Friday, October 25, 2019

On Earth As It Is In Heaven!

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

Or it could be said something like this, “May your will be done on earth as it is being done right at this very moment in the heavenly realm.” Heaven is a realm - not a place! 

Our comprehension here is strengthened when we understand that the Greek word translated as kingdom is basileia which more properly means rule or realm.  As N.T. Wright says the church has been lulled “into ignoring the real meaning... of ‘heaven’ (which is not a place within our universe at all, but God’s place, intersecting with our world in all sorts of ways). The Christian Celts would call these intersections “thin places” or where heaven comes near to earth.

This truth is the key that will release the church to a fervency of realized expectation. But we must put the key in the door if we expect it to open. Once having opened we will get a vision of a panorama of sovereign design and purpose that will possess our hearts with a relentless grip.

Yet it seems that modern evangelicalism has left the key hanging on the wall. Could it be that there is a fear of losing control if the heavenly realm breaks into our present realities?

The key is revelation - telling God what He has told us to tell Him. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:19 There is a nuance of tense in this translation that is extremely significant. It is not that which we bind or loose on earth that will then be bound or loosed in heaven (the common misconception) - it is that which has already been bound or loosed in heaven that will then be bound or loosed in the earth.

It Is not our will that is ratified in heaven - it is His will that is ratified on the earth. “God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” Hebrews 2:4  Indeed, everything that He has ordained has already been finished from the foundation of the earth (Hebrews 4:3). And thus His church is inexorably drawn into this vortex of sovereign will and design. This is the diligence of the Sabbath rest of God - entering into that which He has already set in motion and will bring to fulfillment.

“Many of us have treated the will of God as if it’s unknown or unknowable… God has not kept his desires secret: He wants the reality of heaven to invade this rebel-torn world, to transform it, to bring it under His headship.” Bill Johnson 

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Our House Is From Heaven

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, 2 Corinthians 5:2

Our house - abode - is not in heaven. It is from heaven.

Yet she on earth hath union
with the God the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion
with those whose rest is won:

For the Son, His house was His Father’s house. That is where He was about His Father’s business.  God does not live in a house - His house is the realm of His divine activity. It is not a place - it is a domain. That is, it is without walls. 

And He said to them, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" NASB (Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” NKJV) Luke 2:29 

Henry Blackaby has taught the Body of Christ to “look and see what the Father is doing and join Him there.”  When we are about what our Father is doing then we are clothed by His house which is from heaven.

We long to be clothed with His presence which makes us fit for His service - right now! His presence is the place of His sphere of action.

When I receive a call on my mobile from my wife’s mobile phone it comes up “Home.”  That is because, where she is is where my home is. So it is with our Father - when we receive a call from Him that is where our home is.

You didn't want heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now

John 14:2 is not about some ethereal place in the sweet by and by and certainly not a mansion1 (Who would want one anyway?) - it is about a very real relationship in the here and now. The word is “to abide” and is only used in one other place in the New Testament - "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode (home) with him.” John 14:23 

“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24   Where was He at this very time? In the present Presence of His Father. And that is where He was going to take them - and us - into the present Presence of the Father. 


And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.  “I will come” is in the present tense - not the future.

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed thee for his own abode;
John Newton 

Not only is our dwelling in Him - but His dwelling is also in us. His house is not made of bricks and mortar - but of lively stones being built up into a spiritual house.  "The spiritual house is the palace of the Great King.” ‘All history is the process of building up a "spiritual palace" out of a regenerate humanity, in order that, in the end, the Father Himself may occupy it.’ Charles Ellicott   


1The KJV word “mansion” is better translated as plenty of room or a great expanse. Some version say “many rooms” but that is also misleading for there are no walls or curtains in the House of God - for the veil has been torn in twain. 



Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The House of Perez - The Unerring Grace of God

"Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman." Ruth 4:12

This is the blessing spoken over Boaz by the elders of Israel when he had redeemed Ruth to be his wife. It was so that the bloodline of the tribe of Judah would continue unabated until it produced the Messiah - the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.


It is also a witness to the overarching sovereign grace of God in the affairs of men.  The Father’s unswerving intention triumphs every time. “for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” 1 Samuel 14:6 That is, not by quantity or by quality - but by decree.


We must never equate the Grace of God for a license to continue in sin. Indeed, Paul wrote to Titus: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,” Titus 2:11-12


Yet, God is not constrained to accomplish His purpose by human proclivity. For do you know the back-story of the conception and birth of Perez? Illegitimacy, prostitution, seduction, incest, adultery, lying...  Tamar was Judah’s twice widowed daughter-in-law who posed as a temple prostitute to get him to impregnate her. And she is one of the four mothers listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus. 


