Proclaiming a Message of Good News and Hope to our generation!

Month: November 2014

God is Now!

Many of us on this planet have certain common long and short term concerns. Those who have been called by God to come out of the thinking and lifestyles of the world often have difficulty in reconciling our concerns with those of the Lord Himself. After many years I have become persuaded that God does care about the things that trouble us in our daily lives. How great is His love and patience for us to finally come to the conclusion that all of our spiritual, emotional and physical needs are truly fulfilled in Him!

Oh how we all need to focus more on Him! This is an area where Christians often fail, much to the rejoicing of our enemies. They know that when we finally realize the power of simple, pure devotion to God, we will not be stoppable!

The purpose of this message is to share some understanding of God and His eternal purpose, that has helped me greatly in allowing Him to return to the center of my life. The hope is that when you consider and meditate in these truths, your life will then be seen as part of a more wonderful and greater whole. Then the past, present and future will begin to connect, and the patterns of our daily lives can develop deeper spiritual meaning.

The great Creator, the God of the whole universe, has always been the God of now, but we can only begin to appreciate that fact as we come to know Him in the present. 4000 years ago, Moses knew the God of now, or the Great I AM, through the law that descended from Mount Sinai. Many others would later testify of the life that the law breathed into them in those days. In my day, however, God is not present in that old covenant system. I can only find the God of today in the location of time and space that I find myself in.

THERE IS A TIME AND A PLACE…

Road maps have been helpful to mankind since their invention. Their purpose is to aid the user in arriving at their destination. The first thing that must be done, however, is to find our present location on the map. We must look for a street sign, landmark or anything we can find at that location, which has a corresponding spot on the map. Have you ever appreciated the red mark found on shopping mall maps that brightly indicate, YOU ARE HERE?

After finding our location on the map, we can then begin charting a course to our destination. With the help and direction of the Holy Spirit, I sincerely hope that together we can begin to understand, first, what our destination in the plan of God is, then to find out where we are now in that plan. With that we can all begin moving towards that destination together for His glory. Becoming ever more conscious of His eternal purpose in our daily lives, we can then begin to know Him in His eternal Now.

In the dark ages, a scientist named Copernicus made a discovery. He learned by an honest and thorough investigation of the facts that the earth was not the center of the universe as was previously believed. Upon receiving this revelation, everything else began to fall into place. He could then more easily and accurately chart the courses of all the planets, their moons, and our relationships with the stars. Think of it. Our current explorations of the moon and space would have never been possible without this knowledge. The heart of this revelation was, of course, that the sun is the center of this solar system, with the earth and the other eight planets revolving around it.

It is time for mankind, and even for Christianity, to come to the conclusion that the universe does not revolve around us. God is, has been, and always will be the center. When we begin to see this, everything begins to harmonize and work together in perfect order. For thousands of years we thought it was about us, our sin, our salvation, our peace, security and happiness. Even though these concerns are legitimate, the focus will be entirely wrong when man is at the center.

With man, the story begins at the fall, and the focus becomes redemption, salvation, restoration etc. All of these are crucial elements in God’s design, but it seems so natural for the focus to become fixed on us and our needs, rather than on God and His Glory.

THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE

As a boy, I grew up in relative poverty, and worshiped with other Christians who struggled financially. In time a certain subconscious thinking in me began to equate poverty with holiness. While in my thirties, I began to see the bondage I was in, and began to believe God for a better economic situation for my family. Prosperity did come, almost immediately, but I never desired to set my eyes on these material blessings. My deliverance was found in seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and in allowing Him to add the rest.

When I began to listen to the prosperity message as it was being preached on the radio and television at that time, there were certain disturbing elements that I could not get a handle on. Now, as I look back, I realize that most all of it was man centered. The glory of God was not the focus at all! I want you to know that God can often get more glory out of someone who lives a bare existence materially, when they are rich in the graces and the attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ!

In the beginning God! At the ending, God again becomes all-in-all! And when He is at the center of our being, it is always God for us during the time in between! In the map analogy that I used earlier, no one would simply take the map and just study it and rejoice that they possess it. Neither would they sit and dream of the wonderful destination and the pleasures they would enjoy when they get there. No, you take the map, find which turns to take and begin your journey. On this journey, you may stop and eat or re-fuel, make conversation on the way, or listen to music, etc. All the while you are conscious of where you are going, but also always aware of where you are now.

