THE DEEPER HEART OF GOD
A brief Introduction
What you are about to read is my personal journey into the revelation of the Deeper Heart of God. This came over a two-year period of seeing God through new eyes. Eyes that He enlightened by His Spirit to see Him in a whole new way. Some of what was revealed I had never seen before or heard anyone speak about. I would catch glimpses of Him in other’s writings that led me on a search to want to know more.
What I realized in writing this book is that He wants to be known on a deeper and more intimate level than we can comprehend. It is a continual ever-expanding experience that leads us to knowing Him as He truly is, and, in the process, we gain a deeper understanding of who we are as His beloved creation.
This is in a sense a love story of The Creator’s relentless, unquenchable love for us; His most treasured and prized creative expression of Himself. We are indeed the most like Him of all created beings. He was so satisfied with His creative work that He chose even before time began to become one of us so that we could know Him in the most personal and intimate way possible; by making the way for Him to dwell not just in our midst but within us. This is His greatest desire and reveals The Deeper Heart of God.
by Jim Palmer
WHO ARE WE?
Every two seconds someone’s identity is stolen. No this is not an infomercial about protecting your identity but rather a discussion of who we are and to identify some of the faulty thinking we may suffer from that can keep us from realizing our full potential. Our identity was stolen from our first parents and it has been God’s plan to get it back for us and for us to know who we are.
As everything else that smacks of deception; it all started in the garden. Well, actually since the intent of this writing is to share some insights and revelation I’ve recently experienced, let’s begin the discussion before the Adam and Eve debacle.
The setting I believe can be actually before creation in a conversation between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; Elohim in Hebrew for Creator, a triune contemplative moment actualized on the sixth day of creation. In other words, I believe it was a premeditative decision not spur of the moment and was the primary motivation for creating the earth and all that is in it and lives on it. Perhaps this was a conversation that took place even before time began.
Genesis 1:26 “And God said, let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness and let them have dominion…over all the earth.” Then it says in verse 27 that He did it. “And God created man in His own image in the image of God He created them male and female He created them and God blessed them and God said to them ‘Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue and have dominion… and God saw all that He had made and behold it was very good.”
As I wrote this, I took it word for word from the Hebrew interlinear translation. As I read it I got a sense of “pride of authorship” from an excited owner, like someone who makes or invents something that they are genuinely passionate about and want to make absolutely certain that everyone knows that it is theirs and that they are proud of it and want everyone to know and appreciate the accomplishment.
I see unabashed excitement and pride of ownership on the part of Elohim, the God of creation.
Look at how many times it references God as the owner and creator: God, Us, Our image, Our likeness, God created man in His own image, in the image of God, He created them male and female, He created them and God blessed them and God said to them, and God saw all that He had made and behold it was very good.
Hey, if God says something is very good it is very good.
And He said this not only about all He created in six days, but also and especially about us, His crowning jewel of creation for whom He created to have dominion over the earth.
In Hebrew when words and phrases are repeated it is for impact and emphasis. It accentuates the point and can add emotional weight, significance and importance. Like highlighting or spotlighting something to draw attention to it. Like whenever Jesus would say “Verily, Verily” it was a way of saying listen up, this has great importance and weight.
I have to say with all respect that it seems wonderfully and amazingly vulnerable and uninhibitedly joyful, almost childlike innocent excitement and jubilance that our Creator displayed over the idea of creating us.
We as believers have heard and read the creation story many times no doubt. I want to encourage you to re-read it even out loud with the emotion of someone genuinely uninhibitedly excited with so much passion that they can’t contain themselves. Like a child on Christmas morning who is so excited and joyful over their newly discovered treasure unwrapped under the tree. Showing it off to everyone with uncontained joy! That’s the way I heard it when I looked at the original Hebrew. That was the conversation the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had before time began full of genuine emotion and excitement as they discussed creating us in their (Our) image.
This revelation overwhelmed me to such a level that I had to put this aside for several months before I could write again. Every thought of this amazing discovery left me speechless in awe and amazement at the genuine, uninhibited, child-like, vulnerable expression of pure joy that our creator felt and expressed among the triune Godhead at the thought of creating us.
With this in mind, listen to the details shared when He created us from the dust of the earth:
“This is the history of the heavens and of the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens–
5 When no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not [yet] caused it to rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the ground,
6 But there went up a mist (fog, vapor) from the land and watered the whole surface of the ground–
7 Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living being.
8 And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden [delight]; and there He put the man whom He had formed (framed, constituted).” Genesis 2:3-8.
It would appear that after speaking all other parts of creation into existence, He took special care to “form” man from the dust of the ground. The word in Hebrew is yatsar which has the image of a potter forming its desired vessel from the clay.
In this narrative recounting creation and the details of how man came to be, it’s noteworthy that this is the first mention of Yahweh; the Lord. Elohim is a less personal reference to God as the Creator. Yahweh is the proper reference to the God of Israel that met Moses at the burning bush. He is the expression of the Lord who interacts with us on a personal level.
I followed a study by Pastor Joseph Prince that really opened my eyes to the personal nature of this name. In Hebrew, the letters would translate YHVH or yud, hey, vav, hey. Each letter in Hebrew is a picture of what the letter represents. Yud is hand, hey is grace represented by an open window, vav is nail or a hook and hey again is grace. Put it together and you have “Hand of grace nailed in grace.”
So the imagery is of YHVH; Lord Elohim, the Creator getting His hands dirty so to speak in forming man. This heightens the imagery of an overjoyed Creator personally using His hands to form His prize creation. But these are not ordinary hands. These are His hands extended in grace in forming man that will also be nailed in grace for His redemption and salvation.
He then breathes into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life and man became a living being. The breath of God is breathed into man’s face; an intimate Panim El Panim moment (face to face).
The first thing Adam saw when he took his first breath and opened his eyes was the face of Yahweh. It was by design that Adam would see His face first so there would be no question in his mind about how he got here.
I assure you, there was a beaming ear to ear smile on Yahweh’s face when Adam came to life. This was the beginning of a relationship that was to go on forever.
I love the fact that our Creator was excited and proud of what He created especially when He made us with an unabashed passionate display of genuine joy over His own creation; even us.
I noticed that in the Amplified version quoted previously after Eden (delight) was inserted. Perhaps even the name Eden implies Delight. So, the Creator planted a delightful garden for the man to live in and enjoy. It further accentuates the Delight of God over His creation.
To me this shows the deeper heart of God as a vulnerable, passionate creator in love with His creation and with only good in His heart and mind towards man.
It reminds me of one of my favorite verses that gives a glimpse into the Lord’s jubilance over us found in Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.”
Just take a moment to take in this amazing scene. The Lord, who we as believers in Jesus understand is a reference to Him, identifies Himself as “our” God, is where? In our midst. This word in Hebrew carries with it the deeper spiritual quality of living in us which prior to Pentecost was a prophetic hope for Israel but not yet experienced at the time of this writing. Yet, the Lord so identifies with us that He says He is in the midst of us; completely surrounding us and involved in every aspect of who we are. Not distant or put off by who we are. In fact, in this prophetic passage it is as if He has already made provision for our sins as our Savior who saves (which in Hebrew is the name Joshua or Jesus in Greek which means salvation).
He rejoices over you with joy.
Here again we see the doubling of words for emphasis of the unbound joy that He has for us. He rests in silent satisfaction and in His Love He is silent. What is He silent about? He is silent about our sins. He makes no mention of them or even recalls them. This fulfills the prophetic word of Jeremiah 31:33 and repeated in Hebrews 10: “I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts. “
Isn’t this good news? He has the ability and has exercised it on our behalf to never again remember our sins. This is intentional memory loss that results in His ability to rest in His Love for us in silence regarding our sins. Why? Because He, Jesus, already took them and paid for them all and removed them all. They no longer exist. And in the mind of God, this was actually arranged and took place before time began as a Covenant between God the Father and God the Son; Jesus, witnessed and administered through the Holy Spirit of God.
It was a foregone conclusion. He has by His own volition made provision for removing our sins and the just penalty for them in eternity past realized in a place and time 2,000 years ago in the person of Jesus Christ.
Back to the Zephaniah passage, He doesn’t remain silent. In jubilance, His uncontainable joy is released over what gives Him unrestrained pleasure in expressions of pure unabashed joy; that being us. He just can’t contain it and bursts forth in singing. That’s right, the Lord God Almighty bursts into jubilant, joyful song over us. Even the word for singing in Hebrew which is “rinnah” comes from the root word “ranan” which means joy.
So again, it is not just singing but a ringing cry of joyful song, a joyful shout, shouts of joy. In other words;
He’s happy and joyful about us and not afraid to show it in outward public displays of affection.
Yes, He is absolutely, smitten with Love for us and cannot contain it; he has to release it in shouts and maybe even dancing along with singing over us in joy.
It sounds rather “human” of Almighty God wouldn’t you say? Like a young man who has fallen head over heels in love with the love of his life and who wants the whole world to know it? Jesus said it best when He said “for God SO loved the world…”
I want to speak more about this and will later but for now I want to keep the spotlight and focus on this expression of the deeper heart of God and just how He really felt about us from the beginning of creation and which frankly has not changed since then in fact has even intensified over time.
For that is the reality and nature and very essence of God and His love. Though His love is infinite and eternal, It never stops growing and will continue to increase over time and throughout eternity. There’s no shutoff valve once it has been released and knows no bounds, no limits, and increases exponentially in multiplied limitless expression. It is not stagnant or stationery. It is infinite and eternal which means there is no end to it and get this; it is all expressed, offered, and provided to us; the crown of His creative expression of Himself; humanity and as a result all creation benefits from it and waits with expectant groaning for the full expression of it to be manifested in and through us; the sons and daughters of God.
His love for each of us is limitless so we each experience the fullness, the infinite, eternal unlimited love of God as if we were the only one He loves and yet there’s no limit to each one, who so ever will to come to Him and experience this fullness.
So what is He so excited and joyful about?
Paul’s prayer for us in Ephesians 3:14-19 is focused on three main objectives that will culminate in our complete transformation: “14 For this reason I kneel before the Father 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. 16 I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, 17and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, 19 and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. “
Our complete transformation is our being filled with ALL the fullness of God.
Here are the three points of Paul’s prayer that result in this transformation:
- That our Father may grant you according to His riches of His glory to be strengthened with power in your inner man through His Spirit.
