Deeper Waters

water4

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Psalms 42:7

There comes a time in one’s life when the call is made to go below the surface to capture and embrace the deeper and more exquisite things of life. Things that are everlasting, things that withstand the abrasive effects of time, things with eternal importance.

What things are these? What are we talking about here?

We’re talking about purposeful life, meaningful life, life lived in light and love versus life lived in darkness, anger and contention. It is living life on the ‘high road’ and not on the ‘back road’.

This can only come by venturing into deeper waters. The deeper waters offered by God Himself.

What About The Deep?

Oceans are defined by their sheer power, invincibility and untamed nature. No man (I.e. mankind) can tame the oceans. The oceans are characterized by their depths. Mysterious life lurks within this uncharted domain. Things never to be observed by human eyes dwell here. The oceans are God’s domain.

It is noteworthy to mention the discovery of things beyond the ordinary, experiences of a deeper dimension, these places demand reference points positioned in the same.

Take for instance the oceans. An ocean seeks and establishes its identity from the depths of which it occupies. The Indian Ocean is called such because of the expanse and depths of its waters. To the Indian Ocean, deep calleth unto deep.

So, only God can be discerned by that which is created in His kind. The human soul, the eternal component of humanity, is the channel connecting the heavenly and the earthly.

As the great Psalmist of old proclaimed:

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Psalm 103:1

David’s cry was for his soul to bless the Lord. He desired to venture out beyond shallow religion and into deeper waters of experience with the Lord. A place where the soul commingles with the Almighty. It is the Lord’s will that His creation know and discover all that He is.

The Deep Things of God

God understands that for something or someone to discover His nature and Person can only do so from the vantage point of the eternal. This can only happen in deeper waters found beyond the shoreline shallows.

The forty-seventh chapter of Old Testament book written by the prophet Ezekiel describes a scene where waters are seen flowing out of the temple. The waters progressively deepen from the ankles, to the knees, to the loins and finally:

Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. Ezekiel 47:5

Waters that sweep away anything is its path. Deep waters.

God created man in His image so that the eternal element of man (the soul) can peer into the eternal and know its Maker. One can only discover the unknown by first experiencing likeness of that which is of the eternal. Where the deep things call unto the deep.

We are only as close to God as our soul allows. The deeper we allow our soul to enter into His presence, the closer we are at one with Him. There will always be a price to pay for intimacy with God. Ask the Biblical examples such as Abraham, Jacob, Esther, Caleb, Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Apostles, martyrs such as Stephen, and lastly of course, Jesus Christ.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
I Corinthians 2:9-13

For the Spirit is constantly exploring all things, even the deep things of God. For who is there of men who knows the things of the individual person except the spirit of that aforementioned individual person which is in him? In the same manner also the things of God no one has known except the Spirit of God. I Corinthians 2:10-11
(Wuest translation)

The Spirit of Jesus Christ is the connection between the eternal and the temporal.

There is both a physical and spiritual dimension of our existence. The physical dimension (the flesh) is the lowest common denominator of life and shared by all living creatures:

All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. I Corinthians 15:39

The highest realm is that of the spiritual, the God-focused existence whose dimension is limitless and eternal:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

Launch Into The Deep

Jesus challenged his disciples once about going beyond the ordinary and move into some deeper waters:

And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. Luke 5:3-4

What did Peter find there? He found the miraculous, a place where God’s blessings flowed, where the conventional and ordinary bowed to the feet of the deep things offered by Jesus.

Who is up to the challenge to go beyond mere religion and into deeper dimensions of Godly knowledge and experience? Jesus is calling in this hour for us to go into deeper waters with him.

In The Garden

garden

I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses,
and the voice I hear falling on my ear,
the Son of God discloses.

And he walks with me, and he talks with me,
and he tells me I am his own;
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.

C. Austin Miles, 1913


In A Garden To Begin Life

God has chosen a garden to do some wonderful things for His Creation. And as God’s nature  mandates, He desires the best and finest for and from His most prized possession.

Humanity, the human soul, the crowning of all living things created were made in, made for and made to dwell in a garden. Let’s take a look.

