19.9.22: The state of our world

  • Whilst praying this morning, I reflected on the severely unsettled, and unsettling, state of our world:

Those who hold power are taking their stand, gathering their forces against YHWH (Psalm 2:1; TIB).

  • But then I saw that God is just as unchanging, powerful and loving as ever:

I am the LORD, and I do not change (Malachi 3:6; NLT).

Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all (1 Chronicles 29:11; KJV).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

  • God waits for us to repent, so we can be forgiven, and start to change:

The LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT). 

Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; NLT).

  • So I prayed that we will all repent, turn to God, and start changing our lives before it’s too late: before we destroy the earth, our only home, and all her plants, creatures and people, through our foolish wars, hatred, selfishness, greed and ignorance:

Perhaps even yet they will turn from their evil ways and ask the LORD’s forgiveness before it is too late. For the LORD has threatened them with his terrible anger (Jeremiah 36:7; NLT).


Reading: Psalm 2, The Inclusive Bible 

Why are the nations creating such an uproar?  Why all this commotion among the peoples? 

Those who hold power are taking their stand, gathering their forces against YHWH, against God’s Anointed One. “Let’s break their chains!” they say. “Let’s throw off their shackles!” 

But the One who sits enthroned in the heavens laughs; the Sovereign One derides them, then rebukes them in anger and, enraged, terrifies them: “It is I who installed my ruler on Zion, on the mountain of my holiness!” 

I will proclaim God’s decree – YHWH said to me: “You are my own; I’ve given birth to you today. Just ask – I’ll give you the nations as your inheritance! I’ll give you the ends of the earth as your possession! You’ll break them with an iron scepter; you’ll shatter them as easily as a clay pot.” 

So, you rulers, be wise! And you who hold power, stand warned! Serve YHWH and rejoice – but do so with fear and trembling. Pay homage to God’s Own lest you be destroyed on your way in a blaze of anger – for God’s passion can flare up without warning. 

Happiness comes to those who make God their refuge! 

10.9.22: Heaven on earth #1

  • I woke very early and began to pray, longing to meet Jesus face to face in heaven. Then this little dialogue came into my mind, starting with a very familiar question:

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42;2; NIV).


  • It crossed my mind that there would surely be so many people crowding around Jesus that my chance of even glimpsing him in heaven would be very small. However, I then saw that in heaven we will all be like Jesus:

We will be like him (1 John 3:2; NLT).


  • This means there will always be more than enough of Jesus to go round, because he will be fully present within everyone in heaven, just as he is on earth:

The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21; NLT).


  • So I don’t have to wait until after my death to meet Jesus, because I can already see him here, if I look with the eyes of love. This makes my life “heaven on earth”:

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).


  • Living in heaven on earth means consciously recognising and loving Christ in everyone, without exception:

Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him (Luke 24:31; NLT).


  • Fortunately, living in heaven on earth doesn’t depend on my being well enough to serve in major ways that require lots of energy and strength:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9; NKJV).


  • Thus, whatever I do for others serves Christ within them. This includes, for example, every smile, greeting, chat, hug, encouragement, gift, prayer, or kindness, however small:

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:49; NIV). 

What is the Kingdom of God like?

Context: After posting yesterday’s prayer (https://wp.me/p45bCr-c36), I saw that the image of the wolf lying down with the lamb is a wonderful way of representing the revolutionary quality of relationships in the Kingdom of God (Isaiah 11:6-9; NIV).

This radically new way of living is characterised by treating everyone with love, regardless of how they behave towards us. We all have the potential to live like this, because God’s Kingdom is present within everyone (Luke 17:20-21; NKJV). Jesus lived as a citizen of God’s Kingdom on earth, and we, too, as individuals, can work towards the same goal.

However, for the Kingdom of God to hold sway throughout the whole world, we must all overcome the temptation to judge, reject, hurt, hate and destroy others. This applies to every person, family, group, denomination, caste, sect, class, tribe, religion and nation.

