Tag Archives: Intimacy with God

The Bride and the Wedding to come

I have had a series of dreams over the past several weeks about the Bride of Christ and the wedding feast that is coming. This past week I had two such dreams, on separate nights, that were very similar. As I reflect on these dreams I am convinced that they contain significant messages, not just for me but for the people of God. In this blog I want to relate the core details of the two most recent dreams. 

The main character in the dreams was a young woman who was looking forward to her wedding. She was also a student who was trying to complete her studies. Her immediate challenges were filling her sights so that she couldn’t really focus on the joy of the wedding to come.  She was discontent and in distress because her circumstances were not perfect. She had goals that she was afraid she would not be able to achieve.

I knew that this young woman represented the Bride of Christ. She had a glorious future. She was destined to wear a crown of glory. But all that seemed very far off, and at the moment, her immediate problems were dominating her life. The crown she was wearing at the moment was not a crown of glory and beauty but a crown of fear and worry.

It’s as if she were saying “God, how do you expect me to get ready for our wedding when I have all these problems? Can’t you just fix the problems for me now, and make everything right? Then I can get ready for the wedding.” But what she didn’t realize was that the trials and tests and hardships were not a mistake and they were not an accident. They were planned by God as part of her maturing process. They were part of the beauty preparations that the King had provided for her. How she responded to the testing would determine the level of beauty and glory that would be formed in her.

One of our elders spoke to our church last week about the process of Christ being formed in us. Christ’s beauty is formed in us is as we respond to him in love and faith in the midst of testing and hardship.

Then the scene shifted and now it was the day of her wedding. She had come through the tests as pure gold, and she was radiant. She was dressed in white and was wearing a beautiful golden crown that was studded with gems. In the dream she was approaching a throne, in her wedding dress, and Jesus was on the throne. She laid her crown at His feet and knelt before Him. He placed it back on her head and raised her up to stand at his side. Her heart towards Him was to worship and adore Him, and His heart towards her was to raise her up to stand beside Him as his partner.

One day we will stand before Him in white and we will be wearing a crown of love and devotion and glory and honour and we will lay that crown at His feet and crown Him with it. But as we lay those crowns at His feet He will give them right back to us, and take our hand and invite us to stand beside Him.

We’ll say to Him “Jesus, you are so worthy. The glory belongs to You alone”. And we’ll bow down and lay our crowns at His feet.

And He will take our hand and raise us up again, and He will say to us, “My bride, you are so beautiful to Me. I want you to share My glory”.

That’s where we are going.

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It’s cold out there

Coldest Night Logo (Snowflake) Color - PNGIt’s cold out there. 

The past week, temperatures in Ottawa have been below -20°C all week long. Earlier in the week they dipped below -30°C.

Yesterday I took a break from work and went out for a walk at noon. While outside, I took off my mitts to use my phone for a very brief conversation. In less than a minute, my fingers felt almost numb. It took a long time for them to get warm again. In this weather, when I walk home from the bus at the end of the day (about a ten minute walk, quite pleasant under most circumstances) my nose and cheeks are very cold by the time I arrive home. 

Imagine how hard this cold weather must be on people who are homeless.

I seldom use this blog for fund raising purposes, but today I am making an exception. When I head out on the streets on February 22 as part of the Coldest Night of the Year walk to raise funds for Jericho Road Christian Ministries, I’m asking for your support. You can support me here. If you can’t give money, I would appreciate your prayers. Jericho Road serves broken people who would otherwise be homeless due to mental illness or addictions. Broken people matter to Jesus. They were made in God’s image and their lives are precious in His sight. He died so that they could be fully restored.

Some say that those who live on the streets do so by choice. In one sense, that may be so. For some, life on the streets may the result of a string of foolish or misguided choices. Even so, those who find themselves living on the streets usually do so because they feel they have no other remaining options. When I leave my warm house to walk to the bus to go to work on a cold winter day, I am glad I am not homeless, and my heart is moved with compassion for the men and women who feel they have no other option but to live on the streets.

Some say that in Ottawa, no-one has to live on the streets because there are places where homeless people can go for shelter. I have been in those shelters. It is true that they provide a place to sleep, and I am glad they are there, but they are not home.

