RECENT POSTINGS

 Posted May 6, 2022

COMING TOGETHER WHERE IT COUNTS

Every so often friends are shocked by the news that a husband and wife who were regarded by everyone as the ideal couple are throwing in the towel. Why should these two beautiful people who were always so devoted to each other be getting a divorce?

What none of the friends suspected was that this man and woman were having it rough for years. Countless times they sat down and talked about their problem and promised each other that they were going to do everything in their power to make it work. And they tried. They took a vacation in Florida, which they could ill afford. Later, they started entertaining friends a great deal. As finances improved they joined a ski club. They bought a boat. And always they seemed to be so in love, so devoted to each other. But when their friends went home and they were alone, there was nothing to talk about, they had nothing to share but their common hell.

So the resentment in each heart continued to build. The distance between them grew, until they were a universe apart while they lived in the same house and ate at the same table. You ask, how could this happen to two people who were once in love?

When they saw their marriage starting to totter, why didn’t they try to save it? Did they not come together again and again in a genuine effort to be one? Yes, they came together on their trip to Florida. They came together in beautiful harmony when they had to put on the show of a successful marriage for their friends. They skied together and boated together. They tried terribly hard at making love, but they never came together where it counts.

They never came together at the meal table, for instance with their children, blessings from God, at their sides.

No opening of the heart.  No listening.  No thoughtfulness.

Or when the children were asleep and they were alone, they never learned to talk or to listen or even to share the silence of a peaceful room.

When a crisis hit the family, they never learned to stand and face it with arms around each other. Instead they let the crisis divide them, each blaming the other for the money problems, the loss of the job, the mess their child got into.

If a man and woman are going to make it in a marriage, they have to learn to come into unity with each other in the places that really count.  Not up on the surface for their friends to see, but down deep. Not just with their bodies, but with their wills, their hearts. If they learn to have unity where it counts, the rest of the marriage will take care of itself.

Superficial Unity in the Body

In exactly the same way brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ have a tendency to put a great effort into achieving superficial unity.

 We try to stage it, to engineer it.

We know that unity is lacking both in our local assemblies and across the world. So, like the couple who think a Florida vacation is going to heal their marriage, we try naive cures. Coffee hours. More entertaining. Recreation. “Maybe if we get to know each other better…..” To bring the city together we start holding meetings for all the leaders around town, working perhaps toward a city-wide campaign. “Maybe if we bring in a well- known evangelist and fill Convention Hall for two weeks, the church in our city will start coming together.”

We can try all kinds of things to bring the Body into unity and in the end we find ourselves like that couple, farther apart than ever.

Coming Together Where it Counts

We have to learn to come together where it counts.

There are three places where brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ need to come together, if we will draw near to each other in these three places, we will soon have heaven-sent unity in our assemblies and across our world.

 We need to come together before the throne of God.

The first thing we’re conscious of when we come into the presence of the living God is not ourselves, nor our differences, nor our similarities, but God himself.

We see our heavenly Father. We see his love. We see the Lamb seated at his right hand. We see the blood, the seven torches burning before the throne, glory.

Seeing these things, what can we do but worship? We lose ourselves in the worship of the true and living God.  And as we praise him, the Spirit of God lifts us out of ourselves and brings us together in the mind of Christ.

When Mary, carrying the Christ in her body, and Elizabeth, carrying John the Baptist came together, they worshiped! When the disciples met the resurrected Lord on the appointed mountain, they worshiped! When they were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said,

“Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who by the mouth of our father, David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples imagine vain things?”’

Worship was the normal atmosphere of the apostolic community. And surely if we want to come before the throne together, God will help us find our way. And the trivial things that have absorbed our minds will vanish as we stand in awe before glory that never fades.

We need to come together where the walls between us still stand.

Why is that wall still standing? Can I honestly say that it’s all the fault of the man or woman on the other side of the wall? “He put up the wall, man, and he’s going to have to take it down!”

 When is the last time I went to that wall and called the name of the person on the other side?

 When is the last time I wrote that person a letter? Or held out my hand?

If I’m so sure that I am not the slightest bit at fault, what’s the harm in going to that wall and making some attempt at reconciliation?  And if I know that I am wrong, why am I not admitting it and doing what I can to make it right?

God is not nearly so interested in declaring who’s right and who’s wrong as he is in seeing the wall come down.

The main thing is to get rid of the wall.

This will never happen so long as we go on pretending that it isn’t there and carry on our lives as far from the wall as possible.

God help us to admit where the walls are. To repent before him, and go make it right in whatever way he shows us. A handshake. A word of concern. A letter. A plea for forgiveness. Sometimes it will take two or three “knock-down-and-drag-out” air-clearing conversations.

“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

Every time we tear down a wall, the Spirit of God rushes in with life.

Will anyone dispute that there is a wall between black and white believers? Are we relieved of the responsibility for that wall by hanging with our own kind as if it doesn’t exist? Or the wall between the evangelicals and the non-evangelicals? Or the wall between the Catholic and Protestant followers of’ Jesus? Or the wall between Jew and Gentile, suburban and urban, young and old?

There will never be unity in the Body in this city until we come together at these walls and by God’s grace, tear them down, painful and humiliating as this may be to us.

We need to come together out in the harvest.

Unity meetings with other believers in the Hilton may be pleasant, but in the long run they are about as useless as they are painless. When will we see the day when brothers and sisters from all sides start fishing together in the main shopping districts or on the waterfront, or on skid row?

How quickly our narrow minds will crack open to God’s light when we all start combing the streets and lanes and highways and hedges together.

When sisters in a particular neighborhood start pitching in together to minister to women who need transportation to the hospital to visit a sick child, or a ride to the welfare office, or somebody to talk to when they’re coming off a drunk, or some groceries to put in their empty refrigerator….

….more happens to bring healing to the Body than in a dozen meetings.

If we have to miss a few Bible studies to take care of these things, then we have to miss. If we spend all our time going to Bible studies and no time ministering to others there will be no life in us and no unity in the Body.

There is a place in the harvest for every single one of us. God will show us where it is, and when we get out there we will always find saints we never knew before. We will see God’s hand at work in them too and we will have to praise him.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

And we can be sure that the laborers God sends…..will be one.

They will not be competing.

They won’t be at each other’s throats.

Their very unity will be a sign to the world of the reality of our Christ.

May God help us to come together where it counts, saved by the death of his Son, washed in the blood of the Lamb.

May we come together before God’s throne and worship.

May we come together where the walls still stand and tear them down.

And may we stick like a brother to every disciple of Jesus we meet out there in the harvest, no matter where he comes from.

Message and prayer Richard E. Bieber 1974 … Sermon and excerpt from Church in the City       Printable Version
Featured Art: Generosity of Gwen Meharg from her Draw near to God website/gallery drawneartogod.com

 

 
Prayer- Lord how good you are, how wonderful… that you find us in our defeat, our anguish, our shame, our pain, our loneliness and even in the midst of sneers and rejection. This is where you meet us. This is where you have been. This is where we cry out to you, where we draw close to you in our need. Alleluia. Lord may we continue in our weakness and sorrow to be drawn to you for our comfort. And may this empower us, soften us, prepare our hearts to comfort others. How beautiful that we, as weak and wounded as we are, can be sent forth with your life and healing. And yes, yes, may we find your holy, beloved grace sufficient for us and may your power be made perfect in our weakness. Amen. Maranatha Mirror.

 Posted April 29, 2022

PHYSICIAN HEAL YOURSELF

There was this little old broken-down church in a broken-down part of town with only a handful of broken down people left in it. One Wednesday night prayer meeting they were especially dismayed. They prayed, “Lord, you know we’re too old and too weak to go out there, into the streets with your gospel. If you want us to serve you here, bring to us some people who need the gospel.”

The prayer was answered. Sunday morning as they gathered for their dry little service people started coming in off the street. That first Sunday there must have been fifty of them. But the weird thing about it was that every single one of the newcomers was sick.

           – Some were on crutches,

           – Some were talking to themselves,

           – Some could hardly breathe,

           – Some were drunk.            

It looked like the emergency room of the city hospital.

           “How can we preach the gospel to these wrecks, Lord? They’re too sick!”

A prophecy came forth in the meeting for the first time in ten years….. “Heal them!”

How can we heal them, Lord?” said the Christians, “we’re too sick ourselves!”

Then an old man with Parkinson’s disease who had been going to that church for years stood up, his body shaking so violently it was a wonder it didn’t fly apart, and he prayed,

“Lord, manifest your love to these friends who have come to us today.”

Suddenly there was shouting in the back of the church.

“Thank you, Lord! I can see!”

“Thank you, Lord! I can walk again!”

“Thank you for giving me back my mind!”

When the service was over the little old man with Parkinson’s disease was still shaking, but there wasn’t a more joyful man in all the world than this trembling…servant of God.

As the weeks passed more and more sick people kept pouring into that place and found healing… and many of those who found healing opened their hearts to the healer and entered the kingdom of God —

—- and the little old man with Parkinson’s disease kept right on shaking.

You could say that the platform from which the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed with power is the platform of healing. There has to be some evidence that the river of mercy which started flowing on this earth at Calvary is still flowing. The call to proclaim the gospel is always a call also to heal. We’ve been ordained to a healing ministry just as surely as we’ve been sent to preach that gospel…. but we tend to hold a shallow view of what this ministry involves and what it costs.

We look at the successful American physician with his status in the world, his power to make things happen for people….. “We’ll operate the day after tomorrow at 8:00” ….. his fabulous income.

Or perhaps we can look at men and women who have notable healing ministries and how the crowds are always waiting at the door of the auditorium hours before the meeting begins.

And then we look at ourselves …. bogged down with problems.

– Problems in our circumstances,

– Problems in our relationships,

– Problems in our bodies, and even in our heads.

We may look normal enough on the outside, but inside we’re so weighed down we can’t even swim to the top of our own mess much less help anyone else’s mess. How can I even begin to think about exercising a ministry of healing and help for others until I get this pain out of my own life? And so we wallow in our unhappiness and dream about the things we would like to do if ever this load is lifted from us enough to be able to help someone else.

But a valid ministry of healing in the name of Jesus bears no similarity whatsoever to the career of a successful surgeon or that of a celebrated healing evangelist. The model we have to look at is Jesus…. and when we look at Jesus what do we see?

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.” And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself;’….                                                                                          

                                          Luke 4:16-23a

That’s how his ministry began….and this is how it ended.

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

Matthew 27:39-43

…. despised and rejected of men.

A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Who, when he got to the real moment of healing for the world….broke the curse through his own agony and death, received no thanks or applause.

All the world could say was,

“Physician, heal yourself!”

 But it was this apparent defeat and all the pain and loneliness and disgrace that went with it which opened the healing fountain for us and for the world.

The fact that we’re burdened with problems hurting in our own souls will never hinder us from healing others in the name of Jesus. In fact, these wounds within us may be just what we need to be effective.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.   (II Corinthians 4:7-12)

Of course the sin in our lives that God has put his finger on has to go.

– The grudges we’ve been holding,

– The fantasies of self-pity or lust or revenge,

– The covetousness which keeps perverting us into takers instead of givers….

These things have to go.  But….

the wounds,

the weakness,

the afflictions,

the pain….

The things we have thought of as signs of defeat…

These can be turned into the very means by which life flows to others.

For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Each of us, individually and all of us as a body have been called to a healing ministry. And the basis of our healing power is the cross… the place where God the Son was hung up to die ….

in weakness,

in agony,

in loneliness,

in disgrace.

Every healing Jesus ever performed came from that cross. And every healing that has ever taken place since, in his name, comes from that cross.

But we have to touch that cross of Jesus not just with our intellect. We have to touch it with our life. And the place where our life touches the cross of Jesus is the place where we are weak, where we hurt.

–   These weak spots in our lives,

–   These afflictions, hardships, and calamities,

–   These things that keep us low,

.… are the doorway to blazing communion with the crucified God.

And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:7-10)

This weakness in my life drives me to the Master, and in a mystery I come forth with healing life for others. This pain in my soul (or in my body) brings me down into fellowship with the afflicted of this earth and helps me to be the living link between their pain and the Lamb who bears away their sickness and sin.

Until this sorrow came I was comfortable and blind.

But now I have some idea of the sorrow that afflicts this race.

The sorrow in my own heart drives me to God for comfort and in a mystery gives me power to comfort other hearts… to heal them through the wounds and sorrows of Calvary which have now become part of my own life. This frustration that once drove me out of my mind has now become the death of Jesus dwelling in my mortal flesh…the very power of Calvary by which I can set others free.

Until the Lord comes back every one of us who follows Jesus will have a wounded thigh like Jacob, a thorn in the flesh like Paul — something that limits us, holds us down, causes pain, keeps us weak.

And we have a choice:

–  We can spend our lives wallowing in this thing, using it as the excuse for wrapping the gifts God has given us in a napkin and doing nothing with them.

–  We can take this thing which keeps us nailed to the cross of Jesus and make it the doorway to daily fellowship with our Lord and the fountainhead of healing for the sick ones around us.

Satan will say to the wounded servants of the Lamb what he said to the Master through those sneering voices on Good Friday, “Physician, heal yourself!”

But the Lord says,

“Weak as you are, I send you forth in my name to heal the sick and raise the dead and bring the lost back to the Father’s house.”  

“My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Message: Richard  E. Bieber 1980       Printable Version
Featured Art: Kindness and courtesy of Ineke Hopgood …with Rosalyne Field in some paintings… at inekehopgood.weebly.com
Prayer- Lord how good you are, how wonderful… that you find us in our defeat, our anguish, our shame, our pain, our loneliness and even in the midst of sneers and rejection. This is where you meet us. This is where you have been. This is where we cry out to you, where we draw close to you in our need. Alleluia. Lord may we continue in our weakness and sorrow to be drawn to you for our comfort. And may this empower us, soften us, prepare our hearts to comfort others. How beautiful that we, as weak and wounded as we are, can be sent forth with your life and healing. And yes, yes, may we find your holy, beloved grace sufficient for us and may your power be made perfect in our weakness. Amen. Maranatha Mirror.

 Posted April 22, 2022

GATHER “WITH ME”

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.

Luke 11:23

The stress all through our Lord’s teaching is that whatever we do as his followers is to be done always in union with him.

I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit,  for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

Don’t go off on your own and try to do things apart from me.

 Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:49)

I will not leave you desolate, I will come to you. (John 14:18)

Lo, I am with you always. (Matthew 28:20)

And the reason this is stressed continuously through his teachings is because Jesus knows what we’re made of and how prone we are to start out with him… and then in very subtle ways to swing off on tangents of our own, still pretending in our minds that we are there with him, and that what we are doing is in his name, but we know deep in our hearts, and he knows that we have left him behind long ago, even though we still pay lip service to his words.

He who is not with me is against me.

There’s no other way, and if you’re not gathering “with me” then you’re scattering.

But what does it mean to be with Jesus?

All we have to do is look back on our own lives. And if we have the sense, we probably could look at things we’re doing in our lives right now to see the silly, evil, devastating things that we have done all the while claiming that we are with Jesus.

We’re doing it in his name thinking we’re on the right track.

Think of the wicked judgments that we have formed in our hearts against others, the bondage that we had brought people into, and the condemnation that we had heaped on their heads…. all in the name of being “with Jesus”.

During the inquisition, when people were burned at the stake for not holding to the right doctrine. Jews were buried alive if they were unwilling to confess Jesus as their Lord. Countless people were put on a torture rack and tortured, right out of their bodies to try to make them confess errors that they didn’t even understand, much less never committed.

And among the people who were behind this evil thing were men who spent hours a day going through what they were convinced was prayer. And who were absolutely sure that they were in the will of God.

Now, how can this be that we and others can go off into such unmerciful, ungodly things and still think that we are with Jesus?

The answer is that we have to be able to distinguish very carefully between two kinds of being with Jesus.

There is the “with” of the insider syndrome.

And there is the “with” of the heart.

The “with” of the Insider Syndrome

Now the false “with” of the insider disease is when I think that I have an exclusive relationship with Jesus, something very unique and special.

When I think that I’m in the inside circle, it’s just me and a few other heavies and Jesus.

And that we experience a relationship with the Lord which others who are less enlightened, less versed in scripture, less humble than we are, less spiritual can’t possibly enjoy.

The time Jesus came into the region of Tyre and Sidon and this Canaanite woman came out and cried at the top of her lungs, “Lord, thou son of David, have mercy on me”. She’s not even a Jew, she’s a Gentile, but she calls him the son of David. “My daughter is grievously tormented with a devil”. And Jesus says nothing. And then his disciples come up to him and they beg him, notice what they beg him to do; do they beg him “Lord, please heal this woman’s daughter” or “do something for this poor tormented Gentile lady, “Help her Lord”? No, they begged him, “Lord, send her away, For she crieth after us”.” After all, Lord. We’re the insiders and she’s an outsider, and she’s annoying us. Send her off”. At that point, the disciples obviously were convinced that they were insiders, but they were so far away, so wrong, so unmerciful.

The insider was this Canaanite woman. She was actually the insider because she came to him in a way that the disciples had yet to learn (and eventually did learn). She came to him with her need from her heart.

Or the time James and John (who were part of the inside 3) come up to Jesus and say, “Lord, we want you to do for us whatever we ask”. And he says, “well, what do you want”, “Lord, Grant, that we may sit one on your right and the other on your left, in your glory. We want to be with you, Lord. We love to be with you”.

But they want to be with him as insiders.

Then one day they’re going down through Samaria toward Jerusalem and they get to a village where the villagers refuse to receive Jesus and his disciples because they’re heading to Jerusalem and they’re Jews. Again, our two friends, James and John, say, (and we’re just like them) “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and consume them”? “You know they’re trying to treat us as outsiders, let’s show who the outsiders really are, Lord”!

Or the time little children were brought to them so that Jesus would touch them… and again, here come the brave inside disciples rebuking those bringing them, “get out of here, Jesus doesn’t have time for that”. But Jesus, when he saw it was much displeased, very displeased. And he said, “let the little ones come to me, for of such is the Kingdom of heaven”.

Now whenever we are with Jesus with our hearts, thinking of ourselves, very often secretly, as insiders, we are doing the same thing those disciples are doing.

We’re driving people away.

We’re misleading them.

We’re making it very, very difficult for people to find their way to that mercy, which is found nowhere else but in Jesus.

He who is not with me is against me.

