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 Posted December 2, 2021 

PRIESTS OF FORGIVENESS

Every one of us has met people along the way who had a strange impact on us for good. Outwardly there’s nothing special about this person. They’re quite ordinary. But somehow, when you’re around this man, this woman, you feel cleaner. They give you hope.

Often we’re too dumb to realize the blessing that this person has been until years later. There was this teacher when I was six years old in second grade: Miss Weidman. Looking back after all these years, there was something about that woman. She wasn’t much to look at. She had her bad days, like when she lost her voice and could hardly speak. But she left a mark on our lives, young as we were, that came from heaven.

I can still remember the sound of her voice. How she taught us little kids the 1st Psalm.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners,nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord…..

She burned that Psalm into our memories, along with spelling and arithmetic.

 When Jesus tells us that the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world…and then the end will come, he’s not talking about big-time evangelists, or gospel satellites, or preachers running around in their little clerical collars. He’s talking about folks like Miss Weidman. Men and women with no official status, suddenly popping up all over the place, flooding the earth with the glory of God… By the way they live… By the words that flow from their mouths.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.   (Revelation 1)

“….Made us priests.,” not the kind of priests you find in all religions. Not these people who make their living claiming a certain authority over the rest of us. “I’m the priest. I’m up here. And you’re a layman… you’re down there. And don’t forget it!”

Not that kind of priest.

 This kind of priest…..Peter is writing to a gathering of ordinary people like you and me. This is what he tells them… and us:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.   (I Peter 2)

“A Royal Priesthood.” Miss Weidman was part of that royal priesthood. Her priesthood was outside the structure. But she carried inside her the Spirit of the True High Priest: Jesus, who took his own blood into the Holy of Holies and atoned for us all.

Nobody officially ordained Miss Weidman. Nobody dolled her up in fancy robes. But she prayed for us. She brought God to us. She taught us the meaning of the First Psalm, burned it into our memories.. She was a sign of the coming kingdom.

And as this old earth speeds toward its Day of Accounting, the hour is coming when thousands of Miss Weidmans are going to spread over this earth. And who should be numbered among these God-ordained priests, but people like you and me.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”     (John 20)

He breathed on them.

Commanded them to receive the Holy Spirit.

And sent them out with the gospel of forgiveness.

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven,

if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Does this mean that they could go out and start separating the sheep from the goats?

   “You’re forgiven, heaven has come to you!”

   “You’re not forgiven, you’re on your way to hell!”

No. Peter, James and John and Mary Magdalene, and all the others, were as ordinary as you and I. But they were given by Jesus the power of his cross. Supernatural forgiveness, that washes us clean, gives us a new start, sets us free.

If we open our hearts and receive this forgiveness—and live it—(When you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone), then heaven has begun for us. All we have to do is stay on the road.

 On the other hand, if we close our hearts to this forgiveness, or if we say, “Thank you, Lord!” but refuse to forgive our brother—then our sins are retained.

Not only retained, but put us in worse shape than if we’d never heard the gospel—because we’ve seen the light and rejected it.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The Risen Lord is saying exactly those words to us.

—Peace be with you.

—As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.

—Receive the Holy Spirit.

—If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

“I’m putting into you the gospel of forgiveness. Live this gospel, and as you do, the lives you touch will be changed, one way or the other.”

Miss Weidman was a priest, with one simple gift, one simple power: the gospel of forgiveness, which she poured into a bunch of little kids.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a priest, with one simple gift, one simple power: the gospel of forgiveness which you are to pour into the lives you touch.

When we eat the bread and drink the wine. What is this food? Forgiveness!

“My body, given for you.

My blood, shed for your sins.”

Forgiveness! God’s forgiveness!

So now you have received it afresh. It’s in you. What does that make you?

You are broken bread and poured-out wine for the lives you touch…

A priest of forgiveness.

When we go forth into the world as priests of forgiveness, we are going to encounter four kinds of people in our daily walk:

Busy climbers. Whose main object in life is to get ahead. They’re in a hurry. They have things to do. They don’t have time to listen. But every once in a while they crash into a stone wall. It wakes them up, and they begin to ask, “What’s it all about? Where am I going?” That’s when the Lord sends one of us along with a word of hope.

Bitter skeptics. Whose hearts have been hardened by all the bad breaks. “Why should I believe in God, after all I’ve been through?” But sometimes the light comes on, and they discover that they’re sitting in a pool of self-pity. They’re ashamed. Baffled. And along comes one of us with a word of hope.

Forgotten outcasts. Living on the margins of life, trying to survive as best they can. You find them in the strangest places. Often closer to home than one would think. But once they’re invited to the Banquet Hall, they rise up with joy and come. “Go out into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind.”

Thirsty seekers. People who are looking for something more than this world offers. Money doesn’t do it for them. Fame is useless. Pleasure doesn’t satisfy. Whether they know it or not, they’re looking for God. And the instant they get the slightest sip of the Living Water, their eyes light up.

Busy climbers….bitter skeptics….forgotten outcasts….thirsty seekers. And Jesus laid down his life for every one of them. Shed his blood. Brought down heaven’s forgiveness which alone is able to heal their souls and raise them to life.

“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

Receive the Holy Spirit.”

“….And now pour out my forgiveness into the lives you touch.

By the way you treat them.

By the way you pray for them.

By the words you speak to them.

Just by being there for them.”

Those people out there — the climbers, the skeptics, the outcasts and the seekers, are all walking around with a burden that weighs them down. Deep in their souls they know that something isn’t right. Something’s missing.

So when the Lord sends us out as priests of forgiveness, we don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to have the gift of gab. We just need to be there in his name, and trust that he will guide us.

 In his name and by his power, we’re going to set the captives free, bring them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

Because the Lord God has given us through his Son,

The tongue of those who are taught.

That we might know how to sustain with a word him that is weary.

Morning by morning, he wakens, He wakens our ear,

to hear as those who are taught.  (Isaiah 50)

“Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

Receive the Holy Spirit.

Now take my forgiveness out there as a two-edged freedom sword and bring God’s life to all who will receive it.

And Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Prayer- Holy Lord, Send us, send us to be priests of your forgiveness. Empower us to pour the holy act of forgiveness out willingly, freely, lovingly. We know that nothing can overcome this power of forgiveness, because it is infused with you dear Lord…you are in it…it’s who you are and where we will find you. It is this weapon that breaks the power of darkness bringing freedom and life to the forgiven and the forgivers.   Maranatha Mirror
Message: REB June 2013  Printable Copy
Featured Art: Forgive by Jane Spencer  found on Facebook The Secret place and Unetlanvhi and Chosen by Ramone Romero 

 Posted December 2, 2021 

FORGIVENESS: THE POWER DRAWS

“Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show by what death he was to die.   (John 12:31-33)

If there’s any passage in scripture which needs to be received as light to search out the dark difficult passages it is this one. “I will drew all men (women).” “From my cross I will draw all.” This does not mean that all the fish which are drawn into the net survive the final judgment. There will be a separation at the end.

But all will be drawn.

They are being drawn to him by a desperate need which is being taken care of on that cross. They may not all accept what is being offered on the cross, but they are going to see it and at least taste it, so that they will never again be able to say, “But Lord, I never realized such a gift could be mine.” “Nobody ever told me.” “It was never made clear to me.”­

 And so the fishing chapter of Luke 5 proceeds with a sign which makes clear exactly what it is that draws the fish into the net.

On one of those days, as he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him be­fore Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this that speaks blas­phemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts?

 Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the man who was paralyzed — “I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”   (Luke 5:17:26)

They bring a man for healing for his paralysis but cannot penetrate the crowd. What is it that has drawn such a crowd? What is it that causes these men to go to such lengths to get their friend in there? Jesus pulls back the veil and shows us.“Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  “But Lord, that’s not what he came for. He came to be healed.   Besides who can forgive sins but God alone?”

 “Why do you question in your hearts?

 Which is easier to say? But that you may know that

the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins…

Rise, take up your bed and go home.”

Behind every step toward Jesus that anyone takes for whatever reason, whether it’s for healing or for teaching …. Nicodemus asking questions or the woman at the well asking for living water…

 … is the underlying thirst for the forgiveness of sins.

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth

(on the cross) will draw all men (and women) to myself”

“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

                                           John 1:29

 The fish are swimming into that net to be unburdened.

Human souls are coming to Jesus to be delivered of their guilt…to be forgiven. That’s how we got to him. What else was it that drew us to Jesus of Nazareth but our need of forgiveness?

We found peace at his cross. And as long as our vision of Jesus’ cross remains fresh we continue to have peace. We keep bringing our broken hearts and our needy lives to the Lamb, and his forgiveness makes us whole.

Moreover, we find that as long as the Spirit of Calvary’s forgiveness remains on us

people are drawn to us

— drawn by the forgiveness of God which is on us and in us and overflowing us.

 But a strange thing often happens to people who have been to Calvary and tasted God’s forgiveness. It happened to the believers in Galatia. It has happened, at one time or another, to most of us.

… Instead of seeing that our need of God’s mercy never stops…even when we’re walking in the Spirit, even when our lives have undergone marvelous changes…. that we’re still drawing our life from the Lamb that was slain.

… Instead of seeing this and living by faith in thanksgiving and praise to God for his kindness…

…We make the subtle switch into an attitude and a life where our confidence is in our insights, our victories, and our spiritual achievements.

… We look at how we’ve changed and what we’ve accomplished with considerable satisfaction.

… And we look with growing impatience at the sinners and the struggling saints around us who are still blowing it.

“Man”, what’s the matter with them?”

“God I thank thee that I’m not like that!”

And as soon as we start thinking along those lines the fish are no longer drawn to us. Nor do our minds enjoy the peace they once had.

If only we could see how desperately we need to get back to Calvary.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray,

one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector…”

                                     Luke 18:10

They were both drawn to the temple by the same need.

There was a burden, a weight pressing down on their heart.

The Pharisee tried to ease this burden by justifying himself.

 “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are.”

The tax collector cried out to have the burden lifted by the hands of God.

“God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

If only the Pharisee could have admitted that this burden pressing on him was a burden of guilt and that his despising of other men was only increasing it…and that only God could remove it.

 You take a plane to Jamaica for a few days’ vacation. But when you enter the airport terminal you know there’s been a mistake: this isn’t Jamaica! You’re in a world stranger than a dream. Every soul in sight is walking, in a stooped position, bent under the weight of a huge burlap bag filled with something heavy. Old women, young children, well-dressed executives. As you enter the hotel lobby everyone stares at you from under their burdens. You mutter to your self, “Don’t stare at me you dummies. You’re the fools, not me.”

The desk clerk has the weight on his back encased in velvet and em­bellished with sequins. The young woman singing in the lounge is bent over the microphone with her burden covered with shiny pink satin. After a night’s sleep you gather up the courage to go out once more among these strange people with their everlasting burdens.

 In the restaurant you come across a well-dressed young man who is stooped over like the rest, but his burden seems to be much smaller.

“Could you please explain to me why your burden is smaller than all the others I’ve seen?”

I’ve been to a shrink who brought my burden down to a more convenient size. Don’t you think it’s an improvement? See how much better my clothes fit.”

“And I suppose,” you reply, “your burden is also much lighter?”

“Ah,” he answers, “there’s the rub. It still weighs exactly the same. It looks better but it weighs the same.”

“But I don’t understand,” you cry. “Is it really necessary for you folks to carry these burdens? Why don’t you simply dump those weights from your backs and set yourselves free?” The man looks you in the eye and answers,

“For the same reason that you, and all the people where you come from, carry exactly the same burden we do. That lady’s burden is big, mine is small….yours is invisible, but they all weigh the same.”

