132. Words of glory and truth.

[John17]

In the very beginning of the study of John we have marveled at the miracle of a word becoming flesh. If I may repeat myself: St Augustine said in everything he ever knew about the world, everything he read and regarded as worth studying, he had never heard of a word becoming a man. [Pebbles 84]

If a word can become flesh, we must think hard and deep about the power of a word. God spoke the world into being. Prophecy, Holy Spirit-inspired words, declares the works and mind of God, today as always in the past. Just think of the mighty words of the prophets and Psalms that stayed with us through so many centuries, still bringing peace and miraculous outcome to our lives.

Worship-words describe the character of God and call the presence of the almighty God into our atmosphere. When we speak God, we build up, encourage, calm down, heal and convey the power of the invisible to transform for good. When we speak the slander, jealousy, greed, guilt and pride of our flesh, we break down in our own lives as well as those of everybody around us.

Words spoken become agreements with the powers of the invisible world. Words of confession will heal our inner being. Words of forgiveness will free our thinking and those who have wronged us. Words of celebration will defeat our jealous hearts and become the prayers of gratitude for the great works of God in us and for us.

How we look determine our words. Our perspective can defeat us, before we even venture out for the day. Jesus talked about our eyes many, many times. Let me quote just one example to illustrate our perspective.

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22,23)

It calls for great reflection on what we speak. Jesus said:

But those things which proceed out of the mouthcome from the heart, and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matthew 15:18-20)

Our vile words become agreements in the invisible world with everything bad and invite the destruction of darkness into our lives. On the other hand, agreements with the Word of God is a force for good and invite the Holy Spirit to work powerfully on our behalf to build up and restore.

In the light of this enlightened understanding about the power of words, hear the words your Jesus prayed for you.

Hear, precious Pebblepal, and live!

These verses are awesome. (John 17:9-19)

If we could ever grasp the full meaning of these words we will have a heavenly life on earth.

We are given to Jesus by God. The Holy Spirit moves in our hearts to come to Jesus. (John 6:37,44)

Through the disciples (including us), glory comes to Jesus. Our redeemed lives give Him glory. We are given a task, a commission. We lead the world back to God.

We are the instruments of God in action.

Does this not put your whole life in another perspective? Place your circumstances into heavenly perspective and “see” how God deals with it according to His plan and for His glorification.

Jesus offers complete joy even while He is warning them about the stark contrast that their lives will be to the world around them. It does not matter how fierce our struggle is, it is full of His joy.

Jesus claims that all that He has is his Father’s and all that his Father has, is His. He declares His oneness with the Father. Jesus is the incarnation of God Himself.

Jesus prays further for His disciples:

There is no escape from the world, but there is victory in every struggle. We do not bury ourselves in monasteries. We live our Christian life in the rough and tumble of life in the storm waters of evil. We do shut the door for prayer and meditation, but just to be strong to face the world.  We are not to withdraw, but to be God in action in the world. We do not get release from problems but get to solve them through Christ.

We do not abandon the world; we win it for Christ.

He prays for unity.

Division implies exclusivity. Unity is a decision. We cannot “feel” one. We are to be made one. We change our hearts to love unconditionally, to forgive and to include. We follow the lead of the Holy Spirit to discern the spirits, which could be demonic deception or discord.

The unity for which Jesus prayed is not administrative or organizational. It is a unity of personal relationship, love and a heart to heart conversation with Him – ongoing and inexhaustible that would impact our relationship with our fellow humans.

Churches as organized religion may differ as much as the variety of the people that God created. People are different and the differences and variety always amaze me. God’s creation – mankind – is always expanding and always more than can be understood in a single take. So is the church. Only love for God and each other can tear down the barriers of hostility between the denominations.

It is after all more human to be divided; more natural to be hostile. Our unity will prove God’s work in our hearts. True unity can only be supernatural and be explained supernaturally.

He prays for protection from attacks of evil.The Word, the Bible as we have it, spells out all the strategies of the devil. Our enemy is not creative and he comes cunningly with the same things over and over. Learn and know how to resist. Rely on the protection of this prayer.

He prays for consecration by truth.

Consecration (Greek=hagiazein) means separate or different:  to be set apart for a specific purpose, an appointment by God.

 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.(Jeremiah 1:5)

(See also Exodus 28:41 where Aaron’s sons are anointed)

It also means: to be equipped with the necessary qualities for the task.

Jesus will not leave us. He gives us everything we need to come into victory.

In John 17:20 – 26 the prayer progresses. He prays for Himself and the cross.

He prays for His disciples and for the distant future, the ages to come and all those who enter the Christian faith. This is US!

Jesus has complete faith and radiant certainty in the future. He conveys His unshaken confidence in His mission and His men. He knew they did not fully understand the full implication of their chosen path, but He knew His father would empower them for the task – and also all who come after them.

Jesus gives us God’s glory. WOW!

The cross was Jesus’ glory. It was His honour to suffer.  It was not punishment for sin. It is a great effort to bring glory into evil. When a surgeon saves by difficult surgery, his glory is so much bigger than a prescription in a consulting room.

Perfect obedience was Jesus’ glory. To do the will of God is our glory. Our will leads to sorrow and disaster. His will leads to victory.

Jesus’ glory was grounded in His special relationship with God the Father. It was clear to all. So should our glory shine from our relationship with God. Glory is a word with a fullness of meaning, difficult to express. It is the substantial or “heavy” honour, splendour, power, wealth, authority, magnificence, dignity, riches and excellency of God – an effort with words to describe the indescribable.

Jesus said that the disciples (us included) shall see His glory in heavenly places.

 …and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6,7)

 We share the Cross of suffering, but also share the glory of victory.

This is a faithful saying:

For if we died with Him,    We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,    We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,    He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,    He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.
(2 Timothy 2:11,12)

Our joy now is just a glimpse of heavenly joy when we see Him face to face.

 Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

This prayer was the words before the betrayal and crucifixion. Precious last words of the greatest of men.

Words of glory and truth – words to live by – words to change us forever.

 

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131. The prayer of prayers.

[John 17]

We have come to the end of the long summaries of Jesus’ conversations with His disciples. In this chapter He prays for them. It is remarkable that John records this prayer in so much detail. It is clear that Jesus’ words made a huge impression on him and it was part of the cherished words of Jesus he so lovingly preserved.

