Hidden Things

An expression that has become fairly well known in some church circles is, “He hides things for us, not from us.” It is spoken with some variations but the concept is the same. The source is in Proverbs.

2  It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2 (NKJV)

Why would Yahweh hide things from us? Is not salvation a free gift? Yes it is. Yet there is also the truth, ‘Age is inevitable, maturity is optional.’ While we will inevitably grow chronologically in our time as a believer, spiritual growth is optional. The Holy Spirit will arrange opportunity after opportunity for our growth but will not force maturity upon us. I think He does it because He is wise! In the same way He knows that many things of value that are connected to our maturity need to be sought. He are some things we are called to in the realm of seeking.

9  “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. 1 Chronicles 28:9 (NKJV)

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

6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)

33  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

So we know we are called to seek, yet Proverbs 25:2 would seem to be reserved for kings, those who carry authority and leadership. Yet who are you? What do the scriptures say? Do you carry authority and leadership? Apparently all believers do.

6  and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:6 (NKJV)

10  And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth. Revelation 5:10 (NKJV)

If we think this is a calling or designation available only to a special few, look at what Yahweh has always desired for His people.

5  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6  And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:5-6 (NKJV)

9  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)

His plan has always been that His people would be a set apart people who know the secrets of His heart. So, let us spend time in His presence seeking to find the things He has hidden for us.

Seeing You in the Sanctuary Part 5

When we sit and gaze upon Him we are looking for and to something. Which is a good thing. However, what is He looking for in us?

1  Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? 2  For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:1-2 (NKJV)

49  ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the LORD, Or what is the place of My rest?’ Acts 7:49 (NKJV)

15  For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15 (NKJV)

Although Yahweh needs nothing, do we ever think that He desires something from us? He doesn’t just want us to learn to rest in Him, He wants our hearts to be at place where He can rest in us! Sitting with and before Him is a synergistic transformative process that affects our spirit, soul and body. He wants us to know the reality of what Jesus spoke about.

20  At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14:20 (NKJV)

Meditate on this. Jesus is in the Father and we are called to be found in Jesus and at the same time Jesus is in us! There is a dynamic eternal interchange happening as the Father gazes on the Son and the Spirit, the Son on the Spirit and the Father, and the Spirit on the Father and Son. We are invited to enter in and partake and be part of this divine exchange. Us resting in Jesus and as our heart is changed by resting in Him Jesus is then able to rest in us.

I think Brain Doerksen captured this well in song.

Resting Place by Brian Doerkson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4ZY88AMa4Q

Seeing You in the Sanctuary Part 4

A scripture I imagine most of us are familiar with is in Hebrews where we are exhorted to come boldly to the throne of grace.

16  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

However, as we come do we recognize that this is the same throne described in Isaiah, Ezekiel and Revelation? When we think of the throne of grace do we think of encountering this fiery divine being? His throne is His throne. We know from the Psalms that the foundation of His throne is righteousness and justice.

14  Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face. Psalm 89:14 (NKJV)

We also know that God is a consuming fire.

28  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29  For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29 (NKJV)

It is all one throne. The throne where we come to seek grace, find mercy and know righteousness and justice is to be approached with reverence and godly fear. The fiery burning One is seated upon it. Fire, thunder and lightning issue forth from His throne but are wrapped up in incredible mercy, truth, righteousness and justice. Yahweh contains all within Himself and desires that we truly know and encounter Him, the One to whom we will all give account (Heb. 4:13).

So, let us sit before Him and consider all these aspects as we behold Him and come away from these encounters reflecting His glory.

18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

 

Seeing You in the Sanctuary Part 3

I began this series talking about what a sanctuary meant and referenced Exodus 25:8

8  And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:8 (NKJV)

I also referenced the two verses below.

1  O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2 (NKJV)

4  One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: 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 inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

We know from scripture that we can behold Him and in fact are called to do so (2 Cor. 3:18, 4:6). I am not suggesting we will all be taken up to heaven and have an experience like Paul or John. What I am suggesting is that we can choose to gaze upon Him in His sanctuary. There is a reason Revelation 4 is in the scriptures. He wants us to know what we are gazing into when we sit before Him and that it is not just on Old Testament (OT) prophetic experience.

