Tuesday 25 September 2012

Presence or “Squatting Rights”

I have just finished reading the Book of Ezekiel and the last few chapters about the Temple has caught my attention.

For years and years I have being believing a lie from the enemy of God. Two and a half years ago this lie was exposed when I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit in church. You might want to sit down to read the next few lines. During our church meeting I was taken up (in spirit) into the clouds and met the Holy Spirit. Now my knowledge and awareness of the Holy Spirit has been minimal all these years, yet when I was taken into this encounter I knew instantly it was the Holy Spirit because I had just cried out “Spirit of Life I love you” and then I was taken (in spirit) into this encounter, awesome yes, but what’s better is today it’s more real than ever, as I have come to know the Holy Spirit much better since then. The fact that the Holy Spirit is a person, loves me (Romans 15:30), and desires fellowship with me (2 Corinthians 13:14) which I never knew has completely transformed my life.

Since this encounter the word “Presence” has been burning within me. It’s now captivating me, the Presence of God. God present with me. I have come to know the Presence of God - the Holy Spirit walking with me. I have been learning how to enter into His Presence, how easy it is to do so and I am learning more as I step in to the Holy Spirit day by day and I actually mean day by day. I have been reluctant to speak because so much has been changing, my beliefs have been turned up-side down and this has not been easy to adjust too. Answers to questions I asked did not satisfy me but only served to throw me onto the Holy Spirit for greater understanding. As I read God’s word and began searching out these things I have been amazed by what God has been teaching me. Sometimes I might not fully grasp what the bible is saying or indeed what the Holy Spirit might say, but as I continue to battle for insight, Holy Spirit  just draws me in and fills my heart and reveals Himself as I seek. At times I come to a certain position on an issue only for God to challenge that position soon afterwards, it’s just so rewarding and encouraging, the process mouth-watering excitement.

In January this year a prophetic word was shared by Lionel in church along these lines “God has moved by grace and favour amongst us, but a day is coming of Presence and Power”. This word has not left me, it’s an amazing promise for us to take hold of, but we need to take hold of it.

We all know what squatting rights means (if a dwelling is empty and one gets in and takes up residence, eventually they receive rights). Now if the Holy Spirit were to speak those words to you, what would you think? For me it clicked instantly and maybe so because of what I experienced since becoming a believer. Being a Christian if your temple: 

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" 1 Cor 6:19  

Is unoccupied then we may have given squatting rights to Gods enemy. You may argue that if you are a christian your temple is not unoccupied. I believe when you become a christian you receive the Holy Spirit into your inner person your spirit and not into your whole body. This partly explains why as a new christian you can struggle with sin in your body or indeed in your soul, indeed Paul talks of struggling with sin in the book of Romans. You can be a Christian and have the love of God and peace of God within your spirit but yet  emotionally you can desperately lack peace. This point has caused much debate which I don’t have time for here, I just wish to let you know my stand on this point. Our bodies (temples) when baptised with the Holy Spirit are filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore fully occupied. This is a daily process as we are commanded to be filled over and over again. Now why be filled again if we are already filled, why be filled again if you were filled when you became a christian and why were so many in the book of acts baptised in the Holy Spirit when they were already christians. How come everyone baptised with the Holy Spirit in the book of acts can give you a date and time when they received this second baptism. You owe it to yourself to search out the answer to this question.

Over the last two years I have become increasingly aware of the amount of pollution we tolerate in the name of entertainment (books, television viewing etc some of these items glorify the occult, death, crime etc). Please understand I am not judging here, I have come to learn that the Holy Spirit just like a dove takes instant flight at the sign of danger or trouble. When you become a christian your spirit is sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph1:13). Now it’s important to grasp a seal from God is indeed a seal, when the Holy Spirit takes flight, it’s the presence of God that takes flight. The Holy Spirit remains sealed in your spirit, you do not become a non-Christian.

 Matthew 12:43-45 we read about the man where an evil spirit came out of him:

"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order”

The spirit then returns:

 “And the final condition of that man is worse than the first”.

