On High, Tent, Tabernacle, Within You

On January 15 I wrote “He was purported to dwell in the cloud by day and the fire by night, the Tabernacle, then a couple of Temples, and now indwells you. Can you get your mind around that idea?”

Our small group is studying John Eldredge’s book Resilient. In his book, page 62, he makes the point:

But, folks, have we forgotten that God relocated the temple? In a stunning shift of geography, God changed the playing field. He moved the temple from a physical building to the hearts of His people.

John Eldredge, Resilient

Here are a few of the Scriptures he quotes.

 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 

1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

2 Corinthians 6:16 NIV

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

Pray and say out loud and believe that if you have asked Jesus to be your Lord that you are God’s temple. His Holy Spirit is within you. You have received this from God. God’s Spirit dwells within you. God wants you to honor Him with your body.

No more dwelling only on high, no tent or tabernacle or temple! God decided and made the move through the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Now that you know these things how will that knowledge effect your life? Will anyone notice? Will you be able to explain the difference to them?

A W Tozer Quote

Years ago I studied A W Tozer. Recently I was shown his work again through the daily devotions sent out by The Navigators (https://give.navigators.org/email-devotions/) This so reminded me of the time I brought the Word to women at City Gospel Mission. It was about 1986?

If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. Now as always God discovers Himself to “babes” and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few). We must put away all effort to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond.

The Pursuit of God, A W Tozer

While the church I attended discussed things like contemporary music for worship in contrast to an organ and a box of hymnals, I was downtown once a week teaching the women at the Mission. Tozer says simplify. I argued that Paul never had an organ, or a box of hymnals nor made any reference to music that I recalled. I wish I had kept better records of names and dates, but basically the lead pastor at teh Mission wanted someone to lead a weekday Bible Study for women. We met in the basement, near the kitchen of the Mission. There was an interesting fragrance down there. Likely from years of meals prepared since the 1920s!

The Mission was founded in 1924 by James N. Gamble of the company Proctor & Gamble, most likely founded in the same building I taught in. (They have a new facility now on Dalton Street.)

Teaching in this room with a concrete floor and block walls was before the jail ministry I participated in, but so similar. The difference here was the women who attended were all free citizens. Most attended to receive better access to food donations but some genuinely loved God and enjoyed the fellowship. Some of them would holler out, “Preach it!” or “Preach it sister!” On one occasion a woman who was drunk attended. She got up on a folding chair and tried to out speak me. I immediately began to pray in my spirit and ask the Lord to hush her. The other participants also told her to sit and hush. Eventually she did. An eye-opening experience indeed for this suburban white girl.

There were times when I needed to drop something off at my sister’s house on my way home from downtown. I told the Lord one week, “This is almost more than I can handle! Shifting my gears from City Gospel Mission to Indian Hill”, (neighborhood of high prosperity and generational wealth). He reminded me that all of us were just people no matter the outside garb or residence.

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, 

Jeremiah 29:13-14a NIV

Tozer says if we are “to find God we must first DETERMINE to find Him and then proceed in the way of simplicity.” I found God in the midst of the City Gospel Bible study attendees. Those women who wholeheartedly pronounced, “Preach it, Sister!” were my cheerleaders and friends in the Spirit. I prayed the inebriated woman would also seek Him and find Him even if not through my lessons. God ‘discovers Himself to babes and hides Himself from the wise and prudent.” The Mission women knew more about God than most people I met in Indian Hill. Mind you, not all of the Indian Hill folks were ignorant of God and His ways; however, the women of the lower income downtown area seemed to me to walk with Him more closely than the rich. I do not claim to read hearts though.

Tozer says we must ‘simplify our approach to God, strip down to essentials, put away effort to impress’ and come with the candor of childhood. Tozer was a wise and an excellent teacher. I am still working on stripping down to the essentials with God, simplifying my approach.

Years later I worked at a branch of the Mission called “Having the Courage to Change” as secretarial assistant to the Director and coach in discipleship with a couple of the women. That is a story for another day.

I pray for you that the candor of childhood will enhance your search for the LORD God Almighty. He is waiting and watching for you!

Praying for Others

I told you about “Going to Jail,” and perhaps about some wounding I had by the public words of another? I had to repeatedly confess my ill feelings towards her. While recovering from the public wounding, I was reminded there is wisdom in praying blessings that you want for yourself over those who have harmed you.

