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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All the angels and all those who had come with Jesus on the upward journey from the grave to the sky beheld their king as he offered himself to the Father as the risen firstborn - The Lamb of God, sacrificed for us from before the beginning of time. Those of the company who had waited throughout time also took their places of honor in their new home and joined in the magnificent celebration. Jesus’ time in heaven for these celebrations was momentary, as he had left the tomb just before dawn and was to return to earth that same day. He would now spend forty days on earth to seal The Plan of his Father and see it implemented for the rest of time. At the end of those forty days he would return to heaven, and would begin his new mission upon the planet.

Holy Spirit had accompanied Jesus every moment of his life on earth. He had joined himself to the human spirit of Jesus and had felt every feeling that Jesus had felt. He had known every one of his thoughts, and he had communicated every thought from Father God to him. He was One with those thoughts. Those thoughts became words in Jesus mouth, and Spirit caused those words to have life and power to all who heard Jesus speak. In this way Holy Spirit had also experienced life within humanity on the earth. In forty days time Jesus’ would return back to heaven. Then ten days after that, on the day of Pentecost, Holy Spirit would become the bond between heaven and earth for the rest of this age. He would fall like rain from heaven upon the souls of mankind, seeking to awaken the spirit of humanity to the cosmic truth of what Jesus had done in joining mankind to God. This would now become the mission of God.

Within the contradiction of the experience that we call human life, there would exist at one and the same time the cry for, and the resistance to, the oneness of spirit with God for which mankind was created. And within the human pain of this struggle would be found the cry of Holy Spirit wrestling to join the minds and hearts of people to God. This struggle and wrestle would exist throughout time as the Spiritual energy of God’s love that would never cease its activity in the hearts of humanity. It would be the sign of the divine heart exercising its love in the subduing of human nature that it might resonate with the nature of God (Philippians 3:20). Whenever this truth would be embraced by a human heart, that heart would at last find itself at home, around God’s family table, where it was destined eternally to be. Prodigal becomes a son not a servant

Jesus returned to earth in a glorified body that could never ever die again. It was without the constraints of a limited lower order physical body, but it could be seen and recognized as a natural body. In this spiritual yet natural body Jesus could appear anywhere and at any time. He could feel and be touched, could breathe and eat, and walk and talk, all of which he did when he resumed his earthly visit. He came back and saw again the bewilderment and confusion in this world of uncertainty that people cling to so fervently, and he wanted to see all this change. He arrived in Jerusalem and heard that the temple priests had fabricated a story that his body had been stolen by the disciples and that they had overcome the temple guards and raided the tomb. He also heard that his disciples were still doubting that he had risen from the dead, even though some of them had come to the tomb and seen it empty, and some women had spoken to the angels.

He set off walking from Jerusalem in the direction of Galilee, where he had said he would meet with his disciples. It was then that he saw the two men walking together in serious discussion and he recognized them. They were men who had often come to listen to him and ask questions along with the other disciples. He greeted them and joined them as they walked, but Holy Spirit had supernaturally veiled their eyes from recognizing him. He listened as they spoke and detected the same mood of bewilderment, if not depression, that seemed to be hanging over everybody. He politely commented that they seemed to be bothered about something that was going on locally, and he asked what that might be.

The one called Cleopas gave Jesus a puzzled look and said to Jesus that he must be the only visitor in Jerusalem that hadn’t heard about what had happened. So when Jesus asked Cleopas to spell out what he meant the two men smiled at each other and the other man began to patiently explain about the man called Jesus, a great man whom they had both followed and believed in. They enthusiastically recounted some of the miracles he had worked, and that he was a prophet, the greatest of them all. Cleopas broke in and added that Jesus stood up for justice, and taught them about God. They thought he was going to turn the world upside down and make everything new for them. Jesus pushed them further for more details and they said they had expected that there would be freedom and prosperity for the Jews for a start.

There was a pause, then one of them gave a sigh and told Jesus how the temple priests had convicted Jesus as a criminal and how he was crucified by Pontius Pilate, and that today was the third day since these things happened. When Jesus asked them to explain the significance of the third day the two men looked at one another awkwardly and one of them shrugged and said that the man Jesus had said he would rise from the dead after three days. Cleopas took up the story again and explained that some of the women even went to the tomb and found it empty and reported they saw two angels who said he was alive, and that some of his very own disciples also went to the tomb and found it empty. He too shrugged as he finished talking.

