DON'T LEAVE LOVE BEHIND
Learning to Keep an Open Heart
A Dream of Josphine
I was in the car in the passenger seat with the children in the back and we were just setting off to town perhaps to do some shopping. It was the countryside on a small hill which was white and chalky. "Is everyone in the car?" I thought to myself and then poked my head out of the window. The car had started pulling away from the farm down the dirt trail that led to the main road. There just outside the house I saw Josephine, my pet dog, her tail wagging...and yet there was sorrow in her face, as if to say: "Why haven't you taken me too?" I quickly asked whoever it was who was driving: "How long are we going to be away?" I was hoping the reply would be half-an-hour, though I should have know better, but the reply I got was "two hours". I couldn't make my mind up. Deep inside I wanted to stop the car and put the dog in the back with the children but in my dithering I had left it too late and we were gone. In the back of my mind was an image which didn't really make any impression on me until later, after the tragedy had happened.
Next I remember being in town waiting at some traffic lights and I had quite forgotten about Josephine, thinking everything would be well and I would be back home with the dog soon enough. But then, behind me, I saw this white blob running down the road. It was Josephine -- she had run after us, not wanting to be left at home. I started to panic: "Oh no! All these cars! She'll have an accident!" Dogs aren't always traffic conscious and I knew Josephine was one of them. I opened the door and cried out: "Josephine! Josephine!" hoping she would hear me and jump into the car before something terrible happened.
But it was too noisy and in any case she hadn't seen the car. She went running on ahead into a busy junction. I leaped out of the car, my heart reaching out saying: "Stop! Stop!" becoming more and more fearful that the worst was going to happen. I couldn't run because there were so many cars going in all directions. I waved my hands frantically about, trying to force my way forwards. I saw her run right across the road -- I big lorry went by so that I couldn't see her anymore, but the cars on the other side of it had stopped and I knew the worst had happened. My heart plunged. I ran ahead, now indifferent to the traffic, and there she was, lying in the road, a ball of white fur. A man had got off his bicycle and was removing her from the road so that the cars wouldn't run over her. I was afraid that he was going to go off with her so that I couldn't bless her...he had got ontop his bicycle and was about to cycle off but I got to him just in time. I didn't have to say anything -- he knew the dog was mine and gave her limp body to me. I fell on my knees, weeping, holding by beloved Josephine in my arms. And I was about to call upon the Name of the Lord to bring her back to life again when I woke up from my dream.
Don't Leave Me
And as I woke up I remembered something. I remembered the scene at the beginning of the dream as the car was drawing away from the farm and the lonely figure of Josephine. I remembered something that I hadn't noticed in the dream, a detail that was highly significant. It was as Josephine had turned into a human being, whilst remaining a dog, and she was waving goodbye to me. And in that wave was a thousand words. In that wave were the words: "Why are you going without me? I love you. I trust you. But I don't understand why you're going without me? Don't leave me long. I love you."
Then the Word of God came very clearly to me in only four words, which is the title of this talk: DON'T LEAVE LOVE BEHIND. I knew that Josephine, my white haired Phyrrenean sheep-dog who was my pet in Malaysia, was a symbol of love. But not of any old kind of love, but a special kind of love. She represented a child-like inncocent and pure love, a love beyond words and even time itself. It was the love that broke my heart when I had to leave Josephine behind in Malaysia when we emmigrated to England. It was the love that shattered me when I learned that she had died several days after we had left Malaysia because of a broken heart. It was the love that never understood why we had left her behind despite the explanations about quarantine and how difficult it would have been for her to have been away from us for six months while she was medically cleared. It was the love that could never accept the excuses made as to why we could not take her with us to England. It was the same love, deep, deep within my soul, which knew that it was wrong to leave her in the imaginary "farm" even for only two hours because that love sensed tragedy if the truth was not allowed to have its way and "reason" was banished for a season.
