you looking at the waves and shy away from the wind?  Take the hand of Jesus; hear his voice.  You will walk in victory within the storm.  The stumbling block will become the certain step of victory. It is faith and trust that grow deeper roots, that shape the victory.

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, ‘Destroy!’ Then Israel shall dwell in safety, The fountain of Jacob alone, In a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop dew. (Deuteronomy 33:26-28)

When Jesus got into the boat, the storm calmed down.  His presence is the solution.

He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. (Psalm 107:29)

And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:6)

The tabernacle is where the Ark of the Covenant is, the symbol of God’s presence.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing. (Psalm 23:5)

In closing – who is this Jesus? What is his name?

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved,
 for You are my praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)

The Hebrew for SAVE is yasha with a deeper meaning to loosen, or to open wide.  It is the word for God’s reaction to all our needs.  He gave his Son the name – Yeshua– He saves.

It says it all.  All you need is in his NAME.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

144. The command to live by.

We are talking about the brain-bug: fear. How can we live boldly and fully? How will our lives epitomize the elements of the Christmas Advent: joy, peace, love and hope when we are crushed by the issues and dangers of modern living. All that Jesus came for, lived to exemplify and died for are rendered meaningless when fear floods our system.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with youwherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

The SECOND fear defeating principle is the command in the Word that rings throughout: Do not fear!

The writers of the Psalms are all struggling with fear.  They pour out their hearts before the Lord.  He is to be trusted. (Psalms 62:8)

Jesus repeats this principle with extended examples, repetition and warnings against the meaninglessness of worry.

Jesus forbids worry – not responsible future planning.  (Matthew 6:25-34) He does not ask for a reckless denial of the demands of life.  He is talking about that fear-filled, windmill of repetitive thoughts that robs all inner joy and peace.  The word he uses is merrimna– anxious worry.

Jesus emphasizes that God is the source of life and therefore the maintainer of life.  He creates the body and provide for the body.  He illustrates with the birds of heaven and the lilies of the fields, things that humankind does not maintain or make grow.  He cares from an inexhaustible source.  His examples are significant as they illustrate abundance and beauty.

He underscores again and again the worthlessness of worry.  He makes it ridiculous; that one might think you can grow taller by worrying. Then He makes it an insult and compares a worry-sick person with a heathen, someone who does not know God. A heathen has no God or he might have an angry God who does not love him or cares what happens to him.

He contrasts God the Father with an angry and distant god, and calls him DAD.  God is a close, loving dad who cares and provides everything necessary. It should be easy to obey this command and eradicate all worry and fear from our lives – but HOW?

Here is the THIRD fear-defeating principle.   In Matthew 6:33 is the principle of fearless living.

Jesus says:

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.

What will be given besides?  The abundance and beauty that Jesus mentioned in the previous verses will be yours because of God’s favour and not your own good works.

What is righteousness? It is the conformity to the revealed will of God in all respects; the surrendering of your life and desires to the One who died for you. The revealed will of God is the revelation of who Jesus is.  We find all this in the Word.

 It does not mean that every worry and experienced fearfulness are sins of disobedience.  Often worry prompts us to act and do something constructive. The worry that will make us sick and considered a sin is the whirlpool of anxiety about things we cannot change, things that can only be managed through prayer to the Almighty whose trademark is the supernatural.

God promises supernatural peace.  Here is the recipe for windmill and whirlpool thoughts.  Let us again enjoy the Amplified translation.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

 And God’s peace [shall be yours, thattranquil stateof a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothingfrom God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace], which transcends all understandingshall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 I am blown away by the faith knowledge that God is guarding my heart from anxiety.  This is not only fear-defeating.  It is so much more. It is the experience of peace that cannot be explained; peace and joy within the storms of life.

 The story of Mary and Martha in Luke (10:38-42) worries me a bit.  Well, I can honestly say, if one “worries” about the principles in a Bible story and how to apply it to one’s own life, worry is a good thing!

I am a homemaker.  I sort of identify with Martha, keeping things in order and especially feeding Jesus when he comes to visit.  I would have probably cooked up a storm and served a feast for him.  I know Martha loved him and served him with her talents.  In common language the “insult” to say you are a Martha, cuts deep for me. I might even say it of myself.

However, the story has a deeper line.  It is not about the daily, the superficial and the fleshly. It is all about conviction of the deeper principles to live by.  It is about life priorities.  Tending to the everyday cares of life can distract from the search for the deeper kingdom principles that the words of Jesus brought into their house. Mary sensed that and sat at his feet, not sidetracked by the ordinary.

There is no freedom from fear in the ordinary.  There is victory in the “eating” of the Bread of Life, the words of Jesus.  In the prayerful digestion of the words of the Bible, freedom from fear is guaranteed.