And suddenly you realize as you stand there talking to the man that you’re as stooped over as he is! Just then your young friend points to a crowd that is coming together across the street in a little park, drawn to a man standing under a sign,  “BURDENS LIFTED FREE OF CHARGE” “Is it possible?” shouts your friend and runs to join the crowd. Minutes later the man returns standing erect and free. “Wonderful! It really works! Why don’t you go have your burden lifted?”……

“What burden?” you reply.

 “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are….”

It can happen even to Christians who have been to the cross and have laid their burden down.

If they’re not living in the forgiveness of God with thankful hearts and mercy toward those around them… they’ve taken their burden back, they’ve turned from the Spirit back to the flesh.

0 foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you re­ceive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain? — if it really is in vain. Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?  (Galatians 3:1-5)

“Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified….”

When they put their faith in that their sins rolled away and the Spirit came. When they return to that they will revive.

We don’t just go to the cross once.

We live at the cross.

We keep turning to it as long as we live.

 But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.        (Galatians 6:14)

 People are drawn to the crucified Lamb because he takes away their burden. He forgives their sin.

If they are going to be drawn through us….

 … We have to be living in that forgiveness ourselves,
constantly, day and night.

 “God, be merciful to me, a sinner….”

“Lord, have mercy on me.”

“Not my brother, nor my sister, but it’s me, 0 Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

 It’s when we live at the cross ourselves that the burdened ones are drawn and forgiven and healed and changed.

God help us to put behind us today and everyday our flesh’s endless lust to justify itself by passing judgment on every life that falls short of our standards.

God help us to turn to the cross right now and to keep turning to the cross and be justified, forgiven, healed, quickened by the Lamb so that when we go forth in his mercy and proclaim his forgiveness to those for whom he died they may be drawn by the forgiveness which rests on us and rules our hearts.

Prayer-  Lord we come to your cross in such need of your forgiveness, again and again you forgive us, you heal us, you take our broken lives and make us whole. You have been so merciful to us, we have no right to our self-righteousness. Lord forgive us for this. Help us to live in the power of your forgiveness, never letting go of it as we touch each person in our lives.  Maranatha Mirror
Message: REB  Unknown Date (most likely between 2000 and 2003)                        Printable Copy
Featured Art: Rebecca Brogan 

 Posted November 26, 2021 

OUR ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD

 

All the encounters with God we find in scripture are given to encourage us to prepare ourselves for those moments when God breaks into our lives and speaks to us.

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world draws each of us into a miraculous moment when he forgives us and sets us free.

“Take heart, Child, your sins are forgiven.”

But that encounter is only the beginning.  Our walk with God is sustained by a daily encounter all the way to the end of the journey.  Then comes the Eternal Encounter.

 Our initial encounter

It might begin when we meet a stranger….

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma’us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cle’opas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.”  And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”      (Luke 24)

Our first encounter is always with the risen Lord.

The risen Lord can be wherever he chooses, assume whatever form he wishes.  Jesus decides when it will happen, how he will speak to us.

At a moment of his choice the risen Lord “breaks through” to us and begins to speak.

At that moment Jesus is no longer separated from us by centuries and miles.

He’s right here!

He knows us by name.

He “understands our thoughts afar off.”

He takes us as we are and begins to guide us.

The fact that you are reading these words could mean that this has already happened to you, or that it soon will.

Our Daily Encounter

It is impossible to live a life of faith on the strength of that first encounter with the Lord.

Without daily renewal, actually a daily encounter with the Lord, our faith soon fades.

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. (Isaiah 50)

Our Lord himself, in his days of flesh and blood, would rise “a great while before dawn” and go out to a solitary place to pray.

He teaches us to “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father in secret.”  i.e.  Get alone with God.

And who should come to help us but the Lord Jesus himself!

“I will not leave you desolate.  I will come to you.”

Our job is to simply make the time to be alone with God daily, cut off from all distractions. 

When we do this, the Lord, through the Spirit, comes to us and guides us.

He helps us to pray.  For we “do not know how to pray as we ought” (Romans 8)

He “opens to us the scriptures” as he did for those men on the road to Emmaus.

 He speaks to us by whatever means he chooses, enlightening our minds, unlocking mysteries in the Psalms and the Prophets—and especially the gospels.

He refreshes us with the same Living Water he gave to the woman at the well.

The Lord can only do this if we take the time to be alone with him each day.   So that he can open our ears “to hear as those who are taught.”

Our Eternal Encounter 

Does it happen after we die?

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  (I Corinthians 13)

My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. (Philippians 1)

If we die before the Lord returns, we will certainly encounter him with a clarity far beyond anything we experience now. 

And yet, until the resurrection we will still be “incomplete”.

 Will we be in that “great multitude which no man can number”?

“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7)

This vision puts those who have poured out their lives for the Lord together in a magnificent joyful unity before the throne of glory.

What else can this be but an encounter with the Master that belongs to eternal world?

Will we encounter the Master at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure” –for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”  (Revelation 19)

At last the Body of Christ will be “without spot or wrinkle”.

Refined by fire, these believers are feasting with the Master, who is once again drinking “the fruit of the vine” with them. 

God grant that we may be at that table!

Then comes the resurrection.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5)

There will be two final encounters: one joyful, the other terrifying.  The joyful encounter will be based on what we did with the light we were given by God.

God’s light is mercy.

Did we receive it and walk in it?

If we did, the Lord who is our King will welcome us into his joy.

When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’”    (Matthew 25)

Sometimes we feel that we’re “on the outside looking in”.  But the Kingdom of God never leaves its citizens on the outside looking in.

Sooner or later every living soul is drawn into the presence of the living God and offered the gift of eternal life.

     Eternal life begins the moment we encounter God’s love, open our hearts and allow love to rule.

     Eternal life continues with a daily encounter which sustains us.

     Eternal life culminates in an Encounter with God that never ends.

Thy Kingdom come!

Prayer-  Holy Lord, we want to encounter you again and again. What life, what joy could be ours if we would just open ourselves up to encounter you. Break through to us, become alive and real to us. Free us from whatever it is that keeps us from seeking you daily. And yes Lord, morning by morning may we awaken our ears to hear as ones who are taught, as ones who willingly take the cup you offer us, who take your mercy…revel in it and walk in it. Morning by morning sustain us, lift us from our weariness. May these daily encounters prepare us for our eternal encounter with you… as part of the great multitude, as those who are invited to feast with you, and as those who are called into an eternal encounter with you in your perfect Kingdom.                Maranatha Mirror
Message: REB October 2020  Printable Copy
Featured Art: Beverly McCluskey  bevmccluskey.webador.co.uk

 Posted November 4, 2021 

ASK WHATEVER YOU WILL

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.”

                                    John 15

This promise is the climax of Jesus’ “Vine and Branches” teaching.

 If the branch sticks to the Vine,

It will be nourished.

 It will bear fruit.

And its prayers will move mountains.

One condition:

“If you abide in me and my words abide in you.”

Not…..

“If you’re saved.”

“If you’re doctrinally correct.”

“If you’ve lived by Christian principles.”

“If you’re Spirit-filled.”

“If you’re sufficiently righteous.”

Just…

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you.”

How did I get to be a branch?

Jesus made me a branch.

He called me by name.

He put his hand on me and said, “You belong to me.”

 “You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit.”

                                               John 15

Now that Jesus has made me his branch, it’s up to me to abide in him.

To stay connected.

To do what he tells me to do.

                 If I stay connected, I will bear fruit.

                 And because I am praying with the mind of Christ, the Father will answer my prayers.

 Ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.”

 “Sounds great, Lord, but it doesn’t seem to work for me.  My prayers get lost on the way up.”

“Keep on praying.

And keep on abiding in me, until my words have become your life.”

Keep on praying.

The only way we learn to pray is to pray.

 How can the Spirit of God teach us to pray unless we keep praying?

And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart….

 ….And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?

                                    Luke 18

Pray alone in a room with the door shut.

Pray when you wake in the middle of the night.

Pray while you’re walking down the street.

Pray while you’re washing those windows.

Pray in spite of your doubts.

Keep on praying.

Keep abiding in me until my words become your life.

Listen to the Master as he speaks through the four gospels.

Listen to the Spirit when he tells you to give up that grudge.

Listen to the unspoken cries of the wounded souls that God sends into your life. 

Abide

Abiding in the Vine is a conscious act.

A daily discipline.

A habit.

A refuge.

A source of strength.

A fountain of wisdom.

Until the words of the Lord become your life.

     Which they will!

“It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you—they are Spirit, and they are Life.”

                                               John 6

Praying with the mind of Christ.

“Lord Jesus, I want to relinquish my mind for yours.

            I want to yield my will to yours so I can pray in your Name.

And in your name bring heaven into these lives I lift before your throne!”

Prayer-  Holy Father, we thank you for calling us to you, for choosing us, for giving us what we ask. Oh that we would take this precious gift and make it ours. This is what we ask…that we would desire to abide in you with all we have. That we would abide in you until your words become our life, until taking them into our hearts and living them is more natural than breathing. That we would continually seek you in prayer, and we would pray and keep on praying. And yes Lord, that would yield to you, to pray in your name and that through us heaven would come into the lives of many, and we become the fruit you call us to be.   Maranatha Mirror
Message: REB June 2021  Printable Copy
Featured Art: Rik Berry rikberry.com

 Posted November 2, 2021 

POWER

 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted, he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

 Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, anointing me with power to do these things.  I do not do them out of myself, but under the anointing of the Spirit.

We are all aware that to get anything done in this world you have to have power. Without power you are soon left behind, sitting high and dry, while the world goes on its merry way, leaving you to starve to death, or to die of loneliness.

The world offers its own kinds of power:

The power of money

The power of public opinion

Political power… the ‘right connections’

The power of guns

The world knows nothing about the power of God, where it comes from, what it does.

For twenty centuries, whenever professing Christians have lacked God’s power in their lives, they have turned to one or another of these four sources of this world’s power for  support.

We’ve done it ourselves.  How many times have we turned to money for confidence! Or people’s good opinion?  We’ve tried to establish the ‘right connections’. Some of us have even succumbed to the temptation to arm ourselves with guns.

It’s true that we need power to survive, power to accomplish our kingdom purpose.

But kingdom power is power of a different order.

Jesus had power

He was meek, lowly of heart, but when Jesus came out of the wilderness temptation, and began to teach in the synagogues of Galilee, the thing that set him apart from every other teacher in Israel was his power to heal and to free captive souls from the principalities of darkness

When Jesus spoke, his word had power. When he stretched out his hand to touch the sick, there was power to heal.

It was not the power of money.

It was not the power of public opinion.

It was not the power of having the right connections.

Nor was it the power of swords and spears and guns.

Yet, wherever he went doors opened and chains broke.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report concerning him went out to all the surrounding country.  (Luke 4:14)

What was this power of the Spirit?

 He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and he went to the synagogue as was his custom on the Sabbath, and he stood up to read and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place  where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:16-19)

The anointing of the Spirit that was on Jesus was without measure. But what’s important to see is that this power did not  just “zap” him in a capricious manner. 

The Lord Jesus would be the first to tell us that this power was not his, but the Father’s.  It was imparted to him by the Father because he is in total submission to the Father’s will.

When Nicodemus came to him by night and said “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these works which you do  unless God is with him,”  he was saying,  “I see God’s power. I don’t understand who you are, but I know that you possess a power which the rest of us lack.”

Notice that Jesus did not say to Nicodemus, “Nicodemus, after all, I’m the Son of God. I’ve got an inside track. I’ve got something you’re never going to have.”