I have, in recent weeks, done alot of soul-searching -- the kind of searching that leads you into absolutely every corner of your soul. There are certain times in your life when the reasons we do things are no longer acceptable because there is something infinitely deeper that is calling us to a greater reality. Human beings have an extraordinary ability to fantasise, to build up imaginary pictures of life and how we want it to be. Most of humanity is living in one sort of fantasy world or another and it is these fantasy worlds that are a tremendous obstacle to the Spirit of God. And yet they seem to be able to sustain us in a way. We built up pictures of how we think reality should be and we strive after it with all our souls. And the more stubborn and unteachable we are, the more we cling on to our fantasy worlds, desperate to make them come to pass. The real tragedy is that many people know they are living in a fantasy world but are too afraid to swap it for another world because their fantasy is a comfort to them. Others are not aware they are living in a fantasy world and believe it is reality. They assume others have the same fantasy (though they don't call it a fantasy) and they try to make people fit into their world, often with disasterous consequences.
So why is it so hard to break out of our dreamy inner existence? Why is it so hard to break the bonds of slavery of that inner, illusiory world? It is because we have not seen the REALITY OF GOD. We have been touched by an image of the reality of God, but that image is little more than like a painting of a beautiful scene. Paintings can do wonderful things to the soul but there is nothing to compare with the real thing, that which the artist is actually painting. Ask yourself if you would rather have a picture on the wall with your husband, or wife, and children, or if you would prefer the family itself, and there's no doubt, if you love your spouse and children, that you will choose the real thing every time. And the reason we choose the real thing is because we have known the real thing.
But what if we don't know the real thing? What if we've only ever seen the picture? The reality is too distant because we can't make direct contact with an image, a still and lifeless reproduction, not unless we have had contact with the real thing first.
Go into anyone's house and look at a photograph of someone in their family whom you have never met before. The chances are you won't react in the slightest and in your subconscious you will be saying: "Oh, another picture. I've seen thousands of these. What can this one possibly mean to me?" And yet it obviously means something to the person who owns it, because that image -- that photograph -- is a link to something else...to the real flesh-and-blood person. Not until you have met the person yourself can that picture mean something to you too -- though the chances are a more recent picture, from the time you got to know that person, will have more meaning to you than a picture taken before you met that person. I've often seen pictures of my mother and father when they were young and whilst they certainly have some meaning to me, they're not as meaningful to me as pictures taken in my own childhood.
God is Real
What am I trying to say? I'm trying to say this. God is real, He exists, yet for most people we only have photographs of Him that are far away from our own time and reality. Those "photographs" are the accounts of people who knew Him as written in the Bible. Even we, in our less sanctified moments, read the scriptures and they seem dead to us, and we subconsciously ask ourselves: "What meaning has this for me?" And if we ever come to that position, then we have only one question to ask ourselves: WHERE DID I LEAVE LOVE BEHIND?
We also, as the Bible teaches, are living scriptures, and some are more living than others. We are walking books carrying a message about. What message do we carry? Do people want to read us or pass us by? Will they read a few pages and then get bored, or will they have a thirst to read the whole book through to the very end? Do we want to read other's books, even if they appear at first to be uninteresting? Here is another reality -- to God, every living book is interesting, not because of the rubbish that is written on the pages (and there's far too much rubbish on the pages of our lives) but because we are living books.
When we were born the pages of our book were blank. They were as white as snow. The Lord sent us down from Heaven and said to us: "Write a love-poem on these pages." Instead we wrote our sorrows, our disappointments, our lusts, our defeats, and our depressions. Sometimes we wrote something beautiful, sometimes we wrote a psalm of praise, but more often than not we wrote things that were dark and discouraging.
Burning the Books
Each year I debate whether or not I should destroy my journals. I have so many of them now that they're becoming a burden. But what worries me more is the kind of burden they will become for my descendants. Will they want to read them? As I think back on much that I wrote down, it was mostly me looking for someone to talk to, and especially to complain to. I would estimate that half the material is already ready for burning! And I think its also true for most of us that we are quick to write down our sorrows but less diligent in writing down that which could be called a love poem for the Lord. So I debate each year whether to cast my journals on the fire. Since buying a new home I have already started burning parts of my library which I feel would not be of benefit to my children and feel satisfied that I am doing the right thing. This week my Hindu collection provided heat and warmth to my body instead of coldness to some inncocent spirit.
Yes, there are many pages in our book of life that we would probably want to see ripped out, given the chance. Well, you don't have to rip them out, because God has said that he will wash them clean. Yes, He'll wipe away all the ink and make them fresh white again. Can He do this? Yes, beyond a question. And what exactly is it that washes these pages clean? It is the blood of Christ, His love offering for us. His blood -- His life -- was shed on the cross so that we might see and partake of the revelation of the Love of God the Father. Now this is not just theory, it is a LIVING REALITY. These are not just religious words, the fantasy of men and women living in mediaeval superstition, but they are the words of TRUTH. The TRUTH changes, and brings a new dimension of reality. The TRUTH beings love, healing, and peace.