Jesus nodded and remained silent for a few paces as he walked alongside the two men. He then very pointedly asked them why on earth they didn’t just believe what they had been told by Jesus himself. The other man condescendingly and a little impatiently, replied that they hadn't seen anything, so what were they expected to believe? It was then that Jesus quietly declared to them that the time was coming when they would believe even though they didn’t see. He then began to speak about all the Scriptures concerning himself. He spoke in detail of the Plan of Father to send The Son into the world. He taught them from the words of Scripture about prophesies which outlined the details of his birth, and his life and death, and his resurrection. Something happened in their hearts as they listened to him, and the time flew by, and the next thing they knew they were close to Emmaus, which was their destination.

They didn't want Jesus to stop talking so they appealed to him to stay with them, even though he told them he was going further. They asked him to at least stay and have a meal, so Jesus accepted their offer. During the meal Jesus took some bread, and gave thanks for it, and as he broke the bread their eyes were opened and immediately they recognized who he was. This was the ordinary, extraordinary moment, sitting at a table, life happening, very natural yet very spiritual, eye to eye heart to heart. Jesus heard Father speaking to him from heaven, telling him that this was the way it was going to be. Holy Spirit would be the one who would open their eyes to see him and know him as he really was, and that was the way The Plan would be implemented from heaven to earth. Jesus then heard Holy Spirit whisper to him; “People will speak the truth about you, and I will reveal you to them.”
The next moment Jesus vanished from their sight

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IN THE WORLD
What does it mean to be in the world? I said last week that the world does things to us. But we live in the beauty of an ordered creation, whose amazing life and substance bless us, and which must be appreciated for what it is, and be enjoyed and given thanks for what God provides for us in it. It was faultless in the beginning – a gift, a garden, where something bad happened, and all creation suffered.
The world’s problem is that there are people in it. There is the disorder of human minds alienated from the life of God. But there is also in those same people the wholesome gift of a conscience, the gift of the image of God in people of no faith, who do good and virtuous things in the world (Romans 2:15(%?).

Nonetheless the whole world lies in darkness – and that is the dark veil of a mindset of separation from God that was set firm at the moment of the fall of man, and which only light and truth, grace and faith and love can remedy. Hence you, in it! So while the world does things to us, we can do something for it.
Ecclesiasties 9:11 the race is not to the swift… but time and chance happen to all men.

NOT OF THE WORLD
John 17:14… They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world…
We are not of (ek – source, origin, cause) the world in the sense that we do not get our origin, our spiritual roots or identity or meaning from the world. The things of the world must not shape our spirit. They can bless our souls by all means. But only the Spirit gives life and our spirit belongs to God. (1John 4:4) This means that we cannot think of ourselves as merely the product of our culture and environment and experiences that have set us on a course that we think controls us. Not so.
John 8:14 Jesus said I know where I am from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh (You think external things are what is REAL)

The story of humanity is in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15). It starts with being loved and at home, but he did not know or appreciate the love of the Father.
1John 2:15 If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
He pursues his own goals and takes from Dad what he can. He runs out of money (hope) and wants home (everyone’s journey is different). The big surprise comes when he reaches home. He realizes that Father’s love, and home, are both waiting for him and that’s what matters. Were there any material possessions left for him? He had what matters, the Fathers love.

John 17:14 I have given them Your word; and the world despises them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. As You sent Me into the world, so I send them into the world.
That is what we are sent into the world with, like Jesus was. All the power, purpose and healing come from his merciful love, and we are armed with unshakable faith – Father is calling people home, and Jesus is bringing home his sheep. Just as Jesus came not to condemn but to save. Your un-condemning faith as a co-labourer changes you to change your world. All things are being shaken. Not all things will be changed, but many things will be broken down so change can occur.

 

Belonging

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OLD TESTAMENT BELONGING

Israel was God’s holy nation, chosen by Him and belonging to Him. No other tribe or nation had this distinct status of belonging, and Israel was not evangelical, not required to bring other tribes and nations into Israel. Their purpose was to bring forth the Messiah and to give him to the world and to be God’s living witness to the fact that God did exist and that He showed Himself strong on their behalf. God was known as the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ and in order to keep belonging they were required to honour the covenant of the Law and the sacrifices given through Moses. When they disobeyed there were consequences of ‘not belonging’, many times, Babylon included.
So Israel had to behave (faithfulness to the Law and sacrifices), then believe (The prophets), then they belonged, (experienced being His People).

NEW TESTAMENT BELONGING

Belong, believe, behave.
Now everyone belongs to the Father through Jesus. All of creation has its meaning in Him. The process is now reversed. We all now belong, in Christ, including Israel, because everyone is included. It is when we know that, that we can believe, and when we believe and trust we can lovingly behave. If we don’t know then we can’t believe, or experience true belonging. Acts 17:28, 2Corinthians 5:14, Ephesians 2:4, 1Timothy 4:10.
We believe we belong by hearing His Word (Romans 8:16… who has believed our report?), and we can then live by faith, believing and trusting in a loving God. We can then respond to God in love and then become free to love one another.

