gifts

Taking Hold of God

IMG_8547-728x485.jpg

Abraham’s long-awaited son is finally born at age one-hundred. Can you imagine the joy, the awe, the wonder of that long-awaited son? Thirty years you wait for that child, and then he shows up; "This is my boy," Abraham would have said, "and it is this boy, and this boy only, through whom God's promise will come."

In Genesis 17, God had reiterated the promise and said that this time Abraham's descendants would be like the sand of the seashore. That's a lot bigger promise! We have to understand that all of Abraham’s spiritual hopes were in this boy. This is the boy through whom the line of the Messiah will come. If anything happens to Isaac, there's no Messiah. If there is no Messiah, Abraham is dead in his sin. If Abraham is dead in his sin, he goes to hell for eternity. There's a lot riding on this. I put it this way, Isaac is a big deal in the promises of God! And suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, this hope is tested or more like shattered!

In verse one, God comes to Abraham and says, “Abraham!” And Abraham says, “Oh, here am I.” Don't you love that? His response is so innocent, so beautiful, so naive, so responsive; He's totally unaware of what God is about to ask of him. Wait, did you hear the word, “ask”? That's a lie! God was not asking; it's an imperative verb. Doesn’t that make you want to cry for Abraham? God is commanding here; this is the mother of all tests. 

We're going to walk through this slowly; I want you to feel what's going on; I want you IN the passage...

God says, “Take your son.” What must Abraham have thought? God says, “Take your son,” and then look what He does, He keeps going with the superlatives; “Your son, your only son. Isaac, the one that you love.” Is God being mean here? No! He's helping Abraham out. How many of you know that when you go through a difficult time, you want somebody to understand what you're going through? You want somebody to hear you. You can go through it if you know there's somebody that gets it and that's what God is doing here. He's got his arm around Abraham. He's saying, “I get it. I get it. This is your boy. This is the ONLY boy. The only begotten boy, the beloved boy.” How come God gets it? Because a few centuries later, God's going to give his own boy. He’s saying, “I’m in your court Abraham. I know what I'm calling you to, son. I really, really do. I gave him to you, and now I want you to give him back to me.”

One writer says this was a “test of necessity." He has the conviction that Abraham had grown too fond of Isaac, that Isaac had taken the place of God in Abraham’s heart and that it could cause great harm to Abraham's walk of faith because the place reserved for God has been squeezed out by another. We don't know if that's true, but I have to wonder if you wait for a boy that long and that boy finally shows up, he's going to be precious in your heart.

Watchman Nee even commented along the same lines. Listen closely, please my friend, because this is all of us. He said “Isaac represents the many gifts of God's grace. Before God gives them to us our hands are empty, afterwards, they are full. Then sometimes God will reach out His hand to take ours in fellowship. He needs an empty hand to put into His, but when we received His gifts and are nursing them, our hands are full, and when God puts out His hand, we have no empty hand for Him to put His hand into. When that happens, we need to let go of the gift in order to take hold of God Himself.” And then Nee adds these very sobering words. “Isaac can be done without, God cannot.”

----------------------------
Each month, Pastor Frank writes a personal letter to a circle of his friends, much like the blog post you just read. If you'd like to receive it, signing up is easy:

Get on the list here.

Mansions

Is that what heaven is really all about? Living out our days in the hopes that we are one day going to get a huge house to live in?

Is that what heaven is really all about? Living out our days in the hopes that we are one day going to get a huge house to live in?

So what is God talking about when the New Testament speaks of us getting a mansion? Let's think about that for a moment. Is that what heaven is really all about? Living out our days in the hopes that we are one day going to get a huge house to live in? Let's not trivialize the heart and purpose of the Bible in such a way! The Apostle Paul did not say that there was "one thing" that he pressed on for - to get a big mansion! What did he say? My "ONE THING" is to KNOW CHRIST!

The passage on "mansions" is found in John 14. The key to understanding John 14 is to read it in light of John 13. CONTEXT!!!

In John 13, Jesus has told them that He is going to go away, and they cannot go with Him. They are saddened by this news, of course. But then He tells them to not be troubled because He is going to prepare a place for them, in the Father's house are many "mansions". In doing so, He says that He will return for them again, and receive them unto Himself, that where He is they will be also. The heart behind this passage is an intimate relationship, not a construction project.