We also know that the Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and He quickened things in John to write about this Man he so loved. We trust God wholly for the Word. Holy Scripture is a revelation of who Jesus is and by Him we know the heart of the Almighty God as well as everything we need to know how to live a life of victory in Jesus here on earth.

[I refer again to the miracle of Scripture so extensively researched in Josh McDowell’s book: Evidence that demands a verdict.]

Back to John 17.

It is the prayer of all times, a prayer reaching over centuries to touch our hearts, encourage us, and inspire us. It is the man Jesus praying for us.

Could you pause for a moment and use your imagination to make this a reality? Think of Jesus praying for you. It is difficult to “make” a picture, but I am a visual person and need a “faith” picture. I think of Jesus as the lovely man I learnt to know in my children’s Bible from long ago. I often imagine Him sitting somewhere in my house. Right now I “see” Him looking up and saying to His father: Dad, I lift Ansophie up before your throne.Just writing it, is overwhelming.

Always KNOW that Jesus wants all men to be saved. He is praying for you!

who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4)

The climax of the life of Jesus was the cross.

History shows that many great men found glory in death. How and when they died showed the people their inner convictions.

There at the cross the centurion cried out in a dramatic moment of conviction. Jesus was a magnet to men in life but also in His very public death.

The Cross was the completion of His work on earth. He showed that there is NO LIMIT to the love of God.

He walked in full obedience and through the Cross obeyed His father.

The Cross was not the end. The resurrection was the full glorification of the Father. Man could do their worst and still Jesus triumphs.

The Cross was the way back into the glory of the Father.

Jesus talks about eternal life.

The Greek is aionios meaning not so much duration but quality. Only God has eternal life and therefore for us it can only mean that God gives us HIS life, God-life, to live like Him.

Knowing God is a goal right through the Old Testament.  Knowledge of God is the highest life possible.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:6)

For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live; (Amos 5:4)

To know God through intellectual knowledge is to know what God is like. It will make all the difference to life. The most primitive people believe in a collection of gods in every tree, river, mountain and rock. All these gods are hostile and brings fear to the people. They must appease and live carefully not to offend. Missionaries tell of the immense relief when they surrender to One God. God is not stern and cruel, but loving and kind. Jesus is the ultimate example of this.

To know means intimate knowledge and is used in a sexual context (Genesis 4:1). Knowledge between the husband and wife is the most intimate. They become one flesh. One flesh implies an intimacy of heart, mind and soul in which true love reigns. To know God is to have an intimate relationship with Him, not mere intellectual knowledge. It is only possible in Jesus through the working of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has shown forth the Father’s name. (17: 6-8)

  1. A name is very important in the Old Testament and Jewish culture in the time of Jesus. The name contains the whole character of the person. Psalms 9:10 states that those who know God’s name will put their trust in Him. By His name they will know what God is like in His character and nature. (Psalms 20:7; 22:22)

My people shall know my Name. (Isaiah 52:6)

Jesus says that whoever saw Him, saw the Father (John 14:9).

  1. Another aspect of the name of God is that is was so sacred it was never used. Only the high priest going into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement, used the name of God – Yahweh. It was a name with no vowels in Hebrew and under it they wrote Adonai, so that the reader could talk about Adonai when he reads and not even say YHWH, which became Jehovah in English.

In the time of Jesus, God was so holy and so far away that ordinary people hardly talked about him. Jesus came and put the name of a sacred God on the lips of every person who could whisper a prayer to Him. He taught them to say our Father; actually it was even closer – calling God dad. It was unheard of. They never called God Father. To most people it was unthinkable, blasphemous and disrespectful.

But for those who accepted the teaching of Jesus, the unutterable became the beloved and powerful Father.

Jesus obeys God. Obedience is a natural consequence of following Jesus. Obedience is to be fully submitted to listening to His voice and following up in action.

The disciples were given to Jesus by God. He did not choose to call only those. He calls all, but only those who heed the call can enter into the special relationship.

Parents have dreams for their children and can do everything possible to enable them to have a wonderful life. In the end the child chooses. He can refuse and walk away. We can choose our destiny. We have free will. It is not forced upon us, but we all have the opportunity to choose God as a father for our lives.

In this prayer Jesus has confidence in the future. Nowhere is He gloomy or uncertain about the future. With the luxury of hindsight the church was off to a rocky start with severe persecution, and Jesus knew it.

Jesus had no doubt that the people He was praying for will carry His message no matter what.

He does not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) He had eleven men around Him after three years of ministry. Jesus knew His father and the fullness of His glory. He had no doubt that His mission was successful.

He puts His trust in men – it is almost unthinkable that a mission as great as the Christian church on earth was put in the hands of these fishermen.

What an encouragement!

Jesus was never daunted by human weakness and the evil of the world.

 

[This is a discussion of verses 1-8.]

128. Let go of the stuff!

[John 15]

Deeper into truth, closer to God, further into love, more of true life is the path of Kingdom kids. So much more of the unimaginable mystery in Christ to live and love His way, is heaven on earth. This is the joy unspeakable and a glorious, superior life of being grafted into the True Vine.

Within the struggle, stress, bother and buzz of making a living and getting ahead in life, we hear the wise words that rinse us like a gushing cool shower on a hot day.

Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
    Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
    in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.(Proverbs 3:3-6, The Message)

The older version is well known:

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

The word for direct in Hebrew is: yeyasher (transliteration), which means to straighten, to smooth, to make right.

This is so contrary to what people around us say in conversations, formal seminars, and meeting agendas, absolutely everywhere. You have to be smart enough to figure things out. You have to make it on your own.

God will direct our paths. His hand will go before us. What a relief! He never asks us to switch of our minds, thinking or any operating or executing skills that we have, to do what we need to do. He will partner and guide in a surrendered life in love and grace. It is the guarantee for success. It is the assuranceof a reputation of living well in the eyes of the people as well as God.

God calls out to us:  for joy – independent of circumstances,                                                                     (Nehemiah 8:10)

                                    for love – laying down His life and our                                                            trademark of love to one another.