Some people like to sing about living for the moment, but often what they are really doing is squandering precious moments of the life that has been given to them by God. On the journey that we have been speaking of there is abundant life to be received, as well as to be poured out towards others. When our focus begins and ends with God, our resources never run out! But when our focus is on ourselves, the troubles never end. Life becomes an endless cycle of ups and downs. Survival becomes primary, even for very faithful churchgoers.

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY!

“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Ephesians. 3:8-11).

In any careful study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, one should readily see a certain emphasis. The first emphasis is that God has a plan for His people and His creation. Secondly, He requires our participation in that plan. Listen to me very carefully. Wherever you fit into that plan will be where the I AM lives to you, for you and through you! Do you want to live in the past, the future, or NOW? Just wait a minute, all of these are connected, they integrate into one harmonious whole — in the mind of God. Now He is desiring to share the mystery of His will with you, that you can begin to really live today!

You see, there is a fellowship in this mystery! That word is koinonia in the Greek and it means voluntary participation. You have a part to play in the glorious, mysterious, eternal plan of God! Our human imaginations can scarcely comprehend the awesomeness of this mystery: “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” (Ephesians. 1:10), but Paul prayed that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened that we might know these things! (Ephesians. 1:17,18).

As we stand back with a wide-angle lens and view the over-arching purpose of God, we see how all things began in God and all things find their consummation in Him. (Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians. 15:28). But when we zoom in to see the working out of that plan, we see God working through people, namely us! (Romans 12:1, 2; 2 Tim. 1:9,10; Ephesians. 2:10).

In the eternal purpose of God, we find many separate, but connected events. But to God they are all part of a wondrous whole. None of them are the end, only the means to an end:

In the beginning God
The Creation. Let us make man in our image!
The fall of man


The redemption of man:
The cross
The death and resurrection of Christ
The birth of the church in power, demonstrating the nature of the Kingdom of God


The present restoration of the church, with all her spiritual gifts and ministries in a loving community under Christ her Head


The universal revelation of the Kingdom of God in all the earth through Christ. Mankind expressing Christ, the very image of God


The kingdom surrendered to God, that God might be all in all.

Now it is time for us to pick up the map, unfold it, and find our present location.

YOU ARE HERE!

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NASB)

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans. 12:6-8 NIV)

“Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians. 12:27)

By zooming in to the current stage of God’s plan we find a people that have been made alive in Christ. They are individuals but not working independently. They are each part of a greater body, the body of Jesus Christ. When every member functions, the whole body grows steadily and healthily unto the fullness of Christ’s stature, unto the glory and praise of God!

Next let us take the close-up lens and focus on each member. Notice how each one is vitally connected to the head, namely, Jesus Christ the Savior and Lord of all! Then examine the connections between each member of the body. See how closely they interact and support one another! Observe the knitting of each joint and sinew, every bone and muscle. Notice how important it is for every cell in every organ to be healthy and at work, that the body can stand up and fully represent God in the earth!

Let me ask you a question. Do you really want to live NOW? Do you want to see the I AM in reality, every day of your life? Then begin right now to let go of your egocentricity. Begin to realize that you are a small but integral part of a glorious whole! This thing is so much bigger than you and I, than my church – your church! This is not really about you and I at all! It is about God! It is about the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and ending, the first and the last – the Great I AM!

Become swallowed up in the powerful significance of Him, and revel in the insignificance of your little world! Then in surrender to the destiny He has chosen for you, give yourself to the spiritual gifts that are within you by virtue of His matchless Grace! Pray with others and for others and rejoice in discovering the wonders of the Christ within every one!

Participate with God by communing with Him, sharing with Him your cares and dreams, and responding to every subtle direction of His Hand! Think of it! We are workers together with God, that all men might see and know the fellowship of the mystery of His will! Live today! Be a part of it!

On a personal note, I would like to share a portion of my journey with you. For decades now, many of my brethren and I have had the vision of God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. For many years we sang songs about it and preached sermons to one another to keep the vision alive.