And he that gathereth not with me, scatters.

The “with” of the Heart

“And to be with me what you have to do is leave behind your insider syndrome, your big ego, your spiritual rightness, all your knowledge…and come to me with your bare-naked heart, and with your desperate need. If you would only admit it, then you’re with me. And when you are with me with your heart in that way, then you will be a door through which people can find their way to me instead of the wall you’ve so often been, barring them from my presence.

“With your heart… in your heart… draw nearer and be with me first of all at my cross”.

What was it that drew that Canaanite woman?  It was nothing but the aroma of Calvary, the aroma of the cross, which her mind surely didn’t fully understand. But she sensed that here was healing, here was deliverance, here was help. The cross is what drew her. And it was the cross that drew those bringing the little ones. And it was the cross that drew the blind, and the lame, and the poor, and the maim, the sinners, and the troubled, and the demon possessed, and all the others too. It was the cross that drew them to him.

And finally the disciples too… found their way to the cross.

Notice the difference between Peter before Calvary and after Calvary. Before Calvary, we see Peter also so often full of this insider thing, “Lord though all should forsake thee, yet will not I. I’m with you, Lord”. But after Calvary, we see that love which was surely there underneath all that bluster. We see that love, which is now the only thing left, and the bluster is gone, the pride is gone, the self-righteousness is gone and we see Peter with nothing but that love. 

Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?

Lord, you know I love you.

Feed my sheep.

Now it’s a love that has been brought through the blood of the Cross, tried in the fire, cleansed by that fire of suffering, down into the depth of Calvary and brought back up again alive. And that was the thing, that love of Calvary that really brought Peter to life and enabled him to come to Jesus and be close to him in a way that he never knew before.

And it’s at that point when we find ourselves truly at the foot of the Cross that we experience a fellowship with Jesus that can be known nowhere else. And this does not happen just at the beginning of your walk with Jesus, it goes on and on and on. And the minute you think you’ve come to the place where you don’t need to be at Calvary anymore, you’re in trouble.

You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined from before the foundation of the world, but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake, through him you have confidence in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory so that your faith and hope are in God.

I Peter 1:18-21

Our Lord is telling us… draw with me, come with me, be nearer in your heart.

Be with me, through the mercy of God

There’s absolutely no way that we can understand who Jesus is, or have any sense of what he’s about, what he’s doing until we open our hearts to God’s mercy. And we begin to appreciate what that is.

When the Pharisees, who know their scriptures and know all about God, begin to condemn Jesus for having dinner with a rich tax collector, a sinner. And Jesus’ answer is “go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice”…he’s quoting Hosea 6:6. In Chapter 12 of Matthew we see the same thing these guys come again. Now they catch Jesus red hot, he’s broken the commandment of the Sabbath. He’s broken the Sabbath. He and his disciples are going through the grain fields, plucking the grain. “Now we know you’ve broken scripture. Now you’ve done it”. And Jesus’s answer to these guys “if you had learned, if you had known what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless”.

And in these answers to the Pharisees, Jesus is surely talking to us.

You want to know who I am?

You want to get some sense of what I’m doing?

You want to be part of what I am?

Go and learn…

I will have mercy, not sacrifice.

Take into your heart Psalm 117, the shortest Psalm. Memorize it.

Oh praise the Lord, all ye nations praise him, all ye people for his merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord Endureth forever.

Praise ye the Lord.

When we open our hearts to that merciful kindness, which is great toward us, we will begin to understand what his truth is. And the mercy and the truth are always together, always. And when we appreciate his mercy, then we begin to see Jesus, to know him, and to love him, and to follow him, and we won’t be so busy picking at everything else. We’ll be just so busy praising and thanking him and doing his merciful will that our lives will be fulfilled. We won’t have to try to fulfill ourselves in picking out all the specs from our brothers’ eyes.

Be with Me through the Holy Spirit

Finally, Jesus is saying to us also in our hearts, be with me, through the Holy Spirit.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered, and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

When had they been with Jesus five years ago, two months ago last week? That may all be true, but the significant thing was that these men were with Jesus right up to that moment.

   They were with Jesus as they stood before the council.

   They were with Jesus when they were locked up in jail.

   They were with Jesus all the time through the Holy Spirit.

   When they’re released, they go back to their brothers and sisters and together they all pray.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness,  while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.”  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:29-31

 Now the Spirit that was in that place, that shook those walls, and that filled those Saints …is among us now. And the one desire of the Spirit is that we should be able to draw near to Jesus with our hearts.

He that is not with me is against me.

And he that gathered not with me scattereth

It’s probably true that there’s more gathering going on, ostensibly, in the name of the Lord on the earth at this moment than at any time since the Apostolic days. All kinds of gathering is taking place. People are being gathered into this and into that.

Very soon God himself will make it clear, it is up to him to determine this, not us,

How much of this gathering was gathering?

How much of it was scattering?

How much of it was life?

How much was death?

How much was building up and edifying the body?

How much was actually tearing down and destroying and splitting and dividing the body?

And when God has finished making that clear, we can be sure that the only work that will remain, and the only fruit that will last, will be that which was performed by those who were with their hearts truly with Jesus.

May God show us areas of our lives we are with him “with insider syndrome”, may he make that clear to us and may he help us to turn around and get near him “with our hearts”. If it’s in any way true that we, with our mouths or with our busyness, are with Jesus as insiders and actually forming walls that keep the struggling, mercy hungry people away from him…if in any way that’s true, may the Lord show us, so that we may turn around and come through that wide open door into those wide open arms of him, who is the mercy of God.

Both for us And for others.

Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you.

Get under my cross,

Get into the mercy of God which is incarnate in me.

Enter into my Spirit, which is the Spirit of self-emptying.

Learn from me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you’ll find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is not legalism, but easy.

And my burden is not self-conscious commitment, but light.

Let’s pray. We ask Lord God that you help us to answer the call of your Spirit and in whatever way is necessary for each of us to leave whatever place that may be away from Jesus and away from his cross and draw near to him, Lord God, with our hearts, and with our knee, Lord God, this day. We ask it in his name. Amen.

Message and Prayer: Richard Bieber 1978       Printable Version
Transcribed and edited 2022 by Maranatha Mirror
Featured Art: Ramone Romero  at http://weeping-jeremiahs.blogspot.com/

 Posted April 15, 2022

(Good Friday) 

TAKE UP YOUR CROSS

Long before anyone heard of Calvary,

 Jesus told prospective followers that they would have to

“take up their cross.”

Did they understand what he meant?

Do we?

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Perhaps only super-saints need to carry a cross?

Perhaps the rest of us can get by with simply being “born again”?

It seems Jesus does not see it that way.

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

Matthew 12:30

If we are “with Jesus” we carry a cross. 

There’s no way around it.

But what does it mean to “take up your cross daily”?

Everybody in Jesus’ day understood that a cross meant that your life is finished.  You’re dead. 

To carry a cross meant you’re on your way out.   You’re heading toward your own execution.

Jesus did not pick up his cross on Good Friday.  He picked up his cross the day he went down into the Jordan River to be baptized by John.

That moment marked the end of his former life. 

He was dead to it all.

From now on each day of Jesus’ life was a living sacrifice to his Father until he would arrive at his goal.

“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Jesus emerged from the water, received the Spirit, and headed into the wilderness, where he reinforced his grip on that unseen cross. 

No shortcuts to provision, protection, or power.  

Only obedience to the Father, moment by moment.

Dead to himself.

Alive only to his Father’s will.

Calvary was the climax of a life lived by the power of his inward cross.

So that at Calvary the Son of God was now able to vacuum all our sin, all our sickness, all our evil and lies and corruption into his dying body, giving us the chance to rise with him into freedom.

That freedom is possible only to those who

deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow him.”

I take up my cross daily. Every morning I take up my cross by dying to my own agenda, abandoning myself to the will of the Master.

Here I am, Lord.  I present my body as a living sacrifice to be lived in your name to the Father’s glory.

I turn my mind away from the Darkness and open it to the light of your Spirit—

—to love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength…and my neighbor as myself.

I carry my cross through the day by walking in the light.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.      ( I John 1:5-6)

As I carry my cross, I’m set free from the darkness of self-obsession.

I’m dead.

My life is hid with Christ in God. 

I’m free this day to walk in the light.

To walk in the light is to live with integrity, no longer wearing a mask or hiding behind a synthetic image.

I walk in the light by doing what I know to be God’s will.

I speak truth. 

I forgive. 

I allow my heart to be ruled by the generosity of heaven.

I pray blessing on those who give me a hard time.

I carry my cross right to the end.

Jesus’ inward cross made him invulnerable until he reached his goal.   

Likewise the cross I carry keeps me focused and safe until the moment comes to die—

all the while, raising me from the dead, moment by moment until the Final Resurrection.

….that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

Message: REB  August 2019         Printable Version
Featured Art: Rebecca Brogan jtbarts.com
Prayer: O Lord, we need you to help us to let go of darkness, to help us to desire your light and to seek your light with our whole hearts. We present ourselves to you. Turn our minds away from darkness, open them to your magnificence, your wonder, your beauty, your goodness… so we can love you and others with all we have. Set us free to lovingly carry our crosses…letting go of wounding others, letting go of lashing out, letting go of holding grudges, letting go of vengeance, letting go of greed, letting go of self idolatry. Set us free to live and pray your blessings to those around us and set us free to keep choosing to walk in your light to the end because this is the wonderful yoke and burden you give us and this is where those who seek will find you. Amen. Maranatha Mirror

 Posted April 8, 2022 

Signs and Wonders

 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.  If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”  But one of them, Ca′iaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people…      (John 11: 47-50a)

We can see from this that the signs that Jesus performed, didn’t exactly put him on top of the success list. Instead, they got him in trouble.

Now, Jesus promises that those who believe in him will do the works that he does and even greater works than these because he goes to the Father.

They will do signs and wonders.

He also promises that as the end of the age draws near, false Christ’s and false prophets will arise, and show great signs and wonders.

So both the false prophets and the true servants of the Lord have two things in common.

— Their word is accompanied by signs.

— Their lives are inspired by an unusual boldness.

Now the false prophets have a boldness which is really rooted in arrogance. 

It has its source in a spirit of blasphemy which defies God.

Whereas, the servants of God have a boldness, which is based on faith in God.  It pushes aside all fears of the authorities and powers of this world; to do and say what it has to do.

The boldness of faith is never arrogant.

But it is wonderfully free from fear.

It is the lack of this boldness which constitutes one of the most serious deficiencies in our lives.

The boldness of arrogance and the boldness of faith are BOTH attended by signs.

 How can you tell which is which?           

Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.  And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”     (Mark 16:14-18)

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 7:22-23)

So when is our prophecy, our casting out of demons, our doing of mighty works….

in the name of Jesus?

When are these things truly signs of the Kingdom?

And when are our mighty utterances and deeds in the name of the Lord… works that one day will cause us to be banished from the face of the Lord?

Well, somebody says, “I don’t want to get into that! I don’t want to touch the issue of signs and wonders! If there are people around who have a witness that’s so strong that signs come in behind and confirm it…well, that’s beautiful.

And, if there are charlatans who go around doing mighty things looking like they’re some kind of prophet, but are underneath evil doers, God will get to them in time. They will be judged.  But, as for me- I just want to go on serving, washing feet, taking care of needs, and speaking the gospel as best I can.”

And that sounds beautiful, but the only problem is…

If we speak the gospel and live the gospel with any integrity at all, sooner or later we’re going to have to deal with signs and wonders. Because signs will sooner or later find their way into our ministries whether we ask for them or not.

Moreover, if we have any compassion for the people who come to us begging for some evidence of the mercy of God, (if we’re concerned at all), we’ll have to be going to our Father. I’m crying out to him the same as the man in our Lord’s parable in Luke 11. He bangs on his friend’s door at midnight and says “lend me 3 loaves! A friend of mine is coming on a long journey and I don’t have anything to give him.”

And as we beg for that bread, the bread of the Holy Spirit will come, and with that bread will come signs of God for those who seek Him.

So what’s a sign?

A sign is something which happens in the experience of the hearers of the word, which gives them a strong indication that the word they heard was really from God.

Often, it’s some kind of healing; maybe the healing of the mind… or…

The removal of an attitude or an obsession which has been eating at their soul.

The restoring of a family.

The renewing of a wasted body.

But whatever it is, it’s not some kind of cure that we can now package and sell.

It’s a sign that Jesus, who died, is alive and really cares about this needy person.

 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.  And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple.  Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms.  And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, “Look at us.”  And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.  And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.   (Acts 3:1-10)

Now this was not something that Peter and John had all planned out.

It was a gift that came from God.

It was a sign that Jesus is indeed Lord of Lords that he did die for our sins, that he did rise from the grave, and that he did pour out his Holy Spirit.

And signs from God are always in some way connected with a word from God.

So here comes the word…           

 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, astounded.  And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?  The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.  But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name, by faith in his name, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.    (Acts 3: 11-16)

Now, how can we be sure that this preaching and this healing are really a sign of the Kingdom of God and that they are not just some other one of these works, for which people are going to be cast out of the Kingdom in the end? 

Not everybody who says Lord, Lord enters the Kingdom of Heaven and not everybody who does mighty works in the name of Jesus enters the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus makes that clear.

If the works we do in the name of the Lord begin to tempt us and lure us to begin building our own Kingdom, so that we become the center, and that we are on the pedestal…

Then, these are no longer signs of the Kingdom and we are no longer servants of the Kingdom.

But, if when we speak a word from God, it is confirmed by healing and if when this healing takes place, it puts us on a road that leads us to a cross.

Then we can be sure… it’s from God.

Every sign we perform in the name of Jesus in some way will lead us not on the road of great success, but always on the road to a cross.

What are we going to do with this guy, there’s no doubt that he’s performing great signs and wonders, and if we let him go on like this the whole nation will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take our place and our nation.

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sad′ducees came upon them, annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the morrow, for it was already evening.  But many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand.   (Acts 4:1-4)

So, the result of the healing was not an Academy Award for Peter and John. 

It was persecution. Jail.

5000 people are brought into the Kingdom, and these guys end up in jail.

As they sat in the cellblock, that night they could have been saying, “Let’s see. This is ridiculous!  We’re going to have to be more cautious next time. What good is this going to do if every time we preach and heal in the name of Jesus, we end up locked up?”

But no. The next morning they go out there and do it again.  Instead of pulling in their horns and playing it safe, they go out there and they ask for more.

On the morrow their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem,  with Annas the high priest and Ca′iaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.

Acts 4:5-6

These are the same people who had put Jesus on the cross. These are the very fellows who one night just a few months before insisted that Jesus is going to have to die while Peter, this same Peter, was warming himself by the fire in the courtyard of their house insisting that he doesn’t even know Jesus.

This time Peter is not in the courtyard. He’s right up in front of them and when they had set him in their midst, they inquired “by what power or by what name did you do this”?

 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,  if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed,  be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well.  This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:8-12

Now what we see here is boldness in the face of threats.

Boldness, to say to the very people who had the authority to put Jesus on the cross, and did it. And who still had the authority to do the same thing now to Peter. Boldness to tell them that Jesus is Lord.

It’s this kind of boldness which exercises itself in the face of threats that brings signs and wonders down from God into this world.

So after being threatened again, they’re released and they’re sent back to the brothers and sisters, and pretty soon the whole church is at prayer. Notice what they pray for.

 And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.”  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:29-31

 

They pray for one thing.

Boldness.

They did not pray for power to perform signs and wonders.

Lord give us power? No, not in this instance…

They pray for boldness.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness,  while  YOU stretch forth thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.”

It’s God who performs the signs.

It’s the hand of the Lord that confirms the word and causes these things to happen while we go out under the anointing of the Spirit in boldness, in the midst of threats… to tell the world that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Now, who of us can deny that we could use a few more signs and wonders to confirm our word? To back it up and convince the people we talked to.

But the great need in our lives is not for signs and wonders.

The great lack in our lives is boldness.

We need boldness to say what needs to be said when we’re away from the safety of the body.

The courage, to say what we have to say …even when it endangers our reputation, our job, or our very life.

The courage, the boldness, to live as people who really are convinced that Jesus is Lord. Knowing that he is with us, and that he is the only one in the world worth living for and dying for.

God help us to see our need for boldness.

God create in us a hunger for boldness

…  a hunger for such boldness that we take no rest and we give him no rest until he pours out his Spirit upon us afresh and sends us forth into the world under the anointing of his Spirit in the face of threats to proclaim his word with all boldness while he stretches out his hand to heal and signs and wonders are performed in the name of his holy servant, Jesus.

Prayer-

Lord, you know how many of us are able to look back over our past and see foolish things that we’ve done.  Unwise and stupid things that we’ve done that caused all kinds of fire to come out against us, and we know it wasn’t really persecution, it was our own stupidity. And yet, ever since we’ve been so timid, So afraid to open our mouths and take a stand and to say what needs to be said.  And we’re just asking Lord God, that by the light of your Spirit you would enable us to see ourselves as you see us. Enable us, Lord God, to see today how timidity has really limited our vision of you and our ability to serve you. And, that you would just help us to stir up the gift that you long since have given us. I ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Message and Prayer-  Richard E Bieber 1981…edited  and transcribed by Maranatha Mirror.      Printable Copy
Featured Art: All via Good Salt license 
 

 Posted April 1, 2022 

THE MY-WAY HIGHWAY

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30

There was not a car in sight.  No buses, no trucks, no blaring horns.  Just people.  Thousands of them strolling along the road in the warm spring sunshine.  All of them going in the same direction.

Grassy banks sloped down to the road on either side.   Families were picnicking on the grass, watching the endless stream of chatting, laughing souls flowing by.

What happened to the police barriers and the demonstrators we used to see along this road?   Everything seems so peaceful.  Everybody’s happy. They’re flowing along in serene contentment.  No terrorists, no angry mobs.

But where is this river of humanity going?

You fall in step and ask a young woman, “Where are we going?”

“How should I know?” she laughs, and dances along as happy as a clam.     

Off in the distance is a mountain range.  “Will we have to climb those mountains?” you ask.

“How should I know?” she grumbles and hurries ahead.

Hours pass, and now the mountain looms up like a dark cloud. At the foot of the mountain is a tunnel, swallowing the happy walkers into its gaping mouth.

“Don’t go in there!” thunders a voice by the roadside.  “That tunnel leads to nowhere!”