God will use those whom He chooses for He chooses not because they are choice, but they become choice as a result of His choosing. Election is not based on foreknowledge - foreknowledge is the outcome of election.


The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Impassioned One


If I had one word to describe the recent Capital Region Prayer Gathering it would be this - passion!  Indeed it was one of the most passionate prayer gatherings I have ever experienced. Our worship leader was doing all that he could to keep in step with the Spirit - which is a good thing.

But what was it? I believe it is necessary for us to understand at least in a measure what undergirds our experiences. Of course - at least on this side of the veil - there will always be something of the ways of the Lord that are a mystery, yet it is the function of the church to bring revelation to that which is a mystery (Ephesians 3:10).

I am convinced we stepped into a thin place by His compulsion.

What is a thin place?  In Celtic Christianity it is place where heaven and earth come especially close together which results in an awesomeness of the Presence and Power of God.  It can be a geographical location, a particular season of time - or it can be the convergence of the purpose of God with the people of God. It may have some or all of these characteristics.

An author has written: “A truly thin place is any environment that invited transformation in us, helping us as believers in Jesus to think and see and understand as He does. Any place that creates a space and an atmosphere that inspires us to be honest before God and to listen to the deep murmurings of His Spirit within us is thin.”1

We had shared concerning thin places at our recent PrayWV Summit and then Pastor Jay Morgan introduced this concept at this regional gathering. 

The Great Kanawha Valley of West Virginia is just such a thin place - for at one time the river burned with fire as the result of the rich deposits of salt, oil and gas in its banks. 

In the spiritual we believe this speaks to us of God’s passionate purifying zeal for His people and as we attract His white hot gaze by consecration and supplication we too will be set ablaze with our passionate desire for Him and the fulfillment of His purpose. In the Hebrew Scriptures God is often referred to as "El Kanah" (early spelling of Kanawha - Kanawagh or Kanhawa) or "I am a jealous God." The following scripture takes the meaning of this word one step further, Exodus 34:14 "...for you must not worship any other god, because the Lord, whose name is Impassioned, is an impassioned God" (Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures).2 Also, Deuteronomy 4:24 "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, an impassioned God.” 

W.E. Vine says, "While the word is used in our language in an evil sense, it has a somewhat different meaning, especially in the Old Testament. It is often used in connection with the marriage relation, and, in this respect, the relation between Jehovah and Israel. Just as jealousy in husband or wife is the forceful assertion of an exclusive right, so God asserts His claim, and vindicates it, on those who are His sole possession."  “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously3 longs for the Spirit He has caused to dwell in us?” James 4:5 

There is a community in the Kanawha Valley called Burning Springs so named because the salt water, gas and oil came forth from the ground together and could be ignited. It was said that anything tossed into the flame was hungrily consumed and the fire was very difficult to extinguish. (Hebrews 12:29* ...for our God is a consuming fire.")

A release of this passion is what we were allowed to enter into by our Sovereign Lord - Adonai Elohim. It was a prophetic expression of that which He desires to do in our community and throughout our state.

And this is what I scribbled on a piece of paper that evening - The prophetic (ekklesia) stands in the sanctuary to minister to the Lord - the apostolic (diaspora) walks the streets to minister to the community. All under the watchful eye of the King.

1 Balzer, Tracy; Thin Places; Leafwood Publications, Abilene, TX, 2007, p. 29

2 You must not bow down to another god, because the LORD is passionate: the LORD's name means "a passionate God." CEB

3 The jealousy of God is a reference to His passion for His elect.





Friday, April 5, 2019

Peter And Paul - Justice And Righteousness Kiss


Peter and Paul - the twin foundational pillars of the church. In them justice and righteousness kiss - to the Glory of God!.  

They would die together, Peter and Paul, the pillars. This insight is provided by Michael Card - a psalmist/theologian.

This is a painting from a Romanian Orthodox Cathedral of Peter and Paul supporting the church. There they both are, Peter and Paul. And between them they are holding up the church, Christ’s church. (Represented by a building.)


From Michael Card, “We need the passion for correctness that we find in Paul (vertical toward God - righteousness). But we also need the stable bridge of Peter to continue to help us cross over (horizontal toward mankind - justice).” It is at the Cross of Christ that we find these two foundational principles intrinsically bound together. 

Paul holds in his hand an elaborate volume (indicating the depth of his knowledge) while Peter only a simple small scroll (which may represent his two epistles).

Paul’s death would be by beheading befitting only to a Roman citizen, Peter would suffer the ignominy of being crucified upside down identifying with all peoples. 