Today I want you to know that something has happened to me to completely change my thinking and my life. I no longer need to hear those sermons to keep the vision alive. I am now living in it! I am no longer a passive observer, watching life pass me by, continuing to hope that some day the change will come. Now I am a participant. God is right now! He is present in my ups and downs, my heartaches and discouragements, my songs of praise and joy! Even more importantly, He is present when I am lifting up another wounded and hurting soul!

No longer do I sit and wait for the rapture or other mighty future event to come. Neither do I fill my days with things to pass the time. We are redeeming even the time, reclaiming it for the greater glory of God! We all have great and important things to do, each with eternal significance! These include: rejoicing with them that rejoice, weeping with them that weep, letting our light shine among men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven! Some others are: baby sitting our grandchildren, writing letters to the brethren, calling up the lonely and forgotten on the phone, building up the body of Christ, helping a family move, etc., etc.

Take this challenge. Make a list of the things that God has blessed you to do for others. Continue to do them even more for the satisfaction of the Father’s heart. Realize that this is living in the Great I AM, the God of now, and is part of His glorious plan to unite all things in Christ. As you give yourself to hearing and responding to His Sweet Voice, what life you will find! What freedom from selfishness and self-centeredness! What God consciousness! Then behold as His kingdom expands and His Truth extends to the ends of the earth, for it has already begun in you!

Rethinking Spiritual Warfare

Is the devil real? It is interesting how present experiences can influence our point of view on this question. In the early seventies I had an experience that impressed upon me how great our God in Jesus Christ truly is. Even though I was saved in my teens, it was not until then that I understood where the men God used to write the Bible were coming from. After having personally experienced His awesome presence, I could not even begin then to see the devil as a threat to the child of God.

At the time I was fairly certain that I could convince love ones and friends that what I had experienced was real and that the Bible was true. Most were unfazed, and others probably thought I was confused. To me the truth of the Gospel was obvious, and I assumed the change they saw in me would be enough to convince them of it. It did not take long for me to learn that other forces were also at work, forces that the Bible also had much to say about. At one point I even felt the sense of what the scriptures taught on the pervasive presence of evil in the world. It is simply a matter of perspective.

As time progressed, I sought to understand the Scriptures more and to understand the sovereignty of God and His wisdom in permitting the devil to continue in this earth, with some success. In a time when preachers were mostly sin and devil conscious, many of us were seeing the importance of acknowledging the finished work of Christ upon the Cross. Scriptures like this one seemed to literally jump of the page:

Colossians 2:9-15:
“For in Him (Christ) all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”
NASB

Think of it! Your are complete IN HIM! The invisible evil forces that rule in this world have been disarmed, overcome and publicly humiliated. Every accusation that has been made against God has been put to rest. His motives that had been questioned first in the garden can no longer be doubted, as He proved His love and perfect intentions for humanity by His sacrifice on the Cross. Every accusation against those who trust in Him is eradicated as well, for they become identified with Him in baptism. Their old life has been buried, and they are raised with Him into the new!

All of this actually happened the moment I surrendered my heart and life unto Christ. I began to experience it immediately, but without full understanding, I could not live in the fullness of it. Our minds are the actual battleground in this war, which in Christ has already been won. In one sense the growth process of the Christian is related to our increasing ability to accept the fact that we have become entirely new and righteous by the work of Christ on the Cross.

Jesus Christ was manifested that He might reverse the damage done by the devil. (1 John 3:8 Darby and Amplified Bible).

Hebrews 2:14-15:
“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
NASB

From these Scriptures we see that the devil has been rendered powerless through the death of Christ on the Cross. As our adversary and opponent, he attempts to deceive us into doubting the goodness and faithfulness of God, which in turn leads us into foolish and sinful actions which separate us from the peace of God. When Christ overcame death and the grave He disarmed him by proving His authority over all things. The fear of death cannot be used against us either since the resurrection of our Lord two thousand years ago!

A considerable portion of the New Testament was written to encourage and solidify us in our position and identity in Christ. When ever believers drifted in their hearts and minds or weakened in their confidence in Christ and His work on our behalf, the apostles were quick to remind them of the glorious victory we have already in Him. They were also quick to remind us of the spiritual battle that continues to rage.

