Category: Devotional

Feast with the Father(2)

Abundant Feasting in the Father’s House

“How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:7-9 NIV
David, through the Holy Spirit, chooses some interesting descriptive wording in in Psalm 36, namely; “feast, abundance, your house, drink and river of delights”.

A Spirit of Poverty and a Promise
How often do we wrestle with a mentality of scarcity and poverty? We suffer from poverty in wisdom, a lack in love and provision, a feeling of destitution and separation from the Father and a deep thirst for real joy and delight. Often we lack true Peace and Joy!
In this passage the Lord is encouraging us through His promise that all our real needs will be met to the overflowing. The Lord is not impoverished and does not give us the bare minimum to survive. No! He supplies abundantly for our every need. One of the reasons for Jesus coming was to meet these real needs to the full.

Testimony
I remember the time our family faced yet another financial crises. I spent days thinking and wondering how I could overcome these financial difficulties without compromising the ministry the Lord had given me. I analysed my situation, spent hours talking to my wife and friends about some of my ideas and slowly the reality dawned on me that my best ideas would not work in my context. I finally sat down and lifted my head towards Heaven: “Father, you know all these ideas and plans I am making. You see how I do not even like my own best ideas and that I can see no way out of this financial crisis? Now Father I ask you; what do YOU want me to know?”

As I listened for His response I started to see a desert, scattered with rocks and stones, all grey and lifeless. As I peered deeper into the vision I was troubled by the grey colours and dryness I witnessed all around me. I started to look for some green trees or even a blue stream or something that could break the barrenness all around me. I kept seeing only this desert with rocks scattered about.
I prayed once more: “Father, I do appreciate that you understand my situation but what are you telling me? I don’t understand how this vision is helping me?” Slowly the Father’s words become clearer as I perceived Him saying to me: “Francois, you are looking at your external environment for an answer, but you are sitting on the solution?” As I continued to meditate on these words, wondering what it could possibly mean that I am sitting on the solution? Slowly it began to dawn on me that in the vision there is nothing but rocks surrounding me. The only thing I can sit on is a Rock! I looked up to Heaven and said: “Father, if it is true that you are the solution, the Rock, then I am asking you now to let your provision flow, not only for others, but also for me and my family!” As I got up from where I was sitting I sensed a waterfall cascading over me and knew in my Spirit that the Father would take care of us.”

I stopped looking at my external environment and simply continued with my day to day ministry, trusting that my Heavenly Father had a plan and would take care of us. Two months later, as I connected with people in ministry the Father provided an added avenue of income I could never have foreseen and brought about the provision we longed for and needed as a family.

This testimony of how the Lord broke the financial barrenness at a time of need does not compare to the Father’s love experienced at times of spiritual barrenness! The times of encouragement that I received from the Father when I felt lonely and abandoned, the encouragement of the Holy Spirit when I was ready to quit. I can only echo the words of Paul, through the Holy Spirit, to Timothy “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.

If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:11-13 NIV (emphasis mine)

The Lord wants us to get rid of a poverty mentality!

How different would our lives be if we could grasp the tremendous provision the Father makes available to us, His children? The Father has indeed already, by the Holy Spirit and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, provided for ALL our needs.

Jesus Himself said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV

Many of us are living like the older brother (see Luke 15) not knowing the abundant generosity of our Father. We live, as if we are slaves who have to prise open the hand of our reluctant Father to receive a small, skinny goat. We do this, not realizing that the Father was pleased to give us the Kingdom! (See Luke 12:32)
Listen to the words of the Father to his son: “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’” Luke 15:31 NIV

How many of us are angry and accuse the Father of being slow to answer our prayers? How many of us think He only gives us a sliver of what we have asked for? The truth is that He always gives us more than we can think or imagine! (See Ephesians 3:20)

There are two great truths locked up in the Father’s answer to the older son. Firstly, the Father assured him that He is always with him and secondly that all that the Father possesses also belongs to the son. It can be summed up by saying the Father gives us intimacy and inheritance. When he gives us intimacy He gives us Himself! He comes to us in the person of Holy Spirit and He gives Himself abundantly to us. (See Titus 3:4-6)

As we return, like the prodigal son, to the Father’s House, we discover that the Father is waiting for us with open arms of love. He shelters us within Himself. The Word of God makes it clear that when it comes to the Kingdom of God it is not so much about eating and drinking physical substances but it is all about consuming Christ spiritually, eating the Bread of Life (See John 8:58 & 63) and drinking the Living Water (See John 7:37-39) “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” Romans 14:17 NIV