Both individually and collectively, the human qualities we need to overcome include:

  • Behaving selfishly and callously towards others
  • Refusing to share what we have
  • Controlling, dominating, bullying and abusing those less powerful than ourselves
  • Taking what belongs to other people
  • Judging and rejecting others for being different from ourselves in any way
  • Rejecting those with different spiritual beliefs and practices from ourselves
  • Looking down on, or hating, those whose skin-colour, sexuality, or way of life, is different from our own
  • Pursuing cruel, destructive conflicts and wars
  • Overexploiting and destroying the earth, our only shared home

Using richly symbolic, visionary language, Isaiah vividly illustrates what it will be like when everyone lives in the Kingdom of God:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:6-9; NIV).

Following this train of reflection, today’s poem quickly came to me, though it was very difficult to put into words:

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.” He also asked, “What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough” (Luke 13:18-21; NLT). 

What is the Kingdom of God like?
The strong take good care of the weak,
Men treat all women as equals,
And wait for their sisters to speak.

What is the Kingdom of God like?
The rich share their wealth with the poor.
The healthy assist the disabled,
And all give up hatred and war.

What is the Kingdom of God like?
It’s heaven on earth and above,
For colour and creed make no difference
When all live in God, who is Love.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV). 


References 

When He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21; NKJV). 

The LORD will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4; NLT).

I heard a loud voice calling from the throne,“Look! God’s Tabernacle is among humankind! God will live with them; they will be God’s people, and God will be fully present among them. The Most High will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death, mourning, crying and pain will be no more, for the old order has fallen.” The One who sat on the throne said, “Look! I’m making everything new!” and added, “Write this, for what I am saying is trustworthy and true.” And that One continued, “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To those who are thirsty I will give drink freely from the spring of the water of life. This is the rightful inheritance of the overcomers. I will be their God and they will be my daughters and sons (Revelation 21:3-7; TIB).

I honour you

Context: I woke, began to pray, and saw again, with awe, and more vividly than ever before, that God lives in everything, and that God is everything. In fact, there is nothing that isn’t one with God.

I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works (Psalm 145:5; NKJV). 

I honour you in all,
For you’re the energy, the light,
The pulse, the cells, the atoms, Lord,
The substance, and the life

In all that breathes, and grows and dies,
In all that fruits and fades,
In all that rises, all that falls,
And all, Lord, that degrades.

In earth and water, wind and fire,
In every star and sun:
By living over, in and through
All things, You make us one.

There is …one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).


References 

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me (John 17:21-3; NLT). 

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; KJV). 

I long to see your face (for M.I.)

Context: This prayer came to me in the shower yesterday morning, so I had to keep repeating the first couple of lines and rehearsing the progression of ideas, until I could get out and make notes on my iPad at top speed. Later in the day I was able to work on it at leisure, so here it is:

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek (Psalm 27:8; NIV).

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? (Psalm 42:1-2; NLT).

I long to see your face, Lord,
When I meet you, in the end,
My Teacher, Priest and Shepherd,
My Redeemer and my Friend.

Yet, may I wait with patience
For the day you make me whole,
When you draw near, to bear away
My life, and breath and soul,

Because I want to serve you
Till my time on earth has passed,
When, all my trials and sorrows done,
I’ll see your face, at last. 

I will see you face to face and be satisfied (Psalm 17:15; NLT).

I’m walking (#2 of 2)

Context: Today’s prayer is linked to yesterday’s (https://wp.me/p45bCr-c0w), which divided itself in two, with the second part then taking on a life of its own. The process reminded me strongly of learning how an amoeba divides, in school biology! Here is the result: 

This is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
(2 John 1:6; NIV). 

1. I’m walking in your love, Lord God,
I’m walking in your love.
One with you before my birth,
One in exile, here on earth,
One with you in heaven, at last:
I’m walking in your love. 

2. I’m living in your love, Lord God,
I’m living in your love.
One with you in joys and tears,
One in troubles, tests and fears,
One with you in all you send:
I’m living in your love.