Yet, what they did they did together in oneness. Their martyrdom was at about the same time and in Rome under the murderous regime of Nero. Their testimony has become a lasting memorial before God and before men. 

Peter was a businessman while Paul was a priest. Together they constitute a royal priesthood as is all the Church of Christ. May we not gravitate toward one or the other, but embrace them both in their fulness.

It is the two working in concert - harmony - that builds up the Body of Christ. 

Justice And Righteousness Kiss:



Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Two Sons of the Oil - Righteousness and Justice Kiss

 Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." Zechariah 4:14 Literally the reference is to Zerubbabel (prince, governor) and Joshua (priest) who were chosen and commissioned by God to build the Second Temple. 

The two anointed ones; literally, the two sons of oil. By them are intended the two powers, the regal (king) and the sacerdotal (priest), through which God's help and protection are dispensed to the theocracy (kingdom). Pulpit Commentary

The two olive trees are the two authorities, viz. the civil (king) and sacerdotal (priest), through which God communicates his grace to the Church; these stand by the Lord Because, instituted by him, they carry out his will in the ordering, guiding, extending, and purifying his kingdom among men. The two olive branches remit their oil into one receptacle, because the two authorities, the regal and priestly, are intimately connected and united, and their action tends to one end, the promotion of God's glory in the salvation of men. In Messiah these offices are united; he is the channel of Divine grace, the source of light to the whole world. Pulpit Commentary

The Two Pillars

The priest represents right standing before God (righteousness) and the king equitable standing before man (justice). These two pillars are the very foundation of the Kingdom of God. 

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Lovingkindness and truth go before You. Psalm 89:14 

Without these two functioning as one there will be no lasting revival. Unless society is impacted what we may call a revival is no revival at all.

While being fully cognizant of the sovereignty of God - Christianity hangs on the nexus of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. It is here that the testimony of our Risen Lord escaped the bounds of becoming just another Jewish sect as His witness was thrust on the world stage. Yet it was not a member of that august council that precipitated the decision, but a Gentile.  And not only a Gentile but a Roman centurion: ‘And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a lasting memorial before God.”’ Acts 10:4 For Cornelius was a doer of righteousness (prayers) and justice (alms). 

The church is to represent the fulness of righteousness and justice in the earth - a kingly priesthood.  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 

Justice - Not Judgement

The evangelical church in our day is woefully inadequate where the foundational principle of justice is concerned. And please do not associate justice with judgement. Judgement may very well result where justice is lacking; for justice means fair and equal treatment. This is described well by the words of the Baptist: "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise." 

This is stated so succinctly by our referenced prophet: “Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’” Zechariah 7:9-10 

The resulting vacuum has largely been filled by a godless philosophy that is antithetical to the true gospel message.

When Sodom comes to mind we immediately think of sexual immorality but another stench also arises to the nostrils of God in the smoke of her destruction: "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.”  Ezekiel 16:49 

Reconciliation

I was once asked, “Do you mean that righteousness and justice are divorced.”  My reply was, “No, they are not divorced, just estranged in need of reconciliation.”

Matthew Henry has some wonderful insights to Zechariah 4:14: Zechariah desires to know what are the two olive trees. Zerubbabel and Joshua, this prince and this priest, were endued with the gifts and graces of God's Spirit. They lived at the same time, and both were instruments in the work and service of God. Christ's offices of King and Priest were shadowed forth by them. From the union of these two offices in his person, both God and man, the fullness of grace is received and imparted. They built the temple, the church of God. So does Christ spiritually. Christ is not only the Messiah, the Anointed One himself, but he is the Good Olive to his church; and from his fulness we receive.

As Jesus Christ embodied both of these foundational pillars they are occasionally found in one person as in Cornelius above and also in Solomon for the Queen of Sheba said to him: "Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the LORD your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness." 2 Chronicles 9:8 (Please note that the throne belongs to God, not to Solomon.) These two principles also operated in his father David, but they would be disjoined in his son Rehoboam. Subsequently the kingdom would only prosper when the king and the priest worked in concert.

Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3 

The Cross

The ultimate symbol of the oneness of righteousness and justice is the Cross of Christ. The vertical member reaches up toward God while the horizontal member reaches out to mankind. The two inseparable commandments - you shall love the Lord you God; and your neighbor as yourself - are joined together in the Person of Jesus Christ. They are found in two different books in the Old Testament - only in The Gospel are they joined together. 

In our day the kings have been relegated to the arena of secular. Nothing could be further from the truth. The kings must arise to their full stature if we are to see societal transformation which is true revival. They cannot be seen as adjunct - but intrinsic. 

Consummation 

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10 KJV  

Whether a king or a priest we are called to reign on the earth - representing a Kingdom that now is and is yet to come in its fullness.