To start with a new book with fresh, clean pages, we must die to a life of sin. It means accepting everything that Jesus Christ said about Himself to such than extent that we want to be an intimate part of Him. And how do we die to a life of sin? Simply, as Paul says, we must be "baptised into His death". We must be "buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:4, NIV).
Everything that was not in Christ in our old life will be wiped clean away when we die in Him. Paul goes on to say:
If we have died to sin -- and that is something which only God can do supernaturally by grace as a result of our trusting Him....as a result of our really believing in Him and having a desire to do whatsoever He wants -- then we will receive a special gift, and that is the Gift of Love. That Gift of Love, which is the most previous gift of all, has the following fifteen characteristics identified by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians:
If we have been united with Him in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:5-7, NIV).
Finally, Paul says, love never fails. Never fails. Isn't that an amasing promise? Love never fails! It never looses. It never disappoints. It always satisfies. Paul then goes on to say that the true Love of God is the only thing that doesn't pass away. He passes judgment on prophecy, on tongues, and on knowledge. Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- survives God's fire except FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE (1 Corinthians 13:8-13, NIV).
1. It is patient
2. It is kind
3. It does not envy
4. It does not boast
5. It is not proud
6. It is not rude
7. It is not self-seeking
8. It is not easily angered
9. It keeps no record of wrongs
10. It does not delight in evil
11. It rejoices in the truth.
12. It always protects
13. It always trusts
14. It always hopes
15. It always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV)
So if you have been born again in God, you will be filled with His love, and you will always be patient, kind, protective of others, trusting, full of hope and perseverence, in other words, you won't want to give up when the going gets rough. You won't be envious of others anymore, pride will disappear, you won't have any desire or need to be rude, you won't be self-seeking but continually be seeking after the welfare of others, it will be hard (if not impossible) to provoke you to anger, you won't keep a record of anything wong done to you by others, and you will hate evil with a passion. All of these are the fruits of being born again in Jesus Christ.
The Way of Love
At the beginning of the fourteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul says that Love is a WAY: He says:
If love is a way then clearly it is something we must walk along. It is therefore a process and not an event. It is made up of many events as we walk it. Along the road of our life in Christ, which is the road of love, we will meet many people and circumstances which God ordains and/or permits so that we can measure our love and make the necessary changes in our life to walk that Way more perfectly. In your Life's Walk you will meet thousands of circumstances which will put each of those fifteen characteristics of love to the test, and in many of them you will find yourself lacking. It is for us, then, to be continuallty self-conscious, for who, having come to a knowledge of the Salvation of Christ, wants to go any other way? We think we are walking the Way of Christ -- the Way of Love -- when often we are not because we were not conscious...not aware, of what we were doing. It is only when we discover that our relationship with others has become damaged that we suddenly realise that we have gone off the Way. And how can we become conscious if we don't always have a yardstick to measure ourselves by? Here the metaphorical photograph comes in handy -- it is to remind our forgetful souls to steer a straight course to Heaven.
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1, NIV).
Of Love and Prophecy
Paul equates the Way of Love and the Spiritual Gifts...especially the gift of Prophecy. He marries them closely together. Why is that? How is it the love and prophecy are so interconnected? To be prophetic, you have to be in touch with God. To be prophetic, is to know God's will constantly. How can we love if we don't know what His will is?
Let us say that my neighbour is dying of loneliness but I am not aware. Meanwhile I am full of love for my family and for all those who visit me and those whom I visit. I feel fantastic inside. I feel the presence of God. Yet the Lord wants me to go next door to my neighbour. Of course, if we had known that our neighbour was suffering, most of us, I am sure, would immediately go to the rescue, wouldn't we? But in life there are so many situations that we cannot become aware of save by supernatural revelation. That is why Love and Prophecy must go hand-in-hand. Of course, it is wonderful that we are ministering to those who come within our immediate consciousness, but God has called us further than that. He wants us to be a prophetic people by becoming conscious of that which is beyond our natural senses. To be effective ministers, we have to listen to something higher, something that senses the overall plan God has for us. We have to transcend our senses and seek for God's perspective.