The apostle Peter wrote:

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NASB)

So why is it that we still have to be on the alert for a powerless adversary? Are we dealing with one of those contradictions in the Bible that we often hear about?

No. This is not a contradiction. It is both true that Christ defeated the devil, and that presently “we wrestle – not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV)

In the creation we have examples of how this can be without contradiction. For example, the law of gravity is a fact. For thousands of years, men have tried to overcome the law of gravity and fly like the birds. Eventually they discovered other laws in the physical universe. Principles of aerodynamics have been studied and applied to the extent that now we can not only fly, but leave this earth for other planets in space!

Does the law of gravity ceased to exist when we fly? No. Are the laws of physics used in the operation of airplanes and rockets newer than the law of gravity? No, but until they were both discovered, and applied, humanity would remain earthbound.

Paul described the problem of sin and death as a spiritual law. When we receive the work of Christ on our behalf we are filled with the Holy Spirit which frees us from the power of the law of sin and death. Instead of yielding to the downward, gravitational pull of sinful desires from our old self, we now can yield to the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith and self-control of the Holy Spirit. It is the very nature of Christ Himself Who lives within us! (Romans 8:1-2, Galatians 5:22-23)

We have received a new way of thinking, to which we must commit. This is the spiritual mind which leads to life and peace, as opposed to the fleshly mind which leads to death.

Like the scientists and inventors of jet planes and spaceships, we face the existence of gravity (that is, sin and death), but we learn to apply the higher law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus! It is not enough to simply know the truth of what Christ has done for us and in us, we must apply it to our daily lives. Here is where the battle begins. Will we focus on the fears and doubts of the past, or will we concentrate on the present and glorious future we have in Christ?

Will we set our limits according to thousands of years of fallen human history, or will we look at our life through the eyes of faith? The apostle Paul was not foolish enough to deny his shortcomings. He did not base his hopes upon his own ability to overcome them. His trust was in the righteousness of Christ, but not in a passive sense. That is why he urged us to put on the whole armor of God, in order to stand in the finished work of Christ. Not only are we to stand for our own sake, but for the sake of all those for whom Christ suffered and died!

After telling us to stand with the belt of Truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the Gospel of peace, the shield faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, Paul finishes his great teaching on the armor of God with these words:

“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:18-20 NKJV)

This life of the child of God is centered around the Good News of the Kingdom of God. For you and me it might begin with a personal experience of the presence of God, but it does not end there. Even if I was to arrive at a place of perfect peace and freedom from any temptation to sin, the war would not be over for me. I will remain a warrior in the army of God until “the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14, Isaiah 11:9). KJV

If Paul could ask the church at Ephesus to pray for the right words and the boldness to proclaim and make clear the mystery of the Gospel while still a prisoner in Rome, what should our request be?

Should we be content that we are “resting in the finished work of Christ,” while our friends, loved ones, neighbors and society are still under the rule of sin and death? Should we simply “name and claim” the victory for them, or rather enter into prayers, supplications, being watchful and persevering for all to come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ?

It is only because Christ overcame death that we have become “more than conquerors” in Him. And yet, we continue to groan with all creation to see creation itself liberated from the bondage of corruption unto the glorious liberty of the children of God! (Romans 8:19-23).

Now let us consider a practical example. As a believer, the devil has no right to me, no power over me. And yet, he freely deceives and manipulates millions out there. They have not yet received the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness by which they might reign in life by Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:17). On several occasions Paul was physically attacked by evil men who were full of the devil. He once spoke of a messenger of Satan sent to rough him up. Inwardly he kept his cool. He sought the Lord who imparted His all sufficient grace. Just the same, he admitted to the personal struggle he endured. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

So today we must be sober and on alert to attacks from both without and within. Recently our home was attacked by thieves who broke into our garage and stole our car. You can imagine how much of a distraction a situation like this can be. It took a significant determination to keep a positive attitude while we dealt with the practical issues involved. Can you see how the devil took advantage of some weak-minded small-time thieves in order to disrupt our lives, hoping to steal our joy?