The first man Adam was created ‘and placed in’ a garden:

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Genesis 2:8

The Lord desires the best for us. He is not a grudging, harsh, unforgiving taskmaster. No, our God wants us to have the best, live the best and forever possess the best He has to offer. And it all began in a garden.

In A Garden To End Life

Fast-forward time 4,000 years. Here we have another garden. This garden was also a place where God placed another Adam, the last Adam, the man Jesus Christ
( I Corinthians 15:45).

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. John 18:1

It has been stated that the cross was not the place where Jesus died. It is understood that Jesus actually died in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here where Jesus surrendered his human will (the spiritual man) to the Father. It was the cross where he surrendered his human body and blood (the physical man) for all of humanity.

Jesus could not have endured the pain, humiliation and agony of the cross of Golgotha if he had not first died out in the garden.

But, it does not end here. With God, He always saves the best for last.

In A Garden To Renew Life

Let’s recap this thread of thought. First, God placed the first man Adam in a garden to live. Next, God placed the last man, Jesus Christ, in a garden to die.

An interesting tidbit of information concerning Jesus’ tomb is revealed to us in John’s account of the gospel:

Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. John 19:40-41

Jesus was buried in a tomb located (that is right) in a garden. And an interesting thing happened in this garden:

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. Luke 24:1-3

Follow The Pattern Of The Garden

It is said that God is a God of principles and patterns. And this is apparent in how He from the beginning designed the path leading to salvation. The law of the Old Testament began and was fulfilled in a garden. In doing so, God used the garden as a pattern. The failure of Adam in the garden as recorded in the Old Testament was reconciled in a garden by the last Adam, Jesus Christ, recorded in the New Testament.

The Apostle Paul succinctly defines the gospel in I Corinthians chapter 15:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: I Corinthians 15:3-4

We see that the Word of God opens with Adam living in the garden. Then we see the last Adam, Jesus Christ, lying dead in a garden. And lastly, we see him in a garden lifted up to eternal life. Living, lying and lifted completes the cycle.

Is not God sovereign in all His ways? Is it not a wonderful thing how the Lord puts all of the puzzle pieces together to make His ways fit perfectly?

There has never been and never will be a man who walked upon the dust of this earth like Jesus Christ. Jesus is perfect, pure and priceless.

In conclusion, the garden is God’s plan for life. The garden of prayer was the gateway for Jesus to face his darkest moment. A garden supplied the strength he needed to carry the cross, and with it, the sins of mankind. Should it not be likewise for us?

This post began with the opening verses to the song ‘In The Garden’. Jesus will never require us to bear a cross that He will not first prepare a garden to equip us to carry that cross, if we are willing to enter it.

May the Lord Bless You.

The Night Watch

NW1For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Psalm 90:4

 The loneliest hours of the day are the hours between midnight and dawn. Normally these hours are reserved for rest and sleep. A time when all is quiet in the world, human activity is at a low ebb and stillness blankets a worn and weary world.
 
But, this is not always the case. For the restless and unsettled soul the night watch is where things happen. 
 
The night watch can sometimes be the only place where the soul can escape the gravitational pull of worldly and carnal things and enter into the things of the Holy – the deep things of God.
 
The night watch is reserved for God’s warriors. It is the place for people who respond to God’s call from the depths of the night to do ‘God-work’.  
 
Strange things are commonplace during the night watch. And things not normally seen in the light of day are revealed in the darkness of night. 
 
You may ask the question: Are we not getting somewhat overboard and a little too E.A. Poe-ish here for your own good? Not really.
 
Let’s look at some examples in God’s word.
 
The psalmist David knew the importance of the night watch:
 
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. 
Psalm 63:6
 

I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. Psalms 119:147-148

 
Certainly Jacob was familiar with it:

And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.

And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:10-12

And the Apostle Paul was a frequent guest and racked up his share of frequent flyer miles:
 

And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.

For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Acts 27:20-23

 

A Personal Night Watch

This blogger can speak of a personal night watch experience and who apologizes for any attempt at self-aggrandizement (which up t o this point has been intentionally minimal at the least). But, those who have seen the hand of God in their night watch need to tell their story. So, here is one of my mine:

 
Several years ago I lost my job as an assistant to a lead electrical design engineer at a data communications company (due to a corporate takeover). Our daughter was about 1 1/2 years old and our newborn son was six months old. No job. A single income family. No health insurance. Little food in the pantry. 
 