That is why we should desire the spiritual gifts, not because we want to be titilated or stimulated -- not because we can have a fantastic mystical experience of the Lord -- but so that we can be more effective ministers and therefore more loving. What is love anyway? No doubt you can think of many scriptural definitions like Paul's but if you summarise them all into one commandment it is, quite simply, to do the will of God at any particular time.
Because we are in the flesh, we only have one set of physical parts -- one set of hands, one set of feet, one pair of eyes, and so on. There is a limit to what we can physically do. And because we are limited there are times when we may feel that many demands are made upon us and we don't know what the right thing to do is. It is especially in these moments that we need to be prophetic. Two people are drowining in a river -- which should I seek to help first? Someone in the family is distressed and then I get a telephone call from someone else who is distressed. To whom should I minister first? On the human level, there are no solutions to these paradoxes because we don't see the wider perspective. We need, then, to absolutely know the will of God.
How easy it is to say this! How, in fact, do we find out what the Lord's will is? What does it mean to be "prophetic"? How can I know what needs to be done at any one particular moment? I can, of course, ignore the paradoxes and proceed ahead under my own will and discernment, but it won't necessarily be the Way of Love. It won't necessarily be the Way of Christ. And as a result we might miss the Road of Salvation. That a thought!
Now perhaps you're waiting for me to give you a recipe -- a formula -- to be prophetic. Beyond what God has already said, I can't do that. To live prophetic lives on the Way of Love is to be obedient to the will of God. And to be obedient to the will of God we need to examine our motives for doing things, or not doing them, as the case may be, come to an awareness of sin, repent, and put our lives right. That is the first step towards being prophetic. But for many of us it maybe that we need to deal with a tricky phenomenon of life and that is FEAR.
The Problem of Fear
Most of us know what is right, desire to do what is right, but we are AFRAID. And that fear can sometimes appear to be such a frightful monster that we never get to grips with it.
To deal with fear, we must first of all recognise that it is not of God. The scriptures say that perfect loves casts our fear. There is no fear in love. If we are afraid it is because we don't know how to love or to receive love. Love becomes painful instead of joyful. That is what fear does to our happiness.
Marie White's Visions
This last week I have been typing up a vision, which is to be published in the Covenants & Commandments, seen by a woman called Marie White. I hope that everyone will read it (NC&C 1; 202). A year ago you may remember that I gave a talk about Jacob's experience at Peniel when he wrestled with God and received the name of Israel (Evening & Morning Star 30:10-11,21-24 (Nov-Dec 1990), "A Call to the Busy".). Well, Marie White actually saw this event in vision and experienced it physically and spiritually herself, and as I read it it not only confirmed what I had always believed about this historical event but helped me understand even more clearly the roots of human fear.
Marie White writes as follows:
Now there's an interesting mystery here and a key to our own salvation in Christ which I instantly recognised when I read Marie White's testimony, more of which I shall read in a moment. What does it mean that our flesh is the first-born and our spirit the second-born? Listen carefully. We exist on a physical, carnal plane, called planet earth. Our flesh was formed before our spirit fully entered into it. Our flesh is the first-born down here. This material plane is an up-side down world as I've told you many times before -- what obtains in Heaven is usually the very opposite. So the spirit down here is second-born, but in order to be first-born it must supplant the flesh. As soon as we are conceived the flesh is in control and it remains in control until we, when we reach the age of accountability, can choose whether or not this state of affairs will be allowed to persist or whether the spirit is going to supplant the flesh.
I began to think about Jacob and the events of his life. Second-born son of his father, Isaac, he plotted to take his brother's birthright and did so; his brother Esau hated him for it. He had to leave home and get away from his brother. On the way, he experienced a revelation from God. He went to his mother's family, took wives and had children. The angel of the Lord instructed him all along the way, helping him to increase his possessions.
Easu and Jacob came from the same womb -- they representd two natures comeing forth from the same source: one that God loves and one that He hates. I thought: "Yes, Lord, I see. This is like us. Our spiritual man, Jacob, has received his birthright by trickery, has gone his own way, has been visited by angels, has seen with his own eyes the gateway to heaven and known that the House of the Lord dwelt with men. He has gone into the world, taken wives, has fathered children and increased his wealth, but he is still afraid of Esau, his own carnal, fleshly nature.
