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John 12:18 The crowd that had been with him when he raised Lazarus from the dead and called him out of the tomb continued to talk about this event, and the reason why the crowd went to meet him as he entered Jerusalem was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “Look, the world has gone after him. No-one is listening to us anymore. ” Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 7:30, 8:20).

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead the Jewish leaders asked for anyone who saw Jesus to tell them, so that they could put him to death (They were plotting to kill Lazarus also). So Jesus stayed out of sight with his disciples (and Lazarus) in the surrounding area. Then a few days before the Passover Feast when the crowd that had seen Lazarus raised from the dead had spread the word about Jesus, the locals and the visitors streaming in from the surrounding regions to attend the Passover Feast had swollen into a massive crowd, all wanting to see Jesus. Then they heard that Jesus was about to enter Jerusalem and the crowd became a huge parade that lined the roadway and threw down palms for Jesus to ride in on the donkey. Jesus then went into the temple and threw down the tables in the ‘court of the Gentiles’ the only area that the Gentiles were allowed to enter and pray. (Mark 11:17 …House of prayer for all the Nations), and where the money-changers extorted money from the foreign visitors.
And now some Gentile Greeks wanted to see him too but weren’t sure whether Jesus would talk to them so they went to Phillip and Andrew, who may also have been uncertain (Matthew 10:5). These Greeks would have also seen or heard of the overturning of the tables in the temple. The seeking of him by the Gentile Greeks was a sure sign for Jesus to now proclaim that he was going to die on the cross and be resurrected for the salvation of the whole world (The hour had come), but the disciples only realized all this afterwards when Jesus had risen. The Pharisees could see ‘The whole world going after him’ and knew that no one was listening to them anymore - an amazing prophecy.
Vs.24 Then Jesus said ‘Truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (The world). Whoever loves his life (isolated independence) loses it (inner Spirit life), and whoever hates (loves less) his (isolated independent) life in this world will preserve it (inner Spirit life). If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
A new kind of resurrection life was about to come into existence in the earth. The curtain raiser was Lazarus but what Jesus was about to do would change the entire world forever. Jesus said in effect ‘You will look the same and mostly feel the same and the world will seem the same but you will be entirely different. This is what I came to do, to be the seed of your new life, my life hidden within you.’
1. The seed - The hiding place of a life that dies to live and grow and bear fruit.
2. The soil – The nurturing environment that anchors the new emerging life in its caring soil.
3. The outer shell – The barrier between the waiting inner life and the nurturing environment of care.
4. Abiding alone – Our isolated independence that resists trusting God for the inner life to come forth.
6. Dying – Allowing the hard outer shell to soften for inner life to be nurtured and to grow. We would think that dying means isolation but it is just the opposite. In Christ it is life before death!
7. Bearing much fruit – The inner life that has now emerged out of the soil to receive the sun (God’s love), and rain (Holy Spirit) and air (New life) from above and multiply its life.

From shame to glory

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John 9:1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him… He then spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”. So he went and washed, and came back seeing.

Jesus revolutionised their stance about this man’s sin or his parents’ sin being the cause of his blindness. He was prophesying His New Kingdom era whereby no sin could be passed on from one generation to another because he was cancelling all curses for all sin on the cross (Galatians 3:13, Ezekiel 18.3).

The mud was prophetic of the dust of the earth of mankind’s old creation humanity, made into mud with the living water out of the mouth of Jesus, to become a new creation. Jesus as the Son of God had performed that old creation about 4000 years earlier. He was now prophesying through this picture of putting the mud in the blind man’s eyes the man’s new creation eyes of faith. These new eyes would see who Jesus really was and in so doing the man would see who he himself really was in the eyes of Jesus, free from shame to now become who he was eternally meant to be (from shame to glory).

The blind man was a beggar who had been shamed all of his life. But he was created with a divine virtue that had never yet been truly expressed because he had become a poster child in that community as a reminder in their eyes of the curse of sin.

