Reality Perceived

A journey always starts with a forward movement of some kind. There is then an ensuing process that follows with, in most cases, an ending objective. If you live in Albuquerque, NM and are driving to Denver, CO there is both a starting and ending point. Scripture presents life as being quite similar. Whether individuals recognize it or not, every human is on a journey that begins and ends somewhere. The only difference between some in comparison to others is that ‘believers’ actually know where they are going, while others aimlessly walk down a path disconnected with reality.

This being my first of many varying posts, I would like to lay somewhat of a foundation by making the statement that we are called to move forward into the things of God. There are gifts, encounters, anointings and experiences that await us if we will but daily say ‘yes’ to Jesus and what He has called us to. You see, perception is everything because it is how reality is truly perceived at a heart-level that you in turn define your life. A life that is void of an accurate perception – lacking a root system founded upon the soon to come Kingdom of God – is a life deceived. If to you truth is nothing other than what you see with the natural eye, then you will live for the happiness that you believe this ‘truth’ provides. Nevertheless, if you believe there is more to life than what this world has to offer, you will then have the invitation to live for something unseen. To the former, reality is rooted in and goes no further than the touches, the tastes and the smells of this globe. They look at the believers who are living for more than what is seen and inaccurately view them as giving themselves to something of no value. It makes no sense to them. They wonder why someone would give their whole life to a reality that is based solely on an unseen hope.

Jesus said it best in His meeting with Nicodemus. In His conversation with the Sanhedrin Elder, He speaks of the spiritual realm as a place that cannot be understood by the flesh. In John 3:8 He says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born on the Spirit.” Jesus is clarifying to Nicodemus that the reason he does not understand the principle of being born again (as He mentioned in vv. 3-6) is because he is not of the spirit. If he were of the spirit, he would be – in earthly terms – like the wind. Those who are not of the wind watch it come and go, having no idea from where it is coming or going. It is mysterious to them and is thus, understood not. So if ones entire lifelong journey was in a windstorm that was picking up dust and sand hindering their ability see what direction they were walking (as the spirit of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers), they would not know where they were going. However, if a person was somehow able to become one-with-the-wind they would have the ability to know where they are going and where they came from. If you are of the wind, then you will understand the wind. Those who are not of the wind do not understand it. The same applies to our journey as Christians whose life is hidden with Christ in the spirit. In this scene Jesus is saying the concept of being born again goes a lot deeper than your moment of receiving Him as Lord and Savior. It’s about journeying down a spiritual road of life that is rooted and grounded in the coming Kingdom. The “wind of the Spirit” becomes something that is no longer just a phrase that we use in prayer meetings to describe a move of God, but it becomes something personal in our walk with the Lord. The Son of Man is addressing a lifestyle, an expedition; an expedition that seeks vision and calling through prayer. By rooting ourselves in the place of prayer and communion with Him we set our minds on things above and begin to be grounded in the eternal reality of Christ’s coming reign where all that is in heaven and on earth is brought together in Him (Eph. 1:10). Intercession then begins because our desires are plumb lined with His.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, full pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. (Colossians 1:9-11)

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)

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Growing In Love Through Spiritual Gifts

The root of darkness has bound, confined and bedeviled humanity since it’s dawning upon our image-bearing race.  The disobedient choice of the first Adam birthed a bi-product of sin and death in the members of man (Rom. 5:19); and it is for this reason the chasm between God and humanity has existed since the Fall.  The Father instituted a separation between the realms of heaven and earth because holiness and righteousness were all but rejected by the ones whom He created.  An attitude that exalted itself against the Triune God and His ways was birthed and fed through Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey.  Nonetheless, hope was far from lost.  We were created to be voluntary lovers and the choice that was made in the cool of the Garden six millennia ago has in no way hindered and/or altered the plan of God.  His affections have not changed for us, and He is zealous as ever to feel the pleasure of a love that emerges from free will.  His intentions towards humanity can be no clearer than in the Son and set forth in no more explicit a way than in His death on the cross.  

