Friday, July 17, 2015

July 17th

April 20, 2015

Realized how unnerving it would be, to have known Jesus all His thirty years as a quiet, humble and loving but somewhat unusual Man who worked hard, cared for His family, never married, understood the Scriptures with astounding perception and beauty, and loved people in a simple and genuine way- to have known Him like that and then suddenly, to see Him begin to go about the villages, calling out, “Repent and believe the good news, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”

It would be a strange lurch- what is He doing? Who does He think He is? There would be a lurch of anxiety, fear, embarrassment and confusion. Why is He acting this way? Doesn’t He know what might happen to Him?

I could see the cross at the end, not just because I knew the story, but because it was clear to me that the way Jesus was acting and speaking would take Him there. I understood why His family would eventually, in great anxiety, go to Jesus and try and make Him go home, thinking Him out of His mind.

So I saw myself go running to Him, crying out anxiously, “Jesus, Jesus, what are You doing? Why are You doing this?”

Jesus caught me in His arms and held me close. His robes were heavy and layered and He was warmly familiar, His face shaded by His tallit that was thrown over His head. His eyes were warm, loving and had no fear. Jesus said- little one, don’t be afraid.

I realized how much meaning there was in what Jesus said about leaving all behind for the Kingdom of God. The disciples really had done so. It had been a reality for them.

“I’m coming with You,” I stated. “I’m leaving everything and coming with You, no matter what happens, all the way.” No matter how embarrassing, no matter how unsettling , no matter how far outside my comfort level, I would follow Him, because no matter how safe the quiet little village was behind me, it would be desolate with Jesus gone and I would rather share His fate than be without Him.

May 11, 2015

Last night had two vivid and personally disturbing nightmares.

“Oh my goodness, Jesus!” I said to Him, in amazement, because that was the second nightmare and I never have nightmares at all, let alone two. But I simply put all my trust in Him and refused to be moved from the trust and said the psalms (23, 24 and 25) and His words to myself and each time I woke, I was with Jesus in the most peaceful way. I was remembering how Jesus would have prayed the psalms as well, and remembering this, I saw Him.

The first time, I saw Jesus in Nazareth before His ministry. He was working on a project in the shop attached to the house, with the roof partly open and the side door opened and it was very hot. I could hear the sound of voices from outside and soft scrape of His tool and see the way His weight shifted against His worn sandals as He leaned into the movement. The sun shone on His bare head and the air tasted of warm dust and was scented with fresh shaven wood. His hands were calloused and careful as He worked.

He was whispering the psalm to Himself in a sing song tone that was almost like singing but not quite, but the psalm Jesus was praying was a different one from those that I had just been repeating. Jesus was speaking these lines from Psalm 22:

“Yet You are He Who took me out of the womb;
You made me hope and trust when I was on my mother’s breasts.
I was cast upon You from my very birth;
from my mother’s womb You have been my God.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help.”
(Psalm 22:9-11, AMP)

Then Jesus stopped for a moment and put the piece of wood down- it was becoming a yoke- and went to the side of the door where there was water and He stood there and drank and He splashed some water on His face and leaned against the door. He looked out at the distant hot landscape in muted colors of caramel and rose and dust and I knew He was thinking about His cousin John who had just recently come out of the wilderness to begin baptizing and how soon Jesus' own ministry would begin, and how His entire life would change.

June 7, 2015

I had been reading the Psalms and found Psalm 78, which recounted God rescuing His people from Israel, and how many times they didn’t trust Him despite everything they had seen:

How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
   and grieved him in the wasteland!
Again and again they put God to the test;
   they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember his power—
   the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,
   his wonders in the region of Zoan.
(Psalm 78:40-43)

Many times in that Psalm it speaks of how many wonders God displayed, and not randomly, but wonders of faithful deliverance and provision and yet each time, they were quickly forgotten and God was doubted.

And there is this passage:

But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
   lying to him with their tongues;
their hearts were not loyal to him,
   they were not faithful to his covenant.
(Psalm 78:36-37)

It made me think about Jesus saying, “Well it is written these people honor Me with their mouths, but their hearts are far from Me,” only Jesus was quoting Isaiah.

