Journey to Gaze Upon the Lord
(Psalm 27:13-14) - "I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." David is speaking to his soul in these verses after declaring his heart cry: "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple." (Verse 4)
There is no simple answer to the question, "How do I enter the manifest Presence of the Lord?" We know that it was the death of Jesus on The Cross that tore the veil in front of the Holy of Holies. (Matthew 27:51) He made access for us through His willingness to go to The Cross. And from the day that we accept what Jesus did for us and confess Him as Lord and Savior, we are on a journey. The destination of our journey is mirrored by the tabernacle with its three courts: the outer court (redemption and cleansing), the holy place (provision), and the Holy of Holies (glory and Presence). Our journey is one of progressive intimacy with Him. Our goal is to meet Him face to face, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. This occurs in the most holy place.
We must be intentional in the way we travel, willing to lay everything down for the sake of our Lord. We must be ready to run to Him as He appears to us. The book of Mark tells us about the time when Jesus healed the boy with an evil spirit. A crowd was gathered around some of the disciples. However, "as soon as they saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him." (Mark 9:15) The crowd ran to Jesus because of their sense of awe and wonder. These combined with child-like faith delight the Lord and bring us closer to Him.
It has been a tradition of The Crossing Church to set aside one week every year for the sole purpose of worshiping God and seeking His face. This is a time when we remember how unexpectedly He came to visit us in 1994. The Spirit of God was poured upon us in a mighty way. In unity we gather together to declare the wonders of God's love and cry out for Him to come and dwell with us. We set aside last week to seek the Lord. One particular song seemed to capture the cry of our hearts. It is called "Here As In Heaven," by Elevation Worship:
"Overflow in this place; fill our hearts with Your love, Your love surrounds us. You're the reason we came to encounter Your love, Your love surrounds us. Spirit of God fall fresh on us, we need Your Presence. Your kingdom come Your will be done here as in heaven. Spirit of God fall fresh on us; we need Your Presence. Your kingdom come Your will be done here as in heaven."
Deep down inside we know that the Lord has more for us. He told His disciples that there would be more after He ascended to heaven and sent His Holy Spirit. Cultivating His Presence has become a priority through our worship and meditating on His Word. Nothing can compare to an encounter with the Living God. The journey continues. Only His Presence can satisfy!
One of the ways God reveals His glory to us is through His creation. The prophet Habakkuk declares, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14)
As I visited Pennsylvania's Tyler State Park with my grandsons last week God was revealing His glory to me through the stones of the river bed. A great expanse of the bed was exposed since we have not had much rain lately. As the boys skimmed rocks into the water the display of stones that had been deposited by the water caught my eye. Most of the stones were reddish brown, tan and gray in color. But every now and then I would find a cream or rose-colored stone. Its composition was different from the other stones because there was quartz in the mix.
Like a child who has discovered treasure, I began to search for a few of these special stones to take home with me. Scattered around the bed of stones were puddles of water. I was drawn to the stones in the water because they glistened. I selected a few stones and cleaned them off. As I did so, they dried and were not quite as attractive as before. God began to use this observation to speak to me.
First, He reminded me that He is the "Living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him." We, the people of God, are also living stones "being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood..." (1 Peter 2:4-5) Then He pointed out the difference between the stones that were wet and those that were dry. There was no sparkle to the dry stones. The water definitely added to the eye-catching shine of the stones that drew me to them.
We, as living stones, are meant to shine the light of Jesus to the world around us. This can only happen as we are filled and soaked in the Living Water of Christ. Jesus describes living water in John 7:37-39. "On the last and greatest Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believe in Him were later to receive..."
There is always more of the Holy Spirit—the Living Water—for us. We are meant to bring the Kingdom of heaven to earth. This is only possible if we daily invite the Holy Spirit to fill us up again. Just as it is critical for us to continually drink water for the health of our physical bodies, it is essential for us to welcome the increase of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual bodies so that we overflow with His Presence.