After I confessed my sins in the situation, I prayed blessings over her as often as she came to mind. Eventually she came to mind less and less often.

I had withdrawn from the group this occurred in. I stated I would return when I was ready, though perhaps less often than in the past.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:3-4

Years ago I first heard Kirk Franklin when he produced the song called “Stomp.” Recently someone sent me a link to this music. This song certainly ties both themes all together! Praying blessings upon others and jail ministry. Having just written about “Going to Jail” it touched my heart in a special place. I hope you will take the time to listen to it, even though it might not be your style. As you watch the video I think it will be difficult at times for you to tell the prisoners from the visitors. I even spotted a guard this time!

Will you take up the challenge to pray like this for others who have offended or tried to shame you? Can you imagine the faith these prisoners must have to make themselves this vulnerable in a place reputed for violence? They are singing and praying this for their guards, too! Do you have this sort of trust in God?

Where is God?

As you can see in the above picture by Missy Cummings, He was purported to dwell in the cloud by day and the fire by night, the Tabernacle, then a couple of Temples, and now indwells you. Can you get your mind around that idea?

This absolutely flies in the face of separation regarding us and the Lord God Almighty. He is not “The big man upstairs.” He is not just God of the Bible stories. Jesus made a way for Him to dwell within you, to abide, tarry, stay.

Bob was recently musing on the Gospel of John and these verses.

‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 17:20-23 RSV

Do you desire this sort of oneness with the Father and the Son? Perhaps you shudder at this level of intimacy with them? Many people want the idea of separateness – God separate from us – as the Word says in John 3:19 people love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Saints have been trying to teach us for generations that having God dwell in us is a heavenly gift. Julian of Norwich born 1342 and died 1416 was a celebrated author and mystic. She taught:

“Greatly ought we to rejoice that God dwells in our soul; and more greatly ought we to rejoice that our soul dwells in God. Our soul is created to be God’s dwelling place, and the dwelling of our souls is God, who is uncreated. It is a great understanding to see and know inwardly that God, who is our Creator, dwells in our soul, and it is a far greater understanding to see and know inwardly that our soul, which is created, dwells in God in substance, of which substance, though God, we are what we are.” ~ Julian of Norwich

~Julian of Norwich

“Between God and the soul there is no between.”

~Julian of Norwich

How do you interpret that in your own life? Read those 2 quotes again and ponder what they might mean for you 2023. If you love God and have accepted Jesus as His Son, He has come to dwell in you. We recently sang, “O come, o come, Emmanuel.” And He has come! Jesus was born a man, died for all men and rose again to be seated at the right hand of the Father. He has accomplished His work and has sent the promise of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us who believe. There is no between God and the soul.

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

Ephesians 3:16-17 TLB

If, like me, you are facing another year of physical struggle, I pray you will take the above verses to heart. Ask the Father repeatedly to empower you with inner strength. Invite Christ to make His home in you and TRUST in Him. Help us all, Lord, to grow our roots deep into Your love and make us strong.

“Going to Jail”

Recently, I was telling a friend about my experience teaching at the Hamilton County Justice Center on the women’s wing, face to face with the prisoners. At the time I had been leading Bible studies with Women’s Aglow. On the local evening news I heard that they were giving a tour of the newly built Justice Center the next day. I was convinced I should go. While there I signed up for a pass to teach Bible study to the women in the jail.

Interior of Justice Center before it was populated

If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

Psalm139:8 KJV

Teaching Scripture at the Justice Center was like ‘walking into hell on purpose’. Linda and I would meet that morning and take communion in her kitchen. We would pray and intercede all the way downtown. Park the car. Get her guitar and my teaching materials. Enter the Justice Center. Show our badges. Go to the Chaplain’s office and leave our purses and personal belongings.

If the guards were sensitive to our purpose they might turn the TV volume down. You have not taught the Word until you do it in a cinder block room with the $10,000.00 dollar Pyramid playing in the background. I quickly learned how to project my voice!

We’d have the ladies sign in with their name and prisoner number. With that information we could write them a note card. We never asked any of them what they did or were accused of that landed them in that place. We just ‘loved on them’ and brought them the New Testament teachings on how to live for Christ.