While descriptions of the throne are not confined to the OT, what can we learn from some of them? For example Psalm 63. David wrote this in the wilderness when the temple of Solomon did not yet exist and David was not near the tabernacle of Moses. David had to be speaking of gazing into the real sanctuary in the eternal realm. Another example is what Ezekiel saw.

26  And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27  Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28  Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking. Ezekiel 1:26-28 (NKJV)

2  Then I looked, and there was a likeness, like the appearance of fire–from the appearance of His waist and downward, fire; and from His waist and upward, like the appearance of brightness, like the color of amber. 3  He stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my hair; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy. 4  And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the plain. Ezekiel 8:2-4 (NKJV)

In the Ezekiel 1 passage above Ezekiel says what he saw was the glory of Yahweh. In the chapter 8 passage we have an almost identical description but Ezekiel says it is the Spirit. This is the only description I can find in scripture that describes the Holy Spirit in any detail.

What is my point in all of this? I don’t believe we should try to manufacture anything as we sit with Him. Yet whether or not we see or are aware of anything as we sit and by faith gaze upon Him we are entering into an encounter with this glorious One who is a consuming fire. If we faithfully chose to do so how can we not be changed?

Seeing You in the Sanctuary Part 2

Recently as I sat with Him seeking to gaze upon His glory (2 Cor. 3:18) Jesus spoke to my heart, “Stay under My gaze.” A rather interesting phrase. It was a phrase I had not heard before yet I recognized His voice and also realized a few days later it was the answer to a question I hadn’t asked. This approach is something Jesus did regularly in the gospels. The important part however is understanding what staying under His gaze means and the implications for our heart and life if we respond in obedience. At the same time I seek to test everything by His written word and the scriptures seem to teach that we are to gaze upon Him.

18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

However, implicitly, rather than explicitly, if we are gazing at Him then He is also looking at us. When I become aware of His focus upon me many times I quite literally start to feel like I am coming undone at some physical level and have to choose to not turn my face away, which I can only manage for a short time. However when we choose to stay under His gaze how does it affect our heart and life? The first effect is that if we stay under His gaze it means regularly turning our heart to Him throughout the day and being conscious of His gaze upon us. Secondly, we learn to lean more into His guidance in all that we do. The scriptural support for this injunction is found in the Psalms.

8  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)

Something to consider is that if Jesus is guiding us with His gaze we need to learn to discern His various gazes. If His eyes are like a flame of fire we are in trouble! Jesus heart is that we would learn whether He is with us encouraging, abiding, rebuking or a number of other responses. He calls all of us to pursue and understand His gaze and ways in our relationship with Him. In the midst of understanding this we in the modern North American church also need to understand that He is Lord and King, not a divine cheerleader. After all, the scriptures provide some sober New Testament warnings.

13  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV)

28  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29  For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29 (NKJV)

So let us embrace ‘reverence and godly fear’ as we stay under His gaze.

A closing thought. Something else I realized as I meditated upon this is that Jesus lived this way, staying under His Father’s gaze. I encourage you to search the gospels and see if this is so. A useful reflection on this as we near Good Friday is the lyrics in the song below, particularly the line I have highlighted.

How deep the Father’s Love for Us

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Stuart Townend 1995 Thankyou Music

How deep the Father’s Love for Us

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVpyYwtX_VY

Seeing You in the Sanctuary Part 1

What is a sanctuary? There is a large issue happening in the US over ‘sanctuary cities’ and I think we generally understand them as a place of refuge or safety. However, I think that concept gets things backwards. It is always important to look to the scriptures. What do the scriptures have to say to us about sanctuary? Let’s take a journey together, a journey into His heart.

A key mention of sanctuary is in Exodus and we can use this verse to begin our journey.