 The man has a wild look in his eyes as he cries,

“This way!  Come this way! Here is the path that leads to safety.” 

The human stream ignores the wild-eyed stranger as it flows into the tunnel. Young and old.  Mothers, fathers and children.  Soldiers and sailors, business suits, clerical collars, musicians, artists, politicians.  They keep marching blissfully into the tunnel, and are never seen again.

“This way, people!  This is your last chance.  Over here! Take this path.  It’s your only hope!” shouts the wild-eyed prophet.

 “He’s a mad man,” says a well-dressed clergyman, shaking his head and rolling his eyes.

“When did they let him out,” laughs a young woman, as she tosses her empty water bottle.

But hold on!  A handful of people are peeling away from the crowded road and following a narrow path in the shadow of the mountain cliffs.

You decide to take the old prophet’s advice and join the breakaways. Things are strangely silent as you trudge along the narrow path together.

Was that old man telling the truth?  How can we be sure?

After many hours you and your fellow pilgrims cross a stone bridge over a rushing river. Through the trees you can see a magnificent palace.  Everyone gathers before its massive door and waits.

The door opens; a woman dressed in white opens her arms toward the group and says, “Come, for all things are now ready.”

She leads the pilgrims into a Banquet Hall with a table piled high with food.

Gathered around the table are people from every nation on earth, joyfully eating and drinking and talking.  You are ushered to a chair with a gold plate engraved with your name.

 _______________

It’s called the My Way Highway.   When I travel this road, I am focused on doing things my way, pursuing my dreams, my fulfillment, my security.

On this road I am told that I have every right to have things go my way.  All I have to do is buy the mouthwash that will make me desirable, get those investments that will make me secure, buy the car that will impress the world. It’s the road to success and satisfaction.

It’s surprising how many Christian folks travel this road.   Even though they’re into Christian culture, Christian literature, Christian music, Christian TV, they’re still on the My Way Highway. Yes, and in our churches we hear such comforting messages, such soothing words.  “Everything’s going to be okay,” is the message that soothes our souls.

But here’s this guy calling out to us, “Don’t go there!   Turn around!  Come this way!”

He points to a puny little gate and a puny little path that runs below the cliffs with only a few travelers making their way toward a thing he calls the Kingdom of God.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”   (Matthew 7)

When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he’s calling us to something very different from the My Way Highway.  He’s calling us to follow him on the one path that leads to Paradise, that IS Paradise all the way to Paradise. 

That narrow path which few dare to take is the one path of true freedom.  Right here, in the middle of this crazy world, is a path that is flooded with the light of heaven.

This path is the doorway to the Kingdom of God.

It IS God’s kingdom.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field….”

Just as surely as it’s impossible to serve God and Mammon at the same time, it’s impossible to walk the Kingdom Path and the My Way Highway at the same time.   Many of us try.  We want to walk with God, but we still cling to the My Way road.  That’s why God sooner or later brings us to the tunnel. He brings us to a place where we have to decide.

It could be a few words spoken by a stranger.  It could be a crisis in our life, or an unsettling dream that we can’t get out of our mind.  It could be a revelation that comes crashing into our heart like a falling star.   Whatever it is, the Lord is saying, “This is the way.  Walk in it.”

 ________________

Today the My Way Highway is as busy as ever.   Sometimes it’s peaceful; sometimes it’s a war zone, but it’s always crowded. 

And the voice of the Shepherd can still be heard above the din, “This is the way!  Walk in it.!”

God alone knows which road each of us is on right now.   Some of us are blissfully dancing down the My Way Highway, singing “Praise the Lord!” as we go.

But if we’re still on the My Way road when that tunnel looms up, we will have to choose.

God give us the courage to get off the My Way Highway and follow the Master in simple obedience, when he says,

“This is the way, walk in it.”

Prayer: Lord, Lord great Healer, source of Life… give us a deep thirst for you. Fill us with joy, with praise, and with such awe of your glorious presence that a spring of life bubbles up within us. May we cling to you, be joined to you, to your cross. Put your finger on the “self” within us, let your death work in us, so that your life may flow out of us. May the stream within us become a mighty river, bringing healing to others by what we say, what we do, and what we pray… breaking the chains of Satan. Yes, yes manifest the Kingdom within us with unspeakable power, make us the means by which your healing touch, Jesus, comes to this broken world.  Amen.       Maranatha Mirror
Message:  Richard E Bieber 1985 …edited by Maranatha Mirror.      Printable Copy
Featured Art: 1st piece “The Challenge of Sin” by Kate Austin. Remaining pieces by Elizabeth Wang T-00213-OL, T-13218C-CW , T-01053-OLT-12605-CW at Radiantlight art UK

 Posted March 25, 2022 

GRACE IS A RIVER

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!

Grace is a River.

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.

Revelation 22

The River of Grace has been flowing from the throne and from the Lamb since the beginning of time.

Everywhere it flows it brings life.

   It heals.

   It forgives.

   It restores.

 The River flows in.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed,

“If anyone one thirst, let him come to me and drink.”

John 7

Jesus is the River.

His words are living water.

Anyone who is thirsty for this water can come to him and drink.

   And the River flows into their soul as living words from the mouth of the Lord.

    This River of living words fills the soul with life from God.

It lifts the soul into God’s world—God’s kingdom.

It heals.

It forgives.

It restores.

It empowers the soul to walk with God.

The River flows out.

“He who believes in me, as the scripture has said,

‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'”

 John 7

Now the River begins to flow out as life from God.

   As living words.

   As redemptive deeds.

That heal,

Forgive.

Restore.

Empowering those who receive it to walk with God.

But what if the outflow is blocked?

If the River flows in but finds no outflow, everything dries up and becomes a desert.

   The word of the Lord to believers whose River has become a desert:

The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead.

Awake, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God.

Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.”

Revelation 3

Grace is a River.

It always flows.

   Whenever its flow is blocked it finds another channel.

But the flow never stops.

Jesus is the source of all grace.

Wherever you use the word “grace” you can substitute the word, “Jesus”, and you get a clearer picture.

Jesus’ death absorbs our sin into itself.

Jesus’ resurrection opens the door to life in the Spirit.

Jesus’ words are Spirit and life, empowering us to walk with God.

If we come with our thirst, he fills us with living water.

If we walk with him in faith, the River flows out of us with all the power of heaven.

It forgives.

It heals.

It restores.

It empowers the soul to walk with God.

If the River of grace flows into us, but never flows out, we can sing Amazing Grace till our dying day

…. But we have become a desert.

Lord Jesus, open us up!

Cause living water to flow from us, as it flowed from Ezekiel’s Temple.

Ezekiel’s Temple

When Israel had become barren, a nation of captives in Babylon, Ezekiel received the vision of a new Temple.

The most glorious thing about this magnificent Temple was not its structure, but a tiny stream of water flowing from its entrance.

A trickle which became a mighty River of Grace.

Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar.

Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate, that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.

Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep.

Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins.

Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through.

And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?”

Then he led me back along the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw upon the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other.

And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.

Ezekiel 47

Jesus is Ezekiel’s Temple.

Each of us is a manifestation of that Temple.

The tiny trickle that flows out becomes a mighty River.

A River of Grace.

May it flow from us forever!

Prayer: Lord, Holy Lord, give us a deep, deep thirst for your living water… keep us seeking you with the passion of our hearts. As your living water, your river, flows into our souls, filling us with your life, lifting us into your Kingdom…. may it pour into us healing, forgiveness, and restoration… and empower us to walk with you God. And dear Lord, may we let it flow out, not allowing it to dry up or become blocked. Keep us from looking alive, but really being dead. Wake us up Lord, open us up… even if there is just a trickle of life… turn that trickle into a mighty river that brings life wherever it goes. May it pour out as redemptive deeds… bringing healing, forgiveness, and restoration… and empowering many souls to walk with you, Precious Lord. And yes, yes may your River of Grace flow from us forever. Amen.       Maranatha Mirror
Message/Short:  Richard E Bieber November 2021   Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy of Amy Rylander www.amyrylander.com
 

 Posted March 18, 2022 

HEAVENLY TREASURES IN EARTHEN VESSELS

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.      (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?  You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God,  who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:1-6)

Paul is pointing to specific things he is getting done. This is a testimony of a man who can walk into a city of half a million people, who had never heard the name of Jesus, stay there for 18 months ,and then walk away leaving behind him… a church so ablaze with the life of God… that that entire city and regions far beyond that city are hearing the name of Jesus. Paul knew that he was getting things done. He wasn’t sitting around wringing his hands, wondering what he should do next, or whether he was accomplishing anything, or whether his life was counting for any purpose. Paul was very clear in his heart, he knew that he was getting somewhere, that things of eternal consequence were taking place in people’s lives.

You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Now this is the kind of thing all of us are really after.

We want to be able to impart the life of God to people in such a way that it remains with them.

We want to bring people from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God.

We want to bear fruit as Jesus promised we would, that remains.

We want to see them stay alive and God after we have in some way served them in the name of Jesus…in such a way that they stay alive in God once they’ve done so once they’ve heard, once they respond.

How come these things are not happening with consistency in our lives? How come it seems to take us a lifetime to accomplish what Paul got done in two weeks.

Is it because the Heavenly Father decreed that “my servant Paul is going to be the last of his kind. After him, there will be no manifestations of my grace and power in such an order until the Kingdom comes in its fullness”? Or was this life that flowed from Paul the result of the fact that Paul was willing that the power of the Spirit, that qualified him to be an able minister of the New Covenant would remain in Paul …. contained in an earthen vessel all his life?

Inwardly Paul was ablaze with the life of God, but outwardly, Paul never became a golden bowl, or a silver chalice.

He remained a vessel of clay on earth.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

….

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.

The power that brings people from death to life, that opens their eyes to the reality of God is contained on this earth … only in earthen vessels, never in any other kind.

And God will never entrust this power to us, unless we are willing to be earthen vessels.

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 7:22-23

Evildoers? People who prophesy in the name of Jesus and cast out demons in the name of Jesus, how can such people be called evildoers? Are such things evil deeds?

They look like impressive fruit, these things that they do, but it’s actually evil fruit because it comes from an evil tree, of an evil heart.

Instead of heavenly treasure dwelling in an earthen vessel, it becomes evil treasure coming from a golden bowl. It looks impressive on the outside, but inwardly it is evil because it comes from an evil source.

The world, particularly, the religious world, always concentrates on the appearance on the outside, the Pharisees and Scribes were all the time shining up the outside of the cup, even though the inside was filthy, always slapping another coat of whitewash on the tomb. But this didn’t change the fact that inside the tomb it was full of dead men’s bones and all kinds of uncleanness.

The Kingdom operates on the very opposite principle. It takes the life of heaven and brings it down into the world and wraps it in the ordinary. Jesus was not born in a palace and he was not wrapped in silk. He was born in a stable and he was wrapped in ordinary rags, and he was put in an animal’s feed trough.

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;

Isaiah 53

An earthen vessel …. forever showing that the divine power, the transcendent glory that was coming forth from his life … was coming from the Father who sent him.

Not from him.

Christendom always puts its efforts into the package, because it’s the package that sells, but inside the package is a vacuum. There is no substance. There is no life. There is no reality.

The Kingdom puts its efforts into downgrading the package. It never puts the heavenly treasure in a golden bowl or a silver chalice, always its’ put into an earthen vessel, wraps it in the ordinary.

How does Jesus come to us today, in our churches? He comes to us in a piece of bread and a glass of wine… which are earthen vessels.

And he goes forth to touch the world out there through ordinary men and women who are being pressed from every side by problems, people who are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, cast down… who are experiencing inside themselves the power of death at work in their mortal flesh.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

The more willing we are to be earthen vessels, the more freely the life of the Spirit of God will flow forth from us… for healing, for salvation, for conquering evil.

What we need to do is forget about the packaging and be content that the package should be always earthen. And concentrate on making sure that inside the package, the inside of the earthen vessel, is fit to contain the heavenly treasure.

The power of heaven will burn in the earthen vessel of our lives if we are willing to concentrate on keeping the earthen vessel inwardly clean.

For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh

  And that sprinkling was external.

… how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Hebrews 9

  And this sprinkling of blood on the conscience… is inward.

Now the external side of the earthen vessel is God’s business, not ours, we are not to worry about that. Our department is to make sure that the inside of the vessel is cleansed by the blood, that there is nothing hidden in us… that has not been confessed or washed by that blood….

Our attitudes.

Our secret idolatry.

Our vanity.

Our lust.

Our hidden grudges.

Now we take the inmost door, of our inmost heart, and open them… “Lord , If you will, you can make me clean.” And he says, of course I will make you clean. And he plunges the whole mess that’s inside us under the blood and washes it away. The power of heaven will burn in the earthen vessel of our lives if we are willing to make sure that the earthen vessel, inwardly, is nailed to the cross…all the time. Inwardly we’re all the time touching the cross. In a mystery, our inmost life is to be nailed to the Cross of Jesus.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;

Galatians 2

There is no way that I can have Christ living in me… unless I am willing to be crucified with him…nailed to his cross with him… bearing his reproach…following him outside the city…knowing him in the fellowship of his sufferings…becoming like him in his death.

The Cross of Jesus is not only something that atoned for your sins 20 centuries ago… the cross of Jesus is planted in your heart now, it’s your center, today.  It’s the source of your life.

Except you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood.

What does that mean, but to join yourself to his cross, unless you do, you have no life in you.

The power of Heaven will burn in the earthen vessels of our lives if we are willing to make sure that the earthen vessel is inwardly renewed every day.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

And the things that are unseen and eternal are inward. As we daily experience renewal and cleansing.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.

2 Corinthians 3:18

And inwardly, we will see the glory of God in the starry heavens, we will behold the wisdom of the Lord… in the ocean, and the mountains, and the trees, and the flowers, and the rain, and the wind when we learn to worship the glory of the Lord which has now come to dwell forever within the earthen vessel … in the Holy of Holies, which God has created in our inmost heart.

God help us to find him there and practice his presence there, day by day.

The power of heaven will burn in the earthen vessel of our lives when we are willing to give for alms such things as are within, when we are willing to start giving forth the mercy which God has put in us.

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

Luke 11:37-41

So God puts his peace inside us not only for our own satisfaction, but so that we can give that peace forth and touch other lives with his peace. He puts his mercy in our inmost parts, what a change that brings about in our living, but it’s not just for us. It’s so that we may take that mercy and give it forth ..that we may give for alms those things that are within and until it becomes our life, our second nature, to continuously pull out and give forth what God puts in.

     … That we work out our salvation, which God worked in.

Until we do that, we stagnate.

Stagnation not only happens to us as individuals but it will also happen to us as a body.

If we don’t give forth what God puts in we will rot.

If God had said, “my servant Paul is the last of his kind, after him there will be no manifestations of that order until the Kingdom comes in its fullness”… we’d be off the hook, we would have an excuse. But there have been countless people who have ministered the life of the new covenant, just as Paul did who were qualified by God’s Spirit to minister that life. Countless people since Paul and there will be countless more. Even if we only have a short time to go.

The hour has come for us to decide whether we are willing to let God qualify us to be servants of the new covenant of the Spirit, to jump into that deep and allow God to make us and use us to touch the hungry, thirsty, painful, suffering world out there with his life to a degree, we’ve never done before.

The issue is very simple. It’s twofold…

Are we willing to be earthen vessels?

Are we willing to keep the earthen vessel fit for the heavenly treasure?

Prayer: Holy Lord, we are ready and willing, for your sake, to be simple, earthen vessels that minister your life, your holiness to this world. Do what it takes to make us fit to hold and share this precious, heavenly treasure. Clean us, purify us, keep us coming to you to have the inner filth removed. May we be willing to meet you outside the city, to meet you in your reproach… because there is where we meet you, there is where we find life. And Lord as we behold you, as we savor your presence, jumping into the deep, may we be transformed into earthen glory vessels, filled with your transcendent power and light …. with the power of heaven burning so strongly in us that your power, your life, touches the hungry, thirsty, suffering world through us like never before.  Amen.       Maranatha Mirror
Message:  Richard E Bieber 1985 …edited by Maranatha Mirror.      Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy and kindness of Amy Rylander www.amyrylander.com
 

 Posted March 11, 2022 

A PURE HEART, A SINGLE EYE

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

Psalm 27

When Jacob wrestled with the Lord at the ford of the Jabbok his eyes were probably shut half the time with pain. Yet he describes that night as the place and time where he saw God face to face.

Seeing God is not a matter of curiosity, like seeing a flying saucer or seeing somebody from outer space.

When we see God, we change.

Every time, during this age of grace, when see God in any way, we absorb his nature, we are formed into his likeness.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another…

2 Corinthians 3:18

In this matter of seeing God, we have all settled for far, far less than we should. And for this reason our lives are much duller and much weaker than they ought to be.

Every Spirit born follower of Jesus ought to be ….a seer, a prophet, a person who sees God, and in seeing God sees everything else in terms of God.

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.

Psalm 63:1-4

This is not some idle prayer; this is the doorway to life.

For it is only when we in some way really begin to see God … that our bodies, as Jesus says, fill up with God’s life and become lamps that radiate that light to the needy world around us. There is nothing that we have to offer the world, nothing that we can give in word or deed to the world, redemptively, unless we are walking in the light of a vision of God.

Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound (single), your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound (single), your body is full of darkness.  Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.  If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

Luke 11:34-36

So when is the eye single so that it can do this?

It’s when the eye of the heart, and of the will, and of the mind is so fixed on God, that we begin to absorb God’s light … and drink in and soak up God’s mercy and God’s nature.

It’s the people who see God in that way…

Who have a word in season for him who is weary…

Who have a prayer that brings healing into a broken heart…

Who have a touch that that brings life to a sick body…

Who have wisdom that comes from heaven…

Who have the power to endure when everybody else misunderstands what they’re doing, and keep right on going without getting bitter.

One of the reasons why we’re afraid of this, and most of us, if not all of us, are afraid, is that we’ve seen so many sick minds that claim to have seen God, so many false prophets who claim to have seen God, and so many swollen egos who claim that they see God… that we say to ourselves if I get into this thing too deep, I’ll get like that too.

But the truth is when we really see God, we will never make a production out of it, we’ll never stand up before the assembly and make some big thing out of our vision and we will only share our vision, if we ever do, when God gives us leave to do so.