Jericho Road is one ministry that offers another path for men dealing with addictions or mental illness, men who would otherwise be on the street or condemned to living at a shelter. Jericho offers a genuinely homelike atmosphere with structured living, responsibilities, medication if needed, counselling, Bible study and prayer. It’s a ministry that I am glad to support. The son of a good friend of mine was set free from years of drug addiction as a result of this wonderful ministry, and today is helping others get free. 

For a number of years, Marion and I were regulars at the weekly Jericho Road coffeehouse, where we led worship once a month, and hung out with men and women from the street who came in for a warm meal, a safe place, music and conversation. This was a challenging environment in which to lead worship, but I loved it. I remember one evening when I was sitting with a friend from the street who was admiring my leather-bound Bible. It had been a gift from valued friends. I knew the Lord was telling me to give it to him. I will never know the impact the Bible had on his life, but giving it had an impact on me. It was one of many choices that God used to soften my heart and make me more available for His purposes.

All of us make many choices daily. I want to make choices that prepare my heart to bear fruit for God. If He is moving you to support me in this walk, I’d be grateful for your support. But even if this particular endeavour is not something God is calling you to support, I want to urge you to consider your daily choices. It’s easy to condemn others for the choices they have made. But it’s far more productive to consider our own choices. Mercy, or judgment? Faith and love, or pride and fear? The presence of the Lord, or independence? Darkness, or light? 

Yes, it’s cold out there. The world is a cold, dark place, and getting colder and darker as the end of the age draws near. Even as signs of the Kingdom are increasing around the earth, and miracles, signs and wonders are being released in many places in great power, darkness is also increasing. But the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it and never will. I want my heart and my life to be a reflection of the warmth, light, love and glory of God’s Kingdom that is coming on the earth.

That’s why I am walking on February 22. If you want to walk with me, you can join my team here. I’d be glad of your company.

God bless you.

 

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Are you ready?

A few days ago, our friend Shannon recounted a wonderful story about her twenty year old son James. Driving to work on a cold December day, he stopped to help a young woman whose car had spun out of control on the snowy roads. He calmed her down, gave her a warm place to sit (in his car) and waited with her until the police came, before continuing on to work.

When James saw this scenario playing out in front of him, he didn’t have to work out what he ought to do. He knew how to respond, and he did it without hesitation.

James was ready. He had been prepared for this moment. His character had been shaped by a lifetime of training. When the time came, he knew what to do.

Two millennia ago, in the village of Nazareth, a young Israelite of the tribe of Judah, a carpenter by trade, was engaged to be married. Joseph was most likely looking forward to a quiet life as a family man and respected tradesman in his village. Both he and Mary were descendants of the great King David, but there was nothing to suggest that their life would be out of the ordinary. Then one day Joseph learned that Mary was expecting a child, although they had not yet come together in marriage. Understandably perplexed by this news, Joseph considered his options.

Before he could take action, an angel appeared to him in a dream, explained the situation, and gave him very specific instructions. Joseph’s response was immediate and unquestioning. The gospel writer records that when Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.

Joseph was ready. He had been prepared for this moment. His character had been shaped by a lifetime of training. When the time came, he knew what to do.

God did not choose just anyone for this assignment. He chose someone who had been carefully prepared. We are perhaps more used to thinking this way about Mary, but it’s equally true of Joseph. Imagine the thoughts that must have been going through his mind. I am going to be the father of the Messiah?

This would not be an easy task. Among the many character qualities that would be of key importance in this mission – integrity faithfulness, compassion, humility, patience – surely one of the most important was Joseph’s responsiveness to the voice of God. Having heeded the angel’s direction to take Mary as his wife, he would again have to be quick to obey so as to protect his young son from the murderous King Herod.

Joseph was ready. When the time came, he knew what to do.

Only a few people in Bethlehem recognized the Messiah at his birth. It was the same throughout his lifetime. Many were affected by him but most continued to follow their own agendas. But to those who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.

Our Christmas celebrations are so often focussed on the trappings of the season rather than on the Person at the center of it all. He is coming on the clouds, and every eye will see him. But when He appears a second time, there will be no time to change our minds about Him. Now is the time to give Him the central place in our lives that is His by right. Now is the time to pay careful attention to Him, and respond daily to His voice with willing obedience.

Are you ready?

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House of Prayer : Foundation Stones

Good morning praying friends,

On this weekend when Christians remember the death of our Lord, celebrate His resurrection and look forward to His coming again in glory, my thoughts are turning once again to laying foundations for the Vanier House of Prayer.

Since our premature launch attempt a couple of months ago, I have “gone silent” in regard to the House of Prayer, but when anyone has asked, I have said we were “building underground” — cultivating relationships that will be crucial to the health of the HoP down the road.

Although this process is far from complete, I am sensing that the time is not far off when we will need to begin building above ground, putting some simple foundation stones in place that will be crucial for what follows.

Sometimes I “see” things in my spirit that are from God, but don’t have complete clarity as to timing and how to get there. Over the past couple of weeks I have caught glimpses of a couple of simple foundation stones for the House of Prayer. I would appreciate prayer for clarity in terms of the timing and other details of setting these foundation stones in place.

One of these foundation stones is a weekly gathering for worship, prayer and simple teaching. The focus of the gathering would be intimacy with Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and its main purpose would be to provide an atmosphere that makes it easy to enter into the presence of God. This would not be primarily an intercessory gathering. Although we will probably do some intercession at this gathering as it develops, its initial purpose would be primarily devotional. The teaching would focus on drawing near to God, intimacy with Him, and hearing and responding to His voice.

I believe this is something that we are to offer. I’m less clear as to time and place. At the moment, Marion and I sensing that we are to begin these gatherings in the fall of this year. That seems a long way off, but it would allow a bit more time for the consolidation of our new relationships at The Village. Please pray for confirmation as to timing.

In terms of a location, we are considering offering our home as an initial meeting place. We have had prophetic words about the Lord using our living room as a birthing place for the House of Prayer — in particular as a place to pray with individuals who come to us. We are very much open to this and have already seen it beginning to happen, but our living room is quite small and won’t hold a lot of people. So, please pray that the Lord would give us His wisdom in terms of an initial meeting place.

I expect to be the initial worship leader at these meetings, but as this weekly gathering develops, I will be looking to the Lord to raise up worship leaders of His choosing. In keeping with our vision for a small, simple, local House of Prayer, we are not looking for superstars, but for willing vessels who have a heart for the presence of the Lord and are willing to learn.

Finally, I am very much aware that I am not a promoter – this is probably one of the areas in which I am least gifted – so I would appreciate your prayers that the Holy Spirit would draw people, as well as your participation in inviting people to come along with you when the time comes for us to begin these meetings.

A second foundation stone is prayer walking. As I was waking up the other day — one of the times when the Lord frequently drops prophetic possibilities into my spirit — I “saw” a picture of a group of people prayer walking through Vanier, and realized that a regular (weekly or bi-weekly) prayer walk could be a very simple and effective foundation stone for the House of Prayer, especially during the spring, summer and fall months. Again, I’d appreciate your prayers as to timing (when to initiate this), and that the Holy Spirit would draw people.

Thank you for praying. Please feel free to contribute your insights in the form of comments. Blessings to you as you celebrate the Lord’s resurrection.

Peter

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House of Prayer : One thing I seek

When Jesus was asked which of all God’s commandments was first in importance, he answered without any hesitation.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 10:28-30)

It may seem difficult at first glance to love a being that we cannot see. Yet this was not God’s original intent. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked with God (Genesis 3:8), and in the New Jerusalem, the redeemed will see His face (Revelation 22:4). Lovers of God through the generations have found that to those who seek him, he discloses enough of himself to keep us hungering for more. King David, Israel’s Psalmist, was fascinated with the beauty of the Lord, and declared,

One thing I have 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. (Psalm 27:4)

When Jesus died, the curtain of the temple was torn in two (Mark 15:37-38). This signifies that because Jesus has paid the price for our sins, we can approach the presence of the Holy One without shame and without fear. Yet those who belong to God often encounter many distractions and many impediments to prayer. And so the first and foremost goal of a House of Prayer is to encourage Gods people to come into His presence, by providing a place and an atmosphere that encourages prayer. The God of the Bible is a God who draws near to His people. He promises that if we draw near to Him with a sincere heart, He will draw near to us (James 4:8,Hebrews 10:19-22).

When we draw near to God, it is natural for us to present our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6, Matthew 7:7). We petition him for his favour and intervention in specific situations, not only for ourselves but for the needs of our community, our leaders, and the nations (1 Timothy 2:1-4). The Bible strongly encourages us to do all these things. Most of all Jesus instructed us to petition God for the coming of His Kingdom on earth as in heaven (Matthew 6:10).

Yet even when our requests are godly ones, there is something more important than bringing requests to God. First and foremost, in the House of Prayer we come to love him with our songs of worship and our prayers of adoration and thanks and praise. (Hebrews 13:15, 1 Peter 2:5) These are expressions of the love of our hearts, and we find that as we focus our loving attention on God, he changes our perspective on everything else in our lives, and gives us eyes of faith, so that the rest of our prayers are filled with faith and the confident expectation of an answer.

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Why a House of Prayer?

As Marion and I started to explore the teaching and worship emanating from International House of Prayer, we soon realized that we had a lot to learn.

Since then we have learned that Houses of Prayer of different shapes and sizes have begun springing up all over the world over the past twenty years. Some are tiny, some have grown quite large. Some have developed a distinctive way of praying (often known as harp and bowl worship, based on Revelation 5:8) and consciously undertake to offer worship and prayer 24/7 in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David. Others incorporate a variety of forms of prayer, sometimes with music and sometimes not. In some houses of prayer, a variety of artistic forms are encouraged as expressions of prayer. Some function as houses of hospitality or retreat centres, but still incorporate a prayer room. Many houses of prayer have begun to incorporate an emphasis on works of compassion and social justice in addition to prayer.

Despite all this diversity of expression, the world-wide prayer movement that has been burgeoning over the past couple of decades is based on a number of shared values and convictions.  While the values and convictions listed below may not be shared by all Houses of Prayer, they are common to most.

Why a House of Prayer? Here are some foundational Scriptural reasons.

First and foremost, the prayer movement springs from a a conviction that Jesus is returning for a praying church (Luke 18:6-8) that is passionately in love with her bridegroom (Song of Songs 5:8) and longs for his return (Revelation 22:17). The bridegroom looks on persevering prayer from his church as a sign of faith (Luke 18:8).

Another foundational conviction of the prayer movement is that wherever we are placed on the earth, it is never an accident (Acts 17:26-27). God has determined our dwelling place, and we are commanded to petition God for blessing on the city and nation where God has placed us (Jeremiah 29:7), pray for its leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4), and seek its good as humble servants. Praying for our city and doing works of justice and compassion in our city are consistent with Jesus’ command that his followers should be as visible as a shining city on a hilltop. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Many in the world-wide prayer movement place a special priority on prayer for Israel, in the conviction that Israel still holds a central place in God’s plan to redeem and restore the earth, and that God calls his people to cry out to him day and night for the salvation of Israel and the peace of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 62:6-7Romans 11:25-27Psalm 122:6)

The prophet Isaiah, as quoted by Jesus, referred to the Temple as God’s house and stated that it was to be a house of prayer for all nations. (Isaiah 56:7 , Mark 11:17) Since the people of God are described as being his temple (Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:5), these words of Jesus can be taken on two levels. They clearly refer to his desire that the whole church would be a people of prayer, but many in the prayer movement have come to believe that there is also, in every generation until Jesus returns, a calling upon God’s people to establish special places that are consecrated for the purpose of prayer in each city and town.

Many in the prayer movement see the spread of houses of prayer across the earth as a sign that Jesus is preparing his bride for his return. One of the purposes of the prayer movement is to call the whole church to rise up into a lifestyle of purity, holiness and wholehearted devotion to God. (Ephesians 5:25-27, 1 Peter 1:14-16)

Jesus has called his people to love one another as a sign of his life in us. Many houses of prayer place an emphasis on developing a vibrant Christian community that demonstrates love for one another and for those in need. (John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:18, Hebrews 13:15-16)

Paul commended Philemon for his ministry of refreshing and encouraging the hearts of other believers (Philemon 1:7) and knew he himself could always find a hospitable welcome in Philemon’s house (Philemon 1:22). The values of hospitality and encouragement to other believers are an important part of the ethos of a house of prayer.

This is not an exhaustive list of reasons for establishing a House of Prayer in any community, but it is a starting place. These are some of the values that are in our hearts as Marion and I consider this mandate.

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Dream for the Bride

As I lay sleeping last night, towards morning I had a dream.

I was at a social gathering in the home of a friend, and I was introduced to a beautiful young woman. She had olive skin, was dressed very simply and modestly but I remember knowing somehow that she was a princess or some other very significant person, who was destined to fulfil some great purpose. She was very self-assured, but also quiet and calm. When I spoke to her, she paid attention to what I had to say as if it were of great importance. This was more than superficial politeness. She seemed to possess genuine humility along with confidence.

Almost immediately after being introduced to this beautiful young woman, I began to speak a message from God to her. Although we were in a social gathering it was as if I was speaking to her alone and had her complete attention. No-one else could hear, but she was hearing and taking in every word. It was as if Jesus was speaking directly to her through my words.

This was the message that I spoke to the young woman in the dream.

The word that is in you is a treasure. Treasure it above all things. Store it up and pay careful attention to it, for it is your life. It is alive, it is powerful, it holds the keys to life and death. It is more precious than gold or diamonds or wealth or fame or any other fortune. Do not let other voices distract you from this word. It is more important than anything else in your life. Days are coming when everything will be shaken, everything will shift, nothing will stay the same. In these days of shifting you will live from the word I have given you. It will be your anchor in the shifting and will keep you stable and secure. It will be your life, and you will feed on it and nourish many others. It will be your food and drink, it will give you life in time of famine and danger, and in the hidden place you will shelter many and give life to many because of the word that I have given to you – a word of life, hope, warning, direction and promise. Pay attention to this treasure, learn to know it well, guard it carefully, for nothing in your life is as important as this word that is in you.

After I had finished speaking to the young woman she went off to prepare for some sort of voyage. It seemed she was being taken somewhere in a car. At the time I didn’t know where she was going, but as I began recording the dream, I thought about the woman in Revelation 12:6 who was taken into the desert for a season to be sheltered in a place prepared by God, and I realized that this message was of great importance to the young woman because she was about to enter a season of intense testing.

There were a couple of older women present – I think they were guardians or mentors of the young woman – and they asked me what I had told her. I don’t remember answering them, but their question somehow alerted me to the power and significance of the message that I had spoken to the young woman. Although I was still asleep, in some way I also began to realize that this was a dream, not an actual waking conversation, and that I needed to communicate this message to the person for whom it was intended. So I asked the Lord (still in my dream, still asleep), “Who is the young woman in the dream? Who is this message for?” At first I was thinking that it must be a message for some specific young woman, and I saw the face of my own daughter, who is twenty years old. But then, one by one, I saw the faces of many other people who belong to him. Almost all of them were young, and I began to wonder if this was a message especially for young people. Then I saw the face of my wife, and realized that it was a dream for the Bride of Christ – for everyone who belongs to Jesus – and that I needed to communicate it to as many people as possible, but that it would be especially significant for the young.

Then I woke up.

 

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My friend Jim

I bumped into Jim (not his real name) a few weeks ago when I was riding my bike through Vanier. I consider Jim a friend, but I had lost touch with him and hadn’t talked with him in a couple of years, so I was delighted to see him again. He was waiting for the bus, and we chatted for a few minutes until his bus came.

My encounter with Jim was an answer to prayer. Jim doesn’t have a phone, he doesn’t use the Internet, and I didn’t know where he was living, so I had no way of getting in touch with him. I hadn’t even been thinking about Jim, but I had been asking the Lord for insight into a vision that had been stirring in my heart for some time now, and I realized in hindsight that seeing Jim at the bus stop was part of God’s answer to my question.

You see, Marion and I have been sensing for a while now that God is calling us to birth a House of Prayer in Vanier.

This raises many questions. Why a House of Prayer? Why Vanier? And, why on earth would God choose us for a task like this? Aren’t there other people out there – people who are better qualified, more gifted, more capable, younger and more energetic – people who could do a better job?

When I think about how to answer these questions, Jim comes to mind. My encounter with him at the bus stop was no accident. I had been seeking God for insight as to what a House of Prayer would look like, and God showed me Jim.