After the time at jail, usually in Linda’s driveway, we would split the name list. On our own time we would pray over each name and write a card using a Scripture for their encouragement as led by the Holy Spirit.

Next time we saw the women some would often say it was just the verse they needed, asking, “How did you know?” We would answer them that we prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to give us the verse they needed. Sometimes the notes would move the women to share with their fellow prisoners and more women would attend on their say so.

photo on line

All of this was a tremendous time of spiritual warfare, faith building and learning for both myself and Linda. It was hard only if we tried to do it in our own strength. With God it was possible and rewarding to both of us.

When I sensed that it was my time to step down, Linda continued to serve in ministry there for 15 years. She recruited others to help her and the work carried on to thousands of women over the years.

God ordained, arranged and coordinated that ministry. We followed in obedience and did our best to listen to His voice each step of the way. To God be all the glory! I pray those women came to know Him and walk with Him even today.

Prompts

I have been pondering my Advent poem and wondering where it took you prior to and during Christmas?

Self as Manger   HERE AM I © 1993 Molly Lin Dutina 

Here am I, stuff of earth
But by the Spirit's power rebirth
has brought me receptivity.
Fill me with Yourself.

Molded by Your Holy Hand
I wait before You
Cupped and ready,
cleansed, atoned
eager for Your radiant touch
Virtue compelled to enfold Your own
the vessel of Your making.

Here am I, stuff of earth
yielded for Messiah's birth
be it unto me, O Lord,
as in Your word and will.

The Great I AM
dwells in my heart
there to impart the power,
courage and propulsion for
His dream to be fulfilled.

So ‘stuff of earth’ did you yield for Messiah’s birth? Are you asking for His indwelling?

Many of the things I read or subscribe to with daily posts provide me with prompts for writing the blog. Here is one from Grateful Living: “In the bigger scheme of things the universe is not asking us to do something, the universe is asking us to be something. And that’s a whole different thing.” – Lucille Clifton

In God we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), thus God is our universe. What is God asking us to be? Maybe a confidant for one who is hurting? Perhaps His witness among the lost and hungry souls?

Writing Prompt 2

This year as my body seems to be deteriorating more I will likely be the one who does not do so much anymore, but holds the Light for others. I believe holding the Light is more than shining a flashlight upon a hard to see object. Holding forth the Light of Christ is accomplished through being His. There has always been a struggle in American society as to whether it is more important to Do or to Be … which leads to DO-BE-DO-BE-DO. If rebirth has brought you receptivity and you are filled with Him, BE-ing His reigns over any other accomplishment.

Another writing prompt

What if we hold to His power, courage and propulsion and allow Him to fulfill His dream in and through us? To do that we will need to be still (Psalm 46:10). Yield to His plan this year and see how 2023 ends for you!

Ears and Hearts

While traveling in New Mexico we bought a pottery piece at a craft show. It was wrapped in newspaper. When I unwrapped it to show our hosts, the Cookseys, I saw the editorial cartoon by Jeff Koterba. The paper was dated June 7, 2020, The Albuquerque Sunday Journal. I emailed Mr. Koterba asking if I could use his cartoon in this blog. The caption reads, “May we listen with our ears … and our hearts.” The drawing is wonderfully creative!

Jeff Koterba answered me a few days later. I asked if he would send me a copy of the cartoon as mine was all wrinkled from cushioning the pottery. He replied that these are the kinds of stories he loves! He would be glad to share the cartoon. (See above) He is a very talented artist.

I requested his memoir from the Cincinnati Public Library entitled “Inklings.” It was a transparent, at times amusing and sometimes painful read. Jeff grew up in an alcoholic household and he and his father both have Tourette’s syndrome. It took years for Jeff to even realize what the Tourette’s was. His biography reads:

Honored by the National Cartoonists Society, National Headliner Awards, and Great Plains Journalism. Awards, Jeffrey Koterba’s cartoons are syndicated to over 800 newspapers with Cagle Cartoons and have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. He currently draws with support on Patreon. 

His original drawings have flown aboard space shuttle Discovery. Back on earth, his work has been included in multiple exhibits in the U.S. and Europe, including alongside Picasso.

