14.10.22: Pain

Context: I had to get up early to see one of my consultants yesterday, so there was no time to pray properly, or to write. Accordingly, when preparing today’s blog, I chose a piece written a couple of weeks ago:

Recently, I stayed in bed with a migraine. It was a rare, blessed day with no medical appointments. 

As I was praying, the first three lines of a new poem came to me. I wrote them down immediately, and the rest quickly followed.

In less than an hour the piece was finished, leaving me full of longing and sadness, yet astonished by what I had experienced, and clinging to my sense of hope.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4; NLT). 

Lord,

Take me where there’s no more pain,
Or weariness, or care.

Hide me where I’ll spend each day
With you, at last, in prayer.

Put me where I’ll walk and talk
With you, Lord, one in love.

Keep me where I’ll dance and sing
For joy: in heaven above.

Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever (1 Thessalonians 5:10; NLT).


Reading: Psalm 35, The Inclusive Bible 

Let the desert and the wilderness exult! Let the Arabah rejoice and bloom like the crocus! Let it blossom profusely, let it rejoice and sing for joy! The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of YHWH, the splendor of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees. Say to all those of faint heart: “Take courage! Do not be afraid! Look, YHWH is coming, vindication is coming, the recompense of God – God is coming to save you!” 

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be unsealed. Then those who cannot walk will leap like deer and the tongues of those who cannot speak will sing for joy. 

Waters will break forth in the wilderness, and there will be streams in the desert. The scorched earth will become a lake; the parched land, springs of water. 

The lairs where jackals used to dwell will become thickets of reed and papyrus. And through it will run a highway, a road called the Sacred Path. 

The unclean may not travel by it, but it will be for God’s people alone; and no traveler – not even fools – will go astray. 

No lions will be there, nor will any fierce beast roam about it, but the redeemed will walk there – for those whom YHWH has ransomed will return.

They will enter Zion shouting for joy, with everlasting joy on their faces; joy and gladness will go with them, and sorrow and lament will flee away.

10.10.22: Safe

Context: The day before yesterday, whilst praying, I was given a group of phrases to reflect on. There were too many to list them all here, so I’ve chosen just those which turned out to be most relevant to today:

The garden of God
The river of God
The glory of God
The presence of God
The mercy of God
The power of God
The darkness of God
The Spirit of God

I had no idea how to use this list in a blog, so thought no more about it after writing it down.

Next morning I looked at the list again, but was still no wiser about its purpose.

However, when I was praying, I saw that there is no need to worry when inspiration doesn’t arrive. Instead, I can trust God to give me the raw materials for each day’s blog when the time is right.

Then, two or three hours later, to my great surprise, I was given the following poem:

YHWH took the earth creature and settled it in the garden of Eden so that it might cultivate and care for the land (Genesis 2:15; TIB). 

I’m walking in Eden,
Beside a great river,
Safe in your glorious presence,
Lord God.

I’m walking in exile,
With sorrow and anguish,
Safe, through your mercy and power,
Lord God.

I’m walking death’s valley,
With faith and acceptance,
Safe by your side, in the darkness,
Lord God.

I’m walking in heaven, 
At one with your Spirit,
Safe now, forever,
My Lord and my God. 

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT). 

11.9.22: Heaven on earth #2

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10; RSV). 

During an on-line conversation yesterday morning, a friend and I were discussing free will. I was praying in between reading and responding to their messages, and suddenly saw that when everyone freely chooses to do God’s will out of love, we will all live in heaven on earth.

Until that blessed day arrives, each of us can help the world to move towards it, by treating everyone with love, no matter how they behave towards us.

All this became much clearer in my mind when I was praying at bedtime: we can live in heaven on earth individually, and we can also live this way collectively. Free will means that the choice is ours.

When you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will (Leviticus 22:29; NKJV).

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ (Ephesians 5:2; NLT).


References

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind (Luke 10:27; NLT).

Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).


Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19; NKJV).

Show love to foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19; NLT).

Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:28; NLT).

Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34; NLT).

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them (Romans 12:9; NLT). 

Do everything with love (1 Corinthians 16:14; NLT).

Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17; NLT).

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4; NLT).

We have all sinned against you (Jeremiah 14:20; NLT).

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’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). 

Desert

Context: Continuing my recent theme of the inner shadow-self (unconscious mind), as the seat of temptation, this blog took shape today whilst I was having a Sunday lie-in.

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
(Luke 4:1-2; NLT).  

A wolf from the desert will pounce on them.
(Jeremiah 5:6; NLT). 

Forty long days
In the desert, alone:
Thirsty, tormented,
You faced the unknown.

Nightmare temptations
Arose in your heart:
Heat, cold and weariness
All played their part.

Though hungry for bread
And for proof of God’s love,
For power, and rescue
From heaven above,

Lord, you won through,
Overcoming them all,
And that’s why you’re able
To help when I call.

So, I keep going
Though dogged here by sin,
Lord, as I wander
The desert within.

We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are –
yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15; NLT ).

Remember how YHWH, your God, led you on a wandering path through the desert for forty years, humbling and testing you, to learn what was in your heart; whether you would keep God’s commands or not.
(Deuteronomy 8:2; TIB).

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).