To be a slave to God was a title of honour. Moses, Joshua, David and Paul all described themselves by this title.

Jesus comes with a new concept – even greater: you are friends.

Abraham was called a friend of God (Isaiah 41:8). God talked to Moses like a friend. (Exodus 33:11)

In Roman times there was a select group of “friends of the Emperor” who had access to the ruler at all times. He talked to them before he talked to the generals and government. It was the closest and most intimate circle.

Friends are invited into the presence to enjoy conversation. It is very different from being a slave.

A slave could not speak his mind to his master. Jesus calls us to be His partners in His work. Jesus shares His heart, which is the heart of God, with us, to become full partakers in His missionof living the law His love-kingdom on earth. A slave was a living tool.

We are His ambassadors. Just think of the tremendous risk He took. We are His representatives. Our fruit bearing is His advertisement in this world.

We are members of the family of God. Whatever we ask in prayer He is ready to answer. Our prayers are to be rooted in the Word of God.

Prayers of faith (James 5:15) are not merely routine rhymes with empty words. Our words are the root of our belief in God. (Hebrews 11:6)

We pray in the name of Jesus.  We cannot pray against Him. It is not a magic phrase. The test of your prayer is to measure your words to His character.

Seek first the Kingdom of God…(Matthew 6:33) and the “other things” will be added unto you. How often our focus is on the “other things” when the character of Jesus taking shape in us through prayer, will give us all we ever needed and more than we ever imagined.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (Ephesians 3:20, The Message)

God is good – always. Our prayer for provision is always in His will. He knows best. It is at times hard to see and explain, but to God belongs the mystery. We carry His mysterious ways in us. It will always remind us that we cannot explain God. He is God. He is a good parent and He will not, like some earthly parents give a sports car to an irresponsible 15-year old, trying to show off without a driving license, for whom it might be fatal.

We live in contrast to the world. We can never be in harmony with the world. Our values and principles for living are in stark contrast. In the first century Christianity was punishable by death. In the words of the English poet Sir William Watson: the panting huddled flock whose crime was Christ.

What about today?

We have been warned. Jesus said we would be beaten and hassled. Today it happens, not only physically in some parts of the world, but also in words and deeds, when society is organized directly against God’s principles.

The Romans hated the Christians because they thought them to be disloyal. The empire was vast. The Romans didn’t know God and the Jews were not sharing. It is very understandable that the emperor should think he himself is god. Caesar-worship was a unifying factor throughout a diverse empire. The spirit of Rome was the goddess Roma, symbolized in the emperor. Rome brought justice, kept the various national rulers intact, dealt with pirates and robbers. It was widespread peace, the Pax Romana, and it made a difference to ordinary men’s lives.

Caesar worship began in Asia Minor. Nobody could stop the movement. The advantages as a unifying principle were clear. Once a year all non-Romans had to burn incense to the Emperor and declare Caesar is god. They got a certificate from the local magistrate or legal officer and could then go and worship anything they choose. This annual ritual was the root of the persecution of the Christians.

The Jews spread slanderous things about the Christians. Nero’s favourite actor and his adulterous empress, Poppaea, were Jews. They whispered in his ear against the new movement around Jesus.

Christians were accused of being:

  • insurrectionaries because of their denial of Caesar-worship
  • cannibals because of the doctrine of communion
  • immorality because of the weekly meal called agape. The people greeted each other with a kiss of peace.
  • incendiaries because they were looking to the second coming of the Lord. They foretold destruction with the help of the elements. Nero blamed them for the destruction of Rome by fire.
  • divided families because Christianity sometimes brought division.

Today we experience a vicious attack against our values and way of life. It is a very different approach. Over many centuries society have felt judgment from organized religion. Now everybody wants to reject and trample the loveless religion that ruled. The secular world suspects the difference and non-conformity of true Christianity and hates the unavoidable judgment that true love has built in. The rejection of love is judgment. It is a natural consequence of the rejection and not intentional of the person that lives a godly life.

We have to live in the courage to be different. We know the truth. We have to live it in love and win the world with love.

Knowledge brings responsibility (John 15:22-25). Jesus brought us God’s heart.  We have no excuse. We know what God is like. Why would we reject Him? Jesus showed us unconditional, divine love and grace.

Jesus exposed sin and provided the remedy for sin. Do we go to the doctor, get the diagnosis and then ignore the prescription?

Again – we are not alone. We do not need to do it on our own. We have the promise of the Father, the HELPER – the Spirit of Truth (John 15:26-27).

What a comfort! It is not our own efforts – it is surrender. It is the Holy Spirit who moves us to respond to Jesus.

Being a witness can only happen when we practice the fellowship and intimacywith Jesus that the Holy Spirit enables us to have. Thus we can say: this is true – I know it.

Spirit words communicate truth subconsciously.

 Our inner conviction is true faith. It comes from the response to Christ so that the miracle in the inner man takes place.

 Our testimony is the words we are speaking in truth. It is a privilege to bring people the good news. The world is waiting…

 

 

125. Legacy of love.

[John 14]

It is almost impossible to express the beauty, power and love of the words of Jesus in Chapters 14-17 of John. There is not enough time in the life of any man to fully grasp and live the legacy Jesus left us in these passages.

We know that this Gospel was not written as a report of the life of Jesus, but as an interpretation of His life, many years after His ministry on earth. John wrote these chapters as a summary of the teaching over a three year period, quickened by the Holy Spirit on the most pressing subjects for profound change and victory over any matter whatsoever that life could throw at you.

Reading it is like visiting the Master over and over again – sitting at the table enjoying a meal together; sitting at His feet, listening to His voice; eating freshly caught fish on the beach at an impromptu BBQ; lying beside the still waters on the green pastures; feasting at the table He laid out; relaxing in the grip of His goodness and mercy chasing our lives.

This is the first of the longer discourses between Jesus and His disciples recorded by John. It is the core principles of His relationship with His Father and with them. It is the amazing and gracious farewell words of a Man about to die. He knew their world was about to collapse.

There is only one thing to do when life happens: trust God above all else. There comes a time when we have to believe what we cannot prove and to accept what we cannot understand.