And vividly, I realized Jesus was referencing this history and tendency of Israel when He said, “It is written, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

I was pondering all this in the late evening as I was resting with Jesus before sleep, and it lit up in me in this brilliant, breathtaking way, that Jesus never put Abba to the test, ever. He was just as Abba had longed for His sons and daughters to be- Jesus responded to His Father with absolute and unshakeable trust- trusting in His provision and power to save.

This trust was so deep that He never put Abba to the test even to the cross. He believed even from the cross, even in the agony that is beyond our ability to grasp, the sacred and greatest anguish that only the Trinity will know, when Jesus cried out, “Eli Eli lama sabachthani!” Even in that desolation, Jesus believed in Abba’s goodness, ability and provision, even when He could not see Him or feel Him, because even in the great, dark chasm of His cross, Jesus still said, “Father, into thy hands I commit My spirit,” and He gave up His whole life into His Daddy's hands, even when He felt the tearing agony of abandonment.

June 14, 2015

Yesterday, when I prayed the Lord’s Prayer in intercession, the power flowing through me from the Holy Spirit was such that I felt as though my body couldn’t contain it- I don’t know how to describe it. I actually had to stop at various points to physically catch my breath and to let my physical body release the energy that was caught up in it.

I’m not describing this very well. I would get caught up in the prayer, and the power of asking Jesus those things would rush through me in weight and force, and the fact that I was asking Jesus.

Asking Jesus! Jesus Himself! How dare I? How dare I even speak to Him, let alone ask Him anything, for the weight of His power and holiness and love were surging through me beyond my capacity. His holiness had me down on my face in my spirit, but His love kept drawing me up into His arms against His beating heart, and His power was so great that I knew I was feeling just the barest fringes of His garment passing over my fingers.

Every time I went to pray the next line, the fact that I was asking Jesus who had said this:

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 6:27-36

And the mind- blowing, unearthly power and authority of Jesus Himself! It would come over me in such a way that I could barely breathe, because that is Jesus, and Jesus has all the authority and all the power and all the glory.

My head felt sometimes as though it were physically hot and tingling, and the force and the weight of His presence and His Holy Spirit was so great that I knew my poor physically body was not in any way build to contain it. It was as if an old rickety ship suddenly caught a force ten wind and the whole poor old structure groaned and strained and creaked and all the sails were filled to tearing point and all the lines were straining, but the poor old thing was trying as best it could, but it just wasn’t built for it.

“Dear Jesus, dear Jesus, I can’t contain it, enlarge my capacity! Please enlarge my capacity, I can’t contain it!” I was crying out to Him, in between the lines of the prayer.

I reached the prayer where I say, “I am Your servant,” and by that point, my whole spirit was filled with a peaceful haze and love like an evening sky filled with golden light, and I sat slumped in exhaustion in the chair and thinking in this haze of wonder, “I am the servant of Jesus! I am actually His servant!”

“Just to be Your servant!” I prayed to Him in wonder, kissing His feet. “Just to be Your servant is such surpassing reward itself! To consider more!"

And yet there is more- so much more that my poor brain can’t hold it all in place.

June 14, 2015

Last night I had some intense experiences. I was half awake and feeling bombarded by fear, waves of intense, very direct and personal fear, and my inner seeing was all choppy and sometimes disturbing. The fear was that I was being deceived about Jesus and that He had never been with me and everything I had thought and felt and knew about Jesus was all wrong because it had all been nothing but deceptive wishful thinking.

But I don’t put my faith in my seeing, I put my faith in Jesus Christ alone. So I kept saying to Jesus with all my trust and faith, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit. My life is hidden with You, the Lord Jesus Christ, in God. I wait quietly before You, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, for my hope is in You. You alone are my rock and my salvation and my strong fortress where I will never be shaken. I rest in You, I am safe in You, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.”

After a while the intense attack of fear subsided. I realized with the clarity of an evening sky after a storm, that the fear itself had all been a lie. “It’s a lie!” I said to Jesus in wonder. “The fear is lying!”

Then I fell asleep and was dreaming, only I didn’t realize at the time that I was, and I was sitting at a table with a piece of paper and I was writing the words of the verse on the paper as though to commit them to memory, saying them aloud and resting in them because the fear was all around again: “I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation and my strong fortress where I will never be shaken. Oh my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is Your refuge.” (Psalm 62:5-6,8)

And then the fear struck again, suddenly and intense, like a massive blow. It was up front, personal and terrifyingly direct. It was not just a feeling of fear, but images, and the root of the fear was that even if my spiritual life was hidden in God, my physical body was not- my physical body could suffer and die and I was seeing all the ways that could happen and that seemed to headed my way and for a moment, I was sinking down into that fear, because who wants to suffer torture and violent death?