Entertainment Weekly called his memoir, Inklings: “…a powerful and moving portrait of an artist.”

A two-time TEDx speaker, he often gives talks on creativity, Tourette Syndrome, and current affairs.

Here he explains much of what it is like to live with Tourette’s.

This very talented man also writes songs, plays guitar and is lead singer for the band he formed called the Prairie Cats. So much talent! I am always amazed at the accomplishments of those who do not let physical obstacles get in their way.

May I apply my talents to the tasks the Lord gives me in spite of my upbringing in an alcoholic home, chronic pain disorder and the physical challenges that aging provides me with. Jeffrey Koterba is truly an inspiration to me!

Living Sacrifice

This year my focus word is sacrifice. I take that to mean living sacrifice as in Romans 12:1-2

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 NRSV

How would that effect your life? Do you present your body a living sacrifice to God? Do you see yourself as holy and acceptable to God? Do you understand that is your reasonable act of worship?

In the Old Testament, the priests would offer living animals to God as part of the worship of God, cutting them up and offering them on the altar. Paul tells us, however, that God would prefer that we become a living sacrifice, which is far greater. In fact. even under the Old Covenant, God considered obedience to be far better and of greater value to him than any offering of animals (1 Samuel 15:22-23, Palm 40:6-8, Amos 5:21-24.)

https://www.biblestudy.org/question/living-sacrifice.html

How often is our obedience the great feat of the day, the week? Obedience can be difficult because it so often runs counter to our ego, our desire for self-rule in contrast to obedience to God Almighty. Observe your walk this week and try to discern how many times you yield to God’s will and how many times you pursue your own desires first and foremost.

I know many of you do not like loud contemporary music, but listening to even the first 3 minutes of the above video can give you an idea of what I love about Brandon Lake and his worship music.

So from time to time this year I will try to discuss what I discover and experience about trying to learn to live this verse in 2023. May you discover your ‘word for the year’ and learn to live in obedience to what you are called to do with that verse.

The ‘biblestudy.org’ site above offers a few more ideas of how to live Romans 12:1.

I have not put photos with this post as I cannot find one that expresses my heart. May you be blessed with an increased awareness of His presence in you and with you.

New Year, New Word?

Wow! Another New Year. How long will it take you to remember it is ’23 now? Have you been thinking about resolutions? We usually form a New Year’s resolution from our flesh and our mind. Statistics show that more often than not the resolution is in the dust before February. So I challenge you to set not a resolution, but one word for the entire year. Have you ever prayed and tried to listen for what the Lord would have you focus upon for the coming year?

I have done this for several years and have found it inspiring, challenging and uplifting. Even when I fail to reach for the goal of the word, if I chose it from the Word of God, He helps me and sustains me in my efforts. I may fail one week and totally grasp it the next. The goal is to consistently reach for it.

So take a few minutes. Sit quietly asking the Holy Spirit what He would have you set as your word of the year. If you do not hear a particular word, keep trying, maybe even for several weeks. Pay attention to Scriptures that come your way. Do you perceive a theme?

I have been reading the book of Mark. In chapter 13 Jesus is speaking about the end of time as we know it. He says only the Father knows when that will occur.

 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Mark 13: 32-37 NIV

Even the poet Rumi wrote, “Stay awake. Don’t go back to bed.” Watch. Be alert. NASB says, “Be on the alert.” The Message, “Stay at your post. Keep watch.”

What is the Lord saying to you about 2023? Are you awake, alert, listening, watching? Or have you dozed off to sleep content to just be comfortable, like most Americans want to be? Comfort seems to be our biggest idol these days.

Maybe your word will make you uncomfortable. Perhaps moving out of your comfort zone will bring you new life! Try it for 2023.

Morning Song

When I wake up and there is a song rolling through my heart and mind, I need to find it and play it. I have found for you (and me) the lyrics of the verses they sing (not every verse that was written). I played it yet again and worshiped our Lord with The Haven of Rest Quartet. I was preparing to put away my Christmas CDs and get out my Winter music, but had to hear this again and perhaps again!

May you be blessed by joining in worship to Him!

1. Of the Father's love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

4. O that birth forever blessed,
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
Evermore and evermore!

6. O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
And extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

9. Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!

source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/christmascarols/o/ofthefatherslovebegottenlyrics.html