It’s not important to advertise that we have seen God. Once we begin to live before the face of God, we no longer are so worried about the eye of man.

Our fulfillment, our satisfaction, our joy, our life is God.

We don’t measure our work in terms of whether people admire us or approve of us.

There is only one reason why Jesus died on that cross and rose from the grave to wash away our sins, and there’s only one reason why he comes into every assembly of believers on earth…in order that we might open our eyes to God; As he opened Peter’s eyes, Martha’s eyes, Mary’s eyes and John’s eyes.

I am the light of the world he who follows

me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life

John 8:12

And the light of life is a vision of God.

Jesus also makes very clear that to have this vision of God we have to pursue it, we have to seek it.

The vision doesn’t just come and hit us on the head. Someone might say the Apostle Paul wasn’t looking for it and it came. But it’s obvious that the apostle Paul was following the light he had.

He was a seeker, don’t ever fool yourself, this man was a seeker long before he met Jesus on the Damascus road.

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

Matthew 5:8

In order for us to see God there has to be evidence that we’re pure in heart, that we’re seeking.

Ask and it shall given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee.

“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek.

Matthew 7:7, Psalm 63:1, Psalm 27:8

We have to seek the face of God in at least three ways.

We have to seek the face of God by purifying our own hearts.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

1 John 3:1-3

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

What does it mean to purify our hearts? It means to unclutter them, get rid of the distractions. Another word is repentance, to turn away from those things which we already know are death to us. God will make clear to us what’s cluttering our hearts, he already has.

Praise his name, he doesn’t show it all to us at once, but already at this moment there are specific things in each of our lives, that he is putting his finger on as clutter.

Now the clutter in my heart may be different from the clutter in yours. One thing may be permissible for you that isn’t for me or vice versa. But he will make it clear exactly what that is.

And if we take that one thing that we become aware of, and decide that we’re going to do something about today, we begin to move today.

Create in me a clean heart on God.

How can we pray this prayer, unless we’re willing that our hearts should no longer go in five directions at once, but our hearts remain fixed on God …. resting in him, at peace in him, inwardly settled on him.

We need to seek the face of God by drawing near to Jesus as we have never drawn near to him before.

Philip said to him, Lord, show us the father and we shall be satisfied. Jesus said to him, have I been with you so long and yet you do not know me Philip?

He who has seen me, has seen the Father.

John 14:8-9

Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory, the expressed image of his person and we can know him far, far better than we know him now.

One of the most deadly things that happens to us is that we begin to think

I really know Jesus.

I’m not like those other dummies, I know him.

And we stop at that.

When we read the Gospels there ought to be this prayer in our hearts every time …

Lord, I want to know you better, help me.

   And he does help us.

When we pray, there needs to be confirmation of the presence of Jesus in that room where we are praying… 

Lord, help me to discern your presence with me right now.

So that it’s not just repeating words, but that at that moment, in that place, we are having fellowship with Jesus and that fellowship increases all the time.

And when we gather, especially as we come to the place where we break bread.. we need with our minds and wills to discern the presence of the Lord among us.

We need to commune with him, worship him, praise him, adore him, love him.

This is where our life is… it’s in the person of Jesus.

Jesus is the face of God, when we see him, we see God.

We need to seek the face of God by drawing near to the needy

And this is the place where the body of Christ on Earth has made the biggest failure of it, in all of us.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by 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, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:34-40

Now these people were perhaps not conscious as they were feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, and visiting the sick that they were seeing God. But they were for sure answering a thirst in their hearts for God that was driving them out among the people in need. It was as if they knew that they would have no peace unless they were out there. And it’s true that it’s so much easier to see God when we’re among the people in need than anywhere else, because the people in need are God’s special friends. For instance, if the rich man had spent some time with Lazarus at his gate begging, if he had taken time with this man and just talked to him, given him some food, surely, the rich man would have thus brought some light into his own dark soul.

So it adds up to this, if we’re having trouble seeing the face of God and as far as we can tell we’ve done everything in our power to unclutter our hearts and we still can’t see the face of God… and as far as we know we’ve used all the strength we have to draw near to Jesus and we still can’t see the face of God… then we need  to go out to the streets and lanes of a poor city and draw near to the poor, the maim, the halt, and the blind… and get near to them.

We need to go out into the highways and hedges of the suburbs and go out among the people who are being forgotten out there too … and get near to them.

And in Jesus name that very, very soon our vision of Jesus will become clear, our hearts will become uncluttered, and we will see God.

Everybody has some vision that lights up her or his life. Maybe it’s a vision of money, or a vision of what we’re going to make out of our children, or perhaps it’s a vision of some great success that we hope to bring about, or maybe it’s some ultimate pleasure that just holds us like a magnet, like an obsession.

But there is only one vision that can really move us and forever will renew our youth ….and that’s the vision of God. When we begin to see the goodness of God shining from the face of his son Jesus, when we see that…we will live as his sons and daughters and we will do his will.

 God help us to pursue that vision.

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

Prayer- Lord, we confess that so much running around that we do in the name of religion is completely void of light because we don’t even know which way we’re going. And we confess to you, Father, that so many of the things that aggravate us and get us mad our because we don’t see you. And we pray that this day You just help us to respond to your invitation to see… and give us encouragement, Heavenly Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to turn away from the idle distractions that have divided our hearts and see. That seeing you Lord God, we may begin to absorb your mercy and relax in your love, and then become firm and strong in the doing of your goodness. Father, we ask this in Jesus name. Amen

 Amen.       Maranatha Mirror
Message and Prayer :  Richard E Bieber 1978…edited by Maranatha Mirror.      Printable Copy
Featured Art:Courtesy of Rik Berry at rikberry.com 

 Posted March 4, 2022 

The Measure You Give

I once had a vision of Jesus, which was the driving light of my life. But somehow, that vision has grown dull.  I had a confidence in God, which nothing was able to shake. But now there are these shadows of doubt and confusion.

Is it because the honeymoon is over and now I’m walking through the wilderness?

Or did I lose this vision because of actions of my own?       

And he said to them, “Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.  For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Mark 4:24

Put in simplest terms, the Kingdom of God consists of really two things;

receiving and giving.

We enter the Kingdom by receiving life from God.

We hold on to that life from God by giving it away.

If we try to take the life which God gives us and clutch it…we lose it.

 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:11-13

For those who received him, he came in and then he gave them him this power.

Now they have it.

But they will keep this power…only by giving it away.

 And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.

 1 John 5: 11-12

To have the Son and try to hold on to him and keep him like money in the bank is to lose him.

The only way we keep the Son is by giving him away.

Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me.

 Rev. 3:20

Again, we receive him.

We open the door.  Jesus comes in.  Now he’s with us.

But he stays only as we give him out.

When we come to Jesus, he fulfills his promise again for us that when we come to him, he’s with us.

We bring our troubled consciences, our broken hearts, our twisted minds, our sick bodies.

He touches us and gives us fresh life.

He gives us his body to eat and his blood to drink, and he sends us on our way rejoicing.

But, all these blessings he pours into us so generously again and again, remain ours, and increase in us, only when we begin to practice the fundamental principle of the Kingdom of God

That we get what we give.

Take heed what you hear. The measure you give will be the measure you’ll get and still more will be given you.  But to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Now we all have a very difficult time, all of us, making that a reality in our living because from the time we were infants, we have learned to live by a totally different rule, the rule of Satan’s kingdom.

In God’s Kingdom, we get what you give.

But, in Satan’s kingdom we keep what you have…and we have whatever we have by getting it and taking it.  And once we have it, we build a wall around it. We guard it with a knife. We don’t let anybody get near it.

We’re trying to expand our own kingdom.

Life in this world, Satan’s kingdom, is like a giant game of Monopoly. We start out with so much money. We start rolling the dice and with a combination of skill, luck and conniving, we try to beat the other guy.  We get Baltimore, Park Place, New York Avene, then we get Boardwalk and Park Place. Then we get some houses and Reading Railroad. Then we put on some hotels. And then, the other guy lands on our property and we clean him out!

The strange thing about this game of Monopoly is that even when we win, we lose.

   Jesus says,

Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break in and steal.

Matthew 6:19

Things haven’t changed. That’s how it was then and that’s how it is now.

Someone gets a nice shiny new car which only cost $20,000.00. It’s beautiful. But pretty soon… it will rust.  So they say, “ wait a minute, I’m going to take it to Ziebart- no rust”! But later, they park at the Kroger parking lot while getting some groceries.  They come out to find that somebody plowed into the rear quarter panel and drove off. That’s okay, they have insurance, it can be fixed. In reality, no matter what they do, within three, four, or five years, that shiny little car doesn’t look like it did, and it doesn’t behave like it did.  In another few more years, it’s in one of the junk yards.

Buying a house…it’s the same thing.  There is nothing wrong with having a house, but now there’s the hassle of making the roof tight so it doesn’t leak, of fixing the furnace, of mowing the lawn and on and on.

Now someone is super successful at business. It’s marvelous. They own so much property, stock, bonds. They’ve got so much money all over they don’t know what to do with it.

  And then they die.

And what do we take with us?

   We don’t even take our bodies.

The only thing we take with us across to the other side is what we gave away.

Make friends for yourselves, by means of the unrighteous mammon, that when it fails. they may receive you into the eternal habitations.

 Luke 16:9

And so the Kingdom of God can surround and invade the atmosphere that the kingdom of Satan causes us to breathe and think. Because the kingdom of God operates on a totally different principle. The Kingdom of God operates on the principle of we get what we give.

We get what we give- both negatively and positively.

If we give judgment, if we’re judging everybody, it comes back, we’re getting judged.

If we give condemnation, we’re sour and cynical and critical of everything and everybody and we can’t understand- why everybody is so negative towards us… we’re getting back condemnation.

If we give forgiveness, we show forbearance… it starts comes back to us.

If we give in mercy to people who are in need… mercy comes back to us.

That’s the way it works in the Kingdom of God, like the law of gravity.

 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;  give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

 Luke 6:37-38

Now, the reason we have such a hard time sustaining this vision of Jesus, the reason it keeps getting tarnished and weak, it shrivels, and it dies… is because, we try to take the vision of the Lord that God gives to us and conserve it the way we conserve things in this Satanic kingdom.

We hold on to our vision.

We live as if we’re playing Monopoly. We’re still shrewd, conniving, negative, cynical and seeking our own advancement in thousands of subtle ways, even in areas that we call spiritual or Christian… and we end up with grief and blindness.

Because when we’re given the vision of the Lord and any blessing from God, that blessing remains ours only as we learn to give it. 

We need to give it constantly. We can’t give it too much. The more we give, the more we get.

Take heed what you hear the measure you give will be the measure you get and still more will be given you for to him who has will more be given. And from him who has not even what he has, will be taken away.

Now Jesus is practicing what he preaches. He’s not asking us to do something he didn’t do himself and we see in Philippians chapter 2, a perfect description of how Jesus lived that way.

Who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped

I have equality with God. Nobody is going to take this from me, it’s mine! That’s my right”!

   That’s not how he does it.

He empties himself.

He pours himself out. He takes the form of a servant.

Being born in the likeness of men and being found in human form, he humbles himself and becomes obedient unto death, even death, on a cross.

He gives, gives, gives.

 

Wherefore, God has also highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.

The measure you give is the measure you get.

That the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess and things in heaven, things on earth, and things under the earth that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus offers up his life to the Father on the cross.  And on the third day, the Father gives him life and raises him from the dead. He offers up to the father a corruptible body. And on the third day God gives him an incorruptible body as he raises him from the dead. He offers himself up in weakness and on the third day the Father raises him in power.

The measure you give is the measure you get.

So Jesus teaches us to live this way too. He’s very clear about it.

 He said, “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return.   Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’  But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We do not want him to be our king.’ “After he was crowned king, he returned and called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what their profits were.  The first servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!’ “‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’ “The next servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.’ “‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You will be governor over five cities.’ “But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe (wrapped in a napkin).  I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’  “‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ “‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!’ “‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.’”

 Luke 19:12-26 (NLT)

The good servant has 1 pound of silver to start with.  He makes gains with it, by giving it away. He gives it away, and it comes back as two. He gives it away again, and it comes back as three. He gives it away again, and it comes back as four.

The wicked servant given 1 pound of silver hangs onto it and wraps it up in a napkin. He’s going to preserve it. He’s not going to lose it.

But he does lose it.

And now, the parable becomes reality.

Jesus comes into our midst and gives each of us silver.

Use it.

So how do we use this silver?

This pound of silver that we’re given to use… is mercy.

We come with our broken hearts, and our troubled consciences, and our sickly bodies. We may come with our twisted minds, and all of our needs.  And we lay these things out before him. All of us have something that isn’t right. And we cry out to God for help, and we get help.

He’s merciful to us beyond our comprehension.

Take this mercy, which we’ve been shown and now show it to each other. Show mercy to the person that we have a hard time accepting, that person who is always bugging us. Show mercy at home… to our mothers, and to our fathers, and to children, and to brothers, and to sisters.  Show mercy at our jobs, or on our searches for jobs, or wherever we’re dealing with people, every day. The more mercy we show…the more mercy keeps pouring into us.

Now we have two pounds of silver here, now we have three, now we have four. We come back to God and because we have been giving it out, we’re in a position to receive a double portion of God’s mercy.

But if on the other hand, after having received God’s mercy, we wrap it up in a napkin, saying it’s mine, then we are back to our old Monopoly ways.  You can’t have it, it’s mine! 

We’re looking at this person with disgust and that person with cynicism and this person with absolutely a sour attitude, and this is how we go through our days… showing no kindness to our spouses, our parents, our children, or that aunt that hasn’t seen us for three years, and she’s only a mile away!

Then this mercy, which we’ve been shown… shrinks and shrivels inside the napkin. When we come back to God we’re in no position to receive because the measure we give is the measure we get back.  And even more is given us.

To him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

This pound of silver that we’re given to use… is Jesus himself.

As we open our hearts, it’s the Lord who comes into our midst.  Jesus comes to us personally, through the Word, in hymns, in our prayers, in the Holy Spirit, coming among us. He visits us in the bread and wine.  And he renews his grip on our hearts.

Christ in you the hope of glory.

He who has the son has life. He who has not the son has not life

The Son has come in. We’ve opened the door; he’s eating with us and us with him.

We arise, we begin to share Jesus with others. The name of the Lord crosses our lips. We give each other encouragement to trust in him. And we continue to speak his name boldly and gladly.

Not only do we speak the name of Jesus, but we manifest the nature of Jesus in our actions. The way he is, begins to come through the way we behave.

And the more we give him, the more we have him.

We approach him again and because we gave him away, we’re in a position to receive a double portion of his presence.

But if after having received the Lord, we wrapped him up in a napkin. If the name of Jesus now doesn’t cross our lips until we sing a hymn in church. If we never talk about him because it’s not proper, because somebody might be embarrassed, because somebody might get nervous if we talk about Jesus. And if we do not manifest his love or his nature… then we’re playing Monopoly.  When we open our hearts to receive some more… we’re in no position because, the measure we give is the measure we get. And even more is given to us.

To him who has had more be given, and from him who has not, even what he has is going to be taken away.

 

This pound of silver that we’re given to use… is hope.

Oh, how needy we are of hope, to have some vision of the glory that lies at the end of the road. And, so the Lord opens our eyes and we see the City of God waiting at the end of the journey.  We eat the bread and we drink the wine; the body and blood of Jesus. We’re getting a foretaste of a banquet hall of God at the end, and our hope is renewed.

We have reason to live, something to go forward to now. We wake up with something to live for.

But if we don’t show this hope after receiving it… then the hope shrivels.

What we need to do is take the hope and share it.

Give it to somebody else. Be an encouragement.

Encourage others. Many people just need some hope. Nobody ever gives them any hope. Nobody ever gives them any encouragement. They just struggle along with long faces and dull hearts.

And here we come, like a little ray of sunshine. We give them some hope, sometimes in the form of a few dollars that they need. Sometimes, it’s in terms of a visit. Sometimes, it’s a meal at our dinner table. Whatever it is, we give them hope… and as we do, the hope we have increases. And when we come back to the Lord, we get a double portion.

But if we wrap the hope up in a napkin and we go back to our old ways.

Here come those Christians. Hide the beer!

Here come the hypocrites. Pull down the shades!

You know so often we are a threat to people.

Oh no, not again. Here they come.

They see us coming up to ring the doorbell and they hide in the kitchen until we’re gone.

If we go through our lives as wet blankets, then the hope that we wrapped in a napkin shrivels. And when we come to God for another shot of it, we’re not in a position to receive because…the measure you give is the measure you get back.

   And so…

The vision of the Lord for many of us has become dull.

It’s obviously become dull- by the way we’re living. 

   And, by the way we speak.

The vision will grow and increase in brilliance and in power as we give it away.

But if we take that vision and wrap it in a napkin, when we open up the napkin, it’ll be so shriveled up it won’t be good for anything.

God help us to take the vision and grant that it may increase as we live by the ways of the Kingdom, the law of the Kingdom and help us to quit playing Monopoly.

And he said to them, take heed what you hear the measure you give will be the measure you get and still more will be given you. For to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not even what he has will be taken away.

Prayer: Lord, thank you, thank you…what precious treasures you have given us. What you have measured to us is so wonderful, so beautiful, so life-giving. Lord, forgive us for hoarding them, for wrapping them in a napkin and allowing these gifts to shrivel, for letting the life you offer to be wasted. Help us to stop hoarding, holding back and hiding in order to gain something more for our own kingdoms and glory. Help us to give out in the measure you give us…to take the silver, the precious gifts you have given us and to invest them in others. Help us to use them… in acts of mercy, in proclaiming your name… in sharing the glory of who you are, in manifesting your nature wherever we go, and by encouraging others…bringing them hope in whatever ways we can. And yes, yes as we take the vision and give it away may it grow and increase in power… enriching not only us but all those we touch. Amen.    Maranatha Mirror
Message:  Richard E Bieber 1983 …edited by Maranatha Mirror 2022.      Printable Copy
Featured Art: Berna Lopez  www.evangile-et-peinture.org

 Posted February 25, 2022 

Healing

In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side.  The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.

 Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles.  He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist.  Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.

 He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank.  When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river.  Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows.

Ezekiel 47:1-9 (NLT)

Life will flourish wherever this river flows.