If, in the darkest hour, we believe that somehow there is a purpose in life and that that purpose is love, even the unbearable becomes bearable and even in the darkness there is a glimmer of light.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness
    in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
    Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
    Stay with God. (Psalms 27:13,14, The Message)

Close your eyes. Your prophetic word for now is:

 Let not your heart be troubled.

Jesus says: Believe in God, believe in Me. Jesus is the proof that God will give us everything.

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

Mansions are dwelling places, monai  in Greek.

Simply and beautifully it means there is room for all. It doesn’t matter how over-crowded earth may be, heaven is vast and will never be exhausted. You will never be shut out.

Jesus is honest – “if not, I would have told you so“. These are reliable words for all circumstances at all times.There are no false pretences. Jesus would say so and all the answers we ever need are in the words He said. He told them to be uncomfortable, when He discusses the cost of discipleship (Luke 9:57-62). He told them of persecution, hatred and punishment (Matthew 10:16-22). He told them about their cross to carry (Matthew 16:24).

He told them to expect glory and pain and challenged them into greatness.

Jesus is going to prepare a place. He opens up the way. He is the forerunner (Hebrews 6:20).

He speaks of His ultimate triumph – He is coming again. History is going somewhere. It has a climax.

Heaven is where Jesus is. It is a mystery but He is there and would welcome us – no fear, no troubled hearts.

Thomas questions. He does not understand the prediction of Jesus going away. The questions of man provoke deep and wonderful answers. Never be afraid to ask God. He is the great teacher. He will open His heart to you. Ask and it shall be given– He promised.

When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.” CS LEWIS

No one who seeks will not find more than he ever expected.

As the answer to Thomas’ question, Jesus makes another (one of seven in John)  I AM – declaration. He is all we need. He explains it in the three claims He makes here:

He is the WAY. He is the fulfillment of all the precepts of old. He walks in the ways of God (Deuteronomy 5:32,33). He does not turn aside from the way of God (Deuteronomy 31:29). God promises His voice to guide and direct: This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:21). There is a Highway of Holiness (Isaiah 35:8).

Our prayer is with the Psalmist: Teach me your way O Lord. (Psalm 27:11)

He is the TRUTH as is echoed in the Psalms:

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.(86:11)

For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
And I have walked in Your truth.(26:3)

I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.(119:30)

A man’s character speaks more importantly than anything else. Moral truth cannot be conveyed in words only. Jesus is the perfect one. He is the embodiment of truth.

Truth is defined as: fidelity to an original or to a standard, sincerity in action, character, and utterance, the body of real things, events, and facts.There is after all only One who ever, in the history of mankind said: I am the truth. [Pebbles 114]

He is the LIFE.Love brought real life. Over centuries they were searching for the real thing. Now they have found it. He is the way to God therefore He brings true life.

For the commandment is a lamp,
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,(Proverbs 6:23)

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.(Psalms 16:11)

John 14:7-11: We see God in Jesus

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

Truly amazing words to say. God is invisible. No man has seen God. The difference and the distance between man and God are just too vast. Here Jesus says simply that in Him they can see the Father. He is God on earth, God amongst the people, God in our homes, God amongst the sick and hurting; God in our feasts and successes.

God came down to be a man to fully identify with every possible struggle we might have. He knows the everyday.

IMAGINE: Jesus as a man in your everyday.

He knows our strife and fight with evil. God knows our pain. Love brings pain and He bears the scars of His love.

God on the Cross. There is nothing like it in all the world. No other religion has a god of love and sacrifice. It is easy to imagine a God of judgment and punishment. No one could ever dream of a God upon a cross to give His own life for love.

Jesus is tested by His words and His deeds.He said to John’s disciples to tell of His deeds (Matthew 11:1-6) He makes bad men good. Redemption is still the greatest miracle.

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than thesehe will do, because I go to My Father. 

Greater works are almost unthinkable. Jesus was a miracle worker. He performed miracles in everyday life. Today we know God is the source of all healing – even that of medical science. Everything becomes better and better with the calling of science and technology to make life better. Every discovery and every building block in the improvement of life are under His control for our benefit.In all that we find the devil in everything trying to spoil and manipulate and we resist on every front.

We are part of the “making better” army of everybody who strives to enhance life and improve earth.

We are to win the world for Christ by our everyday lives, through the miracles we live, expect and testify to. The Christians went out into the Roman Empire and beyond, not Jesus Himself.

Prayer in His name

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Every prayer will be answered. The qualification is to pray in His name. We should pray in full accordance with the Name of Jesus – that is in agreement with all that He is. His name is His life and character.

In Jesus name is not a magic wand.

It is the life source of greater works.

 

107. Full and fed – what now?

What would happen if all our prayers were answered in one go, suddenly, just like that? We would be overwhelmed with gratitude with the One who made it possible and spontaneously worship Him. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a natural response to greatness and miraculous deeds, just like the crowds in John 6:14-15.

They wanted to crown Him king. He gave them what they needed. They could see the spectacular course of their lives, ending well with no worry or fear. If they could just keep this Jesus on hand to provide, to create, to heal and to bless, their lives could be lived in the most luxurious manner possible – a life without fear, a life of provision and protection, an abundant life, a life of excellence. How were they going to keep Him close?

Do you also think this would be a good life? Jesus with us always, answering prayer, providing, protecting, healing and being present in every detail of every struggle. Does this not sound familiar? Is it not the foundation of the ordinary Christian life?

Then you will agree with my statement.

All our prayers are answered, once and for all, for all time. The promise of provision, protection, healing, and blessing stands written in the blood of Calvary over every life that has chosen to submit to God, through His beloved Son. We have it all!

Just a few, by far not all, remarks to support my statement (all discussed in previous Pebbles).

All our prayers are answered – Revelation 5:8, Matthew 7:7,8.

A life of excellence guaranteed – Jude 24.

We are protected – Psalm 91 and 121.

Provision for all things – Hebrew 13:5-7 Amplified, Malachi 3:10-12.

We are healed – Isaiah 53:4,5, Psalm 103:3.

 

Now you will immediately ask why so many Christians do not live this outwardly superior life of distinction.

Let us dig deeper into John 6.

