Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27th

October 1, 2016

I’ve been reading how, in those days, Jesus went out to pray and stayed out praying all night long, and then called His disciples to Him and choose the Twelve. He came down to where the crowds were and gave His teachings- the Sermon on the Mount.

I’ve been reading in this Gospel (Luke) slowly, stitching pieces together, seeing Jesus coming and going from Capernaum, getting increasingly into conflict there. He is not from there. Jesus is from Nazareth, a small hillside town and He is about thirty years old, which is the first year when a man can begin to be involved in the life of the community, but certainly without much expected authority or expertise.

Now here is this young Rabbi coming into this town and things start happening all around Him. He teaches with authority and He has power and ability to cast out demons, and does so with a word, and He heals people- people who have been sick all their lives, crippled all their lives, this young Man heals them with a touch or with His words, or with the touch of His garment, and the crowds around Him are growing.

He called a tax collector to be His disciple. This is a man that the town knows. Levi is not a stranger in that town, there is history and family and hurt and grief and grievances. But Jesus looks right at Levi and picks him, and gives him a new name and he ends up writing one of the four Gospels.

Jesus is being put to the test and He is not frightened. He calls that man with the withered hand to come right up to the front and to stand there. He looks right at them, grieved at the hardness of their hearts.

In those days, when they have gone out to plot how to destroy Him, in those days, He goes out to the mountain to pray all night and chooses His apostles. It’s amazing that Jesus has triggered that much hostility already. It cannot be coincidence that He chooses His sent out ones at this time, those that will be going in and out with Him from the beginning, who will know Him by sight and sound and habit, to whom it will be given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom, so that those things can be shouted on the roof tops when the Holy Spirit has descended on them with power and understanding, giving them words to speak the truth.

Jesus chooses the twelve and then He goes down to the crowd. Here is a pivotal moment, a defining moment. The lines have been drawn. Jesus is not going away. He cannot be distracted or bought or swayed by fear. He is in it for the long haul and the crowds are flocking to Him and He cannot be ignored.

His nation is reeling under the weight of foreign occupation, groaning at the bloodshed of their people and corrupt leadership. False messiahs are coming, stirring up hope and failing. Rebellions are whispered about and sometimes planned and executed, to terrible ends and no avail. They desperately need to be rescued, to be freed, redeemed.

What will Jesus say in this moment? What will He declare?

“Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you poor,

    For yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now,

    For you shall be filled.

Blessed are you who weep now,

    For you shall laugh.

Blessed are you when men hate you,

    And when they exclude you,

    And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,

    For the Son of Man’s sake.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!

    For indeed your reward is great in heaven,

    For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.”

“But woe to you who are rich,

    For you have received your consolation.

Woe to you who are full,

    For you shall hunger.

Woe to you who laugh now,

    For you shall mourn and weep.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you,

    For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
-Luke 6:20-38

And Jesus backs this teaching up with the rest of the passage.

Here Jesus is, preaching peace when everyone was wanting revolution from under foreign occupation. Saying love your enemies! Love them! Do not ask back your goods! Blessed are the meek! Whoever does these things will be like a house dig deep on the rock.

What Jesus is saying is shocking, hardly possible to consider, let alone follow, but it is His Word. It’s what you do if Jesus is your Lord. To do those things is to honor Him as Lord.


"Into a world like this the sound of Jesus' words comes wonderful and strange. It is well that He spoke, for no one else could have done it so well; and it is good that we listen. His words are the essence of truth. Jesus never uttered opinions. He never guessed; He knew, and He knows. His words are not as Solomon's were, the sum of sound wisdom or the results of keep observation. He spoke out of the fullness of His Godhead, and His words are very Truth itself. He is the only one who could say "blessed" with complete authority, for He is the Blessed One come from the world above to confer blessedness upon mankind. And His words were supported by deeds mightier than any performed on this earth by any other man. It is wisdom for us to listen."

-A.W. Tozer, "The Pursuit of God, Ch. 9, Meekness and Rest

October 11, 2016

Since the intoxicating times I had with Jesus around the beginning of last week, I have not been able so deeply to connect to His presence; it’s a gift from Jesus when He awakens the love of my spirit. I can’t reach those intense levels of understanding on my own, because it’s not a mental exercise.

Even so, I determine to spend as much time consciously with Him as I can before I fall asleep, even if I can’t see Jesus or sense Him. I know I’m right in His arms, and only turning my attention to Him pleases Him.  Sometimes then I see Jesus in snatches, like last night.

You’re doing well, Jesus said to me quietly, last night. I love to hear that! My first response is always disbelief. I look at the words in disbelief. I’m doing well? I feel like I failed a lot. Then I consciously choose to put the disbelief aside, almost as concretely as putting something down, like a book or an object.

“If You say it, then it must be true,” I tell Him, accepting it on those terms.

Sweet girl, Jesus replied with love.