No, Jesus said: “Nicodemus, you must be born again.”  I.e. “When you are born again, Nicodemus, you will understand where this power is coming from and you will have it too!”

When did this power descend upon Jesus?

It began at his baptism.   When Jesus came out of the water the Spirit descended on him.  He was now the Anointed One, the Messiah.

Why at his baptism? Because his baptism was an offering of himself to the Father.  His baptism was the beginning of an awesome worship. His baptism was a death to his own will, the beginning of his crucified life, culminating at the cross.

He then was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. There his power was increased and refined.  Because in the wilderness, Jesus denied himself  in favor of his Father’s pleasure.

It was a further death, an offering of himself  as a sacrifice to the Father’s will. 

From that point on his ministry was drenched in power, and the source of this power was the offering up of himself, which continued daily, until Calvary.

 You can only understand Isaiah 61,( “His Spirit is upon me because he has anointed me…”) if you see it in the light of Isaiah 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him and by his stripes we are healed.”

The power comes upon Jesus because he offers himself up.

From the moment Jesus offered himself to his Father at his baptism, until the moment he finally gave up the ghost and died on Good Friday, his entire life was worship.— an offering. He fixed his eye on the goal at the end of the road, where he offered everything up to the Father on the cross. 

Jesus never wavered. His eye was single. He saluted no man on the road. He did not allow himself to get distracted. And he shook the dust from his feet whenever anybody tried to get him off the track, whether it was his mother, or the apostle Peter, or the scheming Pharisees. Jesus just kept moving forward.

They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments on it and he sat upon it. And many spread their garments on the road. And others spread leafy branches, which they cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed be the kingdom of our Father David that is coming. Hosanna in the highest.” (Mark 11:7)

 It looks like he’s got it made.  

He’s got them eating out of the palm of his hand.  

If he wants it, he can have financial power. 

If he wants to he can now exploit public opinion. 

With those crowds behind him, he’s got political clout. 

He can broker this power and take over Israel like Castro took over Cuba.

This is his opportunity.

But he ignores this “opportunity.” 

He doesn’t reach out for money.

He doesn’t push to take advantage of his “ratings.”

He doesn’t become a politician or a general.

 He spurns it all for the only anointing that really counts —

— The anointing that brings real power…

— The anointing that’s going to take him to a cross…

— The anointing that is going to lead him to offer himself up in an act of consuming worship to his  Father on our behalf.

This was the power of Jesus’ entire ministry.

This is why he could bring good news to the poor, freedom to the captives, sight to the blind, deliverance to the oppressed. This is why he inspired hope in the hopeless.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come then through the greater and more perfect tent, not made with hands, not of this creation, he entered once for all into the holy place taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood thus securing eternal redemption For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and the ashes of a heifer sanctifies of the purification of the flesh, how much more should the blood of Christ to the eternal Spirit offer himself without blemish to God purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.  (Hebrew 9:11)

This is not theoretical power, but very, very practical power. Power that can transform people who are slaves of guilt, victims of dead works, finding no peace… into sons and daughters of the Kingdom, people who are alive with joy, gladness, wisdom, and freedom, as they serve the Living God.

Yes, this power is in the blood.

“How much more should the blood of Christ…”

There is power in the blood, indeed, but be careful not to make the blood of the Lord Jesus into a fetish. 

His blood has power because he offers himself up.

He offered himself at his baptism.

He offered himself at his temptation.

And on Palm Sunday as he rides the donkey down into the city like a king (which he is), he is on his way to the final sacrifice.

When that offering of himself gets hold of us, when it gets control of us, we are changed by it. When our hearts see the sacrifice and understand it, we are delivered from dead works to serve the Living God.

We are transformed from slaves to sons and daughters of the Kingdom.

We are caught up in worship of the Father as Jesus leads us into the Father’s presence.

We are lifted by him into a foretaste of glory, and soon, we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. 

And in this offering of ourselves we enter the Lord’s power.  

 “I appeal to you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, without spot to God which is your spiritual worship.”      (Romans 12: 1)

“Offer yourselves up.” he says to us.

Every day. All the time. Just like Jesus.

 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may prove (demonstrate, show, manifest) what is the good acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

The world says,

“Indulge yourself. Pamper yourself. Coddle yourself. Gratify yourself. Conserve yourself. Take care of yourself.”

The Spirit of the Lord says,

“Offer yourself. Offer yourself. Offer yourself”

Lo, I come to do your will, O, Lord. In the volume of the book it is written of me,”

… says Jesus and we say it with him.

We’re coming to do his will. And to do his will means that we simply give ourselves, all the way, to him. All the time. This is not a single momentary act but a daily practice. The offering of ourselves means that we commit ourselves to live the life that Jesus describes in Matthew 5, 6, and 7—The Sermon on The Mount. The Sermon on the Mount becomes deadly legalism if we just try to make ourselves do it.

But the Sermon on the Mount, when it is lived as worship, when it becomes an offering, brings with it tremendous power.

 “If you bring your gift to the altar (and the gift is yourself) and there remember your brother has something against you, Go! Leave your gift there and go and get reconciled.”

Suppose we’re worshiping, and it suddenly becomes evident to me that I’m not treating my wife right or my husband right, I’ve been walking around and spouting Bible quotes, while treating my spouse like a dog—or my fellow worker…or my employee…or my employer…or my neighbor…or my third cousin…

As I worship, I become aware of this. So I leave my gift and I go get reconciled— I make up my mind… I’m going to be reconciled to this person. I’m going to start making it up to them—my wife or my husband –I’m going to treat them with honor as the Lord has made clear to me.

Now we offer ourselves up and our worship becomes glorious.

As we are offering ourselves to the Lord we become aware that our eye is going off to the side. We are looking upon that man or that woman with lust or envy or devising a way to exploit that person for our own ends.  Now we take our right eye and pull it out.

We put it under the blood. We confess it, so our eye is single.

Now we can worship.

We sing hymns in our worship that contain tremendous truths— with tongues which have gossiped, exaggerated, murmured, complained. And now, we’re saying, “Thank you, Jesus!” Yet, as we worship, it becomes evident that this tongue has to clean up its act. So we repent of our evil tongue, and as we cleanse our tongue before the Lord it again becomes possible to offer ourselves up to him.

Perhaps as we worship, we become aware that our attitudes toward the people who have wronged us are destroying us. We’re bitter about this group, or that group, this race, or that nationality,  this denomination, the Media, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the president, or whoever we’re angry with.  With the Spirit’s help, we begin to pray for the person, or the group that inspires our wrath.  Now we pray God’s blessing upon them.

Perhaps we become aware that our faith is actually less in God and more in mammon.  So we repent. We know that we can’t serve God and money too. We’re going to recommit ourselves—we’re going to offer ourselves to the kingdom, trusting that God will provide whatever money we need.

The source of our power is the offering of a clean, committed, holy life to God.

If we do this, his power becomes ours.  It’s a daily offering of our life.

 When a fellowship offers itself to God in this way, that fellowship is anointed with unspeakable power.

The Spirit of the Lord is calling our churches to present themselves to God as a living sacrifice.  To truly take up the cross and follow the Lamb with outpoured lives.

 Arise, shine, for your light has come for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

To arise and shine in response to his light is to present ourselves in worship to him. To rise up in the flame that comes down from heaven, and to give glory to God as the flame consumes us.

As we worship with our lives, we will have power.

Power that will move mountains, power that will break chains, power that will raise the dead, power that will heal the sick, power that will bring people from darkness to light and from Satan’s bondage into God’s glorious freedom.

Prayer: Holy Lord, forgive us for seeking power for our ends.. for recognition, for exploitation, for control. Instead may we be gripped by the beauty, by the holiness of you laying all power aside as an offering of love to the Living God. Oh Lord, get a hold of us, grab us, change us …help us to understand what your offering truly means. Move us to offer ourselves as well… today, every day, every moment. Transform us, renew our minds so that our offering is sweet worship to you, to your worthiness and sovereignty. And yes, may we arise and shine as your glory falls upon us. May your holy flame consume us so that we may move in the only power that can break the grip of evil on our lives and on this world. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror


 REB… 1985, edited 2014, 2021   Printable Copy
Featured Art: from Full of  Eyes by Chris Powers

 Posted October 26, 2021 

TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE

You want to understand the Bible?

   Lay aside your commentaries and start listening to Jesus.

The Bible can be interpreted in a thousand ways.

Hence all the denominations.

All the sects.

All the cults.

Each claims to have the true interpretation.

“It’s all about the gift of grace.”

“It focuses on the coming judgment.”

“It’s driven by the light of prophecy.”

“It reveals the essential Sabbath.”

 “It’s about Security”

 “It culminates in the Spiritual Gifts”

Somehow the clear voice of Jesus is lost in a flood of doctrine, theology, prophecy and spiritual mysteries.

The Father’s Final Word.

God the Father pronounced the final word on the Mount of Transfiguration.

And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

Peter was awed to see Jesus raised to the level of Moses and Elijah, who stood for the Law and the Prophets of scripture.

Then Peter did what we keep doing to this day.

 Peter perceived Jesus as “part” of scripture instead of Lord of Scripture.

He added Jesus to the law and the prophets as an equal.

                      Big mistake.

He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

                                 Matthew 17

 Jesus only.

“My Son stands far above the law and the prophets!

 Listen to him!”

The living God was telling Peter—and all of us—that…

Jesus is Lord of scripture.

Jesus is the fulfillment of scripture.

Jesus is the interpreter of scripture.

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

  We have fallen into the trap that blinded the “scripture experts” of Jesus’ day.

We try to use scripture to interpret Jesus, instead of letting Jesus interpret scripture.

You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me;  yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”    (John 5)

The purpose of all scripture is to bear witness to Jesus, the Incarnate Word.

Jesus is on the Throne.

Scripture is at his feet.

 Only when we listen to the Son do the scriptures truly come alive.

 “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”

                                                       Luke 24

 Jesus is Lord of Scripture

Jesus knew scripture better than anyone who ever walked this earth. 

The words of scripture were constantly on his lips.

They flowed from him like a river.

But Jesus did not hesitate to enlarge, sharpen, or even discard scriptures that were popular in his day.

 He took the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” and raised it to a level never seen before.

“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”

                                                       Matthew 5

Jesus took the food laws and set them aside with the authority of heaven.

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

And he said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man.”

                                                       Mark 7

The Son of God was with the Father eons before Moses and the Prophets appeared.

The Spirit of the Son was present through all the turmoil and suffering and victories and joy from which the scriptures emerged.

Jesus alone causes scriptures to speak to the human heart, when the heart humbles itself before him.

Jesus is the Fulfillment of Scripture.

 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

                                                       Isaiah 53

Centuries before the Lamb of God appeared at the banks of the Jordan, flashes of vision were given to the prophets.

The Psalms are loaded with hints of the coming Messiah.

Daniel and Zechariah could see the light of the coming kingdom, and shared what they saw as best they could.

Always the focus of Hebrew scripture was the “Coming One”.

When Jesus arrived, he confirmed these prophecies again and again.

Without apology he declared himself to be the fulfillment of scripture.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

                                            Luke 4

Without Jesus, scripture is like a headless body, a rudderless ship.

Scripture was incomplete until Jesus arrived and fulfilled it.

Scripture is meaningless without Jesus explaining what it’s all about.

“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Listen to him!”

 Jesus is the Interpreter of Scripture.

 At the well….

 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”   (John 4)

Seeing her tender heart, Jesus explained scripture to this woman with alarming power.

  Jerusalem has no monopoly on worship.