Just as a reminder we are promised to know what is important according to Philippians 1:9 (discussed in the very first Pebbles).  The Amplified translation defines the gift of discernment as follows: keen insight, greater depth of acquaintance, and more comprehensive discernment. So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value.

This is a life-goal worth pursuing.  It is wise living.

How do you perceive God in your most anxious moments?  Is He close and accessible? Do you feel He hears your cry?

 I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. (Psalms 32:8)

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s loving eye on you to your imagination.

Let us live boldly into our future with the word of the priestly blessing in Number 6.

The Lord bless and keep you

The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Receive these words in the promise of Isaiah 26:3:

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon You, because he trusts in You.

Lastly, remember what Jesus said at the end of Matthew 6:

 

So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

 

 

[BK 23]

 

 

142. Miracle tree of God in action

[New Year 2019]

The rhythm of nature and the certainty of the seasons are always a source of inspiration for me.  There is so much of what we experience on a daily basis that encourages us to believe the Word of God with deep assurance.  I have quoted Genesis 8:22 often.  I am sure all of you know it by heart by now.  The language echoes the rhythm of the words and the meaning.

“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”

Every person caught in the tight grip of winter knows that spring is coming. Relief is coming.  Many psychologists and counselors use the symbolism of the seasons to explain life.

Our life is not constant and mostly it is difficult to “see” the spring in the middle of winter.  However, it is ALWAYS there. It requires a closer look to see the promise of the bloom on every tree, waiting for the silent announcement of the turn of time.  In the beginning of spring the trees get a gleam of green – a light green, a new green.  Later it becomes clearer and deeper in colour.

Usually the turn of the calendar year finds the northern hemisphere in the fiercest grip of winter.  The south enjoys its warmest days.  The first day of the New Year is either very cold or very hot and it is hard to envisage the turn of the season.  That is exactly the utilization of imagination that we need to believe the promises of God for the future.  The things hoped for becomes firm and confident faith.  (Hebrews 11:1)

The visual and atmospheric experience of the season while the opposite is reality, is the challenge.  It is what God expects of us.

The golden thread of symbolic learn experiences in the Word of God, is true treasure.  We know there were three elements in the Ark of the Covenant that stood in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, representing the presence of the Most High God.  There was the golden bowl with manna that did not go bad, as nothing ever decays in the presence of God.  There were the stone tablets on which the law was written and lastly the staff of Aaron that bloomed, blossomed and bore fruit in one day.

This staff is the symbol of the supernatural, literally above and beyond the natural and expected process.

We have just mentioned the seasons. Usually the blooms are ready in winter already.  In early spring they swell out and grow into leaves and flowers.  Mostly on fruit trees, like the almond of which this staff was cut, the flowers become fruit – a most magnificent progression.  After some more time has passed, the fruit is ready for harvesting.

Aaron’s staff was a dry stick.  A staff was a common accessory for a man at the time. David writes about it in Psalm 23, visualizing God as a good shepherd using a staff as protection for the sheep.  Jesus depicted himself as a good shepherd, saying it in one of the seven I AM-sayings in John’s Gospel.

This dead piece of wood becomes the symbol of the supernatural when the normal process of nature is accelerated as a sign of God’s intervention and communication.

Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.  (Numbers 17:8)

Many centuries later we read of the almond shoot in the first chapter of Jeremiah.  This particular passage was a lifeline in a dark time in my own life.  It was God’s encouragement to me that He will make his promise true.  Read with me in the Amplified translation.

Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see?

And I said, I see a branch or shoot of an almond tree [the emblem of alertness and activity, blossoming in late winter].

Then said the Lord to me, you have seen well, for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.

The Hebrew word for almond shoot is similar to the word for “alert and active”.

The almond blossoms very early, in late winter, before the first signs of spring.  God’s timing always resembles his grace and mercy, just like He shortened the exile in the time of Daniel.  The blossom of the almond is a symbol of God’s action upon his word and our circumstances.

How are you these first days of 2019? It is quite daunting to look at a year ahead and again realize how little control we have over our future. Our answer to the future is HOPE. Our hope in God fills our hearts and minds and our faith in God guarantees God’s action to our advantage and benefit, especially when things look dark and uncertain.

How do you know that God will act on your behalf?  It is his promise since the earliest days on earth.  Listen closely to the words of my dear friend, the ancient prophet Isaiah:

The Lord has made bare His holy arm. In the eyes of all the nations and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.(Isaiah 52:10)

To bare your arm implies that you have rolled up your sleeves and are ready for work.  Isn’t this just such a magnificent picture of God in action? Let 2019 be the year of God’s grace in your life and expect a special revelation of his goodness.

Sing with the Psalmist the promise for 2019.

Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!

He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.

God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.

He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.

The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God’s work of salvation!   (
Psalm 98:1-3, The Message)

Just pause and think of God’s love and his salvation and then jump up and dance.  You have good reason to twirl and swirl in the beauty of his grace and love.

