Monthly Archives: May 2012

Can You Humble Yourself?

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The highest mountain in the world has been in the news again the last couple of weeks.  During this year’s spring climbing season, six people, one of them a Canadian woman, died attempting to climb Mount Everest, which is 8,848 metres (5.5 miles) high.  It’s been the worst year since 1996 when 16 climbers paid with their lives for a taste of Everest’s glory.  Climbers are vulnerable to exhaustion and altitude sickness, many fatalities occurring on the way down.  This prompted one expedition leader to warn his clients rejoicing at the peak, “You’re only half-way there.”

All told, 240 people reached the summit this year, one of them a 73-year-old woman who set a record for being the oldest woman to scale the world’s highest peak.  A week later a British teenager became the youngest woman to climb it.

Everest was first conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on May 29,1953.  Since then about 10,000 people have attempted to climb what has been called the ultimate peak.  About 4,000 have been successful.

However, about 230 have made Mount Everest not only the highest mountain in the world, but also the highest graveyard.  The bodies of climbers who died on Everest are irretrievable because of the altitude and the terrain—and the expense.  They lie amid the snow and rocks on the windswept heights where they drew their last breath, their brightly-coloured mountain gear drawing the eyes of new climbers who year after year trudge somberly past the frozen corpses.

Yet year after year the number of climbers increases, undeterred by the very real prospect of adding to the growing graveyard there.  There’s just something about altitude that’s very attractive to us earthlings, isn’t there.  In fact climbing Everest has become a lucrative tourist attraction; you may not know a crampon from a crouton but if you’ve got the money (about $65,000) there are outfitters who will take you to the top.

People are continually trying to make new records climbing Everest.  The first to climb it.  The first to climb it without oxygen.  The oldest to climb it.  The youngest.  The fastest.  The one who’s climbed it most often.  The first to climb it in winter.  The first to climb it alone.

That would be Reinhold Messner, who climbed Everest without oxygen in 1978 with Peter Habeler.  The world was astonished at their impossible feat.  But it wasn’t enough for Messner.  Two years later he climbed Everest without oxygen alone, and on one of the more difficult routes.

Now considered the greatest mountaineer in the world, Messner was also the first man to climb all fourteen of the earth’s peaks over 8,000 metres.

All these firsts even at the risk of death… for a glory that is as fleeting as the flower of the grass.

But let me tell you of another Man of renown, one who attained eternal glory.  This one climbed a Mountain that causes world-renowned mountaineers like Reinhold Messner to lose their interest—and, when they hear of the route, their stomachs.  They climb earth’s highest mountains mocking at fear, looking down with disdain on places where eagles fly.  Yet their knees quake and their stomachs grow queasy at the prospect of this Mountain.

Because the way up this Mountain is down.

It’s the way our Lord Jesus Christ inaugurated for us when He climbed this Mountain— the first to do so.

He humbled Himself and took upon Him the form of a man—but not a man of pre-eminence and high society—a bondslave.  And as a bondslave He became obedient unto death.

Obedience unto death?  That’s not too bad, you say, there’s glory in a hero’s death.

But this Man’s death was not a hero’s death.  It was not an honourable death.  It was the death of a cross—the death of a criminal.  An ignoble death.  In his case it was an unjust death.  He had been wronged.  He did not deserve this treatment.  He had been falsely accused and maligned.

Yet He bore it all patiently without resentment.  He didn’t cry out for what was due Him. He didn’t plead with His persecutors for the honour that was being denied Him.

He was sheared of His honour and led as a Lamb to the slaughter, opening not His mouth.  He could have spared Himself the suffering by taking a little step of disobedience.  But no, He was “obedient unto death, even the death of a cross.”  For, He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a Name which is above every name
That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and in earth, and under the earth:
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Now He sits enthroned in glory on the summit of the highest Mountain in the universe—Mount Zion.

He that ascended first descended.

What about you and me?  We love those Everest heights of glory in the eyes of men; somehow we know we were meant for the heights, for we were created in the image of the high God.  But, oh… can we humble ourselves?  It seems it’s the most difficult thing for us to do—to humble ourselves…

…To esteem others better than ourselves; to serve others rather than be served.

…To bear patiently wrong treatment when we are right, and pray for those who ill treat us.

…To acknowledge it when we are wrong.

…To ask forgiveness.