If the house (temple) is unoccupied we give evil spirits squatting rights and they will oppress us to stop the Holy Spirit being manifest in our being (Believe me I know of this personally – I believed and came into agreement with lies of the enemy and allowed his lies destroy me for years). We were designed by God to display his glory, designed by God to carry the full measure of His Spirit, this is our calling. God gives us the opportunity to fulfill our destiny, he does not force it on us, the choice is ours.

Many become Christians, but much less fulfill their calling or destiny. Many remain drinking milk as Paul says rather than eating meat; many fail to grow – Why? I don’t have your answer but I do mine. I became a Christian, great, but I stayed at the cross. I lived present-past (the cross 2000 years ago saved me), I clung to history and stayed at the cross (marvelous history though).

Today I live present-future (the cross saved me to live out of fullness of God (Presence) and change the future, one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to bring the Kingdom of God on the earth). When I became a Christian Jesus came into my spirit (inner man) but I did not furnish my house, I emptied my house as Jesus cleaned it up but I did not fill it with the Spirit of God. God never wanted to be confined to just my spirit like in the Old Testament when he was confined to the Holy of Holies in the Temple. When Jesus died the veil was torn and the Spirit of God was no longer confined in the Holy of Holies. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is similar, the Spirit of God falls on our whole being so we can then shine like Moses did and radiate Gods glory.

In Ezekiel 44 we continue reading about Ezekiel’s vision and take up the vision at the outer gate to the sanctuary.

Verse 2 "This gate is to remain shut". It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered through it”.

When the Lord enters your temple we are told to shut the door and keep it shut, if the door is shut can squatters get in? When God comes into our body (temple) our spirit is filled with His glory. Ezekiel in the vision was told in three different ways to pay careful attention. Why? I would imagine the answer is ‘This is a really important point’. Here is the bit that’s important.

5 “Give attention to the entrance of the temple and all the exits of the sanctuary”.

If we watch what comes in and what goes out we learn much about the health of the temple (our life in Christ). If as commanded we keep the entrance shut what exits should give glory to God. The fact that Ezekiel was told to make sure the entrance remained closed means it is possible to open it and shut it as you so wish. Today we are given the choice to have our entrance opened or closed, but God tell us to keep it closed. Likewise we are told to keep being filled with the Holy Spirit, but just because we are told to do it does not meant we do, the choice is yours. Did you ever watch what leaves your temple, your words, actions, attitudes and testimony or indeed lack of these, if these items are not good, God is inviting you to come to him for a make-over.

We read in verse 7:

“In addition to all your other detestable practices, you brought foreigners uncircumcised in heart and flesh into my sanctuary, desecrating my temple”

What’s alarming to me here is though the Levites (the tribe set apart for service in the temple and for priesthood) did these things and had the entrance of the sanctuary open God left them in charge of the temple, but God only allowed them serve people, catch that – only served people.

Now the priests (verses 15-16) who faithfully carried out the duties when Israel went astray from God

"are to come near to minister before me. They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and perform my service”.

Note the difference, these ones get to minister unto God. These get to minister in His presence. This I know is the desire of each one of us who are true Christians (remember in New Testament times all Christians are priests). This type of service to God comes at a price, the price once you accept that Jesus paid the ultimate price on the cross for you is that you surrender to Christ which is impossible to do unless you are filled with the Spirit. You can not surrender without being filled (you can’t empty your temple without filling it else you will leave your entrance open and empty or lacking, if it’s not full / furnished it is open to other influences). A condition of being filled is to have clean hands and a pure heart else the Holy Spirit will not be at rest and remain. Unless you are hungry you won’t eat, without eating you become less and it’s also true in the spiritual realm, without eating you simply will not grow.

This vision of Ezekiel has so much truth for you and me (the temple of the Holy Spirit) today. It’s a great picture or comparison of religion and a faith built on presence, if we follow our idols (anything that takes a place before God in our life – the most obvious idol is the fear of man and thus relegating God in our life, or another putting materialism before God) we will miss out on His presence. If you are not in the Holy Spirit, I believe  you are in religion, you may be a Christian but still in the mould of religion and outside of presence and this is my belief of what Ezekiel was seeing.