It begins as a tiny spring, bubbling up beneath the threshold of the temple, trickling down around the south side of the great altar of sacrifice. And then this little trickle of a stream finds its way across the courtyard eastward toward the east gate of the temple.

It didn’t look like much. It was just a spring. It didn’t have much force, it didn’t have any depth.

But now outside the temple and after the length of about five football fields to the east, now there is a  little stream that comes up to the ankles, go another 500 yards, it’s up to the knees, go 500 more yards, it’s up to the waist. Two more city blocks and it’s over the head.

A mighty river you can’t pass through.

Now somebody says, “How can a little spring, an innocent little spring bubbling up beneath the threshold of the temple, become a mighty river inside the distance of just slightly over one mile”?

This water is no ordinary water. It looks like water, but it’s in fact, the Spirit of God.

Whoever is touched by this river (if their heart is at all open),

– is touched with light from God, with healing.

– is invaded by the atmosphere of another world

When you touch this water, you’re touching the holy.

You’re touching God.

 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’  Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit because Jesus was not yet glorified        (John 7:37-39)

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.  He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic.  Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there.  Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’  They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.  (Luke 9:1-6)

When Jesus came out of his wilderness temptation and announced the Kingdom of God and began to manifest the Kingdom of God, mainly with signs of healing, this vision of Ezekiel was fulfilled.

It didn’t look like much at first; just a little spring bubbling up in the temple. That’s where it began…at the place of worship. But even then, those who were touched by this spring were touched with life from God.

Then it began to run about that huge altar of sacrifice, which was Calvary, where the Lamb of God laid down his life for the sins of the world. There the stream began to pick up speed and force. Then it burst from beneath the outside eastern gate of the temple, going through that gate, which was the resurrection. It began to move down outside the world with resurrection power outside the temple, into the world, with resurrection power, and by the time it got to Pentecost, it was a huge river that could not be passed over.

Most of you reading this have been touched by that river. And if you haven’t been…there is no reason why you can’t be touched by it before you finish this day.

There was a day, there was a season, when this stream brought to us the atoning power of the Lamb. The resurrection power of the Son of God, the power of the Holy Spirit came into our lives, bringing to us healing of whatever kind we needed.  Following the healing, we began to change and that change, and if we’re cooperating with it, the healing is still going on today.

What we need to see, however, today, is that in order to retain the life and the healing brought to us by that river…

We have to become part of that river.

We have to become the means by which life from God reaches out and touches and heals, and justifies, and sanctifies other people.

If we don’t become part of the river, if we don’t allow ourselves to be part of it … what ends up happening is that we simply become a little puddle of water off to the side that dries up in the sun while the river goes on without us. And it’s possible for people to receive, and taste, and experience, and rejoice, from the river but before they know it, without realizing it, be bypassed by the river.

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of them, two by two into every town and place where He himself was about to come.

And He said to them, the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore, for the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Go your way. Behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.

Whatever house you enter first say, peace be to this house and if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him. If not, it shall return to you. 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 10:1-9

This outflow of the Kingdom of God into the world, with the principal sign of the Kingdom being healing, …. continued long beyond Pentecost, long beyond the resurrection of our Lord. These people continued to do these things all through the Apostolic Age. And really down through the whole history of the body of Christ on Earth, this has been going on.

And this counsel, this command to the seventy, with very little change, applies to us exactly the way it did to them, it applies to us.

We know, for instance, that we’re not to go out there scratching around trying to find church members.

We’re not to go out there trying to bring everybody to our doctrinal position.

Nor are we to spend our time and energy babysitting adults, or young people, or whoever they are who refuse to grow up …creating Christian clubs for them, where everything is sanitary and uniform and homogeneous and everybody is comfortable and they have a nice time together…

   ….that’s not what we’re called to.

We are called to be that river.

The spring coming up at the threshold, the stream flowing past the altar and going out through the gate of the temple… will bring the healing, cleansing, saving, restoring, quickening life of God to sin sick people, in a sin sick world, regardless of the disruptions it causes us.

Expect in the next week, wherever you may be or go, that you will touch at least one person… so directly, so graciously, so wonderfully with the life of Jesus, that that person will experience healing.

Believe it.

Faith is being sure of things hoped for, certain of things not seen.

He who believes in me out of his heart will flow, rivers of living water

…and those rivers of living water… heal!

To believe it and to practice what you believe, see yourself as part of this river at three points:

The spring bubbling up beneath the threshold –   which means worship

The stream going by the altar of sacrifice– being joined to the Cross of Jesus.

The Mighty river that brings life- bringing God’s Kingdom into this world with unspeakable power.

All three go together. You can’t pick out one, and just concentrate on it. It has to be all three.

Spring bubbling up beneath the threshold

Begin by seeing yourself as the spring bubbling up beneath the threshold of the temple.

It’s significant that this stream begins in the temple. It begins at the place of worship, the worship of the Living God is the start of it all. That’s where it was for Jesus our Lord. Satan says to Him, “if You’re the Son of God, turn these stones to bread”. And “if You’re the Son of God, jump from the pinnacle of the temple”. And then he offers this shortcut, “I’ll give it all to you if you just bow down and worship me”. But Jesus says,“it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve”.

As the Son of Man, Jesus fulfilled that call to worship and serve. Worship was His life. Service was his life. Praising God not only in worship, but also in service. 

And with the apostles, it’s the same thing. It began for them with worship.

And it must begin for you with worship. The source of your life is God, and you touch the source as you worship God. As you praise him, thank him, adore him, honor him, commit yourself to serving Him.

And commit yourself to serving his people.

And present your body to him as a living sacrifice.

As you do, you receive healing. Healing comes into you as you worship.

If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.

How do we come to Him and drink?

By worshiping.

He who believes in Me, as Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water

…and those rivers of living water begin as worship.

Holy, Holy and Holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.

Worship!

Let’s worship God.

Worship him every day.

Worship him every hour.

Let’s worship Him together.

Let’s worship Him in everything we do.

Worship is the starting point. It’s the source, it’s the spring bubbling up.

Stream flowing by the great altar

Secondly, we need to see ourselves as the stream flowing by the great altar, which means in fact, for us, that we join ourselves to the cross of Jesus.

The stream doesn’t go west. It doesn’t avoid the altar, going past it, It becomes a part of it.

Our life is in the cross. Apart from the Cross of Jesus there is no healing in us.

See that, live that, and say it in prayer. 

Lord your Cross is my life, this day. Your cross is my salvation.

I get under the yoke with You and I pick up my cross and I’m carrying it with You…

So that Your death works in me. So that Your resurrection can flow out of me to others.

Joining yourself to the cross is not just accepting the doctrine of His atonement.

It’s joining yourself to it… then letting the work of his death begin to have an impact on your life.

Meaning not only do you die to self and reckon yourself dead with Christ, but now, this gets turned into actual day in and day out living where “self” rears its head. Sometimes it’s so subtle… we see “self” springing out of everybody but us. But seeing it in others is not doing us any good. If we’re not careful, if we’re not allowing the death of the Lord, through his cross, to kill “self” in us, pretty soon we’re monsters before we even know it. We need to bring our “self” to him.

Lord, let death work in me… Your death, so that Your life may flow out.

Seriously asking Him to put His finger on those things that must go, if there’s going to be any life, any healing.

When you begin to think that way, and pray that way, and live that way, then you understand more clearly than ever before what Jesus means when he says to us ….

Take and eat. This is my body given for you.

Take and drink. This is the blood of the new covenant shed for your sins.

Now, you’re joined to my cross. You’re dead with Me.

Now the stream begins to pick up speed.

Mighty stream that brings life

Finally, you need to see yourself as the mighty stream, which is now a river, that can’t be passed through… meaning that you go out there and you boldly proclaim the Kingdom. You manifest the Kingdom with unspeakable power.

Expect and believe in the next week that you are going to touch at least one person with that power. One person is going to be touched by the healing of Jesus. One person is going to be touched by the cleansing of His blood.. through you! 

You’re going to say something.

You’re going to do something.

You’re going to pray for somebody.

Perhaps, you’re going to lay your hands on somebody and the chains of Satan will break and they will be healed.

You can go forth from here…

As the spring bubbling up from the threshold.

As a stream going by the great altar.

As a mighty river that brings life wherever it goes.

And at least one person will be impacted by the life of God through you… as Jesus himself touches and heals that person through you.

Believe it.

Be certain of it.

Dare to go out and do it.

And it will come to pass.

 

Prayer: Lord, Lord great Healer, source of Life… give us a deep thirst for you. Fill us with joy, with praise, and with such awe of your glorious presence that a spring of life bubbles up within us. May we cling to you, be joined to you, to your cross. Put your finger on the “self” within us, let your death work in us, so that your life may flow out of us. May the stream within us become a mighty river, bringing healing to others by what we say, what we do, and what we pray… breaking the chains of Satan. Yes, yes manifest the Kingdom within us with unspeakable power, make us the means by which your healing touch, Jesus, comes to this broken world.  Amen.       Maranatha Mirror
Message:  Richard E Bieber 1985 …edited by Maranatha Mirror.      Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy of Ramone Romero ramone-romeroblogspot
 

 Posted February 11, 2022 

 MOVING IN THE SPIRIT, CORPORATE PRAYER

When Jesus sent out the disciples, he sent them out with a driving purpose going into all the world to preach the gospel to the whole creation.

He sent them out with a vision.

“And all authority, all power has been given to me on heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”    (Matthew 18)

But when Jesus sent the disciples out he also sent them out with a warning.

That they were not going out into a Rose Garden.

Behold, I send you out as sheep. In the midst of wolves. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

As we go out there every day …..

continuing that purpose

fulfilling that vision

making disciples

living with power

speaking with authority

… these things are inevitably going to be done…. in the midst of a conflict.

There is an enemy

So these can only be done by conquering this enemy who is trying to stop the Body of Christ at every point. This enemy which will try to sidetrack the Body from our purpose… into stagnation, will try to dissipate our vision so we don’t know where we’re going or who we are.

This enemy will try to split us off, to divide us from the source of our power, Jesus.

If there is disunity, if we’re broken off from him, or from each other… we lose our power.

From that day, there have been followers of Jesus who have gone forth faithful to that vision and purpose, accomplishing it, making disciples of all nations, and continuing with life and with authority, right up to their dying day and on through.

And there have also been disciples of Jesus who began with great enthusiasm but who after a while….

sank into stagnation,

lost their vision,

and ended up with no power…

Victims of the enemy.

Paul understood that to follow Jesus involves a battle, that to make disciples is a conflict… gives us this advice

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance…

Ephesians 6:10-18a

Now we are inclined to take this passage and become fascinated with the armor and the sword and to miss the fact that in this list of essentials that Paul gives us to survive and conquer this conflict is prayer.

Pray at all times in the spirit, with all prayer and supplication to that end keep alert with all perseverance

This is what makes the armor and the sword work.

In other words, if I have the sword, and I have the shield, and I have the helmet on my head… but no prayer my sword melts in my hand and my helmet and my shield become rubber.

Pray at all times in the spirit with all prayer and supplication

Those Saints who understand what that means and do it …

    … go from strength to strength. They never burnout.

Pray at all times in the spirit, those Saints who fail to understand what this means, or fail to do it…

    …end up stagnant, visionless and powerless.

So what does it mean to pray in the spirit?

One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.  Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah in the pomegranate cave at Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men, including Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.

Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side. The name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.  The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.

Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”  And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” 

Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them.  If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them.  But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.”

 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.”

And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”  Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him.  And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre.

And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.

1 Samuel 14:1-15 (ESV)

At this time, the land of Israel was occupied by an enemy. The Philistine armies could camp anywhere they wished and they could take food from the Israelites whenever and wherever they chose. They controlled the making of iron, so if your sickle needed to be sharpened, you had to find the Philistines to get it sharpened.  If you needed to get your plow edge fixed, you had to go to the Philistines to get it done. And if you didn’t have a sword and didn’t keep it well hidden you were out of luck. They made the swords and they sure didn’t make any swords for Israelites. King Saul and his armies were trying to break the yoke of these Philistines, but they were failing at every point.  Once in a while they’d win a battle, but they weren’t getting anywhere because Israel as a nation.

Jonathan, Saul’s son, together with his armor bearer now show the way out of this mess…. They show that it’s possible that two people coming together in unity can break the yoke of the Philistines.

This is not just a description of how to win a military victory.

This is an example of …

how to pray in the Spirit…

how to break the yoke of the enemy by praying in the spirit…

how we can break the yoke of the enemy by praying in the spirit.

So what does it mean to pray in the spirit?

To Pray in the Spirit means to pray in the plural… instead of the singular.

 “Come, let us go over to the garrison of uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”

And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.”

See…  let us go over. Let’s do this together. I’m with you, as is your mind, so is mine.

Where two of you agree on Earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven.

 Our father, who art in heaven,

(not my father, our father).

Give us this day Our Daily Bread.

Forgive us our trespasses.

Plural, always plural.

To pray in the spirit means that I have to come out of my little individualistic compartment and join the body of Christ.

Yield. Fit in. Submit.

If I’m praying alone in my room with the door shut, as we’re commanded to do, it makes a big difference if I see my prayer as part of the prayers of the Body.

We’re praying with and for the people that pled them.

What a change and what a wonderful thing if I pray for the people of Lebanon or Somalia or Kampuchea or wherever in the world where there’s anguish and suffering, and see my prayers going up, not alone, but as part of the body, joining the prayers of Saints all over the earth.

This does something for me and for them.

And what it does for the heart of the Father is beyond our comprehension.

It’s extremely helpful even to find at least one other person that we can join our heart to, somebody we can really pray with when you know you have a problem that needs to be prayed about. Someone you can pick up the phone and talk to them and ask them to join you in prayer.

When those five prophets of the Lord and teachers of the Lord were gathered in Acts 13 in Antioch, they prayed in the plural. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting…

And then they prayed and fasted some more, laid their hands on them, and sent them out

And notice even they were sent out in the plural. It wasn’t just Paul, it was Paul and Barnabas.

To pray in the spirit Is to pray in the mind of God.

… Not to come up with some scheme of our own and then ask God to bless it.

How much is done, ostensibly, in the name of the Kingdom of God, which is really done in the name of our own egos?

We have to give up on that.

We have to find out what the mind of God is.

We have to seek his mind.

We have to enter into the heart of God, and join our hearts to his heart.

Then we can pray in the spirit.

Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them.  If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them.

 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.”

What we see here is Jonathan and his armor bearer doing something that’s absolutely crazy.

But it’s not something that originates, really originates in Jonathan’s mind. It’s something he himself, incomprehensibly to him, is being guided to do.

He wants to be moving in the mind of God, but he doesn’t want to go too fast or too far.

He wants to be sure, and so he checks this out as he’s going along.

If they say come up, then we’ll go.

If they don’t, we won’t.

They don’t cook up a scheme and then ask God to bless them.

They seek to submit and enter into the mind of God.

There are miracles already in the mind of God which he ordains to be performed by his Body the church and then by specific assemblies of believers.

Miracles that will be done through us, but they will only be done when our hearts are so joined to his heart that we come close enough to him so that he can show us what these things are. And when we know what they are and they are from him….

….then we can pray, and then they will happen.

   But they won’t happen until we pray.

   Nor will they happen until we know what they are.

   And we won’t know what they are until we learn how to seek his mind and wait upon him.

To pray in the spirit Is to pray against the power of the enemy.

We’re not praying in a Rose Garden. We’re praying in a battle zone.

And even if you do go into the garden alone and the dew is still on the roses, you better understand that even the rose garden with the dew on the roses is a battleground.

Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him.  And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre.

Every time we pray in the Spirit, we’re climbing up that rocky slope on our hands and feet with Jonathan and his armor bearer …

We’re cutting our way through the armies of the Philistines.

We’re battling the current of the rivers of Babylon.

We’re throwing down the strongholds of Satan.

Every time people pray in the name of the Lord, they’re coming against the currents of this world, which is Babylon.

And the one thing the enemy seeks to do is to stifle our prayer.

If we don’t pray….

We’re absolutely helpless.

We’re absolutely inconsequential as far as he’s concerned.

He doesn’t have to do anything else to us, he’s already put us to sleep.

If we do pray, then we exercise a power which the enemy can’t withstand, that he can’t even understand. He knows it’s awesome, but he doesn’t know what’s going on, clever as he is.

Simon, Simon, Satan has desired (to have all you guys)

that he might sift you like wheat. But I pray for thee Simon (you alone)

That your faith may not fail.

And when you are turned around again, strengthen your brothers.

And this prayer was a prayer exercised against the opposition of the prince of this world.

It’s not a coincidence that you can never seem to find time to pray…

or that your mind wanders all the time…

or that you just can’t seem to get into it.

It’s not a coincidence, it’s something that’s very significant!

And until we understand that we have to cut through and break through these barriers, and continue with “all perseverance”, as Paul says, we’ll never be of any use to the Kingdom of God or to ourselves.

To pray in the Spirit is to bring the life of the Kingdom of God down into this world.

And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.

There was a very great panic, because an unseen power had broken through into history, by means of the unity of these two men… under God.

Thy Kingdom come thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.

That’s a prayer for something redemptive, something absolutely far into the system of this world.

Two people coming into that kind of unity under God become a manifestation of the Body of Christ and the life of the Kingdom enters into this world …. and breaks through.

On this rock I will build my church and the gates of death shall not prevail against it.

What does this mean?

It means that the church has the authority to crash through, to bring life from heaven into this world, and breakthrough evil and death.

The battering ram that breaks those gates of death… is prayer.

Breaking through those gates, taking life into that place of death… is prayer.

And everything else that we do redemptively rides on prayer.

“Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven

The responsibility of the body, the binding in heaven, it comes down into this world and the evil one is stymied.

Whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven

… and coming down from heaven, comes the life of God that sets the captive free.

“if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask,

it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

And the power of God comes down and works redemptively through our prayers.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them”. 

Matthew 18

…and when I’m in their midst, heaven has come, life from heaven,…

the Kingdom is in our midst.

To pray in the Spirit is to pray in the plural.

To pray in the Spirit is to pray in the mind of God, the life of God, the heart of God.

To pray in the Spirit is to pray against the powers of Satan.

To pray in the Spirit is to pray the Kingdom of God down into this world.

How do you learn to do this?

Not by going to 50 seminars or reading 100 books.

The only way we learn to pray in the spirit is to do it.

The more we do it, the more adept we become.