Now let us return to a situation that makes ours look almost silly. One of the most godly men who ever lived was imprisoned in Rome, after having been beaten, shipwrecked and endured numerous persecutions. He of all people could speak with authority on the subject of spiritual warfare. Peter as well knew the reality of our victory in Christ and the level of participation we would experience in that victory. Both were sustained by their hope and relationship with God in Christ.

The finished work of Christ requires our participation with Christ in it. If we suffer with Christ, we will also reign with Him. All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. This is not a downer. Paul even wrote that he would “take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake.” He said: “for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

In cultures like ours in North America, we would rather think and talk about the material blessings that result from the faith-filled life. Persecution, and physical distress are not popular themes on Christian television programs. In fact, any suffering for the Gospel’s sake might even be interpreted as the result of weak faith by some of them.

There is a saying about being “heavenly minded but no earthly good.” That can be said of those who take spirituality to be only for one’s one personal peace and safety. But true spirituality as demonstrated by Christ and His apostles includes bringing good to others on this earth. To pray to the Father, “Hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, in earth as it is in heaven,” is to have a vision that is outside one’s self. It is to participate in His great plan for His creation. This is being heavenly minded according to Paul:

2 Corinthians 5:17-21:
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (NASB)

Those First Century ambassadors have passed off the scene. In every generation the torch has been passed on to the next. It is time for our generation to take up the torch to spread the message of reconciliation in our day. Some of us might be called to “endure hardship, as good soldiers in Jesus Christ,” as we step out of our comfort zones for the benefit of others. This mission will require training in spiritual warfare. To go out not expecting resistance from our adversary will prove to be foolhardy and dangerous.Many who expected a smooth and easy road have been blindsided and brought to public disgrace. On the other hand, those prepared and disciplined have effectively participated in the coming forth of the Kingdom of God in the lives of others. This is not the bland, lukewarm faith that some experience, but true, abundant life in God. We have received a kingdom that cannot be moved, one that is encompassing the whole earth. We rejoice with all the angels of heaven when one sinner comes to repentance, and it is His joy that is our strength!

Living on the Edge!

In an effort to sell soft drinks, advertisers have attempted to associate their products with exciting and dangerous sports such as skiing, parachuting, and mountain climbing. The implication is that real men love to face death for the sheer thrill of it. There should be no doubt that the powerful soft drink companies of America know what they are doing. Before they invest millions in such ads, be assured that the techniques they use have been thoroughly researched and tested.

The fact that humans enjoy the thrill of risk taking is well established. The numbers of large amusement parks multiplying all over the country owe much of their success to the exploitation of daring rides, that give one a sense of life-threatening danger. The millions invested in the making of action-adventure movies, and the billions earned by them also confirm our love for excitement. For a few dollars anyone can pretend to be a super hero or heroin while comfortably snuggled in the safety of their living room or a neighborhood theater.

At the same time, far too many of us tend to shrink from the greatest challenge of them all — life itself! Even with all of the inner drives that nature has provided for us, we still have a habit of shrinking back when faced with the slightest appearance of any personal risk. This could possibly be attributed to the overdevelopment of another natural instinct — self-preservation.

Most everyone wants to love and to be loved, but too often this wonderful experience is prevented by other very strong emotions. There is one in particular that is related to self-preservation, and that is fear. When out of balance, these survival instincts can distort our thinking and actually deprive us of love, intimacy and many other important needs. We have seen how the fear of becoming hurt has caused an unreasonable number of failed relationships in our culture and time. Another fear, that of losing personal security has often driven people to greed, power and excessive materialism.

The greatest Teacher of all history has given us the solution to every problem faced by mankind. He understands us better than we could ever understand ourselves. Yet after 2,000 years, we still have difficulty trusting in His wisdom. Never had any man spoken like this man. His Words penetrated into the depths of our being, challenging us to trust and believe in things that could not always be seen and touched. He reached down inside men and women and ignited that inner light which had long been a dying ember!

By His wisdom, compassion, love and truth He intended to change the world! Even many of those who opposed Him were weakened by the love in His eyes. Could it be the people sensed that somehow He knew a secret? Do you suppose their hearts told them that this One had actually solved the riddle of life?