…To forgive.

It’s a tough route… and cannot be accomplished without grace… and the Oxygen of the Spirit of God.

But only those who go this route arrive at the height of Mount Zion.

The Garrison Of Peace

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I was in a gathering a couple of days ago in which some very sincere prayer went up on behalf of certain ones who are going through some very difficult things.  I want to draw attention to just one of them.  I later heard that one of the young sisters we had been praying for—she was not present in the gathering, in fact was hundreds of miles away—told her husband when he got home (he had been present in the gathering) that she actually “felt the prayers.”

I find this very encouraging.  Sometimes you wonder what your prayers actually do… and sometimes you are tempted to believe they don’t do anything at all.  I’ve been praying for many years about certain things… with no answer thus far.

But I say tempted, because, beloved, if we only knew the heart of our God, and His great love toward us, and His great concern, we would know how deeply interested He is in us and all we go through, and He wants us to continue to bring our prayers before Him.  Something effectual takes place, as we saw in this instance.

It’s very reassuring to read Paul’s words to the Philippians.

Be careful (anxious) for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God that passeth understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4.7).

The word keep there is much stronger in the original; it actually means to garrison, to mount a guard over.  “And the peace of God shall be a garrison, a guard, over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  How deeply we need this garrison of the peace of God!  Some troubling thought comes up… but no, the guards refuse to give it access into the mind; some anxious concern tries to force entry into the heart but the garrison bars it.

How does this become effectual?  Notice the link in this passage.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And...

There’s the link.  “And, the peace of God which passeth understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The one follows the other.  We make our requests known to God, and consequently the garrison of peace keeps us from all anxiety.  For, it’s a loving God we are praying to, we are bringing our requests to a God whose love for us can be measured only by the Cross of the Son of His love.  He has given us His Son, and shall He not also, in giving Him, freely give us all things?   Therefore, once we have brought our requests to Him, the peace of this loving God garrisons and protects us from every anxious doubting thought.  He loves us beyond our ability to comprehend.  And His love is at work.  He is working all things together for good on our behalf.

He wants to assure us of this.  Just look at how often in our Bible He does this.  I thought I’d prepare a list of how, over and over again, our God tries to persuade us (it seems we need to be persuaded) that He hears our prayers… and will answer.  Here are just a few instances, all from the Psalms.  Some of them are at… what shall I say… they’re not just neat tidy prayers, they’re at a pretty deep gut level.  Read them, asking this one question.  It was God who inspired these prayers to be written.  Why?  Just to fill up Bible space?

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness… (Ps. 4.1)

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation,
Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for unto Thee will I pray… (Ps. 5.1)

Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not forth out of feigned lips… (Ps. 17.1)

The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble… (Ps. 20.1)

Unto Thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me, lest if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit… (Ps. 28.1)

Save me, O God, by Thy Name, and judge me by Thy strength,
Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth… (Ps. 54. 1,2)

Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not Thyself from my supplication… (Ps. 55.1)

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer,
From the ends of the earth will I cry unto Thee when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I… (Ps. 61. 1,2)

Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer; preserve me from fear of the enemy (Ps. 64.1)

Praise waiteth for Thee, O God, in Zion, and unto Thee shall the vow be performed.
O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come… (Ps. 65. 1,2)

Save me O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul.
I sink in deep mire where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying, my throat is dried; mine eyes fail while I wait for my God… (Ps. 69. 1-3)

Make haste O God, to deliver me; make hast to help me, O LORD… (Ps. 70.1)

In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be put to confusion… (Ps. 71.1)

I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice, and He gave ear unto me… (Ps. 77.1)

Give ear O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock, Thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth…
O LORD of hosts, how long wilt Thou be angry against the prayer of Thy people? (Ps. 85. 1,4)

Keep not silence, O God; Hold not Thy peace, for Thine enemies make a tumult… (Ps. 83.1)

Bow down Thine ear, O LORD, hear me, for I am poor and needy… (Ps. 86.1)

O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before Thee;
Let my prayer come before thee; incline thine ear unto my cry;
For my soul is full of troubles… (Ps. 88.1)

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto Thee… (Ps. 102.1)

I love the LORD, because He hath heard the voice of my supplications… (Ps. 116.1)

In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and He heard me… (Ps. 120.1)

Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens… (Ps. 123.1)

Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O LORD.
Lord, hear my voice; let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared… (Ps. 130. 1-4)

LORD, I cry unto Thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto Thee… (Ps. 141.1)

I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.
I poured out my complaint unto Him.  I shewed before Him my trouble… (Ps. 142. 1,2)

Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplication: in Thy faithfulness answer me, and in Thy righteousness;
And enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified… (Ps. 143.1,2)

Again, why did God inspire these prayers?  Surely it is because He wants to give us complete assurance that the God who inspired the cry will answer our cry.