Jesus withdraws from the euphoria of the crowd. He will never mislead them to promise superficial, instant answers. He promised a LIFE of abundance. It implies a deep change in thinking, attitude and vision. He will always communicate the cost of following Him.

The nature of a mob in a situation like this can be summed up as: “a lively sense of favours still to come.”

Would they be willing to sacrifice, to get rid of their worldly baggage, to forgive and love unconditionally? Are you willing to live the full extent of the Christian life – or do you just want Jesus added to enable your idea of a good life? Do you want God for what you can get out of Him – to use Him for your own purposes, to reach your own goals?

Your Messiah may be so unrecognizable in your life as Jesus was to the Jews of the time. Do you only want to get rid of the Romans as rulers so that you can rule, or do you think of your generational legacy? Godly lives change our world through our children as well as our community, our territory, our “tent”.

THINK – where are you now? What brought you to this place? Make the declaration: This is my best life now!

WHY? You have never known so much about the Lord as right now. That is ALL that matters. Submit all circumstances to your knowledge of Jesus and His character.

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. (1 John 4:18)

Where will you be with the gifts and no cross? What are the gifts without the cross?

Reading further (6:16-21) we have to see that this account is not just the story of a miracle. It is a peep into the character of Jesus.

The crowd wants to crown Jesus; He slips away and stays away to disperse the crowds. The disciples set sail for Capernaum to meet up with Him again. He sent them on (Mark 6:45).

The Sea of Galilee is a landlocked lake and the wind moves though a trough towards the lake. It was about six kilometers rowing and they were probably hugging the coast for shelter.

The beauty of the story is that Jesus was busy with the people and still He had not forgotten His disciples. He was very much aware of the storm. Life is lived with the loving eye of Jesus on us. He is there when our strength fails.

He always helps – we are never left alone to see how we cope.

He is in the midst of the fiercest storm – ready with a miracle.

Let us read on. (6:22-27)

The people lingered. They were in awe of the miracle and wanted more. They were surprised at His presence on the other side of the lake and could not work out how He crossed.

He does not explain Himself. To understand God and exactly how He does things, is not the key to faith and miracles. He acts without explaining. Dr Paul Tournier puts it this way: God works, God disciplines without stopping to explain…and the adventure continues.

He talks about their lives and the way they need to discern the more important things.

Do not think with your stomach?  You need to think with your soul. Think upon the Bread of Life.

It is the man with vision into the heavenly that is truly alive. Earthly perspective brings shortsighted living. (Isaiah 55:2)

The excesses of the Roman Empire were rife at this time. Meals cost thousands and sometimes millions of denarii. The people feasted for days, taking medicine to vomit to be able to eat more, eating pearls soaked in vinegar, nightingale tongues, and peacock brains. The clothes were embroidered with gemstones and spaces decorated with the best the Empire could offer. There was a deep hunger in society for satisfaction, which the best of the best could never satisfy.

Jesus alone can only satisfy the hunger for truth. He is the only One in the history of mankind who said: I am the TRUTH.

Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27)

A seal was more than a signature. It was authenticity. It made a document valid and guaranteed the contents of commercial goods.

The seal of God is written with three letters in Hebrew – aleph the first, min, the middle and tau the last. The truth of God is the beginning, middle and end of life.

God’s truth can truly satisfy the hunger of the soul, which he created.

For the Jews the work of God was synonymous with “good” works, to earn God’s favour. (6:28-29)  Jesus says: God’s work is to believe in Him, Jesus. Work for God can only be measured in faith. Jesus is the face of God. True fellowship is the work of God.

Our lives change in the Presence of the Father. No work on our part can change our inner beings. We respond to God’s holiness, love and wisdom.

The essence of God’s work is changed lives.

Can we close by coming back to answered prayer? All our prayers are answered. Can you trust God for the timing? As we count days in calendar time [chronos], He sees your life in the fullness of time [kairos].

 

The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd
I always have more than enough.

 (Psalm 23 in The Passion Translation)

100. Free to pray.

Do you zone out as soon as somebody talks about worship? It is just too much. Does God really need hero worship, to hear everyday of my life how great He is? If He is God, why do I have to tell Him and please Him by saying certain words?

Let us consider this woman and her spontaneous mention of worship in the presence of Jesus. Her life is laid bare in the presence of a stranger, a Jew, somebody to be afraid of and yet she recognizes the divine presence of God and she talks about worship.

The Samaritans were so far removed from true worship. They were desperate to be part of something authentic. They knew deep down they weren’t doing well and they did not know how to feed the longing for the real.

Let us look at verses 22-42 of John chapter 4.

The Samaritans rejected the Psalms and the prophets. They accepted only the first five books, which Moses has written. They were accused of superstition, and it was probably true. Over centuries they were so influenced by pagan gods that they added Jehovah to the list of other gods for fear of leaving Him out.

Fear and ignorance is the opposite of love and knowledge.

False worship is to selectively choose what to believe and to omit the rest. A one-sided religion justifies anything from scripture.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)

True worship is hope with reason behind it.

They were so superstitious that they worshipped out of fear. Their religion was not based on the desire to serve or to love. For them it was better to play it safe. Worship was based on fear not love.

Jesus says: True worship is spiritual because God is spirit. Things are not important, the heart is.

One of the commentaries says it this way: (my emphasis)

It is the spirit of a man, which is the source of his highest dreams and thoughts and ideals and desires. The true worship is when man, through his spirit, attains to friendship and intimacy with God. Genuine worship does not consist in coming to a certain place nor in going through a certain ritual or liturgy nor even in bringing certain gifts. True worship is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of man, speaks to and meets with God, himself immortal and invisible.

The woman becomes aware of the wonder of the words spoken to her. She recognizes that it could only come from someone as special as the Messiah, a deep longing and expectation also among the Samaritans. This opens the way for Jesus to reveal Himself to her. Jesus is her dream coming true.

The disciples were probably in state of bewilderment seeing Jesus talking to a woman. The Rabbis despised women and held them incapable of real teaching, saying: Better that the words of the law should be burned than deliver to women. By Rabbinic standards Jesus could hardly have done a more shatteringly unconventional thing than to talk to this woman.

The disciples did not talk to the woman. They did not ask what she wanted or asked Jesus why He was talking to her. They were perhaps getting used to His surprising ways. This is a wonderful step towards true discipleship – not to question why and to bury old prejudices and conventions.