God can be worshiped anywhere…

     ….if you worship him in Spirit and in truth.

At the Feast of Tabernacles…

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'”

                                                       John 7

At the Feast of Tabernacles people lived in booths to commemorate past deliverance.

           It was all about the past.

 As Jesus interpreted this feast, it was now about the future. 

This feast was pointing to an outpouring of the Spirit which Jesus had come to bring.

“As the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'”

Jesus had now made the Feast of Tabernacles something totally new.

Answering the Sadducees

The Sadducees, who insisted that there is no resurrection, figured they could embarrass Jesus with a simple problem.

“After seven brothers died in succession, all having had the same woman as wife, (fulfilling Jewish law), who’s wife will she be in the resurrection?”

 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

                                Matthew 22

 “You know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.”

  Jesus interpreted scripture and let these Sadducees decide what to do with the light he gave them.

When we’re baffled…

  When we come to a passage of scripture that stumps us, we go directly to the Lord Jesus.

 Lord, do you want women to keep silence in church, as the Apostle Paul requires in I Corinthians 14?

Jesus is quite able to make his will known to us.

  We need to turn to him for clarity, and wait.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go.  I will guide thee with mine eye.

                                                       Psalm 32

 We pass not judgment on those who claim to have a different answer from the one we received.

  The Master will sort it out, when he’s ready.

 Our job is to keep walking in the light we have been given.

 “This is my beloved Son….listen to him!

For too long we have put the Bible on the throne, with Jesus at it’s feet.

 We will never understand the Bible until we see Jesus on the Throne and the Bible at his feet.

Jesus is the Lord of scripture.

Jesus is the fulfillment of scripture.

Jesus is the interpreter of scripture.

 “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;

listen to him.”

Prayer: Father we thank you so much that Jesus is Lord of Scripture…. that when we hear him speak, our hearts burn within us. Keep our hearts humbled and soft so we may continue to hear you speaking to us. May we be troubled when we hear a word, teachings or interpretations that do not sound like you. Help us to turn to you and seek your direction when we are confused. Lead us to the Living Water that will fill us and flow out of us and help us to truly worship you in spirit and truth.
Maranatha Mirror
 REB… October 2021     Printable Copy
Featured Art: Melani Pyke at melpyke.com
 

 Posted October 19, 2021 

BREAD FOR THE GOD-HUNGRY

The Sower has an endless supply of seed.

   He’s generous.

   He never skimps.

Some seed falls along the path.

Some is scattered on rocks.

Some lands among the thorns.

But some always falls on good soil….. And bears fruit.

The good soil stands for those who are God-hungry.

The God-hungry are everywhere, in every age.

 At the appointed time Living Bread from heaven came to feed the God-hungry here on earth.

He fed their souls.

He healed their bodies.

He gave them Life. 

 

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”  (John 6)

The God-hungry are always among us.

The living bread is always nearby.

    But who will feed the God-hungry with this bread?

________________

Paul met the Living Bread on the Damascus Road.

   He spent the rest of his life feeding the God-hungry.

He found them in the synagogue.

He found them at the riverbank.

He met them aboard ship.

Wherever he found them he fed them.

Paul let the Lord call the shots.

 He let the Spirit to open the way.

 He just fit in and did his part.

And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.  (Acts 16)

Paul and his friends sat down and talked with the women.

Soon they were feeding their souls with Living Bread.

It was not complicated.

It was simple.

It was not forced.

It was natural.

 Our objection:

 “People were God-hungry in those days. They were not hard and cynical like today’s world.”

 The Lord’s response.

“This world has always been hard and cynical.

 And the God-hungry are always searching.

You will find them in churches and synagogues and mosques and temples.

You will find them in bars and nightclubs.

You’ll find them on beaches.

They might even live next-door.

 You are going to feed them.

They will come to your table in a coffee shop.

An old friend will call you out of the blue, sharing a heavy burden.

An associate will send an e-mail to challenge your faith.

A hard-nosed neighbor will beg you to pray for his dying wife.

           And you will feed them.

“But Lord, I have nothing to give them!

My hands are empty!”

“Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs.”  (Luke 11)

What else can we do but cry out to the Father for Bread?

    Our cupboards are always bare.

    We always have to pray for bread from above.

And bread always comes to us, when we keep asking for it.

Always.  

 And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”    (Luke 11)

Lord, give us eyes to see the God-hungry.

And give us bread to feed their souls.

Prayer: Yes, Lord give us eyes to see the God Hungry. Give us the faith and the vision to see their emptiness, their hunger, their need… even though it’s dark, it’s midnight and we are afraid to wake you up…. Even though we are empty handed and have nothing to give them. Lord help us, what other power do we have without you? What other hope does this world have without you? Many are weak, many are starving, many need Living Bread. And yes Lord, give us Living Bread to feed their souls when we see their needs. Teach us, lead us, show us, and give us your Holy Spirit so we can feed their souls, heal their wounds, and bring them true life.
Maranatha Mirror

 REB… October 2021     Printable Copy
Featured Art:Berna Lopez at evangile-et-peinture.org/
 

 Posted October 8 , 2021 

STILL WAITING FOR THE ANSWER

In his final prayer for his disciples Jesus prayed that “they all may be one.”

He prayed with urgency.

He prayed with all the power of heaven.

Still we wait for the answer.

“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.”

John 17

Jesus knew what lay ahead.

   He saw his followers in disarray, scattered and divided.

   He saw the world shaking its head and ignoring their witness.

Jesus also knew that his gospel would be heard and heeded only when his followers were in unity around him.

Only around him.

He is the Vine.

We are the branches.

When all the branches draw their strength from the Vine alone, the world will pay attention.

When the world hears us speaking with one voice, one heart, it will drop what it’s doing, come and listen.

“Even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

This prayer has not yet been answered.

But it will be.

The day is coming when believers will finally find unity around Jesus.

Jesus only.

“So that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.”

That all may be one.

The answer to Jesus’ prayer is coming.

There will be unity.

There will be power.

There will be a harvest such as this world has never seen.

The world will know that Jesus of Nazareth is exactly who he said he is.

The Messiah!

The Son of the Living God!

“O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me. I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” 

John 17

Prayer: Yes, dear righteous Lord we need to be one, we long to be one, we are waiting to be one. May we let go of all distractions. May we heed your precious gift, your call to “Come to Me”. Lord help us to do just that, to come. To find our unity because we are found in you and you alone. Oh Lord to have you in us, and us in you and the holy love of the Father binding us all together… what glory will be ours if we will have it. What a witness… a power the world could not turn a blind eye to, could not disparage, could not deny. Make it so Lord, may the answer come soon, that we will know you, speak with one heart and be empowered by the same love.
Maranatha Mirror

 REB… October 2021   Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy of Gwen Meharg at drawneartoGod

 Posted October 5, 2021 

THE DOOR OF DESPERATION

We are religious.

We are “good Christians”.

We are happily sailing through life on cruise control.

Suddenly our world falls apart.

   In the crisis nothing makes sense.

    God seems far away.

“Lord, where are you?”

         Silence.

“Lord, have mercy!”

         Silence.

“Lord Jesus, you are my only hope!”

 After countless cries of desperation, a shaft of light breaks through the darkness.

 We are passing through the Door of Desperation into a walk with God.

 I sought the Lord and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears.

 They looked unto him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

                                    Psalm 34

 Now the Lord Jesus begins to teach us how to “walk on water”.

    To walk by faith….

       In an uncertain world.

           A dangerous world.

                        A hostile world.

 Living by faith on the edge of desperation is the only way to stay focused, as the dark clouds thicken.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.”  (Matthew 24)

The world is indifferent.

    Hostility is increasing.

But here’s the good news:

 Multitudes are destined to find God through that door of desperation….

                        ….as we give them hope.

The Master is sending us into a world of desperation.

   He is empowering us to free the captives and open blind eyes.

       To welcome them into God’s kingdom.

                        To give them hope.

 “Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.

Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road….

….Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.‘”

                                               Luke 10

Lord Jesus, give us eyes to see the ones you send to us!

Give us ears to hear their cries.

Empower us to bring them from Satan’s darkness into your Light!

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

                                         Matthew 10

Prayer: Lord we cry to you in our desperation. Deliver us from our fears, save us from our troubles. We need to know you are with us, that you see us, that you hear us in our despair. As we are steadied by your gaze and your tender grip on us, fill us with hope so that we can learn to walk on water. As we are freed from the grip of despair, help us to bring this hope to others, this confidence in your tender goodness. And yes, yes, give us eyes to see the ones you send us, ears to hear their cries and empower us to bring them from Satan’s darkness into your light. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
 REB… September 2021    Printable Copy
Featured Art: Rolf Jansson via Good Salt license

 Posted September 18, 2021 

COMFORT FOR THE COMFORTLESS – DISCOMFORT FOR THE COMFORTABLE

That’s how he did it.

    He brought comfort to the ones who were hurting.

He healed their wounds.

He opened their blind eyes.

He brought them to the Banquet of God.

He forgave their sins.

He gave them eternal life.

But Jesus also disillusioned the comfortable.

He infuriated the scribes and Pharisees.

He angered those who figured they were tight with God.

 Here in Christendom we don’t do it that way.

We comfort the comfortable.

We keep reminding them that they are “saved by grace”.

We keep assuring them how much God loves them.

 And the comfortless?

    What do we owe them?

 They brought it on themselves!

They’re lazy.

They’re dishonest.

They’re stupid.

Keep them down there where they belong!

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.

And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4

 And what did these pious souls do when the service was over?

They dragged Jesus to the edge of a cliff and tried to kill him.

Jesus made them uncomfortable.

Jesus is still at it.

To the ones we reject, Jesus brings the comfort of heaven.

And to all us super-Christians he speaks unsettling words.

“When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”  (Luke 12)

  So we have to decide.

     Are we going to follow Jesus out there among the rejects?

    Or are we going to stick with the Pharisees and keep things comfortable?

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the crippled you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

Ezekiel made those shepherds of Israel uncomfortable.

Ezekiel makes us uncomfortable.

  Do we get it?

  Do we hear the voice of our Shepherd in Ezekiel’s prophecy?

Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd; and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:

Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

 The fire of judgment is burning through the Church with these words of Ezekiel.

 False shepherds are being replaced in droves.

    But who will feed the sheep?

               God himself.

Jesus the true Shepherd.

And all who walk with Jesus, under his yoke!

For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country.

I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice.

                                                       Ezekiel 34

This ancient prophecy is being fulfilled once again.

It is happening before our eyes.

 The word of the Lord is addressing every soul who reads these words:

“When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Prayer: – Yes Lord help us to interpret the present time. We confess it’s more comfortable to be enraptured by our own righteousness. Lord, make us uncomfortable with our righteousness, our hypocrisy, our sense of superiority. Open our eyes to the wounds we inflict. We thank you for making us uncomfortable, for calling us out. Oh that we would heed you. We thank you that you can bring comfort to those who are rejected, that you can bind up their wounds. Help us to have the heart for them that you have. Help us to seek the lost, strengthen the weak and to comfort the comfortless.
Maranatha Mirror
 REB… September 2021    Printable Copy
Featured Art: Ramone Romero  http://ramone-romero.blogspot.com/

 Posted September 10, 2021 

 

Prayer: Yes, Lord, help us to focus our thoughts on you, to live and think like your sons and daughters; Focusing our minds on you Jesus, seeking the things that are above, putting away ugly and vicious thoughts and actions, putting on compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience. Lord help us to forbear, forgive and love. Bind us together in your harmony. May your peace truly rule our thoughts. May your word richly dwell in us so that our hearts and minds sing to you in love and thankfulness and there is no room for the bad thoughts to rule us.
Maranatha Mirror
 REB… 1987     Printable Copy
Featured Art: Kindness of Jane Spencer via The Secret Place on Facebook

 Posted September 10, 2021 

ANCHORS

When life overwhelms him he enters a quiet room in his basement, lights three candles, and kneels before a golden image.