- That the Messiah; the Anointed One, Jesus Christ Himself may dwell (in your “midst” in the deepest part of who you are; in your heart) through faith. That is, through His faith working in us as Paul stated in Ephesians 2:6 which is a gift from God therefore it is His faith not ours that was given to us. His faith, by the way, never fails. It is impossible for it to fail because it is His faith in us which has permanently joined us with His Spirit who lives and operates in and through us.
- That as we are rooted and firmly established in His love, we will be able to comprehend the length, width, height and depth of God’s love (for you) and to know intimately the Messiah Jesus’ love that is beyond our capacity to know fully because once again; the more we know the more we are able to know His infinite love for us; for you. Make it personal.
It is through the inner working and strengthening of the Father infusing us with power within our inner man; the core of our being through and by His Spirit; that we can experience Jesus Himself living in the “midst” of us in our deepest part of our heart; that causes us to be rooted and firmly established in His Love for us (for you). The result is we are filled with ALL the fullness of God.
This in my opinion, is what we were created for and is the highest desire of our Creator God who prefers to be called “Abba” Daddy. Who wanted us to be so like Him; created in His image to be a physical representation of Who He is for all creation to see and experience as His highest form of physical expression. Even to the point that we might be filled with ALL His fullness.
This is who we are and what we were created and designed for. To be the Divine Expression of All God is in a physical form; even our human bodies; made to look just like Him.
Our physical form was such a perfect representation of Him that He could even become one of us; a human being fully capable of expressing the fullness of God. This is Who Jesus was and is and will forever be. Hebrews 1 says it best,
“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word.
After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
In Hebrews 12:1 we gain insight into what motivated Jesus to come and make purification for our sins:
“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us,
2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.’
The joy that lay before Him was the anticipation of our reconciliation back to Himself which could only come by His perfect sacrifice of Love through the cross absorbing all ramifications of our fall, our sins and the subsequent curse; being nailed to a tree.
This joy of knowing His creation could be brought back to not only its original glory but that the mystery hidden in the deep recesses of His heart might be fulfilled. Christ in us; the hope of glory.
In both of these Hebrew passages it refers to the completion of His work as when He sat down at the right Hand of God’s throne. Paul gained further revelation from Jesus that this finishing work also includes us;
Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
This is the crowning work of Jesus in redeeming us through His blood; giving us faith to believe and imparting His very life into us by His Spirit. He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, with Jesus. Please note this is not a future event but rather is stated in the past tense. It has already happened. We are presently seated with Him in heaven and all authority in Heaven and on Earth which He commands He has given to us to rule and reign with Him.
That’s a big deal. That’s what you and I were created for. That’s who we are and how He sees us. When we begin to embrace this identification with Jesus Christ and begin to see ourselves the way He does, we will begin to know who we truly are.
The Vulnerable Nature of God
The vulnerable nature of God is something I have only recently become acquainted with and it has begun to rock my world as I see Him in a whole new light. It is transforming how I approach Him and see Him from a fresh, new, perspective in His word. It also is transforming how I see myself in terms of my relationship with Him and I believe it is beginning to affect my relationship with others.
It has a simultaneous effect of elevating and humbling my view of myself and on an emotional level it has shaken me to the core of my being.
I approach this subject literally with fear and trembling out of awe and reverence and amazement as to what the Lord has allowed me to see about Himself. I actually feel a sense of wanting to protect Him and this side of Him yet compelled to share it none the less.
I believe that what I am about to share with you, has the potential to change the way you see God forevermore, as it has for me.
I’m about to walk you through my journey of discovery of the vulnerable nature of God.
Have you ever wondered about how satan tried to over throw God’s rule in heaven?
From what we know from the Bible, He was created as one of the top angels in the hierarchy of heaven. Some believe he led worship in heaven though there are no specific verses I am aware of that state this though maybe some imply it. We really don’t know much about it other than the fact that he did make an attempt and was even successful in convincing one third of the total angel population to follow him. Now this is an intelligent, powerful, created being who was in the presence of Almighty God from the time he was created and had to know him personally since he was created to serve him. So, what was it that made him willing to risk everything and to think that he actually could over throw the God of the Universe and take over as ruler of heaven and the universe?
I think it was seeing and personally encountering the vulnerable nature of God.
Prior to satan’s rebellion, there had never been a reason or cause to see anything but the loving, humble, and yes even vulnerable nature of God.
Think about the fruit of the Spirit which express His nature; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is what every being in His presence saw emanating from the heart and very nature of God. Heaven was immersed in His peace, love and perpetual joy and had never experienced anything else.
Satan would also have known that He was all powerful, all knowing, ever present and everlasting. It was, I believe the power and sovereignty of God that he jealously coveted and actually thought he had a good chance of usurping.
I think it was in seeing the softer, gentler, vulnerable side of God; even a child-like innocence with no pretention, pride, or self-protection or preservation that made Him seem almost naive or even unaware of His own vulnerabilities. I believe that just as Jesus bent down and washed the dirty feet of His disciples, this loving serving nature of God was evident to all in heaven.
In His presence they felt their infinite worth and value magnified not diminished by His greatness.
How else would an intelligent angelic being think that he could be successful in staging a successful rebellious over throw of the Ruler and Creator of the Universe?
Isn’t this consistent with any evil leader’s mode of reasoning when it comes to rising up against authority that they are subject to? There has to be a defining moment when they have weighed their options, considered the potential for loss, and decided the risk is worth the effort. This has to come from a foregone conclusion that they believe they will be successful, right?
I think this was the reasoning of satan over the course of time of experiencing All Mighty God, the one Who created him, in His triune expression of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Watching, observing, evaluating the very nature and essence of His being; that being complete and total Love.
He must have seen this as the weak underbelly of God that would be vulnerable to his surprise attack rebellious uprising with his fellow angels who fell for the dark side.
There are references that imply that possibly one third of the angels decided to risk everything and throw in with satan. There must have been a plan that they all agreed to.
This would have taken some time in whatever form time took before the time we know. They must have seen the same vulnerable nature of God to be convinced that this was His weakness that they could literally overthrow.
This also implies that God gave them time. Perhaps a demonstration of His patience with hope that they would have a change of mind. This is only speculation, but it also represents His nature of offering grace and mercy.
At some point He must have said, “enough!” which left only one conclusion; expelling the traitors and assigning them to places of confinement. Maybe earth before God spoke life into it, served as a place of quarantining the fallen. It was dark and void of life, but it did exist. Since satan showed up on the scene in the garden, this theory has validity.
I am confident it took no time at all for satan to realize the disastrous results of his false assumptions when he and his fellow compatriots where booted out of heaven.
I leave where they all went for you to contemplate but I have good reason to believe that it was to a cold, dark, dismal rock in space with no light and no life for an undetermined amount of time. Until one day when the commanding voice of God said, “Let light be”, and there was light.
The battle ensued for the rule of this domain with what appeared as a victory for this fallen creature on two occasions; the first in the garden when by lies our first parents were deceived and fell from their position of authority and rule of the planet. And the second, when he prevailed over Pilate to have Jesus crucified.
The outcome of the second; the resurrection of Jesus from the dead destroyed the power and works of the devil in a single blow and announced and displayed his final defeat to the entire Universe, even when He shouted from the cross; ‘It is finished!’ His resurrection confirming His completed work when He rose from the dead.
Later Paul would share the mystery revealed to him by Jesus that we actually were crucified with Christ and it is now no longer us who live but Christ who lives in us by the same resurrection power that raised Him from the dead. He further explains that as we died with Christ we were raised with Him in His resurrection and that we were then seated with Him on His throne in heaven far above all powers and authorities. More on this in a later chapter.
Yes, greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.
This triumphant victory was prophesied by God himself to satan in the garden when He foretold that the “seed of the woman would crush his head.” As I recently heard Eric Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding California declare, “God spoke directly to satan and said, “He is going to crush your head so hard that His heal will be bruised.” I just had to get that said.
One more footnote as to the destructiveness of the devil; since he had no power to overthrow or bring God into subjection; which was his plot after all, he did the next best thing.
He saw the image of God in us, the crown of God’s creation, so he plotted to mar and distort it in an attempt to destroy the image of God in us. He did this through the only tool in his tool box; through deception.
Consider this; every human action, attribute, characteristic, mannerism, emotion, thought, and words spoken all reflected the Creator. All male and female traits reflect the very nature and image of God.
All our desires, dreams, visions and hopes before the fall and now that flow from the perfect new creation that we have become, who have embraced Jesus as Lord; all represent and reflect our Creator.
All the evil that mankind has brought upon himself over history since the fall was the result of these God given, God-like qualities and God designed nature being distorted and deprived of their original purpose before the fall.
They all reflect the original intent of the deception; that being that we who were the most ideal replication in physical form of God Himself lacked something, were incomplete and needed to take matters into our own hands and do something about it.
In other words, reject God, rebel against His authority, just as the deceiver did, and attempt to become a god unto ourselves. Take any sin or known atrocity of man and you can trace it back to this one lie. In affect to become our own god.
Now back to what I think got satan in trouble in the first place; observing the vulnerability of God.
One of the most notable things that expresses this nature of God is in His Sovereign choice to create us and all created beings including the angels with freedom of choice. This is no small matter and worth taking a deeper look into this dimension of the nature of God.
Considering the fact that God is Almighty and Sovereign over his creation, from this place He sovereignly chose to create all living beings with freedom of choice. Angels, people and living creatures have this autonomy by virtue of creation.
This also illustrates the risk-taking nature of God. He put everything at risk when He decided to create free, moral agents with absolute freedom to make their own decisions about everything. This also is a reflection of His own nature; unobstructed, unrestricted autonomy. Yet, because of His nature, He is by virtue of His own existence a relational being. So, everything created is a reflection of Who He is including His autonomy so that our choices are ours including the choice of having a relationship with our creator.
In other words, as I have often heard it said, God is a gentleman. He respects our choices even when He knows they are harmful to ourselves and others. It would be a violation of His expressed will to limit us and restrict our freedom to choose.
That said, He is also Sovereign over His Universe and with the freedom holds all created beings responsible for their choices and the resulting consequences.
But because His deeper heart beats with compassion, mercy, and love, He willingly and earnestly desires to show us these qualities as we become willing to receive them.