A River of Life (delights)
David, looking ahead to what the Lord Jesus accomplished for us at the cross, compared the Spirit with a river. The Spirit is like a river that flows abundantly from the very throne of God into our lives. A Spiritual River that also flows out of the lives of all who have surrendered their lives to the King! (See John 7:38) We all can drink by faith from this Spiritual River just like the Israelites could drink from the river that the Lord made flow from the Rock (See Exodus 17:1-7). Indeed, Jesus Christ is the corner-stone, the great Rock, who was spilt for us at the Cross. (Jeremiah 2:13 & John 4:11-14) From Him flows the River of Life that makes glad the city of God. (See Psalm 46:4)

The Spirit, which is at work in our lives, is not a dried up tap that drips only a drop of water to wet our tongue and get us through the day. No! The Spirit is given abundantly, like a great river that flows inside of us and out of us to other thirsty pilgrims. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” Psalm 46:4 NIV

Ezekiel also prophecies of the Spirit and likens Him to a river, a mighty stream that no-one can cross, that flows from the Throne of God, giving joy to the people. The Spirit is a powerful and joyful Person who shares His Joy and Peace The Spirit gives us the Joy and the Peace of Christ and He gives it abundantly!

“The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side. As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.” Ezekiel 47:1-9 NIV

Whose joy is it anyway?

In Jesus’ great prayer before His crucifixion He prayed that all who believe may be filled with the fullness of His Joy! (See John 17:13)
This is great news indeed. We do not have to produce our own joy. Jesus states clearly that He prayed so that we may have HIS JOY! “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” John 17:13 NIV (emphasis mine)

It is the will of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that the Joy and Peace of God (as seen in Jesus Christ) might be in each one of us. The Lord provides His joy abundantly for each one who will come and RECEIVE by faith from Jesus Christ, who is the fountain of life. (See Psalm 36:9 and John 4:14)

Will you bring Him your life and let Him touch you with His Love? Will you cry out to Him who is anointed with the Joy of the Holy Spirit to fill you with His Joy? If you will drink by faith from the life of Jesus Christ then the promise of Isaiah will become a reality in your life too! “Those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. “I, even I, am he who comforts you.” Isaiah 51:11-12 NIV

Reflection

Has the River of the Holy Spirit flowed into your life?
Are you swimming in the River of Delights?
Will you come to Jesus Christ and allow Him to baptize you with the Holy Spirit?
Are you experiencing the Joy and the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Do you possess this Joy and Peace that Jesus promised no-one can take away from you? (See John 16:22)

More Blessed than Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ

Have you ever wondered what it must have felt like for Mary to have nursed Jesus Christ as her own son? Consider for a moment the joy an obedient child brings to his/her parents?

Now imagine, raising a child that never sins!

This was the case with Mary who had the privilege of giving birth to Jesus Christ! What joy Mary must have experienced in having baby Jesus, full of Grace, Truth, Joy and Peace constantly in her presence? She had the privilege of nursing Jesus and seeing Him grow in favour with man and God. (See Luke 2:52)

Mary was a blessed woman indeed and by the Holy Spirit she mentioned the fact that all women from all generations will call her blessed!

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful  of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” Luke 1:41-49 NIV(emphasis mine)

How would like to have a blessing that will make all people, from all generations, call you blessed? What would you give to be as blessed as Mary? Can any person be blessed more than the woman who nourished the baby Jesus at her breast and raised Jesus Christ in her own arms?

Consider a moment the life of Mary: She was present when Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Mary was the one who told the servants to do all that Jesus told them to do and witnessed His first miracle. (See John 2:1-12)

I proclaim to you that you can be blessed alongside Mary! Indeed you can be blessed to an even a greater measure!  Yes, I declare to you that you too can be blessed to an extent that surpasses the blessing of Mary as the mother of Christ in the flesh.

I have several reasons for my declaration. Firstly, Mary lived most of her life only seeing Jesus in his earthly stature or as Paul would phrase it, viewed him from a worldly point of view (as a mere man). (See 2 Corinthians 5:16 and John 10:33) Mary only had the last years of her life to fellowship with Jesus Christ as the glorified Christ (after His crucifixion when she joined the other disciples in prayer and fellowship.)

The second reason I declare to you that you can be more blessed than Mary is because Jesus said so! (Keep reading for the reference) Jesus made it very clear that every man can be extremely and abundantly blessed!

This blessing come to every person that looks to Jesus; hears his word and obeys it!

Now some of you will protest thinking: I can never obey the Word of Christ. However, to obey Jesus is a fruit of believing in Him! Jesus himself said that to do the work of God is to believe in the one the Father has sent. (He was referring to Himself, as the One the Father sent.)

