Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Walking In Intimate Delight

23 March 2011

"Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away,
For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove
Is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grapes
Give a good smell,
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away! (from Song of Solomon 2:10-13)

God's plan was and is for us to walk in intimate delight with Himself in the garden, in the cool of the day. Adam lost this privilege, but on the cross Jesus bought it back again for all of us.

Now we have choices to make. I want to focus on one.

Here's a parable about a merchant that made a good choice.
Matthew 13:45,46:
45. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,
46. "who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

So, why did the merchant sell all that he had to buy the pearl? Because it was worth it. The pearl was worth it all, and likewise it's worth it for us to sell all that we have to gain a precious intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus - to know Him, and for Him to know us.

In Philippians 3 Paul shared that he had everything going for him. However, he writes:
7. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
8. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9. and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
10. That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

A very precious truth was revealed to Paul, and he made the right choice.

And why would we sell out for the Lord? Because He's worth it!

Jim Elliot wrote in his journal, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."
This sounds a lot like Matthew 6:19-21:
19. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
20. "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal,
21. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Psalm 16:11 says, "You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Psalm 27:4 says, "One thing have I desired of the Lord, That will I seek; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple."
David had a clear revelation of the Lord God. Here he made the right choice.

What are some things that hold people back from growing in intimacy with the Lord Jesus? Or what diverts our attention so that we forget about the Lord and His goodness and beauty?

1. Ignorance or blindness or a misconception of the Lord God

This could be based on a view of the Lord God as an unloving, judgmental task master. The truth is, you are precious in the sight of the Lord, and greatly beloved. This is illustrated very well in Luke 15 in the parable of the prodigal son.

2. Good things, delights, beautiful and amazing things, wonderful new discoveries, and those things we would normally call blessings from the Lord.

A lot of people find themselves torn. They know what's best but find themselves "half in" and "half out". However, we know that "half in" and "half out" doesn't work.

Jesus said this to the Laodicean church in Revelations 3:15-16:
15. "I know your works, that they are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
16. "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth."

Jesus said this in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:24:
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth)."

3. Pain

4. Fear

A. What would I be getting myself into? (The answer is, a great adventure and whole lot more.)
B. What will other people think? (Who cares? Find a group of like minded believers, and hang out with them.)

5. Inertia - or apathy

Keith Green wrote this:
Oh Lord, please light the fire
That once burned bright and clean
Replace the lamp of my first love
That burns with holy fear.

6. Busyness and stress

Luke 10:39-42:
39. And she [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.
40. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
41. And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.
42. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

What to do if you're not satisfied with your present level of intimacy with the Lord Jesus?

If you want intimacy with the Lord Jesus, you need to pursue it. You need to press in.

When the Jews were in exile in Babylon, the Lord gave them a promise in Jeremiah 29:11-14:
11. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
12. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
14. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; ...
This is true for us, too.

Time with the Lord is key. What would you do if you were courting/dating/wooing/romancing/pursuing someone? You would make very sure you could spend lots of time with that special person. Time with that person would have a very high priority. And so it is here.

Some steps to take to build greater intimacy with the Lord Jesus:

1. Tell the Lord Jesus that you love Him. Tell Him frequently. Find ways to express your love to the Lord.

2. Make time for the Lord. Enter His presence with thanksgiving and praise, as it says in Psalm 100:4.

3. Ask the Lord Jesus to shepherd you through to greater intimacy with Him. He will. He wants you to succeed in this venture.

4. Keep a written journal of your spiritual adventures, quiet times, learning experiences, revelations, and tough times and subsequent deliverances. As time goes on, this will become a very precious document of your interaction with the Lord.

It's worth it.

Some will also need discipling in parallel to the above search for intimacy. Here are some steps:

1. Decide that you're in, not just half in. Declare it out loud. Declare it in the presence of some other person if you can. Declare this, "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back." If you need to repeat this step five hundred times, do it.

2. Ask for a fresh cleansing baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire (the fire which burns away the dross).

3. Find a mentor. Ask the Lord to provide just the right person for you.

4. Search the scriptures to find all the necessary tools/gifts/graces the Lord God has for you to build you up.

5. There may be strongholds the enemy has used to capture you in some unholy/unhealthy habits. These will be broken if you pursue the Lord. You might need to ask others for help. Don't be embarrassed to ask. Strongholds are widespread.

6. Make the right choices - daily. If you goof up and make a bad choice, repent and then make the right choice next time. You may also have restitution to make with others.

7. If an enemy attack comes against you in mind, body, or soul, resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Larry Carroll

All scripture above comes from the New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Appendix A - Songs That Present the Same Truth as Above

1. We sing:
All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now compared to this
Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing
You're my all, You're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love You Lord! (by Graham Kendrick)

2. We also sing:
Oh Lord, You're beautiful
Your face is all I see (or seek)
For when Your eyes are on this child
Your grace abounds to me. (by Keith Green)

They both know, or knew, something very precious. It sounds like they made the right choice.

3. Our parents, and some of us, used to sing:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. (It's true.)

4. We also sang:
And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own;
and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known. (Hallelujah!)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Indwelling of Christ

05 March 2011

Many good, caring believers find themselves trapped in a state described so very well in Romans 7:21-25.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

How to get out of this horrid state? The answer is right there in verse 25, "through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Romans 8 expands on this deliverance and shares both the means by which this happens and the freedom which it brings.

The means by which this happens, the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, is found in Romans 8:9-11.

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Do we just go on living with the hope that the Holy Spirit will someday come upon us?

No. Our part is to put ourselves in a place where we can receive this indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We cry out to the Lord to save us from this wretched state, rejoice that He will, and then remove distractions from our lives as they are revealed to us. Trust and obey.

We especially need to be freed from the lie that this new normal life will bore us to tears. Psalm 34:8 says, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good." (Exceedingly good) In fact, the adventures we will start to experience will sometimes scare us to death (so to speak). Later as we look back at them (in our journals), they'll blow us away. We will experience life to the full.

Larry Carroll

All scripture quoted is from the New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers.