80. Through the door.

In searching you find a door. This is quite a mystery. In all your prayer, all your beseeching God for your fears and worries – is there still a place where you have not been?

Of course there is!

There is a more excellent life awaiting.

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.  This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.  So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.( Acts 18:24-26)

Are you ready for more? Are you willing to go where Jesus leads?

Jesus adds a third command in Matthew 7.

Knock and it shall be opened unto you.

Have you ever had the experience of knocking at a door that is almost immediately opened? Just as if your arrival has been precisely anticipated?

God initiates also this part of prayer. He says to the church in Laodicea:

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)

Dine with me? In Judah breakfast was mostly on the run; getting out there to work. Lunch was packed and eaten in haste. But dinner was the evening meal, the time to get to the roof of the house and sit down in the coolness of the evening to dine with the family and talk. The word used here is the word for the lingering evening meal. He wants to sit down and talk.

So if you knock, he has already knocked. The door swings open. When the door of your heart opens, you can sit down at the table set before your enemies, that table that is spread in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), for a long and peaceful chat with your Father.

Then you will come to know what His promise to Jesus was and is.

The Promise of the Father:

 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but wait in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

 Jesus said:

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23,24)

 The Father is seeking people whose worship is spiritually alive and true-hearted”. He is seeking worshippers, so we can be assured that if we will worship Him, He will show up!

 Worship invites and gives place for the glory of the Lord to be realized and to bless at a given place. It is an act of God’s sovereign choice and grace, but it is not arbitrary, random, or accidental. It is a decisive action He promises in response to genuine human hunger for Him.   Jack Hayford

To worship in spirit and truth does not imply more effort on our side.

It leads us into the heart of God. God is spirit, therefore He communicates to our spirit, the reborn new man. Jesus Himself said: I am the Truth, the Life and the Way.

In prayer we live in the power and enabling of the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. Since the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit, the official birth date of the church, we live in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit who is:

The comforter and reminder of Jesus Himself.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:12-20)

 The Holy Spirit initiates prayer, long before you start praying it. When you make the decision to accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit had already done the work to prepare you for His indwelling of your spirit-man. Jesus breathed on His disciples to receive the Holy Spirit.

And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22.

Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being born again into the Kingdom of God, the invisible kingdom on earth that Jesus and John the Baptist talked about. Then He says:

Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. (John 3: 5,6: The Message)

So, if we make the decision to accept Jesus into our life, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit initiates and enables the new man, the new creation in Christ. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

And yet Jesus’ last words were:

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you… Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit is the key to receiving the gifts that enables the church for all the work to be done.

 

Come walk the power-walk of the church of Jesus.

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5. A special place for you

The words of God Himself – here is a place for you.

In our pebble-gathering walk together, I will often quote the wonderful words of God to Moses when Moses had to plead for Israel after the disaster of the golden calf at the foot of the mountain, thousands of years ago. It is a powerful and true anchor for all of us this very day. [Exodus 33:21]

Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.

To fully appreciate the impact of this statement, let us look at the background. The nation of slaves, miraculously led out of bondage in Egypt, is nearing the end of their desert journey, in which they were kept and fed by God Himself through many miracles and the leadership of Moses. Moses and Joshua disappear on Mount Sinai for 40 days and Aaron, the ordained and anointed high priest is in charge. A misty cloud hangs over the mountain and they grow very uncertain about Moses’ disappearance, unsure if he will ever come back. He is an old man, after all, well into his eighties.

In an impulsive and superficial act of worship they build a golden calf, completely against all the instruction they have received for the last fourty years. The calf is reminiscent of the idols of Egypt, who worshipped images of cattle. They form the calf from their most precious possessions, gold they brought from Egypt. Aaron receives their gold and moulds a calf from it. [Exodus 32:3,4]

Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”  So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.

The word for Lord that is used is YAHWEH, their most holy word for God. One can almost think they were sincere in their worship to God. But deception is a terrible thing and will blind you into thinking that you please God with your precious things. In actual fact they reduced the Almighty, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Creator of all things to a small baby beast in the image of the abominable gods of a pagan nation. How could they do it? They did it because they wanted to worship something that fits more comfortably into their own fleshly thinking. The mystery of an uncontainable Godhead was just too big and the fear of something to big to comprehend was overwhelming.

It is easy for us to look back and judge, but the sin of the golden calf is dangerous indeed. How often do we serve God according to our own comfort?

True worship is a life of obedience. Full compliance to the will of God in all respects is not always so simple and compels us out of our comfort zones. The law of love and grace demands counter-intuitive responses to life. Self-denial, forgiveness, humility and unconditional love are not instinctive reactions in all circumstances. We need the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us for godly action, especially when we feel offended and wounded and our inner being demands revenge and anger. How will we cope with the hurt and storms of life?

We will triumph over life only if we find our place on the rock in His presence.

God sends Moses and Joshua to see the corruption of the people. Moses reacts in white-hot anger and breaks the stone tablets with the written law, which he has received from God on the mountain. Aaron realizes something is terribly wrong and tries to apologize his way out of the mess in his account to Moses. It is almost laughable: [Exodus 32: 24]

And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

Suddenly the calf just magically appeared! Moses make the people choose to stand with God and three thousand are killed in a purge. The next day he offers to go back up the mountain and plead for their forgiveness. This is a true leader, a true prophet – acting according to God’s own heart.

God proclaims that He will plague the people for punishment and then send them into the promised land. He never withdraws a promise – no matter what. Romans 11:29: For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

The shocking part of the statement is that He will not go with them. They have trampled on their own glorious testimony of fourty years of miracle upon miracle, protection and provision without fail and betrayed His love and grace over them, blatantly and shamelessly. [Exodus 33:3]

Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.

Then Moses pleaded and said: [Exodus 33:15,16]

“If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

This is still the distinguishing mark of the true worshipper of God. Those who dwell in His presence are separate, different, marked by His truth of a life of obedience and victory. They are not the powerless, name-only Christians who falter when things get rough.

Then Moses boldly asked: Exodus 33: 18:

“Please, show me Your glory.”

God’s response is a rare peep into the mysterious holiness of God and at the same time His desire to reveal Himself to mankind. It is precious in the love and compassion that exude from His words:

Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

It is your place – in the cleft of the rock with a special revelation of the goodness of God. God knew that after the sin, death and destruction, His goodness needed to be clear. That is what we need to see – His glory and goodness, more than anything. We cannot see it on our own. God reveals it.

When the people asked Moses what God looks like he described what he saw. He saw the character of God, revealed in the passing by of the glory in one Hebrew word – hessed the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

It is indeed a special place – a place of hearing and seeing those things that are hidden from most people. God promised if we put ourselves in the position to listen, we would hear. Isaiah 55:3:

Incline your ear, and come to Me.
 Hear, and your soul shall live. 


In the verses that follow in Isaiah 55 it is significant that David is mentioned. Next time we will talk about the tabernacle of David that Jesus restored – according to the account in the Book of Acts.