We can tell people they belong – that is evangelism – that is ‘calling - inviting’ them.
We can tell people what to believe – The New Covenant – that is ‘faithing’ them.
We can show people how to lovingly behave, by example – that is discipling them.

The Holy Spirit transforms them. 2Peter 1:3

 

 

 

 

 

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At the moment of his death the cosmos convulsed. An earthquake tore a searing gash into the mountainside and people were toppled off their feet. Rocks split apart and the graves and tombs on a nearby hill cracked open (Matthew 27:52). People ran in fear from the place, but they did not know where to go. At that moment there were priests in the temple about to sacrifice the Passover lamb. When the knife pierced the sacrificial animal the priests were thrown off their feet by the earthquake. The temple shook as huge stones fell from the parapets and the great veil in the temple proper, which separated the place of God’s presence from the rest of the temple was lightning torn from top to bottom. The priests fled in panic as tempest swirled through the city.

Lucifer’s dark mind was being assaulted by a force he had not felt before. It was a desperate feeling of failure and futility. What was going wrong? Jesus was dying with a magnificent hope, not a dark and dreadful despair. The offering of Jesus’ spirit to Father God had released a tangible power into the universe. Lucifer turned to the three archons and shouted. “Let's get out of here, something’s wrong.”

He tried to flee back into the darkness but a huge bolt of lightning from the throne room gathered him up and catapulted him downwards. He was traveling face down at a furious speed, and for a split second he thought he saw a burning lake beneath him. It struck him with horror, and he believed he must have imagined it. He was turned on his back and drawn up with the same speed into the darkness above, and then turned back onto his face as he found himself again being plummeted downwards.

The Prince of Darkness now realized that this man’s body, which had just been destroyed on Calvary had contained no fault or sin, and therefore could no longer be kept captive in this lower world. Jesus again recalled what had been written in the Psalms. You will not let my soul rest in the grave, you will not let your Holy One see destruction. (Psalm 16:10)

As Jesus hung on the cross and offered his spirit to his Father he felt his spirit being lifted up above his body. From there he saw the scene on Calvary and all the people standing around, still looking at his dead body hanging on the cross, and he saw Centurion call for the lance. He also saw the bolt of lightning and Lucifer being caught in it and hurled downwards. He then began to travel downwards himself, and knew he was on a mission of great purpose. Below him was a place called Paradise, and next to Paradise was a place called Hades (Luke 16:19).

Jesus descended to these places. Paradise was where there were millions of souls who had been waiting for him from the beginning of time. These had lived their lives on earth in hope, many of them guided by the Commandments through Moses, but many simply by a good conscience, God having written law upon their hearts (Romans 2:15). They were locked away from eternity till eternity would now come to get them. He would also visit Hades, the grave, the prison of lost hope.

Lucifer had thought that all he had to do was get Jesus killed as a human being and Jesus would then be forever locked away from human life and from God life. When darkness entered our world and human beings began to live as spiritually separated in their minds from the Life of God (Eph 4:17), Lucifer laid claim to the physical death and spiritual separation of every human being. But death could not demand payment for something it did not own. It did not own the perfection of the sinless life of virtue resident in Jesus’ body. The moment Jesus died a cosmic law of sin and death was overturned and became the cosmic law of the Spirit of life in Christ. Jesus then proclaimed to all those prisoners of time the plan of Father in sending him to cancel sin and to bring new life, and to lead captivity captive by setting prisoners free. Many listened and many heard. (1Peter 3:19). Jesus sat with Abraham and Joseph and many others in Paradise, talking and resting with them. He was to wait there until the end of the third day. It was toward the end of that third day when suddenly everyone’s conversation began to fall off and diminish into silence, All faces looked up and around as if to detect and determine what that sound was and where it came from. It was beautiful music that danced with itself on waves of exuberant joy. It surged and tumbled about them and was then overlaid with a swell of magnificent singing which became stronger and louder as hosts of flying angels swept into their presence. Jesus stood to greet the two chief angels, and it was then that he was given a set of two keys. These were the keys of hell and death. With one of the keys darkness would one day be locked away and set aside for another encounter, reserved for an appointed day at the end of time. With the other key he would now unlock the prisoners of the past from their patient pause and take many into an eternal heaven.

