Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Garden Party with the King

An invitation arrived in the mail. It was addressed to me:

You are cordially invited to the presence of the King for a garden party.

Of course, I was delighted to go and I planned to wear my best dress, to honour the King. On the appointed day, I arrived to the meadow. The sun was bright and the temperature was exactly as I like it. I saw the King in the distance, waiting at a table. I walked across the field of grass and wild flowers, the colours magnified and exaggerated by the sun.

As I approached the table, I saw the King was none other than my Beloved and he beckoned me to sit. Others milled about and at once I knew who they were, although we had never met. They were from stories of old and though they seemed to know me, they did not speak or cause my attention to stray from the face of my Beloved, the King.

We sat down and tea was served. It was like gold and I wondered how it would taste. It was hot and sweetened with honey. I wanted to drink and have some more. My Beloved, the King, understood my desire and touched the teapot next to him. Eat, drink and have your fill, he said. The time was merry and joyful. It was a minute or a day, I don’t know. It didn’t matter because I was with my Beloved, the King and I was his favourite. I was rapt in the peace of his presence and I closed my eyes to remember the moment.

When I looked again, others had joined us at the table. I knew them; they were treasures to me and my inheritance. I was filled with gladness to share the generousity of my Beloved, the King. The moment held on the vibration of sound, suspended and prolonged. Do you love me more than these, he asked. Yes, I tried to say, but I couldn’t and I hung my head. I want to, my beloved, my King.

When I looked again, my Beloved, the King was gone and the table was at the foot of a mountain. It seemed to stretch to the heavens. Sitting in the place where my Beloved, the King had sat was a lamb who was slain. Its eyes were full of life and it looked on me with a ferocity of love I have never experienced before. A lion was seated next to me, and I wondered if I should be afraid but the look in the lamb’s eyes told me it was safe.

The lamb looked at me and then spoke. It said, I love you more than these. Then he offered me a cup to drink. The aroma was intoxicating and I wanted to gulp the liquid down because suddenly I realized my throat was dry and parched. Even a drop from the cup would restore and satisfy me. Will you drink from this cup, the lamb who was slain asked me. Then he awaited my reply.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What's Your Battle Strategy?

You want to know something? We are all different. I know that intellectually but sometimes I become confused and I ask God, “Why am I not like that person, or this person?” The Lord reminds me of the mix match of apostles he chose – sensitive, brash, blue collar, white collar, strong in finances, strong in encouragement, ones who like to lead, and others who like to work behind the scenes. We are not supposed to replicate each other; we should complement each other for the glory of God.

We’re in a battle. Some of us know better than others, how intense the battle is. Each side of the battle has soldiers, commanders and battle equipment. This week on Kingdom Bloggers, we’re describing how God has designed us to fit into the overall battle strategy of the Lord. Which one of is a battle strategist? Who is a sniper? Read along for the week and offer your insights about who you are in the battle.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Psalms for Sunday - XXXIII

In the quiet morning, my Beloved speaks to me; he whispers to my soul:

I love your presence. I long for it and covet every moment your attention is turned away. You are the fullness of my joy and the capacity of my love for you is complete.  Come with me and you will experience it.

Come with me and I will delight your senses.  I will wake up your soul, your spirit and your body. The softest touch you’ve experienced before is as a hammer blow but the soft I will show you is nothing you’ve thought about before. It envelopes you and carries you, it is that strong but light like the air you breathe. It is light - glorious and bright. Come with me and you will experience it.

Come with me and I sing songs of love to you - musical notes suspended, dancing. You listen for sound, straining your ear. You can hardly understand because it’s not sound but smell you encounter. It smells sweet, like a fragrant aroma of a precious memory. I love you. Come with me and you will experience it.

Come with me and fill your stomach with tastes so divine the flavour lingers for a lifetime. Taste once and you will desire nothing else. Just one taste and you will seek my goodness for eternity. I give it to you, without limit because I am limitless. Nothing will be held back from you for all that I have is yours. Come with me and you will experience it.

Come with me to place beyond your experiences. I will revel in your delight of this world where everything is available for you. Come with me and you will experience it.

Come with me and you will experience it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Guess How Much I Love You?

At house church this week, during corporate worship the leader invited us each to sing (or speak) our own words of praise and worship to the Lord. I began to tell the Lord if I would gather all the beautiful jewels in the world and bring them to him as a token of my love for him it would not be enough. Without missing a beat I heard him say to my spirit the value of all the jewels in the world were not equal to the value of his love for me. The ferocity of his love for me, particularly in that moment, took my breath away. I am so loved by the Father and I love because he first loved me.