After filling out many job applications and reading through employment postings – I waited. A call came. It was for a good position as a field engineer. An interview was arranged and it looked like a ‘done deal’. Then nothing. One week, two weeks, three weeks go by and still nothing. Now five weeks and still nothing but dead silence.
 
Then God began to call from the night watch to come and meet Him.
 
And I did for several consecutive nights. He would call during the middle of the night; at 2AM and sometimes 3AM.
 
Many mornings crying and calling out to Jesus until the dawning of the morning. Only to crawl back to bed exhausted and wearing from the rigors and pangs experienced by those who venture into the night watch.
 
After four nights of this it finally came. A breakthrough was felt. Something broke and pierced through the despair and gloom enveloping the soul. The trip back to the bedroom was different on this morning. Weary, yes. Worn out, yes. But, there was a deep sense of hope and PEACE that filled the heart (and only God brings peace) upon resting on the pillow that morning. This day was going to be different.
 

And it was. And the call came around 10AM that morning: “Sorry we took so long in getting back to you. We want to offer you the job. When can you start?”

Amazing things happen in the night watch.

 

God’s Need For Watchmen

The nation of Israel knew all about the importance of the night watch:
 
I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, Isaiah 62:6
 
Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. Jeremiah 6:17
 
It is during the hours of the night watch that the enemy will launch a surprise attack. It is a time when the common, beastly criminal types plot and scheme their evil works.
 
As the opening scripture indicates, God likens the brevity and intensity of this life to a space of time known as the night watch.
 
Jesus is calling His people into the vortex of its intensity. A calling for watchmen in this hour who will uphold his words of truth and be warriors of light – even if it means spending time in the night watch. For, it will soon be over and be as yesterday when it is past.

Therefore whatsever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. Luke 12:3

A Song In The Night

I call to remembrance my song in the night: Ibird1
commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Psalm 77:6-7

Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

We don’t grow in God when the sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing and the birds are chirping a melodic song.

No. It is in the darkness where we  grow in God. For it is in the darkness where God creates His most majestic and wonderful works:

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. Ecclesiastes 11:5

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:15-16

From most observations, the womb is a pretty dark place. Yet, it is in this darkness where the God of creation fashions and stitches together the wondrous fabric of human life.

The Apostle John wrote one of the most powerful, majestic and prophetic books of the  Bible, The Book of Revelation, while living in a very dark place. The book was written while  exiled by his countrymen and left to rot away on the forsaken island – the Isle of Patmos.

The real test  of our faith through time is to keep singing a song of hope and love to God regardless of our circumstances. It all comes down to the condition of the heart:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

One real challenge to a believer in Jesus Christ is to keep a song alive in our hearts – even when it means singing it in the darkest hour of life’s night.

And it is one thing to write a song in the night and quite another thing to sing one  there.

The Master’s Master Sound Track

How many people have started out with a ‘Top-10’ hit single-like experience in God, only to find their song hit the proverbial cutting room floor through the corrosive effects of trials, tests and temptations?

And how many have started out with the potential to produce a spiritual symphonic masterpiece, only to be prematurely cut short in their walk in God and left with the copyright to a B-grade jangle fit for an alcohol-fumed honky tonk?

What does it take to produce a master recording for the Master? – everything we’ve got. Every note played on the vinyl of our life gets recorded in heaven’s master sound room:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:12

Every attitude, decision and action we make is mixed on God’s master sound board  and burned onto our very song, with our name as the recording artist.

However, the Lord’s grace gives us a chance to re-record the imperfect takes and get the music  right:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
I John 2:1-2

What Will Jesus Say About Our Song?

Will Jesus say to one of His angels?:

“Let’s hear the recording that Rachel (or John, or Cheryl or Chris) produced. I want to hear the sweet, harmonizing, perfectly mixed sound tracks that they produced while living for me in a dark and corrupt world.”

“I intentionally sent them musical rests (divine delays?) at several appointed times in their life. Did they interpret them as acts of unkindness from Me or did they keep a good attitude and allow those spaces of silence and rest get recorded on the master track? Let’s hear it.”