Jim is a wonderful, warm, generous, simple, kind, loveable man. He is also an addict who has spent most of his adult life in and out of prison. Although Jesus has changed his life in major ways, Jim has spent so many years in prison that he finds it a challenge to manage life on the outside. He has done some things and made some choices that have harmed himself and others, but he has a sincere love for Jesus, and I consider him a brother and a friend.

In some ways Jim is his own worst enemy. Because of some of the things he has experienced, Jim has a hard time remembering that Jesus loves him. As a result, he has a hard time staying clean. He also has a hard time staying out of jail.

Some would be quick to say that Jim’s problems are the result of his own poor choices. At one level that is very true, and Jim wouldn’t deny it. But Jim has also had a lot of strikes against him. What’s more, I’ve heard him cry out to God for deliverance. Even though he sometimes continues to make poor choices, deep down Jim has a genuine desire to get clean and stay clean, to get free and stay free. He just has a hard time walking it out.

Jim needs a House of Prayer. He needs a safe place where he can come and spend as much time as he wants in the presence of the Lord. He has found that in the presence of the Lord there is healing for his soul.

It is written that when Jesus entered Jerusalem just prior to the Passover, the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. This was not only an act of compassion, but a powerful prophetic statement. A blind or lame man could not serve as a priest according to the law of Moses, because his imperfection disqualified him from coming through the veil into the presence of the Lord to offer the sacred bread. By healing the blind and the lame in the temple, Jesus was saying that from now on, because of his blood that was about to be shed on the cross, the way was open for broken, disqualified people to come into the presence of the Lord, to be forgiven, cleansed, healed, restored, equipped, and qualified to serve him as priests – people who can carry the presence and blessing of God to others.

Jim is not the only broken, disqualified person who lives in Vanier. I live here too. Like Jim, I have many defects. Like Jim, my life has been changed because Jesus has come into my world and made a way for me to come into the Father’s house. Like Jim, I belong to Jesus and he is my identity and my destiny. Like Jim, I still have a long way to go.

Why a House of Prayer in Vanier? There are at least two people in Vanier who need one.  Jim does.  So do I.

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Glimpses of glory

A few days ago I was cycling along a pathway by the Ottawa River. I was perplexed about my current circumstances, and I stopped for a few minutes to sit on a bench and look at the river. As I told the Lord of my concerns, I sensed the Spirit prompting me to look at the fruit cluster on a sumac bush.

I went over to have a look, and was amazed. The Spirit reminded me of the thousands of cells of various types in each berry, each cell containing hundreds of complex organic molecules built with chains of atoms that are themselves fantastically complex. And this is just a single fruit cluster on a single sumac bush!  That’s not to mention the millions of other species of living things on earth, let alone the wonders of the mineral world and the vast galaxies that form outer space. My concerns fell into perspective as I realized that the God who made all this had a place for me in his plans.

All my life I have been enthralled by the wonder of God’s creation. The beauty of the created order – even in its fallen, marred state – reflects the glory, goodness and creative generosity of God, and brings rest to my soul. But more recently I have begun to find myself increasingly captivated by the beauty of God himself.

Several books of the Bible include descriptions of God’s throne room and the majestic splendour that surrounds him. Among the best known and most detailed visions are found in the Book of Revelation.

Sadly, many people tend to avoid Revelation. It’s an amazing book, written by a man with a deep love for God’s people. As a young man, John had been Jesus’ closest earthly friend. By the time he wrote the Book of Revelation, he was an old man, living in a prison camp on the Aegean Sea because of his faith in Christ. He was the overseer of several Christian communities in Asia Minor that were tasting intense persecution under the cruelty of the Emperor Domitian. John wrote to give them hope and encouragement.

Although John spoke a message of hope, it was also a sober message. The Lord would return to deliver his people, destroy evil and bring in the new age of righteousness and peace. But before his return, there would be a period of intense struggle. The Spirit revealed to John that there would be much turmoil and many painful trials before the final victory and the coming wedding feast.

Yet before showing John any of these gruesome details, the Spirit gave him several powerful encounters with the beauty and majesty of the Father and the Son. There’s a stunning vision of the Son of Man in Revelation 1, and an equally awe-inspiring description of the throne room of God in Revelation 4 and 5.