Pray at all times in the spirit, with all prayer and supplication to that end.

Keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the Saints.

Today, we stand in that rocky pass where Jonathan and his armor bearer stood.

And up above us are the armies of the Philistines, and they’re laughing at us, mocking us, because for so long we have been so stagnant, and so visionless, and so powerless.

But we can set up a panic in their ranks…

If we will come together and pray in unity.

If we will take the trouble to enter into the mind of God.

If we will get bold and stop worrying about our own skin and move forward like Jonathan and his armor bearer and take some risks.

And if we will call the Kingdom down into this world, by praying in the Spirit.

Pray at all times in the spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

To that, and keep alert with all perseverance.

Prayer: Lord we turn to you. Move us in the Spirit. Move us as we pray, especially as we pray together. Without you, Precious Lord, we stand weak before the enemy. He divides us, deters us, puts us to sleep. Lord, help us to pray at all times so we can conquer the enemy who seeks to destroy us. May your Body rise up and pray together, joining others throughout the earth…praying, pleading … with them, for them. As we do this may we seek and find your mind, may we enter your heart. May our prayers lead us to move in your mind, your will, your ways. May we come so close to you, that you can show us what to do. While we pray give us the determination, the perseverance, the power, the heart, the love… to keep our minds focused so that we can break the power of darkness, so that we can unleash the power of heaven into this world and into the lives of those we pray for Amen.       Maranatha Mirror
Message:  Richard E. Bieber 1984      Printable Copy
Featured Art: : Courtesy and kindness of Cynthia etsy.com/shop/ColorsOfCynthiaC     and Jonathan and His Armor Bearer…unknown artist PD
 

 Posted February 2, 2022 

THE VEIL OF THE TEMPLE AND THE VEIL OF THE MIND

Now faith is being sure of things hoped for, certain of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.      (Hebrews 11:1-3)

Faith is being able to see what cannot be seen with the natural eye.

God cannot be seen with the natural eye … God is spirit … yet Jesus says,

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

To have faith is to see the unseen God…..

….my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.                 (Psalm 63)

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lard all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.    (Psalm 27)

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?”

And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”

The man answered, “Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.

They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshiped him.

Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind:”          

John 9:24-39

Jesus did more than remove the blindness from this man’s eyes. He did that indeed.

The man could now see the sky, the trees, the grass, a human face.

But Jesus did more:

He tore away the veil that blinded this man to God.

Now this man has faith….

– he can see God,

– he can hear God speak,

– he can know God … his life has been radically and eternally changed.

For this man faith is not just assenting to a set of doctrines, or conforming to a religious routine. Faith is being sure of things hoped for, certain of things not seen.

Because when he looks into the face of Jesus, he sees God, he sees glory.

And that vision puts his feet on a new road.

And the thing that brought this man to faith was that Jesus tore the veil off his mind and the light of God came pouring in.

…”You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.”

Every person who has ever come to faith from that day to this, has had the veil lifted from their mind.

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  (Acts 9:1-2)

Why was Saul breathing threats and murder against the disciples? Because a veil was over his mind.

He was a religious man but he did not know God …

… he was blind to God.

Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a Voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.   (Acts 9:3-9)

Now Saul’s eyes are blind, but the veil is being lifted from his mind.

His heart is humbled … he is coming to repentance.

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  (Acts 9:10)

 Ananias has faith …. no veil covers his mind. He can see the unseen. He can hear God speak.

And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened.    (Acts 9:11-19)

Now Saul has the veil removed from his mind as well as the scales from his eyes. He is sure of things hoped for … certain of things not seen.

He has faith. He can see God, and he walks a new road.

The biggest issue in each of our lives is the issue of faith.

Even if we have been following Jesus for years….

 – we know that there are changes that need to be made in our lives, clutter that needs to be swept out of our hearts,

– we know there is a need for …. cleansing, fire, zeal, vision, power …..

and all this hinges on faith.

There is a veil that lies over our minds that clouds our certainty.

That veil needs to be removed….

 so that we can see without any shadows….

that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world ….

that Jesus is risen from the dead, the First-born of the new creation ….

that Jesus is Lord, and that all people…

… all nations will not only have to bow the knee and confess his lordship, but will have to give an account of themselves to him.

 How do we get rid of the veil over our minds so that we can see clearly?

 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone be­cause he had been talking with God. And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.   (Exodus 34:29-30)

Moses had no veil over his mind … he saw the unseen.

So powerful was the glory into which Moses looked that it was still shining on his face when he came down from Sinai, and the people were afraid and turned away.

But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. And after­ward all the people of Israel came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone; and Moses would put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.   (Exodus 34:31-35)

This veil that Moses wore over his face until the glory faded from it was a symbol of the veil that lies over our minds.

There is something in us that shrinks back and turns away from glory … unless the veil is there to hide it from our sight.

But to have faith, to see the unseen God, the veil must be torn away.

Is it safe to tear that veil away? Can we dare to let it be removed?

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not see the end of the fading splendor. But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:12-18)

… When a man or woman turns to the Lord the veil is removed ….

… When the heart turns, the eyes open.

It happens with­out fail, because God has already torn away the veil from his side.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lamasabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And be­hold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  (Matthew 27:45-51a)

The guilt that caused the Israelites to cringe when they saw the glory on Moses’ face ….

The guilt that causes us to shrink back when the light of God starts coming near to us …

That guilt has been paid for by the Lamb’s death.

In Jesus’ death God takes our guilt and washes it away with his own blood … dies in our place … so now, as we repent, we can be bold and let the veil that covers our minds come off and look into the face of Jesus.

 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds;

but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed.

When a man, a woman, turns to the Lord the veil is removed.

     – Who removes it?

   – God removes it.

     – We turn,

God gives faith.

   – We turn,

God opens our eyes.

So what does it mean to turn to the Lord?

When a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed

To turn to the Lord means three things.

  1. To confess.
  2. To commit.
  3. To continue.

To turn to the Lord is to… confess the sin His light reveals.

– When Moses saw the holy, he took off his shoes … a confession of sin.

– When Isaiah saw the holy, he confessed that he was a man of unclean lips.

– When Peter saw the holy, he cried, “I am a sinful man, 0 Lord!”

Turning to the Lord begins with confessing what the light reveals. But many of us, when the light comes to us and searches our hearts, remain as stone … we don’t budge.

The search light of heaven has come in and uncovered the sin, and we keep pretending it isn’t there.

God isn’t trying to embarrass you, he’s trying to heal you, help you, remove the veil.

When you say, “Yes, Lord,

I am stubborn,

I am self-righteous,

I am full of vanity,

I am unclean,

I am addicted. 0 Lord, help me!”

Then the veil comes off and we begin to see God’s glory.

To turn to the Lord is to… commit our life to Him.

When they had brought their boat to land, they forsook everything and followed him.

They surrendered …

they put themselves into his hands …

they turned themselves over to him.

It’s not just your face that needs to turn..

It’s your life …

Repentance means a break from the past — abandonment to the Lord.

 “Here am I, send me!” says Isaiah.

“Behold, the handmaid of the Lord,” says Mary. “Let it be to me according to your word.”

Can you honestly say you’ve committed your life to the Lord? Your body? Your mind? Your fears and dreams?  …. Turn it all over. 

Lay it all at his feet, and the veil will come off, and you will see God’s glory.

To turn to the Lord is to … continue in His ways.

 If you continue in my word you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.

When you turn to the Lord, you don’t just give him the present moment…..

– you give him your future,

– you continue with him,

– you take some oil in your vessel with your lamp, so it will keep burning,

– you set your mind and heart for the long haul.

Prayer: Lord we turn to you, unless you remove the veil from our minds we will remain blind to your glory, we will live in darkness. We need to see you, we need to behold your beauty. Help us to turn to you, so you can remove the veil, so you can tear it off our timid and hard hearts. As we look into your face… Precious Lamb of God…. as we are bowed down by your sacrifice, as we are shamed by the price you paid for us, remove the guilt that causes us to shirk and hide from you. We confess our guilt before your penetrating light. We surrender our lives to you, all we have, because of your goodness, your holiness. Pour your light into us so we can continue in you, continue beholding you to the end of our days. Amen.       Maranatha Mirror
Message:  REB 1988      Printable Copy
Featured Art: Art by Chris Cook except for Blind Bartimaeus (unknown artist)… Chris Cook  at chriscookartist.com
    

 Posted January 28, 2022 

A CITY ON A HILL

  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.  (Matthew 5:14-16)

There are two symbols which Jesus uses to describe the body of Christ on earth as it functions during the closing days off this age

The one is the symbol of a shepherd going out after the lost sheep

The other symbol is that of a city set on a hill that draws people to itself by its light.

Now every assembly of believers which has any vision of its purpose and any power from the Spirit of God will be an expression of these two symbols.

It will be that shepherd going out after the last sheep…Scouring the streets of this world for the poor, the maim, the lame, the obnoxious and the blind, bringing them to the banquet table of God.

It will never give up looking.

Nor will it never give up hope of finding that one that’s still lost.

But an assembly of believers that is alive with God’s life will also be that City on a Hill… that shines out into the darkness, and by its light draws people who are thirsty for God, who are looking for truth to itself.

Now, the symbol of the shepherd is really a description of our personal lives as followers of Jesus … As we go about our business in this world every day we have our eyes open looking for that last sheep.

We’re alert to recognize Lazarus at our gate, the woman at the well, anybody who is in any way ripe for the Gospel of God.

Tuesday morning, Ralph Hildebrandt and I were sitting in the office studying. A young man came in, sat down and began to weep. He said “the police just took my baby”. And he’s really upset. Then he went on to describe what happened to him as he was on his way over here to the church. He was walking along the street and a lady in a white Cadillac stopped and said to him, “young man, something awful has just happened to you”. And she ended up telling him about Jesus and about the Kingdom. Now the woman in the white Cadillac was Pat Hernandez. Pat is driving along in her car and she sees this guy who is a lost sheep and she can see he’s troubled.. It’s just minutes after the police had taken his baby. Seeing his anguish, she pulled her car over to talk, reaching out to him in the name of the Lord.

And that’s the Spirit of the Lord moving through a member of the body, reaching out as the shepherd looking for those lost sheep, and alert to that need when it’s there.

But notice now where Alphonso goes, after this happens, he comes here to Messiah Church.

He comes to the city on the hill. He comes to a place where he had been only once before, again in a crisis.

He sat down and he said, “I need to talk to somebody”. And so Ralph and I listened to him. And then we prayed with him. And then tried to take care of some of his needs. And we sent him on his way, knowing that he had seen God in his mercy.

What was it that drew Alphonso to us? …

A city set on a hill cannot be hid.

We don’t want people coming to us because we have a program for every human itch. Churches these days are into programs, programs for everything. That’s not what we want. Nor do we want people coming to us because we provide quick service for needs that can be met by any one of a dozen agencies in this part of town. We want people coming to us because in their brokenness and in their spiritual desperation, they see light.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.

Now the symbol of the city on the hill is a description really of our corporate life as the body of Christ.

Together we are the light of the world, together we are the city set on a hill. Not as individuals alone, always together.

When we believe this and understand what this means and live this way, light goes forth from us and draws these thirsty, hungry ones, the ones who are looking for some kind of truth, desperate for some integrity, looking for healing for their own life, searching for God, they will come.

Now I can’t say “I’m the light of the world”. The only one who can say that is Jesus. But what I can say, looking at myself as part of this, motley crew, is we are the light of the world. Because that’s exactly what Jesus tells us we are.

If we’re committed to him, if we’re walking in him, we are the light of the world.

What an awesome thing.

Now this episode, which happened with Alphonso is actually happening 100 times a day in the life of the flock. This kind of shepherding is actually going on all over the place. And all the time awesome evidence of it shows up when people are serious about trying to practice this shepherding. Its not about some kind of structure, or some organization that looks into each other’s dresser drawers and tells each other when we can mail letters.

It’s about reaching out to the people who are at that moment crying out in need and us being alert to that. That goes on in awesome ways when good shepherding is practiced.

Yet, out there in the darkness, is an army of people who are looking for truth, thirsty for reality, hungry for God and they will come among us when light goes forth from the city on a hill.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.

In these verses is a four-fold word from the Lord to us.

First of all, Jesus says to us

Know what you are.

You are the light of the world.

This is not something you try to achieve.

This is not something you work toward.

You are this because I tell you that you are the light of the world.. you followers of me.

A City set on a hill cannot be hid.

If we are disciples of Jesus, if we are truly committed to him… we are that city.

That’s why your phone rings.

That’s why people at work come to you and tell you the secrets of their heart.

That’s why total strangers often will reach out to you for a word of comfort.

And the rougher things get out there, the more brightly will shine the city on a hill.

Together, not as individuals, but together as a body, we are the city on the hill.

This is something which is already a fact.

Not something we’re trying to achieve.

The second thing Jesus tells us is to…

Take off the bushel.

Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

Now, the thing that causes us to shine, that causes us to be light is our personal commitment to Jesus.

But that’s the very thing we are inclined to try to hide.

Nobody is going to give you a hard time because you believe in God.

Nobody is going to be upset because you belong to a church.

But when they find out that you are serious about Jesus, they’ll begin to wonder about you.

You really believe in Jesus?

You’re a follower of Jesus?

But I thought you were intelligent.

You’re going to get that. If you haven’t already… we all get it.

And so we all often unconsciously develop a technique, a habit of concealing our relationship, of letting our relationship with Jesus be a low-profile thing.

What we’re really doing is concealing it.

When we conceal it, what we’re doing is putting our light under the bushel.

Because our light is our commitment to Jesus.

So to take off the bushel is to acknowledge openly and frankly where our commitment really is.

It’s to Jesus…Jesus himself. Clear cut… to Jesus. Don’t try to dress it up. And don’t try to water it down. Let it be openly known who you belong to.

Take off the bushel.

Let your light shine.

Let it be known who you belong to.

Let it be known why you live the way you do.

Let it be known why it is possible for you to still have such hope and still be cheerful when the world all over the place is falling apart.

The third thing Jesus tells us in this passage is to…

Let our light shine.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.

Not only are we to come out from hiding, take the bushel off, but we are to make the world see deeds and hear words which are a direct match of the words and deeds of Jesus himself.

The entire discourse which follows this command to let your light shine, Matthew 5,6,&7,  the Sermon on the Mount, is actually a description of Jesus own life, this is the way he lived.

He’s the master, We’re the disciples.

When we together… conform our lives, our actions, our behavior, our attitudes, the way we handle our money, the way we get along with each other, and all these things he talks about in Matthew 5-6 and 7, conform that to him…then the light shines.

Things begin to happen.

People can see this.

And when they see that light shine, the discouraged ones and the ones who have given up ever hoping to see anything that’s true and reliable concerning God, will now take courage.. and they’ll begin to glorify God.

Which brings us to the fourth thing he tells us in this passage…

He tells us to expect visitors.

“That they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.

How do they give glory to the father?

By coming to the city on the hill.

By coming to the place that gives them some hope.

Finding their way to the one place that gives them a reason to live.

So this passage in Matthew 5 is connected directly with Isaiah 60:1-4… the same Lord inspired them both.

“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;”

Nations shall come to your light, and kings shall come to the brightness of your rising, they all gather together they come to you.

Expect visitors.

The city set on a hill cannot be hid.

They will come.

But the city on the hill, for all its light, has many an empty room.

Each room has a name on it. And each room will be filled.

In the center of the city is a huge banquet hall. Where there is still many an empty seat.

Each seat has a name on it. Each seat will be filled.

Now, the thing which draws the ones who belong in those seats and in those rooms into the city is not the snappy music or the dynamic personality of the master of ceremonies, but the light…

… the light which shines forth from these people.

This is what draws them.

This is what draws people who haven’t found their way yet, this light helps them to find their seat, to find their room.

Just the light coming forth from these people.

On the surface, the multitudes come and go, and we’ve seen this over the years and I’m sure it will go on and on. There will be times of gathering when the numbers increase and there will be times of sifting when they shrink.

But beneath the surface, on the level of the Kingdom, the numbers increase steadily.

One by one they come.

Until every seat is filled.

And every room is taken.

And they come because they are drawn by light …shining forth from people…

Who together know what they are… the light of the world!

Who together, take off the bushel… of shame and self-consciousness and fear!

Who together let their light shine by living the light!

Who together welcome those homecoming children of the Kingdom with thanksgiving and joy.

You are the Light of the World.

 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”.

Prayer: Holy Lord, draw us together to you…together may we seek you in such love and adoration that your light shining in us is inevitable. Together may we be that city on a hill that draws men…that draws the wounded, the broken, the lost…to your healing light. May our love for you keep us from concealing where the light from us is coming from…may the joy of it pour out of our lips in reverence of you. Oh Lord may our lives and our lips sing… “we belong to you Jesus, we belong to you”. May we shine, may we shine brightly! May many see our joy, our unity, our love and come to the light, to find the hope, the healing they need in these dark, sad and hopeless times. And yes fill every room, fill every seat as we your Body welcome all with thanksgiving and joy.
Maranatha Mirror
Message:  REB 1988      Printable Copy
Featured Art: Courtesy of Melani Pyke at melpyke.com
    

 Posted January 21, 2022 

LIFE FOR THESE MORTAL BODIES

One thing we know about these bodies of ours: they’re mortal. 

They’re going to die. 

Unless the Lord comes back in the meantime and transfigures us, these bodies of ours are going to die. 

We know this.

What we may not realize, however, is that it is possible for these mortal bodies to be quickened, even now, with the life of the world to come!

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit which dwells in you.   (Romans 8:11)

So that, even though our days are numbered, we can receive, and keep receiving from God…

… life from above,

… life that turns these mortal bodies

    into vessels of redemptive power,

    into lights in this dark world,

    into fountains of supernatural healing and peace for the lives we touch.

The Jesus who stepped out of his tomb on that Sunday morning was the same Jesus whose corpse they laid in that tomb on that Friday afternoon. He’s the same person, yet the body he now has is not mortal.

It’s a body that will never die.  No one can kill this body!

When Jesus visits his disciples that evening as they huddle together in a room with the door shut, he doesn’t bother to come through the door.  He’s just there!

“No, I’m not a ghost.  Touch me. 

A ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as you see that I have. 

Here, give me something to eat.”

And then he disappears!

So it is 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.  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 15:42-45)

Jesus is the First-born of the New Creation, in a spiritual body.

