Jun 5, '07 8:27 PM
Greetings and Solutions!
OK, that was supposed to be Salutations, but "Solutions" works, doesn't it? You're looking for some solutions today, right?
Sorry 'bout Friday's overly-long Coffee Break. I didn't realize just how long it was until after it got posted. Guess I made up for the fact that we missed Wednesday. Friday's post was roughly equivalent to two Coffee Breaks. If I'm not mistaken, it was the longest Coffee Break I've ever done in the past 2 1/2 years. We'll try to keep today's discussion to a much more moderated length.
I'm running late again, too. Got up this morning to find that the back side of our church building had been sprayed with gang graffiti again. That meant pressure-washing the building, letting it dry off (not hard to do in 89-degree temperatures), and then spray-painting it. Probabilities are that this won't get posted on Monday.
Coffee's on, folks! The office smells absolutely phenomenal! Love that aroma of freshly ground coffee beans being brewed. YESSSSSSSS!!!
Well, believe it or not, here we are at the 52nd chapter/episode/discussion -- whatever you call it -- in the 15 Steps outlined in Psalm 23. Who'd of thunk it? Today, we pick up with the final step in this maturing process -- and maybe it's something of a misnomer to call this a "step."
Nevertheless, "I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever" -- apart from being the culmination of all that's been happening in our lives as we grow up in God -- IS a place of realization in our beings that what the apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the Hebrews.
"Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."Â (See Hebrews 12:1-2)
In his letter to the Ekklesia in Philippi, Paul wrote, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."Â (Philippians 1:6)
You will remember the 6th step of the 15: "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
Folks, that's what all of this is about! This is what the Lord has been doing, and this is why! His name is at stake in us. Jesus is both author (-- archegos: the one who begins, the cornerstone, the power or principality who initiates the first action) and finisher (-- teleiotes --one who completes to perfection and wholeness: maturity) of our righteousness, our faith and that authentic and divine nature of Him in us.
He has been leading us in those paths of righteousness so that we will be able to dwell in His house as his full-fledged brothers and sisters, functioning in that power and authority that is His, and manifesting and flowing in that love of which He consists. Let me take a quick side-trip to show you something here.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1:1-4)
Now, let's rephrase this so that it flows with this picture from Psalm 23:6.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Love, and the Word was Love. The same was in the beginning with Love. All things were made by Love, and without Love was not anything made that was made. In Love was Life, and that Life was the light of men."
OK. Then let's have a look at what John wrote in his general epistles.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (I John 3:1-2)
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. ..... And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (I John 4:7-8, 16)
We've just finished "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,"and we talked about the fact that "goodness and mercy" are facets of kheseed. Kheseed cannot follow us without love being the driving force behind it.
Thus, to "dwell in the House of the Lord forever" signifies the fact that Jesus has most certainly accomplished his goal and objective in our nature, our character, our makeup. This is a change of onoma for us.
When John wrote, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be," he could well have expressed that from the perspective of "The Lord is my Shepherd." When we first make Jesus Christ the Lord and Shepherd of our lives, we really have no clue where He is taking us, where our lives are going to be led, and what He is going to make of us.
For those of you who've walked with the Lord for many years, take a look back to the day and time you first invited Jesus Christ to become Lord of your life. Did you have any idea of the change that would unfold in your life? Have you not prospered in your relationship with Him since? Are you anything today like you were before you made that decision?
Let me take this questioning a bit farther.
If you've walked with the Lord in the paths of righteousness for 30, 40, 50 years or more as I have, consider where you were in your understanding of the Lord 10 or 20 years ago. Consider your walk in the Spirit. Do you still think like you did then? Has your understanding of certain truths of the Gospel increased?
Della and I were talking the other day about the changes that have taken place in us in just the past ten years. Things I thought to be truth back ten years or 15 years ago were still somewhat clouded or shrouded in a mist. Some of what I believed then -- and I'm choosing my words carefully -- I've since discovered to have been in error.
That doesn't make us heretics or "fringe" Christians. It just means that the longer we have dwelled with and in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the more He has revealed of His character, His nature and His makeup. Likewise, the more our character, our nature and makeup has been changed.
We were laughing over the changes that have taken place in both of us in the past 20+ years. Wow! I was listening to an old recording of some teaching that I did on Spiritual Warfare made more than 25 years ago. Has my understanding ever been enlarged since then! It's not that there has been an altering of the fundamental truth of our authority over Satan; it's that revelation has literally exploded in my being of the degree of that authority; it is that there has been an unveiling of the devices that Satan uses against God's people, and just how simple it is to defeat him and those devices.
The apostle Paul, in his second epistle to the Corinthian Ekklesia, wrote, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (II Corinthians 3:18)
Without getting into all of the words used in the original Greek text, let me expand this statement for you.
"But all of us, with the mystery and shroud stripped away, seeing mirrored the outward manifestation of the Glory of the Lord, are [being] changed, transformed and metamorphosed into that same representation of His Glory by the Holy Spirit, systematically and progressively, from the first Glory to the next, until we reach the final manifestation of His Glory in us."