"Here we are, Lord, your chosen Jacob, on our way back to the promised land (Zion), still afraid of our own carnal nature, still afraid if we do not send presents to the flesh to make provision for it, it will kill us. Even as Jacob, we have experienced a revelation from you. We have seen your glory, we have testified to the fact that this piece of ground (the Church) upon which we stand is marked to be the House of God (Bethel). Even as Jacob, we stand here in our fear, for Esau will no longer be bought off. What can we do?"
We can pray as Jacob prayed: "O, God of my fathers, you who have told me to go back to the place of my beginnings, I am not worthy of your mercy, but please deliver me from the hands of Esau, for he desires to kill me."
Even as he prayed, he kept sending presents to Esau, as we send presents to our flesh. We are afraid of our flesh, afraid it will kill us, because it does not like to yield to the second-born son. It is the place where we stand recognising our flesh is strong and will kill us if we are not saved from his wrath.
Now let me read Marie White's account further. She goes on to say:
Now let me pause here before I read further because I want to ask a question. Are we, like Jacob, tricksters and deceivers? And if so, how so? We, our real selves, are spiritual beings, and we have been incarnated here into a world of flesh where different laws are in force when compared against the laws of the celestial kingdom. In many ways, we come as intruders. And as anyone who grows up in Christ discovers, this planet is not really our true home at all. As you become more spiritual, so you arrive at a stage of consciousness where you feel you are no longer a part of this world and don't want to be a part of it any longer because you know of a far better world. And it's not until you come to an awareness of the fact that we really are strangers here that you have really caught a vision of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is our carnality that makes us comfortable here, despite the fact we see wrong things around us.
I stood with Jacob (as if we were one) and Jacob, the supplanter, the deceiver, the trickster was alone. His enemy, Esau, was before him, his possessions behind him. He had prayed for victory over his fear of Esau, his brother; had prayed that God would stop Esau, the carnal man, from destroying him and his household.
Here he stood facing God alone. God came to him and wrestled with him all through the darkness. Jacob hung onto the Lord as they wrestled. He would not let Him go and I, too, was hanging on, for I felt the pain in my body. I felt the tiredness and the sickness that came over Jacob as he wrestled. I, too, knew that I could not let go or I would not receive a blessing.
The Lord touched Jacob in the holow of his thigh, putting it out of joint. It was painful and I felt the pain. I would be crippled for life. Then God cried: "Let me go, for the morning cometh," and Jacob said, "No, I will not let you go until you bless me."
I heard the voice of the Messiah saying to me, "Turn back," and I heard myself saying, "Where shall I go? Who else can give me life? I cannot leave you, Lord."
In order for our souls to become spiritual we have to rebell against the flesh, which is in control. If we try to do it under our own power we will have one terrible fight ahead of us. That is what Buddha tried to do. He declared war on the flesh and simply starved it out. But that is not God's way, as I tried to explain in another sermon I gave on the lions. We are Jacob and we are aspiring to become Israel. But first we must contend with Esau, our fleshly self. And the flesh is powerful, as anyone who has been under the bondage of the flesh knows.
Jacob, our unredeemed and unsanctified spirits, tricked Esau, our flesh, out of the birthright. Our flesh has the birthright because this is a fleshly world under fleshly law. And this state of affairs exists because of the Fall in Eden. The earth, and the whole material universe, has fallen out of Divine Law and is ruled by other principalities and powers that are not God's. If the spirit is to have any chance to succeed, it must supplant the flesh and its laws, or be swallowed up by the flesh.
So we, like Jacob, end up tricking the flesh, just as Jacob tricked Esau by imitating him before Isaac. And if you study this matter out carefully, you will see that Adam faced exactly the same kind of dilemma in the Garden of Eden after Eve had partaken of the fruit. So we trick Esau, and Esau gets angry, and a monumental war starts between the flesh and the spirit. And from this war, FEAR is born.
Let me read on the the end of Marie White's account:
What Marie White described is actually the wrestle that takes place when a man or woman crosses the veil between the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods. It is the crossing of the veil from one kind of spiritual nature into another. Jacob crossed as a son and became a spiritual father. He crossed as a fleshly being and became a spiritual one. He crossed leaving everything he owned in this world -- his wives, children, and possessions, and faced Esau head on. What he had taken by trickery he had to have confirmed in the only way possible, by God Himself.