   He has faith in that image.

     It has brought him through many a crisis, he believes.

     It has kept him sane.

The image never talks back.

It never rebukes him.

It never judges him.

It listens in silence.

The image is his anchor.

Will it hold him through what lies ahead?

Time will tell.

_______________

She takes a cab to the financial district and enters an imposing granite building with heavy brass-trimmed doors.

All the chaos of the city gives way to a hush as she steps into a small office to the left of the grand lobby.

She is greeted by an impeccably dressed man, who takes her coat and orders coffee.

“I would like to discuss my portfolio,” she explains. “I think we need to make some changes to get ahead of the coming down-turn.”

“Let me bring up your file,” says her financial advisor.  With millions in investments, this woman is treated like royalty.

Money is her anchor, and she has gobs of it.

So why does she have trouble sleeping?

Will her anchor hold in the coming storms?

Time will tell.

_______________

He has gathered with his political soul mates, mapping out their future, devising ways to defeat the enemy.

He is not a politician. But he looks to his party to keep him safe, to advance his personal agenda, and give meaning to his life.

Politics is his anchor.

Will it keep him safe in the days ahead?

Time will tell.

____________________

It seems like everybody has an anchor, something to hang on to as the winds of change increase, and the fires burn, and the floods rise.

This woman doesn‘t worry about who will bury her body when she dies.  And she could care less about her “legacy”.  All she cares about—and she cares about it a lot—is what’s going to happen to her when she dies.

Not to her body—“Dump my body!  Who cares?” Her estate? “Let them fight over it.”

This woman wants to know what’s going to happen to her soul, her spirit.

She reads every book she can find on “near death experiences”, and “out of body” visions.

She surfs the internet for information about the “world beyond”.

And she believes she is beginning to figure it out. She’s looking forward to getting “over there”.

Faith in the world beyond is this woman’s anchor.

Will it hold?

Time will tell.

_________________

This man has found an anchor that most people have forsaken: the Church.

He has discovered a church with all the answers.  No guessing.  For every question there is a clear answer.

This church guides him and offers him a path to glory in the world beyond.  Whenever he has a problem, the priest is there to show him the way.

His anchor has served him well so far.

Will it hold through what lies ahead?

Time will tell.

__________________

She traveled all the way to India to find her anchor: a Guru with penetrating eyes and a voice that sounds like an oracle from the world beyond.

Her Guru has brought her serenity.  Whether she is sitting at his feet or riding a subway in Chicago, his vibrations surround her with mysterious protection.

Will her anchor hold?

Time will tell.

_____________________

You ask me if I have found my anchor.

I have.

My anchor is God.

My anchor is the One who has no beginning and no ending, who holds this universe and all others in the palm of his hand.

My link to God is his deliberate link to me.

God sent a part of himself into this world to break the curse, to open the door to his world.

He comes to us as one who speaks our language.

Who shares our humanity.

Who delivers us from evil.

Who guides our steps.

Who lifts us out of darkness into his light.

He is my anchor.

He knows me, and I know him.

I know that he will hold me through the approaching storm.

   He is not an idol. 

   He is not a guru. 

   He is not an ideology. 

He is not a “belief system”.

He walked this earth in a human body.

He did nothing but good.

He spoke nothing but truth.

Yet they killed him.

No tomb could hold him.

On the third day he walked out of that tomb never to die again.

He is Lord of heaven and earth.

His words circle the planet and fall like fire into the hearts of those who hunger for truth.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 Matthew 5

He is closer to you than your breath as you read these words.

If you know him, you have found an anchor that will never fail.

If you do not know him, call on his name and he will come to you.

Just say his name and open your heart.

“Jesus”!

For he already knows you and loves you.

He will be your anchor if you will but cling to him 24/7.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. And no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”     (John 10)

Prayer: Lord as we bob through this life being carried up and down by life itself and sometimes being caught by storms and sudden squalls we need you to hold us firm. Jesus, Jesus hold us, you are our anchor. We believe you will never fail, we choose to hear and trust in your eternal truth. We open our hearts to your loving presence that is always with us, always holding us
Maranatha Mirror
 REB… September 2021     Printable Copy
Featured Art: : Paintings courtesy of Mindi Oaten…At mindioaten.com Other images (photos) via Unsplash

 Posted September 3, 2021 

BAD THOUGHTS

Like birds flying at the window they come without invitation.

Regrets.

Disappointments.

Fears.

Weird fantasies.

Delusions of grandeur.

No need to feel guilty as long as they’re outside the window.

Thoughts “outside the window” are simply part of this world’s crazy atmosphere.

They keep banging at the window, trying to get in.

    Those thoughts become a problem when we open the window and invite them in.

When we toy with them.

Wallow in them.

Obsess over them.

Escape into them.

That’s when they eat away at our souls like termites.

Of course we need to do more than keep the window shut.

We need to focus our minds on “the one thing needful”.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

We also need to swat down the bad thoughts that fly in by the back door.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

If we are in God’s kingdom the bitter divisions of the world out there have no place in our lives.

Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scyth’ian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.

 With a daily, hourly act of the will we clothe ourselves

in the new nature God has given us.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3

 

We decide where we will focus our thoughts.

 We live like sons and daughters of God…

…only when we think like sons and daughters of God.

Prayer: Yes, Lord, help us to focus our thoughts on you, to live and think like your sons and daughters; Focusing our minds on you Jesus, seeking the things that are above, putting away ugly and vicious thoughts and actions, putting on compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience. Lord help us to forbear, forgive and love. Bind us together in your harmony. May your peace truly rule our thoughts. May your word richly dwell in us so that our hearts and minds sing to you in love and thankfulness and there is no room for the bad thoughts to rule us.
Maranatha Mirror
 REB… 1987     Printable Copy
Featured Art: Kindness of Jane Spencer via The Secret Place on Facebook
 Posted August 28, 2021 

THE INSPIRED MOMENT AND THE INSPIRED WALK

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; and your very great reward.” But Abram said, “0 Lord God, what wilt thou give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, thou halt given me no offspring; and a slave born in my house will be my heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Genesis 15:1-6

We read a passage like that and say to ourselves,

“Abraham was lucky.  God spoke to him … came to him in a vision … took him out and showed him the stars and gave him a promise.

Abraham got a clear revelation. We could believe like he believed if we got a clear revelation.”

What happened to Abraham that night when God spoke to him and promised him a son and descendants as numerous as the stars is what could be called, “an inspired moment” …. a brief encounter during which Abraham saw things and heard things and understood things which he knew came from the unseen God. And that inspired moment was no different from inspired moments most of us have had. Most of us have had them, and if we haven’t we will. Revelation comes to everybody who seeks God. I’m talking about these special encounters with the Spirit of God.

When you know that God has said something to you,

– that word you heard,

– that thought that came into your mind,

– that quickening of the scripture,

– that unusual dream,

– that coincidence at work….

Contained within it-

– a promise to you from God…..

– or a call from God,

– or a command from God.

During that inspired moment you knew that God spoke.

Now the important thing about Abraham was that the life he lived between those inspired moments was “an inspired walk.” With a few exceptions, which the scriptures make no attempt to hide, Abraham lived in daily life the light that came to him in those inspired moments.

And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.

…which means he took that word which was given to him in the inspired moment and lived in that word during all the ordinary days. And thus Abraham transformed the ordinary days into days of faith.

Our tendency is to rejoice in those inspired moments,

to glory in them,

to remember them, to talk about them,

to share them with our friends …

But the life we live through the dull days tends to be dull, uninspired, often faithless.

“Lord, please send me some more inspiration. I’m getting depressed!”

And the Lord answers,

“Walk in the light I’ve already given you.”

” Do something with the word I’ve already spoken to you—and every day of your life will be inspired.”

 

We need to learn two lessons from Abraham.

We need to learn to recognize the inspired moment when it comes.

We need to learn to bring the glory of the inspired moment down into our daily walk.

We need to recognize the inspired moment when it comes…. to welcome it as a gift from God.

So many times the Lord draws near and speaks in the most wonderful way and we miss it.

And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth and said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I fetch a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk, and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.                                                                                                                                                            Genesis 18:1-8

…Abraham lifted-up his eyes and looked, and behold three men stood in front of him. He could have said, “What do you guys want? Why are you wandering around out here in the heat of the day?” These three men didn’t have halos or shining faces, yet Abraham was so God-hungry that he knew when he was in the presence of the holy. He ran to them, bowed down, and offered them hospitality.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

 Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall recognize the messengers of God when they draw near … the voice of God when he speaks.

They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son.”               

Genesis 18:9-14

…”I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son … Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

This was an inspired moment and when it came to Abraham he seized it…he welcomed it.

Every time Jesus visited a village, or spoke to a man, or a woman; he brought them an inspired word … a word from God.

There were those who recognized this blessing and welcomed it, received it.

And there were those who were just too busy with their own program … often too busy with their own religious program … to hold still and bow before the Lamb of God and listen, and worship.

– When Peter fell on his knees before Jesus in the fishing boat he was seizing an inspired moment.

– When the two disciples suddenly recognized the risen Jesus as he broke bread that evening in Emmaus they were welcoming a moment of glory.

This kind of thing often happens when we’re gathered together in the name of the Lord…

– someone says something,

– something happens during a hymn,

– an assurance visits as we eat the bread,

– a burden lifts,

– a fear evaporates ….

– an answer comes.

Sometimes it happens when we’re together with a few sisters and brothers in a house, or when we’re alone. Sometimes out of the mouth of a total stranger come words straight from heaven …

God give us grace to recognize these moments and to welcome the Spirit of the Lord.

But now, we need to learn from Abraham to bring the glory of the inspired moment down into our daily walk.

– The inspired moment is God’s gift to us.

– The inspired walk is our thank-offering back to God.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.”

 Genesis 17:1

…”I am El Shaddai, God Almighty … walk before me and be blameless.

Walk the walk of faith…live the life of faith and you will be blameless.”          

-And Abraham did.

“No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and. I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.”

Genesis 17:5-7

But this covenant hinged on Abraham walking the walk of faith, which for Abraham meant trusting God every day of his life in every area of his life.

Faith in God – ruling his relationship with Sarah.

Faith in God – governing the way he dealt with his servants,

– the way he handled his possessions,

– the way he looked out for his impulsive nephew Lot,

– the way he raised his son Isaac.

“I am God Almighty…walk before me and be blameless,

…bring my glory down into the ordinary days,

…pour out in your daily living the grace which I have poured in here on the mountaintop.”

That’s exactly how we live when we follow Jesus.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”                               

Galatians 2:20

“The life I now live in the flesh,” … in the flesh … in the real world of buying and selling, waking and resting…”I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me,”… faith in God … in the marketplace, the bedroom, the kitchen.

Jesus says to us, his disciples, exactly what the Father said to Abraham,

“I am El Shaddai, the God who sustains you. Walk before me and be blameless.”

      In other words,

                   “Live your daily life in my presence. “

“Trust me that I am able to keep you, and you will be blameless.

Take my name with you down into the valley.

Take my Spirit with you out into the wilderness… and you will be blameless.”