May God bless you with a firm conviction of his love for you in 2019!

130. A discussion about the future.

[John 16]

Anybody who reads my little pieces would know that I am fascinated by time. Past, present and future – oh how I had to study to express myself in English (not my mother tongue) with the intricacies of the past and future perfect, continuous tense in the past, present and future and the endless verb conjugation to be studied and memorized. So many words to express time past, time present and time ahead that we need to convey our chronicle. Rightly so. Time governs our lives, relentlessly, constantly without a blink of a change of pace. It is the rhythm of our existence, the beat of our days. It may feel cruelly slow in pain and fleetingly swift in joy, but scientifically firm and fixed throughout every day for centuries and millennia.

Growing up a Christian I was taught that the future belongs to God and that I cannot make claims about it in any way – again rightly so. In this tradition I respect the future as God’s territory, a time span for Him to direct. I hear the Word that says:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little timeand then vanishes away.(James 4:13,14)

In Christian tradition there is a reverence for the future. We add the Latin DV (Deo Volenti), which means God willing, as a sign that we realize that the future is God’s territory and do not speak impertinently about it. It should, however, be added to our words about all time, as our past and present also belong to God! Serving a great God who stands outside time, we should recognize how brief our existence in this world is.

The future is uncertain. We control only our moment. It is only in this moment that we can make the wise decisions that will handle our past under the blood of Jesus and determine the future as a ” field of action for the promises of God” [Eugene Peterson]. What if our future outcome and victory can be guaranteed? This is the good news of the Gospel – it is!

Jesus tells of things beyond the present. He is already preparing the disciples for the time after the crucifixion. In Jewish thought there were two ages – the present age and the age to come.

The present was bad and under condemnation.

The age to come was the golden age of God.

In between the two ages was the Day of the Lord – a terrible day in which the world was shattered and destroyed to prepare for the coming of the Messiah and the dawn of the age to come.

Especially in the time between the Old and New Testament the prophecies of the Day of the Lord were rife and rough. They echoed the words of Isaiah 13:9:

Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
And He will destroy its sinners from it.

and Joel 2:1-2:

Blow the trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the Lord is coming,for it is at hand:
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.
A people come, great and strong,
The like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such after them,
Even for many successive generations.

Jesus promises a blessing on the ones who can endure the terrible days.

With the coming of the Messiah the trumpet has blown. The people great and strong are the church of Jesus, the invisible Kingdom of God on earth, the like of whom has never been.

Sorrow will turn to joy in a life filled with the Holy Spirit.  Faith endures to turn the world around.

Christian joy is independent of circumstances and changes. Worldly joy is attached to worldly things. Christian joy comes from Christ. Nothing in the world can take it away.

Our joy will be complete – lacking nothing with no regrets. It is perfect and to be found in the presence of God.

Pain is forgotten just as the pain at childbirth (16:21,22)

Jesus promises the fullness of knowledge (16:23). On earth there will always be unanswered questions and unsolved problems, but we walk by faith and not by sight. Full knowledge will bring new dimensions to our relationship with Christ. The door of heaven is open; therefore we van live with insight and understanding.

This fullness in relationship is only possible through Jesus. It is in His name that we ask and receive.

Jesus speaks in paroimia (Greek), which means it is obscured to the casual listener. It is veiled until revealed. It means that a statement demands more thought to become clear. The word is used for the parables of Jesus.

He says He is going to speak the truth unveiled. He tells them He comes from God and is going back to God. This is a tremendous claim. The cross is not the criminal’s death, which the world sees, but His way back to God.

The revelation to us is that through Jesus men can approach God directly because God loves them. Jesus changes the attitude of mankind to God. He reveals God’s heart and presents Him as a loving Father and not the angry God that the Old Testament prophets have portrayed. For this revelation Jesus died – to illustrate God’s love.

His work is now done. He comes from the Father and by the Cross He is going back. They are now the beloved of God since they are lovers of Christ.

The disciples surrender to everything Jesus said (16:29-33). They leap into faith of all the hard-to-understand-things. In verses 17-18 they are puzzled. In verse 19 Jesus answers the questions of their hearts without them asking them. This brings them to belief. He shows them the glory of God as well as the questions and doubts in their own hearts. He has full knowledge of God and the human heart.

Jesus is realistic. He knows the dark time ahead around His Cross and death. He knew how they will react and still loved them, even in their failure and fear.He also still trusted them with His message and church to come – how amazing is that!!

Their desertion will not rob them of their victory in life.

In this unique historic moment – forgiveness and trust are integrated and combined. Trust in Jesus and from Jesus after the guilt of failure.

Jesus knew He would be alone on the Cross. He trusted God to take Him through – not man.