What troubled them is separation. Once you have tasted God, you want all of God, and cannot stand the thought of separation from God. Now focus on the word "mansions".... the word is really dwelling places or as I would translate it "abidings". Jesus is going to prepare places for "abiding",  places where He and us can live together in union. And note that He says as soon as He prepares that place, He will return and we will be received unto Him.

May I suggest, that this has nothing to do with mansions in the sky that we have to wait for one day when we get to heaven in order for us to be able to have Jesus receive us! In the context, the place He went to prepare is us! Rom 6 tells us that He took us to the cross. There He killed our old man, our old sinful self and resurrected us brand new creations (II Cor 5:17). Having now been "prepared", having been made right, He the RIGHT ONE could now come back to us and live in us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Now He could receive us unto Himself so that we could be with Him (seated in Heaven right now Eph. 2:6) and so that He could be with us wherever we go. 

This is our true "ONE THING" --- to know Christ! The Greek word for "know" there is ginosko which means to know by experience. I do not believe that God made a bunch of big houses for us to dwell in in heaven, but I do believe He "prepared us" as the place of His own residence so that we could be with Him and experience Him forever.  And it all is starting right now and continuing in union with Him when we leave this earth.

WOW!

----------------------------
Enjoy this blog post?

If so, you'll probably really like Frank's monthly emails.
Get on the list here.

Don't Drive Too Quickly

If you race through the book of Philippians, you will see this wonderful truth in c. 4:19 that our God will supply all our need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus

If you race through the book of Philippians, you will see this wonderful truth in c. 4:19 that our God will supply all our need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus

It is a good thing to read through the Bible. It is a better thing to work slowly through the Bible. If I could illustrate it. You could drive the Yellowstone Park and be amazed. But if you hiked through Yellowstone you would be overwhelmed. When you race through the park you miss so much, but when you journey slowly you have the potential to discover so much more. 

If you race through the book of Philippians, you will see this wonderful truth in c. 4:19 that our God will supply all our need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. But you might not “see” how INCREDIBLY  WONDERFUL this declaration really is! Do not drive your car through this verse, walk very slowly through it with me.

Did you see it?

He said that He would meet our needs “according to His riches” – OH MY GOODNESS! The awe and wonder of his choice of words in that statement is overwhelming! 

Note that he did NOT say that God is going to provide for us “out of” His riches. As an illustration, if a millionaire decided to give you a gift “out of” his riches, he could give you a dollar, or even just a nickel and that would be giving “out of” his riches. That, however, is NOT what Paul said. He said God gives us “according to” His riches. So if a millionaire gave a gift to us “according to” His riches, he would be giving us a million dollars.

Do you see the difference?

What an incredible statement of how much the Father wants to do on our behalf as we journey through this world with our faith in Him. He wants to provide for us “according to” the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. He wants to give us Himself. Oh the wonder of all that He longs to be to us, but we could have missed the wonder if we drove too quickly through this verse. Never read the Bible casually my friend, read it intently and stand in awe of the God Who loves and cares for you so very much that He would provide for you “according to” all that He Himself is. 

WOW!

----------------------------
Enjoy this blog post?

If so, you'll probably really like Frank's monthly emails.
Get on the list here.

Eternity of Relationship

The constant eternal unfolding of an eternal and infinite God.

The constant eternal unfolding of an eternal and infinite God.

Heaven! What will it be like? Though no one knows for sure but the people who are there, we get many glimpses throughout the Bible as the Spirit describes what really cannot be described.

One thing I am convinced of is that it will certainly NOT BE THE ETERNAL CHURCH SERVICE IN THE SKY! Hallelujah for that!

I would describe it as THE GREAT ADVENTURE! The constant eternal unfolding of an eternal and infinite God. A bucket list that grows ever longer no matter how many things on that list we fulfill, experience, and enjoy! WOW!

One of the supreme things I believe that will bring us ECSTACY is simply the awe and wonder and sharing heaven in relationship with other people. What?

I know, when I think of relationships on planet earth, I think of hard work, masks, social niceties, --- I also think of AVOID! Yes, there are people that are hard to have a relationship with and we all know that we try and avoid such people. BE HONEST!

But in the kingdom, we will be enjoying the company of a glorified human being, one that if they showed up on this planet right now, we would be in danger of worshiping them, because they are so glorious. They will also be experiencing and expressing through their glorified person the VERY LIFE OF THE PERSON OF GOD flowing through them in unhindered fashion!

In them, I will be experiencing God Himself expressing Himself through their unique personhood like light flows through a prism! WOW!

In heaven, just sitting down for a cup of tea with another glorified human being is going to be SHEER ECSTACY!