8  And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:8 (NKJV)

Here Yahweh is speaking to Moses about the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. The word sanctuary means a ‘set apart’ or ‘holy’ place. Moses, and key artisans whom Yahweh designated, built the tabernacle, the sanctuary in the wilderness. However, what made it holy was not their skilled craftsmanship or Moses obedience. What made it a holy sanctuary was Yahweh’s presence. We see what happened when all the preparations were complete.

34  Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35  And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:34-35 (NKJV)

The same thing happened when Solomon’s temple was complete.

1  When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2  And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. 2 Chronicles 7:1-2 (NKJV)

So what do these verses have to do with us and sanctuary? I believe that in this hour we both need to, and are able to, encounter and be overcome by His glory. I will go further into this but invite you to sit with Jesus and meditate on some verses from Psalms prior to going further into this in the coming weeks.

13  Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? Psalm 77:13 (NKJV)

1  O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Psalm 63:1-2 (NKJV)

4  One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: 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 inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

Show me Your Glory by Jesus Culture

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df7XEvFNX-E

 

You Who are Spiritual Part 4

What is the capstone of a spiritual life? When we climb the mountain of spirituality what vista unfolds before us? I don’t know if we think about this very often but I do believe there is a scriptural answer. I will start with Jesus as the ultimate example then look at a couple of His friends.

Psalm 40:7-8 is quoted in Hebrews as a prophetic picture of Jesus.

7  Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8  I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:7-8 (NKJV)

7  Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – In the volume of the book it is written of Me – To do Your will, O God.’  Hebrews 10:7 (NKJV)

These verses capture Jesus heart. He came to earth to serve the purposes of His Father. In fact He stated it very clearly it was His delight to serve His Father’s purpose. As the verse below highlights, He came to walk among us as ‘the One who serves.’

27  For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. Luke 22:27 (NKJV)

Jesus submitted His will to the will of His Father and His works flowed out of this intimate relationship.

19  Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20  For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.” John 5:19-20 (NKJV)

What of Jesus friend Paul? How did he live and how did he tell us to live?

17  Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Philippians 2:17 (NKJV)

6  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 2 Timothy 4:6 (NKJV)

The idea Paul presents here is that his life is being poured out as a sacrifice to Jesus. Paul was giving his life so others could be joined to Jesus life. In Numbers 15:1-16 the wine (drink offering) is to accompany the animal sacrifices. Paul saw himself as living for Jesus and thus his life was being poured out to accompany Jesus sacrifice. Not as something having any atoning value but a gesture of love to accompany the atoning sacrifice. What did Paul say of us?

15  and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NKJV)

We too are to pour out our lives in His service. Lastly, David, the man after God’s own heart. We have his epitaph from the Holy Spirit in Acts.

36  “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;” Acts 13:36 (NKJV)

What a declaration! David served his own generation by the will of God. A truly spiritual person is one with a servant heart seeking to further our Father’s purposes. Are our lives being poured out to further His purpose because our hearts desire to please and honour Him?

You Who are Spiritual Part 3

Who was spiritual, Jacob or Esau? When we look at their relationship in Genesis (Gen. 25-33) Esau at first seems like the responsible son and Jacob comes across as the manipulator. Yet what is the scriptural testimony of them?

2  “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the LORD. “Yet Jacob I have loved; 3  But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness.” Malachi 1:2-3 (NKJV)

13  As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” Romans 9:13 (NKJV)

Why this testimony? To understand it we need to delve into the spirit realm. Yes Jacob was a schemer and manipulator, not the character traits we admire. Esau however did not value the blessing that was his by birthright. As an aside, we tend to use phrases like ‘bless you’ rather casually. Yet in scripture they meant something. Read the blessing Jacob/Israel pronounced over his sons in Genesis 49. It laid out the future destiny of the nation. There was prophetic power in it. Blessing our food at a meal or blessing someone else is meant to be a term that describes that actual blessing. Consider the Aaronic blessing in Numbers.

22  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23  “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24  “The LORD bless you and keep you; 25  The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26  The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’  Numbers 6:22-26 (NKJV)

A blessing is a pronouncement that releases something tangible in the spirit realm. Consider what Jesus said when He sent out the seventy.