Then two things happened almost simultaneously. I saw the Lord Jesus Christ hung on the cross, and the understanding of His suffering and resurrection swept through my entire spirit like a wash of holy fire and my whole spirit was alight with this incredibly intense understanding.

So I cried out with all my spirit and all that I am, “I follow the Suffering Savior! I follow the Crucified Christ! I follow the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and the worst did happen to Him and because of it came resurrection and life and all authority in heaven and on earth is given to Him and His name, the name of Jesus Christ, is above all names and He rules on the throne and everything is under His feet and He has brought us up in His life and united us to the life of God! That is what came of the worst, and I follow Him! Even if the worst also happens to me, because of Jesus, I will be raised to life, through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior!”

My love for Jesus rose up in my like a sob and I stretched out my hands to Him and I cried out, “Jesus, I love You! I love You, Jesus!”

Never before had I so perceived the agony of Jesus on the cross and never before had I understood this passage of Scripture:

“Then I heard a strong (loud) voice in heaven, saying, Now it has come—the salvation and the power and the kingdom (the dominion, the reign) of our God, and the power (the sovereignty, the authority) of His Christ (the Messiah); for the accuser of our brethren, he who keeps bringing before our God charges against them day and night, has been cast out!

"And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death [holding their lives cheap till they had to die for their witnessing].”
(Revelation 12:10-11, AMP)

The intensity of the fear went away, but my spirit and soul were trembling, so I began to thank Abba for the safety of the house and the safe comfortable bed and the safe rooms of the house and how it is a house of God because the sons and daughters of God live in the house and therefore holy ground. And I thanked Abba for the whole experience, by saying, "Thank You for the growth of my faith through this! Thank You for perfecting Your good work in me through this."

Even so, I longed for the dawn and wanted the night just to be over, and was worried that my courage and resolve might fail before the light came, but then I remembered that it isn’t my own strength that I rely on. So I thanked Jesus for His authority over my life and how He gives me everything I need that pertains to godliness and life, and I went on thanking God, and then I began to pray the Lord’s Prayer and I fell asleep.

The next morning, when I sat down to pray, I was exhausted from my sleepless night and I felt no energy to pray, but that doesn’t worry me as much any longer, because I have learned that I don’t pray out of physical or emotional intensity, but through the Holy Spirit. All I need to do is to make myself available in obedience and faith to be led in prayer as He directs me.

I sat down on the chair and made myself available to the Holy Spirit to pray. I prayed right along and reached the Lord’s Prayer and began.

“Heavenly Daddy,” I began. “I pray to You as Your Son Jesus Christ taught us. I’m asking You these things. Heavenly Daddy, hallow Your name. Hallow Your name in all the earth. Hallow Your name in those countries where the evil systems of the Boko Haran and ISIS operate and for all those caught in the systems of Islam…” The Holy Spirit urged me to say the names, so I began to name those that the Holy Spirit brought to mind- “and those countries I am praying for right now are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Ethiopia, Nairobi and Kenya…”

As I spoke those specific names, this feeling of weight and pressure began building in me like the atmosphere before a storm system and I would have been afraid, but I was already caught in the growing grip of this intensity and so I couldn’t be afraid, all I could do was yield to it.

Holy Spirit immediately gave me the next line, so I said, “Send down Your Holy Spirit…” At this, the impulse to lift my hands was too strong to deny, so I reached my arms up toward the ceiling and opened my hands.

“Send down Your Holy Spirit to convict and convince and make obvious and clear that sin is to not believe in Jesus Christ Your Son…” I said, and the storm broke.

The intensity rose up from the bottom of my rib cage and out of me in wail of heartbroken grief. It was grief greater than I have ever known in my life, because it was not really mine- it was like Abba was pouring His anguish through me. I was sobbing and my entire diaphragm was clutched up in these sobs.I was rocking back and forth in my chair, sobbing and wailing, with my arms reached toward the ceiling and all along, I was praying.