And so… let us continue to make our requests known unto Him—requests not just for ourselves, but for others.  A precious sister we know discovered a couple of days ago that there’s something effectual that begins to work as a result.

The God Of Peace

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I am struggling for words as I begin to write this, but I must try to relate an experience I had a few days ago.

I was out in a park pouring out my heart to the Lord, for, I go through some very hard things at times.  Like all of us these days.

I don’t know if I can adequately describe how I was feeling, except to say that I felt my whole life was so… what has it amounted to?  I felt so… broken… so… brought to nothing.

And unexpectedly a deep peace came very close to me.  It caught me unawares; I wasn’t expecting it.  I’ve known a measure of the peace of God over the years, but this was a peace deeper than anything I have ever known.  It was precious beyond words… so precious that I immediately cried out (in my heart), “Lord, you must keep this for me; I don’t trust myself to keep this; please keep this for me lest I lose it.”

…And after a few moments… it… or should I say, He… withdrew.

Paul writes of the peace of God that passeth understanding… but also of the God of peace.  I believe it was the God of peace Himself who drew so close to me, for there was a precious Presence in this peace.  And even though it was but for a few moments I have come to realize… beloved, we too readily presume in the present level of our spiritual consciousness.  What I mean is, we consider ourselves spiritually conscious when in fact we are yet very short of the consciousness of God.  There are depths in our God that we simply know nothing about.  That afternoon I touched a God who…  He is a God of peace.  Oh, He loves peace.  He loves peace more deeply than we can comprehend.  In fact He is peace, peace at a level beyond words to describe.  Strife of any kind is to Him the most jarring of things.  Violence, force, contention, harshness, strife… whether in word or deed… it pierces Him to the heart.  This strife-torn world is an alien world to Him.  He is so gentle of heart.  Oh how He longs for a world that is filled with His peace.

And He will yet have such a world.  For He has promised that of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end… till the kingdom of His righteousness and peace covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.

I feel so helpless trying to describe the peace I felt, and I guess I have to give up trying.  What is a description compared with an experience?

And so all I can say is… it isn’t enough that I had so fleeting a taste of this peace.  All it did was wreck me.  It seems like all else has become ashes to me.  I must pursue this peace.  I will not stop short of coming to abide in this peace… in this God of peace.  I noticed in my Interlinear Bible that every place where the God of peace is mentioned it actually says, “the God of the peace.”  In other words, it is a matchless peace, there is none other like it—the peace of God Himself… the God of peace Himself.

Oh, to abide in this peace!

The Minister Of The Church

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Continuing with what has been on my heart the last while—this verse in Hebrews again:

Now a summary of the things being spoken of is, we have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens; a minister of the holies, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man (Heb. 8.1).

If we as God’s people were to become more conscious of this reality it would revolutionize the way we do church.  For, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the minister of the holy things in the true tabernacle (or temple) of God.  It’s ingrained in us to think of the pastor as the main minister of a church.  But this concept is a falling away from the biblical model.  The true model is one of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself being the primary minister in the church.  He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, but by the Holy Spirit He is present right here in our midst—the great High Priest ministering about the holy things of God.  Pastors (shepherds) indeed have a vital place in the church, but not as the centre of ministry.  They are just one among many ministries the Lord has ordained in a kingdom of priests each one of whom is to be involved in the church—vitally involved.

How then can I, an ordinary Christian, become vital?  As I said last time, by becoming conscious of Jesus Christ Himself, the Minister of the holy things in His tabernacle.  What I see Him doing I do; that becomes my authority and power to function in His church, because it is actually His own ministry.

And–this is a very great challenge–liberty must be given in the assembly for this High Priest to minister through whom He chooses.