The woman hastened back to the village. She was changed. She left her water jar. It means she planned on coming back.

She faced her own sinful nature (Luke 5:8). In the presence of Jesus we are at once confronted and liberated. She was overawed by Jesus’ ability to see inside her life and liberated by getting rid of her secrets. Bondage is often secret.

Jesus reveals not only sin, but also potential. When bondage flees, our real life can start. He chooses a woman to reveal himself as the Messiah to Samaria.

She wanted to share her discovery. Her shame was dealt with in the presence of Jesus. She could face the world again.

With His disciples he again follows the pattern of conversation, contrasting the physical and spiritual. Jesus’ tiredness disappeared when He sensed the need in the woman.

Real food is to do the will of God. Jesus did it perfectly. He liked what God liked.

He was sent by God. He was under orders. That was His food and it fully satisfied Him. John 5:38 He talks about the works of His father; John 17:4 He says He has finished the work of His father; John 6:38 He states that He was doing the will of Him who sent me; John 10:18 He says He lives the commandment He received from His Father; John 14:23 He finds satisfaction only in doing the commandments of the One he loves.

For us doing the will of God is the only way to peace, happiness and powerful, victorious lives.

True worship is to hear the Word in the presence of our Lord and pray into His words.

 Holy Spirit prayer is to listen and then pray.

  Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Worship in Spirit and Truth comes by true revelation – up close and personal. We need to chat to Jesus by the well of living water. It is individual, unique and specific. Just like the Samaritans, we need to get personal and “see” Him in our prayer.

There was no doubt when they saw Him. All ritual and uncertainty were dealt with in His presence.

Everything is hearsay until:

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
(Job 42:5)

 

Sit where you are, close your eyes and use your Spirit-controlled imagination to see Jesus sitting with you. Take His hand, rest you head on His lap. Hold on to your picture, while taking your thoughts captive and bring your life to Him. Tell Him you surrender again.

Sitting quietly in His presence, take note of the thoughts presenting themselves in your mind. Bring them all to Him. Pray about it. If it is something disturbing or sinful, pray into that and confess.

Ask Him to take the burden of sin and “see” in the Spirit how your sin and worries disappear into His body on the cross. Seal your prayer with His blood. Our trademark is the empty cross, but in this prayer you “see” Jesus on the cross bearing your fears and sin. Do not let Him die in vain. Do not take it back on you.

Write your prayer and the things you prayed about. Worship and thank Him for release and liberty. Your worship will come out of your deep sense of His presence.

 

You will show me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:1)

 

 

 

 

83. A word gets a body.

[John 1]

We are so familiar with the beautiful words of Scripture – a familiarity that needs to be revived from time to time to infuse new life and understanding into old concepts. We know the phrase: the Word became flesh, so well, that we do not give it another thought. Maybe we could use our imagination in an extreme exercise of visualizing our words in human form.

How would those angry words in the car, hurled towards other motorists look? Do they look like big, burly bouncers set to seriously spread harm. The words of gossip behind the back of a friend, might look like a dark, cloaked figure with a bloody dagger in hand, ready to strike again and again as the words are released into the invisible realm around us. It sounds overly dramatic; still I think it is not gruesome enough. Our words inflict serious injury, even death. (Proverbs 18:21)

How would our words of encouragement and love look? Can you imagine words that look like a strong arm helping somebody up who has fallen? Our words of love are like a big hug giving shelter and acceptance where life strikes out cruelly. Our words of prayer mobilize the heavenly armies to assist in difficulty and redeem lives.

Then there was this Man – logos – the Word.

The first chapter of the Fourth Gospel is one of the greatest adventures of religious thought ever achieved by the mind of man.   

[William Barclay, Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow]

By the time John writes his Gospel, he lives in Ephesus. It is the time after the Jewish war of 66-70 AD. Jerusalem is destroyed and the church dispersed and underground.

The church has grown from the roots of Judaism to something much bigger. By 60 AD the estimates were a 100 000 Greeks for every one Jew that was a Christian. The Gospel found its way out of Jewish thought and knowledge to a much wider application. Jewish ideas were completely strange to the Greeks. They had, for instance, no Messianic expectation. How should Jesus be presented to the Greek world?

In both cultures the concept of the word was central to their understanding of wisdom.

For the Jews a word is far more than mere sound. It was something which has an independent existence and which actually did things – a unit of energy charged with power. Hebrew was sparing with words and in ancient times consisted of fewer than 10 000 words. Greek was using more than 200 000 words at the time.

The Jews had a type of literature called The Wisdom Literature, which was not speculative and philosophical, but practical wisdom for the living and management of life. In the Old Testament the great example of wisdom literature is Proverbs. In certain passages wisdom (Greek word for wisdom is sophia) is given a mysterious life-giving and eternal power. In these passages wisdom has been, personified, and is thought of as the eternal agent and co-worker of God. (Proverbs 3 and 8)

At the same time that Ecclesiastes was written, a book with the name: Wisdom of Solomon was written in Alexandria, Egypt. The writer does more than talk about wisdom; he equates wisdom and the word.

So John said: “If you wish to see that word of God, if you wish to see the creative power of God, if you wish to see that word which brought the world into existence and which gives light and life to every man, look at Jesus Christ. In him the word of God came among you.”

How then did this idea of the word fit into Greek thought? It was already there waiting to be used. In Greek thought the idea of the word began away back about 560 BC, strangely enough, in Ephesus where the Fourth Gospel was written.

In 560 B.C. there was an Ephesian philosopher called Heraclitus whose basic idea was that everything is in a state of flux. Everything was changing from day to day and from moment to moment. His famous illustration was that it was impossible to step twice into the same river. You step into a river; you step out; you step in again; but you do not step into the same river, for the water has flowed on and it is a different river. But if that were so, why was life not complete chaos? How can there be any sense in a world where there was constant flux and change?

The answer of Heraclitus was that all this change and flux was not random; it was controlled and ordered, following a continuous pattern. That which controlled the pattern was the Logos – the word, the reason of God.

He wrote that in all life and in all events of life there was a purpose and a design. He held that Logos controlled the events. Heraclitus took the matter even further and reasoned that what made us able to think and to reason and enabled us to choose right from wrong, was the Logos.

Once the Greeks had discovered this idea they never let it go. It fascinated them, especially the Stoics (school of thought). The Stoics were always left in wondering amazement at the order of the world. Order always implies a mind. They attributed all cosmological order to Logos.

Plato, one of the most well-known Greek philosophers (428-348BC), considered LOGOS as the basic fact in all life, because he believed there was a pre-existent something between the logos of the thinking soul and the logos of things.

Logos is the Greek term meaning “the Word.” Greek philosophers like Plato used Logos not only of the spoken word but also of the unspoken word, the word still in the mind — the reason. When applied to the universe, Greeks were speaking to the rational principle that governs all things.

John promulgated the Logos in a radically new way. Suddenly, man is not only capable, but also deserved from the beginning of time, to accept the Logos, the Word, the Christ.

So John came to the Greeks and said: “For centuries you have been thinking and writing and dreaming about the Logos, the power which made the world, the power which keeps the order of the world, the power by which men think and reason and know, the power by which men come into contact with God. Jesus is that Logos come down to earth.” “The word,” said John, “became flesh.” Put another way: the mind of God became a person.”

The mind of God became as person to show us how to live here on earth if we were all little Christs… which we are. We are Christians.

We are reborn to become the person with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Where does this leave our words in our walk with Christ? Christ-words, springing from the fountain of Life to change the world.

Shall we speak with the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, to utter the character of our Lord Jesus, the Logos – the Word?

Let us pray Psalm 19:14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

These are the words in my mouth;
    these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
    on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
    God, Priest-of-My-Altar. (The Message)

 

As you all know William Barclay, a professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow, who died in 1978 is one of my New Testament mentors. He was a prolific writer with a loving and inspired insight in the Bible. He was a man of vast knowledge of the history, mythology, archaeology and geology of  New Testament times and reading his commentary is like reading the New Testament in cinemascope and technicolour.

If I say, “my mentor” then it is that very presumptuous side of me who “adopts” spiritual grandfathers. I have quite a few “chosen” mentors whom I have kept close over many years. A few examples beside Barclay, are Jack Hayford, alive and well, over 80 years old and still active, Watchman Nee, who died in a communist prison in 1974 in China, John Lennox, retired Oxford Mathematician and a master of Apologetics and Andrew Murray, a Scottish minister serving South Africa in the nineteenth century.

In this discussion of John I have followed the commentary of Barclay as the main structural guide. I have also included the very informative footnotes, word wealth and kingdom dynamics in the Spirit Filled Life Bible with Jack Hayford as editor. Further, the commentaries available on Biblehub.com are very informative and the history and factual confirmation on the wider world wide web are just overwhelming. I am a researcher at heart and the most difficult is to steer away from too much information, when I can lose myself in the background and ancient history of the Biblical stories.

 

 

 

 

 

81. Heavenly words, changing earth.

We are in the process of seeking God – already knowing how awesome He is, that there is none like Him and that He loves us with an everlasting love according to His character of goodness and truth. We are now knocking at the door of heaven, praying in the Spirit that Jesus promised, reaching out to the power of heaven to change our circumstances and our community.

In the light of all of heaven’s splendour, our fears and worries have quietly moved into the background as we dwell in the presence of the Almighty, Who holds heaven and earth in His hand. Our focus on His love and power, deals with our earthly concerns.

In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 Paul discusses the gifts of the Spirit as well as the manifestation and practice of it in the gatherings of believers.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: or to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

 The gifts are distributed by the Spirit as He wills and according to the need.

Paul also speaks about the gifts in Romans 12. We need the Holy Spirit to live like he says in this chapter. The standard is high and we need every powerful endowment of our Father’s promise to live the life of excellence.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best (those needed in a specific situation) gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12: 28-31)

The more excellent way is the next chapter – 1 Corinthians 13 – LOVE. Anything without love is useless. The love he describes is agapé – love by choice, not by chance. It is love that is not dependent on a feeling, or an affinity or any chemistry. It is love that practices unconquerable benevolence and undefeatable goodwill towards a person, without expecting anything in return. It is love that liberates us fully from the wiles and wills of the people around us.

In this chapter he mentions the tongues of men and of angels.

Let us back up to the Tower of Babel. You know the funny story in Genesis.

The story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 is indeed one of the strange stories of the Bible. The people of the earth come together after the flood and plan a city. The chapter states that they had one language and one speech. They want to build something magnificent – isn’t that good? Still, the unity that comes by language would have enabled amazing power. God Himself said that nothing would be impossible for them. He confuses the speech at Babel and the people scatter to fill the earth as He originally intended they should do after the flood.

Centuries later a miracle of speech unites a people for whom nothing would be impossible. On the day of Pentecost, God uses language to establish His church and give those converts the power that comes from unity. (Acts 2:4)

They spoke in known languages of the people present to spread the Gospel . The word in Greek is dialektō (Acts 2:8).

Twenty years after the day of Pentecost, Paul asks converts in Corinth whether they have received the Holy Spirit. They were rebaptized (the only place in the Bible), because John’s baptism was already happening before the ministry of Jesus and Paul wanted to establish the principle of baptism in Jesus’ name.

And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)

Tongues, translated from the Greek word glossolalia – served as a sign of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, assuring a believer to be an invigorated living witness.

It can be explained as languages, and infers from 1 Corinthians 13:1 that the glossolalia in 1 Corinthians was the speaking in angelic languages, whereas Acts 2 indicated they spoke in known human languages.

 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels

The characteristic of this mysterious language is that it betokened a converse alone with God, such as the angels have. But rising out of this, is that the Holy Spirit gave impulse and power to the speaker to make his language for himself for what he had to utter at that very moment, so that the language moulded itself specially in the mouth of each individual respectively for that which had to be uttered.

This is a pillar in prayer. We need to take the time and seclusion to allow the Holy Spirit to make intercession for us. Sometimes it is part of day-long communication. Thinking about a difficult situation with a sigh and a sore heart, submitting it to Kingdom authority just there and then – in the car, in the kitchen, amongst the sisters, amongst the difficulties of life.