Jesus forgives – even ahead of time. He knew His best friends would abandon Him. He knew their weakness and still loved them.

He has sympathy for them and gives them peace. He told them that He knows about their coming failure and that it is fine. They did not fall into despair when they realized their own failure. Jesus displays the miracle of divine pity on mankind.

Jesus knows how your sin would hurt you. Your sin cannot hurt Him. He is above it and He knows His father. He wants us to conquer our sin and never let sin keep us away from Him. The devil will attack with guilt and shame, but His forgiveness is guaranteed.

The gift of Jesus in these last hours is courage and conquest.

The disciples will be witnesses of this fact: The world at its worst will not defeat Jesus.

Do you hear the word of the Lord over your future?

Your failures, life’s tragedies, the worst of the worst will not alter your ultimate outcome in victory. Life at its absolute worst will not defeat you.

You are a child of the most high God!

 

 

 

120. God in action!

[John 11]

What is a miracle? It is an event in the lives of men that can only be explained in supernatural terms. The official definition underlines the mystery aspect of a highly improbable or extraordinary event.

As the dictionary puts it: It is a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

 A miracle is described as surprising and welcome, a positive outcome. It is the opposite of the crisis or circumstances that gave rise to the need for divine intervention. In other words, it is the inexplicable rectification of a catastrophic or heartbreaking situation.

A miracle is God in action. It is our loving Father, almighty creator-God, who intervenes and does the impossible for our benefit. A miracle is welcomed as a relief where relief was not humanly possible.

Miracles are answered prayers.

God is a mystery, operating in the unseen. Where shall we find Him and how will we “see” His action. God is the God of His people. We “see” Him active His community.

William Barclay explained how a certain Rabbi expounded the text in Deuteronomy 13:4:”You shall walk after the Lord your God.” He said that text commands us to imitate the things, which God is depicted as doing in scripture. God clothed the naked (Genesis 3:21); God visited the sick (Genesis 18:1). God comforted the mourners (Genesis 25:11); God buried the dead (Deuteronomy 34:6). In all these things we must imitate the actions of God.

In this section of John 11:17-27 we meet the household of Jesus’ friends in Bethany. Martha is true to character (Luke 10:38-42).  Martha loved action, and Mary sat still. Martha was up to meet Jesus.

When Martha met Jesus her heart spoke through her lips. Martha’s words were half reproach that came out in desperation and half with faith that is now so disappointed:

If you had been here,”she said, “my brother would not have died.”

Through her words she is asking: “Jesus, why are you late. If you had come when we sent the message, Lazarus would live.” Still there is faith in her words: I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

Martha mentioned the general resurrection on the last day. It is very important words from Martha:

One of the strangest things in scripture is the fact that the saints of the Old Testament had practically no belief in any real life after death. In the early days, the Hebrews believed that the soul of every man, good and bad alike, went to Sheol or Hades. Sheol is wrongly translated Hell; for it was not a place of torture, it was the land of the shades. All alike went there and they lived a vague, shadowy, strengthless, joyless ghostly kind of life. (Psalms 6:5;30:9and many others). It is Hezekiah’s pessimistic belief that:

“For Sheol cannot thank You,

Death cannot praise You;
Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.(Isaiah 38:18).

In Psalms 16:9-11and 73:23-24 the Psalmist wants to believe that not even death can separate him from God. This immortal hope we find in Job. While facing all his disasters, Job cried out:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;

And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,   (Job 19:25-26)

In the time of Jesus the Sadducees did not believe in life after death, but the Pharisees and the great majority of the Jews did. Those who died saw God, and they refused to call them the dead but called them the living. Martha reached out in faith to this belief.

Jesus answered:

I am the Resurrection and the Life,” We have faith in Him for life. His life in us makes NO provision for death of any kind.

Not even a lifetime’s thinking will reveal the full meaning of this; but we must try to grasp as much of it as we can.[William Barclay]

Life is so much more than physical. Even if life is so hard, it makes it almost not worth living, Jesus can make him alive again.”

There is life to come. Death is not the end. Death is just a door into the invisible.

Physical death is the sunrise, the dawn of eternity.

It was the custom, especially for the women, to go to the tomb to weep on every possible occasion, for a week after the burial. Mary’s greeting was exactly the same as that of Martha.

We must remember that this would be no gentle shedding of tears. It would be almost hysterical wailing and shrieking, for it was the Jewish point of view that the more unrestrained the weeping, the more honour it paid to the dead.

Jesus was deeply moved in spirit. The word comes from the verbembrimasthai. It is used three other times in the New Testament. It means rather to rebuke, to give a stern order to.

Why the anger? It is suggested that the display of tears by the Jewish visitors to Bethany was sheer hypocrisy – artificial grief raised Jesus’ wrath. In ordinary classical Greek the usual usage of embrimasthaiis a horse snorting. Such deep emotion seized Jesus that an involuntary groan was wrung from his heart.