In a short three and a half years this man had given theologians centuries of homework. Ages of religious debate have followed His life, death, burial and resurrection, but still so few have gotten the point. Jesus came that we all could have LIFE and that MORE ABUNDANTLY! His words, and testimony were given to instill in us the faith to receive and walk in that life.

How is it that we can become so preoccupied with dissecting His Words and those of His Apostles, that we could forget the reality of Him? If we could only give Him the opportunity to speak to us now, I am certain He would be absolutely overjoyed to share His Secret with us again!

Before going any further, I would like to ask you who are reading this to take a few moments to wait before the Lord. By this I mean to become quiet and submissive to Him, allowing His Peace to pervade your thoughts. If you can begin to trust in His Person and grace, you might very well hear His Voice speaking very softly and clearly to your inner being. Take as long as you can and as often as you can to get to really know Him. Only then can the reality of His teachings and commandments have their full meaning for you.

This feeble effort of my sharing with you now has an unusually ambitious goal. Part of that goal is to help all of us recover the true mystery, wonder, and adventure of Life In Jesus. Don’t laugh. This is serious. Anyone who joins in this ambitious undertaking could possibly be put in great jeopardy! Think of what happened to His first disciples! When one sets out to change the world, he might find that the world does not want to be changed! But even simple fishermen and tax collectors have been converted into revolutionaries after spending time with Jesus!

Do you want to live on the edge? Do you want to forge ahead towards a new frontier? Do you want to experience the kind of risk-taking that has real purpose and meaning? Jesus can fill you with the courage to face life and all of its challenges with confidence. He will show us how to lose our lives in order to find them. From Him we can learn and experience the true joy of a sacrificial love that is free from fear! The bonding and knitting between the participators that follow will bring a satisfaction that many have never known. Then together we can all experience a greater union through which to accomplish the exploits of God!

It is time to stop splashing our toes in the water. Modern Christianity often seems pressured to give us just enough of Jesus to get by. It will never work. We must be BAPTIZED into Him! It is okay! Just jump in! He will not let you drown. Just keep your eyes on Him and allow your heart to become filled with His Glory and Grace!

Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it MORE ABUNDANTLY.” (John 10:10)

The Pleasure of the Lord

In the parables of Jesus, we saw men who were concerned about the hardness of the master. These hoped to fulfill the least possible requirements, and to so preserve their security.

But the fruitful were more concerned about the pleasure of their master. They took risks that others would not, knowing that He would be pleased in their desire to please Him! Likewise, many today are preoccupied only with what they must believe or do to make it into heaven. Just what exactly are those minimum requirements?

This has resulted in distortions of the true outworking of the grace of God. For example, we have seen the people of God divided into groups like the “saved” and the overcomers.” In this teaching, the merely saved, simply make it into heaven, while the overcomers are to rule and reign in the Millennial Kingdom.

Of course there should always be the motivation to overcome. And the scriptures are clear that rewards are given to those who do! But the missing note to this song is one that is so often found in the lives of all the holy ones that have gone before us.

The Desire of the Lord!

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:5-6)

Enoch was a man who walked with God for 300 years! (Genesis 5:22) This is about all we know of him. The Genesis account leaves no record of any mighty deeds he performed, only that he walked with God and that God took him! Later this commentary was given by the Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews that he left a testimony…. His testimony was that he gave pleasure to the Creator and Lord of the universe!

Faith was the means by which He walked with his God, and during this time spent walking with God, he learned about the things that made God happy. Sounds very simple does it not?

He was unlike his ancestors Adam and Eve, who hid themselves when Jehovah God came walking through the garden in the cool of the day. They lived in fear, while Enoch had faith. They responded foolishly to His warnings and desires for them, but Enoch responded positively.

He trusted in God’s greater wisdom, while they questioned it. He believed in the goodness and grace of God, but they perceived Him to be a threat to their overall happiness. He opened himself to God’s dealings, while they hid themselves from Him.

Enoch gave the Father pleasure, but the first couple gave Him grief.

But what was it about Enoch and His walking with God that made God’s Great Heart so happy? Could it be that he somehow touched the Heart of God? Was his simple companionship so important, and was the quality of it so rich, that delight sprang up from deep within the Lord of all?

Do you and I, simple creatures that we are, have this same potential? Does the Mighty and Majestic King of the universe hunger for fellowship with us? Are we even capable of giving Him pleasure?