“And here, right there, I sent some harsh winds of adversity to get them to stay longer in the practice (prayer) room to hone their musical technique and gain mastery over their instrument. Let’s hear it and see.”

“And here, I decided to change the key right there to add dimension and rapturous breath to the musical arrangement. Did they perceive those abrupt and shattering changes as signals of my displeasure or frustration with their life? Or did they “roll with the punches” and allow faith to create the swelling and overpowering musical dynamics I was looking for? Let’s listen and see”.

“And lastly, I pulled out all the stops and really wanted MY glory to shine through their life. Yes. That time when it looked like things all around started to unravel and implode and only a MIRACLE from ME would bring them through.

It was that time I demanded an unparalleled display of faith and trust. It was their Paganini Caprice No. 24 moment, a “pull out all the stops” encounter with their angel of contention. Flesh against Spirit. Human will against Heaven’s will. The earth’s beggarly elements against Heaven’s storehouses of blessedness. Worldly ladders of cut-throat success against Heaven’s ladders of angelic succession.

It was all designed for a witness of My glory and presence in their life where no one could deny that God was doing it all. Come now, let’s hear it in all its splendor and musical genius”.

The Final Cut

How will our final life recording sound? Will it be something God would want to listen to? Will the recording of our life become one of His favorite soundtracks? Will we persevere until the end and finish the symphony that God desires to produce with our lives?

Only time will tell. We must not quit. We must not compromise. We cannot afford to stop short of applying track after track to the final, superbly mixed recording of our life symphony.

“Jesus, please help me to keep recording your symphony of love, hope and faith with my life . And Lord, help me to keep singing my song in the night!”

The Morning Sacrifice

And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon:
of shittim wood shalt thou make it. steam

And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. Exodus 30:1, 6-7

We like good scents, smell good things and be in an atmosphere that permeates with lush and aromatic vapors. There is something about exotic, sweet scents that get our attention and can even change our mood.

There is also something to be said about odors and smells that are not so pleasant. Visit any fast food establishment or other eatery, and you will find upon leaving, your clothes and hair will retain the smells and odors of the ionized food grease and smoke circulating in that atmosphere. This may not be so good depending on where you eat.

Now, this is going somewhere. The Bible tells us that one duty of the High Priest was to burn incense on the altar of incense every morning in the Tabernacle. However, this was not ordinary incense, but a God-ordained, specially formulated mixture of spices that was to be completely dispersed upon a fiery golden hearth. The incense was only to be used in God’s worship place and nowhere else. The Lord knows what he is doing.

In essence, the Tabernacle’s tapestries, coverings, the veil, even the High Priest and his assistants, all smelled like one glorious Yankee Candle store. The burning incense filled the room and latched onto its furnishings and occupants with an exotic fragrance that was unmatched anywhere in Israel.

We are sure that the Israelites encamped outside the Tabernacle could tell (without even looking) who administered in the Tabernacle; they could smell them. That aromatic, sweet fragrance from the Tabernacle stayed with its occupants and was detectable to those on the outside.

The New Testament shows us that the burning of incense in the Tabernacle was an Old Testament type and shadow of prayer and intercession.

You know, people can tell when you really pray and touch God; they can sense it in your spirit. The exotic and fragrant anointing that envelopes one after a fiery prayer encounter can only originate from a holy place, a place like nowhere else found on earth.

As with the burning of incense in the Tabernacle, prayers are limited unless they reach a flashpoint, a place where they are released from the gravitational pull of sin and reach the corridors of heaven:

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

The words “effectual fervent” is translated from the Greek word: energeo; which is defined as something active or powerful. Prayers falling into this category are going to make a difference.

Jesus prayed these kinds of prayers. How do we know? His disciples were so astounded by his praying that they probed Jesus for deeper understanding and saw it fitting to let the rest of us know how much they impacted them:

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray…. Luke 11:1

The Bible tells us that God takes notice of those prayers and stores them for safekeeping:

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. Revelation 5:8

In conclusion, never think that your prayers are not making it past the ceiling. Time spent in a prayer closet is time well spent. It will make a difference in your life, the life of others and to the mighty God whom we serve.

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Psalms 141:2