This was demonstrated to us in that while we were yet sinners; in a state of absolute rebellion against Him and justifiably deserving His righteous wrath and judgment, because He is also just and righteous and cannot allow rebellion to go unpunished; he intervened.
When we had messed up and could do absolutely nothing to redeem ourselves; BUT GOD, I love it when I find this in His word. Said best here in Ephesians 2 in the Amplified Version:
“AND YOU [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins
2 In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God].
3 Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.
4 But God–so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,
5 Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).
6 And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
7 He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;
9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]
10 For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” 11
I included the entire passage so that you can get the flow of the thought process in this majestic writing of Paul. We were lost, separated from God and in absolute rebellion; on our own. Even though we deserved His wrath and judgment as insurrectionist in direct opposition to His authority, BUT GOD.
I emboldened verse 4 and would ask that you re-read that verse several times and think about what it is saying before you read my next comment which will be waiting for you in the next chapter.
Because of His great Love
Ephesians 2:4 in the Amplified Version has absolutely rocked my world. I pray it will have that impact on you as well in a good way.
The first sentence demands our full abrupt attention. It even ends with an exclamation mark! Did you notice that when you read and re-read it? “But GOD, SO RICH IS HE IN HIS MERCY!” It’s like the writer, Paul, is saying just stop and think about this and let it impact you. Just stand here a moment and marvel.
You see, this is God’s volitional will out of His free choice being expressed. He did not have one single good reason emanating from us to cause Him to grant us immunity and pardon from our rebellion against Him. “While we were dead in our trespasses and sins…” Dead people can’t do anything about their condition. Neither could we. It took divine intervention through the work of the Holy Spirit to breathe life into our dead souls and birth faith within us that allowed the very seed (sperma in the Greek) of God simultaneously to be planted in us and to bring forth life where there was no life, even eternal Life with the very nature of God within us. SO RICH IS HE IN HIS MERCY!
The next part undoes me, and the wheels fly off leaving me totally undone and messed up before Him.
Hang on, here it comes; here’s the reason:
“Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,”
The Lord had a desire that could only be met and satisfied by demonstrating His love for us.
It was not only a desire, it was a great and wonderful and intense desire. He just couldn’t help himself. He was and is SO unabashedly, so undeniably, so irresistibly, so intensely, so unreservedly, so unashamedly, in love with us (with you) that He was more than willing to do whatever it took and whatever necessary to satisfy this great, overwhelming, literally uncontrollable intense love that He chose before time began, to have satisfaction for His great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us.
John 3:16- No doubt one of the most memorized, quoted, and favored verses in the entire Bible. It starts with, “For God so loved the world…” The key word being “ SO ”. Loving the world in spite of our rebellion and rejection of God’s love He still SO loved us that He gave His Only Son for us.
The intensity of His love is incomprehensible yet stands at the center of all time and eternity as the greatest act of sacrificial love to be marveled at for all eternity. We will continue to grow in our awareness and appreciation of His demonstration of love forever. It virtually defines Love: Found in The Deeper Heart of God.
I John 4:9-11- gives us a clear statement of what Love is: “In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him.
In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another.”
As we have already seen and will explore further in a later chapter, all that has been in the Heart of God from eternity past is revealed in the sending of His son Jesus, Yeshua, whose name literally means “Salvation”.
His plan motivated from His pure, undefiled, righteous Love could only be fulfilled and His deepest longing satisfied by giving the One who for all eternity was His Beloved Son. The Son being willing to come and become flesh and blood, as we are, so He could be the perfect sacrifice for fallen, lost, rebellious man. Love so amazing, so divine.
The more we marvel at and behold His Love for us, the more we become expressions of His Love to Him demonstrated in how we love each other.
We have a choice in this. We can continue to walk in judgment towards others without the ability to do so righteously or we can release this illusion of being able to judge accurately and instead become consumed by His Love for us which releases us to love Him and others with His love. When we make this choice, we experience the greatest force in the Universe; the Love of God.
Everything in the Universe is made to vibrate at the frequency of God’s Love. Anything out of sync with His Love is dead, powerless, worthless and destined for destruction and elimination.
This was the great mysterious longing of the deeper heart of God that caused Him to plan and prepare for the creation of the physical universe including and especially earth and its inhabitants. All designed to reflect who He is. The ultimate culmination of creation being us; the only living beings said to be created in His image and likeness. Beings with the capacity of having God actually live inside them by His Spirit as living demonstrations of His Love.
This is Who He is; the greatest Lover of all time who was willing to make Himself vulnerable to the point of complete identification with us by becoming one of us, spending nine months in utero just as each of us did being born as each of us were even as a helpless, needy, vulnerable baby who had to be changed, fed, and protected by human parents. Exposed to all the dangers of this world and more. Born as one of us with one ultimate purpose in life; to die in our place so we could live with Him forever.
GOD IS LOVE.
LOVE MUST BE SHOWN AND DEMONTRATED TO BE KNOWN. HE HAD TO REVEAL HIMSELF TO THOSE WHO COULD CHOOSE TO RESPOND OR NOT RESPOND TO HIS LOVE. HE MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO WERE DEAD TO HIM TO COME TO LIFE AND KNOW AND EXPERIENCE HIS VERY ESSENCE; LOVE.
It was the only way He could ultimately satisfy His great, wonderful and intense love with which He loved us. So came The Lamb of God.
The Lamb of God
Throughout Hebraic history the most outstanding foreshadowing of Jesus is in the Passover Lamb. Early mention of animal sacrifices shows the understanding of substitution. Abel the second born human understood this and offered an animal sacrificed; perhaps a lamb before the Lord and it pleased Him.
His brother brought the produce of the land from the work of his hands and was rejected.
The sacrificial ritual was known by Noah and then later by Abraham. All the ones that followed after God understood the need for a substitute, a sacrificial lamb to cleanse and remove the barrier of sinfulness between them and a Holy God. It was clear that without the shedding of blood there was no remission of sins.
All of these were foreshadowing of the ultimate Lamb who would come, even Jesus our Lord.
The prophet John the Baptist-“or” said of Him when He came to the Jordon River, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!”
Passover officially begins this evening (Friday April 22nd) this year and I have been compelled to share this portion at this time as it is upon us.
As the title of this work implies, this is my attempt to share the deeper heart of God as He has revealed to me in certain ways as I have meditated upon His Word and grown in my knowledge and experience of Him personally. Also, as I have received teaching and revelation from others that I will be sharing and quoting at times.
One passage that I am going to share is actually from something I wrote a number of years ago; a short story called “Seven Days to Glory”. It is written as a journal entry by my name sake; the Apostle James. I think it captures best what I would like to share that reveals an insight into the deeper heart of God as revealed in the Passover.
To set this up, let me remind you that the Lord chose to be represented not by a full-grown ram at Passover even though He was in the case of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah but as a young and vulnerable baby lamb.
“Too many questions raced through my mind for this time of day. Breakfast would be light this morning as we prepared for the evening Passover meal and my thoughts began to awaken to the significance of this day. Today was the day for the Passover Lamb to be slain. The tender, tame, family lamb that by now had become the family pet.
For days before Passover, the tradition required the lamb to be chosen and placed in the care of the homemaker. She would bring the lamb inside the home and he would have free run of the house. The children loved this time of year when an animal would run through the house jumping, bumping, playing, baaing, tumbling with the children in continuous scurrying fun.
At evening, the lamb would be tied to the leg of the table drinking milk from a bowl lovingly placed by one of the children who always jostled for who would be closest to the lamb that night. They often named them sweet, pet names and sometime made garlands for their necks from flowers in the fields. The trick was to get it on them without them eating it first. And so, it was in the home where we stayed but today the lamb would serve the purpose for which it had been chosen. Perfect, without blemish, pure white, soft, woolly, with distinct dark feet and muzzle, washed and ready for the moment of truth.
The father would take the lamb and gently lead it with the children following.
They would give it one last hug and kiss and often with tears speak soft words of comfort and sweet tender good-byes and then it was over. Blood soaked wool, crimson fleece, lifeless form, blood splattered ground.
The mother would receive the portions of fresh mutton prepared for the fire as the father painted the doorposts, across the top and both sides with the hyssop dipped in the blood of the freshly slain lamb.
A tender sacrifice of love lost, and life given. Protection from the darkness of death, passing over the powerless, depending solely on the sacrificial substitute whose life was given that they might live.
Glorious mystery of salvation transmitted through time wrapped in the sublime message of hope through a splattered blood covering, from a sacrificed innocent lamb.” From Seven Days to Glory © 2004.
I love to celebrate the Jewish tradition of Passover with the Seder dinner. It is full of hidden mysteries that all point to Jesus our Messiah.
One thing you will not see at a modern Passover is a slain lamb. Since AD 70 and the destruction of the temple this practice is not observed. Prayer is offered instead.
The ultimate reason that the practice no longer exists is that the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world came. Jesus the Messiah who Isaiah prophesied five hundred years earlier would come as it says in Isaiah 53:5-7 “5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.
6 We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him
for the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth.”
Like a lamb led to the slaughter is a grim yet revealing statement that gives a glimpse into the deeper heart of God.
The willingness of Jesus to endure His passion in a state of complete vulnerable innocence is the greatest mystery of all time. We will marvel at this for all eternity and I believe we will grow in our appreciation and depth of understanding of this remarkable event where time and eternity converge.
It’s hard to think of something as gentle, innocent and vulnerable as a baby lamb. This is what Jesus longed to become for us. In fact, He was overwhelmed with emotion of anticipation looking forward to the last Passover He would celebrate with His disciples.
Listen to what He said that night before His betrayal in the Young’s literal translation in Luke 22:15:
“and he said unto them, `With desire I did desire to eat this Passover with you before my suffering,”
There’s the double words again that give great emphasis to what is being said. I studied the Greek for the word “desire’ in this passage and here is what it said:
Desire- epithumia: desire, passionate longing, lust. Eagerness for, inordinate desire. It comes from two words, epi “focused on” (like epi-center) and thymos “passionate desire” properly built on strong feelings (urges).
The second time the word is slightly different. It is epithymeo. To show focused passion as it aptly builds upon what a person truly yearns for; to greatly desire to do or have something- to long for, to desire very much.
So, what I see is a strong overwhelming desire that has evolved and intensified from having a focused passion a truly great yearning to do or have something. Something that has been longed for and desired very much.