Sometime ago somebody broke the lock on Jean’s car during the night. I fixed it. The following night they broke the other lock. I fixed it. But when I went to bed that night I was thinking, what are they going to do tonight? Then the thought came, almost like an audible voice,

“Except the Lord build the house, those who build it labor in vain. Except the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”                                                                                                

Psalm 127

And I had peace and went to sleep. That was an inspired moment. But now it’s up to me to walk in that, to hang on to that day after day, night after night.

Things are rough in the workplace. “Walk before me there…practice my presence. Remember that I am with you and you will be blameless. Your walk will be inspired.”

Things at home are not the way you’d like them. “Walk with me. Live under my yoke. Learn from me to be a servant and you will be blameless. Your walk will be inspired.”

You’re moping around with a wound which some Christian inflicted on you. “Walk before me… walk before me. Get your eyes on me and you will be blameless. Your walk will be inspired.”

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

Matthew 28:16-20

Now we come down from the mountain and we hold on to this promise, “I am with you.”

There is no temptation, no trial, no obstacle that will not give way to the glory of the Lord, when we remember that he is with us.

When we walk before him, trusting him, Jesus’ presence will transform…

the dullest day, the darkest day, the hardest day

into a foretaste of the coming glory.

 

 Prayer- Lord we thank you, Oh we thank you for all the inspired moments you have given us. Help us to recognize them when they come and cherish them for the beautiful gifts they are. May the awe and beauty of these inspired moments lead us to inspired walks. May we heed your call to walk blameless before you, living by faith, remembering your love, and continually lifting our hearts in gratefulness …knowing that you have us… at all times…Yes in the dullest, darkest and hardest of days…may your presence transform us and may we find your glory in them because you the Living God are with us. Maranatha Mirror

 REB… 1987  Printable Copy               Audio Sermon
Featured Art: Marc Chagall first 3 pieces and Georges Rouault last 3 pieces… fair use
 Posted August 13, 2021 

THY KINGDOM COME

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

But when, Lord?

When will the kingdom come?

If you are poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is already yours.  

    No delay. 

But if you are overwhelmed with sorrow,  

the comfort of the kingdom may be a while in coming.

If you are walking in meekness, the whole earth is yours.

 But not yet.

According to Jesus the kingdom of God comes to us in three stages.

The kingdom now.

The kingdom beyond the grave.

The New Jerusalem.

The Kingdom Now

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the good news.”  (Mark 1)

The instant Jesus emerged from his baptism the kingdom of God arrived on this earth.

After centuries of preparation through the ups and downs of Israel, the kingdom was finally here.

Jesus’ words are kingdom words.

Jesus’ signs are kingdom signs.

Every parable Jesus gives is a kingdom parable.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.  Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has, and buys the field.”  (Matthew 13)

Across the earth men, women and children are even now flooding into the kingdom with joy.

But the kingdom, as we know it now, is incomplete.

There is still sickness.

And death.

And lies.

Fear, pain, suffering and sadness cover the earth.

When will things change? 

The change begins the moment we die.

The kingdom beyond the grave.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

And he said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

                                                Luke 23

For this man the kingdom is not in some far-off future, but today on the other side of death!

“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Paradise!

Life with God on the other side of death.

It is a place where wrongs are made right.

Where evil is brought to account,

Where beggars like Lazarus, who languished at the rich man’s gate, are now comforted.

And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz’arus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.       (Luke 16)

“Abraham’s bosom” is God’s Kingdom.

Millions of forgotten souls are even now joining Lazarus in this place of kingdom comfort.

The apostle Paul looked forward to the kingdom beyond death.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.  (Philippians 2)

Call it Heaven, call it Paradise, it is God’s kingdom over there “across the River”!

Where millions who were given nothing but misery by this world, now receive the comfort they were denied.

There, across the River, is where we lay up our true treasure.

Over there those who claim to belong to Jesus stand before his judgment seat. 

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.  (II Corinthians 5)

And there will be surprises.

Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’”   (Matthew 7)

In the kingdom beyond the grave we begin to grow up. 

 

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.   (I Corinthians 1)

But the kingdom beyond the grave is still incomplete. We are still in a spiritual state awaiting a resurrection.

The New Jerusalem

The kingdom will be complete when we have bodies like the body of the risen Lord.

A body which belongs to The New  Creation.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable,

   what is raised is imperishable.

It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness,

   it is raised in power.

It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

I Corinthians 15

But when will this be? 

God alone knows.

The disciples asked for a hint.

“What will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

Jesus predicted a time of unspeakable suffering

Then, when the smoke clears, signs of hope will appear.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”  (Matthew 24)

At last the kingdom of God has arrived in fullness. 

From now on God’s redemptive will controls all that goes on.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In his vision John sees the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven….

free of all evil, all pain, all sadness, all despair.

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever. And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” “And behold, I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22)

Prayer- Lord in the midst of our trials, fears, and concerns…. in the midst of chaos, in the midst of the growing wickedness in this world…. give us the faith, give us the vision to see that your kingdom is at hand. May we find and treasure your words that draw us to kingdom life now. May we find the joy you offer us now…as we draw close to you now…. enabling us to live your kingdom now. And thank you, thank you that comfort is found in your arms on the other side of death. May we hang onto that as we mourn the countless ones who only found suffering and misery on this earth and remind ourselves of your comfort, your promise when we feel overcome with our own disappointments and sorrows. How beautiful that in your presence all the hurt will disappear. And give us the vision to also behold your coming kingdom. Give us the hearts to desire an age where there is no evil….knowing that your light will shine for eternity and we shall see you, the Holy of Holies, face to face… May it come soon.     
Maranatha Mirror
 REB… August 2021   Printable Copy               
Featured Art:  Permission of Eric Holmlund  ericholmlund.com
 Posted August 6, 2021 

THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are far off, every one whom the lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Acts 2:37-40

Notice that Peter did not say, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will go to heaven when you die.”

If you turn to Jesus and get baptized into Him, and let His blood wash away your sins, the Holy Spirit will come on you in this life.

“You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The proof that God has accepted you as his beloved, the proof that God has adopted you as His son or daughter, is that God sends His Holy Spirit upon you.

And the Holy Spirit floods your whole being with life.        

In every one of the four gospels Jesus is announced by John as the “One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”

“I have baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”   (Mark 1:8)

Again and again our Lord explained that it is only by the Holy Spirit that we can be made alive in God.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5)

 “God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

“It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you, they are Spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63)

“But when the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father,   (John 15:26)

He will bear witness to me…..

He will teach you…..

He will show you things to come…..”

After the resurrection, the risen Lord gave this promise:

“John indeed baptized with water, but before many days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”    (Acts 1:5)

The truth is that most of us, even the Pentecostals among us, haven’t tasted a fraction of what this means.

Let’s be honest with ourselves.

– Are we worshiping the Father in Spirit and in truth?

– Are we hearing the testimony of the Holy Spirit in our hearts?

– Are we being taught?

– Are we being guided?

– Are we walking and living and praying and thinking and doing the will of God by the Spirit’s power?

– Are we conscious of the lordship of the Holy Spirit over us as we read these words?

– Are we aware that at this moment we are in the presence of the Holy Spirit?

… Listening as He conveys to us the Word of the Holy God and points to the holy blood shed for our sinful, unholy lives?

In the apostolic church, the Holy Spirit was not a doctrine to be argued over, or an impersonal force to be tapped at will, like electricity.

– He was God the Holy Ghost. Lord of the Church on earth.

– He was their life.

– He was their joy.

– He was their teacher, their guide, the ever-new and ever-wonderful revealer of Jesus.

Peter didn’t preach out of himself. He preached because the Holy Spirit inspired him to preach.

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them……” (Acts 4:8)

Ananias and Sapphira didn’t die because they lied to men, but because they lied to the Holy Spirit.

The deacons were picked because they were known to be full of the Spirit.

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God,  and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”(Acts 7:55)

When Ananias of Damascus came to lay hands on blind, broken, shaken Saul of Tarsus, he said to him,

“Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17)

On and on through the pages of Acts, it’s the same story.  Salvation in Jesus’ name comes to Cornelius and his house with the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out on them.

When apostles are sent forth from Antioch, who gives the signal? Did they shut their eyes and finger point in their bibles looking for guidance?

As they worshiped the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabus and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

These were not a people who were caught up in their experiences, and goose pimples, and ecstasies.

They were a people who were utterly awed by God, the Holy Spirit, who opened their eyes to see God the Son. And the more clearly they saw God the Son, the more clearly they saw God the Father.

They were taken up, not with themselves, but with God and the doing of His will.

– They weren’t feeling their spiritual pulse every five minutes

 they were too busy doing God’s will.

– They weren’t forever measuring their brothers spiritual stature –

they were too busy doing God’s will.

– They weren’t endlessly sitting on the fence trying to decide whether they should do this or that,

they were too busy doing God’s will.

And God’s will was revealed to them, performed by them, done, acted on, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

But how did it all start? What was the thing that opened the door and caused that flood of divine life to come rushing in?

In every case those people came to a place where they saw the alternatives. They came to the place where they saw only two possibilities.

Not five or ten, or a hundred—only two:

eternal life,

or eternal death.

Two roads. One leading to God’s glory,

                   the other leading to a place where God’s light never shines.

Those who chose the road leading to God,

           who drew near and threw themselves on the mercy of Jesus Christ…

were visited by the Spirit of God.

 As many as received Him, as believed on His name, to them He gave power to become sons of God. (John 1:12)

And that power is none other than the Spirit of God.

There is no such thing as committing your life to Jesus Christ and not receiving that power.

If the power hasn’t come to you, don’t go to a charismatic clinic, go back to the Cross and see whether you really left your sins there.

Once you come face-to-face with Jesus Christ, two roads open before you – only two! And you choose one road or the other.

The minute you step on the road that leads to life – that minute – the Holy Spirit of God begins to move on you.

On the other hand, once you have been offered forgive­ness, life, peace, from God in Jesus Christ—and you back away—the powers of Hell start working in you.

Every morning when you get up, and every moment of the day in every new situation you face, you are choosing between the way of life and the way of death.

 – When you choose to practice love toward your brother in Jesus’ name,    

       you choose life.

– When you choose to harbor hatred or turn from someone in indifference,    

     you choose death.

– When you choose truth in Jesus’ name, it’s life.

– When you choose the lie, it’s death.

As Peter ended his sermon on Pentecost, thousands of people saw the choice before them for the first time.

Eternal life or eternal death!

And, they were scared.

“Brethren, what shall we do?”

  “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him. Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

And every person who responded received the Spirit. Now they had a Divine Teacher within them, making Christ real to them moment-by-moment and hour-by-hour. Now they had power working within them, helping them to do the will of the Holy God.

– If the Holy Spirit hasn’t come to you in power, it’s only because you haven’t settled the issue of those two roads.

– Or, if the Holy Spirit seems to have with­drawn from you, it’s because you’ve given up settling that issue day-by-day and hour-by-hour.

There is no such thing as walking on that road of life and not receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

There is no such thing as committing yourself to Jesus Christ, body and soul, and still walking this earth void of the Spirit’s life.

Perhaps you won’t be speaking in tongues, or prophesying, or seeing visions, when the Spirit comes.

Maybe you won’t be lifted into a state of ecstasy.

But by the power of the Holy Spirit, you will see Jesus as you never saw Him before.

“Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty.

They shall behold a land that stretches afar.”

 Isaiah 33:17

– You will know God.

– You will be taught of God.

– You will have power, such as you never had before—

Power to do God’s will.