Consider the passage of human history. Consider all of the covenants that God has make with men, including this new and living way, which Jesus made for us into the holiest place of all by His Blood. We must begin to understand what our Father and Creator has been after all along!

His desire has always been for a relationship with us! Without that relationship, the words of all the various covenants lose their sense of purpose. Even this glorious New Covenant has so often been trampled upon by those of its adherents who have left their First Love!

When you love someone, you delight in giving them pleasure. When someone is in your heart, you hurt when they grieve! Does the Heart of our Lord grieve? I believe it does. I believe it breaks His Heart when we honor Him with our lips alone. When we forget how much He loves to spend time with us, and begin losing our desire for His companionship, does He feel the pain of our rejecting Him? I believe so.

When in our loss of unity with Him, we become gripped with fears and insecurity, His Heart must again become sad. When this fear provokes us to frantic self-preservation, He knows what will follow. He knows that even more foolish, selfish and harmful actions will bring us sorrow, all of which touch Him as well.

After thousands of years of chasing after us, He forever settled the question concerning the desire of His Heart toward us. In this new covenant, which was solidified by the Blood of the Lamb of God, His only Son, He spoke again of a relationship: “All shall KNOW ME, from the least of them to the greatest!” (Hebrews 8:11)

From that time forward all of the powers of hell have been frantically working to prevent the fulfillment of this Word within us. For when mankind fully realizes his destiny, when he comes to know true fellowship with God, when he finally experiences the eternal joy of pleasing the Father — no place will be found for Satan or his lies!

“Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more!” How could a loving father, who has found his son returned safely to him think about such trivialities? The relationship has been restored, fellowship has been renewed. The past has vanished into the sea of His boundless Love, and the desire, the yearning for life outside of the Father’s house has virtually disappeared from the young man’s heart!

Have you become a victim of the subtlety of Satan? Has his concerted effort to complicate your relationship with God taken its toll on you? Have you spent countless minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years attempting to measure up to an impossible standard?

Or have you bought into this other extreme of lying to yourself in regards to your relationship with Him, pursuing the things of this world to give you pleasure rather than seeking and finding the joy of pleasing Him?

If so, then the time has come for you to return to the simplicity of knowing and loving the Everlasting Father of all!

The first step for the prodigal son was to come to himself (Luke 15:17). What about you? Have you been living like a keeper of swine — one who is not even permitted to eat as well as them? Is there not something terribly wrong with this picture? Are you just now beginning to remember Who your real Father is? And are you finally beginning to remember who you really are?

It has never been your destiny to feed pigs! You have a higher calling than that! Your life is in the heavenlies, where Christ sits on the right hand of God!

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God! Remember His House? Remember the peace, the safety, the security, the love? That training, that discipline that you once thought was so hard, even that is being missed about now! You now realize that His Hand, whether firm or gentle will always represent His wonderful and loving Heart for you!

Luke 15:18-19: “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants.”

Hear the brokenness, the sorrow of these words. This is the godly sorrow that brings about a true change of mind. No more will he long for his independence. No more will he desire those things that do not satisfy. Oh, just to be with the Father, even though the privileges of his sonship may have been lost! His presence, and this renewed relationship are all that matter now!

See the Father looking, yearning for true fellowship with His son. As in Genesis when God called “Adam, Adam, where are you?” See Him running out to him, embracing him, rejoicing to find him still alive!

“And the son said unto him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring here the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:21-24)

My friend, a time of joy and celebration is at hand! Not only for the lost sinner who has received salvation for the very first time, but also for the erring believers who are now returning to their very first love!

Do you really want to know the joy of pleasing God? Well then just come home. Receive His gracious welcome back into the family. His house is also your house!

Heavenly Father,

Forgive us of our foolishness, our stubbornness, and our selfishness. How often have we listened to and followed after lies. But you are faithful. You have redeemed us, delivered us, and called us unto Yourself.

We lovingly and gratefully place our lives, and our future anew into your caring Arms. Help us to more fully trust in You, and teach us concerning those things that bring You joy, for Your joy is our greatest source of strength!

In the Grace of Jesus our Lord,
Amen

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