He and his neighbours and his parents are then subjected to a series of shameful interrogations by the Pharisees who were obsessed with sin and the Law because that was their weapon of intimidation, and they were intent on keeping sin and judgment alive. The Pharisees branded the man, his parents, and also Jesus as sinners, and they cast the man out of the temple.

The devil takes over the ministry of the Pharisees now in seeking to blind our eyes to the work of Jesus. He has filled the culture of today’s world with the torment of guilt and the weapon of shame, and just like the Pharisees he uses this as a weapon of intimidation. Shame is a negative emotion of feeling wrong about ourselves because of our imperfect humanity, which gets magnified by what we imagine other people think about us. God wants to magnify in us his thought about us.
John 9:35 Jesus heard that they had cast the man out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”
And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.

The Old Testament could never take people from shame to glory in this way.
Hebrews 9:6 The sacrifices were symbolic for that time where gifts and sacrifices were offered which could not make them perfect in regard to the conscience (feeling right or wrong about yourself).
Hebrews 10:3… in those sacrifices for sins there was an ongoing reminder of sins (ongoing shame).
Hebrews 10:14… by one offering Jesus has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Being sanctified is a process and we are all being given individual grace for our individual progress, invited by Jesus to walk alongside him every moment of the day. And we each have unique God given virtues and giftings for which God’s grace is present to us through faith. Our shame is in proportion to our not finding God’s grace, and setting our own unrealistic goals to be perfect or trying just as unrealistically to do someone else’s thing – wrong self-expectations. (Hebrews 4:16). But Paul used shame as a wake up call to the church in Corinth for his valid expectations of them to live righteously as Christian disciples and to stop living like they had no knowledge of God (1Corinthians 15:33)

Romans 12:6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with the faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing mercy to others, do it gladly.

 

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Jesus upholds all things by the word of his power, and behind that word is God’s loving thought. God loves everything he creates and he keeps everything by his loving thought. God’s creation is not just the display of a mechanical adaptation of creatures in a race for survival. He creates, loves, and keeps.
He compares us to his natural creation to remind us that everywhere we look we see his love at work.

Luke 12 :6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God (epilanthenomai - out of the mindfulness of God). But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be anxious; of how much more value are you than the sparrows.
We are part of the creative, loving, keeping, power of God’s loving thought about us. Being mindful of God’s loving mindfulness for all things can lift us up out of ourselves into God’s heart for other people. The sparrow and the lilies of the field are not able to be mindful of being kept by God’s loving thought toward them, but we are as human beings, sharing together in this changing, growing, living, dying, suffering, recovering, river of God’s created life. And even as we love to get alone one on one with God and to live in that intimacy, we don’t just leap over this river that we belong in together. The river is always waiting for us. It is his river, taking us beyond self and individualism, into the lives of others.

Philippians 2:1 …fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
We all have different gifts and skills and experience. There is something that someone else does or has done better than we have, and we can honour that in our heart and give place to it. We also give place to what other people are suffering.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens (weighed down), fulfilling the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Let each one test his own work, and his rejoicing will be in himself and not in comparing with his neighbor. For each has to bear his own burden (responsibility)
I continually observe this responsibility in action as God’s people glorify him in his loving thought to them in their suffering. That is where I see people at their best.
Speaking about the many members in the one Body Paul says:
1Corinthians 12:26. If one member suffers we all suffer and if one is honoured we all rejoice.

Accepting God’s loving thought for us as we go through suffering and being supported by the prayers of others glorifies God and strengthens us to do the same for others. Our prayer is God’s magnifying glass that magnifies him in our hearts, both in the one praying and in the one prayed for, magnifying our faith. So suffering, whether in depression, sickness, loss, hard circumstances etc, is not a punishment or a strange and alien thing that makes us into a victim of life. It is a mystery that hides grace, the power of Holy Spirit at work magnifying God who both changes things and changes us.

We share in God’s loving thought for one another in our communion together today.
Ephesians 4:1 … I earnestly appeal to you that you now live lives that are appropriate to God’s invitation to be together in God and with God 2. Live out this new life with humility and gentleness, accepting others right where they are, and seeing them through his heart of love for them. 3. Let the oneness that each of you shares with God be something that you share in with one another...