How we need to be more conscious of Him, then–this great High Priest ministering about the holy things of God in the true tabernacle.  He is clothed in white linen down to the foot—white linen, symbolic of rest; His is a ministry that is not His own works and strivings; the things He does, His righteous works, are the rest of the Spirit.  And so as we become conscious of Him, the same grace that empowers Him begins to lay hold of us, and we too cease from our own works; we abide in His rest, doing only what we see Him doing.  No matter how trying the situation we are in, or how difficult, our own labours will not resolve it; we must surrender all, and trust that the One clad in the priestly robe of white linen is at the same time seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the Heavens with all power in heaven and earth.   He is able to accomplish, and shall accomplish, what nothing else can accomplish.  He shall accomplish all.

He has upon Him, over the white linen garment, the robe of blue and the ephod; He has upon His shoulders (the place of strength) and upon His breastplate (the place of love and affection) the names of His people; He bears their cause before the Throne of Grace; He has in that breastplate the Urim and Thummim of perfect light as to the Father’s will for them, and has power to carry out that will.

He wears upon His head a turban of the same white linen wrapt round and round—for His thoughts are not the toiling and spinning of a labouring mind, but the mind of the Spirit, which is life and peace.

Crowning it all is the golden plate with the words, Holiness unto the LORD. 

 And the anointing oil upon His head drips down to the skirts of His garments… even to the foot.

And—awaken us, Lord—all this is to be operative not just way up in Heaven, but right here in our midst in the true tabernacle because of the Holy Spirit.  In the Holy Spirit we ourselves become vitally conscious of all this, are joined to this High Priest in the expression of all this, are partakers of this character and light and power.  At least this is God’s intention for us in the New Covenant.

So we must not stop short of this till it is reality in our experience.  We must not settle for less.

Take this wondrous mystery—of Christ our High Priest being right here in our midst by the Holy Spirit in you and me—a step further.  This great High Priest reveals Himself to you in a certain way, and to me in another way.  It is your consciousness of what He is doing that governs your participation in His priestly ministry in His tabernacle; my consciousness of Him governs my participation. Thus we become a kingdom of priests each one with a unique expression of the High Priest Himself.  At times He may reveal Himself to us in the same way, and we find ourselves praying together, or ministering together… as He Himself prays and ministers.  Our consciousness of Christ—what we see Him doing, hear Him saying—governs our participation in His ministry.  And because it is He Himself who is ministering in all we say and do, we discover ourselves in perfect harmony with one another—a body perfectly coordinated by the Head.

I anticipate that this Great King Priest of ours is about to reveal Himself in the Holy Spirit such that you and I will become more and more conscious of Him, and of what He is doing—more aware, actually, that we are one with Him.

At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in Me, and I in you (Jn. 14.20).

What day?  The day of the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  Oh, the wonder of this!  By the Holy Spirit in us we are one with Him.  For the Holy Spirit is one with Him.  “I will not leave you comfortless,” He said.  “I… will come to you.”  You say, I have the Holy Spirit but I don’t have what you are talking about.  Yes, and neither do I.  But the Day of the coming of the Comforter is not over yet.  Before this Day is over you and I are going to be fully awakened and conscious of this unity—that we are one with the Son of God, this Great High Priest of the true tabernacle.  This consciousness will become the inspiration and empowering of all we say and do.

And what we do will actually be His own doing

…Just as Christ Himself said, “I do only those things which I see My Father do.”  He was one with His Father; in all He did, He was just doing what His Father was doing.  He was conscious of His Father; He knew what His Father was doing.  In fact He said that it was the Father who dwelt in Him that was doing the works (Jn. 14.10).

Can you envision yourself saying the same thing—that the thing you just did… it was actually the Son of God who dwells in you who did that?  This is what the Holy Spirit in you and me is all about.  The Holy Spirit here in the earth does what He sees the Son doing in Heaven; He speaks what He hears the Son speaking, and nothing else.  He reveals the Son of God in you and me; He makes us one with the Son.

He shall not speak of (from) Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak, and He will shew you things to come. He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and shew it unto you (Jn. 16.13,14).

“He shall glorify Me…”  How we long to see Him glorified in the earth again!  And we shall see it.  In fact shall be part of it.  For the Holy Spirit is committed to this cause.