THAT, my friends -- that "final manifestation" -- is what brings us to the place of dwelling "in the House of the Lord forever."
The Glory of the Lord is literally the manifestation of who and what He is. We'll try to take a better or more in-depth look at the whole concept of the Glory in our next Coffee Break. That's a remarkable study in itself, and I'd rather, if possible, keep that discussion separate from today's overview of the House of the Lord. The Glory of the Lord is directly connected to the House of the Lord, and the two are inseparable, but today we're talking about the aspect of God's Love and how Jesus' objective is to transform us into His Love.
Even saying it like that makes it seem almost mystical or ethereal, and yet there is nothing mystical or ethereal about agape. Agape, of course, is the only word ever used in Greek to describe the Love of God. This is an unconditional love. This is love in its highest form. What we know as human love (or phileo) -- the love that normally exists between family members, the love that normally brings a man and a woman together in marriage -- pales next to the Love of God.
Let's go back to Creation for a second.
Genesis 1:3: "And Love (God) said, Let there be light [or more accurately, "Light be!"], and light was."
Genesis 1:26: "And Love (God) said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion....[or, more accurately, "Man, be in our image, after our likeness, with our capacity for dominion."]"
See it? All of creation began in Love -- the love that was/is God! Mankind began its existence in Love -- that same love that was/is God! That Love that was and is (and ever shall be) God brought with it the totality of Adam and Eve's existence. Their existence began in Love. For the length of time they occupied the Garden of Eden, they existed in, through, by and with Love. The Garden of Eden was created in Love.
"Eden," by the way, translates from the Hebrew , as:voluptuous, living, pleasure, delight. No word better describes the environment of God's Love. It is an environment that brings with it revelation -- a constant flow of divine knowledge and understanding that links one with the Lord in, by, and through the Holy Spirit.
The fact that the love-relationship between Adam and Eve and God was lost because of their having chosen to violate God's command and eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil also signified the loss of agape (the Hebrew equivalent is --hesed) being manifested through human flesh. That loss necessitated a plan (not "Plan B", since the Lord was not taken off-guard when this happened) being implemented so that agape could be returned and manifested through a people who purposely chose to make the Lord their Shepherd, and were willing for the Lord to work whatever was necessary in them to restore the flow of agape between God and man.
Adam and Eve were, for all intents and purposes, kicked out of "the House of the Lord" when they chose academic and experientially-gained knowledge over the revelation that comes through agape. Now, perhaps, you understand why the objective of the Lordship and Shepherding of Jesus Christ in our lives is "the House of the Lord forever." This isn't just for our sake: this is for His sake -- His name's sake!
Sin is so degrading to the human frame and so destructive to our existence that overnight change and transformation -- restoration, if you will -- back to that place of the Glory of the Lord must be step-by-step, stage-by-stage, Glory-to-Glory until the work is completed. Sinful flesh simply cannot handle the Glory of the Lord. Flesh, though our mind, our will, our purpose is to walk with God, has within its genetic DNA the residual demands and commands of a way of life totally contrary to agape.
Our transformation at the Cross -- that is to say, our acceptance and acknowledgement of what Jesus Christ has accomplished on our behalf -- is a legal change. The paths of righteousness have been established for our daily walk so that what is at first legal now becomes experiential.
I've been teaching here at River Worship Center for many weeks this same study of the 15 Steps revealed in the 23rd Psalm, and -- of course -- taking a lot more time to explore each of these steps than I've been able to do in these Coffee Breaks. Over the past few weeks, we've been stuck on "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake," and I've been sharing the whole concept of righteousness as it is revealed in the Word.
Simply put, the word "righteousness" comes from a uniquely Hebrew word: -- tsedeq, which translates to (in an ethical sense): being right or even with; on the same level [that is, thinking the same, speaking the same, doing the same thing]. It has other connotations, too, but these are the ones we will restrict ourselves to for the sake of today's discussion.
David's description of the "House of the Lord" is that place where we are functionally on the same level with the Lord Jesus Christ. Please note that I've said "functionally" -- NOT positionally. Do go off half-cocked and start suggesting that Regner Capener is preaching the errant Mormon doctrine that "as Christ once was, we now are; as He now is, we shall become." That's not what this is about. We are heirs and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.
Without Jesus Christ we cannot be seated together with Him in Heavenly Places. We will never replace Him at the right hand of the Father. He will always have that preeminent position.
That said, it is His will, His desire, His ultimate plan and purpose for us to function exactly like He does with that same divine power and authority that He has been building in us. And that power and authority can only function through agape -- God's Love. Thus, agape has to become part and parcel of our nature, our character, the very essence of our existence so that we can dwell together with Him in His house -- FOREVER!
The Bible is neither a collection of laws and commandments nor a book of rules. It contains 66 bags of seed that we can plant in our lives. As long as we actually plant that seed, and then water it appropriately with our daily confession of faith, we will receive the expected and very tangible harvest.
Blessings on you!
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