“Oh my Father, make it clear to them! Make it clear and shine the light and open their eyes to the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Living God and He is the only true and manifest image of the Living God and break their chains of darkness and deception by the power of Your Holy Spirit convicting them with certainty that Jesus Christ Your Son is the Truth, the Way and the Life. Break the chains of those evil systems of belief! You have broken those chains by the cross of Christ and I agree with You- they are broken! You have loosed them- I loose them! I loose them from those chains! By the power and light of Your Holy Spirit, send Him down! Send Him down in power to open the eyes of the blind! Jesus is anointed to open the eyes of the blind, and I agree! Let them be opened! Let the blind see! Jesus came to set at liberty the captives and I agree! I loose them! Set them free! With You, I set them free from the lie and into the light of Your Son Jesus Christ!

“Let the eyes of the blind be opened by the light of the Holy Spirit, by the powerful conviction and certainty of the Holy Spirit that the only righteousness available is through Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension and everything else is a lie! Oh my Father! There is no other way to be righteous! True righteousness is the way of Jesus Christ Your Son, the flawless Lamb of God who laid down His life that we might be saved!"

At this point, my grief doubled; I was doubled over, gripping the desk and sobbing and then reaching up and then reaching out and then doubled over. I couldn’t have stopped if I had tried, because I suddenly understood the next line in a way that pierced my heart.

“Show to them and make clear to them and convict them and convince them that there is no law keeping, no holy war, no deed, no sacrifice, no religious doctrine that can win right standing with God, it is all as dirty rags and a lie! The only true right standing with God is achieved through the cross of Jesus Christ Your Son!

“Convict and convince and make manifest and plain that all other systems of this world have been judged, condemned and thrown out! They are made void by the cross of Christ! Their emptiness is laid bare! The cross of Christ is the only way to God! There is no earning God’s favor by any other power or by blood shed or by vengeance or by scape goats! The cross of Christ has stripped them, judged and condemned all those systems and they are laid bare by the cross of Christ as the lie they are!

“God is a family, God is a family!” I was declaring, as I was sobbing, remembering the inexpressible love and trust of the Trinity. “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to us! Through His life and death He brought into the very life of God, to become the sons and daughters of God, to be brought into the family of God!”

Again, the next line was given to me and again, it struck straight through me. “Oh my Father, what if it were me there! What if I were the one lost in that darkness!” I threw myself face down before Abba. “You saved me and not for anything that I did! Because of Your exceedingly great grace toward me and because of Your love for me, though I was a sinner and spiritually dead, You called me out of my darkness and brought me to Your side! It was through Your grace that you saved me and brought me into the Light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ Your Son! Do the same for my brothers and sisters of flesh and blood! Do not leave them in that darkness! Oh my Father, don’t let them go down to the grave with  that darkness in their hearts and blood on their hands! Deliver them! Deliver them from the hell they are making, from sin and death! Don’t let them go down into the grave as they are!”

I was sitting there, slumped over at the edge of the desk, sobbing and consumed by grief at the plight of people I have never seen. The grief was so much that I was reminded of that line of the Scripture, “"A voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more." (Jeremiah 31:15) Then I thought with a jolt, “But that doesn’t bode well!”

Immediately, Jesus countered that thought by saying to me, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

So then I was laughing and sobbing at the same time, because of the joy of knowing that redemption would come to the lost, and it was as though I were being held in the arms of Jesus and I was saying to Him, “Bring me all my children! I want all my children! I cannot bear to lose even one! Bring them up from the valley of bones! Bring them up from the place of death, from the dead sea! That is what I am asking You! You told me to ask You by faith and this is what I am asking! I want You to save them!

“Because,” I said to Jesus, realizing it for the first time, “because where is the joy of salvation and eternal life in You if it is not multiplied to others? Where is the joy of heaven if it’s not in knowing that others are saved?”

I was still slumped over the desk, but I pulled myself up and blew my nose and tried to remember where I was in the prayer, and realized I hadn’t even gotten to the third line! I continued on and when I said, “Your will of restoration, life, salvation, righteousness, love, mercy and peace be done in those nations and amid those people as it is in Your immediate presence,” I felt the Holy Spirit flow straight out in a way I had not perceived before, and without words, I asked Him about it. He explained to me that my praying first for the conviction of the Holy Spirit concerning sin, righteousness and judgment did something that was illustrated by this passage:

A voice of one who cries:
Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles];
make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God!

Every valley shall be lifted and filled up,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low;
and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level,
and the rough places a plain.

And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

Isaiah 40::3-5, AMP