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Psalm 110:1 Your people shall be willing in the day of your power… The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind. He will shatter leaders all over the world… he will shatter kings on the day of his judgment.

STEPHEN ACCUSES ISRAEL OF RESISTING THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts 7:51 "You stiff-necked heathen! Must you always resist the Holy Spirit? But as your fathers did, so do you! Name one prophet your ancestors didn't persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. 57 drowning out his voice with their shouts, they dragged him out of the city to stone him. The witnesses, the executioners, laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul who consented to his death.

GOD SUBDUES PAUL’S RESISTANCE
Acts 9:4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord? Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. You’re making it hard for yourself, resisting my prodding of your conscience.”
Galatians 1:15 Before I was born, God had chosen me to reveal his Son through me
GOD SUBDUES OUR RESISTANCE FOR OUR SAKES AND HIS PURPOSE.
Philippians 2:13, Romans 2:4, Philippians 3:21 He will … subdue all things to himself.

OUR CONSCIENCE CAN JUSTIFY RESISTANCE
It is so easy temperamentally and circumstantially and even religiously to justify our resistance because of what WE think is right and wrong. Paul and Peter both had a religious conscience. They used the letter of the Law to resist the New Covenant law of grace. They wanted the letter of the Law instead of the still small voice. We get to hear the still small voice of Holy Spirit who arbitrates in every situation rather than legislates, because we like to legislate with Scripture.

HOLY SPIRIT CREATES IN US A NEW CONSCIENCE
This new conscience persuades and empowers our will to align with his will.
Hebrews 9:14 –Christ’ blood purifies our conscience from our self-serving effort to serve the living God.
Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near (PRESENCE PRAYER)with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience (Evil=harmful – our sense of right and wrong(wrong tree). The New Covenant promises the transformation of the heart’s desires and intentions of God’s people.
So who are we to resist him?
Ezek 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My ways. God does this despite the resistance of His people. God says ‘Ask me’.
Vs.37 I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them.
This is God’s Grace, his subduing power to change the intentions of the heart, and he asks us to work with him for our own subduing and transformation.

David asked God for this (Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God…). Pray this with absolute confidence (God’s prayer?). Why not pray the prayer of what God wants instead of only what we want?

 

If you abide in me

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John 15:7 If you abide in me and my word abides in you, you shall ask what you desire and it will be done for you.
Abiding is purposefully allowing God to take us along path of spiritual progress and purpose with all the ordinary things that happen to us. This is a process of faith, a powerful, active stillness, an acceptance of ‘what is’ that acknowledges the Holy Spirit’s work upon our yielded mind and spirit (Don’t scream at the darkness but allow light to enter instead). It is Presence Prayer (Abiding). This is a spiritual discipline for which we set time aside each day to develop the capacity to hear ‘the still small voice’

GOD’S LANGUAGE IS HIS ABIDING (meno) SPIRIT
John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (mone) with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.
God gives us Scriptural and Situational Words.
God prepares a way of communication to speak to the world when there is something important for him to tell the world in its current era/age and circumstance.
1. God prepared the known world for 350 years of receiving the Greek language (Alexander The Great) so that when Jesus came the world could read the Scriptural message of the Gospel.
2. God prepared the world to hear the voice of the Abiding Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost when he communicated the Gospel to all the people gathered in all kinds of different languages.
3. God prepared all the dialects of China to receive the Scriptural Word through Mao Tse Tung who ordered the new Mao Script in the 1960’s so that all of China could read Mao’s Little Red Book. But it was not Mao’s intention to spread the Gospel. The new script impoverished the richness of the traditional language (only 8000 characters compared to the 50k of traditional Chinese script) but God used it for good, as millions of Bibles became accessible to the underground church (CUV is both).
4. The world is in an age of information overload at the moment. Scripture is embedded, globally. Now God is saying ‘be still and know that I am God’, and the language of his abiding Spirit is waiting to be heard. There is something about God for us to know other than, and beyond, our opinions and dogmatic teachings about him. Abiding is a place where our mind does not have to produce or achieve, but where our spirit can speak to God (1Corinthians 14:14).
My granddaughter does meditation at school every morning – Thinking about Jesus. Why? This was unheard of in my day. What is going on? Spiritual disciplines are being re-visited.
(2 Corinthians 10:5, Ephesians 4:19-23, Romans 12:2)
John 15:7 If you abide in me and my word abides in you… We have the Word abiding in us.
Romans 10:8 The word is near you even in your mouth and in your heart. (Ortiz ‘flyin’)