He’s a Life-Giving Spirit.

And notice, he came to the disciples not only to show them that he was alive from the dead, but also to give them something.  Something he could not give them before. 

From that day Jesus began giving to his followers his resurrection life, until he poured it out in fullness on the day of Pentecost.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  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 20:19-23)

From that day to this he continues to impart this gift of resurrection life to those who open themselves to receive it.

We need to do more than remember the resurrection. 

We need to receive from him the same life that raised him from the dead.

 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit which dwells in you.        (Romans 8:11)

Yes, these bodies are mortal.  They’re going to die.

Yet ever since his resurrection Jesus has been pouring into mortal bodies like ours,

— life from the world to come

— life which only he can give.

The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.  He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.    (John 1:9-13)

They’re born of God. 

They have God’s life in them. 

God’s Spirit. 

This power to become sons and daughters of God is none other than his resurrection Spirit, which gives life to these mortal bodies, light to these mortal minds.

We need to do more than commemorate an event which took place twenty centuries ago. 

We need to draw near to the One who rose that day, and receive from him a fresh measure of his resurrection life!

Because, when we allow him to give his life to these bodies by his resurrection Spirit,…

We become invulnerable until our work is done

(provided we don’t go wandering out in front of trucks expecting God to protect us).  

We become servants of the wisdom and power of heaven. 

So let’s draw near to the Master and receive from him a fresh outpouring of the Spirit that raised him from the dead, giving life to these mortal bodies and light to these mortal minds. 

His words to us are no different than the words he spoke to those first disciples:

“Peace be with you…..As the Father has sent me,  even so I send you …receive the Holy Spirit!”

“Here’s the gift.

I give it to you. 

Open your heart and let it come in.”

All we have to do is respond with open hearts,

“Lord, here I am!  I open myself to you. 

Flood me with your life. 

Fill me afresh with your Spirit!”

Every person who reads these words, and seeks to open their heart to the Lord who is near you now, who accompanies you as you read, will surely be renewed by the same Spirit that raised him from the dead …. causing the life we live between now and the moment of our death to be directed and empowered by heaven.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.  When we cry, “Abba!  Father!”,  it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:14-17)

So we allow the Lord Jesus to give us the gift he has been giving his followers since the day he rose from the dead. 

We open ourselves to receive from him, life for these mortal bodies … causing our remaining days on earth to be lived under the power of the world to come.

So that, in our ordinary daily lives…

Our light will no longer be under a bushel, but will shine…

People will be touched by the finger of God through us!

Let’s open ourselves to receive the gift that is always given to those who ask:

 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit which dwells in you.            (Romans 8:11)

“If you 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 11:13)

Lord Jesus, apart from you, we can do nothing.

We cry out to you in our need.

Help us to open our hearts wide, that you may flood them with your resurrection Spirit.

That our mortal bodies….

   may be alive with your presence, 

   filled with your power,

  ruled by your love,

  fired by your courage.

And finally, may these mortal bodies serve in confidence, knowing that the freedom we have been given will not be taken from us.  

Message and Prayer: REB Unknown Date        Printable Copy
Featured Art: The kindness of Jonathan Farrell www.facebook.com/JonathanFarrellArt

 Posted January 14, 2022 

Blessed Repentance

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”                    (Luke 15: 1-10)

The core of the Lord’s gospel, that actually makes it a gospel  “good news”  is the word from God that

 God’s desire is to forgive.

I know a lot of people are bored by that thought because they don’t seem to feel any need of forgiveness.

But for those who know themselves to be sinners, that is tremendous news.

The people who heard Jesus talking like this were hearing something for the first time in their lives. They had never heard anyone representing God tell them such things. That God is not looking for excuses to destroy us because of our sins, but, on the very opposite extreme, He is looking for every possible means He can use short of violating our wills, to save us, to forgive us.

God’s forgiveness is aggressive.

Like the man who forsakes his ninety-nine sheep, leaves them in the wilderness, and goes after the one that’s lost.

Turns the wilderness upside-down, scours the countryside until he finds that one sheep.

Or the woman who turns her house upside-down searching for the one coin until she finds it.

Now it is the forgiveness of God that heals our lives.

 Heals everything in us that needs to be healed. Everything that is wrong.

“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—”Rise, take up your bed and go home.”   (Matthew 9:5-6)

When we are looking at Jesus hanging on the cross, we are looking at God going to the ultimate extreme to forgive us.

Breaking His own heart that we might be delivered.

And yet, though we have this river of divine forgiveness flowing closer to us than our breath, most of us are still living in a desert.

On the one side of this river of forgiveness is the desert of guilt.

On the other side of this river of forgiveness is the desert of laxity.

And most of us are in one or the other of these places.

    Many of us are spending all our time under a cloud of guilt.

We don’t seem to have any joy in God.

We are blocked from any peace.

… Or from doing anything useful due to our condemning hearts.

Others of us are so lax.

We have allowed a dozen things to crowd God out of our lives.

We still continue to go through the motions of faith, but we’re hollow inside.

Why should this be?

Why should we, who have tasted the stream of forgiveness, revert back to being hollow men and women, or guilt-ridden neurotics, when that river of life flows right by our side?

And the reason is…we have failed to do the one thing that is necessary for God’s forgiveness to get inside of us…

…we have forgotten how to repent!

 And then we wonder why nobody repents when we bring the gospel to them.

How can we expect to bring people to repentance when we, ourselves, are not living in repentance?

How can we call people to come down into that pool of repentance when we aren’t standing in it ourselves?

The most refreshing exercise we can engage in, not only when we first come to faith, but all through this life of flesh and blood, is repentance.

To be resilient enough, childlike enough to constantly turn back and repent.

I’m not talking about willfully going out and doing evil with the idea that by 3:30 this afternoon I’ll repent.

You know…Forever going out and getting drunk and then repenting, going out and again getting drunk and then repenting and considering this to be normal.  In fact, when I begin to live a life of repentance, it won’t be necessary for me to go on doing these stupid things I do.

Many of us have come to think of repentance as a negative thing.

“I’ve blown it again, now I have to repent. I’ll never make it.”

But repentance as our Lord calls us to it, is a positive thing.

It is the doorway to life.

Every time I repent before the Living God, I am visited by God.
Repentance always brings God into me.

Luke 15 begins with these two parables; the lost sheep and the lost coin which both end with the description of how much joy there is in heaven over our repentance. And these parables are really a description of what repentance is from God’s side. We see God going to all these extremes, going all out to deliver us… to save us.

In the case of the sheep, the sheep doesn’t do anything but wait until finally the shepherd catches up to him. And the coin can’t do anything. It has to lie in the chink, until the woman comes and finds it.

But in the third parable of Luke 15, Jesus now begins to tell us what’s involved in repentance from the human side.  That something has to take place inside the heart of his prodigal son in order that he might be restored to his father. 

It’s not something only God does, but it has to be something that we do too.

“And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father,  give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ And he arose and came to his father.”   (Luke 15:11-20a)

 

 

Notice in this instance, the father does not go chasing after the son, grab him by the collar, drag him back home, and force him to eat the fatted calf.

The father waits until the son decides to turn his heart around.

Until the son repents.

This holds not only for the sinner who has never tasted God’s mercy. It also holds for those of us who have experienced God’s mercy and come into all of this and then have gradually drifted into a life of lukewarm mediocrity. And those of us who are dwelling in that lukewarm pool of mediocrity complain that we can’t seem to sustain our faith over any length of time.

We believe for a while and then it seems to die away. Our vision of God evaporates.

What we don’t understand is that the life of faith is a life of repentance.

Turning back to God … all the time.
That’s what it is.

Jesus lived the life of faith and he had no sin to repent of and yet,

 Jesus was constantly turning into his Father’s will. Denying himself.

“Not my will, but thine be done.”

Learning obedience through the things which he suffered.

And for us, this turning to the Father is repentance. It’s the absolute requirement for having any of that flow of forgiveness coming into us.

There is no way we can learn to live a life of faith until we learn to live a life of repentance.

Until it becomes a daily thing….hourly, moment-by-moment matter of living in repentance…

Our vision of God …will evaporate, and our hearts will get hard, and our minds will be formed by the atmosphere of the world around us…even if we live in a red-hot Christian community or on an island in the middle of nowhere trying to stay away from the world.

Repentance begins by emptying ourselves of our pride.

“How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father…”

Now this man knew all along that his father’s hired servants were eating better than he was, but he wouldn’t admit it. And we’re the same way.  It’s as if he was saying, “If I have to starve to death, I’m not going to come down off my high horse.” And so he perishes with hunger until he finally faces the truth.

Every time you and I experience any kind of estrangement from God, our pride is getting in the way.

Every single time. No exceptions. And we say to ourselves, “I have nowhere to turn. There’s no way out of this.” But we do have someplace to turn. There is help, if we will come down off our pedestal and give up our vanity.

Perhaps, for instance, you’re giving your wife or your husband the silent treatment and it’s beginning to become just as unpleasant for you as for your mate. And moreover, you know very well this is hindering your prayers. But you’ve invested three whole days of misery in this campaign. You don’t want to lose now…

God offers you healing for this mess if you will swallow your pride and repent.

Repentance involves confession to God.

Every kind of corporate worship that has been engaged in by believers has developed into some kind of liturgy. Perhaps it’s the Quakers or people who say, “We are just going to wait on the Spirit and say nothing until He comes.” Or the Eastern Orthodox folks who chant for hours as they seek to open themselves up to the holiness of God.

All corporate worship develops into some kind of structure. Your body needs bones…structure.   You wouldn’t be able to breathe if you didn’t have a skeleton. You’d be a blob lying on the floor. You’d suffocate in no time.

And the brothers and sisters in the faith all down through history have always understood that corporate worship begins with confession.

“O, God, our Heavenly Father, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. That we have sinned against thee…”

And then we have to start to get specific,

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

How many times there is some definite thing inside us…..And we know what it is, we know it, but we won’t even utter it to God. We won’t name it.

You know the thoughts that have been going through your head.

And you know the things that have crossed your lips while on the telephone.

We could make a long list.

We know what these things are doing to us. But we won’t even name them to God.

And we can’t say we have repented until we have named these things that we know about to Him.

Name them.

Say it.

Tell him.

 

After that, repentance involves the receiving of God’s forgiveness with a childlike heart.

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’

Once the father welcomes the son home and begins to shower him with love, the son doesn’t make some big production of his unworthiness. He’s confessed his unworthiness.

Now as the father blesses him, showers him with good things, the son receives it with childlike joy. It is the epitome of pride to say, “No”, when God stretches forth his hand to forgive you. Receive that forgiveness with joy and give thanks when Jesus says to you, “Your sins are forgiven.”

 

Receive it and praise him.

And when you come to the Lord’s table to eat the bread and drink the wine, don’t grovel. Eat and drink with joy. It is the food of forgiveness paid for by the death of your Lord.

It makes you worthy because you are unworthy.

And you are invited to this table so receive it with joy, thanksgiving, and praise in your heart!

Finally, repentance always involves turning around and showing those around us the forgiveness that we have received from God. Always.

“Bring forth fruits that befit repentance and don’t say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father.'”

And the fruits that befit repentance are always the fruits of forgiveness.

Forgiveness to the people we live with that perhaps we feel are taking us for granted.

And we walk around with an attitude in our hearts!

Get rid of it and forgive them.

Pray God’s blessing on them.

Or the people we wish would try to understand us and they never even try. Forgive them! Get it out of your head and don’t talk about it anymore.

Instead of having attitudes towards  strangers you don’t even know — mercy.

Instead of cynicism toward everything around us — mercy.

Instead of suspicion, all the time suspicion — mercy.

Deeds of mercy.

Words of mercy.

And especially prayers of mercy.

These are the fruits of repentance.

If these fruits of repentance are not found in our lives, our repentance has no more substance than cotton candy. We could cry crocodile tears until 5:00 tonight. But if we don’t go out and bear the fruits that befit repentance, it doesn’t mean one thing.

“But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father…'”

There is not an hour of our lives that our hearts are not inclined to go back to that far country. To that desert of unreal thoughts, false experiences, unforgiveness. And every time we do, the Spirit of God nudges us, encourages us to remember that the Father waits for us… if we will but turn.

Why should we spend another minute in that desert when a stream of life flows right by us, and all we have to do is stoop down and drink?

If we want to live a life of faith…

If we seriously desire to walk in God’s peace, practice God’s love…

If it is our earnest desire to have a word from God that will be life for those whom we serve…

 

… we are going to have to make repentance our way of life.

Even if we have to repent a million times a day.

Because every time we do, the Father is there waiting.

Every time.

Even now.

Prayer- Lord, Lord…yes.. bring us to the point where we fall in blessed repentance before you, where we desire your mercy, your kindness to be wrapped around us… as we let go of the sins that separate us from your very heart. Thank you that you call us from our sins, and want to pour your mercy and forgiveness into us. Thank you that your heart broke, so that we could be cleaned. Release us from our guilt, release us from our hollowness. Help us to continually live lives of repentance. To be drawn again and again to the life we find when we lay our broken selves before you. May we let go of our pride, or any barrier that holds us back from confessing all to you, from naming our specific sins, from saying … ‘Father I have sinned, I am not worthy’. And as your forgiveness pours into us, may we receive the sweet healing of it, letting go of any unworthiness, and may we pour the same sweet forgiveness into all who enter into our lives. Turn our attitudes, our cynicism, our suspicions into mercy…deeds of mercy, words of mercy, prayers of mercy. And when we find ourselves again wandering away…. may we feel so starved that we cry ‘I will perish here, I must arise and go to my father’. And we know loving father you will always be there with open arms.                                                      
Maranatha Mirror
  
Message: REB 2003         Printable Copy
Featured Art: Two artists are featured in this post. Humility and Living on a Mission Candi Kloverstrom at artbycandik.com  Gospel Images by Jan van ‘t Hoff ..The parable of the Lost Sheep 2, Jesus Crucified on Golgotha, the Parable of the Prodigal Son 2, the parable of the Prodigal Son 1 (separate studies of father and son), The Return of the Prodigal Son, Jesus on his Way to Golgotha, and the Good Samaritan at    gospelimages.com

 Posted January 7, 2022 

MOVING THE MOUNTAIN

In each of our lives there’s at least one person we’re quite troubled about. Things are not going well with them … we’re worried. And so we pray. Yet even as we pray for this person we seem to find it almost im­possible to really expect any change. It’s as if all we’re really doing is paying our respects to this person before God.

We wish the mountain would move … yet we just know it won’t.

And, if we’re having such trouble expecting anything from God concerning this person that we’re really worried about, what’s the use of the prayers we pray for people only because we promised them we’d pray for them? …. or because we feel we should?

We know that

– praying for people has to be the foundation of all ministry to others,

– praying for people is the basic way we get under the yoke with Jesus who lives to make intercession,

      ….but we just can’t seem to get into it.

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”    (Mark 11:22-24)

There are two mountains we have to move:

  1. The mountain of our own inadequacy.
  2. The mountain of some problem in the life of another person … which as far as we can tell, is hindering God’s purpose in them and blocking the flow of life in the body or in the world.

Now we have no business messing with the mountain of our brother’s problem unless we are also seriously dealing with the mountain of our own inadequacy.

Daily we need to confess our inadequacy to the Father and come to him for bread.

…”A friend of mine has come on a journey and I have nothing to set before him.”

   …”There is no way I can help these people who come to me, Lord, unless you refresh me again with the life of the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 11 has to be our constant dwelling place.

“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 11:9-13)

But there’s something wrong with our conception of the Kingdom if the only mountain we’re ever trying to move is the mountain of our own inadequacy.

“Lord, help me…. give me bread …. anoint me with your Spirit.”

Surely we should reach a point where this continuous cry for more of the Spirit becomes our second_ nature – like breathing or eating – and we start becoming genuinely concerned about our sister’s or brother’s need…

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” …. in their lives.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but  I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” He said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.”  

Luke 22:31-34

The weakness in Peter’s life was a mountain our Lord had to move. He could see Peter heading for a stumble. Words of warning were doing no good … Peter wasn’t listening.

The one effective thing Jesus could do for this hardheaded disciple was pray.

Notice Jesus doesn’t gossip about Peter’s weakness, doesn’t complain about it. In fact, Jesus does the opposite. He charges this weak disciple, at one of the weakest moments of his life, with responsi­bility for his brothers who aren’t as weak as he is.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have (all of) you that he might sift you as wheat (the “you” here is in the plural), but I have prayed for you (singular) that your faith may not fail. And when you are turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

“but I’ve prayed for you, Simon,”…..

Jesus prayed for Peter

with faith,

with hope,

with love.

Not some cold mechanical routine where Jesus mumbles the magic words to the Father and the results come out at the other end of the prayer machine!

It’s living prayer. Jesus raises Peter, with all his vanity and bluster and cowardice, up before the Father, and surrounds Peter before the Father with three things:

Jesus surrounds Peter with faith

  …. believes the Father for Peter. He takes the mountain of Peter’s unstable nature and removes it and casts it into the sea.

  What good does it do to pray for someone if we are un­willing to believe the mountain will move?

  — God help us to pray with faith!

“Lord God, I’ve judged this brother long enough. I’ve gossiped about this sister in too many ways. I repent of my attitude.”

And now, instead of judging and gossiping I look at this problem which appears to be plaguing their life and command it to be taken up and cast into the sea.

“I believe, before your throne, for their healing and freedom in this matter!”

Then, as Jesus prays for Peter he surrounds him with hope.

He looks forward in hope to the day when Peter will be out of this valley of vanity and standing on solid rock where the mountain once was.

 “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you’ve turned again

   … not “if” but “when”…strengthen your brothers.”

Yet how often our prayers for brothers and sisters are lacking in hope even as we pray for them.

– We picture them always trapped by their problem.

– We see them hemmed in by the mountain.

What a difference it makes when we pray for others in hope – when we look beyond their present bondage to the freedom won for them by the blood of the Lamb.

– You’re worried about your child,

– You’re burdened for your spouse, your friend,

– You’re trying to pray for an enemy who does you nothing but harm.

Hope in God!

Know that a door of some kind will open!

God deliver us from our lack of hope when we’re praying for others.

God give us vision to begin to see their conversion, their healing, the softening of their hearts, the quieting of their troubled spirits,

—the change.

  Picture that person standing free before God … hope!