Once again in the prayer of the Holy Spirit and the operating of the gifts, it can only happen in accordance to the principle of Jesus in Matthew 6. It is received in private.

What now? Be the church of Berea.

 These were more fair-minded [open-minded] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

They checked up on Paul. That is how we should operate – always! We have the Bible available to each individual. These days we have commentaries and other tools at our fingertips. The most important “tool” to understand and practice Scripture however, is the Hoy Spirit.

If we humbly ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds to the deeper and the more of God’s presence and power, He will lead us in all truth. Jesus said His words are Spirit and truth (John 6:63).

Your next step is exactly the same as those overwhelmed people on the day of Pentecost when they asked Peter:

 Now when they heard this they were stung (cut) to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,

Brethren, what shall we do?

And Peter answered them, Repent, change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

For the promise of the Holy Spirit is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, even to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself. (Acts 2:37-39)

Go back to your closet and study the Word. In humble submission ask the Holy Spirit so that He will reveal Himself to you. There in His sweet and loving presence, you will mould your tongue in praise and the utterance of unknown sounds.

It is not the object of obsession,

it is the consequence of submission.

 

Forming the tongues of angels in your own mouth,

is an utterance of faith.

 

 

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.

79. Overthrowing the powers of hell.

Prayer is a plea for God’s ordained order to prevail above earthly powers. We can overthrow hell-power by prayer.

When we pray the Word of God we can have on earth what heaven had already decided on. [Jack Hayford]

That is why we pray according to Jesus’ command:

Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19) [heaven=the unseen realm]

Prayer is the golden thread throughout the Bible and the most important kingdom dynamic. In days to come, it will be your joy to study the different prayers of the prophets and kings of the Old Testament. David and his fellow psalmists probably stand out as the royalty of prayer and praise. Solomon‘s prayer at he dedication of the Temple and his request for wisdom, Isaiah’s poetry-prayers – he sang his prophecies, Jeremiah’s outbursts of praise, Daniel’s prayers, Nehemiah’s shotgun prayers – the one sentence power invocation to the highest Authority. The few godly kings of Judah prayed about warfare and threatening neighbours with miraculous intervention.

The Holy Spirit will create the hunger for God in you. Prayer is all Holy Spirit work, not your own. If you do not feel the hunger, ask for it.

I saw my mother reading the Bible for hours and hours on end. I was not like her. I was very interested in other things and could not spend hours in Bible study, but I wanted to be so fascinated with it like she was. I prayed for it. I prayed for a hunger that would drive me out of bed, grabbing my Bible. Now when I wake up in the morning, it is with excitement for something new from God.

Prayer is a life of obedience

The definition of obedience is in the original meaning of the Greek word hupakoe. It comes from hupo = under and akouo = to hear. The word signifies attentive hearing, to listen with compliant submission, assent and agreement.

Obedience is a submission to God’s way and God’s time.

Greek has two words for time – chronos and kairos.

Chronos reminds us of the word chronology and indicates calendar time, measured time, counted time, the relentless and constant passing of time in minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades, centuries and millennia.

Kairos is the liberating concept of God’s time and is defined by Strong’s concordance as: opportune time, set time, appointed time, due time, definitive time, seasonable time, proper time for action, the fullness of time.

Obedience to the Word and submission to God’s timing will open your ears to receive revelational insight.

Our biggest challenge in life is to truly see. To see deeper and understand clearer. Therefore our first prayer is the prayer of the blind man:

Lord, that I can see – into my struggle and my circumstances to see You, the Giver.

Seeing brings us to the second part of the verse – seeking. When we pray to truly see, we can seek and find. It is as if the two words follow onto each other – see and seek.

Just allow the Word of God to wash over you.

 

Seek and you shall find, says Jesus in Matthew 7. What shall we find? We shall find HIM. This the Psalmist knew well.

 

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10)

 

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. (Psalm 14:2)

 

When You said,Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:8)

 

I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

So did the prophet Isaiah.

O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. (Isaiah 30:19)

 

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. (Isaiah 55:6)

 

Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways. As a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God. (Isaiah 58:2)

 

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jesus is the Key, the Door, the Life, the Way, the One and Only. Do not let the reason and resistance of the post-modern society hinder your spiritual victory. This is not a narrow and exclusive way of coming to God, as they would like to argue. It is a wide-open invitation to the warmth and provision that you will find for every possible problem you might have.

Whatever the church may be, any denomination, God is working in there. Many people are hurt and disappointed by church people and church doctrine, but God will never abandon His church. There is always a remnant of upright, loving Christians, who walk in His love and care about you. We might think that a church is dead and irrelevant. God is patient and faithful and will always be there for people who draw near to Him in spirit and truth, far away from church or inside.

Never confuse organized religion with the church of Jesus Christ.

In seeking you will find the character of the Most High, revealed to you in the person of Jesus. In Him all the promises of God is Yes and Amen to the glory of God through us. [2 Corinthians 1:20] He is the miracle-working Messiah Who works in us exactly as He worked when He walked the earth.

This is gift from the powerful hand of the Son of God Himself. Just like the miracle in Luke 24:45:

And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

 

MOMENT OF PRAYER: Ask Jesus to reveal His character to you. Ask Him to reveal the heart of the Father, so that you experience revelation-knowledge in prayer – deep insight into God and your circumstances.

PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: Sing the Song of Moses.

 

“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11

 

‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? Deuteronomy 3:24

 

O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. Psalm 89:8

 

Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms. There is none like You. Jeremiah 10:7

Seek and find Jesus and your ask-list will move into a new perspective. The list might change altogether. You will begin to ask other things that now seem more important.

Just for a moment we can swing back the armour of God, explained in Ephesians 6. We cannot pray without the armour. Prayer is the battleground. We war against invisible powers that have clearly defined levels of authority in a real, though invisible, realm of activity. The armour prepares us for battle – prayer is the means by which we engage in the battle itself, with God’s word being our chief weapon employed against satan in our struggle.

 

Dear Pebble pals – I will be away for two weeks. When I come back I will post the last pieces in this series. It is all about the words:

Knock, and it will be opened to you. In it we will talk about the events of Pentecost and how it is applicable in the church for today.