Ezekiel 47 is a continuation of Ezekiel’s great vision but few of us see this chapter as an extension to what has gone before it, they are linked. This chapter shows you the what’s possible for every Christian, to live in the Presence or live in religion. The vision is - The river flowing from the temple. The river being symbolic of the Holy Spirit flowing out from the temple into the world. Our call is to be a blessing to the nations, when we flow with the river, we are a blessing to the nations. Without effort we produce fruit and healing in the nation. 

This is what we know of this vision. Most if not all of us miss what verse 11 speaks of:

"But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt". 

If we do not touch the river we will remain unfruitful and not bring forth life. Without the river (Holy Spirit) even though you may be a Christian there is no offspring, new life or fruit, you are living in religion. Believe me when I say for years I gave Satan’s crew squatting rights in my life, but in recent years the Holy Spirit has led me into that which Lionel spoke of in January, Presence.

In church we have just completed during the summer an excellent teaching series predominantly on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Can I challenge you to listen again to Fergus on Trinity Radio (or on iTunes) 17th June 2012 and Andy 24th June 2012 and Fergus again on the 2nd September 2012. 

In their messages they spoke of the Holy Spirit and how important, no, essential the Holy Spirit is for us. Can I go further than that? If you received this as teaching and just teaching you are little different than the Pharisees that learned the scriptures but refused to come into encounter. God’s word is only an invitation to an encounter with God. Without encounter, without the Holy Spirit the Bible is just a book. Please as you listen, act upon the invitation. When Moses saw the burning bush (Exodus 3), he “thought”..., then he acted and “went over”. It was only when he went over that God spoke to him. Can I tell you this is a “burning bush” moment right now, you can just pass comment on my blog and move on or “step in” and consider my words or those of Fergus and Andy. I challenge you to camp here until you have an encounter with God.  

Ask God to help you and teach you, ask God to release His Holy Spirit and invite Jesus to baptise you with the Holy Spirit and then welcome the Holy Spirit and ask Him to teach you (Ask our church leaders to lay hands on you to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit).In the book of Acts, everyone who was baptized with the Holy Spirit can point to a date, a time in history when this amazing promise of God was received by them…when did you receive this same promise. I am sorry for being so blunt here, but I promise you if you seek this promise and surrender to Him you will receive it.

The Holy Spirit, He and He only will know and tell you what needs changing and how to make those changes, He is the one that leads us into ALL TRUTH. I could keep going on but I know the Holy Spirit holds your solution. Be blessed on this your amazing treasure hunt. The Holy Spirit will unearth for you all your greatest dreams, wishes, wants and desires. He and He only knows what is best for you and He never gets it wrong.

Read Rogers words in the blog posted on 10th September. I encourage you to want like Roger. What Roger speaks about is the most precious gift, The gift of the Holy Spirit, the actual person of the Holy Spirit. This is PRESENCE. Allow Fergus and Andy’s words transform your life. Believe me it’s too easy to miss what’s on offer here. Grasp your “burning bush” moment, just grasp it.

If you are hungry – just eat.

Declan D.

Monday 10 September 2012

The Tattered Feather In The Old Church

Recently, I was at a funeral. The venue was in an old church that had probably been built 200years ago or more. It was very grand inside.

 The windows had stained glass in them and were lit up by the sunlight coming through them. The craftsmanship inside the church was exceptional and had me wondering how some of the masonry was both placed and carved to create some very intricate decor.

 Sometime in the past, somebody cared enough to build a church with the intention of God being worshipped in it for many centuries to come.

Parts of the church had been modernised of course, the priest now speaks into a microphone and there's even a facility for those who are hard of hearing to be included in the message.

As I stood, knelt and sat throughout the service, I was saddened by what I was witnessing, or to be more precise, not witnessing.

There was no passion in the building. It was as if it had been built a long time ago as a place of worship but had now become a place of regular attendance for a few people from an older generation.