Prayer- Yes Lord, what shall we do without your Spirit? Thank you for this gift… how wonderful, how blessed we are that you offer us the means, the power to live and do your divine will. May we not reject this incredible gift that is ours. By the leading of your Spirit may we continue to choose the road that leads to life. By the power of the Spirit may we turn away from all roads that lead to darkness and death. Speak to us, teach us, lead us oh Lord to choose life.. We want to see you, to know you, our king in the power of your beauty. May your Spirit keep us lovingly obedient to and singing to your beauty, to your majesty, to your holiness to the end of our days. Amen.
Maranatha Mirror
Original 1973 REB… Edited REB 2021   Printable Copy               
Featured Art:  Kindness of Gwen Meharg   at drawneartogod
 Posted  July 30, 2021 

FREE FROM THE FEAR OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH

One brisk morning you walk out the door and are met at the sidewalk by four well-dressed men who take you by the arm, open the door of their sleek Mercedes and firmly deposit you in the back seat. The car speeds through the town and out onto the open road. After what seems like several hours, the driver turns up a wooded lane and stops in front of a magnificent stone building.

You are ushered into a room and given a seat at the end of a long table as the four guards seat themselves on either side.

“He’s coming now,” whispers one of the guards.

“Who?”

“Why the Accuser, of course.”

A man dressed in judges robes enters and settles himself at the head of the table. A book is brought in and opened and all the major sins of your life are read aloud in the presence of these four men.

Secret sins.

Sins no one ever knew.

Sin after sin is carefully described.

Your life, which up to then, seemed more decent than most, suddenly looks hideous, as your past is spread out before you, crowded with all the misdeeds you had long forgotten.

It looks more like the past of a murderer.

How is it possible?

The Accuser looks up from the book and fixes his eyes on you. They are not kind eyes, they are not holy. The Accuser’s eyes are hard, cruel and evil. 

“You know the penalty”, he says.

“I sentence you to death.

You will be returned to your home. When you arrive you will find that the clock hasn’t moved one second from the moment you met these guards. You will pick up precisely where you left off.

 Only remember this: my Executioner has been ordered to take your life at the appointed time.”

“When will that be?”, you cry in despair. “How much time do I have?”  “Ah” answers the Accuser. “That is not for you to know.

It could be today.

It may be next week.

Perhaps not for 50 years.

You will not see the Executioner, but he will follow you at all times. You will never be out of his sight.

He will stand in the shadows and await the appointed moment. Then he will strike.”

Soon you find yourself standing alone on the sidewalk in front of your door. The time is exactly what it was when you met the strange guards. A friend comes down the street and bids you good morning.

You smile and return the greeting but you are in a daze.

Was it a dream?

Was it a hallucination?

Or did it really happen?

Everything is the same as ever except that now you have the unshakable feeling that you are being followed by someone.

In a few weeks you become accustomed to this presence lurking behind you. You no longer turn around and try to see him.  You’re no longer afraid to open doors or go into dark rooms or walk down deserted streets.

You begin to laugh again and enjoy life almost as you did before, except that deep within is the knowledge that you are living under the sentence of death.

You know that some day, somewhere, the Executioner will step out of the shadows and strike.

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. 

Hebrews 2:14-15

When Adam and Eve lived in the Garden, they ate of the Tree of Life. They were alive in a way that humans today cannot experience.

There was no shadow hanging over them.

In the evening when the sun went down, they could sleep in perfect peace because tomorrow would be another glorious day. They had nothing to look forward to but new joy, new glory, in the garden of their heavenly Father.

But the day they ate of that forbidden tree everything changed.

Suddenly they saw that they were naked and covered themselves.

They were guilty and had to run and hide.

Soon they were cut off from God outside the Garden among the rocks and thorns of this insecure world that we know so well.

Worst of all, they were living under the sentence of death.

“In the day that you eat the fruit thereof, you shall surely die.”

The Serpent who had been the Tempter was now the Accuser.

  “You’ve done it!

Now you’re in my power, and you’re going to die!

Soon you’re going to die.”

They could till the soil, and herd their flocks, and raise their children, and build shelters to protect them from the cold winds. There were pleasures in eating, and drinking, and loving, and overcoming obstacles.

But death reigned over them.

They could no longer eat from the Tree of Life. The bright hope of another glorious tomorrow was marred by the ugly knowledge that tomorrow might never arrive.

When you and I were born into this world, we were born children of Adam. Before we know what it is to speak a word or make a decision, we already know what it is to be afraid.

What are we afraid of?

Why is a child frightened by a loud noise? Or a sudden unfamiliar jar?

Why does a child panic when it comes into the house and calls for its mother and there is no answer?

The fear behind all fears is the fear of that moment when the Executioner will materialize before us and strike the blow.

The fear of death.

The aged woman who cries from her sickbed, “0 why doesn’t God let me die?” may think she wants to die. But her whole being, tired and worn and sick as it is, is struggling for life.

Still running from the Executioner.

The young man who, in a fit of despair, puts a gun to his head and blows out his brains is not running away from life. He’s beside himself like a man marooned on a single rock in the middle of an endless ocean. Death has surrounded him. The unseen Executioner has deprived him of all hope. And so, he gives himself up to the Executioner.

People don’t realize what a grip their approaching death has on them. How the body, mind, and spirit shudder every time they are reminded that it’s corning.

Death is not an event, something that happens when your heart stops and the fires of this body turn cold.

Death is a region that you enter when your body falls away and you step forth into a world with shadow but no substance.

A world where music is often replaced by the sound of weeping.

Where time can be filled with endless waiting.

Where the memory plays and re­plays and replays your past.

When the rich man in our Lord’s parable entered the region of the dead, he was not unconscious.

He was very much awake.

He could see.

He could feel.

He could think.

He could speak. 

“I beseech thee father Abraham, send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame!”

Many years ago I was in a group of seven men on a weekend retreat. It was Saturday night. We had just got up from our knees after being drenched in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit with a force that none of us had ever known before. We were sitting in front of the fire in silence when finally one man got up, walked over and stood by the fireplace and said, “The biggest thing for me is that I know now – I know that I’m never going to die”.

What a strange thing for him to say!

But I noticed that from that day that man, in his own quiet way, had power he didn’t have before.

He was like a rock. He was filled with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. So he knew he was never going to die. He would go on for a few more years. One day they would have a funeral for him and lay his body in the ground.

But this man will live forever, and so will you, and so will I, if the Spirit that lives in this man rules our lives.

My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish. Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  (John 10)   

                                           

It is true that Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, and heal the broken hearted, and bring release to the captives, and open the eyes of the blind.

But the chief reason for his coming, the chief reason for Jesus’ presence with us as we read these words, is to raise us from the dead.

“The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God.  And they that hear shall live.”

                                    John 5:25

We don’t have to live under the curse of the Accuser.

We don’t have to live in dread of the Executioner.

We can have life that no man and no devil can take from us.

And when we have this life, we are free from the shadow of death and alive to God as never before.

Because we are sustained by the Tree of Life.

We are eating its fruit.

Where is that Tree of Life?

It’s up there on Calvary.

Its fruit is the broken body and the shed blood of the Son of God.

If anyone eats of this bread, they live forever.

 “At the Cross, at the Cross, where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away.”

The burden of our hearts is up there on the Cross!

He is dying our death.

He is destroying our Accuser.

That through death, He might destroy him that has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

When Satan tells you, “You are going to die!” don’t argue with him. Just point him to the Cross and he will shrivel up and disappear.

Of course we have to keep learning how to live all over again.

To live like free men, free women.

And the way we learn to live is by keeping Jesus’ words.

If a person keeps my saying, they will never see death. ( John 8:51)

The power of the Holy Spirit operates in our lives day by day, hour by hour, not through some glorious experience we once had, but through simple obedience to the words of Jesus right where we are.

“The words that I have spoken to you, they are Spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63)

 When Jesus says, “Love your enemies”, and we obey out of love for him, his power surges through us and blesses our enemy as well as us.

When Jesus says, ”Proclaim the gospel”, and even though we’re afraid, timid, self-conscious and tongue-tied, we do it out of love for him, the gospel rolls out of our mouths, a stream of living water.

Today, when we finish reading these words, we will go forth, either as victims of the unseen Executioner living in the shadow of death….

 or we will go as sons and daughters of God,

filled with the power of an endless life.

The door to Everlasting Life is open and we may enter afresh even now. The door is none other than the outstretched arms of this man who raises the dead by dying for them, purges them with his own blood, and quickens them with his living word:

Jesus.

Whoever has the Son has life, and whoever does not have the Son does not have life.  (John 5:12) 

Do we have this Son?

Are we walking with him?

It’s time to cast out the Executioner who has followed us down the empty years filling our lives with dread, and draw near as never before to the risen Lord Jesus,

who to know is life eternal,

who to serve is unspeakable joy. 

Prayer- Father, free us from the fear of this shadow that hangs over us. Free us from the accusations, the dread of the executioner. Deliver us from the fear of death, the bondage that keeps us from experiencing life and joy. Teach us to live in the freedom you call us to. Lord may we hear the voice of Jesus so we can be raised from the dead. Lead us to the tree of life, so we may freely eat its fruit. May we walk this life in simple obedience to your son, hearing believing and living his words, living these lives as the sons and daughters you meant us to be… filled with life and joy. Maranatha Mirror
Original 1973 REB… Edited REB 2021   Printable Copy of edited sermon                 Original  1973 sermon
Featured Art: By Chris Powers from the Full of eyes ministry    fullofeyes.com
 Posted  July 23, 2021 

CIRCULATE, BUT DON’T CAPITULATE

Sometimes we just want to get away from all the corruption and confusion.

To a monastery?

A Christian village off in the hills?

A hermit hut on a rocky crag above the ocean?

The “escape solution” has been tried a million times and always failed.

No matter how far we run, the world is always there.

So why run?

Jesus tells us to circulate, but not capitulate.

“Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

But where will we get the wisdom of serpents?  And the innocence of doves?

“I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”(John 17)

We become wise as serpents and innocent as doves when Jesus consecrates us.

“And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

He makes us wise as serpents.

So that we stay focused.

 We don’t get sucked into the mind-set of this world.

 We know who we belong to.

 We’re on our way to a cross.

  By this wisdom we discern deceit.

 We smell evil when it enters the room.

And we fix on the “one thing needful”:

The Father’s Kingdom.

 The Father’s will.

 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”   (Luke 10)

He makes us innocent as doves.

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.” (Luke 10)

We are innocent when we become babes before our Lord.

When we trust him like little children.

Child-like innocence is a wall of protection.

Causing us to recoil from temptation.

 Helping us to discern lies.

 Empowering us to speak and live the truth.

We live our lives in the thick of the confusion.

We circulate, but we do not capitulate.

That’s how our Lord did it.

 And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”     (Matthew 9)

That’s how Paul did it.

Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.     (II Corinthians 11)

That’s how we do it.

We circulate with our eyes open to the forgotten ones.

We never capitulate because our hearts are fixed on God.

We move among people who are…

Trying to make a living.

Trying to have some fun.

Trying to find a friend.

Trying to “make a bundle”.

Trying to climb the social ladder.

Looking for a fix.

Enduring the devastation of war.

Struggling with bad memories.

 “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”

 Prayer- Open our eyes Jesus to the forgotten ones. As we go out to those that you send us to… consecrate us, protect us from the evil one so we may remain innocent. And yes, while we are in the midst of the sick, the lost, the confused…cause us to recoil at evil, discern lies, and continue to speak the truth … give us wisdom and prudence as well. As we circulate among the lost… we look to you… without you we are powerless and lost ourselves. Cover us with your presence, your holiness, your wisdom, your healing power… Maranatha Mirror
REB July 2021 Printable Copy                 
Images: Photos from Covenant Community Care Homeless Outreach Program in Detroit
 Posted  July 16, 2021 

THE GRIP OF GOD

 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”   (John 6)

The minute we show any serious resolve to follow Jesus, things begin to happen in and around us that try to destroy that resolve.