Those who gaze at the moment on Calvary in awe and feel its redemptive power enter into the wisdom, which in the worlds eyes, is considered foolishness – as mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:20 – for the cross will always be considered a “crossing of the line of absurdity” to those who have not experienced its power.  Yet, for us who have experienced it and believe, we mustn’t look at the Crucifixion and notice only the lengths God has gone to redeem us through forgiveness, and the authority we have now been given through our hiddenness in Christ (Eph. 2:2).  Redemption, forgiveness and authority are all very important facets to the Christian faith.  Even so, the reason Christ came and died can be seen as two fold: 1) Go the unimaginable lengths to show His love to us and; 2) make a way for us to both receive (feel) and give ardent love comprehensively (it will be the second that we address).

The verdict of that blood stained cross and empty grave was God giving Himself to us.  It is through the sending of His Spirit this is done (Rom. 5:5), and to not lay a hold of Him and the fullness of our inheritance (that which we have been given – i.e., God) would be to sell ourselves short.  It would be to remain cemented in the foundation of the very cross that beckons us to run in the victory established there.  We fix our gaze on the cross to have an ability to look beyond it.  The launching pad to fulfilling the first and greatest commandment (loving God with all out heart, soul…) comes from what we have been given through the cross.  A freshly paved avenue has been laid, giving us the ability to walkout intimacy with God at a level that seemed to near extinction before Jesus’ coming.  This avenue can be best defined as the New Covenant, or more specifically and to help develop the title of this article, it is God living in us, i.e. the Holy Spirit (John 14-16).

Now that somewhat of a foundation has been laid let us take a look at what gives weight to my title.  Christ died and sent His Spirit so we could be with Him where He is – in the Spirit (John 17:24).  Through the Holy Spirit’s dwelling in us we now have entrance to that very place.  It is in this realm that we find Him, learn about Him and become like Him.  For God is Spirit and loving Him in a manner worthy due Him, is done there, where He dwells (John 4:24).  The Spirit taking abode in us is both a promise as well as an invitation.  It is a promise of our eternal inheritance but an invitation into experiencing an undetermined degree of that inheritance now.  Now, put simply, our inheritance is God, and it is this area of study that makes us true theologians.  For genuine theologians are not birthed by natural means, but by spiritual.  Familiarity with this domain comes only by moving in it (true theology is the inevitable result of experience).  Thus, the operation of the gifts of the Spirit would be the step of faith that comes from a heart truly desiring to love and know God.  The institution of “the gifts” is where the mysteries of God are hastened into the natural order as a revelatory invitation to love (i.e. experience) Him and others in a greater measure (1 Cor. 14:2).  This was Paul’s hammer point concerning spiritual gifts in his first epistle to the Corinthian Church.  In chapters twelve through fourteen he makes it clear that spiritual gifts are given for the profit of all (12:7; 14:3).  After addressing specific gifts and how they are to be used in a communal context he, in the closing of the twelfth chapter, exhorts them to earnestly desire the greatest gifts (12:31).  “Why?” you might ask.  It is for the purpose of love!  This is seen in the apostles’ point made in the next verse (13:1).  The operation of these gifts is meant to usher us into a deeper love.  That is why between faith, hope and love, it is love that is the greatest (13:13).  Faith releases the gifts, hope stabilizes us in the midst of them and love is why they exist.  They are not for platforms, showmanship or bragging rights.  Rather, they are to be faith filled cries of hope that long to love Him more.  No matter how dim our spiritual sight may be, the regular institution of these gifts in our life is the “staring at” and “studying of” those characteristics found within that murky sphere.  It is this practice that is unto both loving Christ more (Eph. 1:15-21) and becoming like Him (2 Cor. 3:18).  Thus, we see intimacy (this word being best defined as both knowing and loving God – the fulfilling of the greatest commandment) as something that hinges heavily on our part to walk by faith in the spirit through the expression of gifts that we have been given in the spirit.  They are doorways into the heart God, Himself.  