What does the song say, "I can only imagine?"

-----------------
Enjoy this blog post?
If so, you'll probably really like Frank's monthly emails.
Get on the list here.

We All Have A Part To Play

So this is cool...

In I Cor 12, it tells us that God gave different gifts to different believers,

all in varying degree and function. Hmmmmm....

There is no one like us that can offer what we offer as an individually gifted believer to the rest of the body of Christ.

There is no one like us that can offer what we offer as an individually gifted believer to the rest of the body of Christ.

God gifted us uniquely as individual believers. There is no one like us that can offer what we offer as an individually gifted believer to the rest of the body of Christ. Therefore, the body of Christ needs me and I need the body of Christ. God established a diversity, that necessitates an interdependence among us, that forces a unity that protects us from uniformity! WOW!

Can I illustrate?

It is like the individual believer is gifted to play a musical instrument. We play like no one else can play. We make beautiful music that no one else can make. Aren't we special? Yes, we are.

But when we assemble together, and each as individuals bring our beautiful instruments, and together we all play our beautiful music together.... it is even more beautiful because it is also POWERFUL! We, the church, when we function like God intended us to function, are like a huge symphony....

That is the word in fact, that Paul used in this passage - sumpheron - that is what we are when we function with others, for others, to the glory of God. And the world hears our beautiful music and for the first time, sees the invisible God through His physical church.

Oh the glory that God intended for His church....  Play your part. Play it beautifully. Play it for others. This is what the Christ Life is all about!

Once You've Tasted God, You Want All of Him!

So what is God talking about when the New Testament speaks of us getting a mansion? Let's think about that for a moment. Is that what heaven is really all about? Living out our days in the hopes that we are going to get a huge house to live in? Let's not trivialize the heart and purpose of the Bible in such a way! The Apostle Paul did not say that there was "one thing" that he pressed on for - to get a big mansion! What did he say? My "ONE THING" is to KNOW CHRIST!

The passage on "mansions" is found in John 14. The key to understanding John 14 is to read it in light of John 13. CONTEXT!!!

In John 13, Jesus has told them that He is going to go away, and they cannot go with Him. They are saddened at this news, of course. But then He tells them to not be troubled because He is going to prepare a place for them, in the Father's house are many "mansions". In doing do, He says that He will return for them again, and receive them unto Himself, that where He is they will be. Also, the heart behind this passage is intimate relationship, not a construction project.

What troubled them is separation. Once you have tasted God, you want all of God, and cannot stand the thought of separation from God. Now focus on the word "mansions".... the word is really dwelling places or as I would translate it "abidings". Jesus is going to prepare places for "abiding" - places where He and us can live together in union. And note that He says as soon as He prepares that place, He will return and we will be received unto Him.

May I suggest, that this has nothing to do with mansions in the sky that we have to wait for heaven to be able to have Jesus receive us! In the context, the place He went to prepare is us! Rom 6 tells us that He took us to the cross. There, He killed our old man, our old sinful self and resurrected us brand new creations (II Cor 5:17). Having now been "prepared", having been made right, He the RIGHT ONE could now come back to us and live in us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Now He could receive us unto Himself so that we could be with Him (seated in Heaven right now Eph. 2:6) and so that He could be with us wherever we go.

This is our true "ONE THING" --- to know Christ! The greek word for "know" there is ginosko = which means to know by experience. I do not believe that God made a bunch of big houses for us to dwell in in heaven, but I do believe He "prepared us" as the place of His own residence so that we could be with Him and experience Him forever.... starting right now and continuing in union with Him when we leave this earth. WOW!

'It Is Finished' Means Exactly That!

One of the most glorious verses in the entire Bible is the verse that records the final words of Jesus before He died on the cross...

IT IS FINISHED! It is over! It has been accomplished! There is nothing more to do and nothing more to be added!

Isn't that absolutely wonderful? Our sins are forgiven! They are cast as far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more. OUR SINS HAVE BEEN INFINITELY SEPARATED FROM US! Heaven is opened to us! We have been made righteous! We are now saints! We are the sons of God! We are blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. We have been made partakers of the Divine Nature! WOW!

We could go on and and on with all that is ours in Christ and say WOW and WOW over and over again... Why? Because as Jesus said, "It is finished!"

Now, the marvel of this, that really makes us WOW, is when we look at that phrase in the original Koine Greek. Do you know what it means in the Greek?

It means, "IT IS FINISHED!"