God is always near and Holy Spirit is always waiting to communicate. In Presence Prayer we learn to know that we are never alone. Presence Prayer (meditation) is also a practice of faith in yielding to the Holy Spirit’s work in transforming us into the image and likeness of God. Presence Prayer is not so much a method as it is a way of being in an attitude of openness to hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. It becomes a way of life. (2 Corinthians 10:5, Ephesians 4:19-23, Romans 12:2)
We begin to see that our difficulties consist not of our slow progress in ‘getting there’ but rather of the challenges we face in simply ‘being here’, fully present, not buying in to any fear based scenarios, but into the faith based realities.

Who is my neighbour?

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Luke 10:25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” (The future hope Daniel 12:2)
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” (The promised [and now] present reality)
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he angled across to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple Levite walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you on my way back.’ Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” !!!

The lawyer wanted eternal life, and he knew the Old Testament truth of it, but how to love a neighbour came as a surprise to him. He did not know what neighbour meant - plesion; - near, close.
Jesus is preparing this man to live the Eternal life that Jesus came to give his life for, so that he could live within him and through him. Jesus was the Good Samaritan and was to become the hidden life of every human being. (Colossians 3:3)

But that means we need to see Jesus hidden in everyone else. This is ‘your neighbour as yourself’ talk.
We are all the man beaten up by bandits and in need of rescue. We are all also (through grace and faith) becoming the Good Samaritan having been rescued and restored and paid for and now reaching out to others in need. This man needed to get a revelation of Ethnic consciousness, which is very hard for a Lawyer of the Jewish religion. It is also more difficult than it may seem for all of us. (Teenage independence and responsibility) Gal 3:28. Tribalism was the old reality and Oneness is the new reality. And so true humanity can emerge in our oneness and communion (Ephesians 4:3,4).

This is God’s vision for us, and for himself in the earth. But while ever we are isolated in our tribalism like the religious lawyer we blur and obscure that vision for him and for ourselves.
When someone starts having a conversation with Jesus about inheriting Eternal life then Jesus gets serious and says ‘Do you really want to know about this ‘Eternal Life’ business?

Lord that I might see

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Luke 19:1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all complained, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

In Luke Chapter18 Jesus has challenged a rich young ruler, healed a man lost in blindness and poverty (Lord that I might see), and now saves a man lost in wealth and corruption. He lifts the blind man up and tells Zacchaeus to come down - his final two encounters with people in need of healing and salvation before his final clash with the Jewish leaders, his arrest, his trial and crucifixion.

The name Zacchaeus means pure and innocent. This was not the man’s worldly identity but it was his eternal destiny from before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4). But he didn’t know who he really was, like the rest of us. This crowd of people was his obstacle to seeing Jesus because he was short of stature, but Zacchaeus was used to overcoming the obstacle of other people, finding ways to climb above them and leveraging himself into getting advantage. This time it was climbing a sycamore tree. He was a ‘chief’ tax collector, a top negotiator. He knew how to intimidate the poor into getting higher taxes from them and how to deceive the Roman authorities into giving lower payouts to them; he knew the art of the deal. He just didn’t know who he really was (and he wanted to see who Jesus was). He thought his destiny was tied up with money, and he was correct but he had things the wrong way round, because unlike the rich young ruler he discovered he was destined to be a giver not a taker.

He had to hear those words from Jesus to ‘come down’. So Jesus took the initiative, and told him to hurry and come down, as Jesus saw the urgency of the moment. But Jesus wasn’t in a hurry, because he knew he was going to stay overnight at the home of Zacchaeus, and he also knew that Zacchaeus had a decision to make and that this was his moment.