The Affections of God Revealed in Christ

One of the most important truths that should be soldered to our temperament is the act of remembrance (Psalm 20:7, 42:1–4, 63:6, 78:7, 119:16; Isaiah 43:26, 44:21, 46:8–11; Luke 22:19; Ephesians 2:11). It is through this practice that we start to draw the truths of who God is closer to the threshold of faith where intellectual ideas move into a place of belief and credence. It fuels the heart’s desire to pursue, and it foreruns the needed precedence of fasting and prayer in one’s life. Recollection of what the Triune God has prescribed for our lives as believers bolsters our confidence in the place of intercession and ignites poise before the finite ways of man. Furthermore, looking at what has been documented in the Word of God is in essence studying that which we have been called to remember (Psalm 119:15–16). We are gaining memories of Him and establishing a history in God by doing this. The affections of God towards humanity are fortified throughout the pages of the holiest of books, and it is our job to feast on those documented events, remembering how the Lord has shared the intimate affections of His heart with us—the fullness of which is found in the Man Jesus Christ. To this end, and for the purpose of this article, what we find specifically in the Gospels is a selective history that chronicles the ultimate affections of God, radiating from Jesus. To study the life and Person of this Man is to view the climax of God’s eternal pursuit of the human race (Hebrews 1:1–3).

 

In the Gospel narratives, the affections of God are set before us in a manner of such extremity that it can easily become a scandalous breach to all that we believe is right within human intellect. God the Son, choosing to enter the world as a human being, delves into a mystery deeper than even the greatest of human imaginations can journey. To think of the infinite and unending rationale behind the actions of this one event is to submerse oneself in a meditation which stretches as far as the boundless Spirit will take you. We see the pre–existent Christ coming in the lowly form of a babe in order to redeem the very thing He had become. It was at the moment of Jesus’ conception within Mary that God became something that He once was not. Now, confined to a seed within a woman, Baby Jesus would grow through the normal stages of birth, not knowing that, in His underdeveloped frame, there was confined the mystery of God’s will to have heaven and earth synthesize and fuse, taking residence within one another (Ephesians 1:9–10). Sparse as the record may be, Luke then documents God as a child growing, learning (Luke 2:40,52) and fulfilling His role as the second Adam to redeem both Israel and the nations of the earth. 

 

Nothing is then mentioned of Him during an eighteen–year silence. Putting His humility and meekness to forefront, He walked among the people of Israel unknown to all of His true identity. However, when the fullness of His time had come, He stepped out of the shadows of obscurity and began to call a nation back to the truth of their identity (Galatians 4:4–5). The kingdom of heaven was at hand, and His affections drove Him to vehemently run after a people who had all but removed the intimate meaning behind their true identity as sons and daughters of Abraham. In the lowly form of the created, the Creator looked into the eyes and lives of real people. He had unhindered, unfallen, untainted emotions for each individual. For the first time since the Fall, the purest and most holy form of love imaginable was manifested in the natural through a human. God in the flesh cried out to them as a bridegroom would summon for his bride. Longing to soothe the raging torrents of His heart, He made an extreme appeal unto them, aching for a response of renewed devotion and love from the ones to whom He had betrothed Himself (Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 2:19). The definitive statement of God’s intentions towards humanity is found in this Man.

 

We must see that our identity comes from God, and that we cannot understand ourselves as a cherished bride until we know what our Husband is like. The importance of studying Gods affections for us is that it will shatter the lies of the enemy concerning what He is truly like. Though many of us may never say it, we believe that He is a disappointed taskmaster who is wondering when we are going to stop sinning and get it all together. We must see that He is not like this, but rather our merciful Father who has and continues to pursue us to the deepest of depths. It is time to for us to remember God as one who has saved us from death (Isaiah 25:8; Romans 6:4–10), given us eternal life (Ephensians 2:5; 1 John 1:2), sealed us with His Spirit (Ephesians 1:13–14), and now calls us His offspring in the same way God the Son is. And if we are sons, what does that mean but that we also heirs (Romans 8:14–17). Thus, in conclusion, we as heirs can see the greatness of our Father’s affections for us as One who is in pursuit and seeking to extravagantly lavish His love on the ones with whom He is so inexplicably in love.

