THE POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME

Heb. 6:5 who tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age,

This passage has intrigued me for several years. The Message Bible brings out an interesting flavor in this verse, “once they’ve personally experienced the sheer goodness of God’s Word and the powers breaking in on us—”. I love that, the powers of the world to come breaking in on us. Ever since I began to experience the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit moving in and on my life I began to catch glimpses of what Paul was getting at in this passage. The Holy Spirit is the kingdom of heaven, every touch of God is a small taste of the very atmosphere of heaven. This touch is saturated with God’s love, peace that passes understanding, joy unspeakable, and a perseverance that endures and conquers all things. Think about it, heaven itself, the kingdom of God, is breaking into our world every time we step into that realm of the Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Watchman Nee on this passage.

“The kingdom of God is at once present and to come (Matt. 6:10; 12:28). As to time, it lies ahead of us; as to experience, it is ours today. God intends us to enjoy foretastes here and now of the powers of the future age. All that will be true then universally should be the church’s experience in some real measure now, for all is hers. What is the use of merely knowing all about conditions in the kingdom: the rest, the life eternal, the everlasting covenant, the overthrow of Satan, the authority of God and of His Christ? These are not future prospects alone but powers to be tasted here and now. To taste means to eat a little. It is the preliminary to a feast. We cannot yet feast on all the good things of the kingdom, but we should be savoring them. Where spiritual resources are in demand, let us not live by the present alone. The powers of the age to come are ours.”
If what we are tasting now is this good I can’t imagine how wonderful heaven will be. That’s what Peter meant when he quoted David, “taste and see that the Lord is good”. Tasting this goodness that is breaking into our world today delivers us from the attraction to the world and sets our hearts clearly on His coming kingdom. Come quickly Lord Jesus!!!!

TAKE A BREAK

We which have believed do enter into that rest.
Hebrews 4:3
Christianity often speaks of things that at first look seem like a contradiction. One of my favorites is found in Heb. 4:11 “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience”. This absolutely makes no sense to the unrenewed mind. How can someone strive and exert extreme effort to enter into rest. Wuest brings out the power of this word ‘strive’.
“The verb speaks of intensity of purpose followed by intensity of effort toward the realization of that purpose”.
So which is it, strive or rest? Actually Paul is pointing us to the key to powerful Christian living, using our energy and strength to press into the very presence of God. Actually, the whole book of Hebrews is about that, entering into the life of the Spirit behind the veil. Here is how Watchman Nee describes it.
“Rest follows work. In the fullest sense rest is only possible when the work is completed to a point of satisfaction. It is no trifling matter that God rested after those six days of creation. How, we may ask, could He—this God of purpose, this God of abounding life—come to rest? Genesis 1:31 gives us the reason: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” He had accomplished something which rejoiced His heart. The good pleasure of His will had been realized, its goal attained. In resting He proclaimed His approval. Today God invites us to share with Him His rest in Christ. Another work is accomplished, a new creation secured. His good pleasure has been realized, and no fuller realization is necessary or possible. We enter into God’s rest when, ceasing from our own strivings, we find all our satisfaction in Christ.”
That is the key, our efforts are aimed at finding satisfaction in Christ. Religious systems are all about work and effort to please God. There is no amount of effort any of us can exert to please Him. That is the frustration of the law, we all fall miserably short even with our best efforts. He is already pleased. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not our works that He finds pleasure in, it is the work of His Son. The finished work of the cross is what we rest in. We rest in what Christ has done and press in to find pleasure in His presence. That is the essence of finding life in Christ, striving to enter His rest.

