“Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you had known the gift of God and who it is saying to you,
‘Give Me to drink,’ you would have asked Him,
and He would have given to you living water”
It is as we come to know Him that prayer rises for the “living waters” of Christ. He becomes the cry and the desire of our heart. He does not measure out this gift of living water; it flows from the abundance of His heart. Our partaking, our seeking and our asking will be in proportion to us knowing who He is. He is ever pouring out yet never running dry. His grace and mercy are as endless as the love from which they spring. The greater our thirst the deeper are the waters of His Supply. Continue reading “Effectual Prayers – Part Ten – Knowing Jesus”
Thought for Today
“Trust in him at all times; ye people,
pour out your heart before him:
God is a refuge for us. Selah.”
Trust is the foundation of obedience, the essential basis of our relationship with Him. Relationship with God grows in proportion to our trust. Like all of the attributes of His grace it is a quality developed over time.
We can only respond to the “go” of God according to the depth of trust we have in Him. It is our obedience to Him that reveals the true quality of our trust. As we obey in the little things our trust in Him grows for the greater things. A lack of trust produces narrow thinking, stunted perspectives and lives with little effect upon the world around them. The growth of trust produces a life that will “trust Him at ALL times” and in all circumstances.
“David said moreover,
The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion,
and out of the paw of the bear,
he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine”
1 Samuel 17:37
What do we see in the obstacles that stand before us? Giants or opportunities?
An Open Heaven?
PURITY OF HEART
“Truly, truly, I say to you,
you will see the heavens opened”
An open heaven is progressive in its nature and outworking; the experience of it in our lives is directly related to the condition of our hearts.
Blessed are the pure in heart:
for they shall see God
The ability to see and understand the ways of God is an issue of the heart not the mind. The heart is the lens through which we “see” God. Its purity of motive and intent is an essential requirement to the knowing and understanding of HIS WAYS. In the religious world today there is very little concern over WHY a thing is done. The actions of Ananias and Sapphira go unchallenged today because in large part we do not concern ourselves with motives and intentions. As a result we see very little in terms of depth of understanding or truth. Holiness has no real meaning in our day because of the “teachings and concepts” of a worldly gospel. When will we realize that the judgment on Ananias and Sapphira is a New Testament reality? God HAS NOT CHANGED. Where truth becomes a mere religious teaching God hides Himself; the greatest judgment a people can ever experience. But those who desire to see HIM will pursue a pure heart.
“…for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed”
1 SAMUEL 2:3
All our actions are weighed in the balances of His Holiness. When things are done to please people, to garner the praises of men, or to seem spiritual, the thing done has little value in the eyes of HIM that burns with the PURE flame of heaven (Revelation 1:14). A pure heart is when we live our lives to please HIM and honor HIM in all that we do.
“For the word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit,
and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner
of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
And there is no creature hidden from His sight,
but all things are naked and open
to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account”
HEBREWS 4:12 – 13
The recognition of our need for purity of heart is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He is the HOLY SPIRIT; not just the Spirit of God but the HOLY SPIRIT of God. It is in a living relationship with HIM that we realize that Holiness is not simply a nice religious word but that it is the ESSENTIAL requirement of any heart to grow in the knowing of our God.
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness,
without which no man shall see the Lord”
“This desire for heart purity
is a creation of the Holy Spirit at work in the heart”
An Open Heaven?
“Truly, truly, I say to you,
you will see the heavens opened”
An open heaven is a progressive life of revelation and change; it is dependent upon our response to His leading in order for us to grow and develop in the purpose that HE has for us. An Open Heaven is the result of a life of Obedience to Him. Without obeying Him we are sure to live a life of stagnation and impotence. This is no destination worthy of the God who has called us with an eternal and infinite call. His purposes for us are also eternal.
“That in the ages to come
he might show the exceeding riches of his grace
in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus”
An ever opening heaven should be the normal Christian experience of every child of God. The things of heaven should be becoming more real and precious to us while the things of earth will, in direct proportion, become dim and distant as we behold the wonder and glory of our God. This life of the ever opening heaven is only realized through the life of obedience. In truth faith and obedience are inseparable. Sadly in our day faith has little to do with obedience for we have separated the two to such an extent that what one believes has little or no consequence to what one does.