Psalm 27:4

Once a year thousands gather in Kansas City, Missouri to fast and pray at a conference dubbed Onething.  Many of these individuals have an eye that is single and a passion that is great.  Our mission as leaders at IHOP-KC is to further the prayer movement globally by calling individuals such as these into extravagant devotion to Jesus through prayer, fasting and the study of Gods Word.  The Onething Conference has been set in place to ignite, reignite, and further inflame the hearts of many who are daily falling deeper in love with Jesus.  To this end, I would like to address the verse that has molded the foundation and given life to the roots of this conference’s focus and entitlement – Psalm 27:4.

My expounding of said verse is rooted in a reality that has fueled much of what has taken place at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.  This verse has a very significant prophetic heritage not only in my life, but also in the founding of IHOP-KC.  The one thing reality is a lifestyle that beckons for something deeper, something greater, something so experientially unthinkable that it can only be explained by words such as, “It was God!”  Jesus is raising up individuals across this earth who have a similar resolve in their spirit as David did in this psalter.  They are ones who desire only one thing from the Lord – encounter.  They want to meet Him, be saturated in His manifest presence, and be consumed with a Man that will shake heaven, earth and humanity to its very foundations. 

The one thing of King David was an all-consuming passion that was both released and expressed appropriately.  It is here that I would like to introduce the foundational principle of the verse: the depth of David’s cry to seek, dwell, behold, and inquire in the presence of God was both satisfied and fueled in the place of prayer.  Even as a king, David was first and foremost a worshipper (2 Chr. 6:8). His heart was living for something more than his current sovereign rule over Israel.  We see his spiritual identity in other psalms remaining fixed on being both loved and a lover of God, a passionate worshipper who longed to encounter and understand the beauty and wonder of God (Ps. 19; 36; 145; 18:1; 31:23; 36:8; 145:5).

In the New Testament we see the ideal example of an individual who grasped this same truth.  In Luke 10 we see Mary, the sister of Martha, choosing the very thing that Jesus defines as the “one thing” that is needed (Luke 10:42).  She had the revelation that sitting at the feet of Jesus was where the feast could be found and her life source would be drawn (John 6:33-58).  The fruit of her being in this place was an infilling of understanding in her spirit that went beyond the normal human intellect concerning Jesus’ identity.  As one looks at all of the great minds of her time, it was a young maiden – most likely with a minimal amount of education – who knew why God had come in the flesh.  She sat before Him, listened to His words, and in turn gained insight into the death of Jesus (John 12:3).

Jesus was going somewhere and Mary was given the wisdom needed to understand where He was going – the cross.  Presently, humanity is in a unique hour and it begs that we seek, dwell, behold, and inquire of the Lord as both Mary and David did.  This is because once again, Jesus is going somewhere.  He will not be at the right hand of the Father in heaven forever.  His return is certain and He desires to share with those who waste their lives in devotion to Him what He is doing and how we can partner with Him.  His second coming hinges on the ones who partner with Him through prayer and worship (Is. 42:10-14) and listen to what the Spirit is testifying (John 16:13).  His second coming is a response to a global cry, not a surprise to lethargic a bride. 

The Law of the Spirit – Bit #1

I’M BACK!  

I would like to begin by establishing the train of thought from which I will be generating my writing.  I intend to take us on a journey concerning the definition of what Paul defines in his letter to the Romans as the “law of the Spirit of life” (Romans 8:2).  The various angles we will approach this reality stem from a single root system – the cross of Jesus Christ.  The authority and different callings in a Christian’s life long saunter hinge on this most important of events documented in the history books of man.  That which was established on a warm spring day in 29 C.E. goes far beyond what most Christians define as salvation – a title that has had it’s definition skewed by man to denote something more to his carnal comfort.   