Here is one of the most precious things in the gospel. So deeply did Jesus enter into men’s sorrows that his heart was wrung with anguish.

John had written his whole gospel on the theme that in Jesus we see the mind of God. To the Greek the primary characteristic of God was what he called which means total inability to feel any emotion whatsoever. 

If we can feel sorrow or joy, gladness or grief, it means that someone can have an effect upon us. Now, if a person has an effect upon us, it means that for the moment that person has power over us. No one can have any power over God; and this must mean that God is essentially incapable of feeling any emotion whatsoever.

The Greeks believed in an isolated, passionless and compassionless God. 

What a different picture Jesus gave! God’s heart is wrung with compassion for the anguish of his people. God cares.

The usual Palestinian tomb was a natural cave or a space hewn out of the rock. The bodies were wrapped in linen but the hands and feet were enfolded in bandage-like wrappings and the head was wrapped separately. In front of the opening ran a groove in which a great stone like a cartwheel was rolled across the entrance to seal the grave.

Jesus asked the stone to be moved. Martha thought that Jesus wished to look on the face of his dead friend for the last time. She did not think this a good idea and pointed out that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. It was Jewish belief that the spirit of the departed hovered around his tomb for three days, seeking re-entrance. But after three days the spirit finally left. A decayed face was not easily recognizable.

Then Jesus spoke his word of command which even death was powerless to oppose. 

Lazarus came forth.It is weird to think of the bandaged figure staggering out from the tomb. Jesus told them to loosen the grave-clothes and wrappings and let him go. Most probably everybody around the grave stood stunned and just stared, not believing their eyes and not moving.

When Jesus spoke the power of God flowed through him.

Jesus spoke this miracle into being to honour God, just like Elijah when he prayed: “Answer me, O Lord, that this people may know that you are God”(1 Kings 18:37).

In the other three gospels there are accounts of people being raised from the dead: Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56) and the raising of the widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:11-16). In both cases the raising followed immediately after death. It might be possible to believe that in both these miracles the person raised was in a coma.

Burial had to take place quickly in the hot climate of Palestine. Evidence in graves pointed to the fact that people were sometimes buried alive. It could well be that these were miracles of diagnosis in which Jesus saved two young people from a dreadful death.

But there is no parallel for the raising of a man who had been dead for four days and whose body had begun to putrefy.

The Sanhedrin was called to deal with the situation. The miracle of Lazarus forced their hand.

In the Sanhedrin there were bothPharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees were not a political party. They lived the law. The Sadducees were political. They were wealthy and aristocratic. To retain their wealth, comfort and position of authority, they collaborated with Rome. All the priests were Sadducees. They did all the talking.

They were notoriously discourteous. Their contemptuous arrogance is a stark contrast to the accents of love of Jesus. 

They were set on the retention of their political and social power and prestige. Jesus might gain a following and raise a rebellion against the government. Rome could never afford civil disorder and always quelled it with a firm and merciless hand. The Sadducees would be dismissed. It never even occurred to them to ask whether Jesus was right or wrong.

A man can set his own career before the will of God. 

History shows an example of dramatic irony. The Sadducees insisted that Jesus must be eliminated to prevent the Romans to take their authority away. In 70AD that is exactly what happened. The Romans besieged Jerusalem and left it a heap of ruins. How different things might have been if the Jews had accepted Jesus!

Caiaphas, the High Priest, made his very ironic, very true statement: Better that one man should perish than that the whole nation should perish.

The High Priest’s role was to ask God’s counsel for the nation. Moses told Joshua when he wished for God’s counsel he was to go to Eleazar the High Priest. (Numbers 27:18-21)

God can speak through the most unlikely people.Sometimes He sends his message through a man without the man being aware. He can use even the words of bad men.

Jesus was to die for the Jewish nation and the world.

By this time Jerusalem was beginning to fill up with people for the Passover. The Jews had to be ceremonially clean for the Feast. Any person would become unclean by touching a corpse. Purifications were carried out in the Temple.

One can just imagine the talk. The people knew what was going on. People are always interested in the man who bravely and stubbornly faces fearful odds. This was Jesus against the authorities.

The conclusion of the gossip was that Jesus could not possibly come to Jerusalem. He could not take on the whole might of Jewish leaders and political authorities.

But they had underrated Jesus. Nothing on earth would stop Him coming. Jesus came to Jerusalem openly. He drew attention upon himself with death-defying courage.

 

115. Born blind – yes, me too!

It’s true. Really. If you cannot see, you are blind. So what can you see? Yes, I know the song.

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I also see those things, hearing the “instantly recognizable gravelly voice” of Louis Armstrong who wrote these words… but the words go on.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

Do you see that? Do you see the blessing and the sacred? That is the true test.