Jesus is passionate about this final Passover before His passion; His suffering. What is it about this Passover meal that has caused Him to have these strong, overwhelming desires?
I think it is the fact that this is the culmination of all time and eternity converging in this one moment that will completely satisfy the passionate longing and desire of God that we previously discussed.
To put this moment in perspective, all that the Father and Jesus before He was born and before time began agreed to do was about to be accomplished and was being demonstrated in the very meal they were about to eat. This meal was representing His body and His blood about to be sacrificed and poured out as the sacrificial Lamb of God; once for all time and eternity removing all barriers and distance between God and us once and for all.
This was the deep mystery hidden in the recesses of eternity with clues and glimpses scattered throughout the Old Testament of the plan, culminating in this one single event that would mark and divide time forever.
The fall was not a surprise to an All knowing Omniscient God. The plan for our redemption was determined way before the fall and even before the creation of the world. It was a complete plan that included creating man in God’s likeness with total autonomy in our ability to choose or reject God. Yet because of the depth of the Love of God for us and His creation, He planned in advance for our redemption in the most amazing mysterious manner imaginable; to become one of us.
It was what Jesus was born to do and that He and His Father had planned from eternity past. To reconcile fallen humanity back to Himself and to destroy the works of the devil once and for all; stripping him of all power and reclaiming the authority stolen from mankind in the garden.
Reversing the curse and reclaiming all that was lost in the fall. Destroying in the process all the works of the devil and his hold over humanity.
Jesus was the second Adam, the one who would take the full penalty for the rebellion of the first Adam and all his children who had or who would ever inhabit this planet and restore us back to our Creator; the one who loved us with an eternal everlasting passionate love that couldn’t be extinguished even with mankind rejecting Him fully. Not even recognizing the One Who made us when He came as one of us.
John said it this way: “There it was–the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines every person.
10 He came into the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him [did not know Him].
11 He came to that which belonged to Him [to His own–His domain, creation, things, world], and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him.
12 But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name.” John 1: 9-12 Amplified Version.
BUT TO AS MANY… Here’s another BUT that displays the amazing grace of God. As many as received and welcomed Him. The whosoever will… of John 3:16. The open invitation which still exists to this very hour for anyone who will come to Him believing and willing to receive Him. There it is again. God Almighty respecting our autonomy and freedom to choose. This is not difficult though theologians would attempt to make it so over the years since Jesus came. Those who call upon Him as Lord will be saved; set free from themselves and given new life in Jesus. His very life coming to dwell “in the midst of us” by His Holy Spirit. Awakening dead souls and breathing the breath of life into them but now for eternity; Eternal Life breathed in; the very life of God into our beings forming new creations in His likeness who will live forever. Death defeated. We will live forever.
This is the deeper heart of God revealed in the passionate desire of Jesus to not only eat the last Passover meal but to become the Passover Lamb; once and for all and to take away the barrier of sin from the world in the greatest demonstration of pure, undefiled, sacrificial love; expressing the heart and longing of God. This and only this could satisfy that deep longing, desire of God. That great, wonderful, intense love for us that had to be satisfied. This was the only way it could be done.
Here stands the God of the Universe who created all, having become a man and willingly, like a lamb being led to the slaughter to take our place and receive the judgment of God for us to bring us back to Himself where He could share His deeper heart of love with us; the objects of His greatest affection and love.
Behold, the Lamb of God.
BEFORE TIME BEGAN…
Even the title of this chapter may be hard to get our minds around. But the fact is, there is much of the mystery of the pre-creation shared in the Bible; before time began. We know from Genesis that the clock started ticking on the first day of creation when God said, Let light be.. but before we go there, I want to introduce a “foundational” principle that I have recently been enlightened by.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD
There are four key segments of scripture I’m aware of that open up the realm of what was in the mind of the Trinity before time began that reveal an amazing reality. Here is the first set of verses and then I will share the insight I have recently gleaned from them;
3” May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!
4 Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.
5 For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]–
6 [So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor,
8 Which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence),
9 Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him,
10 [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth.
11 In Him we also were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance; for we had been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will,
12 So that we who first hoped in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him have been destined and appointed to] live for the praise of His glory!” Ephesians 1
Since these 9 verses contain a wealth of thought that could be chewed on for a long time to come, I’m now going to take the highlighted portions and put them together to get closer to the point I want to make and to the insight I am excited to share:
in Christ before the foundation of the world,
He foreordained us
in accordance with the purpose of His will
Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him,
[He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth.
been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will,
Now some may have issues over the foreordained part of this and I’ll leave that with you for another time. What I want to share is an amazing fresh revelation that has been coming together for quite some time and the fullness of it hit me today which is why I was prompted to stop what I was doing and write.
I want to begin by saying, I do not believe I have a private revelation. I have gleaned from other writings and speaking and research to come to the conclusions I want to share. OK, here we go.
The key word that is central to this insight is the word “FOUNDATION”.
It is found in three other places in reference to Jesus and His sacrificial offering of Himself on our behalf before the “foundation” of the world. They are:
“But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot. It is true that He was chosen and foreordained (destined and foreknown for it) before the foundation of the world, but He was brought out to public view (made manifest) in these last days (at the end of the times) for the sake of you.” 1 Peter 1:19-20
“And all the inhabitants of the earth will fall down in adoration and pay him homage, everyone whose name has not been recorded in the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain [in sacrifice] from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8
“By such means, therefore, it was necessary for the [earthly] copies of the heavenly things to be purified, but the actual heavenly things themselves [required far] better and nobler sacrifices than these. For Christ (the Messiah) has not entered into a sanctuary made with [human] hands, only a copy and pattern and type of the true one, but [He has entered] into heaven itself, now to appear in the [very] presence of God on our behalf. Nor did He [enter into the heavenly sanctuary to] offer Himself regularly again and again, as the high priest enters the [Holy of] Holies every year with blood not his own. For then would He often have had to suffer [over and over again] since the foundation of the world. But as it now is, He has once for all at the consummation and close of the ages appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice [of Himself].”Hebrews 9:23-26
All of these verses deserve our full attention and meditation but for now I will address the word I started with; FOUNDATION and then I will come back to this last one for a deeper look.
What I found today is remarkable when I researched this word in the Greek.
Since my intent on writing this is as a book and not a quick read blog, I want to show you the source of my research:
katá, “exactly according to,” down from the most general to the most specific detail and 906 /bállō, “to cast”) – properly, a foundation, cast according to a blueprint (original design); the substructure which determines the entire direction (destination) of all that follows; the foundation-plan, upon which the entire super-structure is built; (figuratively) the beginning (founding) that purposefully designs all that follows.
2602 /katabolḗ (“foundation-plan”) typically relates to Christ’s incarnation, i.e. coming to earth in the flesh to be our Redeemer. This divine plan was set and sealed (guaranteed) before creation (Heb 9:26; 1 Pet 1:20; Rev 13:8). In general, 2602 (katabolḗ) refers to the basis God has established, upon which all people can know Him. This was laid down before the first ray of sunshine or drop of water touched the earth.
The first one for katabole is the actual Greek definition and the second is the “Christianized” version which is also valid but for our purposes here, I want to stay focused on the actual definition.
As you can see it states that it is a description for a “foundation” cast according to a blueprint or original design; the substructure which determines the entire direction (destination) of all that follows, the support for the super-structure to be built. The founding that purposefully designs all that follows.
I’m going to jump around a bit here with the previous verses to show you the path I followed to the conclusions I want to share.
“the Lamb that was slain [in sacrifice] from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8
I was meditating on this today and as I did I reversed the order which can be done without doing damage to the context. It would read: “from the foundation of the world, the Lamb was slain…”
Here’s a beginning point of what I gleaned. My transliteration reads from the Greek definitions:
“Exactly according to, from the most general down to the most specific detail, the foundation was cast according to the blue-print of the original design; this sub-structure determined the entire direction of the super-structure built (creation of Earth) that purposefully designed all that was to follow.”
So the question is, what is this “FOUNDATION”?
I would like to propose for your consideration that the Foundation is and was
“the Lamb that was slain.”
If you take this as presented and then go back and read the four passages it will enlighten them and will bring them into harmony with this foundational principle.
Let me show you what I mean.
In the first one, in Ephesians 1 let’s look at the key highlighted points again:
in Christ before the foundation of the world,
He foreordained us in accordance with the purpose of His will
Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him,
been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will,
The words in red show clearly that In Christ before the foundation of the world, there was a foreordained plan in accordance with the purpose of His will, of His plan, that He had previously purposed and set forth in Him (Christ) working everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His will.
The mystery, according to Paul is the plan of God for redeeming us. This was what God; the Trinity planned and agreed to before time began and was the foundation laid before the creation of the world.
Direct references are made in ten passages from the Old and New Testament to Jesus as the foundation and chief cornerstone. As you may know in building, the corner stone is the first stone placed in the foundation to which all the other stones line up and correspond to the alignment of the chief cornerstone.
Here’s one example from Isaiah 28:16 “Therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone of sure foundation; he who believes (trusts in, relies on, and adheres to that Stone) will not be ashamed or give way or hasten away [in sudden panic].”
So, what are the implications of all of this?
Here’s some food for thought.
Everything about creation is supported by the foundation of the Lamb of God Slain; His Sacrifice.
Therefore, from the beginning, the plan has been revealed by creation, for creation, and through creation of the sacrifice of the Life of the Son of God; Jesus Christ.
All creation is based on the foundational principle of His sacrifice.
It’s written in the stars that radiate by burning and consuming their essence; their energy or life source to tell the story of the coming of the Messiah who would be slain; as a sacrifice. The ancients knew of this in the constellations and the story they told. (link)
It is demonstrated by creation in the giving up of life even from our food as a sacrifice for the sustaining and support of life. The water we drink gives up its life-giving substance and energy to support our lives and all living things. Even the air we breathe exchanges its “life” the oxygen it carries into our bodies to sustain us. Sacrifice is everywhere and emanates from the Foundation Principle;
the Lamb that was slain.
We can see it in worldwide commerce every day. People provide services and goods on behalf of others as a sacrifice to benefit others and they are rewarded. A sacrificial system.
The entire creation is based on meeting needs through sacrifice. The sun shines and provides light, heat, energy by being consumed. Sacrifice.
It is literally everywhere when you think about it and look for it.