Zacchaeus was an outsider to the crowd and they complained about his getting attention and not being reprimanded. Jesus took a different approach and invited himself in to stay the night! We don’t know what Jesus talked to Zacchaeus about when he stayed overnight, but that doesn’t matter.

There would no doubt have been honest and transparent conversation and his joyful welcome to Jesus resulted in his transformation (Matt 10:12). Zacchaeus became a giver instead of a taker. He now ‘sees’ Jesus, and sees himself. This is different to the rich young ruler who unlike Zacchaeus asked Jesus about the kingdom but didn’t let go of his wealth – he didn’t really ‘see’ Jesus or his real self . Zacchaeus was not asked to give any money away. He was really being asked to give himself away, in return for finding his real identity. Zacchaeus finally found his pure and innocent destiny in helping the poor and in bringing justice to the people he had cheated. He fell in love with that crowd.

But the rich young ruler had found his identity in his wealth and wanted to keep it there. There is no barrier to the access of the Kingdom, other than our putting other things before the Kingdom. God creates our hearts in such a way that only God will do. So we need to seek first the Kingdom.

A life hemmed in by the closed horizon of ourselves and our problems is too dismal to give our lives real meaning. Once we welcome the present moment which contains a present Jesus and give him spacious hospitality we understand what reality is all about. Instead of talking to ourselves in our lostness, we talk to God in our foundness.

We can be lost in many things – our past history, our future apprehension, the future enjoyable and pleasurable expectations, our present worries and concerns – OR – found in the present reality of God with us. We can be blind to the one thing that God wants us to see, that he has come to stay at our house. When we stop and look and find the present moment with the present Jesus we can share in how he feels for humanity.

God says he remembers our sins no more. What matters is now. Are we no more than the ongoing momentum of what we used to be? Zacchaeus wasn’t – and what about Paul ‘By the grace of God I am who I used to be?’ We can now identify with how precious is each one in the sight of Jesus starting with ourselves. Jesus is always seeking and finding and restoring with deep compassion all that is lost and broken in our lives and in the lives of those around us. There are too many lost sheep. Invite Jesus into your house and have a chat to him about it all like Zacchaeus.

 

Grace to the humble

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The key to true humility is in knowing and accepting who we are and who we are not. We are who God says we are, not what other people say, and also not what our own mind often says we are.
The story of Daniel Ritchie - www.danielritchie.org  Psalm 139

When we learn live and speak from who we really are we also learn to know and respect other people for who they are, and when we learn to listen to their hearts we learn to hear God’s heart for their human suffering.
Isaiah 57:15 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.

Philippians 2:5 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of being God and took on the status of a servant to humanity, becoming human and staying human. He humbled himself. He didn't claim special privileges. Then God gave him a name above all names.

1Peter 5:5 And all of you serve each other with humble spirits, for God gives grace to those who are humble, but resists those who are proud. If you will humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, in his time he will lift you up.
Jesus was in charge but humbly chose not to be in control, and that is true authority (Matthew 20:20).

Humility is an act of courage and controlling is an act of fear, because it fears disempowerment. But humility expects God to empower its gracious act, releasing healing from God that we can’t always give to another. Our faith points to this reality and promise to work hope in the hearts of other people.

1. God will give you what to say and when to say it. (John 12:49)
a) Does this need to be said?
b) Does it need to be said by me?
c) Does it need to be said by me now?
This also applies to doing as well as speaking. This is doing/working as unto the Lord.

2. We will learn to listen and to hear God’s heart for a suffering humanity.

3. We will be given creative words and deeds of life to speak and to do. Words of faith are creative, and inspiring, and there are more opportunities to speak them than you think. Paul said ‘I have delivered unto you that which I have received from the Lord’. Your life can be an ongoing experience of creative prayer – things said to God and with God and then from God to others. We can bring good out of evil, life out of death, reality out of unreality, like Dan Ritchie did, like Jesus did, and Paul.