Whether it is in the Old or New Testament, the accounts of glory discovered by men and women, who on the basis of obedience were afforded the unique revelations of the Most High God, are there for our learning and admonition. Had not Jeremiah gone to the Potter’s House he would not have received the message of God for Israel. Had not the man with the withered hand responded to Jesus (in the midst of great unbelief) he would not have been healed. Had not the disciples got into the boat they would not have seen the Christ walking on the water in the midst of the storm. Had not the widow begun to pour oil out into the empty vessels her poverty would have continued and her sons would have been taken. Had not the priests stepped into the river that was flooding there would have been no way for the children of Israel to enter into the promised land. Had not Phillip gone to Gaza he would have missed the appointment with the Eunuch. Stagnation sets into the lives of God’s people when obedience is replaced by religious concepts and teachings. The open heaven becomes closed when men no longer expect nor receive the afforded grace of the WAY of GOD. The ever increasing dynamic of HIS life in us is energized by the glimpses of His Glory as we obey Him in the secret places of our hearts. Fresh revelations of Him in our daily lives keep the warmth of His presence alive to continue to follow Him wherever He leads.
The necessity of the Open Heaven is the means by which we become that heavenly people. It is the essential aroma of those who follow the Lamb in the reality of their lives. There is an unmistakable hope that beats within the hearts of those who endure by the seeing of Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). The Open Heaven causes men and women to believe and know that they are to participate in His return. They are not just waiting without purpose but that they are a PART OF HIS RETURN; through the life of Obedience they are hastening His appearing.
“…when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared”
God’s judgment on the earth waited for Noah to finish the Ark!
“Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there”
God’s judgment on Sodom waited on Lot to leave the city!
Jesus said HIS return would be as it was in the days of Noah and Lot. Can we not see and understand the implications of our life in Him?
Peter enjoins us to ever be…
“…looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God”
The Holy Spirit here is telling us to “HASTEN” the day of His return.
“…and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled”
The Open Heaven is necessary for us to see that through the power of His Faith in us we are HIS BODY and HIS LIGHT in the earth. We are bone of His bone and as such we are to KNOW HIS WILL and walk in it.
Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
See then that you walk circumspectly,
not as fools but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be unwise,
but understand what the will of the Lord is
EPHESIANS 5:14 – 17
“The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters
is not intellect, but obedience.”
An Open Heaven?
“Truly, truly, I say to you,
you will see the heavens opened*”
How wonderful is the spontaneous response of Jesus to Nathanael’s heartfelt declaration “Rabbi, You are the Son of God!” An “open heaven” is really the ability of an individual to see and understand the things of God; to see past the appearance of a thing and to see the substance and reality of that which is real, eternal and true. The open heaven is not available based on our intellect, cleverness or schooling. It is open to all on the basis of Faith, Obedience and Purity of heart.
“By faith we understand…”
Without the faculty of FAITH the word remains sealed and uninviting. It holds facts and doctrinal statements that we may use to form a religious guideline by which we navigate this world with an understanding of its precepts. While there is great benefit to be garnered by these we are merely sailing upon the surface of the waters of life that he has for us. We can study the scriptures and put together sermons based upon a topical analysis of them with some profit to the hearers. There remains however that hidden dynamic pulsating with the breath and life of the Son. It is the precious function of FAITH to enable us to see THE SON in the reading of the WORD. While some see facts, concepts and precepts others see and hear the Living God and because of this they are pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land. They feel the futility of man’s ways and efforts and the absolute necessity of why Christ was crucified. They know that without the branch abiding in the vine they will wither and die. They are no longer content to dwell and gather in temples made with hands for they have heard and seen a LIVING TEMPLE “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”. The Word is no longer a historical document, no longer an ethereal book that tells us of things to come after we die. For those who by FAITH survey its sacred pages it is THE TRUTH that is LIVING and RELEVANT TODAY. As it states in the Book of Hebrews “TODAY if you will HEAR HIS VOICE…” Those who are content with the status quo, the division and sectarianism and the powerlessness of the religion of today, have not touched the heart and cry of the SON. Those who are not broken over the carnality, strife, emulations, and the spiritual poverty of the North American Church have not felt the heart of the Son; that same Son who wept over Jerusalem and the fate that awaited her. They could not see HIM of whom the scriptures spoke for they had not the faith of Abraham. Jesus said that “Abraham SAW HIS DAY and was glad”. Faith ever sees and beholds the Living Christ. An OPEN HEAVEN is the fruit and the recompense of the wonder of HIS FAITH living and breathing within our hearts.