The opposite is considered evil, self-serving, greedy, etc. and frankly is short sighted and short lived. In effect, it doesn’t work.
The Universe responds to the sacrificial love effect put in motion by the Trinity demonstrated by the greatest sacrifice of all, the Lamb of God slain. It repels and rejects anything contrary to this foundational principle.
It all speaks of Jesus and is there to make us aware of Him and His great sacrifice that molded the very foundation of all creation.
In the 1 Peter 1:19-20 passage it states that He, Jesus, was Chosen and Foreordained before the foundation of the world. This reflects the predetermined Master’s Plan Foreknown by the Trinity of Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God.
In the last passage I mentioned earlier, we see a detailed account in Hebrews of what had been foreordained in the description of the earthly tabernacle stated as being a “copy” of the original one in the Heavenly realm. This is amazing to consider.
Before time began, as a foundation for what would come, the Heavenly Tabernacle was present and existed in Heaven. A constant reminder of the blue-print for the Foundation of all Creation; the Redemptive Sacrifice of the Eternal Lamb of God, slain before the Foundation of the World.
Here is that passage again. As you re-read it, consider the ramifications of what it says in light of what I have attempted to share regarding the Foundation:
“By such means, therefore, it was necessary for the [earthly] copies of the heavenly things to be purified, but the actual heavenly things themselves [required far] better and nobler sacrifices than these. For Christ (the Messiah) has not entered into a sanctuary made with [human] hands, only a copy and pattern and type of the true one, but [He has entered] into heaven itself, now to appear in the [very] presence of God on our behalf.
Nor did He [enter into the heavenly sanctuary to] offer Himself regularly again and again, as the high priest enters the [Holy of] Holies every year with blood not his own. For then would He often have had to suffer [over and over again] since the foundation of the world. But as it now is, He has once for all at the consummation and close of the ages appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice [of Himself].”Hebrews 9:23-26
As we can see in this passage, Jesus entered into the Heavenly sanctuary and for what purpose? To offer Himself as the Sacrificial Lamb of God appearing in the very Presence of God on our behalf.
His blood Sacrifice, was the only Sacrifice that resulted in the consummation of the Foundational plan; which was to abolish sin by the Sacrifice of Himself; once for all and to reconcile us and all of creation to the Father.
Jesus came to earth for this one primary purpose. To fulfill the Eternal Plan of the Trinity; the redemption of all of creation, starting with us through His once and for all Sacrifice as the Lamb of God; which was planned and determined before the Foundation of the world. And in fact, was the Foundation laid that supports the entire Universe.
The entire Universe and all that is in it remains intact and held in place on the Foundation of Jesus; the Lamb of God and His Sacrifice.
One of my favorite passages is found in Colossians 1:
“He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities —
all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together.
He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have first place in everything.
For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace
through the blood of His cross —
whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
The Foundational Plan that holds all things together was the Father’s plan to bring everything to Himself by making Peace through the blood of the cross; things on earth and things in heaven. All by the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God slain before (as) the Foundation of the world.
So, the question is, “what should our response be to this mystery revealed?”
“Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Hallelujah!”
“Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.”
“Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name.” Hebrews 13:15
Part 2 of BEFORE TIME BEGAN
So, we know that there was a before time in the realm of heaven that we get glimpses of in some places in the Bible. Here’s a few examples:
“IN THE beginning [before all-time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. 2 He was present originally with God.” John 1:1
This one also in John 1 references Jesus in His pre-incarnate state of being with the Father and expresses one of the main purposes of His coming; to reveal the Father, our ABBA God:
“18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].”
From the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, this passage from Proverbs refers to Wisdom pre-existence with God. Paul said in I Corinthians that Jesus is made unto us Wisdom. This is a reference to Him and His relationship with His Father before time began:
“22 The Lord formed and brought me [Wisdom] forth at the beginning of His way, before His acts of old.
23 I [Wisdom] was inaugurated and ordained from everlasting, from the beginning, before ever the earth existed. [John 1:1; I Cor. 1:24.]
24 When there were no deeps, I was brought forth, when there were no fountains laden with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was brought forth, [Job 15:7, 8.]
26 While as yet He had not made the land or the fields or the first of the dust of the earth.
27 When He prepared the heavens, I [Wisdom] was there; when He drew a circle upon the face of the deep and stretched out the firmament over it,
28 When He made firm the skies above, when He established the fountains of the deep,
29 When He gave to the sea its limit and His decree that the waters should not transgress [across the boundaries set by] His command, when He appointed the foundations of the earth–[Job 38:10, 11; Ps. 104:6-9; Jer. 5:22.]
30 Then I [Wisdom] was beside Him as a master and director of the work; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always, [Matt. 3:17; John 1:2, 18.]
31 Rejoicing in His inhabited earth and delighting in the sons of men.” Proverbs 7:22-31
This next one is from Job when the Lord confronted him:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Declare to Me, if you have and know understanding.
5 Who determined the measures of the earth, if you know? Or who stretched the measuring line upon it?
6 Upon what were the foundations of it fastened, or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”Job 38:4-7
So, we have through these and other passages a glimpse into eternity past where God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit lived in constant unity, love, and joy. Notice the number of references to the emotions of God and those in His midst; joy, delight, rejoicing, good pleasure, gracious, merciful love.
This was the atmosphere of the Heavenly realm where God lived with the created beings; angels before time began.
It is a reflection of Who He is and what His presence brings with continuous shouts of Holy, Holy, Holy!
Now I know what I just wrote can sound rather religious with pipe organ music playing especially the Holy, Holy, Holy part but I want to pull back the traditional curtain for a moment and step out a bit and show you something else about this scene with the smoke-filled backdrop and every creature bowing in reverential fear and awe.
They really have no choice in the matter even though they have absolute freedom to choose what they do. You see this is what being in His presence does to a creature. It totally messes you up, in a good way.
Those of us wild and crazy charismaniacs and Spirit filled spontaneous prophetic worshippers know this experience firsthand. When His Presence shows up you are either going to run for cover or enter in and get slap happy drunk on His glory to where you lose it and really can’t tell where you end, and He begins.
Paul called Him and rightfully so, a consuming fire. I have a new album I’m working on with that title.
It is where we go in to and experience; body, soul and spirit – true worship of the Living All Powerful, All Loving Abba Daddy Father God.
King David was an imbiber of this majestic glory when he said “O taste and see that the Lord is good!”
Paul and the early church were regular imbibers as he clearly states in Ephesians 2, and I paraphrase;
“Stop wasting time getting drunk on wine and just get filled to overflowing with the new wine of the Spirit; speaking in psalms, and hymns, and unwritten, spontaneous Spirit songs which is what happens when you imbibe of His Holy Presence to the point of being consumed by Him as if by fire.”
The point of this last rant is folks, there’s been a party going on from all eternity past in the Heavenly realm where created beings have been lost in the glory of His presence for a long, long time to the point that all they have left to say about Him is “Holy, Holy, Holy” as they behold Him in new ways continually with a steady stream of revelation of His very being and essence and where you just can’t get enough of Him and have an ever increasing craving for more of Him.
You might go so far as to say it is a Holy addiction to the Holy Presence of God.
David had glimpses of this experientially through His intimate, unabashed, uninhibited worship of Him when He said,
“You will show me the path of life, in Your Presence is FULLNESS of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11.
Jesus asked His Father before He left us “And now that I am coming to You; I say these things while I am still in the world, so that My joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them ( that they may experience My delight fulfilled in them. That My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have My gladness within them filling their hearts).
Then He spoke to His disciples and said, “I have told you these things that My joy and delight may be in you and that your joy and gladness may be of FULL MEASURE and complete and overflowing.”
So, if this is the state of being that was on Jesus’ heart and mind so much so that it was the last thing He asked the Father for before facing His passion then why in the world would we not take full advantage of it? I ask myself this question and you can reach your own conclusions for yourself. I know the biggest robber of my joy is me and taking myself way to serious. How bout you?
We think sometimes that when we worship God we are giving something to Him that He must need since we are told over and over again to worship Him. We miss the point when we think like this and there’s not much joy in it either.
We are invited to worship Him because when we do, we experience Him, can even become consumed by Him as the first disciples were to the point that He consumed them with so much of His Spirit Presence that Fire came out of their heads and they couldn’t help themselves in singing and speaking out the praises of God and just how good He really is in Holy Spirit language that everyone could understand as if it was in their own native tongue! (just a thought or maybe it was in their own language)
O for just a taste of how good He really is, and we will never be the same. Talk about an endless party, love fest of divine infinite proportions. I think we, as His people owe it to ourselves to imbibe of His Holy Spirit in unabashed surrender and just dive in and let Him consume us. We just might experience a surge of joy inexpressible and full of glory.
No wonder on that night of nights, when Jesus came the angels couldn’t help themselves in shouting and singing “JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME, LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING”!
Be being continuously, joyfully, infilled to overflowing, with the fullness of His Holy Spirit worshiping the Lord of Joy and you will know and experience His Joy.
Unto Us a Child is born…
This is the most amazing expression of God’s affirmation and stamp of approval upon mankind of all; that He would become one of us.
He didn’t come as an angel or any other manifestation, He became a man; a human being just like you and me. He willingly did this for us for there was no other way for us to be brought back into right relationship with God; our creator.
Paul describes the mystery this way, “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]
6 Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,
7 But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
8 And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!
9 Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,
10 That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.: Philippians 2: 5-11
As this passage concludes everyone with a knee will bow and with a tongue will acknowledge that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is Lord. It’s important to note that the word Lord which has become diluted in meaning actually in Greek means that He is God.
So the plan and transition agreed to before time began was that the Eternal Son of God would lay aside his power and authority temporarily and become a human being subject to all that being human means in the ultimate extreme act of humility and then go further to walk out in obedience the charge given to Him from the Father to become sin who personally knew no sin, go to the cross; suffer and die not just for us as a substitute for us but actually as us ( more on that later).
For this reason, Paul states He has now been not only restored to His preeminence as the Eternal Son of God but much more; as the Savior of the world. Mission accomplished.
God so loved us, that He actually became one of us. He remains now and for all eternity; in His resurrected and glorified human body.
We are a few weeks away from Christmas as I’m writing this chapter. Mari, my wife is busy decorating today putting up the tree and the wreath on the door and it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
Christmas music is on the airwaves, in the shops and fills the air at Destin Commons and other venues.