As soon as the seed is sown it’s vulnerable.

– Birds come along and take the seed away.

– It grows on rocky soil and withers under the sun’s heat.

– Thorns spring up and choke the growing plants.

There is not one of us who has not felt the pressure to turn away from the light – to compromise, to back off and fall asleep.

How many of those who started out with us have long since given up and gone back to their old life!  Will we be next?

But some of the seed does grow. There is always a remnant that makes it all the way.

Our Lord prays on his last night in flesh-and-blood,

“Those whom thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition that scripture might be ful­filled.”

All the big guns of the enemy had been aimed at those men to blast them out of God’s hand. But there they are, in spite of devasta­ting temptations, still focused and alive, because these men were held in the grip of God.

 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

And we say, “That’s where I want to be! In His hand.

I want to be held in the grip of God so that no one can tear me out of God’s Kingdom – ever! That’s where I want my children to be, and my loved ones, and my brothers and sisters.”

“Lord, get us through this uncertain world where the enemy has the power to mislead and destroy us. Bring us into your grip and hold us.”

But the grip of God is not what a lot of people seem to think it is. They picture God reaching down and grabbing them, and lifting them to glory with or without their cooperation.

God will grip us, hold us, carry us to glory.

But never against our will. And never without our cooperation.

When many of our Lord’s disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him, the little handful that stuck with Jesus was clearly held in the grip of God.

 But notice, it was not as if Jesus said to these men,

“You can’t leave me. Others, yes; but you I hold in my power. You have to stay.”

On the contrary, Jesus makes a point of reminding them that they are free. They can go if they want to.

 “Will you also go away?”

Jesus never built a wall around them and said,

 “Now you’re safe. The devil can’t get in and you can’t get out.”

Jesus never took them out of the world. He kept them safe from the evil one in the midst of all the dangers, because their hearts were freely given over to Him – every day, every hour.

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

_______________________

It’s hard to say whether it was a vision or a dream. I was climbing this mountain when I began to hear the most beautiful singing. Were they angels? Or were they human voices? I came up over the edge of a plateau and saw an immense glass dome several hundred yards ahead and could hear the singing coming from its open door.

From all directions people were streaming toward the giant dome. As I got closer, I could distinguish the words of these beautiful songs. They were praises to God.

 At the door of the dome a man was directing the new­comers to various open spaces under the dome that were not yet occupied by people. As I entered I made the unsettling discovery that the people who were rapidly filling the dome and singing these magnificent praises to God were not sitting on chairs, nor were they standing. They were actually planted in the ground like flowers! It almost seemed that their hands, lifted heavenward in praise, had become leaves.

Were these people turning into plants before my eyes?

Was this good or evil?

All these questions were swept out of my mind by the absolutely heavenly songs.

One man, walking down the aisles between the groups of singers, seemed to be in charge. Under him were vari­ous workers with sprinkling cans, hoses, bags of fertilizer, who went among the singers cultivating, watering, adding nourishment to the soil.

 “This is the most magnificent singing I have ever heard,” I said to the man in charge.

“Would you like to join us? Commit yourself to this endeavor and you’ll be praising God too. Moreover, you will be safe in here from wind and storm. Like these, you too will grow in the sunshine of God’s love.” 

Suddenly I felt as if I were choking and knew I had to get out of there. As I ran for the door I could hear the leader and his workers shouting after me.

“You unbeliever! You selfish soul! You individualist! You’ll never survive out there!”

Nor did I stop running until the singing was out of earshot and the dome was out of sight.

I came to a gorge in the mountainside where a scruffy collection of hard-looking types were sitting together on the bank of a stream. They too were singing God’s praises. “

But what a contrast! Half of them couldn’t carry a tune, and the chap who was trying to play the guitar was forever breaking a string.

“Welcome!” shouted one of the group as he spied me climbing down into the gorge.

“Have a bite with us. We’re combing the mountains calling people into the Kingdom. There was a clap of thunder, followed by a downpour of rain, but these people went right on singing and eating as if the sun were shining.

“Back to work!” shouted the leader. And they broke into pairs and fanned out through the mountainside with stretchers and bandages, looking for wounded souls.

The thunder became louder, and the wind rose. Soon a ninety mile-an-hour gale was tearing across the ridge of the mountain and I was afraid.

I remembered the words of the man in the glass dome promising safety from wind and storm, and decided to make my way back to it. But when I arrived, there was nothing left of the dome but twisted steel and splinters of glass.

The dead bodies of the singers were lying like flattened tulips all over the plateau.

In the distance I could hear the songs of the workers from the gorge blending with the wind and the rain.

 __________________

God’s grip is not a glass dome. People in God’s grip are not hothouse flowers protected from the storms of life by smiling circumstances.

People in the grip of God are simply those who have come to the place where they say with their hearts,

“Lord, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life and we have believed

and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

And they live with Him right out there on that stormy mountain. No storm can keep them from going right on following the Lord.

God alone knows who these people are, knows each of them by name.

Here are some things to remember about those enduring saints.

1.The saints who are in the grip of God take the words of Jesus straight.

All the others eventually say, “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it.” And they either turn away from his words or dilute his words and soften them.

But the tough saints who are abiding in the Vine hang on to Jesus’ words and conform their lives to them, even when they don’t fully understand.

“What do you mean, Lord, forsake all that I have?

Nevertheless, I’ll do it. Just keep showing the way, Lord.”

“What do you mean, Lord, turn the other cheek?

At your word I’ll do it.”

 “And these things that you say about adultery, pulling out the eye, cutting off the hand, faithfulness to one’s mate – that’s not how they do things these days.

But I’ll do what you say.”

  1. The saints who endure are those who aren’t afraid to go out of their way.

They’ve long since given up the idea that you can follow Jesus and have what the world calls “the good life.”

They know they’re going to be disrupted, or perhaps sent to do monotonous tasks.

The hothouse Christians live programmed lives. Always the right temperature, the right amount of diversion – everything con­trolled.

But the saints who follow the Lamb of God are willing to be inconvenienced, to die to self again and again.

This is what gives them heaven’s power.

  1. Saints who are in the grip of God are not afraid of rejection.

Hothouse Christians are forever weighing their words to make sure they don’t offend the Pharisees, because Pharisees are convenient friends to have in this world.

But the saints who endure know they’re going to be rejected, written off by their best friends as fools, despised by the very ones whose respect this flesh craves.

“A servant is not greater than his master.

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” 

We’re not here to win friends and influence people. We’re here to do the will of our Lord. To go out there and make disciples before night comes when no man can work.

  1. Finally, the people who are in the grip of God pass through tough circumstances as if they were vapor.

Their hearts are not tied to circumstances.

– They are not depressed when the results are small.

– They are not elated when results seem great.

We’re here to please God, not to seek great things for ourselves.

When the woman swept her house looking for that lost coin, she didn’t fall into a fit of depression after three hours of fruitless searching. She went right on searching until she found the lost coin.

Some of us are being lured by music coming from the hothouse. We’re looking for a place of security where we can grow like little tulips in the sunshine of our spiritual delusions.

But if we really want to be held in the grip of God, we abandon ourselves to the Christ who still roams that stormy mountain looking for lost sheep.

He’s not in the hothouse. He’s out in the storm!

 – His words are often hard.

– His path is often inconvenient.

–  His goal is a cross – rejection by men.

The circumstances that surround Him are ever-changing.

But if we want the kingdom of God, where else can we go but with Him?

 “Lord, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life and we have believed

and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Prayer–Yes Lord may the call of our hearts be … “Lord to whom shall we go…your words are life to our souls, in you we see your eternal kingdom, we know beyond anything that you are the Holy One of God”. Keep us in your grip despite storms, trials, rejection. Holy, Loving Shepherd… help us to long for your grip, to treasure it, to seek it knowing we are safe in it and that you are worthy of our abandonment to you.. MM
Unknown Date …EDITED 2021 REB    Printable Copy                 
Featured Art: All art details from the sketches and drawings of Jane Spencer … The Secret Place https://www.facebook.com/artjspencer/
 Posted  July 9, 2021 

THE KINGDOM AND THE CHURCH

It’s staring us in the face, and we don’t see it.

It’s spreading fire over the earth and we ignore it.

It’s shaking the nations with a thousand signs, and we’re too busy fund-raising to notice.

The one thing Jesus revealed with every parable, every healing:

The kingdom of God.

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field….”

“The time is fulfilled.  The kingdom of God is at hand! 

Repent and believe the good news!”                                                

The kingdom of God was Jesus’ single focus.

It still is.

When will we open our eyes?

 The kingdom and the church

While Jesus is focused on the kingdom, it seems we Christians are focused on the church. 

True, Jesus says, On this rock I will build my church”.

But Jesus’ church is not a religious institution with pompous men walking around in fancy robes.

With millions in the bank.

 And tons of real estate.

Jesus’ church is not a religious club for like-minded people who hold “Christian values”.

Jesus’ church is simply the ecclesia, his followers, gathered around his Name.

The ecclesia is Christ’s Body on earth.

The ecclesia is the doorway to God’s kingdom.

Wherever people are truly gathered in Jesus’ name, there is the ecclesia—the church.

But Jesus did not preach about the church. 

He preached about the kingdom.

Only twice in the gospels do we hear the word “church” (ecclesia) on Jesus’ lips.

His focus was always the kingdom.

The kingdom of God.

“The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. 

Repent and believe the good news!

                                Mark 1

 The kingdom is simply God’s World.

Where God is known and loved.

Where there are no lies.

Where truth rules.

Where sickness and death are no more.

Where love is supreme.

And joy has no end.

The kingdom of God is already here—in part.

Wherever Jesus is known and loved, there is the kingdom.

Wherever men and women show mercy to every neighbor, and love even their enemy, they have found the kingdom.

Wherever leaders are down on the floor washing feet, and the greatest are the least, there is the kingdom.

But that’s only the beginning. 

We are awaiting the kingdom’s arrival in its fullness.

Waiting for Jesus to return and take charge.

No more wars.

No more lies.

No more pain, sickness and death.

Just glorious peace.

Isaiah was given a vision.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be carried in the arms.

Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Mid’ian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Isaiah 60

Daniel received a glimpse.

 Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the issue of these things?” He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.

Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand.  (Daniel 12)

The Apostle John was taken to the edge of glory and shown the kingdom’s arrival.

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads.

And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.         (Revelation 22)

It’s time for us to see the church for what it is, and the kingdom for what it is.

 The church ….Is the Body of Christ on earth.

It is not an institution ruled by religious professionals.

It is the creation of Jesus alone.

Wherever people are gathered around Jesus only, there is the church.

Wherever the kingdom of God is revealed on this earth, there is the church.

The kingdom …. Is God’s World penetrating this world with truth.

Preparing for the day when the world, as we know it, will be no more.

Calling all who have ears to hear to come into the light.

Until Jesus arrives and takes the throne.

Then Gabriel’s prophecy to Mary will be fulfilled.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  (Luke 1)

Prayer– Holy, perfect Lord, rise upon us and reveal your wonderful kingdom to us. Draw us to your light so we can know you and love you with all we have… so that faith, obedience, mercy and love purify us as we seek your kingdom. Cause us to shine as we find your kingdom and live your kingdom now. MM
REB – July 2021     Printable Copy                 
Featured Art: Kind permission of Jen Norton details from the piece “Works of Mercy” also “Heart to Heart” and “Amen”.
jennortonartstudio.com

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