5  But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. Luke 10:5-6 (NKJV)

Peace is shalom in Hebrew and that is what is referred to in both passages. The release of shalom is a tangible spiritual transaction. Jesus expected the seventy to know whether or not their shalom, what they released, was resting on the homes they blessed.

I have had this experience of praying for someone and feeling like my prayer was bouncing off them. They verbalized openness but were not actually willing to receive.

So, back to Jacob and Esau. Jacob did not start well. Yet it was in pursuing Yahweh’s blessing, with a selfish motive, that Jacob was transformed to Israel. His encounter with Yahweh (Gen. 32) broke his fleshly strength and transformed him into a spiritual man. We see this when he went down to Egypt with his family. Pharaoh was the most powerful man in the Middle East yet look what happened when he met Jacob/Israel.

7  Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Genesis 47:7 (NKJV)

7  Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Hebrews 7:7 (NKJV)

Where is all of this going? How many of you are familiar with the concept of needing to clean up our lives so we can be filled with the Holy Spirit? It sounds spiritual but is simply a religious spirit masquerading as true spirituality. If we could clean up our lives without the Holy Spirit we wouldn’t need Him! Draw near to Him, pursue His blessing like Jacob, and be transformed by His touch and presence. We all need Him. Let’s pray for a greater hunger and not focus on our motives – that is being spiritual. He will change us!

You Who are Spiritual Part 2

What is the impetus for spiritual growth? How many of us would vote for difficulties, challenges and the opportunity for offence? There is an expression, ‘Character isn’t formed in crisis, it is revealed.’ I think there is truth in that thought, though I think how we respond in these situations can deepen and help mature us, they real secret behind spiritual maturity is what we do when not in crisis. Look at what Paul penned.

1  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4  and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4 (NKJV)

1  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2  through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; Romans 5:1-4 (NASB)

I have provided this passage in two translations because the NASB brings out the idea of ‘proven character’ in verse 4. That is, something is established and the test or crisis reveals or proves the reality of it. So what is the process above?

At conversion we are at peace with God and receive His peace, His shalom in our life. We stand by exercising our faith to access His grace. As Hebrews says, we can come boldly to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). Our long term view should now be that we shall be revealed in glory with Jesus and His glory revealed in us (Rom. 8:28-30). Based on this reality we will sow into our relationship with Jesus on a daily basis and view difficult times as an opportunity to reveal Jesus character that has been worked into our lives.

While many may reject this course it is the pattern that is established in scripture. If our focus is on eternal realities we will have the heart and attitude of Paul and will come to spiritual maturity much more quickly.

 17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NKJV)

 

You Who are Spiritual Part 1

What is the mark of a spiritual man or woman in the church? To set the stage a bit, in 1 Corinthians chapters 2 and 3 Paul distinguishes between the carnal (immature) and the spiritual (mature). In 1 John, John presents three levels of spiritual maturity. The many exhortations to growth in the New Testament letters point to the reality that spiritual growth is like natural growth, it is a process. At the same time, while age is inevitable, both spiritually and naturally, maturity is optional. I am sure we have all met middle-aged adults who are emotionally immature. Maturity is not automatic.

So what marks spiritual maturity? Is it amazing revelatory experiences? A profound knowledge of the scriptures? How about neither? As a new believer Paul, for example, had both but if you carefully read his letters he was also somewhat arrogant as a young believer in spite of his great knowledge, or perhaps because of it. Having an apostolic anointing did not automatically make him mature. That required time and process.

What is the scriptural perspective on spiritual maturity? Look at the passages below.

13  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:13-14 (NKJV)

             1  Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3  For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4  But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. Galatians 6:1-4 (NKJV)

24  And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25  in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26  and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NKJV)

Spiritual maturity is marked by discernment, emotional maturity, gentleness, deep respect and love for Jesus and His body, the church, and an awareness that we too are susceptible to falling. Given that, how are we doing?