I am still very much a beginner when it comes to truly understanding these heavenly realities. But I am realizing in a fresh way why we need to feed our hearts on the beauty of God.

Of all the wondrous aspects of God’s glory, perhaps the most wondrous of all is that he is interested in us. The throne room contains not only the throne of the Ancient of Days but also the throne of the Lamb who was slain for us. Although God, He is also one of us, and he stands ready to open the seals of the scroll that will complete history and bring in a renewed, restored and glorified earth.

Over the past couple of weeks the world has been treated to the spectacle of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. These games were an amazing display of the glory of man. The Olympics showcase humanity’s drive to pursue and appreciate excellence, order and beauty in all domains of life. This drive is in us because we are made in the image of a great, glorious and creative God, who intended us to rule the earth on his behalf. Even in our fallen condition, having made quite a mess of things, we still bear His imprint. Yet if we pursue the glory of man without God, we end up empty, disappointed and frustrated.

I have known for a long time that I needed God. I know that I am daily dependent on His love, truth and power. But God is not just a source of gifts that I need to sustain my life. As long as I think of God that way, I still don’t really get it. I was made to worship and adore the Beautiful One. He is beautiful, delightful, exquisite in himself. You and I need to learn to feed our souls on his beauty. In the end, it is only His beauty that can satisfy us, sustain us, keep us from evil, and bring us through to the glorious destiny that we were made for.

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The river

This summer I have done a lot of cycling on the paths by the Rideau and Ottawa Rivers. I do it for the exercise, but I also do it because being outdoors helps me to pray.

I have been without work for four months now. This has been a faith-stretching time for me, as I have been waiting for God to supply me with work, but it has also been a season of spiritual refreshing. This has been especially true in recent weeks as Marion and I have been devoting ourselves to the word of God and prayer to an extent that we have not done for a long time. It has been deeply challenging and also fruitful. But I know there is much more that the Lord wants to do in me – in fact, I feel as though I am just touching the edge of what he wants to lead me into. The earth is coming into a pivotal time, a season when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, so that only those things which cannot be shaken will remain. To fulfil God’s purposes for us so that we come forth in glory through the upheavals that are coming, we will need to be deeply anchored in God and full of His life. The other day the Lord reminded me of this quite powerfully during one of my bike rides.

About ten days ago Ottawa had a major thunderstorm after several weeks of drought. The storm was accompanied by heavy rains. The Rideau had gotten very low, and many of the shallower areas were choked with algae and water weeds. But the day after the rain, there was noticeably more water in the river, and the parkland along its banks didn’t seem quite so dry. The rain wasn’t enough to truly end the drought, but it helped. I had been praying for rain, so I was thankful.

A couple of days after the rainstorm, I was pedalling along the bicycle path by the Rideau River and I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me.

See this river. See how low, and polluted, the water is after this season of drought. It is a picture of your soul (mind, will, emotions). My river of life flows in you but it is at a much lower level than it could be, and it is polluted by other things. The other day there was a rainfall. It was an answer to your prayers, and you were happy. The rain was good, but the river is still low. In the same way, you must not be content with the refreshing you are now experiencing. It feels good, but do not conclude that this is all you need. Let this time of refreshing stir up your desire for more. Your soul needs to be filled to overflowing with my river of life. When my river of life is flowing at flood tide in you, like a raging torrent, it will purify all uncleanness and bring life to you and many others. 

Reflecting more on this, the other day the Lord spoke to me using a different analogy. He showed me that much of my life as a Christian I had been playing in the shallows of a huge swimming pool – like a little child splashing in the shallow water on the beach – and he is calling me to humble myself, recognize that I need much more, and apply myself to going much deeper in him.

God, I don’t want to be satisfied too easily. I choose to be content in you, but at the same time I do not want to be easily satisfied with the measure of the Holy Spirit that I have received. I am refreshed by the streams of living water that you have been pouring out, but I want more. You say that the Holy Spirit is a deposit, a down payment on our inheritance. I want to maximize that deposit – make the most of it – so that you will reward me with much more on that Day. Even now, Lord, I want as much of your revelation as I can have in this age, so that I can testify with grace and power to the new life that you are prepared to give to anyone who is truly hungry for you.

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