And finally, as Jesus prays for Peter, he surrounds him with love

…it was a love which was on its way to a cross to die for Peter as if only for Peter, taking Peter’s sin upon himself … suffering … carrying Peter’s sin down into the grave … lifting Peter up out of death into life.  

It was a love for Peter which held on to Peter and wouldn’t let go.

If I’m really praying for a person with the love of God it must mean that I am taking that person’s burden.  In a mystery which links us to the Lord, we take that person’s….problem, pain, sin, hardness of heart….and before the living God, in the name of his Son, we get under that burden and lift.

Many times this praying for someone with love means that I begin to help in specific ways.

– If it’s a financial problem, I share what I have.

– If it’s a sickness or loneliness, the very least I can do is visit them.

– If I’m praying for their bad temper, I may have to experience what it’s like to bear the   receiving end of that temper.

And if it should be that while I’m trying to pray for this person with the love of God I suddenly remember that I’m still carrying a grudge against someone else, I need to stop right where I am and lay aside this grudge.

We’re never going to see the mountain move for our friend, our child, if we don’t get rid of the grudge.

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, what­ever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when­ever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Mark 11:22-25

 Jesus moved Peter’s mountain…..

“I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, And when you’ve turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

Peter was turned again and he did strengthen his brethren.

And we will move mountains too – mountains which up to now we resigned ourselves to accepting and never really expected any change.

People we may have been praying for for years but somehow without faith, without hope, without love.

Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.  (Ephesians 6:18-20)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear, as I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2-4)

When we pray for other people, we’re not just paying our respects to them before God,

– we’re moving mountains!

– we’re effecting change,

– we’re clearing obstacles out of their way,

– we’re breaking the chains of Satan that hold them immobile,

– we’re driving clouds away from above them so that the light can shine in,

– we’re opening springs of living water before their feet.

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but be­lieves that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe  that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  (Mark 11:22-24)

May God get us beyond mechanical, faithless, hopeless, loveless prayer….

… and help us to pray for each other, and for others, as our Lord prayed for Peter.

God help us to begin moving mountains!

Prayer- Draw us so close to you Holy Lord that the mountains in our lives are cast into the sea. Move our hearts so we can rise up with the faith, the hope, and the love that will move the mountains in the lives of those we pray for. Merciful Lord, deliver us from our own lack of hope. Give us the vision to see the change you call them to, to see them free and alive in you. Help us to love them enough to get under their burdens and truly lift them before you. Break the power of evil, the plans of Satan in their lives. Shine light into their darkness, Pour your living water into their lives. We believe, we believe you can do all things.                                                        Maranatha Mirror
  
Message: REB 1980           Printable Copy
Featured Art: Jana Binning Green. signsandwondersstudio.com  Also Jesus Prays by Lars Justinen via Good Salt license

 Posted December 24, 2021 

MIDNIGHT VISION

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, upon them has the light shined.

                                                                            Isaiah 9:2

Those shepherds were lucky.

They saw something!

There they were, out in the fields, watching over their flocks; it was quite dark.  Suddenly there comes this great light!  And in the light, a messenger from God, who brings them a word from God, who speaks to them; so that by the time they find the baby in Bethlehem, they know that they are looking at glory.

Those wise men were lucky.

They saw something!

They saw a bright, bright star, caused by the lining up of who knows how many stars, and they understood that it meant the birth of a king

 Isaiah the prophet was lucky. Centuries before, he told us it would happen

 He had his eyes opened!  He went into the temple one day to worship God, and suddenly he was overwhelmed by blinding light!  And there, before his eyes, was the Lord, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up!  And from that day, Isaiah saw things which the natural eye cannot see.

So, what do we see?  Christmas tree lights, candles.  It’s all very pretty, but hardly enough to inspire us to spend the rest of our days as a living sacrifice.

And yet, the whole point of this child’s birth was to make it possible for us to see something, to open our eyes.

 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, the land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.

“To us a child is born; to us a son is given”

and not only shall the government be upon his shoulder, not only shall his name be called

 “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace”… 

He comes to open our eyes—to give us vision.

The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world, he was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.  He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.  But to all who received him, who believed on his name, he gave power to become sons of God, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:9

To be born of God begins with having your eyes opened.

It begins with vision.

 Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world.

He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”        (John 8:12)

 Jesus says, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see, may see, and that those who see, may become blind.”  (John 9:39)

He comes to open our eyes, so that we can see glory, and in the light of that glory, can spend the rest of our days serving the purpose of the kingdom of God.

Most of us reading these words are believers.  We’ve committed our lives to Jesus.  We can point to miraculous changes which have occurred in our lives since we made that commitment.

But most of us are still short on vision.

God longs to give us vision. To open our eyes, so that we can see Jesus so clearly, know him so truly, that all the vagueness, and hesitancy, and compromise, is swallowed up in a consuming confidence in him.  The word of the Lord to the body of Christ at this hour is “I have come to open your eyes.  I have come to give you vision.”  And if we will respond to that word, with our lives, we will see what the shepherds saw, what the wise men saw, what Mary saw, what Isaiah saw.

There are four things we need to know about the vision that God will give us—a vision beyond any we’ve had so far.

1.The vision comes to us at midnight.

2. The vision brings us under a word from God.

3. The vision offers to cleanse us from our sin.

4. The vision puts us under a prophetic calling.

First of all, the vision comes to us at midnight,

    at a time when all other light becomes darkness.

 And in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled.

And who was Caesar Augustus?  He was a world dictator.  You think things are bad now?  Hang on!  The Alpha period and the Omega period are going to match.  This man was a world dictator.  He was a forerunner of the anti-Christ.  Things were dark in Israel in those days.  And into the midst of that darkness came light.  The shepherds were out there in the field, surrounded by darkness.  They were without any light of their own: no flashlight, no gas lanterns, no matches.  They were watching over the flock, when, all of a sudden, into this darkness came light!

 “In the year King Uzziah died”, says Isaiah, “I saw the Lord.”

 And what was the year King Uzziah died?  It was a dark year, a bad year, a terrible year.  And into this bad time, this dark time, comes blazing light.  It’s the same for us.  Vision is always preceded by darkness.  First it gets dark.   Dark, like the valleys we’ve been walking through.  Dark, like the judgment of God we’re seeing in our own lives, in the body of Christ, in the world around us.

Midnight means judgment.

Midnight means that God starts calling in accounts.

“And at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold the bridegroom.  Go out and meet him.’  And all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps, and those who had oil, those who had light, those who had vision, went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.”

Don’t be surprised, and don’t be or discouraged by the darkness you’ve been walking through.  It’s midnight!  It’s judgment time.

God is calling us to account.  But the people who walked in darkness, and who remained faithful, and who kept seeking those lost, and kept doing the will of God, who lived with integrity before God, who did not compromise—to them came light.

 Our light is coming!

Secondly, the vision brings us under a word from God.

  When the shepherds saw the light, they also heard a word.

Behold I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be to all people.

When the people who dwelled in darkness saw the light, they also heard a living word.

To us a child is born, to us a son is given…
the government shall be upon his shoulders.

When Isaiah saw the light in the temple, he heard a word.  He saw these magnificent creations of God proclaiming to each other,

 Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.
The whole earth is full of his glory.

Prior to that moment, Isaiah had seen no glory.  He had seen nothing but trouble and despair.  He had seen injustice and absurdity.

But now, in the midst of darkness, he begins to see the glory of God, because he’s receiving a word from God.

Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a mountain; and he is transfigured before them.  His face begins to shine as the sun.  His raiment becomes white as light, in preparation for the things they’re going to have to go through soon after this.  And with that light comes a word.

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Listen to him!

Whenever God opens our eyes, he also opens our ears.  Whenever we receive vision, we also receive a word.  That word is closer to you now than your own breath.

Thirdly, the vision offers us cleansing from our sins.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.  And his train filled the temple, and I said, “Woe is me for I am lost.  I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!  Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and he said, “Behold this has touched your lips. Your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

Until Isaiah receives this vision, he has no idea how much sin is dragging him down, how much self-deceit, how much compromise, how many attitudes, are holding him back.  But now he sees the light, and in that light, he becomes aware of his own uncleanness.

“Woe is me, I’m undone.  I’m a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.  And my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

What’s going to happen to me?”  Then the seraph brings a burning coal from the altar, touches his mouth and says,

 “Lo, this has touched your lips.  Your guilt is removed; your sin is forgiven.”

 That burning coal is a symbol of the blood of the Lamb to be shed one day at Jesus’ baptism of fire.

 Likewise, when we see light, we discover our own uncleanness.

We start to see things in us that we didn’t see before.  Psalm 51 is no longer just David’s psalm; it’s ours.

We too, begin to cry, “Purge me with the hyssop, and I shall be clean!  wash me and I shall be whiter than snow!  Create in me a clean heart, O God!”   “O Lord, forgive me!  O Lord, cleanse me!  O lord, straighten my crookedness!” 

Now I’m no longer obsessed about everybody else’s sin;

I see mine, and I’m terrified, and I cry out, And the Lord forgives.

Finally, the vision puts us under a prophetic calling.

After they heard all this, they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger, and when they saw it, they made known the saying that was told them concerning this child, and all who heard it, wondered at what the shepherds had told them.

The shepherds couldn’t keep quiet.  They couldn’t contain themselves; they had to talk about it.

This was a beginning of prophetic utterance for them.

Vision always leads to prophecy.

After his sins are cleansed, Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”  And Isaiah, to his own surprise, finds himself saying, “Here am I.  Send me.”  And the Lord says, “Go.”

Very soon, the light that we receive will become a prophetic word going out from us, a prophetic life lived by us; a word from God, a life lived, that becomes a message from God, not only from our mouths, but from our very lives.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.  Those who dwelled in the land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.

 Look for four things in your life, and keep watching for them in the coming days.

First, look for signs of midnight—in world events, in your own circumstances, in the atmosphere of the city where you live.  But also expect light from God to come visit your darkness.  Expect God to give you great light.  He will.

 Secondly, look for a word from God, clearer than you’ve ever heard it.  I’m not talking about hearing voices.  I’m talking about hearing God.  It may be that the scriptures open up and begin speaking to you.  You’ll be reading something you’ve read many times, and suddenly it comes to life.  It may be that you hear God speaking through a sister or a brother.  In some way, you will begin to hear a word, that will be Spirit and Life for the Body of Christ, including you.

Thirdly, look for a time of personal cleansing.  Expect God to put his finger on areas in your life that need attention:  areas of compromise, or self-deceit, attitudes that you weren’t even aware of.  And as you confess the sin, and as the Lamb washes away the guilt with his blood, you will experience a new freedom—and with that freedom, holy joy.

 Finally, look for a clarifying of your own prophetic calling.  Wait for that word which came to Isaiah: “Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”  When you answer “Here am I; Send me,” He will make it clear.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

Those who dwelled in the land of deep darkness, upon them has the light shined.

We have seen that light.

We are going to see it more clearly as the days pass.

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  And of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end.

We are his government.

We are agents of his holy peace.

It is his zeal, burning in our hearts, which will prepare the way for his glorious Kingdom which is soon to burst upon the darkness of this troubled earth. 

Prayer- Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, in the midst of midnight, in the midst of this darkness, shine your light upon us. Open our eyes so that we can see your glory and serve you with great joy. Open our ears so that we can hear a word that brings life to us and to others. Touch us with the burning coal of redemption. Wash us, forgive us, change us so we can live in your presence, in freedom, in holy joy. May the vision of how glorious you are cause our hearts to cry out… “Here we are, send us.” And yes, make us agents of your holy peace with a zeal for you burning so brightly that it breaks into the darkness of the troubled world around us.                                                        Maranatha Mirror
  
Message: REB 1986           Printable Copy
Featured Art: Video Stills from the Bible Project  https://bibleproject.com/explore/  A Light has Dawned by Sarah-Rebecca (Sai)

 Posted December 6, 2021 

SIMPLIFY

When we first became believers in Jesus, many of us started following him with gusto. . We burned our bridges behind us and dumped the clutter from our lives with joyful abandon.             One young believer took all the money he had, — six hundred dollars — and just threw it away, let it blow in the wind.  Old habits went, expensive clothing, CD collections, stereos, extra cars.

And with this slashing and cutting away of all these things came a wonderful sense of freedom. It was great to discover how many things, how many old practices we could live without. We didn’t need this stuff because we were totally fulfilled by serving the King.

We were in the world but not of it. In fact, we were hardly in the world at all…and that was the problem. The chap who threw away his money eventually discovered that his shoes wore out and he had to buy new ones. And someone had to be paying for his food.

Life in this world kept getting complicated.

-There were jobs to go to or schools to attend.

– Many young believers got married … babies were born.

Some years passed…Jesus still hadn’t returned. What once seemed to us to be a season of bright vision and radical commitment to Jesus began to appear in retrospect to be just a passing fanatical phase.

– We’d been carried away.

– We’d been immature and unstable.

And now, when we hear about someone who just threw away his money or who gave up a good job to spend her life in some kingdom Vineyard, we smile to ourselves and say, “Yea, I went through that too.”

But what we need to ask ourselves, now that we are again tangled up in so many encumbrances, now that our hearts are weighed down with so many useless distractions, is whether those misguided efforts at radical commitment of a few years back were not more pleasing to God and more beneficial to us than our present cluttered state.

Even if we did some stupid things in the past, and even if we can see the folly of other people’s fanaticism, we still need to ask ourselves whether the lives we are now living have anything left of the presence of God in them.   These present lives of ours, are they not in need of some serious pruning and trimming?       

And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and smote him and delivered it out of his mouth; and if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him and killed him. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.”

And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” Then Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a helmet of bronze on his head, and clothed him with a coat of mail, And David girded his sword over his armor, and he tried in vain to go, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these; for I am not used to them.” And, David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in his shepherd’s bag or wallet; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.            (I Samuel 17:32-40)

This principle appears all through scripture. You cannot clothe yourself in the armor of God and the armor of this world at the same time. To go forth in the armor of God we have to lay aside the armor of man, like David laying aside Saul’s armor.

And the Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked, and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, ruddy and comely in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.      And that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”            ( I Samuel 17:41-47)

All through his life David was at his best when he was free of the armor of man…clothed only in God. And he was at this worst when his life was cluttered … whether it was the clutter of Saul’s armor or the inward clutter of needless distractions. David would never have taken that detour into sin with Bathsheba if his heart hadn’t become so flabby and cluttered.

“Create in me a clean heart, 0 God, and renew a right spirit within me,” he cried afterward, “Help me, 0 God, to get the cumbersome armor out of my heart. Help me to get the clutter out of my heart.”

The mistake we made when we first tried that shortcut to radical commitment was that we busied ourselves tossing out the externals, getting rid of this and getting rid of that. We may have to get rid of these things, and a lot more, but the removal of distractions begins not with the externals but with the heart.

Ah, but how do you do it? How do we get rid of this cumbersome armor weighing down our inner lives? We have to start to simplify our inner lives. When David took off that clumsy armor, it was to simplify things. He didn’t want to be tangled up in anything that wasn’t really helpful for what he was about to do.

Inwardly, we need to simplify things. What a difference there will be in our lives when we no longer have to stagger under the weight of armor we don’t need and a sword we don’t need. What a wonderful freedom when we’re out from under all this needless weight,

 – so that our hearts can will God’s will,

– so that our minds can think,

– so that our bodies can move.

1. We need to simplify the heart so that it can move freely in God.

But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare…”     (Luke 21:34)

It’s our responsibility to make sure that our hearts don’t get weighed down. When the heart is weighed down, it’s like David in Saul’s armor.

– It can’t move freely.

– It can’t perceive what’s going on in the world around it, especially the Spirit world, the Kingdom world.

So we have to keep throwing off these things that weigh down our hearts.

“Maybe I can get rid of dissipation and drunkenness, but how can I throw off the cares of this life?” someone says.

“My child is sick. I have financial problems. The furnace isn’t ready for winter: How am I supposed to throw these things off?”

“But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 24 34-36)

 – Praying for strength to pass through the trials.

– Praying for strength to keep standing before the Son of man.

The heart is kept simple by concentration, prayer toward the Lord, even to the point of taking the cares and anxieties and rolling them over on him. When Jesus says,

“I am the Vine, you are the branches … abide in me,” the union of the branch in the vine is always simple… never complex! “Abide in me….”

If you need a computer and fifteen handbooks for other activities in life, you don’t for this:

“I am the vine, you are the branches … abide in me…Keep your relationship with me simple.”

2. We also need to simplify each day so that we can move in God.

“Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust; cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”  (Psalm 143:8)

0 God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is,”           (Psalm 63:1)

How do we simplify these complicated days we have to live through?

 By beginning them with God.

“Cause me to hear thy loving-kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust.

Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto thee.”

When the wheel is out of balance it bounces all over the road. But when the wheel is perfectly centered it turns at high speed without a vibration of any kind.

Each day is a wheel. To simplify our day is to center it on God right from the start.

“0 God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee.”

When we’ve come into the presence of God, this day, then we will be able to walk through the pressure and the confusion and the evil and the absurd injustices of this day and not be beaten down by them… we will still be free in God.

3. Finally, we need to simplify our view of our own death so that we can move toward our death; through our death, and beyond our death freely in God.

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…”

Queen Esther simplified her view of her own death when she decided she had no choice but to go in and appeal to the king on behalf of her people, knowing that if the king didn’t raise his scepter she would be executed.

“I will do it….. If I perish, I perish.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego simplified their view of their own death when they refused to bow down to the golden image, knowing it meant the fiery furnace.

“God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. And he will deliver us out of your hand, 0 King. But if not, even if we die, we won’t bow down to the golden image.”

Jesus calls us to follow him to a cross … to a death.

If we are willing to face that death and embrace that death, trusting in him…

… our life on this side of death will be freedom…the freedom of those who are no longer afraid to die.

That old armor of Saul which has been hanging over our hearts for so long was supposed to protect us from death. But instead it was death.

It was bondage …. we couldn’t move.

May God help us to throw off that old armor of Saul, simplify our lives, clothe ourselves in Jesus only.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches…abide in me!”

God help us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.

Lord, God, I confess that I have been anxious and troubled about many things, and missing the One Thing Needful.

 Lead me beyond the clutter of my fretful life into the simplicity that is Jesus, my Lord.

Message: REB   Unknown date  Printable Copy
Featured Art: Chris Cook  chriscookartist.com

 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

Close Menu