When we are filled to overflowing with Living Water we will shine like the stones bathed in the water and attract the attention of those around us. In this way, we truly shine forth the glory of Jesus to a world that is in desperate need of Him. Please pray with me: Holy Spirit filled me up again with the fullness of your Presence so that I glisten with the glory of Jesus and bring others to You.
Draw Me and I Will Run
It should be the desire of every Believer to enter the manifest presence of the Lord. (Manifest means to make tangible or obvious to one or more of our senses.) It is the desire of the Lord to have intimacy with us and to reveal more of Himself to us. And yet, He is cautious in His approach. He looks at the spiritual hunger of His people and pursues intimacy with those who will respond to Him. He is drawn to those who have already said to Him, in their hearts, "Draw me after you, and let us run together!" (Song of Solomon 1:4 - NAS)
The word "draw" was brought to the forefront of my attention when I attended a Monday evening Bible study. We were looking at the story of the Samaritan woman from Sychar who had an encounter with Jesus at Jacob's well. John 4:7 says, "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" Jesus was opening a door for her to have communion with Him. He was drawing her because He could see her heart to know her Messiah.
Jesus continued: "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." (John 4:10) What the Lord imparts to us in intimate communion with Him is living water. Living water cleanses us and penetrates us with refreshing that remains. The woman's spiritual eyes had not been opened yet, and she responded, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?" (John 4:11) Jesus assured her that He has water that forever satisfies. "...Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (V. 14)
Jesus continued to draw the Samaritan woman to Himself by revealing what He know about her life. He also revealed the heart of Father God to have true worshipers, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. (V. 24) And, He revealed His identity as Messiah: "I who speak to you am he." (V.26) The woman was so overcome with excitement to share the revelation of the Messiah that she left her water jar and ran back to town to share the good news with her neighbors. The testimony of this woman opened the way for many Samaritans to have fellowship with Jesus and to believe in Him. They confessed, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man is the Savior of the world." (V. 42)
It is significant that the Samaritan people from Sychar willingly stopped their activities to encounter their Messiah. They were drawn to Jesus by the testimony they heard. Jesus did the drawing, however, they had to decide the way that they would respond. Jesus told a crowd at Jerusalem, "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32) This is the reason that Father God sent Jesus to earth. (John 6:44)
Jesus has come to draw us to Himself. The first draw comes at The Cross. But there can be a continual drawing if we are willing to respond to the Lord like the Bride in Song of Solomon. "Draw me! We will run after you!" (Song of Solomon 1:4 - AMP) Deep within us we must have a spiritual hunger that rises above all earthly concerns. We must give the Lord permission to remove anything that hinders our relationship with Him. In order to be brought into that place of intimacy with our Savior we must pray the prayer "Draw me," wait for the Lord to increase our hunger and then run after Him. As we commit ourselves to times of intimacy with Him, He will continue to draw us so that we can know Him experientially.
The Lord yearns for our company. He desires to take us into the secret place of His presence. He asks, "Are you willing to make the commitment to run after me with every part of your being--body, soul and spirit? If so, we open the door for the King of kings, our Bridegroom, to bring us into His chamber. In prayer, ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you and be ready to respond by dropping everything and running after Him.
Sight-Heart Connection - Tammuz
There is a connection between our sight and our hearts. When the Lord was giving the children of Israel instructions for how to live in the Promised Land and to receive His blessings He told them to look at their choices and to love and obey Him with all their hearts. "Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessings and a curse! You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from Him and worship gods you have not known before." (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 - NLT)
"When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where He scattered you." (Deuteronomy 30:1-3)
The wisdom of Solomon shines through in what is written in Proverbs 23:26. "My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to My ways." He explains the importance of our hearts in Proverbs 4:23. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."