LOVE POURED OUT

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his
love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Rom.5:5

The love of God is not a concept or even an emotional experience, God’s love is a person. Just as the revelation of God’s thoughts or words are expressed in the person Jesus Christ, God’s love is so powerful that it too is expressed in a distinct person, the wonderful Holy Spirit. Every time we are drawn into the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit we are engulfed, swallowed up, in the love of God. His presence is all consuming and more powerful and real than any earthly encounter. Often times our response when we are baptized in this love is to be filled to overflowing with joy. Think about it, even natural love evokes joy in our hearts, how much more will supernatural love cause us to burst with joy. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on the relationship between God’s love and the Holy Spirit.
“God the Father pours out the Holy Spirit into your heart, and the Holy Spirit pours out God’s love into your heart. As surely as God gives His Spirit, He will also bestow His love. Why do we so seldom experience this truth? Simply because we do not believe. It takes time to believe in the mighty work of the Holy Spirit, through whom we are filled with the love of God. We need time to withdraw from the world and its interests, time to revel in the love of God so that His great love can take possession of us. If we believe in the great love of God and its power, we will receive what we ask. God wants you to love Him with your whole heart and with all your strength. He knows your shortcomings. That is why He gave you His Spirit, who knows about the deep secrets of eternal love with which He desires to fill you.”
Jesus said that the first commandment is to love God with all your heart. This is only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls. The first evidence of someone being filled with the Spirit is an extreme attraction and love for God. Falling in love with the Lord is a sure sign that you have encountered the touch of the Spirit. So go ahead, me filled with the Spirit; before you know it you too will be consumed by His love.

THE SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE  

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

WHO TOUCHED ME?
“And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?”

Luke 8:45 KJV
What a precious story of one individual lost in the sea of humanity that had an encounter with Jesus. You read of it everyday in the news; the child left in a dumpster, the elderly abandoned in some overcrowded nursing home, the sick wasting away after spending all that they had on empty promises. The suffering are not forgotten in the world in which Christ walks. The storyline may not look like it will end well but even eternity brings sweet bliss to those who meet His touch. Christ looks for those who stretch out their hands when all else fails. His hands grasp ours when we have no life left in us. The child is found, the sick one is visited and the miserable are comforted. He gives a medicine no physician can conjure up, for He is the balm of Giliad. Somewhere, somehow Christ comes and the atmosphere changes. l believe He walks hospital hallways, empty airports, abandoned buildings, refugee camps bringing the antidote needed. He is the remedy for all of mankind pains and the answer to all their questions. Christ’s followers abound through the earth looking for the hurting and they pour out the oil and the wine. Christ always looks to those who touch Him with the touch of pain. His hands are stretched out still, for He ever lives to make intercession on our behalf. He loves to be loved and He knows each and everyone’s make up from what makes us tick to our favorite foods! He created us to need His touch! You are not just some number or a mistake or some nobody drifting through this life on this planet. God saw you as His since the beginning of time and He knows your need.

Who touched me? He is waiting for your need to get so big so that you press through the crowd and finally meet the lover of your soul. When you do touch Him that’s when you start your story!

EVERYONE HAS A STORY

And will manifest myself to him.
John 14:21
So, what is your story? Everybody has one, especially Christians. Our real story is His story because it starts with our first encounter with Christ. I often say that my life didn’t really start until I was born again, it was out of that first encounter with God’s love that I came alive and began to have purpose and meaning in my life. It’s funny the differences in our stories but also the stunning similarities that followers of Jesus have. Often it starts with a realization of our shortcomings, yes the sinfulness that characterizes our lives. Next, He reveals His love and forgiveness which brings us into the most shocking of all experiences. Forgiveness brings us into the presence of the Lord, this is often characterized by extreme and unexplainable joy. You could say you are alive for the first time, and now joy is filling every part of you. Here are some thoughts from Charles Spurgeon on this unfolding story.