To truly see you have to see the invisible.

How is that possible? There is only one way. Another song points it out.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

look full in His wonderful face

and the things of the earth will go strangely dim

in the light of His glory and grace

That is perspective; the right perspective for this life – dim earthly things and shining glory and grace.

In John 9 it is stated that this man was afflicted with blindness since birth. Affliction since birth is mentioned twice in Acts: the lame man at the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2) and the cripple in Lystra (Acts14:8). The blind man here in John was well known. The disciples knew him.

Not everybody with illness could sit in prominent places to beg. The city authorities issued a special garment to “official” beggars only after the validity and true nature of their affliction have been established.

The Jews connected suffering and sin. His blindness could be due to parents’ sin or his own. Many reformed doctrines today still teach that a baby is born into sin. It is cited as one of the reasons for infant baptism. I could never understand how involuntary sin could bring sickness over some and not others. If this is true, all babies should be sick with something or another, otherwise – how is it explained?

The Jews had a strange concept of prenatal sin. They interpreted the words of Genesis 4:7 that talk about “sin crouching at the door” as the door of the womb. They also believed in the pre-existence of the soul. It was a Greek philosophical superstition that all souls were in existence at creation and waited in a heavenly chamber to be born, therefore contaminated by sin as soon as they entered the womb and come into a sinful universe.

Alternatively, his parents’ sin could bring affliction about. God Himself said He would visit the iniquity of the fathers onto their children (Exodus 20:5,34:7, Numbers 14:18). The Psalmist curses with that notion (109:14). It is also mentioned in Isaiah 65:6-7. In Isaiah 65:23 the generational blessing of the Lord is emphasized.

What about today? What do you think? There is DNA testing that presents you with the details of hereditary illness at the core of your physical compilation.

Jesus does not explain the correctness or not of the argument. The illness, whatever the source, is an opportunity for God’s glory. The history of affliction is not important.

The future of affliction is being dealt with decisively.

Miracles are always the sign of God’s glory and power. Other Gospel writers showed Jesus’ compassion in His healing ministry. In all the Gospels combined, Jesus’ power is illustrated by His pity on mankind.

Afflictions, sorrow, pain, disappointment and loss are always opportunities for displaying God’s grace. It shows God in action.

When trouble and disaster fall upon a man who does not know God, that man may well collapse, but when they fall on a man who walks with God, they bring out the strength and the beauty, the endurance and the nobility, which are within a man’s heart when God is there.

By helping those who are in trouble or in pain, we demonstrate to others the glory of God.

 God’s highway runs straight through us. Frank Laubach.

This is one of two miracles in which Jesus uses spittle to cure. [Also the deaf stammerer in Mark 7:33] Spittle as an ointment was quite common in the ancient world. The spittle of some distinguished person was believed to have curative qualities.

Jesus was wise and gained the confidence of his “patient”. To this day there is so much confidence in drugs to heal. Prescribed medication is one of the most important methods of healing.

The Pool of Siloam was a landmark in ancient Jerusalem and an engineering feat of the time. The water supply in Jerusalem was always a problem. The water came from the Spring of Gihon in the Kidron Valley. A staircase of 33 steps led down to it for people to draw water. The spring was completely exposed. In the event of a siege it was easy to cut off the water supply for the entire city.

When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib was about to invade Palestine he determined to cut a tunnel or conduit through the solid rock from the spring into the city (2 Chronicles 32:2-8; 2 Chronicles 32:30; Isaiah 22:9-11; 2 Kings 20:20). If the engineers had cut straight it would have been a distance of 366 yards; but because they cut in a zigzag, either because they were following a fissure in the rock, or to avoid sacred sites, the conduit is actually 583 yards. The tunnel is at places only about two feet wide, but its average height is about six feet. The engineers began their cutting from both ends and met in the middle – a truly amazing feat for the equipment of the time.

The Pool of Siloam was the place where the conduit from the Virgin’s Fountain issued into the city. It was an open-air basin called Siloam, which, meant sent, because the water in it had been sent through the conduit into the city.

Jesus sent this man to wash in this pool. The man washed and was healed. He obeyed the command of Jesus. His healing could have taken place right there and then in front of Jesus and all the onlookers. He was sent away from his familiar places where he was able to cope with his blindness. He had to step out of his comfort zone and find his way – still blind – to the pool in order to obey the command of Jesus.

In this act, he was given privacy to experience sight all by himself and face the world on his own terms and in the time of his choosing. He accepted Jesus’ way of doing things. He did not question the method.

Jesus’ words must have carried heavenly authority. He did not promise healing. He commanded the man to wash in the Pool of Siloam. Why would the blind man obey this man? He could have looked like a fool if he went to the Pool and nothing happened.

His obedience defeated doubt.