 

 

 

 

The Blessing

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Abraham was the father of Isaac and Ishmael, and Isaac had twin sons Jabob and Esau. Isaac favored the older brother Esau, an ‘outdoor man’ like himself, who was to inherit the patriarchal blessing. But Jacob wanted that blessing. He wanted the best that God had to offer while Esau wanted the best the world had to offer. So Jacob cheated Esau out of the patriarchal blessing by exchanging it for soup. Rebecca also wants the blessing for Jacob and works a scheme to make it legal. Jacob gets his blind father Isaac to bless him, and Esau vows to kill Jacob. Rebecca then tells Jacob to flee to Syria to her brother Laban (for a few days!)
The Blessing of Isaac
Genesis 28:3 “May God Almighty bless you And make you fruitful and multiply you, And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land.
Jacob gets the blessing and has to escape the wrath of Esau the hunter who comes in to get the blessing and finds out what has happened. He vows to kill Jacob who then has to leave Canaan in a hurry. Rebecca tells Jacob to flee to her brother Laban’s home in Padam Aram. Laban had two daughters, Leah and Rachel.
The blessing of God
On the way there Jacob is blessed by God at Bethel, on the anointed rock where he sees a ladder to Heaven.
Genesis 28:10 The Lord said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
Then Jacob said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it This is none other than the house of God…and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Jacob had a heart for God and now he had a promise from God but he still has things to do before that promise can be realized.
Jacob goes to Laban and meets and falls in love with Rachel, and he is now taking on the world (the wily Laban) at its own game. This is almost like a prodigal son experience because his homeland and the Blessing is waiting for him to return. Jacob and Laban do deals and schemes with each other. Laban cheats Jacob with the switching of older daughter Leah for younger sister Rachel on their wedding night. This costs Jacob twenty years of his life but God prospers him abundantly. Then The Lord says to Jacob that it is time to return to the land of promise (Genesis 32:9) but there were things still unfinished in Jacob’s spiritual life.
Jacob finally heads for home but then gets news of Esau coming and he is afraid for his life. He organizes a peace treaty with gifts of goods and cattle to soften up his brother Esau, and sends his family on ahead. So his gifts went before him while he settled down for the night in the camp, east of Jordan at Peniel, and wrestles with an Angel (God) until daybreak. When God sees that Jacob is not going to give up the struggle, he deliberately threw Jacob's hip out of joint. Jacob told God he wouldn’t let go until He blessed him, and God tells Jacob that his name is no longer Jacob but Israel (Overcomer with God); “you've struggled with God and you've prevailed." Jacob then asked God who He was! And God asked him why he wanted to know, and then God blessed him. God wants us to want to know who He is. Jacob named the place Peniel (God's Face/presence) because, he said, "I met God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!"
Jacob is changed from the schemer to the overcomer. He has been running from what he has also been running to, a life with God. He will forever walk with a limp of humility, now aware of his weakness and now knowing that God is his strength. This is what spiritual maturity is, not just wanting things to happen in our lives but wanting God to happen.

My hiding place

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Psalm 32:4 Day and Night I could feel life’s pressure on me and I knew it was your hand on me, getting my attention. Energy seemed to run out of my soul and evaporate like water on hot sand.

5. I finally admitted all my fears and failures to you and stopped trying to hide what I was like. When I opened up to you, your mercy and forgiveness took away all my guilt and shame.

6. Now I say to anyone who comes under this kind of pressure and who believes in you, that they should open up to you like this when they are aware of what is going on. That is precisely the time for them to find your mercy and experience a new beginning. No judgement can touch anyone who does this.

7. You have now become my hiding place from every storm of life; every attack of the enemy. You now even keep me from getting into trouble! You now surround me with songs of victory.

8. I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress. It will always be eye to eye, and heart to heart.

9. So don't strain at the leash pulling to go your own way.
You know it's always safer and happier staying close to me.

10. So much unnecessary suffering comes to self-willed rebellious people, but abiding love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. So rejoice in him, all of you who know you belong to him, and shout for joy, all you who seek to do life his way.

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