“In the biographies of eminent saints, you will find many instances recorded in which Jesus has been pleased, in a very special manner to speak to their souls, and to unfold the wonders of his person; yea, so have their souls been steeped in happiness that they have thought themselves to be in heaven, whereas they were not there, though they were well nigh on the threshold of it-for when Jesus manifests himself to his people, it is heaven on earth; it is paradise in embryo; it is bliss begun. Especial manifestations of Christ exercise a holy influence on the believer’s heart. One effect will be happiness; for in God’s presence there are pleasures for evermore. Holiness will be sure to follow. A man who has no holiness has never had this manifestation. Some men profess a great deal; but we must not believe any one unless we see that his deeds answer to what he says.”
The holiness thing totally catches you by surprise. I never would have connected joy to a new holy lifestyle, joy was the last thing I would have connected with living right. I thought holiness smelled of somberness, I never would have associated it to ecstatic joy and celebration. So what is your story? Have you entered through His portal of forgiveness into bliss and holiness? That’s when you will truly begin to live.

PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT

Eph. 6:16-8 – In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Praying in the Spirit is the source of our power as Christians. Being filled with the Spirit, or walking in the Spirit, is not something that happens in moments of crisis or only special seasons of spiritual revival, it is our normal way of life as Christians. This is where we are strengthened for every aspect of our lives. That is where we are infused with moral courage and strength, power for ministry, grace to live in peace, and the supernatural ability to walk in love. Without this spiritual dynamic in our lives we are left to our own resources to “try” to be Christians. Here is how Andrew Murray describes the importance of praying in the Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit does not come to us just at times when we think we need Him or at times when we think we need His help. The Spirit comes to us as our lifelong companion. He wants to view us as His possession, completely and at all times. Many Christians do not understand this truth. They desire that the Spirit of God help and teach them, but they do not grasp that He wants to live within them continually and have full possession of their lives. Once we understand this, we will realize that it is possible to live while we continually pray through the Spirit. By faith, we will have the certainty that the Spirit will lead us to a prayerful attitude and make us aware of the presence of God, so that our prayer will be an exercise in our fellowship with God and His great love. As long as we limit the working of the Holy Spirit to certain times like Pentecost, it will remain an unsolved riddle to us.”
Praying in the Spirit can take on different forms. We can pray in the Spirit in our natural language, in praying scripture, and also praying in our heavenly language. Praying in the Spirit acknowledges our need for God in every area of our lives. We especially need His help when it comes to prayer. Pray in the Spirit, this is where we find God’s help in all our weaknesses.

THE POWER AND THE PRESENCE

The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

Israel wanted to be like the other nations, that’s why they kept demanding that Samuel would give them a king. Sound familiar? One of the first signs of a cold heart in the people of God is that they want to be like the rest of the world. I remember what Dick Mills said to me when revival first broke out in our church. He said it was the same thing he felt as a child in the early days of the Pentecostal outpouring. He said it lasted for about thirty years. He also said that the Pentecostals got tired of being different from everybody else, that’s when they lost the glory of God. They wanted to be like the other churches and that’s exactly what they got. A form of godliness without the power of God. In the same way, the Israelites got Saul, a man who stood out above everyone else. Saul was a man of human strength and effort, not a man of the Spirit. Here is how Watchman Nee describes Saul.
“Saul was of striking stature. ‘From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.’ No wonder Israel acclaimed him: they could all see his head. Yet how often does the head of man stand in the way of the will of God! It seems David understood this—David the man after God’s own heart, who time and again set human reason aside and acted instead in simple faith. Confronted with Goliath (whose head was even more prominent than Saul’s), he declined helmet and mail, and went out against him with but a sling. One well-aimed stone from this, lodged in the giant’s brow, brought him down. That day marked David out as Israel’s king.”
What Israel needed was David, a man after God’s own heart. David’s strength was his heart of worship. He was unashamed of worshipping, prophesying on his instruments, and dancing with all his might before the Lord. Those three things; worship, prophesy, and dancing before the Lord, are not too popular in today’s hip church world. Too many churches want to be acceptable (or relevant) to the culture of today. They may gain crowds of people but they will lose the one thing none of us can afford to lose; the power and presence of the Lord.