 The words of Jesus; the voice of God commanding action was enough to change his whole life!

Jesus gave instructions for the next step without informing the blind man of the consequence of the washing.

What do you do when your miracle does not come the way you expect or desire? Do you still blindly obey? Are you willing to take the next step in full obedience without knowing the outcome?

We often hear the term – blind obedience. We do not often talk about obedience. Obedience has lost its power when evil-inspired institutions and persons of authority abused their subjects to obey. Church leaders and parents who overstep and hurt in their respective roles of authority over people and children have drained the life-changing muscle of obedience.

The Greek word for obedience is hupakouo, which means to listen attentively, to obey as a subject, to listen and respond and submit without reservation.

To listen and respond – action for your miracle.

Are you willing to take the long route? Can you acknowledge and submit to Jesus’ word whatever it takes WITHOUT knowing the outcome?

Phew! Tall order indeed.

 

Answer me speedily, O Lord;
My spirit fails!
Do not hide Your face from me,
Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.

(Psalms 143:7,8)

 

 

 

73. One day to another – no greater contrast ever.

I grew up with Good Friday. I cannot remember all of them well, but I know they were there. For a period of at least twenty five years, Easter weekend was engulfed in a church tradition called camp meeting time – a period of ten days every year when going to church and socializing with people from church were the main activities. We drove a few kilometers outside Johannesburg, South Africa to a huge piece of land where people from all over the country came to pitch a tent or park a caravan. There were also huts and wooden structures erected specially for this time of year.

Later during high school years and university, I studied through many Easter weekends, but even then I would not miss the “big” services – Good Friday morning and the celebration of the resurrection on the Sunday after. Camp meeting services were conducted in a rough and cold brick building with a corrugated iron roof. This structure could seat quite a few thousand people with a platform for an extensive band and the church leadership. The singing was heavenly and after camp meeting time, everybody went home with new songs on their lips, but more important, in their hearts.

Many testimonies of miracles were associated with this building. For most of the services the people were invited to write their prayer requests on pieces of paper. These little papers were then assembled in front and prayed over with the church leaders stretching out their hands over them. My mother once “saw” in the Spirit how one of the corrugated iron sections of the roof “opened” and the prayer requests were “flying” out as if a gushing wind were gathering them up to heaven. She knew they were all safely in the Hands of our loving heavenly Father.

My two elder boys still experienced camp meeting time. No one ever missed the last Sunday night “goodbye” service. April was usually rainy and cooler. We carried two heavy quilts into the service for them to sleep if the three hours got a bit long for them. Yes… three hours! We would sing for at least an hour, worshipping until the heavens opened in every heart and the intercessory prayer could start for a long line of needs.

My brother had a wooden structure put up, where we could meet after services and on camping chairs and picnic tables eat the most wonderful moveable feasts, carried in baskets and cooler bags from home kitchens. My boys called it: the Ark. On the last Sunday evening, we would choose one of the many church stalls baking “crepes”, which we called pancakes, but were more like the French crepes; the size of a dinner plate and wafer thin with cinnamon sugar and rolled. That would be the farewell-food, enjoyed while people came to say goodbye and sit a while for a testimony or two.

I will never forget the talk. People talked about God, all the time – freely, passionately and wholeheartedly. All ages, especially the veterans were walking worshipping testimonials to the goodness and provision of God.

Then there were the kids, joyfully bundled together in their own hall; the radiant Corner of Sunshine as it was called. A cousin of my dad was the leader and preacher and between him and his family they did the singing and the teaching. His messages were illustrated and fun; always making sure the children under 12 were learning about their good heavenly Dad, looking out for them faithfully. The farewell song of the Sunshine kids on the last Sunday night of the camp meeting, I sing to this day – the last verse of Psalm 23:

Surely goodness and mercy

Shall follow me

All the days, all the days of my life

And I shall dwell in the house of my Lord forever

And I shall sit at the table prepared for me

Surely goodness and mercy…

This past weekend was Easter and I am a million miles away in time and space from those years. Why do I remember?

I know why.

Many years later in adult life, I once attended a United Church Easter service in a town on the south coast of South Africa, called Hermanus. The reverent there was a well-known radio preacher, Martin Holt. I have always had a deep appreciation for Latin, which I learnt at school as well as university, partly since studying Law required knowledge of Latin. His sermon’s title was Vivit – the Latin for He Lives! He was so thrilled to bring this news to his congregation that his anointing rubbed off in this word that burnt itself into my mind.

I know why I remember that Easters of my past. No Easter, no church, no testimony, no prayer would be possible without the shout of the women that first Easter morning: Vivit – He lives!

This one fact changes everything. It is the contrast from a Saturday of darkness in death to the Sunday of light in life.

