Draw Me

The first line in Song of Songs 1:4 is very powerful.

Draw me away! (Song of Songs 1:4 NKJV)

Sit with that heart cry – Draw me away.

When Jesus trod the dusty streets and hills of Israel He didn’t walk around with a sign that said “I am the Messiah!” So what drew people to Him and what drew Him to certain people? I think these are important questions to consider because I think they can teach us a good deal about what will deepen our walk with Him today. We can assume it was His miraculous ministry but if we start at the beginning we find it isn’t the case. In John we read the following.

35 Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”

39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). John 1:35–42 (NKJV)

We can infer from the passage the Andrew and the other disciple of John the Baptist possessed a hunger for more because they were already following John the Baptist when Jesus came on the scene. When Jesus asked what they wanted there answer clearly pointed to their desire to be wherever Jesus was. At this point the only major thing that had happened were the events at Jesus baptism. Yet they saw something in Jesus and He saw something in them.

When we consider this we know that Jesus lived on earth but that He also lived in and from another realm. He simultaneously dwelt in the presence of people and before His Father in communion with Him. For the spiritually hungry this was what drew them, they sensed the fragrance of that realm. Here is how Jesus put it.

6     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)

I believe it is our hunger for reality that draws Him to our hearts. I have known people who regularly saw and smelled things in the spirit realm, both good and bad. I know in my own life I have had a couple of experiences of smelling a wonderful fragrance during worship. On another occasion while a few of us were worshipping in a sanctuary there was a beautiful singing accompanying us from high up in the corner of ceiling in the sanctuary. I think at those times the veil between the natural and spiritual realms was simply lifted a bit and what was really real, the spiritual realm, broke through.

As we enter into a new year it seems wise to ask Him to draw our heart away, to increase our hunger for Him and to deepen our awareness of the heavenly realm we are called to, to pull back the veil so that we might function more fully in the two realms the born again are called to walk in.

More to come.

A Change of Identity

Who and what are we? If we are walking with Jesus the answer to that question lies in the scriptures. There is a great example in the Old Testament (OT) of how we can answer the question. Most of us are likely familiar with the story of Elijah and Elisha and what happened when Elijah left Elisha. We pick up the story in 2 Kings. Rather than focusing on Elisha’s perseverance I want to focus in on what happened after Elijah was taken up to heaven.

12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were fromJericho saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him. 2 Kings 12-15

If you fellowship in some circles you will hear a lot about people receiving the mantles of others. However, while that happened here, look at what preceded it. In the OT the tearing of one’s clothes is usually a sign of mourning. Yet we have no evidence of any mourning by Elisha. In fact later in the story (verses 16-18) the others want to search for Elijah’s body and he tells them not to bother. He is at rest with Elijah being taken up. What Elijah did was tear his clothes in two, they were now no longer functional for him, and take up Elijah’s mantle. He embraced a new identity. He had been Elijah’s servant, now he took his own place as leader of the sons of the prophets (those serving and being discipled). He embraced a new identity.  

Elisha’s action foreshadowed our call to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, to put off the old man and take up the new. Lest you think I am reading too much into the text let us move forward and hear from Paul.

19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19 (NKJV)

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24 NKJV

11 Likewise you also, [a]reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:11 NKJV

The Lord loves uniqueness and so makes every snowflake different and calls each one of us into our own walk and relationship with Him. At the same time He calls each and every one of us to embrace a new identity. To tear off our old identity and take up a new mantle, putting on Jesus nature and cooperating with His grace so Jesus is formed in us and manifest through us.

I heard a pastor share one time that he was talking with a man from the congregation and the man had an outburst of anger. When he challenged him the man said it was because he was just like his father. The pastor responded, “Which father?”

We have a new father, a new identity. Let’s seek His face and sit with Him and His word so that others encounter this ‘new man’ manifest through our lives.

Words of Wisdom

Proverbs contains many examples of how we are to weigh our words.

32  The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked what is perverse. Proverbs 10:32 (NKJV)

Implicit in the word ‘acceptable’ is the idea of knowing what to say when. We are likely all familiar with saying something that didn’t come across as intended. I know I tend to use humour a lot and have used it many times to lighten the mood in difficult or tense situations. While generally effective it didn’t always work. At the same time I wasn’t always tuned into Jesus presence when I spoke. Many years ago a pastor shared an experience with me. While he was doing his theological training he was working as an aide on an adult psychiatric unit. One of the patients was out of control and they had to physically lock him in another room. He felt the need for wisdom so prayed an asked the Lord what to do. He got the distinct impression he was to offer the man a cigarette. He said he responded, “But Lord, You don’t smoke.” The impression wouldn’t leave and he offered the man a cigarette. He immediately calmed down and the situation was resolved. In this case what was ‘acceptable’ didn’t make natural sense but was very effective.   

Conversely the opposite can happen. I remember going to church one morning. I was struggling with something and feeling discouraged. I have no memory of what it was about as this was over 20 years ago. What I do remember was meeting a fellow I knew just outside the door. He asked how I was doing, I told him. He cheerfully responded, “Aren’t you glad we win in the end!” He didn’t know what was acceptable at that moment. It was clear he wasn’t interested in how I was doing and I don’t recall ever sharing anything meaningful with him after that. As stated, while I don’t remember what I was discouraged about all these years later I clearly remember his non helpful response.

If we take this principle of using words that are acceptable it doesn’t mean always being positive and upbeat. It does mean we have our heart tuned to His and know what to say. As it says elsewhere in Proverbs.

13  He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13 (NKJV)

We are called to hear hearts and then respond. If we move to the New Testament Paul said we are to speak the truth in love and he outlined what is to accompany our words.

15  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– Ephesians 4:15 (NKJV)

29  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)

6  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6 (NKJV) We are to speak truth in love, speak words that build others up and carry grace and our words are to be salty, they are to have a purifying and preserving effect. This requires a dependence upon Him so if we are not already doing it let’s learn to lean into His heart as we interact with those around us. Particularly in this difficult season.

Hidden in Plain Sight

His word in general can anchor our hearts in difficult times. The writer of Hebrews presented this truth it the following way.

19  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20  where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20 (NKJV)

Paul communicated the same truth in another manner.

1  If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NKJV)

Our perspective follows where we have placed our expectations. There is a prophetic power in things He quickens to us that can particularly anchor our hearts. I hope we have all had the experience of suddenly seeing something in a new. It was always there, hidden in plain sight, but until something shifted we didn’t see it.

Proverbs are generally pithy statements that contain a principle or general truth and this is how the book of Proverbs is presented. A few years ago I wrote a commentary on Proverbs from this perspective. I had read Proverbs through many times prior and since I wrote the commentary, with the exception of a one month break, I have read through Proverbs every month. This month as I was praying and reading the verses below some of my focus shifted as He quickened these verses to my heart. They were always there and I had read them many times – I just saw them in a new and deeper way.  

21  For the upright will dwell in the land, And the blameless will remain in it; 22  But the wicked will be cut off from the earth, And the unfaithful will be uprooted from it. Proverbs 2:21-22 (NKJV)

While I had always viewed these verses as an encouragement. This time as I read them I saw the verses as a prophetic declaration – Solomon putting forth a truth that would be realized. These verses encouraged and comforted me and affirmed His sovereignty. While the verses didn’t even speak directly to what we are going through I was encouraged and my heart was strengthened because He showed me something that was hidden in plain sight.

So, I encourage you, however you are feeling in this season, if you need encouragement ask Him to pull back the veil from things so that you can see with new eyes and be firmly anchored in the reality of His promises.