I am my Father’s favourite and I know, without a doubt, you are his favourite, too; not only does he love you, he likes you too.

Last year during a weekend outreach at a large carnival and local fair, more than 300 people came to our tent because of the sign that offered ‘Free Spiritual Reading’. The Bible says God’s thoughts toward us are as numerous as the grains of sand on the sea and by working in a team 3 or 4 we ask Father God to reveal something for the guest sitting in front of us. Time and again, Father God wanted to make them aware of how they are loved beyond measure and he knows them intimately. The thoughts of God revealed to us are always pleasant and always good and most people believe it because of the information we knew (by divine knowledge) about their personal life.

I was surprised how frequently the message was so basic – you are loved by God. I asked the Lord about it, thinking I must be hearing the wrong thing but he said to me, “If they don’t know I love them, then they won’t believe my plans for them are good.” Right. Love comes first.

Some friends of mine are contemplating divorce. It’s a tough place to be. I know because I’ve been there and well-intentioned Christians offer helpful advice, such as, “God hates divorce.” Judgement abounds when others are not living by the law, but we forget the law was fulfilled in Christ and more than God hates divorce, he loves you. He loves the husband and the wife. He loves the one initiating the separation and he loves the one who will do anything to keep it together. God loves, period.

A friend was concerned for another friend who was had scheduled an abortion and asked me what to do. God said to tell the mother, she is loved and there is more to life. Father God wanted to speak life to the mother. After the encounter the Lord said to me to make an offer to drive the expectant mother to the abortion clinic. I argued about it because I am pro-life but the Lord said to me the mother would need to know she is still loved by Father God, and abortion wouldn’t change it. God loves, period.

Another friend was a heavy drug user when she became a Christian. It took her 8 years to realize it was wrong. If I had known her 8 years ago, I would have judged but I asked the Lord about it. I mean – sex, drugs & rock n’ roll – those are the “big” sins. The Lord told me he was wooing her, and speaking to her heart for those years, the behaviour was secondary to the heart. God love, period.

One of my favourite children’s story is “Guess How Much I Love You”. Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare are comparing their love for each other. I still can’t read the story without tears welling up in my eyes.

There is a similar story that speaks of a love like that. It’s called the Bible and it says, Father God loved you, but he was separated because of sin so he made a plan to sacrifice his son, Jesus so we can be reconciled and live forever with Father God.

I asked Jesus how much He loved me.
He answered, "This much."
Then He stretched out His arms and died for me.
 God loves, period. You are loved, and you are his favourite.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Do You Do, When the Decision is Important?

When you have many decisions to make, how much time do you spend listening to God for the answer? If I’m honest with myself, a lot of the time I spend with God is spent by my talking and filling in the space, and then after getting nothing but silence from the other end, I make my own decisions. It’s not the most effective way to achieve a peaceful decision. Sometimes things work out but often I create needless toil and effort than if I had waited a little longer to hear clearly from God.

Fortunately for me (and anyone else who can relate to making rash decisions on their own), Jesus models a different way.

Mark 1:35-38 offers an example of how Jesus made decisions – by solitary prayer to listen to the Father and seek his direction from him. If we back up even earlier, we learn from Jesus he understood the importance of by-passing his natural decision-making abilities and rely on the spiritual direction from the Father. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus responds to temptation by saying we rely on the rhema (word) of God, not only on natural provisions.

The rhema of God is the personal utterance for you, in that moment. It’s personal and direct and it takes practice to hear it. Some Christians live their whole life without learning to recognize the rhema of God. Jesus indicates how important it is to sit and listen to God when he rebukes Martha for being worried about the preparation and gives Mary a “free pass” to sit and listen and learn (Luke 10:38-42).

I’m challenged by Jesus’ example in Mark, chapter 1. I’ve spent the last four years becoming comfortable in his presence but I sense the season is coming to an end. In my former pattern, I am apt to move forward in the direction I think God is moving, although sometimes I’m mistaken and have to scramble to catch up again.

After Jesus had been moving in his ministry for some time in the local area, he inquired of the Father about the timing to move forward. After spending some early morning time with the Father, he was resolute in his next step – to move out to the nearby villages because is why he was on earth, to keep extending the kingdom of God.

Other examples of how Jesus listened to the direction of the Father at crucial times in his ministry are when he chose the 12 apostles from among his disciples (Luke 6:12-13), and before he went to the cross as he prayed at Gethsemane (Mark 14:32).

If Jesus didn’t do anything without the Father, how can we expect to manage? 

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