“The Bible without the Holy Spirit
is a sundial by moonlight”
*Spoken of the heavens, to open the heavens or to have the heavens opened or divided so that celestial things become manifest (Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:21; John 1:51; Acts 7:56; 10:11; Rev. 19:11) SPIROS ZODHIATES (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament)
This has indeed been a weekend of remembrance for me. Perhaps not for the same reasons that most people take time to remember today, but a time to reflect nonetheless. It was three years ago today that my father-in-law, a veteran, passed away…the first of our parents to go. Little did I know that it would also be November, one year later, that I would lose my mom. The pain of losing her has eased slightly only because I keep reminding myself that she is so much happier where she is and would not come back if given the choice! I still miss her every day and cannot help but wish she could have met our darling granddaughter, her namesake, who is now 17 months old and filled with such wonder at everything around her. I think Mom would have enjoyed seeing me as a grandmother as much as I enjoy watching our son as a father. It is truly a joy! It may be that I am more keenly feeling Mom’s absence because I just returned from the funeral of yet another of her lifetime friends. There have been so many in the last couple of years that I cannot help but picture all of them greeting and welcoming the newcomer to heaven. I am not sure how theologically sound this is but it is where my mind goes when I hear that another mother-figure has gone on. I probably avoided funerals in the past. I was so touched by those who made the effort to attend Mom’s, and surprised by some that did not, that I find I have a different perspective; I actually want to go and be part of the ceremony of saying goodbye. So it was that my sister and I drove 4 hours each way to attend the funeral of Mom’s friend a couple of days ago. Sitting in the church, sun streaming in the windows, piano playing, I watched as people were seated and wondered how they fit in with her story. The family processional came in, her husband in front. I tried to picture what he would have looked like as a young man and she as his young bride; how much happier that day must have been! There was a solo by an old black man who perched on a stool beside the pianist. He sang “Home Coming Day” a song I have never heard before about sunrises and sunsets. The even older man sitting in the pew in front of me wiped tears from his eyes and I wondered at his age if he thinks about how many sunrises are left in his life. Later, as a congregation, we sang “Now the Day is Over” a very monotone and almost depressing hymn that I remember learning on the piano as a child. Hymns often touch me in such a deep place that I am moved to tears without warning perhaps because they were such a part of my childhood. The last one we sang together was “Never Alone”. I literally do not remember hearing this for decades. There were no hymnals with the words to follow along, but the chorus came flooding back:
“No never alone, no never alone,
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone.”
I was not the only one who remembered the chorus only. The old man sitting in front of me belted it out in a VERY loud voice each time it came around. There was something so touching about this. I felt like he was singing from a personal knowledge of this promise in his life. It was a reminder to me that His promises are real and that these were far more than just long forgotten lyrics of a song. I am sure the family had carefully chosen each song to be sung that day. Most likely these were songs that were particularly meaningful to their loved one. This was a woman who by all accounts, and from my own memories, truly loved and cared for children. She raised four of their own but also “babysat” (before there was such a thing as daycare) countless children through the years. Some of them would grow up, marry and have their own kids, and bring them back to “Auntie” to look after. Many of these kids, now in their twenties and thirties, were ushers at the funeral. Some of them spoke very movingly of the effect she had in their lives and how she showed them the love of a stable home. One mother told of having to find a sitter for her three week old baby because she was called back to work and had no choice. She was greeted at the door where her baby was scooped into loving arms and her mind put at ease. I guess this is the part of funerals that I find so intriguing. I may have known her as “my mom’s friend” but she was so much more to so many others. We met people who had known here for more than fifty years and some who had only know her a few years and they all had the same things to say about their friendship. I left feeling privileged to have known her and to meet others who knew her in so many different capacities. I guess that’s the point. I would not have known all these things about her life had I not attended her memorial service and I would have been the poorer for it. So when someone asks what I did this long weekend… I’ll tell them I went to a great funeral.
The Abundant Promises of God
“I had not thought to see your face;
but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”
These are the words of a dying Jacob uttered to Joseph as he beheld Joseph’s sons Manassah and Ephraim. This conniver and schemer from birth was transformed into Israel (Prince with God) through the abundant mercies and infinite wisdom of God. We see him here near the end of his journey settled in the peace of a God that surpassed all of his expectations. Through all the bitter trials and testings, the infighting of his sons and the seeming loss of Joseph, the final giving up of Benjamin to a rough and unknown Egyptian ruler, and the passing away of his beloved Rachael, we now see the realization of God’s purpose. The confrontation with God at Peniel, the holding on to the ONE with whom he struggled even while he was being broken and afflicted to the point of becoming crippled, had at long last brought forth a man who knew his God. A man who could now see clearly that what God had promised He would more than supply. His hope no longer rested in circumstances or in men for he trusted in the ONE alone who could see him through. This God was no longer to be known as the God of Abraham and Isaac; HE would now be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac and JACOB! Such things are written “for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” and ‘‘Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow”. In other words they are written for our learning and our encouragement!
The very same God who fulfilled His Word and Promises given to our forefathers is the very same God who has now promised us greater things through the death and resurrection of His Only Son that we might take strong encouragement for the day in which we live.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us…”