3. I’m resting in your love, Lord God,
I’m resting in your love.
One with you in loss and gain,
One in sickness, grief and pain,
One with you for evermore:
I’m resting in your love.

Truly my soul finds rest in God (Psalm 62:1; NIV).


References 

1. Show love to the LORD your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him (Deuteronomy 11:22; NLT). 

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NKJV).

2. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realise that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NLT).

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again (Psalm 71:20; NRSV).

3. This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15; NLT).

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30; KJV).

I believe (#1 of 2)

Context: The stresses and strains of yesterday inevitably triggered a migraine, so today I’m being as still and quiet as possible. Whilst praying without words just after 6am, today’s blog arrived very easily and gently, for which I was very grateful. Then, to my astonishment, it divided in two, one part for today, and one for tomorrow. 

Believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God – there never has been, and there never will be.
(Isaiah 43:10; NLT).

1. I believe in you, Lord God,
Yes, I believe in you.
One with you before my birth,
One in exile, here on earth,
One with you in heaven, at last:
Lord, I believe in you.

2. I put my trust in you, Lord God,
I put my trust in you.
One with you in joys and tears,
One in troubles, tests and fears,
One with you in all you send:
I put my trust in you.

3. I live with you in love, Lord God,
I live with you in love.
One with you in loss and gain,
One in sickness, grief and pain,
One with you for evermore:
I live with you, in love. 

We live in fellowship with the true God.
(1 John 5:20; NLT).


References 

1. I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life (John 5:24; NLT). 

2. In you, LORD my God, I put my trust (Psalm 25:1; NIV). 

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me (John 14:1; NLT).

I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? (Psalm 56:4; NLT). 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me (Psalm 138:7; NKJV).

3. 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). 

Infinite love

Context: Yesterday, after the briefest of waking-up prayers, I wrote solidly from 6-8.30am. By then I had more or less completed “Golden light” (https://wp.me/p45bCr-bR3), which later became the day’s blog. It was time to get up, but I decided to take a moment to pray before going downstairs. However, I had barely begun to collect my thoughts when I was hit by a series of revelations.

By the time they came to an end, I was shaken, tearful, joyful, reeling and awed, because I had just been given a glimpse of God’s infinite love and omnipresence. I had made some notes, but have no idea whether I wrote them during, or just after, what happened.

The experience was like watching slow-motion ripples spreading out wider and wider after a single drop of water had fallen into a vast, motionless sea. What I saw is very difficult to express in words, but I will do my best to describe each ripple in turn.

1. All love comes from God
I perceived that whenever I receive love, whether from a person or an animal, that love always comes from God, who is present within the one who is loving me.

2. God is in everything
Next, I grasped that God’s loving presence is in all that exists on earth, including everything made by people, as well as by God.

3. God is in good and bad
Then, I understood that God’s loving presence is not restricted to good people, creatures and things. Rather, divine love is equally present in difficult people, creatures, circumstances and events, including accidents, sickness, suffering, fear, grief and disaster – that is: all life and death.

4. God is in the cosmos
After this, I realised that everything in the cosmos also contains God’s loving presence, including the planets, suns, stars, comets, galaxies and even the dust of space.

Comment
Thus, I learned that divine love is present in everything, here and now, without exception. It has always been so, and always will be so, yet, like Jacob on his journey to Harran, I had not recognised this (see Genesis 28:16-17; NIV). As I write, I’m still shaking my head in wonderment at what I saw, yet there was more to come.

5. God is in all
Following this, I glimpsed that God’s loving presence can also be found in ugliness, destruction, abuse, violence and sin, though this is very hard to put into words. However much human beings damage and despoil the divine image in people, creatures, objects and creation, God’s love is still present in all things. Seeing this helped me to understand a little more about how God is able to bring good out of bad (see Romans 8:28; NLT).