When Jesus turned the key of freedom in the prison gate a tremor shook every particle of matter in the universe with a frequency lower and more profound than anything ever experienced in all of creation. Power from Father and Holy Spirit in heaven was released into and through Jesus that changed the nature of every atom of matter in existence and brought it into contingent union (in oneness with him but dependent upon him) with Jesus. Prior to this moment, all of creation was separate to the creator, but now Jesus, truly belonging to creation and truly being Creator of that creation, had joined creation to the Creator for all time, to become upheld by His word of power. The man/God Jesus had become the central and pivotal reality of the Universe of his creation, alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the cause and conclusion of all history (Ephesians 1:19-23, Colossians 1:16), reaching backwards into the past and on into eternity.
This was the Power of the Resurrection, creation into the Creator (Hebrews 1:3) who was now to resume his creation majesty. The extraordinary and astonishing wonder of this phenomenon was that this resurrection power would be graced into humanity, to reside in ordinary people, who would receive it from a loving and gracious God. This power would be the power of faith that worked through love. So now Jesus (as creature and creator) is in touch with everything in the universe in a new dimension. He has total freedom and authority to intervene through Holy Spirit into anything that is happening on earth, and we can be partners with him in this.

The time came for them to leave and Jesus led them on a triumphant upward journey, to their new home, his home. The entire company was escorted by Michael and Gabriel and the hosts of angels around them as they ascended ever upwards until they reached the earth, from where they, and he most recently, had come. There they all stopped for a brief period of time, because there were things for Jesus to do there. The first thing that he had to do was to go to his tomb where his earthly body lay in its shroud. Michael and Gabriel flew before Jesus to the tomb and found the guards there that the temple priests had appointed to stand watch at the tomb. As the angels alighted the ground shook and the massive stone rolled away as a huge burst of lightning hit the place sending the guards reeling headlong to the ground. They leapt up in fright and bolted.

Jesus entered his tomb and united himself again to the wounded shell of his body, leaving the headpiece and shroud lying separated from one another in the tomb (John 20:7). Michael and Gabriel waited inside the tomb while Jesus walked bodily from the temporary resting place, out into the garden. He walked about, recalling vividly the events that had so recently taken place nearby. He remembered his time of kneeling in an agony of prayer, when he accepted his cup of unbearable suffering. A very strange thing was also happening in other parts of Jerusalem. Hundreds of souls who had just accompanied Jesus from below and who had recently died were making the briefest of appearances to their loved ones (Matthew 27:52). At that same time some women had prepared oils and spices to anoint Jesus’ body. On their way to the tomb they were discussing the problem of how to move the huge stone that covered the entrance. When they arrived they were astonished to see that it had been moved and the guards were nowhere to be seen. They peered inside the tomb and were met by the majestic appearance of Michael and Gabriel, sitting in the place where Jesus had been laying.
”Are you looking for Jesus? Gabriel said. He has come back to life as he said he would. Go and tell the disciples that he will be coming to see them, and that they are to wait for him in Galilee.”

The women ran to tell the disciples but one of them dropped behind and walked slowly through the garden, still confused and weeping. She almost collided with Jesus who was also walking in the garden, and she apologized, not recognizing him, thinking he was the gardener. But he called her by her name and said,“ It's alright Mary, it's me, it really is.”
When she recognized him she ran towards him but he held up his hand and said, “Please do not hold me because I cannot be touched until I have presented the complete offering of my body to my Father. I will be with you very soon, so go and tell the others.”

Jesus then regrouped with all those he had set free and the magnificent procession began to move in splendor with its escort of glorious angels, from the grave to the sky. As their ascension took them closer and closer to the throne room a mighty voice could be heard proclaiming, “Open up gates, and let the King of Glory come in.” At this command the heavenly music began. The sound of thousands of pipes, the voices of hundreds of harmonies, the deepest of vibrating bass and the ascending range of every stringed instrument created a majestic symphony. The cascading melody and the volumes of resonance pulsed with rhythm, flooding and receding in this moment of triumph. Jesus had come home.
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Your freedom is the surrender of your freedom into the majestic freedom of God. Your authority is the surrender of your absolute autonomy to his rule and authority. You then have a share in his authority as your faith works things according to his best and most loving purpose for your life, which means that past and future are reordered as God’s love bears into all things.

Matthew 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Romans 2:15 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, have a law within themselves, and who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
1Peter 3:19 But though his body died, his spirit lived on, and it was in the spirit that he visited the spirits in prison and preached to them-- spirits of those who, long before in the days of Noah, had refused to listen to God, though he waited patiently for them while Noah was building the ark.
Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he sustains everything in the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Ephesians 1:19-21. how vibrant and powerful is that divine energy that comes from God to us when we have faith that he is the creator and generator of this supernatural power 20. Which exploded into reality when he raised Jesus from the dead and took him into heaven to sit next to him at his right hand. 21. This heavenly place and position took Jesus as God and man above any other force or realm of authority that can be named, whether on earth or in the heavens - and he has become the center of all consequence and meaning in the universe.
Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is over all things, and in him all things hold together.

 

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