The broiled fish that Jesus ate after resurrection was already seasoned with fire. It wasn't just caught, it was prepared and cooked.

I saw Jesus in the upper room working on something- a parable or a line of thought or a teaching for the synagogue. Someone came in and He looked up swiftly, piercingly, His eyes alive with expression and authority. They said something to Him and He replied briefly, a brief idiomatic phrase that I couldn't understand, but He gestured also, and I knew immediately He meant, Let them come in, because of the gesture and His simultaneous shift in posture, straightening up in a no nonsense fashion, shifting His alert attention to the coming visitor.

It was a beautiful and compelling glimpse of Jesus. His eyes were vivid with life and they were beautiful in clarity and depth of color. He had a face dark from the sun, and strong, almost stern features, but not unattractive- it was because His face was so full of life that made it attractive- quick thought and perception coupled with great depth of compassion and wisdom.

Jesus looked straight through the Scriptures to their heart, to the quick, they opened up their meaning to Him in unfolding layers of insight, direction and truth, but He was their Source- all the lines of Scripture ran toward Him and it's true meaning was revealed in Him, and He turned that meaning outward in His life and teaching, especially toward His disciples, so they could see it, hear it, remember it. And when the Holy Spirit would come at Pentecost, it would all come alive for them too. After He had ascended- He was always preparing them for the future.

Originally from a letter:

Because I saw Jesus in this way, I understood how powerfully Jesus could have built a kingdom for Himself if He had chosen to go the way of man- you spoke about this recently, about the temptations that Jesus faced being real temptations, so that He can deeply and truly sympathize with us as our High Priest. Jesus has powerful gifts of character, intellect and a kind of internal mastery which was an integral part of who He was, that if turned away from the will of God and toward the way of man, could have built a kingdom so massive it would be beyond what we could understand, nor should we, because it would have been a monstrosity. But it never happened and it never will happen, because with every breath He took, Jesus gave up His life in a flawless expression of faith and obedience to Abba. His whole life was laid on the alter.

As you know, the glorious liberty of the sons of God is not to create for themselves a life or kingdom of their own, it’s a liberty from sin so that they might obey the Lord and bring glory to His name. They are free from sin and become the bond slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the upside down nature of the Kingdom of God, in which our King came not to be served, but to give His life as a ransom for many. To be free in the Kingdom of God is to give one’s life away in service to make manifest the name of God and to bring Him glory.

October 15, 2016

You’re doing so well, He said.

“So well,” I repeated in relief.

I looked up at Jesus once, in wonder and His mouth was curved up in a smile, His eyes dancing and I laughed from pure joy; we were laughing together. I like to think of Jesus in the garden, the morning of resurrection, and how He ascended, and it is that same Jesus that I am with now! He has ascended and I can cling.

The mornings are misty now, a cloudy fall mist over the shorn fields. The sun rises and burns it away. The sky turns a blue as though the light were shining behind it. A sliver of the sun rises, bronze and new born, and amber light is thrown against the sides of buildings and against green and yellow leaves. The amber thins to gold as the sun lifts free and then it’s a sunny day after all.


“I can’t see a thing!” I confessed, though I was pouring out adoration to Him.

Oh, but you’re right here! Jesus exclaimed in joyful love.

October 17, 2016

The days are starting to get decidedly shorter and the trees are starting to show their colors. The fields are shorn and turning gold.

“I wept for You,” I told Jesus, when I rested in His arms later, clinging with particular relief.

Sweetheart, I know, He replied in His gentle voice.

I would have spent more time with Him, but I couldn’t stay awake.

Last night, I was studying the parable of the Wakeful Servants (Through Peasant Eyes, Kenneth E. Bailey) and it was borne in on me that those servants are rewarded in such a lavish, extraordinary way because they remained awake and were able to meet their Master with lamps lit immediately. They are blessed. Blessed are those servants, the line says twice, and in between are the ways in which they are blessed.

They met Him immediately. They were awake. He did not have to stand knocking. He will stand knocking, and He will wake up the sleepers, but blessed are those who open immediately, because He will serve them Himself.

In the Gospels, He has steadfastly turned His face toward Jerusalem, and has sent out messengers before His face. Those in Samaria would not receive Him because He was determined to continue on to Jerusalem. The three ask to follow Him and He gives them what seems to be curt advice, which is easier understood in the cultural setting, because then we know what Jesus is actually saying to them. It’s still curt even then, but much richer in meaning.

“Let me go and bury my father,” for example, is an idiomatic phrase that does not mean that his father just died and hasn’t had his funeral yet. (Bailey, p. 26) It means that his father is living, and this son wants to stay with his father until his father dies and then he inherits the land, and then he is free to follow Jesus. He wants to keep his family obligations and privileges and then to follow Jesus later, but Jesus does not allow this. Jesus is saying, follow Me now.