At the inception of our discussion of said doctrine, I set before you a question: To what extent have you squandered your salvation?  If you were given one million dollars in cash, what would you do with it?  Would you take it, let it sit in your closet and never spend a single penny of it?  Or, would you start investing and spending the money you had been given?  I submit, that there would probably be some spending that would occur.  That which was established through the Cross of Christ has ushered believers into an attainable truth that, since the fall, has been a near hopeless reality for man’s disposition.  We have now been given God (Rom. 5:5).  He has gifted Himself to us and offered us passageway into the realm that has been guarded by two seraphic beings for more than three millennia (Gen. 3:24).  Millions across the earth now have entrance into something that so few were able to before the cross.  Once again, man has entrance into the two-fold existence of heaven and earth through the man Christ Jesus.  It is through Him we have received the free gift of salvation (Rom. 5:15-16; 6:23) as well as the divine grace that is needed to walk in what we have been called beyond that moment when we were sealed by the Holy Spirit for eternal life (Eph. 1:13).

There has been a higher law established exceeding the law that brought the recognition of both death and sin (Romans 7:7).  This newer law brings the recognition and ability of walking in life, rather than being plagued by the spirit of death.  It sits above all other laws and beckons us to come under it’s absolute authority as the commandment that has laid hold of all other spiritual laws and suppressed them through Jesus Christ.  The Son of Man came and fulfilled the Law of the Moses (Matt. 5:17) through His exploits in ministry and His work on the cross.  This was done so all who are saved through Him would have an open door (John 10:7) into the same reality as He, and fulfill the law in a way that is the likeness of His accomplishment.  Jesus was a forerunner into true life.  What He has accomplished as the first born from the dead gives us entry into an identical realm of life that He now operates in, through our own death and resurrection (Rom. 6:4-11); “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10).”

To this end, I would like us to understand and see there is something far beyond the genesis of salvation.  Steps that are submersed in the law of the Spirit of life fulfill the righteous requirement of the law, which in turn engenders us to move forward into the works we have been destined for (Eph. 2:10).  A layman would put it as such – we begin to fulfill the law (definition of this law will come at another time, but for now please see Matt. 22:37-40) as Jesus did and walk in the fullness of grace by stepping into something we already have and moving in what we are called to do.  For I say to you, there is no greater expression of grace than this.

The Sufferings of Intercession

Within the following post I would like put forth a new insight that has shed some light on the activity of intercession for me. Throughout the writings of Paul we can see a theme of “fellowships” that have been laid out and he called us to. His epistles speak of the “fellowship of the Son” (1 Cor. 1:9), the “fellowship of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 13:14; Phil. 2:1), the “fellowship of faith” (Philem. 6), and even John notes a “fellowship” we have with “one another” (1 Jn. 1:7). But the one we will be addressing throughout this post is what Paul refers to as the “fellowship of sufferings,” found in Phil. 3:10. I have always looked to this verse as being mostly the partnership we make with the Spirit through our denial of self unto the pursuit of holiness. For instance, I will deny giving into my carnal desires, fast from food, entertainment, external pleasures, pray on a consistent basis, try to be humble, and view this as the majority of that which Paul called us to in this fellowship (excluding the “external sufferings” that we will briefly discuss below). And it is this, but only a part. It’s one side of a two-sided coin. Continue reading

The Glory of the Wrestle – Part 2

In trying to build on what was said in part 1, I would like to begin this post by stating the Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him. The degree of blessing that can be experienced by an individual corresponds exactly with the amount of completeness God has had victory over them. And it is in the illustration of Jacob wrestling with God this is no more apparent.

Little did Jacob know, while standing on the ford of Jabbok, when the sun began to set and darkness commenced to cover the land that his victory would be found in defeat. Continue reading