It is truly an amazing time of the year and we even hear people saying “Merry Christmas” in spite of the PC “Happy Holidays”.
We just got back from a ten-day trip to see family and spent six days of it with our family in Maryland where we had a great time enjoying and providing some comfort to our twins; Brooklyn and Noah who both were in the midst of teething the whole time. They so wanted to be happy for us and tried their best but sometimes the pain was unbearable for them and they let us know about it.
They are just pulling up and standing and at any moment we were anticipating their first steps.
There’s just nothing more precious and vulnerable than a tender little baby. Completely needy. Completely dependent. With nothing to offer than their needy cries and their sweet smiles and squeals of glee. When you look into their amazing little faces every emotion is there in raw, uninhibited expression ready to be released. As pure innocence as can possibly be seen in human form is there; in their precious faces.
I love the song “Mary did you know?” and the line that says, “when you looked into His face did you know you were looking into the face of God?” It’s quite profound and a bit provocative when you think about it to actual call a human baby God? But in reality, this is the case with the one given; even Jesus.
I would like to propose for thought that every time you look into a baby’s face you are seeing the face of God. Every attribute of God Himself is present in every human ever born as a reflection of His image. I’m certainly not saying that humans are God, but I press the point for us to consider just how much like Him we actually are.
As I shared earlier, every human thought, emotion, communication and action is a direct representation of the image of God. Even when it is perverted and flawed and downright sinful, regardless of the motivation the expression given in any moment reflects some aspect of the image of God. Even anger, jealousy, and rage. I’m not in any way condoning evil behavior but I am saying our ability to emote and express any thought or action is due to our being created in His likeness and image.
We know that God can be angry, jealous and express wrath. We don’t like to focus on it. It makes us uncomfortable and sometimes leads us to ask foreboding questions about why He’s that way. Which is really just a subtle way of questioning His character and whether He really is good all the time, but the Bible is clear on these matters.
The difference between us and Him is He’s not flawed so if these emotions and actions are His they are always from a place of perfect righteousness, justice, and usually if not always after an extended period of amazing patience and grace on His part. But the fact is He will not tolerate evil and will deal with it severely; period. If not in the moment certainly at the final accounting of all things in the future judgment. And there will be no escape from this with only one exception; receiving the free gift of salvation through the blood sacrifice of Jesus His Son.
So, let’s get back to Christmas.
Thinking about those tender, vulnerable babies once again.
Unto us a child was born. Unto us A Son was given. His name is Immanuel which means “God with us”.
God has always desired to be with us. In the garden He would come and walk and talk with them at the end of their day. He wanted to know how their day went. What new discoveries had they made or maybe just to spend time with them because He loved just being with them. And yes, even though He is all knowing, He still wants to know what’s on our minds and hearts as if He had to wait for us to tell Him.
That’s all He’s ever wanted is to know us and to be known by us with only one thing motivating Him; His eternal love for us that He could not contain and had to express. It’s just who He is.
So, He knew way before time began that He would have to give us His Son.
Sending Jesus into the womb of a young virgin was extremely risky. She would be an outcast and even could have been stoned to death for committing adultery under the law of Moses which God gave to him. This was the only logical conclusion to be reached since no one had ever been born from a virgin, so it was a legitimate risk. God had to visit Joseph through an angel in a dream to let him know that this was of Him and not to reject Mary as his wife.
Letting Jesus be conceived in her womb and carried for the nine months to be developed as a baby born an innocent, vulnerable child was a risk beyond comprehension subject to all the elements and human intervention to prevent his survival; Herod murdering all the babies in and around Bethlehem so that Joseph had to be warned in a dream to flee to Egypt until Herod was no longer a threat as an example.
This is without a doubt the most amazing risky venture of all time as this was the One who would show the world what God the Father was really like; to set the record straight and to get the people of God to see that they had tried to fit Him in a box to fit their own concepts of what He was like, to manage God so to speak and to keep Him at a comfortable arm’s length distance in a box behind the veil.
And yes, we all to some degree attempt to keep Him in a box at a comfortable distance, but He will have none of it. He intends on being known in His fullness.
And along came Jesus; in their face with His beaming, joyful continence healing the sick, raising the dead and sharing stories that actually showed a stark contrast to the God in the Box they worshipped.
Jesus was so human that they could not grasp how it was possible for Him to be the Messiah. They expected something entirely different and more militarily oriented.
His stories about His Father and His Kingdom of Love, mercy and grace so conflicted with their boxed in views that they could not tolerate His joyful, free expressions of unabashed grace and love that they rejected Him and turned Him over to be put to death in the cruelest manner known to man at that time; even the cross.
My challenge first to myself and then to you as you read this is to ask the question that I had planned to use as the sub-title of this book; “do I have God in a box?”
I would suggest that on some level we all do. We all have a limited concept of who God is and what He is really like. It’s a growing experience as life challenges this idea daily as we look around the world and see all the ungodliness, confusion, hopelessness and unexplainable misfortune. In the process we form theological ideas and arguments to deny or defend God as we see Him. We tend to look around us and make decisions about God from how we perceive life; both good and bad.
All of life is speaking to us continually about God. In the positive with all that’s good and even in the negative that shows us what’s wrong in the world. The fact that we can recognize evil is a godly quality because we know something’s not right and horribly wrong.
That sense of justice within us is a godly quality given to us by virtue of creation even though it too can be warped and flawed depending on what we choose to believe.
All of life is taken in faith. That’s another characteristic of our creator. He does everything by faith in Himself and His ability to make happen whatever He says. Something out of nothing. We too live by faith in whatever we have chosen to believe about ourselves, the world, and God.
Without a revelation of who He really is we are left to our own vain imaginations and flawed logic to figure things out. But once we think we know something we then live by faith in what we believe as if it is reality.
The purpose of my writing has been and will continue to be to share some insights and perhaps revelations that will challenge us to let Him out of the box and to seek to see Him as He actually is not just how we think He is based on our own experiences and limited ideas.
He wants to be known. He has made it possible to know Him. If we choose to seek Him, we will find Him.
To get to know Him even better up close and personal perhaps with new eyes that can even see Him in the innocent face of a child.
One of my business partners loves to shout, “Glory” as he gets a shot of fresh joy. It makes sense that he relates his joy to God’s glory because they are divinely connected.
So, what actually is Glory?
In Hebrew, it means “shine”. It’s the word Halal which is also linked to Halel for a shout of joy and praise. It might be said that when we praise with shouts of joy we shine; that light is released. Glory then is shining light when we shout with joy in response to the Lord. It shines the light in a revelatory sense on the goodness, graciousness, and greatness of God.
In Greek the word is “doxa”, it means “what evokes a good opinion that something has intrinsic inherent worth. “or you could say has value or weight.
It also corresponds to the Hebrew word “kabo” to be heavy. Both terms convey God’s infinite, intrinsic worth (substance, essence). dignity, glory, honor, praise, worship.
We are commanded to give glory to God. This can sound rather self-serving and from a human perspective even egotistical. But that’s from our perspective.
From God’s perspective for Him to be glorified is for Him to be revealed and therefore made known.
His greatest desire flowing from His Deeper Heart of Love is to be known by us; by you, personally.
The more revelation we receive of who He is the greater our capacity to know Him intimately.
This is what we were created for. It is our greatest reason for being and the purpose for our existence; to know and be known by our Loving Creator who prefers to be known as our Father, our Abba -Daddy.
He doesn’t just want us to know about Him. He really wants us to know Him in the most intimate way possible; to actually live inside of us.
We know as believers in Jesus that when we prayed to receive Jesus that He came into our lives. But do we realize that when He moved into our lives He brought the Father and the Holy Spirit with Him?
We acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit within and those of us who have experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit actually experience Him speaking and praying through us in a unique way when we pray in the Spirit. My experience with this, which by the way I resisted and preached against the first twenty years of my Christian life, has taken me to new levels and realms of experiencing Him intimately that are far too deep and private to ever share.
They are the private moments of intense Presence awareness that transform me and translate me to new and higher places than words can even begin to express.
If you have not taken that step yet in your experience with the Holy Spirit I encourage you to press in to this gift until you experience it and do not believe the lie that it’s only for some and not others. It’s the gift of intimacy that a Loving God will not withhold from anyone seeking it. Even hard-headed people like me. It’s truly a heart issue and the more you desire to know Him the easier and freer you will be to receive it.
So, we can identify with receiving Jesus by the Holy Spirit when we pray to receive Him and some have taken it to a deeper level by receiving the gift of the baptism in the Holy Spirit but do we actually make the connection with the fact that the God-Head, the Holy Trinity, actually reside within us?
We tend to think of the Father as the distant one in heaven on His throne with Jesus next to Him on His throne ruling and reigning in Heaven but that’s not the case. Yes, He and Jesus are in heaven on their thrones but we’re there too and they are in us here and now. That’s like having heaven living in us, right? It’s not just a place to go in the sweet bye and bye but a present reality now.
What does this have to do with glory? Everything.
Glory in essence is tangible revelation; the revealing of God as He is in three persons; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each works to bring “glory” or revelation to the other.
Jesus came he said to reveal the Father. He said frequently, “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” Other places He said that He only did what He saw the Father doing of what He told Him to do.
On the day of His baptism the Father opened heaven and spoke, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Later on, at the mount of transfiguration; of the glorification of Jesus, He spoke again saying “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him”. Jesus was radiant and shined brightly in His glory. He was glorified by the Father.
Jesus spoke of glorifying the Father and asking Him to glorify Him.
And the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus when He returned to heaven has been glorifying Jesus since the day of Pentecost.
The deeper mystery here is that through the indwelling Holy Spirit we have the fullness of God living in us.
In Ephesians 1:17-20:
“[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe,
as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places],”
Paul said in 2 Corinthians4:6-7 “For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.”
He says it profoundly and clearly in Ephesians 2:18 “For it is through Him that we both [whether far off or near] now have an introduction (access) by one [Holy] Spirit to the Father [so that we are able to approach Him].”
And in 3:18-19 “That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!”
To sum this point up, Paul says it all here in Colossians 2:9-10“For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].”