Furthermore, I saw that there are no exceptions to God’s loving omnipresence. This means that there is nothing I can…

See, hear, smell, taste, or touch;
Use, waste, neglect, ignore, break, or discard;
Feel, think, say, or do;
Judge, hate, or destroy,

…that isn’t filled to overflowing with God’s loving presence.

6. Living in heaven
Lastly, I saw that when I consciously and fully recognise God’s constant, loving presence everywhere, and in all things, I live in God, which means living in heaven on earth. Similarly, after death, I will live in God, in heaven. Thus, I perceived that whether I live or die, oneness with God is the same.

Conclusion
God is present
in all people, creatures, things, experiences and events, everywhere and forever, and God is love (1 John 4:16; NIV).

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6; NLT).


References 

There is one Lord …who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5-6; NLT).

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NLT).

Golden light

Context: Yesterday I woke early and began to pray, expecting nothing. Then I saw this prayer happening:

1. Golden light!
A splendid sight:
One and all
Are walking tall.

2. God is here:
There’s no more fear,
And no more pain:
Now, Christ will reign.

3. No more jeers,
And no more tears.
No more wars,
For peace outpours

4. In heaven on earth,
And heaven above,
As all confess
That God is love.

God is love (1 John 4:8; NIV).


References 

1. No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory (Isaiah 60:19; NLT).

The city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city (Revelation 21:23-26; NLT).

This, then, is the message we heard from Jesus and declare to you: God is light, and in God there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5; TIB). 

From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth (Psalm 50:2; NIV). 

I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high (Leviticus 26:13; NIV). 

2. When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17; NIV). 

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever (Revelation 11:15; NLT). 

 Jesus Christ reigns supreme! (Philippians 2:11; TIB). 

3. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them (Hebrews 11:36-8; NIV). 

I heard a loud voice calling from the throne, “Look! God’s Tabernacle is among humankind! God will live with them; they will be God’s people, and God will be fully present among them. The Most High will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death, mourning, crying and pain will be no more, for the old order has fallen. The One who sat on the throne said, “Look! I’m making everything new!” and added, “Write this, for what I am saying is trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:3-5; TIB). 

The LORD will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4; NLT).

4. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you (Luke 17:21; NLT). 

Then I saw new heavens and a new earth. The former heavens and the former earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer. I also saw a new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God, beautiful as a bride and groom on their wedding day (Revelation 21:1-2; TIB). 

At the name of Jesus every knee will bow - in heaven and on earth and under the earth - and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11; CSB).

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV). 

God’s nearness

Context: This blog was very difficult to write. I’m deeply tired as I approach the end of my holiday, and had to work on it in amongst all the inevitable tidying and packing which come with leaving rented accommodation. As always, the inspiration took only a moment to arrive, but expressing what I saw was almost beyond me.

Yet, to my great surprise, just before posting today’s prayer I discovered that it’s actually two prayers in one, woven together. If you read just the first line of each verse (those in non-italic text), they make sense, and the same is true if you read just the italicised lines. God is truly amazing!

We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near.
(Psalm 75:1; NLT). 

1. Thank you for your nearness, Lord:
In everything, I see your face,

2. And for your supreme transcendence:
Far beyond all time and space.

3. Thank you for your constant presence:
Here, on earth, in everyone,

4. And for your sublime completeness:
All exists within your womb.

The Almighty …blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.
(Genesis 49:25; NIV).


References

1. They delight in the nearness of God (Isaiah 58:2; CSB).

There is …one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).

When I look at justice I see your face (Psalm 17:15; TIB).

When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied (Psalm 17:15; NLT). 

2. Do you people think that I am some local deity and not the transcendent God?” the LORD asks (Jeremiah 23:23; NET). 

To God, the only God, who saves us through Jesus Christ our Sovereign, be glory, majesty, authority and power – who was before all time, is now, and will be forever (Jude 1:25; TIB). 

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me (Psalm 139:7-10; NLT).

3. Your presence fills me with joy (Psalm 16:11; GNT).

We are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).

4. The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; NIV).

Be perfect, as Abba God in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48; TIB).