The Lord asked: "What is your name?" O, how I felt Jacob's shame as he had to admit that his name was Jacob, supplanter, deceiver, trickster, that his nature was that of one who took everything for himself by any means.
I could see my name-nature in Jacob and I was ashamed for I knew that I stood with him in this place of wrestling with God, contending with Him, refusing to leave, to turn back, even though the pain was beyond description.
Then the Lord said: "You will be called Jacob no more, but you shall be called Israel (a contender with and one who has authority from God), for you have contended with God and with man and have prevailed."
And He blessed him, and Jacob, who had become Israel (the son of God), called ther name of that place Peniél; "For", he said, "I have seen the face of God."
As I stood there, all the feelings of having experienced with Jacob the wrestling with God and with man were very real to me. There was a difference in Jacob, for he no longer got his direction and his authority from within himself, but he was given authority with God to fulfil His purpose on this earth. And he did.
And we should learn a lesson about authority. Nobody has any kind of authority from God until God has given it to that person personally. Authority is not given by the laying on of hands, through being a member of an organisation, or in any other way than wrestling with God and prevailing. God Himself must ordain, not by a "laying on of hands", but by an INWARD, SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION. If you want authority from God, the way of Jacob is the only way. And because that authority comes directly from God spiritually, it is not open to abuse.
Would you therefore be shocked if I told you that this Church -- this New Covenant Church of God -- has no authority from God at this very moment in time?? It cannot have direct authority from God with power until it has crossed into its Melchizedek Endowment. That is why it has been so weak and ineffective up until now. First the Lord must make us anew, make us confess that we are carnal, sensual, and devlish, make us realise that we are tricksters and deceivers having stolen the birthright of Esau as a Body, and make us walk the Path of Holiness that we, in our arrogance, have chosen!
Now, then, brethren and sisters, shall we go forward and wrestle with God, and confess our guilt before Him? Have we not, like Jacob, stolen the birthright of the Restoration without having actually prevailed? Mark this: God has called us to be His Church, His Firstborn Covenant; we have heard that call, taken the honour to ourselves, but not prevailed! And until we have wrestled with God at Peniél and overcome, WE WILL NOT BE JUSTIFIED. We will live in fear as a Church and of each other. It is true that we have a kind of authority -- every work of righteousness, every obedience to true principles, confers authority upon us. This is the message of virtually all the revelations. But it is not the fullness. The fullness must come from God Himself as a united Body of Christ. The fullness will come as we are obedient to the Temple by standing in the House of God, which is Bethel, and receiving the witness of His angels.
Coming for a Firstborn Blessing
So if we are to come before God for His Firstborn blessing, authority, and power, we must first come to awareness of our sin and guilt. We must HOLD ON to the Lord for dear life, like Jacob, and NOT LET GO UNTIL HE HAS BLESSED US. We must be willing to go through the fire, confess our sins with broken hearts and contrite spirits, turn our lives around, and resolutely proclaim: "Jesus, and only Jesus!" Otherwise we will be cast out to become fugitives as Jacob was a fugitive. How much longer shall we hide away, pretending that we can go on the way we are? Pretending that we have the Fullness of the Everlasting Gospel when in truth we are but beggars and paupers until we have claimed that right from God Himself? I don't want to be a spiritual refugee, hiding away, do you? But we do hide away, because we are weak, and fearful, and unendowed.
Zion is a Condition of Power
Zion is a condition of power, and it is the world that fears Zion, not the other way round. Yet we fear the world and sent presents to it! We compomise our standards, yield to the flesh, and do things the worlds way. I nag you constantly about these things and you grow weary of me. But what I say to you is the Word of the Lord! We stand at the edge of an abyss veil and are either all going to be swallowed up by it and we're going to leap across it in victory. We all came to it knowing that we found face the trials and tribulations that we have, and we cannot break our covenants and go back and expect the Lord to show us another, easier way.
Your love is being tested like never before. I doubt if Jacob was very conscious of love when he was wrestling with God and experiencing that terrible pain, yet he was actually fulfiling one of the most important characteristics of love that Paul mentioned at the end of his list, namely PERSEVERENCE. If you are persevering, holding on, then love is holding on to you too. For now, as we face the veil as a Church, none of our wisdom is going to do us much good -- only the shere power of love will save us. And it is like that at every veil.