 “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 NIV

There can be no obedience without faith Abraham believed and was willing to slaughter Isaac because he believed that God would raise the heir of the promise (See Hebrews 6:13-15 and Hebrews 11:17-19) Obedience is a product of faith and as James put it, without deeds, FAITH is dead!

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”  James 2:14-18 NIV

Our believing will always lead us to obedient ACTION – what Paul calls the obedience of the faith (See Romans 1:5 and Romans 16:26)

Jesus promised us an inheritance greater than the blessing Mary received.

Firstly, He told those who come to Him to hear his words, and thus revealed to them the path to real blessing. I reluctantly reduce great spiritual truth to simple formula, but I do believe Jesus gave us a simple formula, so here we go:

1 Coming to Jesus + 2 Listening to Jesus’ words + 3 Putting Jesus’ words into practice (obeying His words) = BLESSING. If you want to be blessed with a life that can withstand any storm that life might throw at you, then listen to the Words of Jesus Christ and obey them.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:46-49 NIV

Based on this Scripture I guess there is room for listing a formula of Deception as well: 1 Coming to Jesus +2 Hearing the Words of Jesus +3 Refusal to obey (putting Jesus’ words into practice) = DECEPTION (leading to destruction)

On one occasion Jesus was teaching such a huge crowd  that not even Mary could reach her “own” Son. Jesus then denied Mary’s plea to grant her access to speak to Him. What a contrast to the present-day believer who has continual access to Jesus!

“Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd.  Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Luke 8:19-21 NIV

It should slowly become clear to you that we, who through the blood of Christ have continual access by the Spirit to the Father and the Son are more blessed than anyone who had Jesus with them in the flesh only (See John 20:29 and Hebrews 10:19-20). Jesus states, that all those who hear His Words and put them into practice are His mother and brothers. Those who listened and obeyed are favoured above Mary, as His physical mother, instead of speaking to her He declared those blessed as the mother and brothers of Jesus Christ. (Children related by Spirit are more real than flesh and blood children. – See John 6:63).

To put my bold declaration beyond a shadow of doubt let’s listen to the gracious words raining from the mouth of Christ:

“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:27-28 NIV (emphasis mine)

Mary had the blessing of giving birth to the physical Christ and nurturing Him. But through His death and resurrection, Life and blessing now is all about RECEIVING BIRTH and SPIRITUAL DRINK from the resurrected glorified Jesus Christ!

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 1:18 – 1 Peter 2:2 NIV (emphasis mine)

Mary had deep intimate fellowship with the baby Christ (giving him nourishing milk) so we, too, as New Testament believers (new born babies) can have deep intimacy with Christ; as we drink His Comfort and are nurtured by His love! These are pictures of deep intimacy between mother and child! This is the kind of intimacy the Lord Jesus Christ longs for us to have with Him.

Jesus reverses the roles of mother and child, placing the responsibility of nurture on Himself and leaving to us the responsibility to simply receive from Him.

David foresaw this wonderful truth and prophetically proclaimed the realities we now share. Will you join David and find rest for your soul in the comfort and intimacy that is ours in Christ Jesus?

“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great Matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.  Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” Psalm 131 NIV

Testimony

“Ministering as a missionary in Europe I came close to the point of burn out and disappointment. As part of a small team of believers, I was striving to make an impact for the Kingdom of God but mostly felt that we were not achieving any tangible results. To be honest I was very despondent and did not really know what to do or how to move forward. I felt overwhelmed. As I was traveling through the streets of Vienna, Austria, I turned my attention to Jesus and prayed one of my favourite prayers. “Lord Jesus, I need help!” Immediately I sensed the Lord’s response as He whispered in my spirit “My son, you do not need to live UP TO, you can live OUT OF”

Initially I was puzzled about the meaning of these words but within a couple of minutes it became very clear. It was as if the Lord was saying, “You don’t need to live UP TO my standards, you can live OUT OF my Grace and provision.”, “You don’t need to live UP TO your own or other people’s expectations, you can live OUT OF my Love, Forgiveness and Mercy.” These kinds of phrases kept running through my mind.

As I meditated on these words I slowly gained more insight and even more slowly started to live out the reality of those words in my daily walk with the Lord. I guess it was a turning point in surrendering my performance for the Lord’s ability to work in and through me” – A disciple learning to surrender to the Great, I AM

Reflection

Are you trying to nurse the Messiah or is Christ nursing you?

Do you, like David, have intimate moments of fellowship with the Son of God?

Do you deceive yourself by listening to the words of Christ but not obeying them?

Are you performing for God or living a surrendered life?

 

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