The glory of God is the shining light of revelation on the ultimate plan, purpose and desire of the Living God. That is to dwell, to make His home permanently within His children in a continuous, perpetual Love encounter where only Love can dwell. No more condemnation, guilt, fear, trepidation or separation. He took care of all of that, so we could experience His fullness of Love that produces Peace, and Joy in ever increasing measure.
As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and experience His transforming power and glory we become experientially more like Him and can experience more of His power living in and through us. It’s a purposeful desire and ambition that brings greater glory to God.
That’s something to make us all shout “Glory!”
THE GREATEST GIFT
As I began writing this chapter, it was the Monday after Thanksgiving. In our home Thanksgiving is the kickoff of a month-long celebration leading up to Christmas. Mari starts the decorating usually the day after Thanksgiving. This year it started a bit earlier because we bought a beautiful new tree you see advertised a lot. It is amazingly life like but without the beautiful smell of a fresh natural tree. I planned to find some real garland to add to the decorating to add that amazing wonderful smell that sparks memories back to my childhood but never got around to it. Next year.
The tree is always the focal point of the Christmas decorations with the presents beautifully displayed beneath its branches and some even hidden in them. We relate to these images and see the symbolism in the evergreen tree and the lights and gifts of the Eternal Light of the World who came Himself as the greatest gift of all. We recall the story of the wise men who followed the star to Bethlehem who came bearing gifts to the King of the Universe as a young child; the Savior of the world; King Jesus.
A few years ago, after a period of several amazingly difficult years back to back, we began to see a bit of daylight and hope restored that better days were ahead.
I remember taking time before Christmas to do some searching to determine what was “the” gift that Jesus came to give us. I searched the Scriptures and found the answer that satisfied my desire to identify the gift. I then prepared and shared it with my family including my grandkids asking them to think about what “the gift” was.
What I found had a profound effect upon me and my family and marked a significant life changing and life altering experience for the better. It was the first step on a journey that led us back to the Deeper Heart of God and rediscovering a truth that had gotten misplaced in my attempt to make sense of what we had recently been through.
Not to belabor the point but often when life happens in unexpected ways that seem to run contrary to the “abundant life” we’ve been promised, the tendency is to look within to find the problem and answer the question, “what did I do wrong to cause all this?” It’s a downward spiral from there into confusion, uncertainty, and if not put in check condemnation which leads to depression, and despair.
Looking within to determine what went wrong and how to fix it is a dangerous place to go and a slippery slope into a dark place that is exactly the opposite of what the Lord would have for us. Looking to self for solutions is an empty place to find them and I find nowhere in scripture to support this endeavor.
One of the reasons for not going down this path is that I am the least objective person on the earth about me. I do not have the ability within me to accurately assess my reality nor anyone else’s. We are told not to judge. That includes ourselves.
We were never given the ability within ourselves to be completely objective. In order to be so, we would need to understand everything about everything and everyone simultaneously. There’s only one with that ability. It’s not us. Yet most of us live our lives thinking we are objective, rational beings when the facts do not support this assumption. We are subject to our emotions and experiences which are limited yet we make life choices as if we have all the information we need and the ability to accurately assess our situations and circumstances and draw accurate conclusions. We are limited and quite dependent when you get right down to it.
So about now you’re probably wondering, “where’s he going with all this?” Or maybe you are hoping I’ll get to the point.
The reason for this backdrop of thought is directly related to that life altering revelation I mentioned earlier about discovering the greatest gift. For the gift alters our perspective of ourselves and of our reality and establishes a solid foundation from whence life can begin to make perfect sense. It enables us to move past ourselves and to begin to experience the life and freedom we were destined for from before time began.
I love the passage from Luke when Zachariah who had been mute for the past nine months breaks loose with this prophecy relating to his new born son John and his future ministry pointing to Jesus;
‘ To bring and give the knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness and remission of their sins. Because of and through the heart of tender mercy and loving-kindness of our God, a Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit [us] To shine upon and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to direct and guide our feet in a straight line into the way of peace.”
The gift is described in this passage as to bring and give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness and remission of their sins. I highlighted the reason as “because of and through the heart of tender mercy and loving-kindness of God.” And this is the key to understanding “the gift.”
Paul nails it down in these verses from Romans 5;
‘ But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass [His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man]. For if many died through one man’s falling away (his lapse, his offense), much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for [the benefit of] many. Nor is the free gift at all to be compared to the effect of that one [man’s] sin. For the sentence [following the trespass] of one [man] brought condemnation, whereas the free gift [following] many transgressions brings justification (an act of righteousness). For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).’
The free gift of righteousness; God Himself putting us in right standing with Himself.
This is the greatest of gifts. This is the gift Jesus brought to us who believe in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 lays it out clearly;
‘ For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].’
As you can tell, I’m a fan of the Amplified Bible which is usually spot on with interpretation from the original languages. In this case I particularly like the statement, “approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness.”
I also want to point out whose righteousness we become; the righteousness OF God.
This is clearly not a “works” thing that is to be strived after and achieved by our human efforts. The complete opposite is true. It is a gift; unearned, unmerited, undeserved as a result of His grace and love.
Imagine Holy God in His human form; Jesus, becoming sin who knew no sin and being set apart and made sin by His Father.
This transaction began in the mind of God before time began as I have previously pointed out. In real-time I believe it took place in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Garden of the oil press where Jesus who knew no sin confronts His human destiny to become sin on our behalf.
In the Hebrew culture celebration of Passover, there are four cups that are drunk during the celebration. There is also a fifth cup that remains undrunk. The Hebraic tradition calls it the cup of Elijah waiting for him to come to announce the Messiah. According to research done by my good friend, Pastor John Rogers, there are biblical references to the fifth cup that point to it being the cup of God’s wrath. Five in Hebrew is the number for grace pictured as an open window.
As the fifth cup, this would be evident as the cup of judgment, condemnation and the full wrath of God being consumed by the One who is Grace Himself; Jesus our Messiah.
I believe that when Jesus asked the Father to let the cup pass if there was any other way it was this cup of judgment, condemnation and wrath that we deserved. That He knew that this meant that He would be made sin by the Father in the next moment after spending all eternity past as righteous, pure, holy, and undefiled. He would now become in an instant polluted with everything vile, filthy, impure and worthy of the wrath and judgment of God.
In essence, He was about to became sin. Sin in this case was a noun which defined and represented the totality of the human condition in rebellion against Almighty God. Yes, it also includes bearing our sins as well as our sicknesses and diseases and all that was the result of the fall of man.
This is what was deplorable and despised by Jesus. Not the suffering ahead of Him but actually becoming sin. But for the joy set before Him, He was willing to endure the shame of the cross.
He was the spotless Lamb of God who from eternity past had never known sin now at the crossroads of all eternity, in the garden of the olive press drinking it all in and becoming sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. What a moment. What an exchange. What a gift.
The pressure of that moment when He said, not my will but yours be done crushed Him under the weight of the sin of the world so that His human body sweat great drops of blood. The full price paid for the free gift to us of His righteousness.
This is the foundation of our acceptance before God where He pronounces us “not guilty” due to the innocent One taking the guilt, shame, condemnation and judgment of Righteous God.
The depth of our identity with this transaction will be explored in the next chapter but our identification with His suffering, His death and His resurrection are inseparable. As Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life I now live in the body I live by the faith OF the Son of God.” Galatians 2:20
The life process of a believer is to grow in our awareness of who we have now become; new creations who are declared holy and righteous by God Himself. Not by anything we did to deserve it but completely by grace as a free gift. We are righteous by and because of His blood. Washed clean forever to the extent that God says He remembers our sins no more. (Hebrews 10:17)
Freedom to live beyond our limitations depends on how well we believe what God says about us; we have been made the righteousness of God in and through Christ Jesus.
It is essential that we come into agreement with God and even let our words reflect this truth. I daily remind myself even out loud that I am the righteousness of God in Christ.
This awareness is transforming and comes with the support, prompting and power of Holy Spirit. Jesus said that this was His primary purpose for sending Holy Spirit to us as believers. In John 16:10 He says He is sent to convince us of righteousness because He (Jesus) was going back to the Father.
When we come into agreement and partner with Holy Spirit that we are the righteousness of God in Christ, He is there to amplify the revelation of the gift of righteousness. This is our primary weapon to fortify us against contrary information regardless of the source. No matter what, this is who we are, and His primary responsibility is to continue to reinforce and remind us of this unchangeable truth. By doing so, He brings glory and honor to Jesus and to what He accomplished on our behalf.
We now live in the realm of a new reality; the Kingdom of God which is first of all Righteousness, then peace or Shalom resulting in joy. As we grow in our awareness of our right standing with God, we experience greater measures of His Peace or my preference is Shalom in the fullness of its meaning of well-being, wholeness, health, favor, prosperity, safety and security.
There are a multitude of scriptures that identify Righteousness and Peace being connected synergistically.
One of my favorites is (my transliteration) Psalm 85:8 “Grace and Truth have met together, righteousness and peace (shalom) have kissed.”
We know from John 1 that “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” which translates as God’s unmerited favor ushered in the new reality of His Kingdom which was established (truth) and the result is righteousness and peace are joined in a kiss.
Through Jesus the righteous requirements of God are completely satisfied resulting in Peace between us and God through faith in His blood. This Peace Transends all limitations for all of time having removed the offense between us and God forever. All there is now between us is Peace; His Shalom.
Being aware of His Shalom produces joy. I love the word “joy” in the Greek. It is xara which means a leaning towards favorably and is closely associated with xaris which is the word “grace”. The essence of the word Joy in the Greek is linked to “being aware of God’s grace produces joy”. Joy because of grace; grace realized is joy.
Another way of looking at this is there is no joy without an awareness of God’s grace; His unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor. When we come to know and experience God’s Agape-Love for us in ever-increasing measure so will our Joy increase especially knowing His Love and goodness is undeserved by us.
His grace as an expression of His Love produces Joy in us experientially and it is the responsibility of Holy Spirit to see that we are filled up with it to overflowing. This ever-expanding growing process begins with us accepting the declaration and verdict of Almighty God,
“You are the righteousness of God in Him.”
This was the plan from before time began that on the night of all nights, after nine months in Mary’s womb, Almighty God would step into time and space in the form of a vulnerable newborn baby to bring into motion His ultimate desire. To bring us to Himself and forever declaring us righteous by the blood of the Lamb of God; Jesus Christ the Eternal Son of God.
Truly this is the greatest gift.