This week, is the week after the celebration of that day when Jesus said to Mary in the garden:

But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” (Mark 16:7)

Where are you these days after Easter? Are you caught in death and the darkness of the Saturday, just like Peter, feeling the failure of personal defeat and crushed dreams?

Jesus says to you, just as specially as he mentioned Peter, to go to the meeting place where you met Him the first time – your Galilee. He knew how utterly broken Peter was, after his betrayal and after the cruel crucifixion killing. He knew what effect His appearance will have on Peter.

He knows what you need, right now. He is waiting for you… He knows that your life will be changed when you see Him.

Go and shout it out – Vivit! – He lives … because He has risen from the dead.

72. Words of blood for my future.

Oh, the uncertainty, the dread, the misty outlook, the hesitant gaze upon a path covered in the fog of the time span called the future. To us it is not revealed; to God it is known. Like death, the future is a mystery belonging to God.

 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

Here we are encouraged to do the words of the law. God’s word is revealed to us and is our refuge regarding the future. He is perfect in His planning. He will never hold back what we need. Our guarantee for provision and protection in the future is the promises of God in the Word of God.

Just like Noah. God invited Noah into the Ark. (Genesis 7) He was called righteous, just like us. We are the righteous of God in Christ. It is not our own goodness, sinlessness or effort towards worthiness that make us righteous. It is the Cross of Jesus and His blood cleansing us from our sin that make us righteous. Any thought of unworthiness to approach God, is a thought planted from the pit of hell. I cannot say it enough and will continue proclaiming it as a core value of salvation.

 God was on the inside. In His Presence there is everything you need – safety, provision, care and protection for as long as you need it until you are safely directed to your next step in life. You have to make the decision to step inside. The ark speaks of a radical life change. The decision to step inside is a complete break with ordinary living and doing. It is kingdom living, in the presence of our loving Dad, settling down in His plan for our lives.

I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity;  (Jeremiah 29:14)

God is present and present. We distinguish between manifest presence and omni-presence. Omni-presence is a fact. It is what the Bible tells us. Our Creator-God is everywhere.

Manifest presence is what we experience when we seek His face in prayer and recognize the change deep within us and in the atmosphere around us.

When I came to Canada the realtor told me the walls of the house were all wood. To me it looked like the walls I know – brick and mortar walls. They are plastered and painted. The wood is concealed behind the facade of paint.

I immediately walked to a wall and knocked. I heard something. My knocking experience was very different from anything I know of knocking on walls. I HEARD the wood. Nobody needed to tell me it is wood.

I was very close to the wall, so close that I could reach out and touch the wall. That is how I knew.

Do you hear the song of the Universe? Just listen to the song of creation, when you walk in nature?

My youngest son loved the old Imperials song by the Gaither Vocal Band. Some of the lyrics go like this:

I listen to the trumpet of Jesus, while the others hear a different sound,

I listen to the drumbeat of God Almighty, while the others just wonder around,

I hear the voice of a supernatural singer that only those who know Him can.

Practice your hearing skills, listen to your inner convictions and submit your mind and thinking to the Holy Spirit in prayer. Read your Bible prayerfully to experience the promise that leaps from the page.

 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7)

When I pray, when I seek His face – I experience His manifest Presence. I do not need somebody to tell me He is present. I am clearly and keenly aware of Him and my mind and senses respond to the obvious fullness of the atmosphere. In that atmosphere spontaneous tears flow and the Hoy Spirit ministers amazing restoration and exhortation.

The dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, will show you life and how to make a living. He will bring you the branch of provision.

 Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth. (Genesis 8:11)

In the conversation with Him – prayer – you submit your next step to His guidance and plan. He has a plan for you, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) In His presence His provision is clear.

MOMENT of prayer: Lord, I submit my future to you. I confess all my dread and alarm about the future. I know you are Jehovah Jirah – my provider. Your Word promises that You will never fail me. I now raise my expectation towards to the Holy Spirit and expect a future, exceedingly and abundantly above and beyond I can ever think of or ask in my wildest dreams. (Ephesians 3)

PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: The content of my future is the promises of God – not world politics, my own circumstances, horoscope predictions or fear.

The way we conceive the future sculpts the present. It gives contour and tone to nearly every action and thought through the day. If our sense of future is weak we live listlessly.

Hope is a response to the future, which has its foundations in the promises of God. It looks at the future as time for the completion of God’s promise. It refuses to extrapolate either desire or anxiety into the future, but instead believes that God’s promise gives the proper content to it.

But hope is not a doctrine about the future: it is a grace cultivated in the present; it is a stance in the present, which deals with the future. As such it is misunderstood if it is valued only for the comfort it brings; as if it should say, everything is going to be all right in the future because God is in control of it, therefore relax and be comforted.

Hope operates differently. Christian hope alerts us to the possibilities of the future as a field of action, and as a consequence fills the present with energy.

 Eugene Peterson: Living the Message.