Nowhere Else to Go
I, too, have been going through my wrestling, for we must all cross together as a Priesthood. Over the last weeks I have reached the point where I have been able to tell the Lord: "I understand nothing but know only the love of Jesus Christ. I am fearful of the many problems I currently have. In this fire, the only thing I am sure of is the love of the Cross. I have nowhere else to go, so I am holding on until you give me a blessing."
The Angel and the Arrowheads
On Wednesday night the Lord spoke to me, firstly in a vision, and then with His own voice. First I was awakened to see a column of brightly shining white arrow heads, all in formation, sweep through my room and out through the wall. There must have been hundreds of them. The vision lasted only one or two seconds. The arrow-heads (if that is what they were) reminded me of an experience I had in Oxford over ten years ago when an angel walked into my bedroom carring a large, white shining arrow head. He had not been in the room more than a couple of seconds when he lifted his arm and cast the arrow at me with great power. Terrified that I was about to be slain, I dodged the arrow to one side and it when whistling past my right ear. It had been intended for my heart. The angel vanished as quickly as he had come.
Over ten years later it was not one large arrowhead but hundreds of small ones, but this time they went past me and disappeared through the wall of the bedroom, passing through a picture of Christ holding a lamb and a staff. To enter the heart of Christ we must offer up our hearts as living sacrifices, to be slain and then restored to new life. Marie White, part of whose visions I have related today, had a similar experience in which she found herself on the operating table of a hospital. Her old heart had to be removed and a new one from Christ had to be created.
To have that new heart, that new life in Christ, we must be able to say of Christ what Christ said of His Heavenly Father. I am going to read that part from John's Gospel but changing the Father for Christ, and the Son for us:
We have entered the month of December and a time when the Western world goes mad in self-indulgence. Let us especially separate ourselves from the world this month and devote ourselves to drawing closer to God. We, as a Church, are on the threshhold of a New Birth, but it is up to us to hasten that day by being diligent in all good works. As a taste of the kind of spirit we should be seeking after, let me end today with some sound advice from Paul in the fifth chapter of his letter to the Ephesians:
I tell you most solemnly,
The saints can do nothing of themselves;
They can only do that they see Christ doing:
And whatever Christ does, the saints do also.
For Christ loves the saints
And shows them everything He does Himself,
And He will show them even greater things than these,
Works that will astonish you (John 5:19-20, Jerusalem Bible).
Please, don't leave love behind, but take it with you. Don't, like I did in that dream, have second thoughts and live to regret that decision, but follow the Way of Love. Make place for it always and that love will make you sing and rejoice forevermore.
Try, then, to imitate God, as children of His that He loves, and follow Christ by loving as He loved you, giving Himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. Among you there must be not even a mention of fornication or impurity in any of its forms, or promiscuity: this would hadly become the saints! There must be no coarseness, or salacious talk and jokes -- all this is wrong for you; raise your voices in thanksgiving instead. For you can be quite certain that nobody who actually indulges in fornication or impurity or promiscuity -- which is worshipping a false god -- can inherit anything of the kingdom of God. Do not let anyone deceive you with empty arguments: it is for this loose living that God's anger comes down on those who rebel against Him. Make sure that you are not included with them. You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth. Try to discover what the Lord wants of you, having nothing to do with the futile works of darkness but exposing them by contrast. The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed even to speak of, but anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light. That is why it is said:
So be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, like intelligent and not like senseless people. This may be a wicked age, but your lives should redeem it. And do not be thoughtless but recognise what is the will of the Lord. Do not drug yourselves with wine, this is simply dissipation; be filled with the Spirit. Sing the words and tunes of the psalms and hymns when you are together, and go on singing and chanting to the Lord in your hearts, so that always and everywhere you are giving thanks to God, who is our Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:1-20, Jerusalem Bible).
Wake up from your sleep,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
May the Lord watch over you and keep you in the precious love of Jesus the Messiah. May He grant you every righteous desire of your hearts and lead us as a people into heavenly places where all corruption and sorrow is at an end. May He bless you and hold you near to Him, is my prayer in Jesus' Name. Amen.
From a sermon given in Oslo, Norway, on 1 December 1991
This page was created on 5 July 1998
Last updated on 5 July 1998
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