As I conclude this book, I come back to where it started with the question, “Who are we?” As I have attempted to demonstrate, we can only know the answer to this question as we Know Him. In His fullness we find our fullness because we are after all created beings and discovering who we are is intrinsically linked to Who created us.
Our purpose for existence can only be discovered through a personal encounter with Our Creator. For that reason and to make the point, the remainder of what you will read will be written in the first person as if Your Creator is speaking to you. With His assistance, let’s begin. Where there are blanks, these are for you to write in your first name because He knows you on a first name basis. The Creator is the Triune God who said, “Let us make man in our own image” so He will be speaking as Abba-Daddy, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
____________ My child, We have longed for you since long before time began. You were held in love as an idea formed and fashioned in My heart from eternity past. Yes, I have known you for all eternity. You know some of what this is like if you have your own child or a brother or sister that you waited for to be born and become a part of your family. The joy of anticipating the arrival of this new bundle of life and the love you felt even before they arrived is a glimpse of how We felt about you. You were our dream. But not just to form you and then have you born into the world, but so that you could come to know Us by becoming like us as a New Creation.
Your physical birth as a person with the freedom to choose just like Us with complete autonomy was Our Sovereign Will. You ____________ have freedom to choose to respond to Us in any way you decide. We do all we can to let you Know Us and to demonstrate Our love for you but in the end, you do get to decide how you choose to respond.
When you come to see Us as We truly are as demonstrated through My Son, Jesus and you choose to say “yes” to Him, Holy Spirit brings you into Our Family. My very life is planted in you by Holy Spirit and you are as Jesus said, “born again from above”. My very life comes in to live within you.
The best metaphor for what happens is the picture of baptism. Water as you know from what Jesus shared represents My Spirit. When you go into the water you become immersed, surrounded by the water. It’s like my Spirit coming and surrounding you but it has a deeper meaning as well.
The picture of baptism is said to show that you were buried with Jesus and then when you come out of the water you were raised with Him in His resurrection. However, before you can go under the water you first have to go into the water. Your confession of your faith in Jesus and what He did for you when He went to the cross is your identification with Jesus in His humiliation, beatings, and crucifixion. You came to realize He did this for you _________. Your confession of believing causes a spiritual transference to occur when you prayed and invited Him in or said “yes” to Him and to who He is and what He did for you.
It is said in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “’for him who did not know sin, in our behalf He did make sin, that we may become the righteousness of God in him.”
I want to take you deeper in your understanding of what actually in reality happened to you ______. For this reason, I am asking Holy Spirit to give you a greater revelation than you have known before. Will you agree with Me on this ____________, and ask Holy Spirit for fresh revelation and understanding of this amazing miracle that occurred when you said “yes” to Me?
Thank you, ____________. This is so important, but We will only go deeper with your agreement.
Jesus, My First born, always existed with Me in Eternity. I know this is hard to grasp but you can understand the idea of eternity by Holy Spirit who lives in you because He is eternal.
Jesus has always been pure, holy, not knowing sin. Sin actually means “falling short” of perfection. It’s a state of being which includes behaviors as a result of choices that fall short and are contrary to My Perfection. It is willful rebellion and must be judged, condemned and punished. It is out of agreement with My Righteousness and must be dealt with.
In your behalf, ____________, Jesus became sin. This happened in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus cried out to Me asking for the cup to pass from Him, if there was any other way. But He then said, “Not my will but your will be done.” Jesus was more than willing to suffer and die for you ______. In fact it was for the Joy set before Him that enabled Him to endure the hardship and anguish of the cross.
You ______, were that Joy.
Let Us hear from Jesus about this. ____________ ,
I loved you just as Our Abba loves you and I was willing to come, live, be beaten and crucified for you. What I struggled with that night in the garden of the Olive Press was the crushing and defilement of becoming Sin. You see, __________, I had never known sin, personally. I had of course observed it from the time of the fall of satan and those that followed him and the fall of man, but I had never known it nor experienced it.
What happened in that moment when I said “yes” to Abba is that all that you were that “fell short” fell on Me. Your sins not only fell on Me, but I became your sin. Your fallen state became mine. You and all your fallenness entered into Me at that moment and not only you ____________ but everyone else who would ever come to believe in me was in Me at that exact point in time.
From that moment on through the accusations, beatings, scourging, and nails in My hands and feet, you ________ were there with Me.
As in the times of the sacrifices, the guilty one would lay his hand on the head of the innocent lamb and press down confessing and releasing their sins into the lamb then they would cut the throat of the lamb and the blood would serve as a covering for one year.
In My case, as the Lamb of God, as you confessed your faith in Me, what took place on that day in the garden, you ______ were there in Me. This is something that can only be understood and discerned by the help of Holy Spirit. So, take a moment and ask for a deeper understanding and revelation before I go on. This is something you will grow in your understanding of as you continue to grow in your personal intimacy with Me.
Everything I endured that you read about in My Word, you were there _______ in Me.
When I was accused by the Sanhedrin, you were there ______ in Me.
When I stood silent before My accusers, you ______ were there in Me.
When I was whipped and scourged, you _________ were there in Me.
When I carried the cross through the streets of Jerusalem, _______ you were there in Me.
When I was nailed to the Roman cross, you ___________ were there in Me.
For six hours as I gasped for breath, as they hurled insults at me, you ________ were there in Me.
When I shouted, “It is finished” and breathed my last breath, yes, you ________ were there in Me.
When I was laid in the grave, you ___________ were there in Me.
When I descended into the depths to set the captives free, you __________ were there in Me.
When I arose on the third day in Resurrection Life, yes _________ you were there in Me.
And when I ascended on High to sit again next to Our Abba on My throne in Heaven, ______ you were and are even now seated there in Me.
And now the very life you live, you live by My Faith; the Faith of the Son of God.
My encounters with Paul gave illumination and revelation to these matters after I returned to My Place in Heaven. I came to Him and by Holy Spirit gave this knowledge directly to him because I wanted you and all those who are Mine to have a deeper revelation and understanding of who you are in Me.
Paul said this in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by (the faith of ) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
He said this in Romans 6: 3-10 “’ Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.
For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be [one with Him in sharing] His resurrection [by a new life lived for God]. We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men].
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him.”
You see __________, you and your sinfulness, your sin nature, your unrenewed self actually suffered and died with and in Me.
You are now, in reality, a New Creation of Mine and are declared by Abba as holy, righteous and pure even as I am, so are you, in Me.
Your old patterns of behavior and sinful emotions remain in your memories and can manifest as if they still are your reality but this is not the truth. My truth sets you free from all of this as your mind is renewed by My Word and the washing of the Word by Holy Spirit. It is a process you are in of realizing and understanding all that you already are, in Me.
When you speak out My Word and My Truth Holy Spirit will convict, pursued, bring you into full agreement with your present reality. When you declare that you are the righteousness of God in Christ in the midst of your worst moments, Holy Spirit will restore you to sanity and align your thinking with your reality, in Me. You will know this by My Peace bringing your equilibrium back to the Truth of who you are in Me.
It’s the emotions of sin that are the problem that cause confusion and for you to doubt the truth of who you are in Me. But here’s the thing, they’re just emotions; feelings and not reality. You may feel bad for the things you said or did and that’s a good thing. It shows that you are not in agreement with them and that you know you are more than those things. Just come back into agreement and alignment with the truth and My Peace will be restored. Let My peace be the compass of your life and refuse to live without it. You can Know my Peace continually as I have provided it for you to guide your very life as you abide in Me.
Having a pure heart means that you are being real and transparent with Me and I greatly value and appreciate this. After all, I know the truth already. I just want you to be all I created you to be as a New Creation and all that you already are and not to settle for lower levels of living which only happens when you believe a lie instead of the truth of who you actually are in Me.
____________, My child, I want you to know the fullness of all I have provided for you. It comes from your complete identification with what actually transpired when my Son, Jesus gave His life for you.
You were there in Him and are now a New Creation of Mine empowered with My very Resurrection power for life on the inside of you. You can actually sense my tangible presence within you. I love to come and surround you and rest on you as I love on you and make you aware of My Presence.
I often do this to encourage you to step out in faith and to do the things that I can do in and through you as you trust in Me.
The New Creation is a perfect blending and integration of My Spirit with yours. My Presence brings your spirit; the core of your being, your personhood and personality; all I created you to be, to life and we are One in purpose, intent, emotions, dreams, visions and Spirit.
I make all that I Am, available to you and through you. All that I Am and have is yours, _________. Yes, I could create a whole new universe through your fingertips. There’s no limit to what I can do in and through you. We will spend all of eternity together as you grow in the understanding of our union and all that we can do together as you abide in Me. So, take the limits off from what you think you can and cannot do. With Me, there are no limits.
To experience my fullness, ____________ you must remain in My Presence continually, moment by moment. It’s fine and admirable to have dreams, visions and hope as a certain reality for the future but you can’t live there now. It doesn’t exist yet. You also have to as Paul said “forget the past” its in the past leave it there, you can’t live there either.
I Am the Eternal Now. Live in the “now” with Me. This is where you will find My Peace and Rest.
As Jesus once said “live today and leave tomorrow for itself”. I give you grace moment by moment and day by day. Live one day at a time. It’s all you are equipped for.
Leave the past with me. Jesus’ blood paid for it as well as your present and future. You were not designed for stress, anxiety and worry. It negates my Peace and puts more confidence in what you think will happen or what you have to handle rather than in the Reality of My Constant Presence, Protection and Provision.
I am always with You. I live within you in My Fullness; Father, Son and Holy Spirit as your Holy Triune God.
Grow in the grace and knowledge of My Son, Jesus and in My Love for you kept, led, and comforted by My Holy Spirit.
Focus on My Love for you and My love will effortlessly flow from within you to everyone you encounter. I am the source and overflow of Love for you and the world. And remember to love each other, with the love Holy Spirit has poured into your heart; My forever Love that has no end and no limits.
Knowing Me is the only way to fully understand who you are and why you are here.
The rest of your life can be and will be an amazing adventure as we partner together into the purposes, plans and destiny I have instore for you; for your greater good and for the advancement of My Kingdom in the earth.
You are mine and I am yours. Live in My fullness all the days of your life and then in the blink of an eye you will step into Eternity with Me. I have so much more to share with you and just wait to you see what I have planned for you _______.
Not the end, just the beginning…