The wind is blowing through the trees in great gusts. The light shines through one bedroom window, and the shadows of the leaves twist and dance and leap and twirl on the carpet amid the falling sun.

October 20, 2016

Waves of wonder and awe were washing over me last night as I lay in bed with the open Bible and the commentary on the parables. I was realizing with greater weight than ever before that I will see Jesus, that He reigns on the throne and that I serve Him and know Him and He loves me.

In a movement of my spirit, I threw my arms around His neck in a burst of loving request that He bless someone whose picture moved me deeply to compassion, and was gasping with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

When I finally reached out again to Jesus and found myself in His presence, this finding myself there was like a clap of thunder through my spirit in joy. “It’s You that I love, it’s You that I love!” I was telling Jesus, as if I had never been able to tell Him before.

Grace was pouring in streams from His chest, something I could not see, but I could feel. His arms were open and streams of grace were pouring out in all directions.

“Master,” I acknowledged, sinking into His arms in submission and confession.

Beloved, Jesus replied, His voice deep and settled in love.

October 21, 2016

“And I walked over to the computer…” I was telling Jesus, and I was going to go on to say, “…because I love you,” but I could not speak for the intensity of knowing myself to be with Him.

I kept touching His face in wonder, whispering His name and words of love that became speaking in tongues. His beautiful face!  The face of Jesus, seen as though at the end of my life and the entrance into forever, such a quiet face, full of settled love, watching me because He loves me and anything I do moves Him deeply, and so He is very still, letting me touch His face, resting in the love. I nestled down into His warm and living embrace as deeply as possible, holding tightly to Him in love. Jenny! He kept saying, Jenny!

“My eyes don’t see very well…”

I know, sweetheart, you do so well (understanding anyway and in faith accepting.)

October 22, 2016

You may, and then come to Me, Jesus said last night, when I asked Him if I could check the internet one more time.

The pestilence shall not come near you, I am the shield around you. Rest your mind in innocence, little one, Jesus told me, when I was with Him and brought up some concerns, reminding me that I have always trusted Him to take care of those things.

Last night and early this morning, was able to go to Jesus and soak in Him. Every time I woke up, I went right back to Him. Jesus was familiar, deliciously warm, close around me and full of love. Jesus is very living. He is a living person, full of warmth of life, with expression on His face and in His eyes of love. He is solid and warm and I can hold on to Him and that is the most deeply satisfying thing, to actually hold tight to Him and know that I have Him.

When my mind began to wander, I sang to Him. I sang, “As the Deer.” That was wonderfully effective. Another time my mind began to wander, I inwardly stood up from the couch. “Jesus… Lord Jesus, do you mind standing up?” I asked Him, but He was already standing.

I would love to, He answered, even though He was already there.

“Is there somewhere You would like to be?”

With you, He replied. How those words of His echoed in my spirit, awakening wonder and love going back over time, because how often did Jesus say that to me in the early years? That was always His answer.

When I knew soon it would be time to get up, I prayed the prayer to Jesus by memory: “Having risen from sleep, I run to Thee, O Lord and Lover of mankind,” I said to Him. “…and to Thee I give any glory and all glory, for to You alone does the glory belong, who are clothed in glory..."

As I was saying these words, this beautiful expression passed over Jesus’ face. He looked down in humility. He was not refusing the gift, but His inherent humility shone out. Jesus was saying nothing but the truth when He declared Himself to be meek and humble of heart. In the deepest places of who He is, Jesus is that way. He is certainly also a Lion and a King of kings, having all authority over powers and principalities and thrones and all of heaven and earth, which is awesome and beyond understanding or ability to grasp, but within Jesus, in His heart of hearts, He is humble and gentle. To see this in Him is a treasure.


Written after having finished reading the first and second year of my journal with Him, in preparation eventually to post them:

“You are not alone, Your arms are full of Your beloved,” I told Jesus with innocent and solemn love.

I love her, He replied with simplicity of feeling.

I thought back again to everything I had read. “How can I explain all that?”

Your life explains it, Jesus said.

“How did I grasp it?” I asked, looking back.

I walked you through it.

“Lord! Lord Jesus! You have been my Friend all this time!”

All this time.

“And when...” But my thoughts shied away from the largeness of it.

Think about it.

“When Your feet touch down! If I'm still down here, I will do anything necessary to get to where You are, walk hundreds of miles, cross deserts...”

You won't have to do that, Jesus interrupted firmly, because His desire for me to be with Him, and He won’t leave me to trudge miles of distance by foot.

Because, if we are living when He comes, we rise up in the sky to meet Jesus, to escort Him home, back here! Hearts bursting with joy that He is revealed in all His rightful glory, in all His beauty and power, come to be with us, revealed and manifest. And we may declare in joy, “This is my Beloved and this is my Friend, this is Christ Jesus; He is my Lord and my God!” Songs of joy were rising out of my heart and pouring through my throat just at the thought.

You singing bird, Jesus said with love.