During the service, there were some fantastic words spoken, yet the impact of them was lost on many. The Prayer that Jesus taught us in Matthew 6, known to many of us as The Lord's Prayer, where He teaches us to invite Heaven to become a reality on earth was just recited with no realisation that we were seeking a radical change in our circumstances by just saying it.

However, I've said enough about the negative side. Let's see what there is to learn through this.

Over the past number of years there have been things happening in various places around the globe that don't fit into our traditional idea of who or even what God is.

I remember hearing a story in Sunday school around 30 years ago, where there was a young boy in a village in Africa who needed to take a test in his school but wasn't allowed as he didn't have a pencil. He was upset at being left out and went outside the school room with his sheet of paper. He had heard about God providing and that 'Jehovah Jireh' was one of His names so as he sat there in the dirt, he started to pray for a pencil.
As he prayed, he rolled his sheet of paper in his hands and then suddenly realised that it was firm. He unrolled it to see a sharpened pencil inside!

Imagine the joy on this boy's face, and the reaction of his teacher when he arrived back in the classroom with his pencil!

His teacher wondered where he had managed to get a pencil, never mind one so fine and the boy replied "The Impossible God gave it to me!"

That story has stuck in my mind since I heard it. I've longed to meet the Impossible God and see Him act like this in me, and I'm delighted to say, that looking back, He has been doing impossible things in my life all along.

But I was talking about being at a funeral, in a church that seemed to be lacking something, and that something was the incredible life of Jesus Christ.
In fact, I could even say that Jesus had obviously left the building, after all, Stephen witnessed to this in Acts 7 in verses 55 and 56, just before he was stoned for blasphemy:

55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

But here's the thing: Stephen, had what we have, he had what Jesus gave us.

Stephen, "being full of the Holy Spirit" knew who he was and what he possessed was far greater than anything on earth. He had a boldness and a relationship with the Lord that was so great, he saw visions of Heaven.

You see, Jesus had left the building, but He promised that He was going to send a Helper when He was speaking in John 14:

“If you love Me, keep  My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

This is what excited me in that old church!
I mentioned earlier things that have happened around the globe when God has moved or started moving in and among people. One of these things was that people noticed feathers appearing, before revivals broke out or during meetings where the Holy Spirit was moving.

And this is what excited me. During one of the kneeling times in this service, I noticed in the corner of the pew, a tattered, old feather, just caught there in some dust.
I don't think it was a feather that just appeared from Heaven (it had the appearance of one that had been removed from a pigeon, possibly by a cat), but as is the nature of our God, He can speak to us in many ways.

He reminded me that even though I thought Jesus had left the building, the Holy Spirit was very much still there. Even though I didn't see any signs of revival, The Holy Spirit was very much still there.

Psalm 139 which David wrote says:

 "7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me." 

Jesus ascended into Heaven and He sent us the One who is called the Helper, The One who David said is everywhere!

The Holy Spirit is everywhere, just waiting to be discovered by us.
He is the unnoticed visitor in too many places,
He is the unseen friend in too many rooms,
He is the unheard voice in too many conversations,
He is the unrecognized person in too many crowds,
Yet He is always there.

There's a phrase that is often heard in Christian circles "The presence of the Lord was really there" and on the face of it, this might seem a bit daft, after all, if the Holy Spirit is everywhere, then surely you can't notice His presence more in one place than another?

I don't think so: Even though He is everywhere, we need to learn to find Him. One way of describing it is like smelling a rose, the closer you are to a rose, the more you are aware of it's fragrance. This is how it is with the Holy Spirit.
As we get closer to Him, we recognise His fragrance and learn to move where He is moving.

I don't want to miss out on what God has for me. He sent His Son to die for me, to give me Life, and then He sent me His Helper to help me live a life that will glorify Him.

I want to be someone who glorifies God in all I do. I want to be someone who learns the fragrance of the Holy Spirit wherever I go. I want to be someone who moves with the Holy Spirit wherever He decides go move, to be a sail that is blown in whatever direction He pleases.

I want to be one who not only recognises that the Holy Spirit is there, but is willing to do whatever He asks me to do.

Especially if it's in an old church that's got beautiful stained glass windows.

Roger C.