This heart-sight connection is particularly important now as we have moved into the fourth month on the Hebrew calendar—Tammuz. Tammuz is connected to the Hebrew letter CHET that pictures light radiating from your eyes. We must guard what our eyes take in and what is written on the tablet of our hearts. What we take in is reflected in our eyes. This is the month when we should make worshiping the Lord our focus. Worship helps direct our hearts toward Him and purifies them. And look at the promise God made relating to this! "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8)
The Israelites made major mistakes during the fourth month. Tammuz is the month of Reuben, Jacob's firstborn son. Reuben lost the blessing of being the firstborn son. He allowed his eyes to look upon his father's concubine, Bilhah, and his heart to covet a relationship with her, and slept with her. (Genesis 35:22) We can well imagine why Jacob transferred the blessing of the firstborn to his son Joseph.
It was during this time that the Israelites lusted after a man-made god. They collected gold rings from the ears of the people, molded a calf from the melted gold and sacrificed offerings to their idol. Their hearts were truly hardened to the One True God. It was during this month that 12 spies were sent out to look at the Promised Land. During their 40-day search they forgot the promises of God for them.
This is a time to agree with God's plans for your lives. Focus on the Lord through worship and declare His promises. Agree with His call on your life. Be careful about the covenants you make during Tammuz. You want your covenants to be designated by the Lord so that you can walk in power and strength. Strengthen and purify your hearts by believing and confessing the promises of God. I take the words of Isaiah 33:15-17 as a great encouragement for this month: "He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil--this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him. Your eyes will see the king in His beauty and view a land that stretches afar." God desires intimate relationship with us and wants us to take the land before us to enlarge our territories. Let us guard our hearts, walk in righteousness and focus on the Lord in worship so that we are able to see the King of kings.
Appointed Time for Revival
Puritans, persecuted in England, "made plans to find a home where they could worship freely and live out the Christianity they believed was according to Scripture." Eddie Hyatt writes this in his book America's Revival Heritage (page 10). After a harrowing trip across the Atlantic, the Puritans landed in Cape Cod. They had drawn up a covenant with God and one another called the Mayflower Compact. As stated in this covenant, their voyage was to plant a colony "for the glory of God, and the Advancement of the Christian Faith."
The revelation or vision of a God-fearing and God-honoring nation came before the Puritans embarked on their journey. Their vision came from their belief that "God had created society as a unified whole to reflect His glory. Church and state, the individual and the public--these were all related spheres and all were to function under the Lordship of Christ..." (Eddie Hyatt, page 13, America's Revival Heritage) I do not think the Puritans ever saw the completion of their vision. But, the vision is still alive in the hearts of many Americans.
God instructed Habakkuk to write down his revelation so a herald could run with it. Habakkuk 2:3 says, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." The forefathers of our nation certainly wrote down the revelation! They left us a trail of documents that define the purpose of their communities. One example is the 1739 founding document of Connecticut called "The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut." "...We do for ourselves and our successors enter into combination and confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we now profess."
What happened to the vision of the first immigrants to our land for a country of unified people walking in the glory of God? Eddie Hyatt suggests that the second and third generation immigrants lost the vision of their parents and grandparents and made increasing prosperity their goal. In doing this they lost their spiritual vitality. As spiritual vitality waned, compromise became a way of life. They ignored their Biblical foundation.
As time went on, some in the community of faith began to recognize how far the nation had moved from God. They began to call out to Him in fasting and prayer, desperate for a move of God to get the nation back on track. God heard their cries. Revival broke out in some of the churches in the mid-east. The move of the Spirit spread. It impacted people of every standard, male and female, black, white and Native American. It became known as the First Great Awakening. That Awakening would impact the education system and the government. Most of the founding fathers were influenced by the Awakening of the 1740's.
The revival of the First Great Awakening was not sustained. Society went back to its moral slide away from God. However, again, a remnant of God's people remembered that God is a covenant-keeping God and stood on the promises of 2 Chronicles 7:14. "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." God sent a Second Great Awakening, but the cycle repeated itself again.
It is my prayer that the appointed time for another Great Awakening is near. Only God can save our nation! There are pockets of revival going on in the east and west coasts right now. But we need revival to sweep across our land, touching every segment of society and every community in America. We need the vision to be restored. Please join me in praying in another Great Awakening for America that maintains the vision of our founding fathers and includes God in every aspect of our lives.
Joan E. Mathias