There is nothing more wondrous, more precious, more holy, more beautiful, more awesome, more meaningful, more filled with purpose, than this—that when Jesus Christ ascended to the Father, He received the Promise of the Father—the Holy Spirit—in a dimension and empowering that enabled Him to send that Spirit into our hearts, thus making us one with Himself.

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.

The Minister Of The Holies

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The following passage of Scripture has been much on my heart of late.

Now a summary of the things being spoken of is, we have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens; a minister of the holies, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man (Heb. 8.1).

This is from my Interlinear Bible; the King James Version has, “a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle…”  But the original Greek has, simply, “a minister of the holies,” that is, of the holy things, or holy places.”  I think the context lends itself to holy things, that is, the holy duties of the priest relative to the things of the tabernacle—his ministry relative to the brazen altar and the laver, the table of showbread, the lampstand, and the golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant.

What is the true tabernacle?  It’s that Tabernacle you and I are part of—Christ Himself, the Dwelling Place of God.  The old tabernacle in the wilderness was but a type of the true tabernacle.  Aaron ministered in that one; Christ Himself is the High Priest in this Tabernacle.  He is the Minister, ministering about the holy things of the Tabernacle.  We catch a glimpse of this in The Revelation, where John saw One walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands—our great High Priest trimming the lampstands.

The Lord Jesus Christ, then, is the Minister of the true Tabernacle.  How can this be so?  He is in Heaven, and we are here in the earth.  But—and this is the most wondrous of truths, and utterly astonishing to me, as I wrote last time—by the Holy Spirit here in the earth, Christ Himself is present here in the true tabernacle ministering about the holy things of God.  For Jesus told His disciples when He was about to leave them, “I will not leave you comfortless (orphans), I will come to you.”  And He was speaking of the coming of the Comforter, the Spirit of truth.

Sometimes when I consider this momentous truth I feel like one asleep in the dust being awakened by fits and starts.  I am barely conscious to this reality.  I awaken for a moment and the revelation is so wondrous I can scarcely take it in… and I sink back into sleep.  Why can’t I stay awake?  Then I am awakened again… and am struck with wonder again.  This truth is so overwhelming in its beauty, so rich with reality… you mean this is what God has for us?  It’s too much for me to take in.  By comparison my present experience is so puny; I feel I am too far behind.

But this has been quickened to my heart again the last few days… and I must trust Him who is awake to continue to awaken me.  And I know He will.  I am anticipating a greater consciousness of this Minister of the holy things in the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man.  I almost said awareness, but consciousness is the better word, because it’s by the Holy Spirit in us that we are made one with this Minister of the holy things.  It’s by the Holy Spirit that we are made conscious of Christ Himself—that we are One with Him. 

Jesus said:

For where two or three are gathered (that is, have been gathered) together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them (Mt. 18.20).

How is Jesus in the midst?  Not invisibly, somehow.  He is in the midst of those gathered in His Name because of the Holy Spirit in them.  The High Priest of the true tabernacle is in the midst of the tabernacle because of the Holy Spirit in those who are part of this Tabernacle.  Oh for eyes to see Him, then—that it is He Himself who is ministering in the midst of those who are gathered in His Name.

In fact Christ Himself is the only valid Minister in the tabernacle.  Only what He Himself is doing is sanctioned by God.  How attentive, then, you and I must be—how sanctified unto Christ—that our ministry and involvement in this Tabernacle be His very own involvement.  Think of that, beloved.  Even at this moment the High Priest of the true tabernacle is ministering therein.  What is He doing?  I say to you, only as the Holy Spirit in you and me communicates to us that knowledge, that awareness—that consciousness—are we able to minister in this Tabernacle in any valid way. All else is futile, even counterproductive.  What He is doing, this alone must be our own doing.

The writer of Hebrews calls us “holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling” (Heb. 3.1).  He is talking of the heavenly priesthood.  And notice the word partakers there.  In other words, there is only one calling—Christ’s calling—of which we are partakers.  He is the apostle and high priest of our confession; only as we partake of His calling are we functioning acceptably before God in His Tabernacle.

And so this must be more and more our cry and prayer—oh, to become more conscious of this Great High Priest who is ministering in the true Tabernacle while at the same time being seated at the right hand of the Throne of God.  How can He be there and here at the same time?

Again, because of the Holy Spirit.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Oh for the scales to fall from our eyes!  The Holy Spirit in the earth and the Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven… they are one.

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.